Three book reviews – my recent holiday reading list

When I know that I am going on holiday, I plan carefully my holiday reading list. My last holiday to India was no exception, and in ten days, I read the following three books and loved them all equally.

The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams

Are you looking for a heartwarming and charming read that will make you believe in the power of books? Look no further than Sara Nisha Adams’ debut novel, The Reading List.

The story follows two strangers, Mukesh and Aleisha, who meet by chance in a London library and strike up an unlikely friendship over a shared love of books. As they navigate their own personal struggles, they embark on a mission to read the five books recommended by Mukesh’s late wife and they share their thoughts on the books with each other.

Adams has crafted a beautiful and uplifting tale that celebrates the transformative power of literature and the connections that can be formed through shared experiences. The characters are endearing and relatable, and the diverse range of books on the reading list adds depth and meaning to the story.

But what truly sets The Reading List apart is Adams’ exquisite writing style, which is both poetic and poignant. This book will make you laugh, cry and ultimately leave you with a renewed appreciation for the magic of reading. Don’t miss out on this gem of a novel.

Violeta by Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende has done it again with her novel Violeta. Set in the colourful and vibrant city of Santiago, Chile, the story follows the life of Violeta, a young woman with a fiery spirit. She is born in 1920, the first daughter in a family of five boisterous sons.

Allende’s vivid descriptions of the city and its people are a feast for the senses, and the characters are so well-drawn that you feel like you know them personally. Violeta, in particular, is a force to be reckoned with – she’s fierce, determined, and unapologetically herself, even in the face of adversity.

The novel touches on themes of family, love, and political unrest, and Allende weaves these threads together seamlessly. Told in the form of a letter to someone Violeta loves above all others, this is the story of a hundred-year life – of devastating heartbreak and passionate affairs, poverty and wealth, terrible loss and immense joy.

In short, if you’re looking for a book that will transport you to another time and place and leave you feeling inspired and uplifted, Violeta is a must-read. Allende has once again proven herself to be a master storyteller.

Grey Bees by Andrey Kurkov

Andrey Kurkov’s Grey Bees is a darkly humorous and deeply affecting novel that explores the complexities of human relationships and the nature of grief. The story centres around Sergey, a beekeeper in Ukraine who is struggling to come to terms with the departure of his ex-wife and daughter. He lives in Little Starhorodivka, a village of three streets, which lies in Ukraine’s Grey Zone, the no-man’s-land between loyalist and separatist forces.

The novel was written before the invasion this February 2022 and illustrates the long-running tensions between Russia and Ukraine in the Donbas region and Crimea.

Thanks to this lukewarm war of sporadic violence and constant propaganda that has been dragging on for years, only two residents remain: retired safety inspector turned beekeeper Sergey Sergeyich and Pashka, a “frenemy” from his schooldays.

Kurkov’s writing is spare and elegant, and he has a talent for imbuing even the most mundane details with meaning and depth. The character of Sergei is especially well-drawn, and his wry humour and vulnerability make him a sympathetic and relatable protagonist.

But what really sets Grey Bees apart is the sense of place that Kurkov creates. The Ukrainian countryside comes alive on the page, and the descriptions of the bees and their hives are both fascinating and lyrical.

Written originally in Russian, it has been translated by Boris Dralyuk. Overall, Grey Bees is a powerful meditation on love, loss, and the human condition. It’s a book that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the final page. Highly recommended for fans of literary fiction and those who appreciate a good dose of dark humour.

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