Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
This was a book that grew on me. At first I was distracted by the constant changing of time in three different periods, but little by little as the story began to unfold I became quite caught up in it. A slightly contrived method, perhaps, but it worked. I was intrigued by the mysteries and the secrets. The characters were well drawn and the clever use of the fairy stories added to the atmosphere delightfully.
The Return by Victoria Hislop
This book was brilliant. It begins in the present, showing a couple of friends taking a holiday in Granada, and one of them strikes up a friendship with an old man who runs a bar. He starts to tell her about the family who used to own it and were caught up in the civil war. Moving, powerful, a family you care about, and the writer was able to draw a realistic picture of the civil war without overdoing the research and getting into all the complicated factions. I was gripped and read it very quickly, neglecting my own writing in order to finish it. Highly recommended.
The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir
I loved this book, but then historical novels are my favourite. Weir writes well and with confidence, as we know from her non-fiction books, but she has made the change into fiction seamlessly. I might quarrel with one or two of her ‘fictions’ but she made a good story. You could feel Elizabeth's terror through those dangerous times, and her courage as she trod carefully around her sister Mary’s sensitivities. Excellent!
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
As probably one of the few people who balked at reading the Kite Runner, thinking it didn’t sound like my thing, this book was recommended by a friend and I’m so glad I bought it. My goodness but it is a powerful story, and beautifully told. I went every step of the way with Mariam and with Laila as they were each forcibly married to the same man, and learned a great deal of the problems faced by Afghan women along the way. Strong as the subject matter was, it was not depressing, for the two main characters had such spirit and courage. I shall now have to read Kite Runner. That’s an absolute.