Which books (and stories, because a few of these aren't in book form) have the Wenches been exploring and enjoying in April? Read on to find out . . . .
Not quite What We’re Reading, but I reckon audio counts. I just listened to this BBC programme based on letters written during World War II: My Dear Bessie. Chris Barker, a solider in Libya, and Bessie Moore, a Morse code interpreter at the Foreign Office in London, have only briefly met, but he starts to write to her and she replies. Most of the surviving letters are from him, as he often had to destroy those she sent him, and the frank passion and longing in them is remarkable. It made me think that in today's steamy romance we sometimes miss the breathless longing that has been a natural part of falling into love and desire throughout the ages. Perhaps we also sometimes fall into the error of thinking our parents and grandparents didn't feel passion "that way." I believe it can be listened to anywhere in the world, and Chris's letters are read by Benedict Cumberbatch.
I’ve been having a bad reading month, hitting too many mysteries with TSTL protags who spend more time worrying over the many men in their lives rather than paying attention to the fact that someone is trying to kill them.
So in the mood for something wildly different, I picked up Swans Are Fat Too by Michelle Granas. Hania, the main character, is a brilliant but obese pianist returning to her family home in Poland for her grandmother’s funeral. The book is her journey, and it’s a fascinating one. I love that—unlike all the chicklit characters who stuff their faces daily and never pay the wages of poundage—she knows she’s fat because she eats too much, recognizes the damage she’s doing as she does it, and works her way through why she can’t stop. Her weight is actually not a big deal but just one small part of her exploration into what life has to offer.
While she’s working her way through her own problems, she’s acquired worse problems in her absentee family who dumps two thoroughly neurotic children on her and disappear. Weave in a hereditary Polish prince who’s writing a bloody history of his country—an allegorical trip for those readers who read the snippets— and a light romance, and I was highly entertained. Hania manages all with grace, decorum, and real smarts—and by the end, I was confident that she’s gained the tools needed to fix herself. It’s currently .99 cents, so it’s worth a try!
I’ve had a quiet reading month as I’ve been head down finishing revisions to my latest book but I did have chance to sit down with By The Sword by Alison Stuart. I enjoy Alison’s historicals very much and this is book 1 in a new series set during the 17th century. Usually books with a background of the English Civil War are set whilst the conflict rages and this is a bit different as it begins in 1650, after the execution of King Charles I. Through the vividly drawn characters and background it gives a wonderful picture of a country divided and a time when loyalties are tested to the limit. Kate, the heroine, is drawn in a rich and complex way that I found fascinating. I saw her conflicts and challenges vividly through her eyes and was engrossed. Jonathan, the Royalist hero, is a very attractive, strong character. Beyond the central relationship, though, there is a family story with a great supporting cast, and some very poignant scenes between parents and their children. It’s a lovely read.