Category Archives: Book reading

Diana’s Autumn Book Review (7) ‘The Island of Missing Trees’ by Elif Shafak

Why did you choose this book?

I was browsing in Waterstones and was drawn firstly by the title, which was intriguing and also mentioned an island; pertinent following my recent series of Islands of Inspiration. Secondly I loved the cover and finally, when I turned the novel over, I read David Mitchel’s review:

“A wise novel of love and grief, roots and branches, displacement and home, faith and belief. The Island of Missing Trees is balm for our bruised times.”

Wow, I thought. I already felt in tune with the author and the themes of the novel, even before I’d opened the first chapter. They were themes akin to my own writing, leading to immediate empathy before I had a chance to absorb myself in the magic of this book; one which is truly remarkable.

Did I feel empathy to any particular character?

I’d often thought of trees as special; the way they oversee happenings in their sturdy, solid form; patient and ancient. To have a fig tree as a character bowled me away. I was hooked!

Yes, I loved the love story of two teenagers from different backgrounds; Turk and Greek. The tension of forbidden friendship, let alone passion and so I felt so in tune with Daphne as she sneaked out of her home to meet Kostas in war torn Cyprus, the love of her life.

Is there a lasting thought or memory from the book which remains with you long after the novel is finished?

So many that it is hard to describe them without being a spoiler.

There’s the fig tree of course, whose thoughts transcend cultural divide and prejudices. Its survival, against the odds, whose story I will not elaborate on here. I want you to be as delighted as I was as you read.

There was tragedy and loss and yet an overriding dream that love will prevail, however hopeless it may seem.

There are very few books which you are reluctant to leave behind you as you turn the final pages. As you close the novel for the last time a sense of loss overwhelms you; You are truly bereft ~ ‘The Island of the Missing Trees’ is one of those books.

Brilliantly written, evocative of the times depicted therein.

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Diana’s Autumn Book Reviews (6) Interleaved Lives by Roderick Hart

Why did you choose this book?

Initially, I met Roderick Hart on twitter, as you do, and we linked because he is a fellow author living in Scotland; just over the Forth in Edinburgh to be precise. I enjoy crime novels and I was promoting my first murder mystery at that time, as well as ‘The Healing Paths of Fife.’ I think it was the latter which intrigued him. Rod has recently become an Eventispress author too; joining what we call the ‘Eventispress Family.’ (that sound a bit like the mafia doesn’t it?)

Did I feel empathy to any particular character?

Yes to both Alison Ogilvie and to Douglas Hunter in Interleaved Lives, in the sense that life’s tough at times, as are relationships. I always feel very close to my own characters and Dot in MISSING Past and Present, whose husband went missing, would have had an enormous amount of empathy for Douglas Hunter, whose wife had disappeared and he had no idea where she was.

Both Dot and Douglas handled their circumstances with resilience but their reactions were very different. Douglas threw himself into his new career, although he didn’t really have a clue how to set himself up as a private detective by himself. However, Dot escaped from the world she knew; a homeless character who became familiar to those who passed her by.

Is there a lasting thought or memory from the book which remains with you long after the novel is finished?

Life can move on in a positive way in the end, despite the traumas life throws at us.

Interleaved Lives (available on Amazon) is a great crime novel, set in Edinburgh. It has complicated and unexpected twists and turns but it is the characters who draw you in. Great book!

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Diana’s Autumn Book Reviews (5) The Metal Heart by Caroline Lea

Why did I chose this book?

It is a novel set on another familiar island; an evocative story based on truth. We visited The Orkneys several years ago and loved them, especially the uncovered layers of history everywhere you turn, from Mesolithic and Neolithic tribes through to World War 2. There is none more moving than the Italian Chapel built from an old Nissen hut and beautifully painted by Italian Prisoners of War, as if it was a famous chapel in the heart of Rome. I looked forward to reading The Metal Heart, not only to whisk me back to The Orkneys, but to also to bring these Italians from WW2 alive in my head!

Did I feel empathy for any particular character?

I could not help but be drawn both the Dorothy and Con as they struggled to survive; supporting each other through thick and thin and comforting each other for the loss of their parents. They escaped the town for a tiny island, only to be surrounded by strangers who become more than that, especially to Dorothy. I can imagine being entranced by the building of the chapel and mesmerised by the inside of it. Not to mention the exotic Italian men who created it!

Is there a lasting thought or memory from the book which remains with me long after the novel is finished?

Self sacrifice ~ Dorothy and Con gave up their seclusion to be war time nurses on the main island, and yet their gain was to keep safe from harm.

Then there was ultimate self sacrifice ~ I will not expand on this to be a spoiler, but it made me question, and still does when thinking about it:

  • ‘How much do I give of myself for the benefit of others?’ ‘In the end is it true that I gain as much myself, as I give?’
Many people talk of ‘service before self.’

What do you think?

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