Are you looking for a new book to get your teeth into, but not sure what to go for? Wrexham Library have kindly supplied us with some book reviews that will hopefully interest you.
Stella by Helen Eve
This book is story about English boarding school life, featuring two opposing characters, Stella and Caitlin. At Termperley High, popularity is everything and this novel explores the lengths taken to achieve the elite status of ‘most popular girl’. Jealousy, envy, and deceitfulness combine with naivety and creativity making for an occasionally far-fetched plot that gathers pace as the book progresses. Stella is the assumed queen of the school but when new-comer Caitlin arrives from America, her status is challenged.
Caitlin’s character is the softer of the two but turns more complex as the plot reveals her to be just as competitive and more than capable of anything to challenge the elite status of the clique of students determined to make Temperley High ‘their’ school. Exploring emotional, psychological and moral development, this book is as much about issues facing teenagers and young adults as they ‘come of age’ as it is about life in an English boarding school.
If you’ve read ‘Mean Girls’ you will love this, it features a surprisingly unexpected and thrilling ending.
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
This powerful novel begins in 1803 and follows the life of two girls into womanhood; neither of whom follow the path prescribed for them by convention and the world they are born into. Sarah Grimke is the daughter of a wealthy and influential family. On her eleventh birthday, Sarah is presented with Handful, the slave daughter of Charlotte, as her very own waiting maid – a gift she is unwilling to accept but unable to refuse. For Sarah is not the average, dutiful daughter. She is desperate for more than the basic education doled out to girls, in order to make them good wives and mothers.
In a sense, both Sarah and Handful are prisoners of their situation. Sarah bound by duty and convention and Handful, obviously, is in the most dreadful position – having no control over her own life, she can be literally bought and sold, given away as a gift and her world is bound by her owners. Her mother, Charlotte, is desperate to escape and plots and plans to buy the freedom of her and her daughter. Meanwhile, Sarah rebels in her own way and teaches Handful to read; illegal in slave owning states.
Based on the life of real people, this novel follows the story of Sarah, her sister Nina, Charlotte and Handful. There is much disappointment, pain and tragedy, as both Sarah and Handful struggle to take control of their world. It is the strength of these women, their courage and conviction which is your overwhelming feeling at the end of this striking and rewarding read.
The Cleaner of Chartres by Salley Vickers
A wet Sunday afternoon and I picked up The Cleaner of Chartres by Salley Vickers with little enthusiasm. But I had nothing else to hand and it was either that or do some cleaning myself. I normally veer between crime and cosy romances, depending on the mood, and this didn’t seem to fit either category. I was soon engrossed.
The story follows the history of Agnes, a mysterious woman who appears in Chartres and over a twenty year period, despite a difficult start in life, carefully builds up a stable and safe life for herself. However, she remains a mystery and something of an enigma. It is a tragic tale, but told with a gentle humour, and we meet some memorable characters. Over it all looms the magnificent cathedral of Chartres which plays a pivotal role in the book. Of course, her past catches up with Agnes and the reader senses a potentially disastrous situation. I shall say no more – but please give this a go.
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