Women’s Fiction

Clad in Armour of Radiant White

Clad in Armour of Radiant White
Published: May 27, 2015
Author's Twitter: @RosalineARiley
This is a coming-of-age novel set in the 1950s and 60s in Lancashire. Its point-of-view protagonist is Ellen, a working class girl who becomes friends with middle class Erica when she goes to the convent school in the neighbouring town. Focussing on both Ellen’s home life and her school life (which she tries to keep separate), the novel explores the gains and the losses that education and religion provide over the course of her school years.   Thematically, it’s a novel about friendship, love, loss, and death. Social class is also dealt with lightly. There are dark passages in the novel, but also much humour. Each chapter is a month of the year – beginning with September to reflect the structure of the school year. This framework also allows for treatment of the seasons and the liturgical year. The months are sequential but the years are not. Between September 1959 and September 1966 the years go back and forth (with some flashbacks to earlier years).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coffee and Vodka

Coffee and Vodka
Author:
Published: March 5, 2013
Author's Twitter: @helenahalme
A fascinating Nordic story of immigration, family secrets and sisterly love, set in Finland and Sweden in the 1970’s and now.   ‘In Stockholm everything is bigger and better.’ When Pappa announces the family is to leave their small Finnish town for a new life in Sweden, 11-year-old Eeva is elated. But in Stockholm Mamma finds feminism, Eeva’s sister, Anja pretends to be Swedish and Pappa struggles to adapt. And one night, Eeva’s world falls apart. Fast forward 30 years. Now teaching Swedish to foreigners, Eeva travels back to Finland when her beloved grandmother becomes ill. On the overnight ferry, a chance meeting with her married ex-lover, Yri, prompts family secrets to unravel and buried memories to come flooding back. It’s time for Eeva to find out what really happened all those years ago…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Englishman: Can Love Go the Distance?

The Englishman: Can Love Go the Distance?
A stylish 1980’s Cold War love story based on true events. Young Finnish student Kaisa falls head over heals in love with Peter, a dashing newly qualified naval officer. Kaisa realised she’d never felt like this before. This was love. The stuff she’d read about in books since she was a teenager; the films she’d watched. This was how Ryan O’Neal felt about Ali MacGraw in Love Story, and Barbra Streisand about Robert Redford in The Way We Were. Kaisa grinned. She’d wanted to pose the same question to the Englishman that Katie had to Hubbell, ‘Do you smile ALL the time?’ ” When a young Finnish student, Kaisa, is invited to the British Embassy cocktail party in Helsinki to celebrate a Royal Navy visit to Finland, she’s not looking for romance. After all, her future has been carefully planned: she’s to complete her degree, marry her respectable, well-to-do Finnish fiancé Matti, and live happily ever after. Enter the dashing Peter, a newly qualified naval officer. Like a moth to a flame, Kaisa falls head over heels in love. Kaisa and Peter embark on a long-distance relationship, but at the height of the Cold War, while the Englishman chases Russian submarines, Kaisa is stuck in Finland, a country friendly with the Soviet Union. Can they trust each other? Can their love go the distance? A stylish 1980s Nordic love story based on true events.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Night at the Jacaranda

One Night at the Jacaranda
Author:
Publisher:
Published: April 28, 2016
Author's Twitter: @DrCarolCooper
The lives of a disparate group of Londoners intersect one night as they each search for someone special. Dan is trying to conceal a stretch in jail, while time is running out for cancer-stricken Sanjay. Geoff is a stressed doctor with erectile trouble, and Michael is the kind of man best avoided. Lawyer Laure is desperate to rewrite her abusive past but, for single mother Karen, sex is a distant memory she hopes to relive. Undercover journalist Harriet doesn’t have an agenda, other than writing articles to repay her debt to her live-in lover. She’s only there on assignment, but soon she has to choose between the comfortable life she knows and a bumpy road that could lead to happiness. As they all discover, finding happiness with someone special means finding yourself as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sail Upon the Land

Sail Upon the Land
Author:
Publisher:
Published: December 1, 2014
Author's Twitter: @JosaYoung
A tale of love and loss told through four generations of English women, Sail Upon the Land traces 80 years of social turmoil. The story of an English family is told through the experiences of its mothers and children over the last eighty years. The book opens with Damson being raped in India during her Gap Year in the 1980s. She runs away, goes up to Cambridge to train as a medical student and discovers she is pregnant. The plot then goes back to Sarah in 1938. Desperately bored by her mother’s snobbish inertia she learns to cook and then becomes a VAD, falling in love with a doctor who treats wounded soldiers in her requisitioned family home. They have a fragile daughter, Melissa, who emerges into womanhood during the 1960s, marries a lonely and unhappy young man as shy as herself, and in turn produces another daughter – Damson. One after another, these mothers and daughters fail to understand and help each other until the third, Damson, is given a second chance.

 

 

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A Beautiful Family

A Beautiful Family
Published: May 27, 2014
Author's Twitter: @MarilynCohendeV
When Johannesburg socialite Brenda Silverman dies in mysterious circumstance in her palatial, well secured home, questions are inevitable. Did she commit suicide? Was it an accidental drug overdose? Or did her death have something to do with her husband? Alan Silverman is a handsome, charming businessman with impeccable credentials: a former political activist who fled South Africa in the 1980s and returned to help build the new democracy; a loving husband and devoted father; a pillar of Johannesburg’s orthodox Jewish community; and an intimate of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress elite. He is also a man hiding a terrible secret. Tracy Jacobs, a young journalist, is assigned to cover the story but as her investigations start to uncover cracks in the beautiful Silverman family facade, she finds herself in conflict with her own community. Will Brenda’s inquest finally reveal the truth? Spanning nearly forty years and three continents, A Beautiful Family confirms a horrible reality: that “things like that” can and do happen to people just like us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ribs and Thigh Bones of Desire

The Ribs and Thigh Bones of Desire
Will they or won’t they? Should they or shouldn’t they? It’s the summer of 1977 in a small college town, and physics professor David Asken has just lost his young family in a plane crash he somehow survived. Sixteen-year-old neighbor Molly Carmichael used to be the babysitter, but now will be keeping house for him while he recuperates. David’s quietly planning to end his life just as soon as he can drive again. Molly’s trying to cope with being known as Tampon Girl, thanks to a sculpture by her notorious artist mother, but she will have to deal with much worse after a drunken teenage party. In this engrossing coming-of-age novel by the author of The Awful Mess, both man and girl must grow up the hard way, and it’s their unexpectedly tender connection, fraught with potential scandal, that may just help them do it. This provocative novel asks: Is there ever a time when doing the wrong thing might be exactly right? Warning: Offers adult themes, bad language, violence, and a blistering feminist critique of how men always leave that crap in the bottom of the sink. May also keep you reading way too late into the night.

Reviewed 

 

The AI Seal of Excellence for Outstanding Independent Literature has been awarded to The Ribs and Thigh Bones of Desire by Sandra Hutchison. Read our brand new five-star review of the book below!

A coming-of-age novel set in America in the late 70s, Sandra Hutchison’s The Ribs and Thigh Bones of Desire centers on the relationship between David, a physics professor in his 30s, and Molly, the teenage girl who used to babysit his daughter. Molly doesn’t babysit for David anymore because his wife and daughter recently perished in a plane crash. He is too overwhelmed by grief to take care of himself, so his estranged sister hires Molly to keep house for him.

Molly has problems of her own. Her parents are divorced. Her father loves her but now has another wife and children, a family where she has a marginal place. She mostly lives with her mother, a notorious and uninhibited artist who commemorates Molly’s first period by constructing the figure of a girl with tampons and, of course, exhibiting it publicly. Molly’s schoolmates call her Tampon Girl.

The physics professor doesn’t seduce or become obsessed with the teenager, nor does she have a girlish crush on him. While David struggles with grief and survivor’s guilt and Molly negotiates the minefield of adolescence in the 70s, they develop a friendship that’s hard to categorize but easy for people in their small town to misinterpret and condemn.

Sandra Hutchison writes beautifully transparent and unpretentious prose. She creates complex characters and a vivid sense of place. Most of all, she tells a compelling story full of sorrow and humor with a benign detachment that leaves room for readers to draw their own conclusions. In other words, she’s a first-rate writer.

Some readers might be offended by Hutchison’s frank depiction of sexual situations and nonjudgmental treatment of behavior that is usually condemned. They may dislike the somewhat open ending. But if you don’t read fiction to find emotional security and have your beliefs validated, if you’re just looking for an excellent book, I strongly recommend The Ribs and Thigh Bones of Desire.

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Reviewed by K. J. Farnham

5 Stars

Recovering both physically and mentally from a plane crash that took the lives of his wife and daughter, college professor David Asken is a mess. His sister hires 16-year-old Molly from across the street to help out with cooking, cleaning and making sure David takes his meds, eats, pays bills, etc. Due to David’s depressed state of mind and Molly’s somewhat neglectful parents, the two form an unconventional and rather controversial relationship. But the development of their relationship is only one of many thought-provoking topics covered in this novel.

The attraction David and Molly feel for one another is made obvious through their actions and inner dialogue. While I knew it would be wrong for a man in his thirties to hook up with a teenager, the prospect became more acceptable to me as their relationship deepened. Aw hell, I’ll just admit it, by the end I was rooting for a romantic HEA for the two of them. But before you judge me or the author for crafting a story filled with such taboo, read the book to find out why the idea of them being together didn’t disgust me.

Kudos to Hutchison for tackling several delicate subjects with candor, realism and punches of humor. Also, her writing is smart and seamless

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Reviewed by Leah

4 Stars

David survives a plane crash that killed his wife and daughter. Molly, his next door neighbor and his daughter’s babysitter, is hired by his sister to be his housekeeper. Like most survivors, David is struggling with guilt and is even contemplating suicide. Molly, aside from dealing with the grief over the death of David’s daughter Emily, is dealing with issues of her own – one of them being the daughter of a sexually uninhibited artist. The title of this book would probably make you think this is some sexy explicit romance of sorts – that was my first impression until I read the summary – but it’s really not.

The Ribs and Thigh Bones of Desire is an interesting book about a teenage girl dealing with issues that come when you’re just starting to cross over from being a child to a young woman, and a young man dealing with the tragic loss of his family. Life throws them into each other’s lives and they develop a strange relationship. The book is essentially about how they deal with their circumstances and how one significantly figures in the healing of the other.

The book is well-written and is actually not too difficult to read. It’s not a light read, by all means, and it may be hard to read for some because of the sensitive topics that it touches on, but it doesn’t go over the top or becomes too graphic. It doesn’t sugar-coat either and sometimes you have to read between the lines. The characters are interesting, are not one-sided, and work well together. The story also flows comfortably – it didn’t feel too slow or rushed. By the way, the title is a line taken from a work by Virginia Woolf and is mentioned in the book. The ending doesn’t exactly give straight-up answers and may even leave you with more questions, but I find that it’s just fitting to the story.

Overall, this book is a good read and I think anybody who likes unique stories and likes to keep an open mind would appreciate this book.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Awesome Indies Books in return for an honest review. I was not compensated nor was I required to provide a positive review. All views are my own.

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Reviewed by Vivian

4 Stars

Painfully real, very well crafted, beautifully written. I really liked the hero, which was great. Many times the hero is just a jerk.

Yes, I too rooted for an HEA for the unlikely couple. To be honest I didn’t find see much of a taboo in the relationship.

 

No Stranger to Death

No Stranger to Death
Author's Twitter: @JanetOkane
A Scottish village. A burning corpse. Some very dark secrets. Can recently-widowed Doctor Zoe Moreland discover who’s killing her patients in time to save herself from becoming the next victim? Recently-widowed Doctor Zoe Moreland moves from an English city to a village in the Scottish Borders for a fresh start among strangers unaware of her tragic past. However, any hopes she had of a quiet life are dashed by her dog finding a woman’s body in the remains of a Guy Fawkes bonfire. Although the last thing Zoe wants is to get caught up in a murder investigation, this changes when someone else dies unexpectedly and she herself narrowly escapes death. Determined not to become the killer’s next victim, she digs beneath the tranquil surface of the close-knit community to find out who is committing these horrible acts. And discovers that some secrets can be deadly.

Reviewed by Awesome Indies

No Stranger to Death Review: A good first Novel

A grisly murder in a sleepy Scottish Borders village opens this debut novel by Janet O’Kane. The body is discovered by a relative newcomer to the village, who has joined the local surgery as a GP. 

Doctor Moreland is the central character and the novel, written in the third person, is told from her point of view. However, it is a distant, almost clinical POV, and given that she survives two attempts on her life, is involved in three suspicious deaths, and is just starting a relationship, I would like to have seen some more intimate third person perspective apart from her doubts about her prospective boyfriend. 

There is a good range of characters, with many of the supporting ones well portrayed, revealing more about them gradually as the novel progresses. The atmosphere of a small village is well created through the use of dialogue and characterisation.

The plot is not just a whodunit but manages to weave different sub-plots neatly into the main story without being distracting and there are some interesting red herrings and twists. The beginning is paced more slowly to set context, and pauses slightly at times with some minor insignificant detail, but as more is revealed later in the book, the pace picks up considerably, and through a number of red herrings and twists, builds up to an unexpected climax.

Strengths of this book were characterisation, thoughtful plot (and sub-plots), and the way the story played out. A lot of the story was conveyed through dialogue and was well-written and credible. When the immediate action happened it was very good. There were few literal errors.

Recommended to anyone who likes a mystery/crime novel that focuses on thinking, and one thatin its favourisn’t full of unnecessary gore. It’s a good first novel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Awful Mess

The Awful Mess
Published: January 17, 2014
Author's Twitter: @sheerhubris
In this witty and affectionate debut, a “heathen” divorcee, an unhappily-married priest, and a handsome cop get into an awful mess in a very small town.