Welcome to the Christmas Book Fair with some novels that would make amazing gifts.
The first novel is one I can highly recommend and is by Mary Smith …No More Mulberries
No More Mulberries is a story of commitment and divided loyalties, of love and loss, set against a country struggling through transition.
British-born Miriam’s marriage to her Afghan doctor husband is heading towards crisis. Despite his opposition, she goes to work as a translator at a medical teaching camp in a remote area of rural Afghanistan hoping time apart will help are see where their problems lie. She comes to realise how unresolved issues from when her first husband was killed by a mujahideen group are damaging her relationship with her husband and her son – but is it already too late to save her marriage?
One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads
No More Mulberries is the beautifully written story of Miriam and Iqbal, and of their family and working life in the rural village of Sang-i-Sia, Afghanistan. Miriam is a midwife who was born in Scotland, but wholeheartedly takes on the traditions and culture of her life in Afghanistan. Iqbal, her husband, is a doctor who has returned home after experiencing far more freedom when he lived in Pakistan.
This is Miriam’s second marriage and as the story develops it becomes clear that her first husband, Jawad, with whom she had a son, Farid, was murdered. Now, she and Iqbal also have a daughter together, Ruckshana.
At the start of the story there is already tension building in the relationship as Miriam takes umbrage when Iqbal cancels the English lessons she was giving to some boys as he felt they were inappropriate. This tension escalates when their boss, Jeanine, arrives, to carry out an inspection of the clinics they run.
Soon Miriam has to take decisions that she knows Iqbal won’t like and ends up facing her past, many years after she should have done. But maybe, just maybe, this is what’s needed to bring her and Iqbal back together.
There is such a delightful attention to detail in this wonderful book. It felt completely authentic and I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing life in Afghanistan in the 1990’s. Highly recommended.
Also by Mary Smith
The next novel, which is another of my personal recommendations is by Claire Fullerton and Little Tea.
About the book.
Southern Culture … Old Friendships … Family Tragedy
One phone call from Renny to come home and “see about” the capricious Ava and Celia Wakefield decides to overlook her distressful past in the name of friendship.
For three reflective days at Renny’s lake house in Heber Springs, Arkansas, the three childhood friends reunite and examine life, love, marriage, and the ties that bind, even though Celia’s personal story has yet to be healed. When the past arrives at the lake house door in the form of her old boyfriend, Celia must revisit the life she’d tried to outrun.
As her idyllic coming of age alongside her best friend, Little Tea, on her family’s ancestral grounds in bucolic Como, Mississippi unfolds, Celia realizes there is no better place to accept her own story than in this circle of friends who have remained beside her throughout the years. Theirs is a friendship that can talk any life sorrow into a comic tragedy, and now that the racial divide in the Deep South has evolved, Celia wonders if friendship can triumph over history.
One of the recent reviews for the book
Claire Fullerton has a rare gift of understanding the power of language and excels at the succinct choice of the written word to convey meaning. Her linguistic expertise provides a melodic flow not only to her dialogue, but to the subtle nuance of the voice and interplay of her characters. In Little Tea, Fullerton’s genius reaches new levels of achievement providing the reader not only with a lyrical, meaningful, and magical story of friendship, family, and challenge, but a difficult conundrum as well. We must decide whether to move ahead with the compelling plot to discover how the story unfolds, or to slowly savor the richness of the language and the impact of each carefully chosen word. Fortunately for us, there is no wrong answer, and we can enjoy the range of Fullerton’s ability whichever we choose. I highly recommend all the author’s work.
Also by Claire Fullerton
The first author with a recent review is Christa Polkinhorn for The Italian Sister (The Wine Lover’s Daughter Book 1).
About the book
Standing at her father’s grave in California, Sofia Laverne mourns his untimely death. Henry had not only been a loving parent but Sofia’s best friend and mentor. Imagine her shock and grief when she finds out her father had lived a double-life, that she has a ten-year younger sister and inherited a vineyard in Tuscany. Torn between anger about his betrayal, grief for her loss, and hopeful anticipation, Sofia packs her bags and takes off for Italy to meet fourteen-year old Julietta. Arriving in the small hill town of Vignaverde, she is greeted by olive groves, neat rows of grape vines, and picturesque houses. Some of the inhabitants of this beautiful estate are, unfortunately, less welcoming and resent her intrusion into the family business. Soon, strange occurrences begin to frighten Sofia. When a suspicious accident lands her in the hospital, Sofia fears for her life.
Part family drama, part romantic suspense, THE ITALIAN SISTER takes us on a wild journey from California to Tuscany and provides glimpses into the exciting world of winemaking.
One of the recent reviews for the book
The Italian Sister-what a story!
A great story of the secret life of a dearly departed father and vintners with a secret Italian daughter to share with his American daughter. Sophia learns of her secret sister in Italy at her father’s passing and the fact that she inherited a home and vineyards in Italy. A little sinister events occurring as she arrives in Italy to meet her Italian relatives and claims her home and vineyards in Tuscany. A great story of family and love…great characters! Would love to see where this story continues
A selection of books by Christa Polkinhorn
An now another novel that I can recommend The Last Pilgrim by Noelle Granger,
About the book
This book captures and celebrates the grit and struggle of the Pilgrim women who stepped off the Mayflower in the winter of 1620 to an unknown world – one filled with hardship, danger and death. The Plymouth Colony would not have survived without them.
Mary Allerton Cushman was the last surviving passenger of the Mayflower, dying at age 88 in 1699.
Mary’s life is set against the real background of that time. The Last Pilgrim begins from her father’s point of view – she was, after all, only four when she descended into the cramped and dank living space below deck on the Mayflower – but gradually assumes Mary’s voice, as the colony achieves a foothold in the New England’s rocky soil.
What was a woman’s life like in the Plymouth Colony? The Last Pilgrim will tell you.
A recent review for the book
Bought this originally for my granddaughter as she descends from Pilgrim Susanna Jackson White. She is 14. Noelle warned me her book contained adult themes, so I thought would read it first. Mesmerizing. Every pilgrim descendant should read this and I went ahead and sent to my granddaughter.
I have known Plymouth Colony fared better than Jamestowne because of the four women who survived the first year and help build the community that created our great country. Noelle brings to life what they did in a very compelling narrative of the struggle they faced and how they overcame adversity. This is a story of family, religion, relationships, war, love, death, and with a perseverance like none I have read before. Huzzah to Mary Allerton Cushman and her ilk. We owe them — and we owe Noelle for telling us.
D. Michael Beard Editor The Pilgrim William White Society Newsletter
Also by N.A. Granger
The final author today is Roz Morris for her novel Ever Rest: How far must you go to come back to life?
About the book
Twenty years ago, Hugo and Ash were on top of the world. As the acclaimed rock band Ashbirds they were poised for superstardom. Then Ash went missing, lost in a mountaineering accident, and the lives of Hugo and everyone around him were changed forever. Irrepressible, infuriating, mesmerizing Ash left a hole they could never hope to fill.
Two decades on, Ash’s fiancée Elza is still struggling to move on, her private grief outshone by the glare of publicity. The loss of such a rock icon is a worldwide tragedy.
Hugo is now a recluse in Nepal, shunning his old life. Robert, an ambitious session player, feels himself both blessed and cursed by his brief time with Ashbirds, unable to achieve recognition in his own right. While the Ashbirds legend burns brighter than ever, Elza, Hugo and Robert are as stranded as if they were the ones lost in the ice. How far must they go to come back to life?
A lyrical, page-turning novel in the tradition of Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano, Ever Rest asks how we carry on after catastrophic loss. It will also strike a chord with fans of Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings and Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Daisy Jones for its people bonded by an unforgettable time; fans of Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, for music as a primal and romantic force; and Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air for the deadly and irresistible wildernesses that surround our comfortable world.
One of the recent reviews for the book
Pop star Ashten Geddard died years ago in a tragic accident on Mount Everest, and his body has never been recovered. His bandmates and girlfriend have all been left to deal with the aftermath. Ever Rest follows the lives of these close affiliates, friends and lovers, weaving a moving tale of how ripples caused by individual actions, ideas and assumptions impact the lives of others.
This novel gives realistic portrayals of the impact of fame and of the world of elite mountain climbers. Author Roz Morris gives us a peek into both while also deftly acknowledging that no one can fully understand the demands of either of these life paths without having lived them.
In fact, the theme of misunderstanding the lives of others because of not fully knowing their truth is key to this book. The author seeds the book with an underlying desire for connection, for true understanding, alongside the realization that this connection is always rare and fleeting, even in the closest of relationships. In the end, the novel finds a space for what a loving relationship might look like even given our shortcomings of truly knowing one another.
A selection of other books by Roz Morris