Dear Ijeawele or a feminist manifesto in fifteen suggestions.
Chimamanda ngozi Adichie

Dear Ijeawele. book reviews.

The blurb:

From the best-selling author of Americanah and We Should All Be Feminists comes a powerful new statement about feminism today – written as a letter to a friend. A few years ago, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie received a letter from a dear friend from childhood, asking her how to raise her baby girl as a feminist. Dear Ijeawele is Adichie’s letter of response.

Here are fifteen invaluable suggestions–compelling, direct, wryly funny, and perceptive–for how to empower a daughter to become a strong, independent woman. From encouraging her to choose a helicopter, and not only a doll, as a toy if she so desires; having open conversations with her about clothes, makeup, and sexuality; debunking the myth that women are somehow biologically arranged to be in the kitchen making dinner, and that men can “allow” women to have full careers, Dear Ijeawele goes right to the heart of sexual politics in the twenty-first century. It will start a new and urgently needed conversation about what it really means to be a woman today.

My thoughts:

This little book is impossible not to love! I’m stashing it away to read with my children when they’re a little bit older, and I’m eying up my friends, waiting for one of them to fall pregnant so I can swoop in with this little gem of a book as a gift.

Her writing is beautiful and funny, forthright and I can’t wait to read more of her work.

This is a perfect book to tuck in your bag to read while you’re sitting in a doctor’s waiting room, or in a cafe waiting for that always-late friend. You can dip in and out time and time again and always take away something new. I loved it!

The scent of you.
Maggie alderson

The Scent of You. Book reviews.

The blurb:

Perfume blogger Polly is in crisis. Will her husband’s absence break her … or make her? A novel of perfumes, exploring life, love, loss and forgiveness – Maggie Alderson’s new bestseller.

Are you still married if you haven’t seen your husband for months?

Polly’s life is great. Her children are away at uni, her glamorous mother – still modelling at eighty-five – is happily settled in a retirement village, and her perfume blog is taking off. Then her husband announces he needs some space and promptly vanishes.

As Polly grapples with her bewildering situation, she clings to a few new friends to keep her going – Shirlee, the loudmouthed yoga student; Guy, the mysterious, infuriating and hugely talented perfumer; and Edward, an old flame from university.

And while she distracts herself with the heady world of luxury perfume, Polly knows she can’t keep reality at bay forever. Eventually she is forced to confront some difficult truths: about her husband, herself and who she really wants to be.


My thoughts:

Sometimes you just need one of those books which is the equivalent of wrapping up in your dressing gown on a cold day – a warm embrace of a read. This is one of those. Polly is maintaining her perfume blogging career, busily teaching yoga, juggling two (almost) grown children, a mysteriously missing husband, glamorous mother, and a potential new flame (or two), and you will just love her.

While warm and comforting, this read is by no means trite. It touches some real (and shocking) issues, but does so in a very caring and nurturing manner. Occasionally you get the sense that a fair proportion of an author’s personality comes through in a character and I can’t help but feel that Maggie Alderson may have a good dose of Polly tucked away.

breaking ranks.
james mcneish

Breaking Ranks. book reviews.

The blurb:

Three distinct stories about three distinct men, but with one thing in common – they all paid the price for standing up for what they believed.

From a great writer, three great stories about conscience and consequence. This is the story of three men – a doctor, a soldier and a judge. They are men of rare achievement. The doctor has the gift of saving others but not himself. The soldier disobeys orders and abandons his command post in a bid to die with his men. The judge cares more to uphold a principle than save himself from ruin. All three defy convention in a way that exacts a price.

The first two, Dr John Saxby and Brigadier Reginald Miles, destroy themselves. The death of the judge, Peter Mahon, is hastened by his stand for truth and justice on behalf of the victims of New Zealand’s worst air disaster. “New Zealand seems to have the knack of neutralising those who try to foist moral greatness on their countrymen,” James McNeish writes. In Breaking Ranks, the author celebrates three brave men whose guiding spirit – subversion? anarchy? – challenges our assumptions of what it is to be a good New Zealander.

My thoughts:
Thought-provoking and often dark, Breaking Ranks is a fascinating commentary on the cost of standing up for what you believe in – even when the price is great.
World War II, the Erebus Disaster, and the Springbok Rugby Tour are all names of events which have left scars on New Zealand history, and Breaking Ranks gives a glimpse of the heavy impact they had on three individuals.
It is fascinating, and heavy and I had to read it against the relief of other (lighter) books, but this one is definitely worth the read.

Eleanor oliphant is completely fine.
Gail honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. book reviews.

The blurb:

Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?

My thoughts:

When Jojo Moyes endorses a book, calling it “Funny, touching and unpredictable”, you know you’re in for a good read! And she’s right – it is funny, it is touching, and it is unpredictable.

Eleanor Oliphant lives a solitary life. She is off-beat and trying to find her way in a world which prefers rhythm. There is so much about her character which should be off-putting, but she is earnestly endearing and watching her grow was a pleasure.

This is Gail Honeyman’s debut, and I’m eagerly awaiting more (no pressure!).

the cows
Dawn o’porter

The Cows. book reviews.

The blurb:
COW [n.]

A piece of meat; born to breed; past its sell-by-date; one of the herd.

Women don’t have to fall into a stereotype.

THE COWS is a powerful novel about three women. In all the noise of modern life, each needs to find their own voice.

It’s about friendship and being female.
It’s bold and brilliant.
It’s searingly perceptive.
It’s about never following the herd.

And everyone is going to be talking about it.

My thoughts:
This is one fast-paced read, featuring a host of strong women, each facing their own adversities in an individual manner.

The Cows shows the impact of how we carry the burden of judgement – whether or not the judgement is aimed at us. Have we become an over-sensitive society due to the rise of the internet, or an over-judgemental one?

We turn our deepest insecurities into an assumption of judgement on another woman’s face. We attack out of insecurity, making an enemy out of women who make different choices than us. (look at the minefield of motherhood – breastfeeding/co-sleeping/working/staying at home/vaccinations….we take other mother’s choices as a personal affront to our own)

This is a fab read – stimulating, entertaining, witty, and sometimes tender.

Oh, and BTW – wait for the surprise. I literally gasped out loud.

A BIG thank you to HarperCollins for keeping me happily in books for May!

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