Monday, 17 June 2013

Book Review - The Love of My Life by Louise Douglas.

The Love of My Life

"I miss him with every breath and heartbeat. He should have been my happy ending. Instead, he is the sad beginning to my story."

When I started to read this book my instant impression was that it wasn't going to be that great.  You know when you read the first chapter and it doesn't really do anything for you.....that!  But once I had given it a bit more time the story actually drew me in.

It tells the story of Olivia, who has recently become the widow of Luca.  I think one of the reasons my heart wasn't with it to begin with, is that it is one of those books that jumps every chapter from past to present and that usually throws me.  But after reading a few more chapters I got it! and the story develops well, one chater the past the nest the present.

Olivia and Luca grew up together in their small town, Olivia working in Luca's parent's restaurant in the summer months and their friendship develops but Luca 's mother has plans for him to marry someone else, and in the end he elopes to London with Olivia.  Olivia becomes the one at fault in the eyes of Luca's family and when Luca is tragically killed, Olivia makes the decision to return to their home town, where no one is pleased to see her.

There are parts of this story that are very predicatble, but there is also something about the way that it is written that makes you want to read on. Olivia quickly realises that she and Marc, Luca's twin share their greif and start an affair that has drastic consequences and shows certain moments of similarity between Olivia and Luca's life. Even though they both know the affair is purely based on grief, the results are heart breaking for Olivia.

Louise Douglas writes in a sensitive and beautiful way, and this is again a first class debut novel. I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Book Review - The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Okay so two things first, I apologize that it has taken me a bit longer than I said it would and secondly how ever many times I say this authors name to myself, my pronounciation of it is always different!!  I have no idea how to say it, I'll see if I can find out how it should be said!

Found it - AYE-oh-win EYE-vee.  There that tells you!

Here is a bit about the author taken from Goodreads

Eowyn LeMay Ivey was raised in Alaska and continues to live there with her husband and two daughters. She received her BA in journalism and minor in creative writing through the honors program at Western Washington University, studied creative nonfiction at the University of Alaska Anchorage graduate program, and worked for nearly 10 years as an award-winning reporter at the Frontiersman newspaper. This is her first novel.

Learn more:

Blog: Letters from Alaska

So the book.

I have to admit a lot of my book choices are based on the cover and the cover of this book on Kobo, drew my attention straight away. The simplicity of it, but also the girl and the fox, I was instantly intrigued and so downloaded it.

When I read that it was based on a Russian fairytale, I really didn't know what to expect, again a bit of curiousness crept in and when I started to read this book, it grabbed me and didn't let me go.

Set in the 1920's (though it could easily have been any time in my mind), the story is based on the relationship of Jack and Mabel, the two main characters and follows them as they start a new life in Alaska, building their homestead. The authors descriptions of both characters are very good, giving you a real insight into their relationship and their feelings for each other (strained) and the land on which they are now living (bleak). The days are pretty monotonous to start with, Jack out working the land and Mabel in the homestead.  They have moved there to get away from past memories of losing a child and wanting to start afresh even though they are now middle aged.  Darkness plays a key part in this novel, the short darken days in which they live, the darkness of the loss of their child and the wanting of another. The weather is also key, winters after winter of snow, and it is in this snow that Jack and Mabel create a child that comes to life. At first you think that the child (Faina) is in Mabel's imagination and it is not until one day when Jack follows the child into the mountains and discovers her father's body that you realise she is real.  The story follows their lives, winter after winter, the girl vanishing each spring but returning with the first snow.
Parts of the novel are predictable and as you read it you start to wish for things to happen so that Jack and Mabel get their child and even though in a sense they do, there is also a lot of descriptive writing that just takes you with it and compels you to read on to find out who Faina really is and what happens to Jack and Mabel and their new life in Alaska.
I won't give too much away about the end of the story but all I will say is that this is Eowyn Ivey's debut novel and it is by far one of the most beautifully written books I have read in a long time. The ending although it didn't surprise me left me with some questions and I was really upset when the story ended, purely because it was such an easy and lovely story to read.
I can not wait for any subsequent books by this author because if this is what she can offer on her first attempt then the next one should be truly magnificent.

I gave this book 5 Stars on Goodreads and I would recommend it, an easy to read book, beautifully written, a fantasy and the descriptions of the Alaskan winters fill your imagination in a way I could not ever have imagined.