The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse

This is such a neat book. My daughter told me about it, and I found it on the shelves here. It’s an uplifting tale about how we are enough just the way we are. Written and illustrated by the British writer Charles Macksey, this short book of kindness is enough to lift anyone’s spirits, and is especially timely given what’s happening in the world today… I highly recommend it.

Violeta

Isabel Allende’s latest novel is in effect a letter from Violeta to her grandson Camilo. It is a beautifully written account of her life from birth to death. Born in 1920, she lived a century, dying in 2020, and actively pursued the cause of human rights, especially for abused women. The setting is never mentioned specifically by Violeta, except to place it in South America. As the author herself grew up in Chile, moving there from Peru at age 2, it is safe to assume that the country where the story takes place is Chile. Violeta is a historical novel with moments of triumph and great loss; I enjoyed it very much.

The Paris Bookseller

I am enjoying this read by Kerri Maher; it is the fictional story of how Sylvia Beach established her bookstore Shakespeare and Company in Paris. Under the guise of the bookstore, Sylvia published James Joyce’s novel Ulysses; it was outlawed in the United States, due to immorality laws at that time (1920). The novel reads like a Who’s who of famous authors; besides Joyce, Beach meets Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Andre Gide, Valery Laubaud, Gertrude Stein and many more. It moves slowly, but is well worth the time and effort.

A Friend of the Family

I enjoy reading Lisa Jewell; this novel is one of her very early ones (2003), and it is easy to see how far she has come. Bernie and Gerry are in their 60’s, with three sons: Tony, Sean and Ned. The two oldest are successful, but the youngest, Ned, has returned home after three years in Australia to escape a girlfriend he has fallen out of “like” with, and needs to find a job at 27. The three sons all have their ups and downs, but thanks to Gervase, a friend of Bernie and Gerry who is somewhat psychic, they are eventually successful in sorting out their lives. The plot moves very slowly, and while the ending was satisfying, I would not recommend it. Try one of her later novels, if you’re looking for a good read.

The Christmas Bookshop

Jenny Colgan’s latest novel centers on a young woman who just can’t live up to her perfect sister’s success. Carmen has just lost her job at a local department store, and is back living with her parents in a small Scottish town. Sophia, her thriving older sister, is a married lawyer in Edinburgh with a family and a beautiful home, and is reluctant to help Carmen, as there are bad feelings between the sisters. But when Sophia is persuaded by their mother to find Carmen a job, she lands Carmen a position as a clerk in a very old and dilapidated bookstore in Edinburgh. After Carmen meets two interesting and very different men, her life begins to take an upward turn. I found this to be a fun holiday romance novel…