Friday, 18 November 2022

Some books I've enjoyed recently

I read a lot, and every now and then I like to share some books which I've read recently and particularly enjoyed, all books that get a five star rating on my Goodreads tracker. It's a really varied selection this time, and I hope that it gives you some reading inspiration!

The Shuttle - Frances Hodgson Burnett

This one had been in my Kindle to be read pile for ages. I enjoy hunting through the free Kindle books and downloading all the ones that take my fancy, especially if they are by an author that I like. Frances Hodgson Burnett is the author of The Secret Garden and A Little Princess, both of which I love, so I thought I couldn't go wrong with this one. But it isn't a children's book as I assumed, it's actually quite a long read!

The book looks at the relationship between the US and England at the beginning of the 20th century, and in particular American heiresses moving to England to marry impoverished aristocrats. They gained a title and prestige, and the aristocrats were able to use their money to restore their estates. The shuttle of the title is an analogy for the ships that cross back and forth between the two countries, creating more and more threads and pulling them tightly together.

The book follows the story of a very rich but na├»ve young American multi-millionairess who marries an English man who mistreats her, distancing her from her family while he spends her money on his own pursuits. When her much younger sister reaches adulthood she travels to England to see her and find out why she has cut ties with her family. 

The confident and beautiful young woman arrives when her sister's husband is fortuitously away, and uses her money to rebuild both her sister's confidence and her home and estate. She forms relationships with the other local landowners, they both enter fully into society, and she forms a romance of her own. 

I really loved this book. I particularly enjoyed reading about how the house and estate were brought back to their former splendour. The book also felt very modern in it's approach to domestic violence and psychological manipulation. It was a really good read.

The Children of the New Forest - Frederick Marryat

Another of my free Kindle classics, and one that I had been wanting to read for a long time! The book is set during the English civil war, starting in 1647 when when King Charles I has been defeated and has escaped to the New Forest. The home of one of his supporters is burned down and his four children believed killed, but they escape and hide in the forest in the cottage of a local man. They disguise themselves as foresters and manage to live successfully from the land. They have lots of adventures as well as romance, and are eventually able to reclaim their titles and place in society.

It's a children's book so it's easy to read, but it deals with quite complex issues. I wasn't particularly familiar with that era in history but the book made it all really easy to follow and inspired me to do a bit of my own reading about the period!

My Hygge Home - Meik Wiking

Another fantastic book from the author of the original Little Book of Hygge. It's a lovely hardback book with plenty of cosy photographs and illustrations, all about how to make your home that little bit more hygge. I loved the idea of needing a Viking chair - a place to sit with your back against a wall, preferably in a corner, where you feel safe from attackers. It made me realise why I feel so comfortable in my favourite spot on the sofa in my study! Lots of really good ideas, and a great book to flip through. 

The Lido - Libby Page

This was a quick read but well worth it. It tells the story of Rosemary who has spent her life swimming in her local lido in Brixton. When it is threatened with closure a local young reporter is sent to cover the story and the two of them become close friends. It's a story about friendship and community and I found it a really heart warming read. It left me with a tear in my eye!

The Secret History - Donna Tartt

I think this was the third time that I've read this book - it's one of my favourites! We recently visited Athens and all the classical history surrounding me made me want to read it again. It's a classic of the 'dark academia' trend - an aesthetic which I've seen is very popular on social media. It's an idealised version of higher education and study - libraries, candles, ink pens, dark furniture, piles of books and papers and so on.

The book is set at a university in New England and tells the story of a group of classics students, detailing the events which lead up to a murder and what happens afterwards. It's a really gripping read, really well written and I could read it over and over!

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