c April 2020 | Garden, Tea, Cakes and Me

2020 Reads, Book Reviews & Sewing for Shropshire NHS

library book club Telford Shropshire
At the beginning of 2020 I decided to ease off the volume of books I would reads, make myself slow down and enjoy each book more. I'm a target driven reader and in 2019 I read 70 books, this year I choose 50 books to read. I know that is still quite a number.  All was plodding along nicely, and then in March the Corona Virus arrived in the UK. As one of the 1.6 million very vulnerable people in the UK I was told to shield myself for the next 3 months, and more probably. So it looks like my book target is up for revision! I am also very happy to have already finished reading some great books that will help you escape from the stresses of living through a  pandemic.

Reading is not the only thing that has been occupying my thoughts. Whilst I hide away at my home and very thankful my garden too,  I know I am doing my bit, staying at home saves lives and protects our NHS.  But, I've still felt helpless, when everyone else is able to do more. 

So when a social media call went out in Shropshire for help for anyone who can sew, I gave a shout back. So I'm doing my bit in a very small way by sewing some personal protective equipment that will be used in my local health care settings including Telford Princess Royal and Royal Shrewsbury Hospitals, GP Surgeries, District Nurses and many more units. There is someone working in Shropshire grateful that I made them a scrub hat or wash bag. As you can tell from the photo I went down the colourful route of fabrics. Enough about sewing lets move onto some great books.

Sewing for Shropshire NHS
The Marriage Bureau for Rich People 
My first book to get a mention is my library book club read for March, The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama. Alas because of the Corona Virus we did not manage to get together at the library to discuss it, but I did manage a FaceTime catch with my friend who is also in the book club.   

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People
Any way here is the blurb from the back cover...
Synopis
What does an Indian man with a wealth of common sense do when his retirement becomes too monotonous for him to stand? Open a marriage bureau of course!

With a steady stream of clients to keep him busy, Mr. Ali sees his new business flourish as the indomitable Mrs. Ali and his careful assistant, Aruna, look on with vigilant eyes. There's the man who wants a tall son-in-law because his daughter is short; the divorced woman who ends up back with her ex-husband; a salesman who can't seem to sell himself; and a wealthy, young doctor for whom no match is ever perfect. But although his clients go away happy, little does Mr. Ali know that his esteemed Aruna hides a tragedy in her past-a misfortune that the bureau, as luck would have it, serendipitously undoes.

Bursting with the color and allure of India, and with a cast of endearing character.

My Review
A resounding success, a great read and the perfect escape from the current chaos. I found Mr Ali's world in South India, to be bright, thoughtful and entertaining. One of the best things about reading a book set in different culture and country is that daily activities are just so interesting. A trip to the post office, a walk around his garden, Mrs Ali preparing a meal, absolutely fascinating. But look and you will find the serious elements of getting married and living in India, a total eye opener for me in a very good way. and just so many interesting characters. 

I found myself easily absorbed by this book, and thus I read it quickly. There are other books by the other that I would also happily read. If you enjoyed reading The No.1 Lady Detective Agency this is a book for you. Book available from Amazon in all formats.

The Jane Austen Society

My second Pandemic Reading Recommendation (is that going to be a thing? The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner due for publication 28 May (handback), so be patient if its not out just yet or pre order it now at Amazon
The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

Now I should say that this book is my very first NetGalley read (a site where book reviewers and other professional readers can read books before they are published) as I'm talking of first's it is also the first book I read on my first ever Kindle! A birthday treat to myself, so that in these desperate times should I EVER finish my to be read pile of books I still have the world of Kindle books to explore from home. OK, so onto the book, here's the blurb...
Synopsis   It's only a few months since the war ended but the little village of Chawton is about to be hit by another devastating blow. The heart of the community and site of Jane Austen's cherished former home, Chawton estate is in danger of being sold to the highest bidder.

Eight villagers are brought together by their love for the famous author's novels, to create The Jane Austen Society. As new friendships form and the pain of the past begins to heal, surely they can find a way to preserve Austen's legacy before it is too late?

And there may even be a few unexpected surprises along the way...

My Review 
So first, I'm a huge Jane Austen fan, love the books, have a favourite character, have a favourite book. So by looking at the book cover alone there was no way I was not reading this book. 

Set just after the World War II in the small leafy English village of Chawton. I should say that this is a story of how The Jane Austen Society may have come about, it's not based on actual events, though of course there is a society. The book's lead characters are the village doctor Ben Gray, Adeline (school teacher), Adam Berwick farmer, Mini Harrison Hollywood actress and Frances Knight daughter of the owner of the Knight Estate, and family of the late Edward Knight, Jane Austen's brother. Those villagers with a love of Jane Austen work to establish a society to protect the Knight family owned books, other materials along with the cottage Jane lived in. 

This book mingles the Jane Austen books and the personality of her characters into the story line and the setting of this book. If you know the Jane Austen books you are going to pick up on these straight away. For me this particularly added to my enjoyment of the book, as the story unfolds you can spot the elements of Austen and the nuances of the characters as they interact.

You do not need to have read any Austen books to understand and follow the story, in fact its a great introduction to one of the worlds greatest writers.

Of particular enjoyment to me was the characters discussing and disagreeing as to which of the Austen books they loved the most. So glad to find someone (even if they are an imaginary character in a book) that also finds Emma an unworthy favourite. I will not tell you here which is my favourite Austen book, other than to say I favoured Frances Knights story the most. 

An entertaining read, and a great antidote for escaping a pandemic.

Many thanks to Orion books for this advanced readers copy of The Jane Austen Society.  


Goodreads and Pinterest 

You can keep up to date with my past and present reads by visiting my Goodreads page, see the link in the sidebar on the right hand side of your screen. 

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