Autumn is upon us already. Where has the time gone? I have compiled my summer reads and have a lovely selection of book reviews here. I was fortunate enough to read some excellent page-turners over the Summer months.
The Nanny at Number 43 by Nicola Cassidy
Nicola Cassidy’s second historical novel arrived on bookshelves this month. Following in the footsteps of her debut, December Girl, this book will leave the reader looking forward to more from the Irish author. This is a synopsis of my full review.
Bereaved William D. Thomas places an advertisement in his local paper for a nanny to care for his newborn daughter. When a young woman with appropriate experience arrives at his door, 43, Laurence Street, he hires her. Her presence will relieve housekeeper Mrs McHugh of the extra duties she’s been carrying out and perhaps bring a sense of calm to the household.
Mrs McHugh is very wary of the new Nanny. Something isn’t right, though she can’t quite put her finger on it. She visits her dear friend Betty, where she can confidentially air her grievances about The Nanny. Betty is bed-bound by her window which overlooks Laurence Street. She can keep an eye on the comings and goings at number 43.
The Nanny, a quiet unassuming character one may initially think. She comes with experience and has settled the baby so well. As we learn of her past, it’s not difficult to comprehend why she has arrived at her current situation. Despite her coldness, there were times where I felt some empathy for the young girl she was. The Nanny harbours dark secrets and has arrived on Laurence Street with a determined purpose.
The Nanny at No.43 is another gem from Nicola Cassidy. She has perfected her craft and writes historical fiction with extensive knowledge of her subject matter.
My Buried Life by Doreen Finn
New York-based Dubliner, Eva Parry, returns to Ireland to bury her Mother. She had a difficult relationship with the woman who raised her and being back in Dublin rekindles the feelings she’s been hiding from.
Her family home is filled with buried memories. She moved here with her Mother and brother following the sudden death of her father when she was a young child. Eva, recalls her brother who suffered from depression and took his own life at the age of 16.
Whilst she’s ill at ease being back in Ireland, it does give her time to process a difficult relationship breakup back in Manhattan.
When it all gets too much for Eva, there’s always alcohol to provide an escape.
This book is so beautifully written. I felt heartsore for Eva. She endured a tumultuous upbringing, battled grief, a resentful Mother and felt she had no option but to escape. It’s impossible not to feel incredible empathy for this woman. A wonderful debut from Doreen Finn.
I Found My Tribe by Ruth Fitzmaurice
Simon Fitzmaurice was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease aged 34. This book is his wife Ruths journal of the following nine years.
It’s hard to put into words, my thoughts and feelings about this memoir. I don’t want to do it an injustice.
Ruth is a beautiful writer and she puts her feelings on paper in a most eloquent manner. This book is raw, it’s gritty, it’s emotional. The love that flows from the pages is immeasurable. Home is chaos; children, pets, nurses, medical equipment, it’s never-ending. The sea and her tribe, her dear friends, these are where and with whom Ruth finds peace amidst the pandemonium that has become her life.
Her memoir is so deeply personal, written almost like a collection of essays, with glimpses into her life with Simon prior to MND. The honesty within these pages as Ruth literally bares her soul is heart-wrenching. I cried, I laughed and I sat on that beach in Greystones with Ruth as I read this book.
This isn’t a recommended read, it is without question a must-read. It’s one that will stay with me forever.
Island Song by Madeleine Bunting
A NetGalley Review
Island Song is two stories told alongside one another. In the present day, we have Roz, who following the death of her mother, receives a letter from the man she understood to be her father. Justin wrote to Roz prior to his own death some years earlier. The letter turns Roz’s world upside down, she has to act on and research the secrets revealed.
In 1940, a young Helene is living through the German Occupation of the Channel Islands. Her new husband and her brother have enlisted with the British Army. Helene helps to run the home she shares with her father and Nanna. The WW2 Occupation was a time of grave uncertainty and Helene’s story, is very much one of survival, flight or fight. Helene evolved from a carefree young girl into a woman of great fortitude.
I enjoyed this book, though I did feel at times a little bogged down with it, there was a lot going on.
Arthur’s Garden by Pam Rhodes
Up the garden path, down memory lane
In Arthur’s Garden, Pam Rhodes collates a heart-warming collection of songs and poems, advice and tidbits about the glorious, very ordinary, English garden – told through the life of her Uncle Arthur. This is a gardening book, with a story.
I absolutely adored this book. We meet Arthur who inherits his garden, and his home, from his late father Tom. Tom & Emily raised Arthur and his 10 siblings, the garden being the heart of the home, bringing them food when they needed it and comfort too. We travel through many decades with Arthur, and it is such a lovely journey.
Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent
Oliver Ryan has it all. He’s a successful children’s author, his wife Alice illustrates the books and they live in her grand family home. So how did it come to pass, that he beat his wife into a coma?
What follows this act are the thoughts and memories of Oliver himself, friends, neighbours and acquaintances. They are each piecing together snippets of his life in a bid to work out what has driven Oliver to carry out such a despicable act. Nothing is ever as straight forward as it seems.
I thought this was very good, I wanted to know what made Oliver so hard, so cruel. The more I learned about him didn’t change my opinion of him. He’s a bad egg!
The Stationmasters Daughter by Kathleen McGurl
A NetGalley Review
In 1935 Dorset, Stationmaster Ted Morgan is in charge of Lynford Station. He’s a particular man, ensuring everything is done by the book, running on time and kept in order. A man content in his work, who looks forward to annual visits from his sister Norah and her children; Ted has never found romance or felt he was missing out. That is until Annie Galbraith arrives on the morning train to Lynford, where she works. Ted falls in love with Annie.
Tragedy strikes as Lynford station is forced to close and an incident occurs that changes the course of Ted’s life.
In the present day, Tilly is recovering from three miscarriages and her marriage ending. She moves to Dorset to stay with her Dad Ken. Ken is working on a Railway Restoration project and in a bid to take Tilly’s mind off her problems, encourages her to help out.
During the course of her research, Tilly finds hidden diaries, which lead her to Ted’s story. The investigation and a chance encounter with unexpected consequences give Tilly thought to consider her future.
This was such a lovely book and slipped seamlessly between both times. I really enjoyed it.
The River Capture by Mary Costello
A Netgalley Review
Luke O’Brien has left Dublin to live a quiet life on his family land on the bend of the River Sullane. Alone in his big house, he longs for a return to his family’s heyday and turns to books for solace.
When Ruth enters Luke’s life he is besotted, however, her introduction to his family does not go as he hoped.
A family man, carrying many crosses upon his shoulders, Luke is torn.
This is a book unlike any I have read before, Luke is completely obsessed with James Joyce and it is almost like a homage to him. It is at times lyrical, at times raw, and at times completely savage in its prose.
We witness Luke at his most vulnerable, fragile and utterly mad with emotion.
I found it hard to find the words to describe Mary Costello’s writing, it’s truly something else.
Disclaimer: Unless otherwise stated, all of the books I mention in these monthly posts are bought and paid for by myself or borrowed from the Library. Anyone can join NetGalley and provide reviews in exchange for books.