I’ve just read with great enjoyment “Candlepower” by Janet Doolaege – a contemporary novel full of mystery and intrigue. Stella lives in a small apartment in Paris where – through the close-knit of modern living – she gets to know her neighbours Rose and the dark-eyed Olivier with whom she falls in love. Rose, a figure of strange powers it seems, has a curious connection with birds and a bizarre effect on anything electrical. This uneasy triangle of friendship, subtly threaded with an underlying tension and a sense of the paranormal, makes the ordinary and the everyday seem edgy, unpredictable and even a little dangerous.
And Ms Doolaege has the remarkable ability to make you think about these ordinary and everyday things in a different way. That is what literature is all about. The difference between a story – and a story that communicates something beyond the story. The term ‘literary” has nothing to do with high-brow intellectual waffle as so many believe – but rather reflects in the little gems Ms Doolaege has weaved delicately through the narrative.
There is Stella’s strained relationship with her family in England which translates into how we often perpetuate old hurts with the smallest nudge of memory. There is the nature of friendship: what does it mean to be a good friend? What does it mean to really care? There is the paranormal: what does it mean to be genuinely gifted with powers that other people don’t understand – the prejudice, the fear, the distrust an individual may have to bear for simply being different. There is also reflection on the impact of civilization on nature: how does the way we live affect other creatures who have equal claim to our spaces? And then there is romance – the raw truth between imagination and reality, and how we often misinterpret the feelings of others.
For those who would enjoy an original, well-paced and well-written mystery with an unexpected literary slant, “Candlepower” is definitely one to pick up.
I have just finished reading ‘Candy’s Man’ by Jeanette Hornby. From the start, I was taken by the cover – which I thought just gorgeous glam. So it’s been on my TBR list for some time. I must also say that romance is not generally my genre, but I know there are millions who love it – and that’s why I can say with confidence that those millions will love this book. ‘Candy’s Man’ has all the bells and whistles: snappy, slick, with a well-planned plot laden with passion, twists and thwarted desire.
There are beautiful people, beautiful cars, beautiful houses and beautiful clothes. Not to mention the shoes. And enough emotion, tension and unhappy confusions to keep you glued to the story. Will Candy get her man? Rather ask, will Candy’s Man get her? The twists and turns are so adroitly planned, I could not stop reading – I had to know the answers to these questions. I fell in love with all the men, admired all the women’s clothes, and identified totally with Candy’s roller-coaster turmoil of feelings.
This is a book for a glass of wine or a good slab of chocolate, and a self-indulgent afternoon on the couch, away from all working demands. Well-written, well-paced, it is both heart-warming and heated, intriguing and satisfying. If you’re a lover of traditional romance novels, then this one’s for you.
Romance is not usually my reading choice but done well it makes an emotional connection possibly unlike any other genre. Realistic romance is truly a slice of life up for inspection.
‘Moondrops & Thistles’ by LK Hunsaker takes you with detail, care and honesty into the private emotions of two people falling in love. I loved the main male character, Daws. He was the epitome of the strong, silent type – sure – but he became vibrantly real, a deep thinker, a caring person with old-fashioned values and standards which I warmed to page by page. I fell in love with Daws. There. I’ve said it. I fell in love with a character in a book – something I don’t think I’ve done before. So once that was deftly achieved by the author, I was hooked. I had to know that all would be well with my hero and his love, an equally strong and mature-thinking person, Deanna.
This is not a romance about petulant misunderstandings and froths of pink happiness. Set against the background of army life, the book reveals the stress of military life: the sacrifices, the separations, the horror of war but also the valor, the honor and the weight of responsibility. The men who go to war are not the instigators of that war but do their duty with courage and determination. The women who love and support them deserve admiration. This key aspect lifts the book way above the average romance. It has been beautifully and meticulously crafted in a way that the values and attributes of these two people will not be forgotten. If you love romance that is thoroughly realistic and carries a message, then this book is for you.
‘Heart’s Promise’ by Jeanette Hornby is a deceptively gentle book about pre-adolescent and early teenage romance.
Through a series of frames of ordinary life, we meet Milly when she is only eleven years old and already feeling the pangs of attraction and shyness with regard to the boy next door. The reader is taken on that old, familiar roller-coaster ride of first love awakening, and reminds us how these experiences are often the fundamental lessons in honesty, integrity and family values.
Set in Australia in the early seventies, this is a story of a small community, migrant labour, broken families, religious differences and racial prejudices, friendship and loyalty; and children struggling to find their own identity in the see-saw of adult relationships. We see everything through Milly’s eyes, becoming involved in her growing infatuation with the handsome Flynn – a seemingly insignificant and everyday scenario when played out against the broader backdrop of domestic dramas and winds of social change; but for Milly, in the tender teenage years, this is the driving focus in her life.
The novel skilfully portrays a young girl on the brink of sexual awareness and adult emotions; her conflicting feelings, her first kiss, the tumult of jealousy and betrayal, the reality of loss and grief.
What I liked about this book was the quiet, easy style of writing, cleverly introducing the more serious underlying issues of class, dysfunctional families, and the dangers faced when growing up – all within the framework of ordinary life. At the end of the book, I was loath to leave Milly and Flynn, they had built so strongly in my mind. This is a story for young and old, universal in appeal. A real trip down memory lane