Monday, April 08, 2013

Time To Pick The Next Book...

Hi Slaves! I'm delighted to have been asked to offer this month's selection of book titles to pick our next read from. I toyed with a couple of themes - unusual takes on time travel, Russian novels, the 1930s - but eventually decided that I wanted to offer you the chance to escape somewhere a little bit remote, an island or coastline at the edge of the world where magic and drama can seize your attention... 

Here are my five to choose from:

Knowledge of Angels - Jill Paton Walsh
It is, perhaps, the fifteenth century and the ordered tranquility of a Mediterranean island is about to be shattered by the appearance of two outsiders: one, a castaway, plucked from the sea by fishermen, whose beliefs represent a challenge to the established order; the other, a child abandoned by her mother and suckled by wolves, who knows nothing of the precarious relationship between Church and State... A lyrical fable of faith, society and intolerance.


The Summer Book by Tove Jansson
An elderly artist and her six-year-old grand-daughter while a way a summer together on a tiny island in the gulf of Finland. Gradually, the two learn to adjust to each other's fears, whims and yearnings for independence, and a fierce yet understated love emerges - one that encompasses not only the summer inhabitants but the island itself, with its mossy rocks, windswept firs and unpredictable seas. Full of brusque humour and wisdom, a profoundly life-affirming story.


Ocean Sea by Alessandro Baricco 
In Alessandro Baricco's celebrated debut, it was silk that exerted a fatal attraction. This time it's the ocean, whose watery charms cause an entire cast of characters to convene at the isolated Almayer Inn. The guests include a seductress, an eccentric professor, and a painter with a pronounced penchant for metaphysics. They're soon joined by the beautiful young daughter of a local aristocrat, who's been stricken with a mysterious illness... 

The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa 
 Set in the 1860s on the island of Sicily, this Italian classic re-creates with nostalgia, drama, and opulence, the tumultuous years of Italy's Risorgimento, when the aristocracy lost its grip and the middle classes rose and formed a unified, democratic Italy. The dramatic sweep and richness of observation, the seamless intertwining of public and private worlds, and the grasp of human frailty imbue The Leopard with its particular melancholy beauty and power, and place it among the greatest historical novels of our time. 

Luminous Isle by Eliot Bliss 
The year is 1923 and nineteen-year-old Emmeline Hibbert sails for Jamaica, the luminous isle of her early childhood, with its breathtaking blue mountains, its vivid colours and singing, tropical heat. Reunited with her conventional mother and father she slips into army garrison life - a round of polo matches, dancing, tennis, riding, gossip, and evenings at the Club - but she rebels against the settled prejudices of this closed society and tries to live according to the way she feels. Inevitably she must make a heartbreaking choice if she is to be as she longs to be: "sexless, creedless, classless, free." 

All these books should be available either through libraries or cheap secondhand copies so now you just need to vote. I'll count up the votes on Sunday evening. :)


uf said...

Ocean sea, ocean sea, ocean sea! It's my favourite book, I'd love to read your analysis.

litlove said...

Ooh lovely choices. I'll go for The Leopard, as I've been wanting to read it for ages.

Stefanie said...

Oh great list! My vote goes to The Leopard. Been wanting to read that one for a long time.

Danielle said...

What a great list. I think I'll cast my vote for The Leopard, too! Thanks Alex!