I love books! I buy them from bookshops (aiming for independent bookshops where I can) but sometimes from mainstream book shops and have found some gems in charity shops. I avoid one large online retailer but have occasionally resorted to it if I can find no other outlet. I borrow books from my local libraries, from our community book-swap and from friends.
The first was the wonderful non fiction The School by Brendan James Murray which I wrote about here.
Violet's husband enlists leaving her and their young son living with her parents-in-law. Now working on a munitions factory, Violet, whose brothers have always played games of football, enjoys teaching the basics to her son in his father's absence but when she becomes involved in coaching a women's team at the factory, the fear of her mother-in-law's disapproval conflicts with her love of the game.
When the team is asked to play in a proper match to raise funds for the local hospital for wounded soldiers, Violet has to decide which is more important - behaving in the demure way that society has deemed for married women or doing something proactive that could ultimately help her husband and his fellow soldiers.
In chapters that alternate from Violet's story to that of her husband in the front line, each uses real headlines from the newspapers of the time along with verses of songs that were popular, lending further authenticity to the plot.
Believable characters and a good plot tell us more then the simple story - it also highlights the restrictions placed on women at a time when they took on many of the roles of men who were away fighting but still had few rights themselves. The suffrage movement had not yet won universal votes for women in UK.
Set a hundred years later and 12,000 miles away from Violet's world we have Kate in Making March by Hayley Walsh. The book is written in the form of recently separated Kate's diary beginning on her 40th birthday on 1st February. She has a month before her friend's wedding where she is to be Maid of Honour.
The bride is her dear friend and the groom is her ex's closest friend. To complicate matters the ex is now seeing the groom's sister, the woman with whom he cheated on Kate, so of course they'll be at the wedding.
I'm pretty sure I'd have emigrated to avoid this scenario but Kate is made of sterner stuff. There was a great deal about Kate that I could identify with, but if she thinks she's old at 40, I can assure her, she's in for a hell of a shock over the next 25 years.
Many of her diary entries echo what many women have thought and I can imagine sitting down with Kate to have a right old rant about a million different things, laughing all the while. By the end of our conversation, we'd both be feeling good and if everyone agreed with us, the world would be a more sensible place. I'd definitely emigrate to avoid the hens' cruise though.
Hayley promised me a lighthearted read which was exactly what I wanted after weeks of lockdown 6, and it didn't disappoint. Yes, it's frothy but I've always been partial to literary pudding And for the record this one does win a prize for sheer fun.