Well, there have been quite a few but some that I definitely wanted to bring to your attention because they have certainly attracted mine, and for reasons various as you will see.
I picked up a handful of novels by Aharon Appelfeld some years ago and knew that I would read these books by, in the words of Philip Roth, 'fiction's foremost chronicler of the Holocaust', all in good time. I see I managed one in 2007, The Retreat but none since, so I am grateful for the arrival of Blooms of Darkness as a timely reminder of a great author.... eleven-year-old Hugo is brought by his mother to live in the comparitive safety of a brothel and with the prostitute Mariana, whilst the ghetto around them is being liquidated by the Nazis. Whilst Mariana's life spirals downwards, Hugo's need to protect her will grow into love....
The Wine of Solitude ~ Irene Nemoirovsky
I think I may have been begging for Sandra Smith to hurry up with the translation of The Wine of Solitude after I had read mention of it in various books about Irene Nemirovksy, and finally a copy has arrived. Considered to be the most autobiographical of Irene's fiction, this novel traces the troubled relationship between a young girl and her mother and via the Great War and the Russian Revolution as Helene rgows from an unhappy child to an angry young woman. I need to be in right frame of mind to read Irene (something saddens me every time I pick up one of her books) so next time I am this will be my choice. And my thanks to Nancy who sent me a link to this fascinating article about Irene's own daughters' experiences of growing up with her.
A new book from Penelope Lively is always a joy and this one, with its random event that sets off a chain of others, explores just how marriages can fracture and heal themselves, how opportunities may appear and disappear, how lovers who may never have met somehow do and I can't wait to read it...and gorgeous cover too.
It's Fine By Me ~ Per Petterson
More cause for celebration, a new novel from Per Petterson, a much-loved author here, I haven't read a duff one yet and still have Per Peterson's talk at Dartington a few years ago ringing in my head, about the way he just knows the very instant a book must end, and how tortuous the translation process from Norwegian to English can be when he is so attuned to sentence rhythm. Audun, starting in his new school is asked to describe his former life in the country...so will he reveal the times he has spent living in cardboard boxes, or the day his drunken father fired shots into the ceiling. Now living with his mother in the working class end of Oslo and happy to talk endlessly about Hemingway and Jack London, Audun will have to make some choices about which direction his life may go next.
Well I've been meaning to re-read it for years after reading it when I was about eighteen purely to impress a then boyfriend who did eventually dump me, and even though I did read Catch 22 when I should probably have been concentrating on Hamlet or Our Mutual Friend. But a new fiftieth annivesary edition has arrived and I'm tempted...should I?? Will it still make me laugh??
Next to Love ~ Ellen Feldman
I really did enjoy Ellen Feldman's writing in Scottsboro so what will I make of Next to Love. Three friends, newly married to their first loves at the outbreak of World War Two and with the men away fighting are faced with the arrival of sixteen telegrams one morning bearing news...the promise is of a 'remarkable novel you are unlikely to forget.
Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm ~ Stella Gibbons
So even though everyone says there is nothing to match Cold Comfort Farm I'm still delighted at the thought of this collection of festive stories with Adam Lambsbreath handing out unpleasant gifts, and the half-crazed Starkadders searching for the symbols of ill-luck in the Christmas pudding... Reuben finds the bad sixpence which means he will lose his memory all year, but who's going to find the coffin nail... delicious, can't wait but will set this aside for December.
Silk Road ~ Colin Falconer
I've been eying this on the shelf since it arrived and even had a quick glance and I think I could leap into the world of the Knights Templar and survive if Colin Falconer is in the driving seat. It looks epic and big but it is a period of history I know pathetically little about, so in blank-slate-mode I would have no preconceptions about any of it. In fact I'll be fooled by anything in that case won't I. I do quite like the sound of a writer who was a cabbie before working as a journalist and scriptwriter, and who travelled the Silk Road through China for his research, apparently braving dog smugglers, projectile vomit and faulty streering rods whilst negotiating U-bends on sheer cliffs ... the man deserves my attention if only as thanks for his perseverance.
Loved Cold Mountain, missed reading Thirteen Moons though have it here, and now Nightwoods has arrived and...er...er.. I really like the cover. Luce acts as caretaker to a dilapidated and isolated holiday lodge on the shores of a lake, her days are long and peaceful and solitary until the stranger children come, bringing fire, and murder and love. Right, I'm convinced I have to give it a go because it looks lovely next to the yellow in the kitchen.