Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Holiday Reading - Half the World in Winter

I love grabbing some hours to read in the holidays and while I am reading a very moving non-fiction account of a village in France during WW2, it was nice to take some time to read a novel at the same time.

Do you have more than one book on the go at once? I remember doing this as a child too.

Half the World in Winter is a novel set in 1880 in London. Reading this book I could tell it was really well researched, the long list of articles, books and websites at the back confirmed this. I love that it was such an accurate insight into life then - a time when even your notepaper had to be in keeping with the stage of mourning the family was in after a death (the width of border and colour changes over the months).

The central characters are The Jarmyn Family - rich, important and reeling with the grief of loosing their youngest daughter. As the edges of their family begin to crumble there are new characters and stories woven into the narrative. Families whose life is so dissimilar to theirs it appears impossible for them to be linked and yet they are.

The novel also explores social attitudes between the classes and the value systems of the rich that end up keeping the poor poor - it's a story for our time too. Perhaps our richness doesn't look the same to us but the systems that make life difficult for the poor and the attitudes that lead to inequality cannot be ignored.

The novel reads like a drama, I can imagine it would make a good movie - dark and with powerful drama in it. Don't think you can predict how things will happen I was surprised on more than one occasion.

Maggie Joel the author is a new-to-me author and she writes well. She creates characters that are believable and very human. I think anyone who enjoys stories of people who are dealing with the conflict of doing the right thing over doing the easy thing, people who are grieving and novels that historically accurate then this is a perfect read.

I read this one fast as I do with novels but it is one to take time over and enjoy with a beautiful cup of tea on a comfortable couch.

Details - Half the World in Winter published by Allen and Unwin, September 2014. $29.99 Aus, also available as an ebook. Thanks to A&U for this review copy.

love you more than an afternoon of indulgent reading xxx