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Diana’s Winter Book Review 10 ~ Little Wing by Freya North

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Why did you choose this book?

Waterstones in #Kirkcaldy had become my regular haunt of mine over the winter. I am reading more paperbacks, rather than books on Kindle, because of my RSI problem, which I am managing relatively well now.

I was browsing on Waterstone’s ‘Buy 1 Get 1 Half Price‘ tables and stumbled upon ‘Little Wing‘ by Freya North. I found the title intriguing, followed by the name of the author ‘North’, and wondered if it is Freya’s real name. Then it was the cover which spoke immediately of Western Scotland, or even the Outer Hebrides. I was not wrong. On reading the blurb next, it pointed in that direction. The novel was clearly set in three different time zones and just looked my kind of book.

Did I feel empathy to any particular character?

I felt particular empathy to Nell (2005) who was working in a café, where the employees needed support in order to fulfil their amazing roles. I am a great believer in folks being allowed, with loving and caring guidance, to reach their potential. Nell was an extra special person and I identified with her patience and fondness for her charges, but also with her at the moment when her life was ‘turned upside down’ by a discovery about herself. As far as I know this hasn’t happened to me, but I warmed to her quest and also to her eventual feeling of belonging in the Outer Hebrides.

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

Having visited Harris and Lewis, and also having relocated to Scotland from Bedfordshire myself, I can visualise Nell and even Florence (1969) and their sense of belonging to what might appear initially to be a bleak and distant place. I can easily imagine the girls walking on the machair, along the sandy beaches, picking up pebbles and shells and watching the seals. I can feel the warmth of the folk she met and their desire to make her feel welcome; one of them even.

It was a great book and I might even keep it and read it again one day, (which is an unusual high accolade from me) maybe when we are travelling further north once more.

Highly Recommended.

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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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