Tuesday 27 September 2022

A Family For Christmas

Finished September 2
A Family for Christmas by Helen Scott Taylor

This novella follows a young engineer, Eve Scott, as she travels through the snowy British countryside to get to a job interview. The weather is intense, making driving difficult, and when a lamb appears on the road in front of her and she brakes, she ends up in the ditch. Luckily, sheep farmer Tom Millington is out looking for the lamb, his daughter's pet, and offers her a ride to his farm where she can wait for assistance. When Eve encounters young Polly she is charmed by the child and the child develops a quick attachment for her, wanting her to stay. Eve realizes that Polly's mother is no longer in the picture, and while she is attracted to Tom, she has a career she has worked hard to establish and wants to go further in. 
Eve rearranges her interview once she realizes that her car won't be pulled out in time, and ends up going back for Christmas as she has no other plans. 
An instant attraction, a rescue in a remote and dangerous circumstance, and a child's belief in miracles make this a cozy romance for the holiday season. 

Mary Coin

Finished August 31
Mary Coin by Marisa Silver

This novel was inspired by the cover picture. Taken by Dorothea Lange, and called Migrant Mother, the photograph of Florence Owens Thompson became famous and opened many doors for Lange. The author creates a fictional woman, Mary Coin, as the subject of this photo and the novel follows Mary from her childhood through her marriage, her travels in search of employment, up until the moment of the photograph. It also follows the photographer, here named Vera Dare Everett, as she too marries, has children, and tries to create her own career through her art. 
Staying relatively closely to the real facts of the women's lives, Silver brings them to life by letting us see inside their thoughts, their motivations, and their drive to live as they want, as they must. She tells the larger story of the Depression in America and the desperate search for jobs to feed oneself and one's family, from a uniquely female viewpoint.
Tying it all together is a man in the current day, an anthropology professor named Walker Dodge. Walker's specialty is the study of common people and their lives. He looks at diaries, official records, ephemera, and relics of their lives as he pieces together how they lived. Walker loses his father near the beginning of the book, and as he cleans out the house, he finds boxes of papers in the basement and begins to treat the situation as a case study from his own work perspective. His research leads him to these women, and that key connection point with its resulting fame.
She also looks at the aftermath, Vera's fame and further career, what happened to Mary and her children, and how that small connection became an important moment in both their lives. 
An amazing story of two women forging their lives during a difficult time, told with realism and compassion, and the serendipity of life and the chance meetings that change lives.  

The Vet's Daughter

Finished August 28
The Vet's Daughter by Barbara Comyns, introduction by Kathryn Davis

This novel first came out in 1959, although Comyns started writing it in 1947. The title character, named Alice, is a teen as the story begins. As indicated, her father is a veterinarian, one who treats animals like objects and has no feelings for them. Her mother is unwell, and both of them live in fear of him. Alice tries to spare her mother so she can rest, and the two have quiet talks about her mother's childhood when alone in the evening. 
After the death of her mother, things become more difficult for Alice. A friendly and kindly housekeeper and a young veterinarian help mitigate her circumstances, but the woman that her father takes up with is a force against her. 
Alice retreats often to a world of fantasy, pulling on bits of her mother's memories of childhood in Scotland, and fairy tales helped along by an uncanny ability she discovers in herself. 
Alice finds her thoughts can take her away from her circumstances, but she is aware that others find it unnerving. 
This is an odd book, with a strange premise, but one that nevertheless had me enthralled from the beginning. Alice is a character that I empathized with and hoped would find a better situation than the one she is born into.

Monday 5 September 2022

September Reviews for the 16th Annual Canadian Book Challenge

 Here is where you post links to the books that you finished in September this year. 

Add a comment either on the book, or on how the challenge is going for you.