Book Review: The Photograph by Debbie Rix

A special shout-out to Bookouture and NetGalley for providing me with this copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

About the Book:

Italy, 1958: Rachael is a young widow with a small child. After a lifetime of running for survival, of not knowing who to trust and where to call home, she finds herself in a place of safety. On a sun-drenched Italian island for one carefree summer the troubles of her past fade away and she falls in love. But will Rachael’s new-found happiness bring her further heartache?

England, 2017: Sophie has a handsome husband, a gorgeous house in the English countryside and a successful career as an anthropologist. But the one thing she longs for is a baby of her own. As she struggles to conceive, cracks begin to appear in her marriage. So Sophie throws herself into her work and tries to seek comfort in childhood memories of her beloved grandmother Rachael.

One afternoon, Sophie finds a forgotten letter and an exquisite silk bracelet hidden in Rachael’s old writing desk. Intrigued, she begins to unravel the extraordinary story of her grandmother’s past – and a secret that has the power to change everything…

The Photograph is an utterly beautiful and compelling story of love, loss and a family secret spanning generations.

My Thoughts:

The Photograph is the spell-binding journey of two women, generations apart, and their stories of love, loss and life. The story alternates between Sophie’s life and experiences in the current day, and those of Rachael, almost 60 years ago.

Sophie is dealing with the struggle to conceive, yearning so much for a child that she does not pay much attention to how the people around her are dealing with things. She is a wonderful person at heart, but fails to see how her obsession affects her husband. At the brink of losing her marriage entirely, the husband and wife duo are confronted with a lot of decisions and forced to deal with their emotions. The best part of Sophie’s story is her family, who is her support system, but who also act as voices of reason when required.

More than 60 years ago, Rachael, Sophie’s grandmother loses her own mother, her husband and is forced to flee her home with her father so as not to get caught. In the midst of all this, she finds herself pregnant. As the father-daughter duo’s journey continues west, they end up in England where her father takes up teaching anthropology at the university.

Rachael fills her time and also builds bonds with the owner of the house they are staying at. As time passes, they move to Italy for almost a year so that her father can lead a dig and document the findings. What follows is a life of sun, some laughter and a passionate love that Rachael develops for a local of the island. However, the main part of her story comes from not being able to pursue this relationship and moving back home.

Rachael’s life is filled with a lot of loss and tragedy, but through all this emerges a strong willed woman who raises two children by herself and lives to see her grandchildren grow up. A quiet but dependable presence in their lives, no-one knows that she harbors a strong secret about her life and her son’s.

Sophie, in a bid to connect with her grandmother, while moving her writing desk from the attic to the living room, discovers a false back. This leads to the discovery of a photograph, the very photograph that the title refers to! What follows is a family holiday to Italy where Sophie sets out to discover the truth behind the photograph. This leads Sophie to uncover a deeply hidden truth that would change her mother and uncle’s lives forever.

The story is gripping and will keep the reader hooked until the very end. Set against some amazing backdrops, the authors ensures to describe each place with great detail, it feels as though you are also there. The emotions are many and the reader will experience them all along with the characters. The author brings out the repercussions of keeping secrets but at the same time she shows us the reasoning behind it and how it might have been necessary. Times change, the world changes and so does people’s perception of things. A compelling story, The Photograph is a must read!

Book Review: The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

About the Book:

The Husband's Secret

At the heart of The Husband’s Secret is a letter that’s not meant to be read

My darling Cecilia, if you’re reading this, then I’ve died…

Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .

Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.

Acclaimed author Liane Moriarty has written a gripping, thought-provoking novel about how well it is really possible to know our spouses—and, ultimately, ourselves.

My Thoughts:

The Husband’s Secret is a thought provoking story that brings together the lives of 3 women due to one earth-shattering secret. The story is gripping and will hold your attention until the very end. The author takes her time to reveal the main parts of the story, giving us a comprehensive background on the characters and their lives. We are introduced to Rachel’s daughter whose is pivotal to the story. The author goes back and forth between timelines to give us a sense of what is happening and to put the events in perspective. The feelings of each character are brought out very well and the author succeeds in drawing the reader in.

The plot focuses mainly on Cecilia who finds a letter written a long time ago from her husband, with instructions to be only opened at the time of his death. At first she keeps it aside with no intention of looking at it even though it seems quite intriguing. But when her husband deflects questions about it, Cecilia decides that she has to know. This is perhaps the decision that changes not only her life, but later on, the lives of two other women who feel the repercussions of this secret.

The main questions of How well do you really know a person? and How far can you go to protect the ones you love? are brought out through this story. Is it possible to forgive and move on? The death of Rachel’s daughter has affected a lot of lives, but is the truth something that can be contained? Or should the person responsible be brought to justice, thus disrupting some more lives? So many questions arise and the author ensures that everything is answered. She effortlessly handles the narrative, moving from character to character and flawlessly sowing together a plot that will keep the reader enthralled.

A must read for everyone who enjoys a read, this story raises some valid questions that everyone should take time to think about.

The Silk Weaver’s Wife – An intriguing story of two women!

About the Book:

The Silk Weaver's Wife

‘On the way back down the grand staircase to the hall, her eye was caught by a portrait, hanging in a particularly dark corner of a landing. It was of a young woman, seated at an easel; she was painting a silk moth, its eggs nestling on a mulberry leaf.’

1704: Anastasia is desperate to escape her controlling and volatile father and plans to marry in secret. But instead of the life she has dreamed of, she finds herself trapped in Venice, the unwilling wife of a silk weaver.

Despite her circumstances, Anastasia is determined to change her fate…

2017: Millie wants more from her relationship and more from her life. So when her boss Max abruptly ends their affair, she takes the opportunity to write a feature in Italy.

Staying in a gorgeous villa, Millie unexpectedly falls in love with the owner, Lorenzo. Together they begin to unravel an incredible story, threaded through generations of silk weavers.

And Millie finds herself compelled to discover the identity of a mysterious woman in a portrait…

A gorgeously written, richly evocative story, The Silk Weaver’s Wife is perfect for readers who love Kate Morton and Gill Paul.

My thoughts:

The Silk Weavers Wife is a well-written story, set in Italy and which tells of two tales set almost three centuries apart. The story revolves around 2 women, Anastasia and Millie, both strong and well crafted characters, who prove to be an inspiration for all.

Anastasia is brought up to be respectful, proper and do as her father says. Along with her younger sister and mother, they live in constant fear of her Father’s moods and hate. He only ever seems to show his love to his dog and the horses. Anastasia develops an interest in art and secretly tries to pursue the same. When she is taken away from the man she loves and is forced to marry someone her father had made a deal with through his gambling, her life takes a turn for the worse. Forced to lead a life she doesn’t want, she finds solace in her maid, who helps her find a way to escape the abuse and eventually find her way back to the man she loves. However, even this road is not smooth and is filled with learning and a journey of self-discovery, as well as healing. Anastasia travels across Europe and then to London where she learns to improve her art and then to apply it to the finished product of silk weaving.

Jump ahead to the current day scenario and we meet Millie who has come down to Italy to write a feature on Silk Weaving and how it has evolved over time. Ironically, this trip also proves to be one of self-discovery and developing a sense of respect of oneself. She develops a bond with Lorenzo, the owner of the villa where she is staying and his charming daughter. Millie learns to deal with her failed relationship with her boss, a married man, and as she researches more into the subject of her article, she digs up information pertaining to Anastasia.

As connections are made with the past and parallels are drawn, the author takes the reader on an interesting adventure. In many ways, the journey of the silk worm relates to the journeys led by both women they they finally discover who they are meant to be and learn to be content with their lives. The story moves across time as it unravels, going back and forth to give us a complete picture. The characters are well developed and deep, with the supporting characters playing major roles and contributing to this beautiful tale.

An inspiration, this story brings out the strength of women and how the love and support of those around them, helps them achieve wonders!

 

The year that was…

With just 3 more days for the year 2016 to end, I thought it would be great to take a look back at some of the books that I enjoyed immensely throughout this year. It has been a good year where books are concerned. As many of you who may follow me on Goodreads or are my friends there may know, I managed to complete my target of 60 books for the year which is quite a personal achievement.

Read on the know about my favourite books of the year (in no particular order). I have picked out the books which have left a profound impact on me in some way, however minor it may be. All the books mentioned below have been previously reviewed on my blog. I have included a part of the review for each book as well. Click on each title to be directed back to my review of the respective book.

Many of the books I will list are based on real life, and many are just children’s stories. However all of them have inspired me and helped quench my thirst for reading.

Many of the books mentioned below were given to me by the authors in exchange for an honest review, while others I found on Goodreads and jumped at the chance to expand my horizons and tastes. I was certainly enchanted and happy with my choices.

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  • Under the Pong Pong Tree by Hal Levey This is a refreshing read and a breath taking, heart  stopping account of life faced during the WWII, and a look at a smaller war that most would not comment on.
  • The minds of Billy Milligan by Daniel Keyes – This book not only chronicles the life of Billy Milligan, it brings out the psychology of the mind in relation to MPD as well as how easy it is for people to brand someone a charlatan or an attention seeker without really understanding them. Moreover, through the eyes of Billy’s personalities, we can form a picture as to why each one came to exist and how they played a part in his life. We are indeed afraid of the unknown and I believe this book gives us great insight into one of the mysteries of the mind.
  • The Ones That Got Away by Suanne Laqueur – This book only adds to the beauty of the story Suanne has crafted and will make the reader love it more. It will no doubt leave the reader with a heavy heart, but it was worth it. The characters and chapters that were created and written but got left behind or removed from the story are well worth the effort of writing them. Sometimes, as Suanne has mentioned, it’s better to just write what you think and then see the usage later on. The bonus insight into Erik’s younger days when his father was still there and after he leaves are wonderful and I hope Suanne uses this in a story sometime in the future. I will say this, everyone should, at some point, read The Man I Love and enjoy this story and world as much as I have.
  • Delbert – The Reluctant Spy (book #1) by Marko Kitti – The story is filled with adventure and lots of humor as we follow Delbert on his journey towards becoming an international secret agent. It is written in Marko’s unique style, something you’d already recognize if you are, like me, a fan of the Jesper Jinx series and the language is simple and easy to follow. Overall this is a new series from Marko that you wouldn’t want to miss out on. It is an easy and entertaining read, even for those who are much older but have perhaps forgotten to grow up, just like me!
  • Ask Him Why by Catherine Ryan Hyde – The story teaches us to ask questions, to seek for the answers before making a judgement call, to think before one acts. This is a wonderfully written book and will tug at your heart strings in more ways than you can imagine. It teaches the reader so many lessons that I highly recommend this book to everyone.
  • Love Warrior : A Memoir by Glennon Doyle Melton – This memoir, teaches us all to be warriors. We can all do it, even when one hits rock bottom, one can only go upwards from there. The writing is wonderful and through this, Glennon expresses deep emotions, sharing a lot of her experiences with us. The memoir will pull the reader into it, making us experience every single emotion that the author did, and at the end, it will spit the reader out, a different person. The entire book will touch you in ways you will not expect and is worth the time spent reading.
  • Broken Angels by Gemma Liviero – To be honest, I had to put up a fight with my sane self (or conscience) to read the book and at times I had to pause for a while to let go of the emotions that were building up while reading. Sometimes the plot sows down, but the author does justice in the way she has described each scene and the setting of the story.
  • The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad by Twinkle Khanna – It is a short book, with exactly 4 stories and can be read rather quickly. It would make a wonderful read while traveling. I think that every person should read this book as there is a lot to take away from the stories. There is much to learn and the author conveys the same without sounding preachy. Focusing on women empowerment and the important role that women play, the author has largely depicted the trials that women face in their everyday lives.
  • An Exaltation of Larks by Suanne Laqueur – Upon reading the summary/synopsis of the story, one can figure out much about the plot and thus I will refrain from explaining more about it for fear of revealing everything. This book is not just a simple story, it is a journey that the reader must prepare themselves to embark on with no chance of return. The story will touch the reader in ways that they would not expect and there will be no chance of putting the book down. Even after finishing it, for a time, the reader will feel as though there is a void inside them and they need time to fill it up again and feel whole. These are the kind of emotions that Suanne inspires in the reader through her writing.

    Life is an unpredictable roller-coaster ride and all we can do is choose the paths we want to take at each cross-road and then live with our decisions.

  • The Magician’s Workshop, Volume One & Two by Christopher Hansen and J.R. Fehr – This book continues on in chapters from where the previous left off. The authors flawlessly craft the story to take us further and draw us in. They maintain the playfulness and style of expression which is quite refreshing and enhance the concepts and story. It is easy to experience everything with the characters and this is one of the main things that drew my attention.The style of writing, the description about each projection only add to the soaring imagination of the reader. A wonderful feat achieved successfully by the authors. Kudos to the work they have done and the time they have spent in creating this world.It has been a while since reading Harry Potter, that a series in this genre has kept me hooked. I will say it again and again that this is one mega awesome read! Keep projecting and I hope that the next book comes out soon.

Please do share your thoughts and book recommendations for the next year are definitely welcome.

Moving on from that, I look forward to 2017 being a much better year for books. I hope that you all continue to support me and give me the same love that you have shown this year.

Thank you all for your wonderful support and trust.

Happy New Year in advance!

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Review: The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad by Twinkle Khanna

About the Book:

The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad

A collection of utterly magical stories that will leave you crying, laughing and wholly enchanted.

A gangly young girl transforms her village with a revolutionary idea. Sixty-eight-year-old Noni Appa finds herself drawn to a married man – ‘Why do people have to define relationships, underline each word till the paper gives way beneath,’ she wonders. Bablu Kewat becomes obsessed with sanitary napkins much to his family’s horror, and a young woman keeps checking the weather forecast as she meticulously plans each of her five weddings. Funny, observant and wise, this is storytelling at its most irresistible.

My Thoughts:

 Quirky, simply written stories with a clear meaning and strong messages. The author has a distinct style of writing and there are strong morals underlying her work. Filled with fun, well developed characters whom we can relate to and stories of everyday life that we can understand, the book makes for quite a fascinating read.

It is a short book, with exactly 4 stories and can be read rather quickly. It would make a wonderful read while traveling. I think that every person should read this book as there is a lot to take away from the stories. There is much to learn and the author conveys the same without sounding preachy. Focusing on women empowerment and the important role that women play, the author has largely depicted the trials that women face in their everyday lives.

I loved all the stories and cannot pick a favorite since each has their own specialty. All I can say, without giving away much about the plot lines, is that the book is definitely a pick-me-up and worth all the time spent on it!