It is fun looking back on the books that we have read this past year. The Page Turner and I have compiled a list of ou 10 best books of 2019.
Having read Barack Obama’s reading list of 2019 I feel that the Page Turner and I are not in the same class. However these are just some of the books that we have read and can recommend. There are heart-breaking biographies, fiction, novels set in the future and many that are a judgement on our society, both past and present. What they all have in common is that they engage, entertain and make one think. We hope you can find one that you have not read and might enjoy. The Page Turner and I will continue to review books as we love to read.
LADY IN WAITING by LADY ANNE GLENCONNER
I listened to this Book, Lady in Waiting, on Audible read by Anne Glenconner. She is a remarkable lady of 87 years who has lived a colour life as a member of the aristocracy. She wrote this memoir mainly because people were writing such awful things about Princess Margaret and she wanted to set the record straight.
The book is funny, insightful but also filled with much personal tragedy. This book tells a very personal story and it highlights the fact that money and privilege does not necessarily bring happiness. However Lady Glenconner is the ultimate ‘positive lady with a stiff upper lip’ and never asks for pity.
This book had me laughing out loud and I have now lent it to my 29 yr old daughter who is really enjoying it.
THE TESTAMENTS by MARGARET ATTWOOD
In her latest novel, The Testaments, Margaret Attwood returns to Gilead after the time of her previous main character Offred. Gilead is gradually changing. Internal structures are collapsing. The Eye that looks over the restraints on women is losing its power. For years, the men have controlled the goings on in the State but now the wind of change is blowing.
There is hope – resistance is beginning to emerge; albeit secretly. An underground group of women is created and these members have contact with the outside world in Canada. Women are becoming activists.
Margaret Attwood has managed many years later to write a sequel as gripping as her earlier novel.
THE VOLUNTEER by JACK FAIRWEATHER
There are times when you read a book and are so moved you cannot stop thinking about it. The Volunteer by Jack Fairweather is one-such book. This is the unsung story of one of the greatest heroes of the Second World War. It is wonderful that people are still finding these stories and telling them.
This is the first major account to draw on unpublished family papers, newly released archival documents and exclusive interviews with surviving resistance fighters to show how Witold Pilecki brought the fight to the Nazis at the heart of their evil designs.
The result is an enthralling story of resistance and heroism against the most horrific circumstances, and one man’s attempt to change the course of history.
BECOMING – MICHELLE OBAMA
This book needs no more 5* reviews but I just wanted to add how much I enjoyed hearing about the life of this remarkable woman. From a small apartment on the South Side of Chicago, Michelle Obama’s journey took her to the most famous house in Washington. Michelle Obama is an inspiring woman and has always been an icon to me. No she will never stand for President – she makes that statement very emphatically at the end of the book.
I actually listened to this book on Audible as it is read by the lady herself.
THE BOY WHO FOLLOWED HIS FATHER INTO AUSCHWITZ by JEREMY DRONFIELD
This book, The Boy who followed his father into Auschwitz by Jeremy Dronfield, is the most harrowing, devastating and heart wrenching story I have ever read. A true account of the horrors of the Holocaust extracted from the journal of one of its victims.
The Kleinmanns were a normal hardworking Jewish Family living in Vienna at the start of the rise of Hitler’s reign of terror. The parents Gustav and Tini had a small upholstery business. Their children were Edith, Herta, Fritz and Kurz.
One night in November 1938, now known as Kristallnacht, Gustav and Fritz, aged 16, were betrayed by their non- Jewish neighbours and arrested. There begins their nightmare story.
The author, Jeremy Dronfield, should be commended for bringing this story out of the dark into the light so that all of us can read and never forget.
AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE by TAYARI JONES
This is a book that completely embraces you into the family of Roy and Celestial as they embark on their marriage. We all know that marriage can be tough. I always say that it is a work in progress until the day you die. Regardless of this or maybe together with this, to be an African-American couple adds a whole other level of challenge.
I found the story both haunting and moving. The way that the author tells the story, each chapter through the eyes of one of the participants, works so well. Lives that are so entwined, confident in their progress, suddenly ripped apart by one incident. How they each react and cope is so interesting. Everyone thinks they are reacting the right way but is it right? How does this affect the one that is suffering the most? And who suffered the most?
Read this book, An American Marriage, as it is so appropriate in these unsettled times.
THE SALT PATH by RAYNOR WINN
This book, The Salt Path by Raynor Winn, is the saddest and yet most uplifting story. How can that be you wonder?
The story is about a middle-aged couple, Moth and Raynor Winn, who walk the Salt Path which is the 630 miles of the sea-swept south-west coastal path. However why they walk it – or rather why they have to walk it – is the sad part.
“What the book chiefly conveys is the human capacity for endurance and the regenerative power of nature….The Salt Path has reminded me to scrape last year’s mud from my walking boots and get rambling again. I hope it has the same impact on millions of others.” THE TIMES
AN AFRICAN IN IMPERIAL LONDON by DANELL JONES
In 1904 Merriman arrived in London and from there his rocky journey begins. While studying Law, he starts writing amusing, but realistic, articles and books on how he saw Britain through African eyes. He gave lectures both in Britain and back in Africa. He started companies for trading between Sierra Leone and Britain cutting out the middle man. Everything seemed to go well for a few years until the old establishment interfered.
I found this book fascinating. It is a story of hardship caused by the political and social antipathy towards the African. Merriman’s belief in the British way of life is almost constant until it was dashed most cruelly during his final years.
THE DUTCH HOUSE by ANN PATCHETT
This book is all about life, love and loss. It is written with such sensitivity and elegance. The characters are flawed and the author delivers them into your senses so that you feel you have known them all of your life. It is a story of obsession – obsession of a house. The house comes alive through each of the characters that lived there.
The ending is beautifully structured, the Dutch House itself brings the family full circle: clarity & understanding of childhood memories enable them to move forward.
I loved this book for its slow pace and deep understanding and portrayal of people. Houses can define us in so many ways and this book illustrates this so beautifully – all the elements combine so well.
THE BEEKEEPER OF ALEPPO by CHRISTY LEFTERI
I listened to this book on Audible and the voice of Art Malik is both haunting and emotive. I felt as if I was with Nuri and Afra so strong is the writing. The author has drawn on her experiences and one can feel how much she wants us, the reader, to understand the situation of these refugees.
Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo – until the unthinkable happens. When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape. As Nuri and Afra travel through a broken world, they must confront not only the pain of their own unspeakable loss, but dangers that would overwhelm the bravest of souls. Above all – and perhaps this is the hardest thing they face – they must journey to find each other again.
A beautiful book and heartbreaking to the end.