Home Fire

This week, Ms Savage recommend ‘Home Fire’ by Kamila Shamsie.

This book is definitely a thought-provoking one about the ties of family and the immigrant experience. What is stronger, blood or love? Can we ever overcome the obligations of family in order to move on with our lives, and if we can, should we?

Kamila Shamsie attempts to answer those questions, as two families deal with the questions of love and loyalty, and how slippery the slope is when we start choosing enemies based on cultural generalisations. This is a powerful, timely book with really interesting characters and one which I wholeheartedly recommend.

Love on the Dole

The novel follows the Hardcastle family as they struggle through the depression of the 1930s in the north of England.

The focus is on the two children of the family as they leave school and try to establish themselves in work and a life of their own when everything is stacked against them doing so.

The description of life in an industrial slum, and of the of the choices people are forced to make is bleak at times, but Greenwood’s characters retain a degree of optimism that life will get better, no matter how hopeless it seems.

I enjoyed the book enormously as a portrait of life in Britain at the time, but mostly for the characters cast adrift against a torrent of forces they have no power to control, and yet attempt to make the best of things.

 

Knowledge of Angels

A compelling medieval fable, written from the heart and melded to a driving narrative which never once loses its tremendous pace.

This novel resembles an illuminated manuscript mapped with angels and mountains and signposts. It’s the fifteenth century and the tranquility of a Mediterranean island is shattered by the appearance of two outsiders.

The first, a castaway, plucked from the sea, whose beliefs shake the island and the established order; the second, an abandoned child, raised by wolves who knows nothing of relationship between church and state, but who becomes the basis of a dangerous experiment. Inquisition leads to matters of life or death.

Totally stimulating, and relevant to present day philosophical debates.

Memoirs of a Geisha

This week Ms Bowey recommends ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ by Arthur Golden.

“It is a fascinating take on a completely different culture. Incredibly well-researched with a really gripping narrative.”

Instructions for a Heatwave

This week Ms Kane recommends ‘Instructions for a Heatwave’ by Maggie O’Farrell.

O’Farrell’s sixth award winning book, Instructions for a Heatwave, is a literary delight which delves into the world of family dynamics and relationships.

Set during a heatwave in London in 1976, the book takes a seemingly normal family and peeks behind the scenes.

It is particularly interesting that the book is written in sections of different family member’s perspectives – so this is a good book for learning to put yourselves in someone else’s shoes.

 

Exit West

Ms Savage recommends ‘Exit West’ by Mohsin Hamid.

“In a city swollen by refugees but still mostly at peace, or at least not yet openly at war, a young man met a young woman in a classroom and did not speak to her.” The best book I have read this year – I wanted to buy it for everyone when I had finished it. The story is incredibly important for today and Hamid’s writing is evocative and beautiful, generating empathy that allows us to better understand our world.

Murder on the Orient Express

This week, Miss Camsell recommends ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ a quick paced, dramatic murder mystery classic soon to be released as a major blockbuster all star cast film.

Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for the time of the year, but by the morning it is one passenger fewer. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside.Isolated and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must identify the murderer – in case he or she decides to strike again.

It’s a great wintry and unpredictable read – a real page turner.

Outer Dark

This week’s book recommendation is from Mr Sutton. He recommends we all read ‘Outer Dark’ by Corman McCarthy.

‘Outer Dark’ is a novel at once fabular and starkly evocative, set is an unspecified place in Appalachia, sometime around the turn of the century. A woman bears her brother’s child, a boy; he leaves the baby in the woods and tells her he died of natural causes. Discovering her brother’s lie, she sets forth alone to find her son. Both brother and sister wander separately through a countryside being scourged by three terrifying and elusive strangers, headlong toward an eerie, apocalyptic resolution.

If I Stay

Ms Spraggon recommends Gayle Forman’s ‘If I Stay’ which was recommended by lots of students. Mia has a perfect life with everything ahead of her. Suddenly, a horrific car accident which kills members of her family changes everything. The book is a quick read but one which makes you appreciate all that you have and how life can change in an instant.

A Town Like Alice

This week Miss Camsell recommendsas a good summer read.

A classic tale of hardship, torture and resilience, the plot revolves around Jean Paget, a 20 year old Brit working in Malaya during the Japanese invasion.

She is captured and joins a group of other European women and children and put under pressure to trek miles through the jungle with the other captives, leading to the death of many. Her courageous spirit and skills force her in to the role of leader for the prisoners. Whilst on the march, the group encounter Australian prisoners. They are helped and given food by a man named Joe Harman who is then punished by the Japanese as a result of his theft.

Paget’s story is narrated poignantly through her solicitor, Noel Strachan: his ordinary life serves as a stark contrast to Jean’s life. He is completely beguiled by Jean, and the framing narrative gives a bittersweet tang to the novel. I devoured this book on a plane journey and think it would be an excellent beach read for those of you going away this summer.