Green Books Part 2
Continuing the Book Rainbow with some more green books – check out Part 1 here.
Bury Me Standing by Isabel Fonseca
Gypsies have always intrigued and fascinated – partly because of their mysterious origins, and partly because of the romance of nomadism. But because they resist assimilation, having survived as a distinct people for over a thousand years, they have also been the victims of other people’s nationalism and xenophobia.
In this fascinating and timely study, Fonseca focuses particularly on the gypsies in Eastern Europe (an estimated 6 million), and their future as a distinct race within a nationalist Europe. While researching the book, Fonseca learned Romany and stayed with the gypsies, becoming deeply involved with their lives, and befriending several gypsy kings.
The result is a colourful and frank book, filled with enthusiasm and curiosity, without lapsing into piety or romanticism.
I picked this up years ago and have dipped into it numerous times, but have yet to read it from cover to cover. The little bits I have read have been fascinating
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
Can you go a little faster? Can you run?
Long ago, at a time in history that never happened, England was overrun with wolves. But as Bonnie and her cousin Sylvia discover, real danger often lies closer to home. Their new governess, Miss Slighcarp, doesn’t seem at all nice. She shuts Bonnie in a cupboard, fires the faithful servants and sends the cousins far away from Willoughby Chase to a place they will never be found. Can Bonnie and Sylvia outwit the wicked Miss Slighcarp and her network of criminals, forgers and snitches?
This is a classic for a reason – I read it and reread it as a child and still remember the sense of chill from the wolves howling and the wonderful array of characters. I loved the setting of Willoughby Chase and could relate to the children’s sense of helplessness when faced with the cunning of Miss Slighcarp that they were unable to escape due to the wolves. As with many childhood favourites, I don’t know how well this would stand up to rereading as an adult as I know that many characters would now appear two-dimensional. Still, a lovely read for a snowy evening.
Girl, Reading by Katie Ward
Seven portraits. Seven artists. Seven girls and women reading. A young orphan poses nervously for a Renaissance maestro in medieval Siena, and an artist’s servant girl in 17th-century Amsterdam snatches a moment away from her work to lose herself in tales of knights and battles. A young woman reading in a Shoreditch bar catches the eye of a young man who takes her picture, and a Victorian medium holds a book that she barely acknowledges while she waits for the exposure. Each chapter of this richly textured debut takes us into a perfectly imagined tale of how each portrait came to be, and as the connections accumulate, the narrative leads us into the present and beyond – an inspired celebration of women reading and the artists who have caught them in the act.
I picked this up initially because of the cover and the title, then became even more intrigued when I read the blurb and realised that it was a collection of seven stories, built around pictures/paintings of women reading in various time periods. As one of my main research projects involved looking at the development of literacy in Italy, this sounded like it would be completely up my street. In some ways, it was, while in others, it did not become a favourite. I think it is true of all story collections – there will always be some you enjoy a lot more than others! I think that this book should have been marketed as a short-story collection rather than a novel as the tying together of the stories didn’t feel particularly genuine. Still, an interesting read if you’re looking for a selection of very different stories and historical settings, with the common thread of being about reading and books through the ages.
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley
1883. Thaniel Steepleton returns home to his tiny London apartment to find a gold pocket watch on his pillow. Six months later, the mysterious timepiece saves his life, drawing him away from a blast that destroys Scotland Yard. At last, he goes in search of its maker, Keita Mori, a kind, lonely immigrant from Japan. Although Mori seems harmless, a chain of unexplainable events soon suggests he must be hiding something. When Grace Carrow, an Oxford physicist, unwittingly interferes, Thaniel is torn between opposing loyalties.
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is a sweeping, atmospheric narrative that takes the reader on an unexpected journey through Victorian London, Japan as its civil war crumbles long-standing traditions, and beyond. Blending historical events with dazzling flights of fancy, it opens doors to a strange and magical past.
I was lucky enough to get a copy of this in my local library sale, but have yet to read it despite hearing great things from other readers. The synopsis still sounds fascinating so will have to get to this at some point soon!
What did you think of my choices?
Have you read any of these books?
Are there any that you would like to read now?
Which other green books can you recommend?
Thanks for reading!