Sunday Salon – Book Notes




The newbooks magazine came this week and I’ve been pondering which book to choose as my free book (£2.95 for p&p). There are six to choose from this time in a bumper issue – the 50th issue.


I thought writing about them would help me decide which one to choose:

  1. The Return by Victoria Hislop, a love story set in Granada during the Spanish Civil War, framed by the contemporary story of Sonia on holiday in Spain. Dance is an important part of The Return used to transcend the horrors of the war. I have her earlier novel The Island but haven’t read it yet. Maybe I should read that first.
  2. The Senator’s Wife by Sue Miller. Meri and Nathan’s new neighbour is a distinguished Senator. He is nowhere to be seen but Meri and his wife become friends. In an interview with Sue Miller she says that the book scrutinises marriage and the accommodations made by the wife of an incurably promiscuous politician. I’m not sure I fancy this one.
  3. Sashenka by Simon Montefiore. I may choose this. It begins in 1916 in St Petersburg. Sashenka’s mother parties with Rasputin whilst Sashenka is involved with conspiracy. It then moves forward to 1939 in Moscow under Stalin and ends in the 1990s when a young historian researches her life and discovers her fate.
  4. Being Emily by Anne Donovan. I like the title and the connection to the Brontes, but I’m not too keen on a teenage heroine obssessed with a romantic vision of Emily Bronte.  Reading the extract in the magazine I think this book would annoy me with its spelling – eg the first sentence is “Through the livin room Patrick was paintin the fireplace while Mona and Rona practised their line dancin.”
  5. A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson. The story of Mr Malik and his old school chum and now rival Harry Kahn, it is set in and around Nairobi, the home of millions of people in both mansions and slums and also home to some spectacular birds. Mr Malik secretly loves Rose who leads the weekly bird walk. This sounds lively and full of humour. I may pick this one.
  6. The Lighted Rooms by Richard Mason. This is set in the Orange Free State, South Africa with Joan returning to the family homestead. She discovers her grandmother’s journal written during the Anglo-Boer war. However Joan is now losing her memory and her daughter Eloise pays for her to live in a nursing home. The novel considers the ethics of putting an old person into a home. Perhaps this is one I should read.

Well, I’m still not sure, but I seem to have whittled it down to three at least.

7 thoughts on “Sunday Salon – Book Notes

  1. “The Senator’s Wife” caused quite a stir here in Washington DC when it was published. Many political wives were quick to point out that their marriages did not resemble the one in the book. Sounded a little like protesting too much, I think. You’ve got some interesting choices there.


  2. I wonder when my copy of newbooks will show up. It always seems to take quite a bit longer. I never request the ‘free’ book because the international P&P is £6 and it’s usually cheaper to buy it from The Book Depository. LOL. But if I did I’d probably go with Sashenka. I think the spelling in Being Emily would drive me crazy too.


  3. Mog, Sashenka sounds better than Being Emily to me.
    JLS that’s interesting – the senators’ do wives sound too defensive.
    Susan, oh I agree with you – I’m dismissing that one.
    Tanabata, I keep forgetting about The Book Depository.


  4. When you do read A Guide to the Birds of East Africa, I’d look forward to hearing a review. I am not an avid Alexander McCall Smith fan and this book is often compared to his work – so I will wait to hear what you think.


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