I had been avoiding the novel HeSaid/SheSaid by Erin Kelly because I had heard it was about rape and I thought that subject matter would not suit me. How silly I am! I should know by now that when Erin Kelly approaches any topic, she will involve twists and turns that thrill and fascinate in equal measure.
In HeSaid/SheSaid Laura and Kit are at a festival to celebrate an eclipse when they witness a rape of Beth by Jamie. They are called as witnesses but nothing is as it seems and they must escape their past to protect their future. But after fifteen years everything changes.
The story is told through the eyes of Laura and Kit over the period of time from the time they stumble across Beth and Jamie until the story ends fifteen years later. The clever thing is that nobody knows everything: not Laura, not Kit, not the reader.
HeSaid/SheSaid would make a fabulous book group read. I certainly found it an excellent novel. I could not put it down. It is a taught exciting psychological novel and I highly recommend it.
Erin Kelly was born in London in 1976 and grew up in Essex. She read English at Warwick University and has been working as a journalist since 1998. She has written for newspapers including the The Sunday Times, The Sunday Telegraph, the Daily Mail and the Express and magazines including Red, Psychologies, Marie Claire, Elle and Cosmopolitan.
Have you ever come across a book that delights you? I had never read any novels by Nina Romano previously, but The Secret Language of Women was recommended to me by so many people, that I decided it would be churlish to ignore this book. I am so glad I picked it up.
The Secret Language of Women is set in nineteenth century China during The Boxer Uprising or Yihetuan Movement. This was a violent anti-foreign, anti-colonial and anti-Christian uprising that took place in China between 1899 and 1901, toward the end of the Qing dynasty. This rebellion has driven apart the lovers, Zhou Bin Lian and Giacomo Scimenti.
Lian is only seventeen years old when she accompanies her Swiss father, a doctor to help the recovery of Italian ambassador. It is here that she meets and falls in love with Giacomo. Their love deepens as the novel weaves its way through a series of adventures.
However, Lian is promised to another in wedlock. She is also unable to follow her chosen path to become a physician.
Lian is also discriminated against because her feet were not bound and she must work in a factory separated from her daughter, Ya Chen. Lian is a determined character and empowers herself to fight against the injustice and determines her destiny. She reveals the story of her life and her hopes for the future in Nushu, the women’s secret writing.
It is a delicious, original story. It would be an excellent book for a book group. I have also discovered that The Secret Language of Women is the first book in the Wayfarer Trilogy. I am looking forward to reading the other novels in this series.
Nina Romano’s Wayfarer Trilogy has been published by Turner Publishing. Book #1 of the historical saga: The Secret Language of Women was a Foreword Reviews Indie-Fab Book Award Finalist. The novel won the Independent Publisher 2016 IPPY Gold Medal in the historical/romance Book Awards. Book #2 of the series, Lemon Blossoms appeared 2/16/16 and, Book #3, In America, was released 7/19/16 and is a finalist in the 2016 Chanticleer Media’s Chatelaine Book Awards for Romance.
Nina Romano earned a B.S. from Ithaca College an M. A. from Adelphi University and a B. A. and M.F.A. in Creative Writing from FIU. She’s a world traveler and lover of history. She lived in Rome, Italy, for twenty years, and is fluent in Italian and Spanish. She authored a short story collection, The Other Side of the Gates, five poetry collections, and two poetry chapbooks. Her most recent collection, Westward: Guided by Starfalls and Moonbows, was published from LLC Red Dashboard. She co-authored, Writing in a Changing World from Bridle Path Press. Romano has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize.
The new novel Pressure by Betsy Reavley was recommended to me recently, so I was pleased to make time to read this novel. The title is used to great advantage and the different meanings of the word pressure are itemised at the beginning of the book. This is a useful beginning.
Pressure takes place on a submarine where movie mogul Frank Holden is making a film. However, the vessel developes a fault and sinks to the bottom of the sea. The ten member cast and crew have no contact with the outside world. They are unable to escape and then one of them is found dead.
Tension mounts as the group realises that one of them is a murderer.
The story of their predicament is interwoven with brief backgrounds of each of the occupants of the submarine and the difficult life of one of them. It becomes clear that due to the pressures ‘Child’ has faced growing up, they must be the murderer but never does the author let it slip as to whether ‘Child’ is male or female.
The increase in tension and desperation results in the characters turning on each other as they try to identify the murderer amonst them. Each death reduces the number of suspects. Each of the characters has had pressure to deal with in their past and must face this and their secrets.
Pressure, with the flashbacks to ‘Child’ reminded me a it of Mark Billingham’s first Tom Thorne novel, Sleepyhead, 9one of my all time favourite books) reviewed here http://www.bookreviewstoday.info/2013/06/16/sleepyhead-by-mark-billingham/. Not because of the subject matter but because of the clever use of this literary device. I enjoyed Pressure. It is exciting and is a clever novel with a most interesting setting. I think it would work well for book groups and if you enjoy crime thrillers as much as I do, Pressure is well worth reading.
Author of The Quiet Ones, The Optician’s Wife, Carrion, Beneath the Watery Moon and the poetry collection The Worm in the Bottle. Betsy was born in Hammersmith, London.
As a child she moved around frequently with her family, spending time in London, Provence, Tuscany, Gloucestershire and Cambridgeshire.
She showed a flair for literature and writing from a young age and had a particular interest in poetry, of which she was a prolific consumer and producer.
In her early twenties she moved to Oxford, where she would eventually meet her husband. During her time in Oxford her interests turned from poetry to novels and she began to develop her own unique style of psychological thriller. Betsy says “I believe people are at their most fascinating when they are faced by the dark side of life. This is what I like to write about.”
Betsy Reavley currently lives in London, with her husband, 2 children, dog, cat and chickens. You can follow her on Twitter @BetsyReavley
Amongst the many things I undertake now is to inspire a love of reading and language in young people. For many, particularly teenage boys, this is killed at school. One of the profound novels that is often done to death in the hope of getting a good exam result is Lord of the Flies by William Golding.
During World War II, the author fought battleships at the sinking of the Bismarck, and also fended off submarines and planes. Lieutenant Golding was even placed in command of a rocket-launching craft. Of his World War II experiences, Golding has said, “I began to see what people were capable of doing. Anyone who moved through those years without understanding that man produces evil as a bee produces honey, must have been blind or wrong in the head.” Like his teaching experience, Golding’s participation in the war would prove to be fruitful material for his fiction, particularly Lord of the Flies.
The central theme in Lord of the Flies is that of things breaking down. This is shown in a number of ways. Violence replaces peace, friends turn into enemies, life ends in savage death. Everything degenerates.
War is another running theme in the novel, starting from plane the boys were travelling in. This is shown in various ways including the fact that the boys are on the island because the plane that was evacuating them from Britain during a fictional nuclear war was attacked and crashed. The reader is told the civilisation from which they were trying to escape is being destroyed. Also, the dead parachutist who lands on the island was gunned down during an overhead battle. Somewhat ironically, the naval officer who comes to their rescue is himself involved in the war.
Violence is always present. It starts as a game, but grows more horrific throughout the novel and all the friendships and good relationships on the island break down, either through bullying and violence or death. Even the island slowly degrades as the story goes on, reflecting the break down of the boys’ relationships.
The title of the novel comes from the Arabic for one of the manifestations of the Devil. Baal-Zebub – or Beelzebub – means ‘lord of the flies’. In the novel, the pig’s head on a stick is covered in flies, and provides a horrific symbol of how far the violence has come. The pig was killed by Jack and his hunters and the head is put on a stick as an offering to the ‘beast’. Only Simon really appreciates that the ‘beast’ is actually the evil inside the boys themselves and it is that which is breaking things up.
So, the title of the novel reinforces the idea that we all have something of the ‘devil’ within us – and that the ‘devil’ can be released all too easily. Lord of the Flies is a short novel, but it deals effectively with the concept of evil within mankind. If you have not read it since you were a child, I recommend you read it again with adult eyes. It will shock you.