Some Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) included. They are marked with an *. No affiliate links used. You can read my full disclosure policy here.
November involved trips to Cork and Dublin, which meant lots of time spent reading in bus stations and on buses.
Nelly Dean by Alison Case
I have a soft spot for retellings, reimaginings and riffs on classic literature. With Nelly Dean, we experience life at Wuthering Heights through the eyes of the ever-faithful servant Nelly Dean.
But this is no straight retelling of Wuthering Heights; it is wonderfully evocative novel about Nelly’s relationship with the Earnshaws, particularly Hindley, set against the backdrop of the events we are familiar with. This is the tale of a woman forever connected to a family she is unable or unwilling to leave, yet despite her best wishes she is unable to save.
A gorgeous companion novel, with a life of its own, this is the Nelly Dean I’ll be thinking about with future re-reads of Wuthering Heights.
December Girl by Nicola Cassidy*
Molly Thomas’ life changes the night her father is arrested and her family evicted from their home. So begins a downward spiral that takes a lot to halt. Just as it seems things are on the right track, or as on the right track as they can be given her circumstances, her son is kidnapped.
But Molly has secrets; secrets which lead to her think the disappearance of her child is either an act of revenge or a punishment she obviously deserves. Will she ever find your son? And what type of life awaits her in the shadow of her past actions?
I read December Girl* in one sitting. It’s a rollercoaster of read with a main character I won’t forget any time soon. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, you need to add this one to your to-be read list.
The Tide Between Us by Olive Collins*
The Tide Between Us* spans 1821-1991, switches from Jamaica to Ireland and explores an aspect of Irish history often forgotten, or wilfully misrepresented, through the differing perspectives of Art and Yseult.
When the landlord of Lugdale Estate is murdered and Art O’Neill’s innocent father is hanged, Art is shipped off to Jamaica as an indentured servant.
When a skeleton is discovered on the grounds of Lugdale Estate over 100 years later, with a gold coin minted in 1870 by its side, Yseult, who is now the owner of the estate, fears the secrets she may soon be forced to face.
Well crafted and well researched, Collins doesn’t shy away from the harshness of indentured servitude while, also, highlighting the preferential treatment they received compared to chattel slavery.
The Tide Between Us* is an absorbing story about family connections, in all their complicated glory.
I Found My Tribe by Ruth Fitzmaurice
I Found My Tribe is a difficult one to review, not least because Ruth’s husband Simon died since the book’s publication. Reviewing memoir can so easily turn into a ‘then this happened and this happened’ synopsis and, frankly, there are better synopsis, than I could write, already out there.
Fitzmaurice writes with tenderness and rage because they don’t have to be mutually exclusive, making for a sad but joyful read.
Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak*
From the beginning Three Daughters of Eve* sucks you in and takes you on a journey from the Turkey of the protagonist’s childhood to the present day via some time spent in Oxford in the early 2000s.
When her handbag is stolen and a precious photo lost, Peri is reminded of her time at Oxford University, her friends, Shirin and Mona, and their complicated relationships with Islam, feminism and each other and her enigmatic Professor. An experience which left some of their lives changed forever.
Full of lyrical prose and thought-provoking and thoughtful ideas about the differences between religion and God and faith and culture, Three Daughters of Eve* is a novel that gets under your skin and refuses to leave.
Foxlowe by Eleanor Wasserberg*
Green either grew up in an idyllic commune or an abusive cult; it depends who you speak to. The residents of Foxlowe were either evil masterminds of abuse or brainwashed underlings; again it depends who you speak to.
Recounting her time at Foxlowe; Green takes us back to when she was a young child, maybe 4 or 5 years-old. To when Blue arrived and everything began to change.
Foxlowe* is a deeply unsettling, creepy and thoroughly enjoyable read. I finished it in one sitting but I’ll be thinking about it, particularly that ending, for a long time to come.