The Tailor’s Girl by Fiona McIntosh
I don’t want to say too much about this book cause I don’t want to spoil any of the plot twists. But I’ll say this much – the book opens in 1919 with a man suffering from amnesia after World War One. He meets Eden, a tailor’s daughter who also has ambitions to open her own fashion boutique, and they fall in love. His new life, however, is turned upside down when his memory returns.
This book is unashamedly romantic, but in the midst of my first trimester that’s just what I felt like reading – nothing too intense, something I could read even when I was exhausted. I’ll admit, the whole amnesia plotline has a reputation for being a little silly but the real strength of this book was the characters. Each of the characters were vibrant and well-realised, I wanted them to find what they were searching for. Even those with questionable motives were portrayed sympathetically. I understood where they were coming from even if I didn’t agree. The book also touches on themes like friendship, fate and the changing role of women in 1920s society.
Voyager by Diana Gabaldon
I read the second book in this series late last year, and didn’t want to wait too long before getting into the next. This is a long book, around 1060 pages. It’s not the longest book I’ve ever read, but it’s up there. Once I was out of the first trimester and felt I could tackle this one, I dived straight in. It feels a little different to the first and second books (which felt a little different to each other, too). The first few hundred pages are told in parallel accounts – hinting at what both Claire and Jamie had been up to in the 20 years they spent apart. As a family historian, I especially loved seeing Claire put the pieces together and find convincing proof that her husband hadn’t died in battle after all.
And then, when they do reunite, they’re both older, with more life experience and hidden secrets. It was beautiful seeing them reconnect and learn once again how to live as a married couple. I still maintain one of my favourite things about these books is the way Claire and Jamie interact in those quieter moments. Not just the sex, but those moments of emotional intimacy and shared lives.
In this book, the world of the Frasers gets a whole lot bigger, reaching from Scotland to England, France, America and the Caribbean. The book is full of adventures – including buried treasure and a burning building – which initially seemed to stand in isolation. But, as the book reached its conclusion, I could see how even the tiniest adventures connected together and had huge implications in the larger scheme of things. Parts of the ending were a little weird for my taste, but it was still an amazing read.
Persuasion by Jane Austen
I usually read at least one Jane Austen novel a year. This was the last Jane Austen novel I got around to reading, and the last one that she wrote. Anne Elliot, 27 years old, when she was younger turned down a man she deeply cared for. She’s now still unmarried and facing life as an old maid. Things get shaken up when Captain Wentworth enters her life once again. Looking over my books this season, it seems like reunited lovers has been a big theme!
The interesting thing about this book is we actually don’t get many scenes of Anne and Wentworth talking together. Instead, we have hints at their shared history and the unspoken tensions that arise from that. It’s an Austen novel, so of course a happy ending is a must. But, it also has a gentler, more mature feel than her other books. Anne Elliot is a lovely character, thoughtful, compassionate and reserved with an air of sadness. The only of her heroines no longer in the first bloom of youth, it’s striking to remember that Anne’s story was written just before Austen’s death.
This book also has some personal meaning for me. I first read it when I was also 27 and single (not such a big deal now, I know) and not sure I’d ever find a husband. Within a year of that, I met Daniel. Reading this book again took me back to those single days but also made me so grateful for the husband I have now.
What have you been reading lately?