October has drawn to a close and the first few nights of November have been cold and wild, with storm Babet and storm Ciarán lashing the country recently in the past few weeks.
We're taking the clocks changing as a big hint to spend more time reading, or at least curled up snugly with extra blankets surrounded by books...
Here's what the Willoughby Book Club team have been reading recently.
Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
A re-telling of Charles Dickens David Copperfield, this book follows Damon, soon to be known as Demon Copperhead, born to an alcoholic, drug addicted teen mother who was brought up in foster care. She is unable to care for Demon, and when she dies of an overdose, Demon finds himself in the dysfunctional care system…passed from family to family struggling for survival against neglect, child labour and abuse.
This was not an easy read by any means…poverty, abandonment, child abuse, drug & alcohol abuse, death, broken families.
This was a long book, and was tough going. As much as I was sucked into the story and really enjoyed it, I definitely needed something lighter to read after I’d finished.
Enchantment by Katherine May
From the author of 'Wintering', this is an invitation to put your toes on the grass, breathe deeply and give yourself permission to find wonder, delight and enchantment in the world around us.
Feeling overwhelmed with lockdowns and pandemic times, plus the grind of every day life and the constant horror of rolling news, Katherine May has examined what it means to live a more grounded, connected life, delighting in every day wonder and noticing. She explores holy wells, bee keeping and star gazing amongst other pursuits, and reminds us to connect with the natural world and the seasons and to allow ourselves to live fully and embrace our complexities.
Minor Detail by Adiana Shiblli
Minor Detail is a very timely novella, told in two parts. The first revolves around a particularly horrific crime committed by Israeli soldiers during the 1948 ‘Nakba’ (one of many committed at the time), in which 700,000 Palestinians were forcibly displaced from their homeland. The second part follows a young woman in modern-day Palestine whose investigative interest is piqued when she stumbles across the incident in a newspaper. It’s a haunting, moving and understated piece of literature, but so, so clever. I haven’t stopped thinking about it since finishing it.
The sparse, detached style of language and the rendering of the two stories that are really one part of a much larger one is really effective. I would urge everyone to read this. Shibli was nominated for the International Booker for Minor Detail and it is so clear to see why, as it is a masterclass in demonstrating the power of the shorter novel!
Home Front by Kristin Hannah
Alongside being a part-time helicopter pilot for the US National Guard, Jolene is struggling with her crumbling marriage whilst trying to keep things as normal as possible for her two daughters. When she gets called up to combat in Iraq, she doesn’t hesitate, even though this means the whole family will have to step-up and adapt their lives as they know it.
This decision has tragic consequences for Jolene and her family, and shows how the war has different effects on them all.
As with all Kristin Hannah’s books, she never holds back with the descriptions and details. A really thought-provoking and emotional book.
The Change by Kirsten Miller
I selected it after reading a social media recommendation, and found it pretty (gloriously) rage-filled and unputdownable.
Meet Jo, career driven and smart, has struggled with her body her whole life, until she channels the energy of her menopause. Nessa, widowed, and haunted by the voices of the dead, is just coming to understand her gift. And Harriet, recently divorced, but thriving, transforming and stepping into her power. When they discover the body of a murdered girl they combine skills to unravel the case and uncover the world of the super rich, where normal rules do not apply.
Fierce, feminist and fun, this is an angry, slightly witchy read that will keep you hooked until the denouement.