Monday, January 1, 2018

2017 Reads

At the end of the year, I like to look back on the books I've read throughout the year and remember some of the best ones. According to the list I keep, I read 79 books in the past 12 months. I'm going to share some of my favorites.  [These are all fiction, even if they don't sound like it!]

R.F. Delderfield - To Serve Them All My Days. Another long English story, about a World War I veteran who ends up teaching in a small private school in Devon. (Last year I read God Is an Englishman, by the same author.)

M.M. Kaye - The Far Pavilions. A reread of one of my favorite novels set in India. A young English boy's parents both die; his ayah saves him and raises him as her own in a Himalayan kingdom. At age 11 they flee the kingdom, she dies, and he turns himself in to a British outpost. Years later, he is returned to India as a soldier.

Mackenzie Ford - Gifts of War. This story really stayed with me -- another World War I story. This one has a British officer who meets up with a German officer on Christmas Day. The German gives him a photo of his English girlfriend and asks him to find her after the war. The suspense of what and when he will tell her the truth is well-done.

Jacqueline Winspear - In This Grave Hour. Maisie Dobbs becomes involved with an evacuee child. I can't recommend this series highly enough.

Alexander McCall Smith - The Bertie Project. Everyone's favorite Scottish child and his neighbors have further adventures. One of the most delightful series out there.

Beatrice Colin - To Capture What We Cannot Keep. Scottish siblings and their chaperone go to Paris, become involved in the Eiffel Tower construction.

Carrie Fisher - The Princess Diarist. Carrie's untimely death took a good actress and an excellent writer from us.

Lucinda Riley - The Shadow Sister. The third book in this wonderful series focuses on Star, the sister who seemed the most dependent on the others.

Lindsay Jayne Ashford - The Woman on the Orient Express. A fictionalized Agatha Christie travels to Baghdad on the historic train and her life becomes entwined with two others.

Jojo Moyes - The Horse Dancer. A somewhat compiicated story about a teenage girl and her horse, her grandfather, and a young lawyer and her ex who become involved.

Donna Tartt - The Goldfinch. I wanted to read this book for several years, but its size was a bit daunting. Once I started, however, I couldn't put it down. A young boy is caught in a blast in the Metropolitan Museum in New York and gets away with a small painting, which has a lifelong effect on him.

Jennifer Ryan - The Chilbury Ladies' Choir. World War II village women form a choir; their lives are told through journals and letters.

Sarah Domet - The Guineveres.  Four girls with the same name are left at a convent in World War II. They fall in love with soldiers in comas, serve as altar girls, one becomes pregnant.

Fredrick Backman - Beartown. A small town's hockey team is the focus of everyone's lives; a rape disturbs the peace. This doesn't sound like a story I would like, but Backman's writing holds my interest every time.

Emma Donaghue - The Wonder. An English nurse is sent to Ireland with a priest to observe a young girl who is fasting. Is it a miracle?

Jessica Shattuck - The Women in the Castle. Widows of Nazi resistors and their children survive.

Anna Hope - Wake. The lives of three English women in the aftermath of World War I; their lives come together around the burial of the unknown warrior.

Alexander McCall Smith - A Distant View of Everything. Another in the Isabel Dalhousie series; this time she gets involved with a man who is suspected of fleecing women.

Melodie Winawer - The Scribe of Siena. A time travel romance of a modern woman who goes to medieval Siena and falls in love with an artist. This especially appealed to me because we were in Siena for a day a couple of years ago.

Helen Bryan - War Brides. Five women spend World War II in a village, return 50 years later to solve a mystery of what happened.

Penny Vincenzi - The Best of Times. The aftermath of a large wreck on the A4 heading into London and the effect it had on several lives.

Richard Russo - Elsewhere. [nonfiction] The author's memoir of his mother's OCD and his enabling her.

Rebecca Hunt - Mr. Chartwell. A librarian is fighting depression, which appears as a very large black dog who invades her home. She finds out the he visits Churchill, too. An odd book but gripping.

Petra Durst-Benning - While the World Is Still Asleep. Young women in 1890's Germany become obsessed with bicycling, which women are not allowed to do.

Alexander McCall Smith - The House of Unexpected Sisters. Precious discovers a sister she never knew existed.

Camille Aubrey - Cooking for Picasso. A young Frenchwoman makes lunch for Picasso and ends up posing for him.

Gail Honeyman - Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. A young woman suffers and recovers from a horrific childhood.

Lucinda Riley - The Angel Tree. A woman with amnesia for 30 years gradually recovers her memories.

Taylor Jenkins Reid - The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. An old movie star tells her life story to a young journalist. There is a mystery that remains unsolved until the very end.

Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol. After seeing the recent movie, The Man Who Invented Christmas, I decided to reread this short novella. It does stand up!

Jamie Ford - Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. In 1942 a Chinese boy in Seattle befriends a Japanese girl. Her family is interned and 44 years later he finds relics and searches for her.

Luz Gabas - Palm Trees in the Snow. This Spanish book chronicles the men from the Pyrenees who went to Fernando Po (now part of Equitorial Guinea) to work on the cacao plantations from the 1930s to the 1960s. A modern linguist is the catalyst for learning the family secrets.

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