December 02, 2012

I'm Still Here...

OK, so almost 2 months since my last post and I feel like my blogging world is leaving me behind. This being a mum sure takes up a lot of time, energy and headspace! My Baby Bookbath is now 4 months old and really becoming her own little individual - the good news is she seems to really like books! I wasn't sure how I was going to cope if she didn't!
As for my own reading - I am already noticing some changes. I have so much less time to read now that I want to make every word count. I feel the pressure to choose my reading materials carefully as I don't want to waste precious time on books that won't feed my reading needs. That being said I have now finished 3 whole books since Pia's birth on the 31st July. A dismal total when I look back at my previous reading habits but I feel they are 3 books that I enjoyed and devoured - quality over quantity. I am hoping to get some more detailed reviews of these 3 books up on the blog soon.
I have abandoned any hope of writing reviews for all of the other books I have read this year prior to Pia being born but I will add them to my sidebar so that you can see what I have been reading (and so that I can see I have accomplished something reading wise this year!).
Until reviews are up, some photos to reflect my current world...

October 10, 2012

I May Have Jumped the Gun...

I might have spoken too soon about my return to normal blogging activities - this parenting thing sure is a roller coaster! I really am hoping to get down to some actual writing very soon but in the meantime here are some photos to help express my world at the moment - and yes, there are books in it!!


September 16, 2012

The Weeks That Have Been...

Baby BookBath is now 7 weeks old and (hopefully!) she seems to be catching on to the whole sleeping thing a little more! Which might mean I am able to resume some reading and blogging - we will see...
In the meantime, before the normal book reviewing and posting picks up again, some photos to show what things have been like in the BookBath household over the past 7 weeks...

August 12, 2012

My 8 Pound Reason for not Blogging Lately...

Baby BookBath arrived on the 31st July - a little dramatically but we are all well and settling in to the world...

July 25, 2012

The Lollipop Shoes - Joanne Harris

The thing about sequels is that as a reader you come to them with so many expectations - you want a story and characters that resonate with you the same way in which the first book did and you want them to taken further so that you feel you are getting even more of the story - an extension of what wasn't able to be given to you in the first book. You also want a sequel to carry on the tone and spirit of the initial story - you want to feel as though you are in the same world - with slight differences. These might be unrealistic expectations but they are there all the same. They are very much the expectations I had when I started reading The Lollipop Shoes, the sequel to Chocolat as part of our Paris in July event. Unfortunately, after finishing The Lollipop Shoes I didn't feel as though my sequel expectations had been met and I was left grieving for the magical feeling I had when I first read Chocolat. The risk of reading sequels!!
The Lollipop Shoes is set 5 years after Chocolat ends - Vianne (now known as Yanne), her eldest daughter Anouk (now know as Annie) and her youngest daughter Rosette are living in the Montmartre district of Paris again working in a chocolate shop but one that has none of the magic or distinctiveness of the shop Vianne had established in the village of Lansquenet. Yanne has worked hard to fade into the background, creating a "normal" life for her and her children, courting no magic or disruption. This seems like a reasonable wish for a mother of two young children but it does not feel true to the character of Vianne/Yanne at all - the spunky, vivacious woman from Chocolat has all but disappeared making the tone of the novel feel flat and hopeless. Harris has introduced a new character to try and balance this out, Zozie de l'Alba enters Yanne's live and brings the magic she is unable, or unwilling,  to rustle up herself at this time. Zozie is more than what she seems and her magic, while bringing new found success and prosperity to the chocolate shop, has its downsides in the way she uses it to play Anouk and create more of a division between mother and daughter bringing the book to its ultimate climax.
This book is much longer than Chocolat - although I didn't feel it needed to be this long the end part of the book was much more engaging that the beginning and middle sections. Some familiar characters from Chocolat arrive on the scene - but even they are not able to spark the book up for me. This was just a case of the sequel not hitting the mark, or coming close to being as wonderful as the book that inspired it. I was planning to read the third book in the series, Peaches for Monsieur le Cure but I think I will stop while I am slightly ahead and the magic and glow of Chocolat is still glowing...

July 23, 2012

Paris in July - Week 3 Wrap Up

I can't believe we are already at the end of our third week for this years Paris in July event - time sure does fly when you are in France!!
I'm still wistfully looking at the pile of books that I want to get through before the end of the month and I just know Paris themed reading is going to be continuing well into August for me...
One of the highlights for me this week was an interview with Tamara and I by the lovely Charlotte from The Book on the Hill - please check it out here if you have not already. Many thanks to Charlotte for including us and our Paris in July event on her blog.
I did manage to finish The Lollipop Shoes this week and I will post my review very soon.
In the meantime I would love to catch up on what everyone else has been reading, watching, cooking etc... over this third week so please list the links to your posts in the comments section below.
And into the final week we go...

July 17, 2012

Paris in July - for the small ones

This Paris in July is extra special for me as it is the month that my partner and I are expecting our little Baby BookBath to arrive. She already has a full bookcase awaiting her arrival and quite a few Paris/French related reading waiting for her...

Madeline is a classic that I just had to have for her collection - I even managed to find a board book copy so she read it earlier in her life!

I haven't actually read The Fleurville Trilogy by Countess de Segur but I have read that they are supposed to "French Classics" and they are beautiful, cute books that I'm hoping will be a good read as well.

Pom Pom Where are You? is a gorgeous picture book about a dog lost in Paris - already a favourite with me!

The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a book I actually bought for myself after seeing and falling in love with the movie version of the book - but I am willing to share my books with Baby BookBath!

Are there other French children's books you would recommend I add to this collection? I'm sure there are many missing...

July 12, 2012

Chocolat - Joanne Harris

My second completed read for our Paris in July 2012 event was a re-read of a much loved novel for me, Chocolat by Joanne Harris.
I remember reading this book when it was first released and what a fuss it created in the reading world - it was one of those books that people asked you if you had read and that you passed on to others once you had read it yourself. It really has a winning combination, chocolate, France, travel, wanderlust, magic, love and of course, more chocolate! Joanne Harris has written a lovely piece on her website about her influences in writing the book.
Chocolat is the story of Vianne Rocher, a young woman recently arrived in the small French village of Lansquent with her six year old daughter, Anouk. Vianne and Anouk are travellers through life, rarely settling in one place for very long but in Lansquent Vianne sees the opportunity to try and create a home for herself and her daughter and so they settle in an old bakery with Vianne turning the shop into the La Celeste Paraline Chocolaterie Artisanale - a decadent chocolate shop filled with Vianne's hand made creations.
From the very beginning it it clear that Chocolat is a book for all the senses;

We came on the wind of the carnival. A warm wind for February, laden with the hot greasy scents of frying pancakes and sausages and powdery-sweet waffles cooked on the hotplate right there by the roadside, with the confetti sleeting down collars and cuffs and rolling in the gutters like an idiot antidote to winter.

It is Harris' sensual and evocative writing that really makes Chocolat such a beautiful book for me - I really feel as though I have been transported to this French village and am sitting in the Chocolaterie drinking a rich, creamy hot chocolate with a truffle on the side...
Of course Vianne's dramatic entrance to the community of Lansquent and her establishing of a chocolate shop in the middle of lent does not go unnoticed. The local priest, Reynaud, takes particular offence to Vianne and Anouk's arrival and sets out to damage her reputation and turn the community away from their lusts for her chocolate and friendly company.
Chocolat is still as beautiful and enriching to me as the first time I read it, a book that takes the reader to France and the world of magic and chocolate without being unreal or completely escapist.

July 08, 2012

Paris in July - Week 1 Wrap Up

I can't believe the first week of Paris in July is already over! Time flies when you are having fun...
I have finished my re-read of Chocolat (review post to come this week) and have started reading the sequel The Lollipop Shoes which I have to say is a very different book to the first.
I'm really looking forward to reading about and seeing what everyone else has been up to this week so please add all your Paris in July related post links in the comments section below this post so that we can all follow along. Please forgive me for no adding a Mr Linky but my computer skills have abandoned me and although I know it should be easy to work out my brain is just not functioning so well today!!
Remember, it is never too late to join in the fun so please go to the introduction post here if you would like to add your name to the Paris in July 2012 event.
Tamara will be wrapping up Week 2 so head over to her blog, Thyme for Tea at the end of this week to see what Paris/French related fun has gone on this week.
Happy Paris in July everyone!!

July 06, 2012

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky - Simon Mawer

Mawer’s book, The Glass Room, was a complete winner for me when I read it in 2009 so I had no hesitations in picking up his new book, The Girl Who Fell From the Sky. Even though I finished the book at the end of last month I am going to cheat a little and include it in my Paris in July reading list as so much of the book took place in Paris and rural France.
I can’t say that I found The Girl Who Fell From the Sky quite as captivating and original as The Glass Room but it was still a wonderful read.
The book is set during WW2, the main character Marian Sutro is a young half British/half French woman working for a war department in London when she approached by a secret agency to train for undercover work in France. It all seems a little surreal and convenient the way she is recruited but I guess that is how things were done?? I would like to read some actual accounts from women who had worked in these sorts of positions and agencies during war time to compare - although I am sure Mawer did his research. As well as her role as an undercover agent there is very much a personal side to Marian’s story as her arrival in Paris during the German occupation brings her into direct contact with a past family friend and potential lover, Clement.
There are all the elements of a traditional spy story here with undercover missions, double agents and a feeling on behalf of the reader that we are never really quite sure who’s side everyone is on. But there is also very much the coming of age story of Marian.

Beautiful, tight prose keep the story moving and although this book didn’t hold the same magic as The Glass Room for me it was still a fantastic story with characters to cling to.

July 01, 2012

Welcome to Paris in July!

Welcome everyone to the start of our Paris in July event for 2012! If you haven't already, head over to this post and add your name to the Mr Linky list for the event, and if you would like to know more about what Paris in July is all about, head over to this post. We try to make everything simple and easy for those wanting to get involved - no targets, no restrictions really - just bring your love of Paris and France and join in! Tamara has already got us started with a post about prize winning French literature which might give you some ideas if you are still looking for books to add to your lists.
I have been looking through my shelves trying to put a reading plan together for the month.
I am starting out with a re-read of one of my favourite novels ever, Chocolat by Joanne Harris and I then plan to move onto the other 2 books in the trilogy, The Lollipop Shoes and the newly released, Peaches For Monsieur le Cure.

I also have plenty of non-fiction books available to dip into during the month as well as a little Sartre in the form of The Age of Reason.

I'm thinking these will probably keep me going for the month but I'm sure I will get diverted when I start reading everyone elses posts...
I will try to do some more blogging in amongst my reading this week but I will definitely be back on Sunday to put up a wrap up post for the week and create a new Mr Linky for you to add your weekly posts to.
Happy Paris in July everyone!

June 30, 2012

What is it about Paris...

As we move closer and closer to the start of Paris in July it looks like we have about 40 bloggers joining us for the event this year which is fantastic. It is never too late to join in the fun just head to this post and add your name to the Mr Linky post page. We will be adding other Mr Linky pages or comments pages to our weekly wrap up posts for your reviews/writings from that week.
I have been doing some thinking about what I would like to read and watch during this years Paris in July event but I have also been thinking a lot about Paris itself - and what exactly is it about this city that captures the imagination of so many of us...
Unlike my co-host Tamara (who was lucky enough to be in France this time last year) I have only been to Paris once - but it was a trip I remember with great fondness and I can't wait to re-visit there (hopefully one day soon). Before my first visit to Paris I have to admit I wasn't one of those people who dreamt about the city of lights constantly (Italy actually holds that place in my heart) but after seeing the city for the first time I can definitely say I feel in love. I have been looking back over my travel journal from our trip trying to recapture those first impressions;

The majority of the day spent in airports, planes and buses but it was definitely all worth it when our bus took us through the city of Paris to our hotel. The trip from the airport took over 2 hours but I didn't care - every turn saw a more beautiful street or building or famous site come into view. It felt like something out of a novel - stunning! Even more amazing than I had dreamt it would be. I can't wait to explore further. I can already tell I will not want to leave...

And I didn't, when our time to leave Paris came only a few short days later I was devastated - that's the way Paris captures you I think.
What are some of your favourite memories or dreams of Paris - and how is Paris in July going to help you re-live them in some way? I would love to hear your thoughts...

June 22, 2012

Miles Franklin Award

Congratulations to Anna Funder for taking out the 2012 Miles Franklin Award this week for her brilliant novel All That I Am. I read this book last year, see my review here, and just loved it but all the press the book has been getting of late has made me want to read it all over again...

June 11, 2012

The Painted Bridge - Wendy Wallace

The Painted Bridge was one of those books that spoke to me as soon as I saw it on the shelf - a gorgeous evocative cover, a setting in Victorian England (one of my favourite reading/historical periods) and a topic area covering women's mental health and the treatment of women in asylums.
The book starts by introducing the reader to Lake House - "a private asylum for genteel women of a delicate nature" as the back cover blurb tells us. A resident of the asylum is having her photograph taken as a method of diagnosing and treating her particular  "illness" by a young and experimental doctor, Lucas St Clair. The reader is taken from this scene to one where the main character, Anna Palmer is first bought to the asylum - without her knowledge or consent - by her husband.
The book follows Anna's journey through the various treatment models used by the asylum and it's staff and her determination to prove her sanity and be released. Along the way many other characters are introduced, some in quite a lot of detail, and I felt this was one of the down falls of the book. There were so many different characters and back stories to take into consideration it was hard to know where your focus as a reader should lie.
Anna interacts with the other residents of the asylum and comes to know their stories for being there and she also begins a tentative friendship with the young daughter of the owner of the asylum which leads to one of the main adventure scenes of the book. We are also taken into Anna's childhood (much as a psychiatrist or therapist might take a client) and learn of the important events of her life including the death of her father and her marriage to a man who is not what he first seems.
The book is definitely a page turner - there is plenty to keep a reader interested and occupied but, as I have said above, Anna's story probably could have been a lot tighter without the distractions of so many others competing for the reader's attention.

June 10, 2012

Paris in July 2012 - Mr Linky Now Available!

Hi to all the Paris in July 2012 bloggers out there!
We are trying to modernise our event a little bit this year and jump into using Mr Linky - which a lot of you suggested would be a good idea in the post event feedback last year.
Now, please be patient as anything technical to do with blogging is usually a little beyond me (although you would think having a computer programmer as a partner would make things a little easier!).
I am going to start a Paris in July 2012 Mr Linky below - could everyone who has already said they would like to join please add their names/blogs to the list and anyone from now on in who would like to join us please add your names also.
Please let me know if you have any problems with this and I will do my best to fix things!

June 05, 2012

Paris in July 2012 - We're Back!

Tamara from Thyme for Tea and myself are excited to announce the third “Paris in July” event – a month long blogging experience celebrating our love of all things French and Parisian. Tamara and I really enjoy the experience of hosting and being treated to the many reviews, stories and photos that transport us all to Paris and all things French. First held in 2010 with 39 participants, by popular demand, we were compelled to go again in 2011 with even more participants. Now we’ve heard your requests and we’re off again - on a new journey “Paris in July 2012”.
For those of you who participated last year the guidelines for the event will be pretty much the same (we reserve the right to throw in some surprises now and then). Paris in July will run from the 1st - 31st July 2012 and the aim of the month is to celebrate our French experiences through reading, watching, listening to, observing, cooking and eating all things French.

There will be no rules or targets in terms of how much you need to do or complete in order to be a part of Paris in July - just blog about anything French and you can join in. Some ideas for the month might include:

- Reading a French book - fiction or non-fiction

- Watching a French movie

- Listening to French music

- Cooking French food

- Experiencing French art, architecture or travel (or remembering travel experiences)

- Or anything else French inspired you can think of...

If you are interested in being a part of this experience leave a comment on this post and we will put together a side bar showing all of the participants. Feel free to use the buttons from this post on your own blogs. There will be weekly French themed prizes during the month for which we will randomly draw the winners from all the French themed posts of that week that link back to us. We will be writing weekly wrap up posts for you to link your posts to.

In the coming weeks Tamara and I will both post some links you might find motivation from – and I invite others to do the same...

Happy Paris in July once again!

June 03, 2012

Review Overload - Please help me!!!

I have been out of action from the blogging world for so long now I almost feel as though I need assistance just to type a post! This lack of action on my actual blog hasn't meant that my reading has slowed down though - the photo above is of all the books that I have read since the beginning of this year but haven't gotten around to blogging about for one reason or another.
And that's where you come in...
I'm not sure I have the energy to write full reviews on each of these books that will give them justice so I would like you to vote for the one you would most like to read a review about. I will choose the 3 books with the most votes to do reviews on in the coming week or so.
The rest I will add to my 2012 reading side bar and let go into the review ether (as much as it pains me to do!).
Thank you so much for your assistance in advance!

I know this photo is difficult to see so here are a list of the books (from bottom to the top) for you to choose from:

Various Pets Alive and Dead - Marina Lewycka
Let the Right One In - John Lindqvist
Leviathan - Scott Westerfeld
Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
The Submission - Amy Waldman
The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
Good Evening Mrs Craven: The War Stories of Mollie Panter Down
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen - Paul Torday
The Univited Guests - Sadie Jones
The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
The Children of the King - Sonya Hartnett
Charles Dickens: A Life - Claire Tomalin
Foreign Bodies - Cynthia Ozick
The Song of Achilles - Madeline Miller
Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
The Painted Bridge - Wendy Wallace

May 03, 2012

Painter of Silence - Georgina Harding

Painter of Silence is one of the books that has made it to the Short List of the 2012 Orange Prize but it was on my reading radar despite this accolade.
The Painter of Silence is a story set in Romania in the early 1950's but it sways back and forth between then and the earlier period of World War 2 and the establishment of Communism. The two main characters, Augustin and Safta have known each other since child hood when Augustin's mother was the cook for Safta's wealthy, land owning family. Augustin was born deaf and mute but he found a way of communicating through his talent for drawing. Now, after a traumatic and violent past he has found Safta working as a nurse in a hospital in the town of Iasi - he has come specifically looking for her as he has as story he needs to pass on to her in time, through his drawings.
This is an extremely visual, evocative book full of rich imagery that sometimes felt as though a painting was being drawn for the reader by the author. The inability of Augustin to speak out loud means that the reader is brought into his inner thoughts as a way of understanding him - this is a technique used for most of the characters even though they have the ability of speech and I really liked the feel this gave the book - of almost a dreamlike type quality. I know this is sounding all a little wishy washy - but the story, plot and characterisation all remain strong despite this ethereal quality to the writing - it was the best of both worlds for me!

April 23, 2012

The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus was one of those books I had seen and heard about but stayed away from for so long - I'm not really sure why - I think I thought it might have been a little too "out there" for my reading tastes. How wrong I was! This book is already one of my favourite reads of 2012 and I am sure it will stay at, or near, the top of the list no matter how many books I manage to read this year.
The Night Circus tells the story of a special circus Le Cirque des Rêves (The Circus of Dreams) that travels the globe during the late 1800's opening only during the night hours to captivated crowds. The circus is part traditional circus and part magical realm - the setting of a contest between two novice magicians, Celia and Marco where they attempt to out perform and out maneuver the other in a contest designed to be the death of one of them.
Reading this book reminded me a lot of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell - another book that I originally stayed away from but couldn't put down when I did eventually decide to read it. The Night Circus was very similar in its appeal for me - a combination of relationships and settings grounded in reality but also a magical, fantasy element that captured and intrigued me. The book is rich in imagery - I can only imagine that a movie version is already being looked at - and I felt the author did an amazing job in bringing her visionary world to life for the reader. Looking back over the plot carefully after finishing it is easy to see some gaps and inconsistencies but I prefer not to dwell on these - I certainly didn't notice them when I was caught up in the reading and I was completely transported to the world of The Circus of Dreams.
The book was long listed for this years Orange Prize but unfortunately did not make it to the short list - I would like to see books showing this much imagination and story telling ability rewarded much more often.

April 10, 2012

The Sealed Letter - Emma Donoghue

It seems like I was one of the few people who didn't fall heavily for Donoghue's much loved and talked about book, Room - I thought it was clever in so many ways but despite the content it just failed to connect with me for some reason.
My latest Donoghue read is a completely different matter however - The Sealed Letter had me hooked from the start and I can see why it has been long listed for the 2012 Orange Prize.
The Sealed Letter is set in Victorian England and is based on the true story of divorce proceedings between an upper class couple of the time - Henry and Helen Codrington. Divorce cases were still extremely rare in these times (Donoghue writes in her author's note that in Britain between 1670 and 1852 there were fewer than two divorces a year with this rising to several hundred a year after the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857).
The story is told from the perspectives of the three main characters, Henry and Helen and Helen's close friend, Emily 'Fido' Faithful a young single woman firmly behind the feminist reform cause of the day who runs a successful printing press in London. Fido and Helen come back into contact with one another seemingly by chance when Helen and her family return from Malta where her husband has been stationed for several years with his position in the Navy. Fido quickly discovers that the Helen she thought she knew has developed into a woman in a compromising position - she has a lover whom her husband knows nothing about and she appeals to Fido to support her in what Fido believes to be an attempt to end the illicit affair.
The story covers the legal trial that takes place after Henry Codrington cottons on to what is going on under his nose and petitions for divorce from Helen - drawing Fido in as an unwilling and at times helpless witness. As a legal thriller I found this book to be extremely entertaining but it has so many more levels to it - the unequal relationships that occurred between men and women of the time and the powerless positions women could be placed in if they did not "toe the line" and clearly meet all of societies expectations of them was clearly demonstrated throughout the story. The characters themselves could be frustrating and very unlikeable but that intrigued me - and the fact that the story was based somewhat in fact and meticulous research just added to its authenticity for me - a fantastic read.

April 04, 2012

The Translation of the Bones - Francesca Kay

The Translation of the Bones is one of the long listed books for the 2012 Orange Prize and another example of this prize introducing me to a fabulous author.
The Translation of the Bones focuses on a small part of the community of the Church of the Sacred Heart in Battersea in the time leading up to Easter. The book opens with one of the parish members, Mrs Alice Armitage, going through her weekly cleaning routine of the church:

It's beyond belief what you find between the pews, Mrs Armitage was saying. Coins and gloves you might expect, but socks and underwear? Hairclips, buttons, handkerchiefs, and now look at these, these perculiar white pills. She held out her hand to Father Diamond, who looked at it carefully and shook his head.

We are also introduced to other members of the church, Stella Morrison, as she contributes her weekly offering by bringing in and arranging fresh flowers and then Mary-Margaret O'Reilly, a young woman with a developmental delay who is fixated on lovingly cleaning and caring for a statue of Jesus when she falls from a ladder and injures herself. The injury to Mary-Margaret sets off a chain of events and even though the start of the book is gentle and unassuming in so many ways Kay builds the tension and the storyline perfectly. I felt real connection to these characters and their stories - each character is given their own air space that does not seem to detract from the other storylines and I felt the climax and ending of the novel were written beautifully. I rarely cry when reading novels but there were definite tears in my eyes at the end of the this one.

March 23, 2012

Tides of War - Stella Tillyard

The long list for the 2012 Orange Prize is a little bit of a mixed mystery bag for me. The list has made me feel as though I am on the far edges of the literary world ( being Australian will do that to you!) as I had only read three of the books when the list was announced, Gillespie and I, Half Blood Blues and State of Wonder and there were quite a few on the list that I had never even heard of. This usually generates some excitement - all of these new books and authors to experience! But for some reason (and I have read others saying similar things) this particular long list just doesn't seem to be exciting me all that much - maybe it is a spark to jump out of my reading comfort zone and try something new and different...
Tides of War was chosen as my first read only because it was readily available at my local library - and this book has already made me look at the long list differently. Tides of War is not usually a book I would have been drawn to so without the prompting of the Orange Prize judges I would have missed out on a reading gem.
Tides of War is set in what I always refer to as "Jane Austen time" - the early 1800's in Britain and also Spain where the Duke of Wellington's troops are fighting Napoleon in the Peninsula War. The book contains a number of key characters - each one has their own devoted story line and inner world as well as having various connections to and relationships with other characters. This large number of characters could have led to quite a convoluted and confusing structure but I felt each character was written so well and so distinctly that is was easy and enjoyable to follow them all.
The book begins with introducing Harriet, a young woman newly married to James - a soldier in the British Army about to be sent to Spain to join the fighting. From these two characters others are introduced, the Duke of Wellington and his wife Kitty are extremely interesting - given that they are actual historical figures and not creations of the author's imagination. The combination of real and fictional characters is another one of the strengths of this story - it could have felt so contrived but I was caught up in the story and the historical detail and could not really see any gaps between the two. The impact of war on both the men who are directly involved and the people who remain at home was conveyed extremely well. The changes that can occur within individuals and relationships because of war, trauma and separation was a strong theme and the scenes containing Harriet and James certainly brought this home.
I found this book to be engaging, entertaining, informative and rich in historical detail - and it has restored my sense of excitement in the 2012 Orange Prize long list!