Books for the Autumn

A Handful of Book Reviews

Summer is over, but for the bookworms out there, darker nights and colder weather are another great excuse to stay in with a good read. Here are some suggestions.

The Bee Keeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri

We have all watched the news stories of refugees braving the grey waters of the English Channel. Yet how much do we understand about the lives those people have left behind and the long overland journey they endured to arrive at the beaches of northern France?

The Bee Keeper of Aleppo follows Nuri, the proud beekeeper and his wife, Afra, an artist. They live in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo until all they care for is destroyed and they are forced to escape. As the couple flee their homeland, loaded down with a terrible loss, they discover that the hardest thing they face is how to heal their own relationship.

Moving, powerful and beautifully written, The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a testament to the triumph of the human spirit. It’s story that lingers long after the final page has been turned.

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

Have you ever found solace in a novel when life has proved challenging? This story of lost love and a need to find life’s purpose is both magical and enthralling. 

Monsieur Jean Perdu owns the ‘Literary Apothecary’ which is a book barge on the Seine river in Paris. Jean prescribes books for his customers, choosing the books which will make their lives better. However, despite his ability to mend others’ hearts, he seems to be unable to heal his own since his true love left him with just a letter he has never opened. Twenty years later, we see Jean living a mundane half-life, not daring to open himself up to the world. When Catherine arrives, she forces him to confront his past, which prompts Jean to set off on his barge to find some answers and begin to live again.

This is a book to read slowly, to contemplate the choices the characters have made in their lives and to savour the vibrant French setting, the wonderful writing and the frequent comments on life and love.

An Extra Pair of Hands by Kate Mosse

Are you a carer? Perhaps you live with an elderly person who needs support. It’s all too easy to feel isolated and weary with the constant giving of care to someone we love, however dearly. 

Kate Mosse, the famous historical novelist, has a personal story to tell. It’s a story of supporting her parents through her father’s diagnosis of Parkinsons, then caring for her mother until she died a few years later. Finally, she becomes an extra pair of hands for her mother-in-law, affectionately known as Granny Rosie. 

This is a book that pulls no punches. It’s explores the stoicism of our carers, the intimacy of small everyday acts, grief in the face of death. It is also a celebration of older people and a heartfelt plea to the government to take a more sensitive and proactive role in the provision of care, particularly for the elderly. 

Within the pages are descriptions of tenderness and joy, the art of juggling priorities and the mind-numbing repetition of daily tasks. Most of all, it’s a story about love.

Writing to authors

When an author receives an email to say a book has been much enjoyed, the feeling is beyond words. I frequently write with my feedback and appreciation and almost always receive a grateful reply. It’s easy to contact authors, usually through the agent, whose details can be found on the author’s website. If you have enjoyed a book, please take a moment to let the author know, it will be very much appreciated.