Books I have recently read

The books which I have read recently are linked by their settings: all three of them are set, either wholly or partly, in the past. From North Carolina during the First World War to Philadelphia in the 1940s and Kentucky in the 1930s, these books cross many different times and places.

The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan (click on the author’s name to go to their website).

The Engagements

The Engagements

The Engagements is an absorbing novel which spans a century and delves into the lives of five diverse characters who are connected by a common element: love and marriage. For a full review, click here: The last book I read.

Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler

This is a stunning debut novel from Julie Kibler. It alternates between racially segregated Kentucky in the 1930s and Kentucky in the present day. Isabelle is a young white girl who falls in love with a black man, the son of the family’s housekeeper. Inspired by true events, Calling Me Home is an enthralling, moving novel.

The Cove by Ron Rash

The Cove

The Cove

Ron Rash is an excellent storyteller, weaving together a gripping yarn. One of his other novels, Serena, is on my current list of books I want to read, before the movie adaptation, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, is released this fall.

The Cove is the story of an impoverished brother and sister, Hank and Laurel Shelton, who live in a cabin near the shadows of a cove in the Appalachian mountains. They have been struck by misfortune in the past and rejected by their neighbours who believe that the cove is cursed. When Laurel finds a stranger in the forest one day, a stranger who cannot talk, their lives begin to change irrevocably. The Cove is a compelling novel with a shocking twist at the end.

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The last book I read

Daily Prompt: Bookworm

Tell us about the last book you read (Why did you choose it? Would you recommend it?). To go further, write a post based on its subject matter

A page from The Engagements

A page from The Engagements

The last book I read was The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan. The Engagements, as you have probably already guessed, is a novel which focuses on marriage. Five separate characters – Frances, Evelyn, Delphine, Kate and James – tell the story of relationships and marriages in several different decades of the twenty and twenty-first centuries. Many authors, especially those who particularly appeal to a female audience, take a similar approach in terms of multiple characters with separate storylines and sometimes when I read novels in that style, I find that the characters start to merge and become rather ‘samey’. However, The Engagements is a highly engrossing read and J. Courtney Sullivan weaves a fascinating subject into the fabric of her novel: the way in which diamonds have become an essential ingredient in the western world’s view of an ideal engagement and marriage.

One of the characters in the novel, Frances Gerety, is based on the real-life Frances Gerety who, working as young copywriter for De Beers in the late 1940s, coined the world-famous slogan, “A Diamond is Forever”. During the time of the Great Depression, diamonds weren’t popular. In fact, as J. Courtney Sullivan writes in this New York Times article, How Americans Learned to Love Diamonds, most Americans viewed diamonds as an extravagance which only the richest people could afford. It is quite astonishing to realize the enormous power that marketing has over us and the fact that it was advertising which entrenched the diamond engagement ring in our society. The analysis of this enthralling topic, along with engaging (no pun intended!) characters, has resulted in this readable and very absorbing novel.