Tag Archives: England

Just What Kind of Mother Are You?

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Title: Just What Kind of Mother Are You?

Author:  Paula Daly

Publisher: Grove Press, 2013

Summary/Review: The words that no woman ever wants to hear. “Just what kind of mother are you?” Lisa Kallisto is sure people are asking that question of her. She has been asking that same question of herself ever since her 13 year old daughter’s friend, Lucinda, went missing. You see, Sally’s friend was supposed to be sleeping over Lisa’s house to work on a school project with Sally. When Sally got sick, the sleepover was cancelled but someone forgot to tell Lucinda or her mother Kate. No one even knows she’s gone until the next morning when Sally doesn’t see Lucinda at the bus stop and calls her to ask about the project.

Lisa knows she doesn’t have it all together-not like Lucinda’s mother, Kate Riverton, anyway. Kate has always been more of a hands-on parent than Lisa could ever hope to be. Now their differences couldn’t be more glaring. One little misstep and a young girl is gone. Overwhelmed with guilt, Lisa promises Kate that she will find Lucinda. As family secrets are exposed and another girl is abducted, it becomes obvious how little everyone knows about their neighbors, friends, and even their own families.

This was a fantastic story. If I didn’t have to break for sleep, I would have read it cover to cover. This debut novel has it all-great writing, setting and story, and engaging characters, some of whom I would love to see again.

Who will like this? Someone looking for a strong story that will keep you reading.  Someone looking for a mystery/thriller that also delves deep in to the lives of each of the characters.

If you like this, try this: “And Then There was One” by Patricia Gussin, in which three sisters go to the movies and only one sister emerges.  “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn, about a woman who disappears on her fifth wedding anniversary (and is being made into a movie starring Ben Affleck).  This is a debut by Daly, so be on the lookout for something else from her soon!

Recommended by: Sue B, Circulation Coordinator

If you think this would be a good book to try out, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or place a hold!

Harold Fry

harold fry

Title: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

Author: Rachel Joyce

Publisher: Random House, 2012

Review/Summary: Harold Frye, recently retired, lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does. They have settled into a mundane existence. Then one morning he receives a letter from an old friend who is dying. When he composes a reply letter and goes to post it, he becomes convinced that he must hand deliver it. Thus, begins his quest as he takes off in his tennis shoes to walk 600 miles, because he believes Queenie will live, as long as he walks. Along the way he meets one fascinating character after another. Memories flood him of his wedding day, fatherhood and regrets and losses. Maureen reminisces too and finds herself missing him. This funny, poignant, charming story about an ordinary man on an extraordinary journey will move and inspire you.There also mysteries that will be solved about his friend and son. Fans of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand will embrace another hero in Harold Frye.

Recommended by: Cindy B., Children’s Librarian

Who will like this? Someone who recognizes that sometimes heroes come from the most unlikely of places.  Anyone looking for a story about second – or maybe even last – chances.

If you like this, try this: “The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed out a Window and Disappeared” by Jonas Jonasson is also about last chances, and what we do with them.  You may also enjoy “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” by Helen Simonson.

This is playwright Rachel Joyce’s first novel, but was named as an Amazon “top book of the month”, so be on the lookout for more from her!

If you would like to see if this book is available, please visit our Fairfield Public Library catalog [Link will open in a new window]

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand

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TitleMajor Pettigrew’s Last Stand

Author:  Helen Simonson

Publisher: Random House, March 2010

Summary: I fell in love with widower Major Ernest Pettigrew about six pages in! The story takes place in a quaint English village, where the Major’s brother’s sudden death and the propriety of a family heirloom spark an unexpected friendship with a local shopkeeper, Mrs. Jasmina  Ali.  His quiet world changes as he deals with his growing affection for Mrs. Ali (after all they share a love of literature), his yuppie, shallow son, and the various unattached ladies in the village vying for him.  It is a charming and endearing love story. The Major’s wry, witty humor combined with his chivalrous old fashioned courtesy, yet sarcastic jabs about modern situations had me laughing out loud. There is a gentle humor and a quiet lovely rhythm with a romantic twist that will appeal to both sexes. I kept picturing Sir John Gielgud delivering the Major’s lines! Such a wonderful debut novel!

Recommended by: Cindy B., Children’s Department

The Queen’s Governess

Title: The Queen’s Governess

 Author: Karen Harper

Publisher: Putnam, January 2010

Summary: Behind every great queen is a surrogate mother. In her latest novel, The Queen’s Governess, Karen Harper, provides the story of Katherine Champernowne Ashley who brought up the young Elizabeth. Katherine Ashely stood by Elizabeth during the dangerous years before she became queen, and the equally dangerous years after she became queen. Harper’s knowledge of the Tudor period is seamlessly woven into a narrative that keeps the reader in suspense even though we all know that Elizabeth will become England’s greatest queen. If, as the story goes, the great Winston Churchill was saddened when his mother died, but cried when his nanny died, than Elizabeth must also have wept when her Kat died.

 Who will like this book? People who enjoy reading about the Tudors especially about the young Elizabeth.

If you like this, try this: A Crown for Elizabeth by Mary Luke; The Young Elizabeth by Alison Plowden; Young Bess by Margaret Irwin; and Alison Weir’s The Lady Elizabeth.

Recommended by: Mona, Reference Associate and Library Lecturer

Harry of Monmouth

Title: Harry of Monmouth

Author: A. M. Maughan

Publisher: W. Sloane Associates, 1956

Summary: This classic novel brings to life Henry V, the victor of Agincourt. From the loss of his mother as a boy to generational based conflicts with his father, Henry IV, and sibling rivalry with his brother, Tom, the young Harry grows to maturity. All hold their breath to see what kind of king he will make and get their true measure of Harry’s worth when he and the English, with their back to the walls, face the French at Agincourt. But more than his wars with France, will Harry ever succeed in winning his true love, Princess Katherine of France?

Who will like this book?: Harry of Monmouth is recommended for those who like their medieval kings in a heroic mode.

If you like this, try this: Good King Harry by Denise Giardina, Fortune Made His Sword by Martha Rofheart, and Henry V by William Shakespeare.

Recommended by: Mona, Reference Associate and Library Lecturer

Lady Jane Grey

Title: Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Mystery

Author: Eric Ives

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell, October 2009

Summary: Lady Jane Grey, granddaughter of Henry VIII’s younger sister Mary Tudor, is probably the most tragic victim of the Tudor dynasty, ending her life on the scaffold at the age of seventeen. Dr. Eric Ives, in this scholarly and page-turning account of the coup that brought Lady Jane Grey to the throne for a brief reign of nine days, provides the who, what, where, and why of a coup that on paper should have had every chance of succeeding but which ultimately failed. Refusing to rely on long accepted accounts of Lady Jane’s story, Dr. Ives offers a reassessment of this episode in Tudor history to the extent that the reader realizes “Jane, we hardly knew ye.”

Who will like this book?: Those who want to know the true story behind Alison Weir’s Innocent Traitor. For if any traitor was innocent, that traitor was surely Lady Jane Grey.

 If you like this, try this: The Children of Henry VIII by Alison Weir; Lady Jane Grey and the House of Suffolk by Alison Plowden; and look out for The Sisters Who Would be Queen by Leanda De Lisle.

Recommended by: Mona, Reference Associate and Library Lecturer

Little Bee

Title:  Little Bee

Author:  Chris Cleave

Publisher:  Simon & Schuster, February 2009

Summary: Chris Cleave’s second novel is quite an accomplishment.  There are some beautiful moments, and some horrific moments throughout this complex story, told to us by two very different women who have been bound together by a violent event. The publishers of Little Bee are asking readers not to “spoil” the story by revealing too much of the plot.  While I don’t agree that this is altogether necessary (there’s no big secret revelation, really, a la The Double Bindby Chris Bohjalian), I’ll honor their wishes.

What I can tell you is that I found the voice of Little Bee and her story to be excellently portrayed and very moving.  When we first meet her she’s being released from a British immigration detention center after two years. We learn that she’s originally from a war-torn village in Africa, and has escaped almost certain death by stowing away on a ship to England.  She reaches out to Sarah and Andrew O’Rourke, a couple from London that Little Bee and her sister met one fateful day on a beach in Nigeria.  Sarah, our other narrator, takes Little Bee in even though her own life is in pieces after the suicide of her husband.  As the two women together try to imagine how they can possibly create new lives for themselves, we learn more about the awful truth that connects them and brings the story to its inevitable, heart-wrenching conclusion.

Recommended by: Mary, Branch Reference

Hold My Hand

Title: Hold My Hand

Author:  Serena Mackesy

Publisher: Constable, October 2008

Summary: All Bridget wants is a safe place to raise her daughter Yasmin. The flat they share in London has become a prison instead of a home. Though Bridget has divorced her abusive husband and the court has ordered Kieran to stay away, he continues to stalk the two vowing to make Bridget pay for leaving him. Bridget struggles to keep a roof over their heads and food on their table as fear and desperation set in. The hope for a new and better life for Bridget and Yasmin comes in the form of a job offer. Bridget is offered the job of housekeeper at Rospetroc, a manor house in a part of the country where no one will know them- where they will be safe. Rospetroc, however, has it’s own secrets and it’s own brutal history. The villagers have their suspicions as to why there is such a high turnover rate for housekeepers at Rospetroc. Bridget has run out of options and must stay at the manor house, even though the move now seems like a dangerous mistake.

Who will like this book?  Anyone who likes ghost stories and a bit of mystery.

Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator

The Other Queen

Title: The Other Queen

Author: Philippa Gregory

Publisher: Touchstone, September, 2008

Summary: Mary, Queen of Scots, might be the most infamous royal in all of European history: She led a life of intrigue and scandal that landed her, at age 26 and a widow twice-over, in the hands of her cousin and rival, Elizabeth, Queen of England. In another well-crafted, fast-paced historical fiction, Philippa Gregory (The Other Boleyn Girl, The Constant Princess) has chosen to focus not on Mary’s tumultuous life in Scotland, but on her captivity in England, which lasted nearly 20 years. As a Catholic queen in a newly-Protestant country, she was at the center of countless plots to restore her not only to the Scottish throne, but also to put her in Elizabeth’s place.

The story centers on three people: Mary, and her married captors, the honorable George Shrewsberry, and his savvy wife, the remarkable Bess of Hardwick. As each intrigue bubbles to the surface and Mary scrambles to emerge victorious, we see the strain her presence in England puts not only on the kingdom, but on the marriage of George and Bess. This is a fascinating piece of nearly-forgotten history, and a must-read for fans of The Tudors and the recent HBO mini-series, Elizabeth.

Who will like this book?: Fans of historical fiction that focuses on the royals. Anyone with an interest in Tudor history, or the Scots queen.

If you like this, try this: In fiction, try Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles by Margaret George. For some non-fiction, look for Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens by Jane Dunn.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

A Prisoner of Birth

Title: A Prisoner of Birth

Author: Jeffrey Archer

Summary: A modern day version of The Count of Monte Cristo, this enthralling story is full of interesting characters and suspenseful twists and turns, A young British auto mechanic, Danny Cartwright, is wrongly accused of killing his best friend, who is also the brother of his pregnant fiance. He is imprisoned, and he spends his time reinventing himself and creating an elaborate revenge plan.

This is not a literary masterpiece and some of the plot is far-fetched, but the story still makes for an exciting and engrossing read. Archer is a great storyteller, and this book was hard to put down.

Who will like this book?:Readers of this would also like Archer’s other books, and Harlan Coben

Recommended by: Laurie, Circulation Clerk