In this issue we meet two tough women: Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom for 65 years, and Lillian Boxfish who, like her real-life counterpart, was the highest paid woman in advertising in 1930s New York. We also review Will Schwalbe's Books for Living, the follow-up to his very popular The End of Your Life Book Club.
All this and more to explore, plus the opportunity to win copies of Simon Tolkien's novel, No Man's Land, inspired by the experiences of his famous grandfather during World War I.
Your Editor, Davina
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First Impressions: Members Recommend
Each month we give away books to U.S. resident members to read and review (or discuss). Members who choose to participate receive a free book about every three months. Here are their opinions on one recent release.
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney
St Martin's Press, Novel, Jan 2017, 304 pages
Number of reader reviews: 39. Consensus: 4.4/5.0
Members Say "I was swept up, enchanted, educated and amused by the fabulous Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk. Lillian is based loosely on the real life "highest paid woman in advertising" who worked for Macy's in New York. A woman ahead of her time, Lillian was passionate about her career and uncertain about the appeal of marriage and motherhood. Lillian lets us walk through her life as well as beside her on the streets of Manhattan. I couldn't bear for our relationship to end." - Lois P. (Hillsborough, NC)
"Lillian Boxfish is a compelling protagonist - feisty, ambitious, creative, independent, yet deeply flawed... What fun this was to read!" - Laura P. (Atlanta, GA)
"Lillian never fails to delight as you share her walk and her life. Her wit is nonpareil and most funny. I had many a good laugh! The book is beautifully written too." - Janine S. (Wyoming, MI)
"I think this will be one of those books that will sell by word of mouth from librarians and book sellers. Don't miss it!" - Nancy K. (Perrysburg, OH)
"I will certainly recommend this to my book club." - Sheila S. (Supply, NC)
Drawing on Queen Victoria's diaries, which she first started reading when she was a student at Cambridge University, Daisy Goodwin, creator and writer of the new PBS/Masterpiece drama Victoria (and author of The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter), brings the young nineteenth-century monarch richly to life.
From the Jacket Inspired by the real-life experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I, Simon Tolkien delivers a perfectly rendered novel rife with class tension, period detail, and stirring action, ranging from the sharply divided society of northern England to the trenches of the Somme.
Published Jan 2017, 592 pages
Reviews "Starred Review. The author's visceral account of the Battle of the Somme underscores the individual suffering and courage involved - an unforgettable paean and a gripping war story, with a sensitive perspective on the home front. This compares in depth of feeling and insight to Elizabeth Speller's The First of July (2013) and to Jeff Shaara's well-researched, absorbing To the Last Man (2004)." - Booklist
"[Tolkien's] most ambitious work yet ... Adam makes an attractive hero and his story has more than enough colour and energy to keep us reading." - The Sunday Times (UK)
5 people will each win a hardcover copy of No Man's Land. This giveaway is open to residents of the USA only, unless you are a BookBrowse member, in which case you are eligible to win wherever you might live.
Review It was over four years ago when Will Schwalbe captured book lovers' hearts around the world with his stunning The End of Your Life Book Club, a story describing the "book club" between himself and his mother, who was battling terminal cancer. It was met with enthusiastic praise from critics and readers alike. It's hard to follow something so special, but he's done it with Books for Living. And I'll go ahead and tell you that it was well worth the wait.
Schwalbe returns with his gentle, accessible writing style as he brings together twenty-six essays, each exploring a book he's read and the key lesson it taught him. The compilation touches on a number of issues, but one singular focus brings it all together: explaining how and why books are important. ... continued
Full access to our reviews & beyond the book articles are for members only. But there are always four free Editor's Choice reviews and beyond the book articles available.
Beyond the Book: Empathy
Every time we review a book we also explore a related topic. Here is a recent "beyond the book" article for Books for Living by Will Schwalbe
Books for Living isn't always light, but it is always kind. Schwalbe approaches each topic with grace and gentleness and, as I finished reading it, I kept thinking about the need for empathy in today's world. Really, we desperately need more kindness and tolerance. So, for this Beyond the Book, I'm looking at the five books that help me see empathy - and its importance. ...continued
Blog: Victoria-era Winners
Some of the best historical fiction is set in Britain's Victorian Era, and for good reason--the social mores of the time coupled with the increasingly prominent role the country played on the global stage provide much fodder for great literature. Upheavals at home were spurred on by the Industrial Revolution which stoked the Empire's grand ambitions. The landscape is an arresting canvas for compelling stories, not least the story of Queen Victoria herself who ascended the throne aged 18 after an extremely sheltered, arguably abusive childhood, and reigned for 63 years.
Inspired by the new PBS Masterpiece series, Victoria, and the book of the same name (both created by Daisy Goodwin), here are seven fine books set in this period. ...continued
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