First Chapter First Paragraph: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Every Tuesday First Chapter, First Paragraph/Intros is hosted by Vicky of I’d Rather Be at the Beach sharing the first paragraph or two of a book she’s reading or plans to read soon.

This week I’m featuring The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. This is one of the books that I’m currently reading.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

 

Prologue

The Woman in the Photograph

There’s a photo on my wall of a woman I’ve never met, its left corner torn and patched together with tape. She looks straight into the camera and smiles, hands on hips, dress suit neatly pressed, lips painted deep read. It’s the late 1940s and she hasn’t yet reached the age of thirty. Her light brown skin is smooth, her eyes still young and playful, oblivious to the tumor that would leave her five children motherless and change the future of medicine. Beneath the photo, a caption says her name is “Henrietta Lacks, Helen Lane or Helen Larson.”

Blurb (Amazon)

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. Born a poor black tobacco farmer, her cancer cells – taken without her knowledge – became a multimillion-dollar industry and one of the most important tools in medicine. Yet Henrietta’s family did not learn of her ‘immortality’ until more than twenty years after her death, with devastating consequences . . .

Rebecca Skloot’s fascinating account is the story of the life, and afterlife, of one woman who changed the medical world forever. Balancing the beauty and drama of scientific discovery with dark questions about who owns the stuff our bodies are made of, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is an extraordinary journey in search of the soul and story of a real woman, whose cells live on today in all four corners of the world.

~~~

So far, I’ve read 34% and I am thoroughly enjoying this book. It tells Henrietta’s life story, explains the details of her cancer, and the medical details of how her cells were grown, how they have stayed alive and multiplied. It also considers the ethical issues around ownership of her cells, racism and the distress, anger and confusion this caused her family.

I know ‘amazing’ is such an over used word – but this book really is amazing!

If you’ve read it I’d love to know what you thought of it. If you haven’t, does it tempt you too?

First Chapter First Paragraph: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

Every Tuesday First Chapter, First Paragraph/Intros is hosted by Vicky of I’d Rather Be at the Beach sharing the first paragraph or two of a book she’s reading or plans to read soon.

This week I’m featuring Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. This is one of those books that I’ve heard about but never got round to looking for it to read. A couple of weeks ago Fictionophile included it in her Wednesday Word post about books with the word ‘bitter‘ in the title.  It caught my eye, and I decided to look for the book in my local library.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

The Panama Hotel

(1986)

Old Henry Lee stood transfixed by all the commotion at the Panama Hotel. What had started as a crowd of curious onlookers eyeballing a television news crew had now swollen to a polite mob of shoppers, tourists, and a few punk-looking kids, all wondering what the big deal was. In the middle of the crowd stood Henry, shopping bags hanging at his side. He felt as if he were waking from a dream. A dream he’d once had as a little boy.

Blurb (Amazon)

1986, The Panama Hotel The old Seattle landmark has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made a startling discovery in the basement: personal belongings stored away by Japanese families sent to interment camps during the Second World War. Among the fascinated crowd gathering outside the hotel, stands Henry Lee, and, as the owner unfurls a distinctive parasol, he is flooded by memories of his childhood. He wonders if by some miracle, in amongst the boxes of dusty treasures, lies a link to the Okabe family, and the girl he lost his young heart to, so many years ago.

~~~

Having wondered about reading this book for a while now, I’m hoping I’ll like it.

If you’ve read it I’d love to know what you thought of it. If you haven’t, does it tempt you too?

First Chapter First Paragraph: Dear Mrs Bird by A J Pearce

Every Tuesday First Chapter, First Paragraph/Intros is hosted by Vicky of I’d Rather Be at the Beach sharing the first paragraph or two of a book she’s reading or plans to read soon.

This week I’m featuring Dear Mrs Bird by A J Pearce, one of the books I’ll be reading soon.

Dear Mrs Bird

 

London, December 1940

Chapter One

An Advertisement in the Newspaper

When I first saw the advertisement in the newspaper I thought I might actually burst. I’d had rather a cheerful day so far despite the Luftwaffe annoying everyone by making us all late for work, and then I’d managed to get hold of an onion, which was very good news for a stew. But when I saw the announcement, I was cock-a-hoop.

Blurb (Amazon)

London, 1941. Amid the falling bombs Emmeline Lake dreams of becoming a fearless Lady War Correspondent. Unfortunately, Emmy instead finds herself employed as a typist for the formidable Henrietta Bird, the renowned agony aunt at Woman’s Friend magazine. Mrs Bird refuses to read, let alone answer, letters containing any form of Unpleasantness, and definitely not those from the lovelorn, grief-stricken or morally conflicted.

But the thought of these desperate women waiting for an answer at this most desperate of times becomes impossible for Emmy to ignore. She decides she simply must help and secretly starts to write back – after all, what harm could that possibly do?

~~~

Seeing all the 5 and 4 stars this book has gathered I’m hoping I’ll enjoy it too.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

First Chapter First Paragraph: An Advancement of Learning by Reginald Hill

Every Tuesday First Chapter, First Paragraph/Intros is hosted by Vicky of I’d Rather Be at the Beach sharing the first paragraph or two of a book she’s reading or plans to read soon.

This week I’m featuring An Advancement of Learning by Reginald Hill, one of the books I’m currently reading.

An Advancement of Learning (Dalziel & Pascoe, Book 2)

There had been a great deal of snow that December followed by hard frost. A few days before Christmas a thaw set in, temperatures rose steeply, the snow became slush. The sun greedily sucked up the moisture until it saturated the air and impinged on all the senses.

Blurb (Amazon)

All is not well at Holm Coultram College: lecturers having affairs with students, witches’ sabbaths, a body buried under a statue.

Detective Superintendent Dalziel, despite his cynical view of academics, doesn’t feel murder fits in here – let alone a rash of killings. But when he and DS Pascoe are sent to investigate a disinterred corpse at Holm Coultram College, that’s exactly what they find…

~~~

 This is the second Dalziel and Pascoe book. I’ve read some of the later books in the series and am now going back to the early ones that I haven’t yet read.  I first came across Dalziel and Pascoe via the TV adaptations and I think I remember watching the TV version of this one several years ago. Maybe it’s because I saw the TV versions before I read the books that I enjoy both so much – Warren Clark as Dalziel was so right in the role.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

First Chapter First Paragraph: I Found You by Lisa Jewell

Every Tuesday First Chapter, First Paragraph/Intros is hosted by Vicky of I’d Rather Be at the Beach sharing the first paragraph or two of a book she’s reading or plans to read soon.

This week I’m featuring I Found You by Lisa Jewell, one of the books I’m currently reading.

I Found You

 

Alice Lake lives in a house by the sea. It is a tiny house, a coastguard’s cottage, built over three hundred years ago for people much smaller than her. The ceilings slope and bulge and her fourteen-year old son needs to bow his head to get through the front door. They were all so little when she moved them here from London six years ago. Jasmine was ten. Kai was eight. And Romaine the baby was just four months old. She hadn’t imagined that one day she’d have a gangling child of almost six feet. She hadn’t imagined they’d ever outgrow this place

Blurb (Amazon)

Everyone has secrets. What if you can’t remember yours?

‘How long have you been sitting out here?’
‘I got here yesterday.’
‘Where did you come from?’
‘I have no idea.’

Lily has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night, she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one.

Alice finds a man on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, no idea what he is doing there. Against her better judgement, she invites him into her home.

But who is he, and how can she trust a man who has lost his memory?

~~~

 I enjoyed Lisa Jewell’s Watching You so much that I decided to look out for more of her books, so when I saw this in the library I borrowed it. I’m enjoying it so far.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

First Chapter First Paragraph: The Colour of Murder by Julian Symons

Every Tuesday First Chapter, First Paragraph/Intros is hosted by Vicky of I’d Rather Be at the Beach sharing the first paragraph or two of a book she’s reading or plans to read soon.

This week I’m featuring The Colour of Murder by Julian Symons, one of the books I’m currently reading. It was originally published in 1957 and is one of the British Library Crime Classics reprints. In his introduction Martin Edwards states it was one of the most acclaimed British crime novels of the 1950s. It focuses on the psychological make-up of  man accused of murder.

The Colour of Murder (British Library Crime Classics)

John Wilkins’s Statement to Dr. Max Andreadis, Consulting Psychiatrist

It all began one day in April when I went round to change a library book. At least, that is the time when it seemed to me to begin, though I know you people trace things a lot farther back, and I’d like to say that I don’t believe in all that. Whatever a man does, he’s got to take responsibility for his own actions, that’s what I believe. I don’t see how the world can run any other way. I have to say that, even though I know it may be against me.

Blurb (Amazon)

John Wilkins meets a beautiful, irresistible girl, and his world is turned upside down. Looking at his wife, and thinking of the girl, everything turns red before his eyes – the colour of murder.

But did he really commit the heinous crime he was accused of? Told innovatively in two parts: the psychiatric assessment of Wilkins and the trial for suspected murder on the Brighton seafront, Symons’ award-winning mystery tantalizes the reader with glimpses of the elusive truth and makes a daring exploration of the nature of justice itself.

~~~

 I haven’t read anything by Symons before, but I’m enjoying this one so far.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

First Chapter First Paragraph: The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jefferies

Every Tuesday First Chapter, First Paragraph/Intros is hosted by Vicky of I’d Rather Be at the Beach sharing the first paragraph or two of a book she’s reading or plans to read soon.

This week I’m featuring The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jefferies, one of the library  books I wrote about in this post last week.

The Tea Planter's Wife

Prologue

 

Ceylon, 1913

The woman held a slim white envelope to her lips. She hesitated for a moment longer, pausing to listen to the achingly sweet notes of a distant Sinhalese flute. She considered her resolve, turning it over as she would a pebble in her palm, then sealed the envelope and propped it against a vase of wilting red roses.

Chapter I

Twelve Years Later, Ceylon 1925

With her straw hat in one hand, Gwen leant against the salty railings and glanced down again. She’d been watching the shifting colour of the sea for an hour, tracing the shreds of paper, the curls of orange peel and the leaves drifting by. Now that the water had changed from deepest turquoise to dingy grey, she knew it wouldn’t be long. She leant a little further over the rail to watch a piece of silver fabric float out of sight.

Blurb (Amazon)

Nineteen-year-old Gwendolyn Hooper steps off a steamer in Ceylon full of optimism, eager to join her new husband. But the man who greets her at the tea plantation is not the same one she fell in love with in London.

Distant and brooding, Laurence spends long days wrapped up in his work, leaving his young bride to explore the plantation alone. It’s a place filled with clues to the past – locked doors, a yellowed wedding dress in a dusty trunk, an overgrown grave hidden in the grounds, far too small for an adult…

Gwen soon falls pregnant and her husband is overjoyed, but she has little time to celebrate. In the delivery room the new mother is faced with a terrible choice, one she knows no one in her upper class set will understand – least of all Laurence. Forced to bury a secret at the heart of her marriage, Gwen is more isolated than ever. When the time comes, how will her husband ever understand what she has done?

~~~

I think I’m going to enjoy this book – I really hope I will.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?