Virago

‘Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy’ by Rumer Godden #TuesdayBookBlog #BookReview

five-for-sorrow

Amazon.co.uk   Amazon.com

The Sisters of Béthanie, a French order of Dominican nuns, dedicate themselves to caring for the outcasts of society – criminals, prostitutes and drug addicts. Lise, an English girl who after the liberation of Paris was employed in one of the city’s smartest brothels and rose to become a successful madame, finds herself joining the Sisters. Master storyteller Rumer Godden weaves a deeply moving tale of Lise’s prison sentence, her conversion and the agonising work among women whose traumatic experiences often outstrip even her own.

I’ve always loved Virago – when I was younger and discovering lots of women writers, the Virago stand in my local bookshop was the go-to place for me on a Saturday morning (what a nerd I was), but I have never read anything by Rumer Godden. So when this was recommended to me, I was very curious. I have to admit though, that the subject matter really didn’t appeal. I’m an atheist and I have little time at all for religion. I’d far rather sit down and read some Christopher Hitchens than a book about nuns, but I decided to give this one a try.

I’m very glad I did, although I did have some difficulty with the subject matter. Lise is a Sister of Bethanie, dedicated to caring for the outcasts, for prisoners, drug addicts, prostitutes, the lowest of the low. Through extremely clever structuring, we move back and forth through her life and learn how she became a nun, her past as a prostitute,  and why that happened to her.

We also learn a great deal about the life of a nun, of the daily, weekly and monthly routines. This was very interesting and insightful and not at all dull to read, because Godden’s prose is absolutely stunning. And this is why I can set aside any misgivings about the subject matter – the book is a joy to read because of the sheer beauty of the writing. I felt as though I truly knew Lise. The portrayals of other characters, particularly Vivi, are striking and compelling to read. There is no judgement here, and no judgement from the nuns either and this felt more like a book about people, than about religion.

This is one of those books that you can’t wait to get back to. I’ll definitely be reading more by this author.

5 stars

#FridayFiveChallenge : ‘Shelter’ by Frances Greenslade

Welcome to the Friday Five Challenge

biscuits

Rosie Amber’s Friday Five challenge only takes five minutes, so grab a cuppa and join in!

In today’s online shopping age, readers often base their buying decisions on small postage stamp size book covers (Thumb-nails), a quick glance at the book description and the review. How much time do they really spend making that buying decision?

AUTHORS – You often only have seconds to get a reader to buy your book, is your book cover and book bio up to it?

The Friday Five Challenge is this….. IN ONLY FIVE MINUTES….

1) Go to any online book supplier,

2) Randomly choose a category,

3) Speed through the book covers, choose one which has instantly appealed to your eye,

4) Read the book Bio/ Description for this book,

5) If there are reviews, check out a couple,

6) Make an instant decision, would you BUY or PASS?

Can’t avoid the fact that Christmas is fast approaching – not that I’m complaining, I love Christmas. The staff at the company my husband is working for at the moment are buying extra Christmas presents to donate to the homeless charity Shelter. It’s awful that in this day and age we should have to do this, that people are in need like this, that children have to rely on charity for a bit of happiness this Christmas. But there it is. So I took the word Shelter as my search term this week.

Well, there are a huge amount of survival books. Lots and lots of advice and instructions on adapting your house to survive the end of the world, and building shelters in the wilderness. There are also an awful lot of romances tagged with shelter strangely enough. But I’m not a fan of (fictional) romance and I wouldn’t want to survive an apocalypse (no electricity for hair straighteners) so I scanned through until I saw this:

shelter

Amazon.co.uk   Amazon.com

Price: £4.99 (kindle) £7.99 (paperback) in the UK (380 pages), $7.55 (kindle) $15.41 (paperback) in the US.

Book Description

Maggie’s father is ‘Mr Safety’. He knows the woods of Duchess Creek in Northern Canada like the back of his hand, and he has taught his daughter how to survive, how to find and make a shelter in all weathers, in any conditions. Along with her sister, Jenny, and their mother Irene, they are safe from the outside world. But when an accident at work goes fatally wrong, Irene struggles to look after her daughters alone. Wild, imaginative and unpredictable, she billets the two girls with a family, promising to return once the summer is over and she has earned more money. But the summer turns to winter, which rolls round again and again. When the letters stop, the two sisters realise that they can rely on no one but themselves – but what kind of shelter can two young girls make for themselves?

Reviews

There are eight reviews on Amazon.co.uk, three 5-star, three 4-star and two 3-star. Forty-five reviews on Amazon.com, mostly four star and five star.

Reviewers praise the beautiful, lyrical writing and  the rich atmosphere that the author invokes. It sounds like a slow burner but is another one of those books that, it seems, if you love it you love it and if you don’t then you really don’t like it at all. But the positive reviews outweigh the negative.

Buy or pass? Yet another BUY (my TBR list can’t cope with too many more of these challenges!).

Analysis

I love the cover – it’s bright and very pretty. I have three sisters (I’m the youngest) so I like the idea of a story about the relationship between two sisters. And it’s published by Virago. When I was a teenager, discovering feminism and reading Ms, I would spend hours on a Saturday browsing through the Virago section in the local book shop (yes, I was a very weird teenager). So this is a definite buy for me.

If you want to join in the Friday Five Challenge pop over to Rosie’s blog to find out more.

And read some more Friday Five Challenges:

Cathy found some wonderful photos

Historical fantasy for Shelley

Rosie found a rather odd cover in her search for Black Friday

And if you would like to do something for the 100,000 children who will be homeless in the UK this Christmas (100,000!) then do visit Shelter’s website for more details. Thank you.