Vanessa and Her Sister
By: Priya Parmar
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase
It can break your heart to have a sister like Virginia Woolf.
London, 1905: The city is alight with change, and the Stephen siblings are at the forefront. Vanessa, Virginia, Thoby, and Adrian are leaving behind their childhood home and taking a house in the leafy heart of avant-garde Bloomsbury. There they bring together a glittering circle of bright, outrageous artistic friends who will grow into legend and come to be known as the Bloomsbury Group. And at the center of this charmed circle are the devoted, gifted sisters: Vanessa, the painter, and Virginia, the writer.
Each member of the group will go on to earn fame and success eventually, but so far Vanessa Bell has never sold a painting. Virginia Woolf’s book review has just been turned down by The Times. Lytton Strachey has not published anything. E. M. Forster has finished his first novel but does not like the title. Leonard Woolf is still a civil servant in Ceylon, and John Maynard Keynes is looking for a job. Together, this sparkling coterie of artists and intellectuals throw away convention and embrace the wild freedom of being young, single bohemians in London.
But the landscape shifts when Vanessa unexpectedly falls in love and her sister feels dangerously abandoned. Eerily possessive, charismatic, manipulative, and brilliant, Virginia has always lived in the shelter of Vanessa’s constant attention and encouragement. Without it, she careens toward self-destruction and madness. As tragedy and betrayal threaten to destroy the family, Vanessa must decide if it is finally time to protect her own happiness above all else.
By: Daisy Goodwin
Format/Source: eARC courtesy of the publishers via NetGalley
I do not like the name Alexandrina. From now on I wish to be known only by my second name, Victoria.
Melbourne nodded. “Victoria.”
Early one morning, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria is roused from bed with the news that her uncle William IV has died and she is now Queen of England. The men who run the country have doubts about whether this sheltered young woman, who stands less than five feet tall, can rule the greatest nation in the world. Surely she must rely on her mother and her venal advisor, Sir John Conroy, or her uncle, the Duke of Cumberland, who are all too eager to relieve her of the burdens of power.
The young queen is no puppet, however. She has very definite ideas about the kind of queen she wants to be, and the first thing is to choose her name.
Everyone keeps saying she is destined to marry her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, but Victoria found him dull and priggish when they met three years ago. She is quite happy being queen with the help of her prime minister, Lord Melbourne, who may be old enough to be her father but is the first person to take her seriously.
Drawing on Victoria s diaries, which she first started reading when she was a student at Cambridge University, as well as her own brilliant gifts for history and drama, Daisy Goodwin, author of the bestselling novels The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter as well as creator and writer of the new PBS/Masterpiece drama Victoria, brings the young queen richly to life in this magnificent novel.
Readers of my blog know that I’m a big fan of period dramas and I am looking forward to sitting down and watching Victoria starring Jenna Coleman. I didn’t know that there was an accompanying (?) novel that was coming out alongside the series by the same person who penned the show. Admittedly this is not my first foray with Daisy Goodwin’s work; I started reading the eGalley of The Fortune Hunter (review) a few years ago but sadly had to put it down as I just had no time and the first chapter or so didn’t compel me to finish it. Nonetheless I was pretty excited to check out this title. This book will be available on 22 November 2016.
The Lake House
By: Kate Morton
Format/Source: Hardback; my copy
Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, innocent, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories. But the mysteries she pens are no match for the one her family is about to endure…
One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. What follows is a tragedy that tears the family apart in ways they never imagined.
Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as an author. Theo’s case has never been solved, though Alice still harbors a suspicion as to the culprit. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old estate—now crumbling and covered with vines, clearly abandoned long ago. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone…yet more present than ever.
At long last I’ve read this book! I had been looking forward to reading this book for quite a while, having read all of Kate Morton’s novels to date. Of course, I still get rather irked looking at the book cover as her previous four novels all had a theme/looked similar enough that you can recognise it immediately as a Kate Morton novel, but what can you do?
So You Want to Read… is a monthly feature here on eclectictales.com in which I recommend books by particular authors to readers who have never read a book from certain authors and would like to start. I’m always happy to recommend books and certain authors to my fellow readers and bloggers! 🙂
And here we are, another edition of “So You Want to Read…” 😀 For this month I decided to feature Kate Mosse. I’ve slowly gotten around to reading her historical fictions over the years; hers are very distinct as they focus much on southern France in the Carcassone region. I’ve never travelled to the area but much of what I learned of it was through her books. Anyway, I finished reading all of her books on her bibliography earlier this year so here we are, me recommending to you wehre to start with her books 😉
- Sepulchre (review) — This was actually my first Kate Mosse novel and it continues to be the book I recommend first. I found this book to be absolutely atmospheric, haunting and mysterious with the tarot cards, the location, the family dynamic, the music, and the danger circling around the siblings. Set in the late 19th century France, I highly recommend this novel to readers who enjoy reading novels set in that period.
- The Mistletoe Bride & Other Haunting Tales (review) — It was a toss-up between this and The Winter Ghosts (review) but this book won out by a bit because it’s an opportunity to get a sampling of what her stories are like if you’re hesitant to delve straight into her two standalones or the Languedoc trilogy. Lots of ghost stories, stories of memory and loss, but not all of them are set in a historical period. And because they’re short stories, it’s also a nice change of pace from the usual novel-length books 🙂
- The Taxidermist’s Daughter (review) — Last on my list of Kate Mosse recommendations is her latest novel. What I like about this novel is that it’s more straight-up mystery than ghost story/historical novel; the ghosts in this novel lies in the main character’s memory, a deadly secret in another character’s past. It’s a much slower burn, I admit, but I grew further intrigued the more the mystery winds up and the more we learn about the characters.
I hope this list helps if you’re interested in reading something by Kate Mosse for the first time! If you’ve read her books, which one is your favourite? Which would you recommend for first-time readers? Or which books have you been meaning to get around to reading? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you! 🙂
The Light Between Oceans
By: M.L. Stedman
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase
After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby. Tom, who keeps meticulous records and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel insists the baby is a “gift from God,” and against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.
Haha, this seems to be the year that I’m getting around to books that I’ve heard great buzz about for the last few years but haven’t gotten around to picking up. One of these books is The Light Between the Oceans. Not sure which caught my attention first–the stunning book cover or the title of the book–but I kept meaning since to check it out. It took the upcoming movie adaptation with Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, and Rachel Weisz for me to finally pick up a copy 😛