Book Review: Tides of Change by Joan Dunnett

I recently wrote about the amazing people I have met through my befriending experiences.  Today, I’d like to introduce you to someone else I met through these projects and who has now become a firm friend.  Joan Dunnett has just published her first book, Tides of Change.  She is very interested in history, and has a particular fascination with Scottish history.  In Tides of Change she has captured perfectly the spirit and times of 18th century Scotland.

Right from the start, we are plunged in to the drama.  It is May 1704, and we are at sea just off the east coast of Scotland…..

“James Lightfoot didn’t want to be put ashore at Figgate Whins. It was a dangerous place. He might be robbed of his remaining few possessions. He waited on the deck of the merchantman while the crew loaded bundles onto the boat: probably luxury goods to be smuggled into England. The ship’s legitimate cargo was bound for Leith. A thin strip of light began to appear to the east. The sea was calm, the light breeze cool and fresh. The captain was on deck. He lit his pipe with a steady hand. he must know the risks. The navy would be patrolling the east coast, ready to challenge any vessel in these waters, not just French privateers.” Continue reading “Book Review: Tides of Change by Joan Dunnett”

Book Review: Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Maggie O’Farrell is one of my favourite authors – someone whose latest book I would always actively seek out.  I was delighted, therefore, to be granted access to a review copy of her new book, Hamnet, on NetGalley.  What a wonderful read this is.

From the blurb:

Hamnet is a novel inspired by the son of a famous playwright. It is a story of the bond between twins, and of a marriage pushed to the brink by grief. It is also the story of a kestrel and its mistress; a flea that boards a ship in Alexandria; and a glovemaker’s son who flouts convention in pursuit of the woman he loves. Above all, it is a tender and unforgettable reimagining of a boy whose life has been all but forgotten, but whose name was given to one of the most celebrated plays ever written.

I always enjoy books which explore the lives of famous people or well-known events from an unexpected perspective.  The genius of O’Farrell’s text is that it makes a virtue of ‘the elephant in the room’.  William Shakespeare is not named once in the book – in fact we experience his character as almost incidental to the main story, which focuses principally on his wife Agnes, how her life is affected by her marriage into the Shakespeare family, and how she is affected by the fate of her children, most particularly her son Hamnet. Continue reading “Book Review: Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell”