Category Archives: Book reviews

Diana’s Summer Book Reviews (4) Songbirds by Christy Lefteri

Why did I choose this book?

I noticed the striking cover first in Kirkcaldy Waterstones, followed by honing in on the intriguing title ‘Songbirds’ and the blurb, which instinctively drew me in. It also continued my Greek flavour since it was set in Cyprus.

Did I feel empathy for a particular character?

Although Nisha was rarely far from my thoughts as I was reading ~ Where was she? Why was she missing? Was she safe? ~ it was Petra who struck a chord with me. She realised that, even after having Nisha in her house, helping to run their lives and looking after her child for so many years, once she had disappeared Petra knew very little about her ‘maid.’ Isn’t that true of many of our relationships with people? How many of them are superficial? More recently, we have found the quality of our friendships has been enhanced by actually going away together; having enough time to really talk about issues which matter to us and find out what we have in common.

Petra, however, really cared about Nisha, even when the authorities were dismissive about ‘foreign workers’ disappearing. That made Petra even more determined to find Nisha or to discover what happened to her. She was devastated by Nisha vanishing so suddenly. Was she safe? I felt every anguish and heartbreak along the way.

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

Several questions really, about the meaning of life? Do we only really value people when they are gone from our lives? How many of our friends and acquaintances do we really know and understand? Who do we take for granted? A haunting book, certainly.

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Diana’s Summer Book Reviews (3) The Dandelion Years by Erica James

Why did I choose this book?

I think it chose me. I picked it up from the ‘for sale’ books at Cowdenbeath Library on my way to the dentist. I flipped it over and read the blurb within which it said,

“Sakia ….. a book restorer, devotes her days tending to broken and battered books, dreaming of the people who turned their pages.”

Instantly I knew it was my kind of book.

Did you feel empathy for any particular character?

Sakia has suffered great loss in her life, losing her mother and both grandmothers in a car crash and she was helped through her formative years to heal by her father and two grandfathers, who in an act of self sacrifice came to live together. For me it was my husband, sister and the local community (that phrase again as so important in my life) here in Kinghorn who have been so supportive. Nevertheless, for Sakia was being cocooned in a caring home making it difficult for her to build relationships and love as she grows up? Could she face losing the world which has protected her?

Is there a lasting thought or memory of the book which remains with you?

Yes indeed; the synchronicity of life. I did not know when I picked up the book that it would include a love story set in Bletchley Park as well as one in real time; the former a place in history I’m very familiar with following research into my own novel MURDER, Now and Then. Also, I am so aware of numerous coincidences occurring in my life as an author. Some may think author using this phenomenon  makes  the story contrived, but in my experience happenings like this are ones I treasure and they make a jolly good yarn with friends!

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Diana’s summer book reviews (2)Travels with Epicurus by Daniel Klein

Why did I choose this book?

I didn’t choose it for myself, but as a small Christmas present for my husband to get him in the mood for travelling to Greece and also to think about life. He didn’t read it. It sat beside his bed for ages and so I decided to take it with us and read it myself.

The premise of the memoir is the author’s search for the meaning of life and the pleasures to be pursued in old age. He did this by revisiting the Greek island of Hydra, where he spent some memorable months when he was a young man. He also reflects on life by reading the works of various philosophers over the centuries, including Epicurus who he quotes frequently, as he tries to glean hidden truths as well as the obvious ones.

Did you feel empathy for any particular character?

To be honest, and I’m being sexist here I know, a man would probably identify with Daniel in his search more then I did and greatly enjoy his travel writing and reflection on life. I also tried to read it through my husband’s eyes. Having said that it set the scene for me, in that there we were on a small Greek Island enjoying the freedom after lock down but also thinking ‘what next?’ ~ when we were not just ‘being’!

Is there a lasting thought or memory of the book which remains with you?

The value of companionship “Of all the things that wisdom provides to help one live ones entire life in happiness, the greatest by far is the possession of friendship” ~ Epicurus.

I actually bought the book in Waterstones, Princess Street, Edinburgh, since I try to support my local bookshops.

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