Spring is just around the corner, and we’ve all probably enjoyed those few rays of sunlight that are starting to peer out from behind the clouds in between the frequent showers. In this month’s book picnic, we recommend a varied selection of books that will match any type of weather. We include all kinds of different stories ranging from enigmatic fiction to poems about a troublesome colonial heritage. Whether the rain is pouring, or the sun is beaming one of the following books will match your mood.
Pauline recommends: Old Baggage by Lissa Evans
Set in London in 1928, Old Baggage follows the life of Matilda Simpkin. After having been on the front line of the suffragette movement, Simpkin struggles to find her place in everyday life. Simpkin is dissatisfied with her dull, domestic life and after meeting a similar minded, former suffragette she decides to start a new organisation aimed at educating a new generation of women. Simpkin is determined to teach these women about the rights that she and her fellow suffragettes fought for and how to continue the fight for equality.
Gabrielle recommends: The Great Alone by Kristen Hannah
The Vietnam War has left the father of the Allbright family a changed man. He is no longer the kind and loving family man he used to be. In a desperate attempt to start over, the family decides to move to the desolate, inhospitable Alaska where procuring food for the eternal months of winter is one of the greatest concerns of the inhabitants. The family is hopelessly unprepared, but the amity of neighbours gets them through the tough, cold months. What proves an even greater struggle for the family is the desperate father’s turn to abuse and violence. The novel gives insight into the complexities of domestic abuse.
Elaine recommends: The Binding by Bridget Collins
The Binding follows the young boy Emmett Farmer’s adventures as he is taken under the wing of Seredith in her book-binding practise. The vocation turns out to be more mystical than first anticipated and when Emmet unexpectedly finds his own name on one of the books, everything he thought he knew changes. His life is turned upside down.
Wendy recommends: Redemption Ground Essay and Adventures by Lorna Goodison
A collection of poems and essays dealing with several different themes including identity, social justice and friendship. Additionally, many of the texts touch on subjects such as colonialism, its legacy and, more specifically, the feeling of dissociation of being taught British literature in a Jamaican setting.
You can hear Lorna Goodison in Conversation with Louise Welsh on Thursday March 14, in Bute Hall at the University of Glasgow. You can read more about the event here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/lorna-goodison-poet-laureate-of-jamaica-in-conversation-with-louise-welsh-tickets-56037901873
Anna recommends: Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak
Three Daughters of Eve follows the life of Peri, a middle-aged, former Oxford student. The narrative shifts between Peri’s current life as a wife and mother, her life as a student at Oxford University where she encountered the astounding Professor Azur and her life as a child growing up having to navigate between her mother’s fanatic, religious beliefs and her father’s staunch atheism. Time and time again, Peri finds herself in religious and cultural conflicts, unable to choose sides between her mother and father’s eternal quarrels, between her friends Shirin and Mona’s arguments about Islam and feminism and between whether to believe or not to believe in God.