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August Reading Recommendations from Book Chat

Book chat reads 1

These are just some of the books talked about at our recent Hastings Library Book Chat. Click on the titles for catalogue links.

Home by Toni Morrison
A classic novel about the pull of home from the peerless Toni Morrison. Frank Money is an angry Korean war veteran, finding himself back in a racist America after all he’s endured on the front line. Feeling a need to rescue his sister, he brings her home to the small Georgia town of their birth, even though he hates it. This is a moving novel about a man rediscovering who he is and a sense of purpose.

The Unknown Woman of the Seine by Brooks Hansen
This mystery novel takes us to Paris in 1889 and the intriguing world the morgue’s viewing room, where among the other bodies on display is that of a young woman. Her expression has an eerie beauty and before being removed, a death mask is made of her which becomes an object with a cult like following. Henri Brassard, a former Gendarme and recent POW is tasked with finding out who she is. Our reader found the novel interesting but a little unsettling.

Love Marriage by Monica Ali
The author of Brick Lane returns with a new novel. This one follows the problems around the engagement of two people from different cultures, both doctors. Jasmin couldn’t be happier with her life – her studies in medicine, her loving family and now her handsome doctor fiancé. But Joe is so much more experienced than she is when it comes to relationships, and there’s the matter of his affair. Family secrets, lies and betrayal rear their heads in this fascinating study of cross-culture relationships.

The Likeness by Tana French
This is the second book in the Dublin Murder Squad series and follows what happens when Detective Cassie Maddox is called to a crime scene to discover a murdered girl who looks exactly like her. After her traumatic experiences in the first book, this is the last thing she needs. The ID on the body shows her to be Lexie Madison, the identity Cassie used years ago working undercover. Maybe it’s time for Cassie to go undercover again. A brilliantly engrossing psychological thriller.

Bella: my life in food by Annabel Langbein
Annabel Langbein is well-known for her inspirational recipes that have helped the home cook for decades. Here she tells her story, her travels and discovery of food, her flirtation as a Maoist hippie to possum trapping and living off the land, to starting her own croissant business in Brazil. This fascinating memoir is filled with the scrumptious recipes that have inspired her most.

All the Seas of the World by Guy Gavriel Kay
If you don’t normally read fantasy novels, you might just enjoy this one with its contemporary themes of exile, loss and memory, set in world that looks a little like the Renaissance. Two people are set ashore in the middle of the night, hired as assassins. Their assignment will affect the balance of power, as well as the destinies of empires. A page-turning drama that will have you thinking about the randomness of the events that shape our lives.

The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird 
In this novel set in the near future, a mysterious illness sweeps through the population, killing only the male half of the human race. Written before Covid, the novel deals with the politics around vaccines, the effects of a pandemic on the workforce and the meaning of family. Told through first person accounts of several characters, this is a novel about loss, resilience and hope.

Down South by Bruce Ansley
Ansley has made a name for himself as a writer of stunning travel books about New Zealand and here he tackles the South Island in search of the South’s quintessential character. The book includes the history that adds to the reader’s understanding as Ansley travels from Curio Bay in Southland to Totaranui in Golden Bay – a fair hike in anybody’s book. For Bruce, a South Islander by birth, it is also a return to the places he’s called home, and for him the South is endlessly fascinating. It's a feast for all of us who have lived in the South Island or visited for holidays.

The Reindeer Hunters by Lars Mytting
Here we have the second book in the Mytting’s trilogy that began with The Bell in the Lake set in the tiny village of Butangen, Norway - the earlier book taking place in the late nineteenth century. This novel picks up the story of Pastor Kai Schweigaard and the Hekne family some twenty years later with a new century and new technological advances in the wind. Jehans Hekne, a poor farm worker bumps into an Englishman when the two shoot the same reindeer and the two make a connection. The novel works as a standalone, but to really enjoy the series it’s best to read The Bell in the Lake first. Both books are brilliant.

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In Love: a memoir of love and loss by Amy Bloom
This is a moving memoir about a couple coping with the husband’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis and Brian’s decision to make the journey to Dignatas, an organisation for assisted dying based in Switzerland. The book tackles with wit and candour the part of life we often shy away from discussing – its ending. Our reviewer was inspired to read more by this author, and found an earlier book, Away – a novel about a refugee in New York at the turn of the twentieth century.

Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doeer
We remember Doerr for his hugely popular novel All the Light We Cannot See, but among his backlist is this little book about a year spent in Rome – thanks to a scholarship Doerr won including in the prize a stipend and a studio. The problem was the award happened just when his wife gave birth to twins. This book charts his first year of parenthood as well as his adventures in this enchanting city, part memoir, part travel diary.


30 August 2022

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