Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Book Review

The Summer Witch by Louise Cooper (Headline £5.99 - When Carys is married off to an ageing, childless widower, she has no choice but to make the best of it. Jone Farmer has offered a high price for his bride, and Carys's father is a greedy man.

The Summer Witch by Louise Cooper (Headline £5.99 - When Carys is married off to an ageing, childless widower, she has no choice but to make the best of it. Jone Farmer has offered a high price for his bride, and Carys's father is a greedy man.

To ease her unhappiness, Carys invents an imaginary lover for herself - in the unlikely guise of the tattered scarecrow that stands in Jones' field.

When an encounter gives Carys the chance to turn her fantasy into something more solid, the temptation is too great to resist. But there's another, more dangerous temptation on offer, and if Carys gives in, it could lead to her ultimate destruction.

The Kindly Ones by Caroline Stickland (Headline £9.99) - Scandal, intrigue and murder all come together in this novel based on the Oresteia of Greek legend.

Set in Victorian England and British India, it centres around Paul Eliot, a powerful and wealthy merchant. In a world where class is all important, he takes quick offence at those superior in rank, who sneer at his every word.

In revenge, Paul decides to seduce the beautiful wife of his well-born host and fellow merchant, Gerard Forston.

Eliot and Eleanor flee to India. All those connected with them are affected as their families are torn apart in a tale that is as timeless as its inspiration.

Life In The Palace by Carol Birch (Virago £6.99) - Judy lives in Kinnaird Buildings, a tenement block in Waterloo which once represented quality, but is now ancient and blackened, housing a fringe community of feckless, addicted losers.

She's doing her best to avoid emotional entanglements with men, resisting the romantic Jimmy's advances. Her friend Loretta is fighting against the poverty and squalor of her surroundings.

Tough and brutally funny, Birch's story encompasses love, death and survival against an uncompromising backdrop of social realism. This story won her the David Higham award for best first novel.

Don't Walk In The Long Grass by Tenniel Evans (Black Swan £6.99) - The first thing Aunt Edith did when she collected ten-year-old Tenniel Evans from the London docks was to take him to the shops, and replace his lightweight tropical outfit with a more fitting English coat and woollen gloves.

Winning a scholarship to Christ's Hospital School took the young Evans away from his halcyon youth in a mud-and-wattle bungalow facing the blue hills of Trans-Nzoia in Kenya to Allesley Rectory - a big dark house run by his horse-faced cousin.

In England, Evans learned that his second family was just as idiosyncratic as the one he'd left behind.

Out In The Midday Sun by Eslpeth Huxley (Pimlico £10.00) - Another story of life in the tropics. Huxley has already captivated readers with her memories of an African childhood in The Flame Trees of Thika. Here, in the final volume of her trilogy, she tells of her adult life in Africa.

Huxley introduces the reader to the pioneer Lord Delamere, to Baroness Blixen and to Jomo Kenyatta. These offbeat characters blend with her descriptions of the upheavals of the time.

This was a glittering and scandalous life lived by young aristocrats.

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