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Purple Covers but No Purple Prose - Some Reading Suggestions for TUTH

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The Novel in the Viola by Natasha Solomons is a fictional story based on the life of the author’s aunt. As a young Jewish girl, she escaped Vienna to become a maid in a wealthy English household as the Nazis rolled out their reign of terror across Europe in the late 1930s. In the book, Elise Landau promises her new employer that she can ‘cook his goose’, but her cooking skills, like her English, aren’t up to much. She’ll have to rein in her temper too, but with the anxiety over her family’s uncertain future, it isn’t surprising that the new parlour-maid is a bit temperamental. The novel follows Elise over the years that follow, her life and loves, in an engaging novel set in a quiet corner of England during the war.

Expectation by Anna Hope follows three friends, Hannah, Cate and Lissa, who once shared a flat in London. Now, years later, they are in one way or another disappointed by how their lives have gone: Cate, struggling as a new mother, while successful Hannah and husband are struggling to conceive. Actress Lissa can’t find a decent role and seems destined to be unable to live up to her feminist mother’s hope’s for her daughter’s generation. The novel looks at what it takes to lead a fulfilled and happy life through the eyes of several well-rounded characters that you really sympathise with.

An Unsuitable Match by Joanna Trollope is the story of Rose Woodrowe as she looks forward to her marriage to charming and sensitive Tyler Masson who clearly dotes on her. The only problem is the children from their former marriages aren’t happy about it. As Rose and Tyler try to keep everyone happy, legal advice and pre-nups are discussed behind their back and other plot-threads emerge around the lives of each of their offspring. It’s a witty and engaging look at modern life, and its complicated family relationships, in Trollope’s inimitable style.

The Darkest Evening by Ann Cleeves. Fans of the Vera Stanhope series won’t want to miss her latest outing which is set during a cold, winter in northern England. Our shrewd but unglamorous Detective Inspector is on her way home during a swirling blizzard when she discovers a car that has skidded off the road. Inside is a small child, left alone. Rescuing the child, Vera drives on to Brockburn, a nearby stately home, which happens to be the ancestral seat of the Stanhopes. A party is in full swing, but outside a young woman lies murdered. The scene is all set for a fascinating mystery, a book to curl up with the fire.

Ashley Hay’s previous books have won awards. A Hundred Small Lessons concerns two women who live in the same house at different times and how their stories collide one steaming hot Brisbane summer. Elderly Elsie leaves her home of sixty-two years for a care facility, comforting herself with memories of raising her family; Lucy moves to a new city with her husband and baby, hoping to make a future for her family. A nuanced story about the small decisions we make that ultimately shape our lives.

5 August 2021

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