Some highly recommended treats to see you through the winter nights or that mid year holiday if you’re lucky enough to be jetting off somewhere fabulous. Jealous? Us? Never!
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
By Mary Ann Shaffer
It’s 1946, and as Juliet Ashton sits at her desk in her Chelsea flat, she is stumped. A writer of witty newspaper columns during the war, she can’t think of what to write next. Out of the blue, she receives a letter from one Dawsey Adams of Guernsey – by chance he’s acquired a book Juliet once owned – and, emboldened by their mutual love of books, they begin a correspondence.
Dawsey is a member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and it’s not long before the rest of the members write to Juliet – including the gawky Isola, who makes home-made potions, Eben, the fisherman who loves Shakespeare, and Will Thisbee, rag-and-bone man and chef of the famous potato peel pie. As letters fly back and forth, Juliet comes to know the extraordinary personalities of the Society and their lives under the German occupation of the island. Entranced by their stories, Juliet decides to visit the island to meet them properly – and unwittingly turns her life upside down.
SheSaid says: I was given this book by my fiance’s Mum who’s from the UK so I knew it would be a good old English tale but I didn’t expect it to be so downright sweet! It’s just a really cute read that feels like a warm blanket or bowl of soup. It’s written as a series of letters which really brings the characters to life. It’s an ambitious approach but Mary Ann Shaffer handles it amazingly well by giving the reader lots of fun little details as well as interesting information about the war. Buy this one for your Grandma or Mum and then steal it off them later.
By Adriana Trigiani
Meet the Roncalli and Angelini families, a vibrant cast of colourful characters who navigate tricky family dynamics with hilarity and brio, from magical Manhattan to the picturesque hills of bella Italia.
In this luscious, contemporary family saga, the Angelini Shoe Company, makers of exquisite wedding shoes since 1903, is one of the last family-owned businesses in Greenwich Village. The company is on the verge of financial collapse. It falls to thirty-three-year-old Valentine Roncalli, the talented and determined apprentice to her grandmother, the master artisan Teodora Angelini, to bring the family’s old-world craftsmanship into the twenty-first century and save the company from ruin.
While juggling a budding romance with dashing chef Roman Falconi, her duty to her family, and a design challenge presented by a prestigious department store, Valentine returns to Italy with her grandmother to learn new techniques and seek one-of-a-kind materials for building a pair of glorious shoes to beat their rivals. There, in Tuscany, Naples, and on the Isle of Capri, a family secret is revealed as Valentine discovers her artistic voice and much more, turning her life and the family business upside down in ways she never expected. Very Valentine is a sumptuous treat, a journey of dreams fulfilled, a celebration of love and loss filled with Trigiani’s trademark heart and humour.
SheSaid says: If you have read any of Trigiani’s other novels like “Rococo” or “Lucia”, you will love this one too. Full of authentic Italian characters, and strong women this novel might make you want to rush out and buy a ticket to Italy and turn your own life upside down. Beware “Very Valentine” is the first novel in a trilogy so you might be forced to wait for the next instalment once you are hooked on Trigiani’s story telling.
The Writing on my Forehead
By Nafisa Haji
From childhood, willful, intelligent Saira Qader broke the boundaries between her family’s traditions and her desire for independence. A free-spirited and rebellious Muslim-American of Indo-Pakistani descent, she rejected the constricting notions of family, duty, obligation, and fate, choosing instead to become a journalist, the world her home.
Five years later, tragedy strikes, throwing Saira’s life into turmoil. Now the woman who chased the world to uncover the details of other lives must confront the truths of her own. In need of understanding, she looks to the stories of those who came before—her grandparents, a beloved aunt, her mother and father. As Saira discovers the hope, pain, joy, and passion that defined their lives, she begins to face what she never wanted to admit—that choice is not always our own, and that faith is not just an intellectual preference.
“A moving meditation on the meaning of family, tradition, and the ties that bind. Lyrical and touching. A story of mother and daughters, and of a young Muslim woman at crossroads, shaped by the forces of her past, her religion, her roots, her culture, and her own determined will.” (Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns )
“Deeply moving and beautifully written novel about different generations of an Indo-Pakistani family takes the reader on an emotional journey into how family and traditions define us and our choices in life. It’s a fast read, but its deeper meaning resonates long after the last page.” (Associated Press)
Have you read any of these books? Tell us what you think.