Well if there’s one thing to be said about getting sick and feeling all the fatigue, it’s that more reading can happen!! Once I finally had energy enough to read with my recent fight with the virus, there was no slowing me down and I plowed through a whole heck more reading than normal! Whether you have all the time in the world to read or barely time for one book per month, here are some great books to read this month!!
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Actress by Anne Enright
A reckoning on fame, acting, family, motherhood and daughterhood, Actress by Anne Enright pulls you right into the story of Katherine O’Dell, as told by her daughter, Norah. O’Dell begins her career on the family theatre circuit in Ireland before making it big in the US and London, only to eventually return to Ireland.
This is a twisting tale, bouncing from Norah’s memory to her mother’s life from before she was even born, of the necessity of keeping the secrets her mother kept from her, and delving as deeply into Norah’s life as it does Katherine’s. It could as easily be called Mother as it is Actress, and it is a finely drawn portrait by Enright of two deeply flawed and human women.
We also see the history of twentieth-century Ireland laid bare, the gradual loosening of Catholicism, the Troubles, and the boom of the early twenty-first century. While Katherine O’Dell may not have been quite as Irish as she wanted you to think, she certainly loved the country. Enright is a beautiful writer, and this one is perfect if you enjoyed The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo or Normal People.
Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur
Darcy Lowell and Elle Jones’s first meeting is not exactly auspicious – a blind date, as set up by Darcy’s brother, that goes wildly wrong. The two are the ultimate in opposites: Darcy, a pulled-together, closed-off actuary, and Elle, a professional astrologer with a successful business but unconventional ways.
At this point you may have guessed that yes, Written in the Stars is yet another romance inspired by Pride and Prejudice, but this one is subtler, with the characters more inspired by than dictated by the original. Not to mention it’s a queer rom-com, so you know the story is unique in its own way!
Darcy is not truly looking for a relationship after a disastrous break up, and Elle perceives Darcy’s cold manners as judgemental and dismissive of herself and her career.
However…….both have reasons to want a date on their arms over the next few months, and so they agree to give dating another go – but strictly in order to appease onlookers – Darcy’s brother, and Elle’s highly competitive family.
As they get to know each other, it becomes clear that they are both wildly attracted to each other, even if they can’t quite seem to break through to each other’s hearts. This, of course, spells disaster for the ‘fake’ part of their fake relationship.
Set against a charming Seattle backdrop with plenty of good supporting characters, Written in the Stars is the perfect read for when you just want something comforting. It hits the expected beats, but they all work perfectly, especially as Elle thaws Darcy’s Ice Queen act. Oh, and there’s the added bonus of hilarious astrology tidbits scattered throughout.
Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear
Maisie Dobbs is a female sleuth in London in the late 1920s. She started out as a servant for Lady Rowan when her widowed father could care for her no more. She soon showed her proclivity for reading and learning for which she was rewarded with the opportunity to learn from a doctor on her off time. In the midst of her college education at Girton, Dobbs volunteers to serve as a nurse in France during WWI – memories of which continue to haunt her.
In this second novel of the Maisie Dobbs series, Birds of a Feather, our heroine is taxed with finding Charlotte Waite, the supposedly flighty, errant daughter of a wealthy businessman. She’s run away before to get her way, but has she run away to protect her life this time?
As Dobbs and her happy go lucky assistant, Billy Beale, seek to learn more about the young lady, former friends start turning up dead. For some reason, four friends have all been murdered or supposedly committed suicide – all in the same way. Is Charlotte responsible for their deaths or has she runaway to protect herself?
I will add a caveat here. The first book in the series, Maisie Dobbs, isn’t a page-turner but much more of a setup piece. The second book proved much more intriguing and fun. The series is nearly 16 books long, with the latest coming out next month!