Aside from the month going super quickly, I feel a bit meh about this month’s book reviews. I just haven’t LOVED everything I have read this month which is a little disappointing and has meant I have struggled to swap my phone for a book in the evening. For that reason I have about three books I am still wading through so they will now be on next month’s list. Here are my reviews for this month.
Anthology of short stories from culturally diverse writers writing in response to Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories.
Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories was one of the first true children’s books in the English language, a timeless classic that continues to delight readers to this day. Beautiful, evocative and playful, the stories of How the Whale Got His Throat or How the First Letter Was Written paint a world of magic and wonder.
It’s also deeply rooted in British Colonialism. Kipling saw the Empire as a benign, civilizing force, in a way that’s troubling to modern readers. Not So Stories attempts to redress the balance, bringing together new and established writers of colour from around the world to take the Just So Storiesback, to interrogate, challenge, and celebrate their legacy.
Including stories by Adiwijaya Iskandar, Joseph E. Cole, Raymond Gates, Stewart Hotston, Zina Hutton, Georgina Kamiska, Cassandra Khaw, Paul Krueger, Tauriq Moosa, Jeannette Ng, Ali Nouraei, Wayne Santos, Zedeck Siew, and Achala Upendran, with illustrations from Woodrow Pheonix.
I was really excited to read this, having read many of the Just So stories as a child. The foreword did not disappoint and had me excited for the stories to follow. However, they were not all as enjoyable as I expected, and I sometimes struggled to pick this book back up. I think my two favourites were How The Spider Got Her Legs and Best Beloved. The spider one definitely struck a nerve with me as it told the story of a mother fighting for her children.
I thought this was going to be an alternative bedtime story type book, and at least in part, suitable for me to read to the boys. That wasn’t the case, and I think even my avid reading 9 year old would struggle with this, if that was the intention.
I wouldn’t discourage someone from having a read of this if it interests them, but I certainly wouldn’t be pushing people to either unfortunately. I love the idea of changing something like the Just So Stories to be more modern and relevant but for me, most of the stories just did not grab my attention.
“I’ve talked at length about why it’s important that we see ourselves in children’s books. All of us. Because for a person from a marginalised background to see themselves in fiction, it shows them that their stories are valid and they are seen”
“It’s a brave choice to take something so much a part of the canon as Kipling and make it more inclusive, and yet that’s what has happened in the following pages”
And in that instant I fall in love. Not just with him, though he is the better part of it, but with them both, with the whole scene: the house, the garden, the magazine perfection of it. And I want very badly to be in this picture.
As Edie Jones lies in a bed on the fourteenth floor of a Cambridge hospital, her adult daughter Dido tells their story, starting with the day that changed everything.
That was the day when Dido – aged exactly six years and twenty-seven days old – met the handsome Tom Trevelyan, his precocious sister, Harry, and their parents, Angela and David.
The day Dido fell in love with a family completely different from her own.
Because the Trevelyans were exactly the kind of family six year-old Dido dreamed of.
And Dido’s mother, Edie, doesn’t do normal.
In fact, as Dido has learnt the hard way, normal is the one thing Edie can never be .
I was a little shocked at some of the content in this book, I will be honest. I am no prude but some of the things the young Dido talks about, observes and hears are not for little eyes or ears. She shouldn’t be being exposed to it. However, I am under no illusion that children have and do grow up like this.
This didn’t put me off however, I really did enjoy this book. Poignant, sad, laugh out loud and written with such raw emotion – it certainly takes you on a ride. The author does a beautiful job of telling Dido’s story with some wonderful characters and an interesting look into this strange and unique mother-daughter relationship. She also did a great job of capturing the sense of time with some good references to popular culture. I listened to the Audible version and felt the reader did a great job in conveying the story in this format. I especially loved the voice she gave to Edie.
I highly recommend giving this book a try, it was certainly the highlight of the month for me. I really enjoyed the Audible version but I think I would have also enjoyed reading the physical book just as much too.
Italy, 1819. Emilia Barton and her mother Sarah live a nomadic existence, travelling from town to town as itinerant dressmakers to escape their past. When they settle in the idyllic coastal town of Pesaro, Emilia desperately hopes that, this time, they have found a permanent home. But when Sarah is brutally attacked by an unknown assailant, a deathbed confession turns Emilia’s world upside down.
Seeking refuge as a dressmaker in the eccentric household of Princess Caroline of Brunswick, Emilia experiences her first taste of love with the charming Alessandro. But her troubling history gnaws away at her. Might she, a humble dressmaker’s daughter, have a more aristocratic past than she could have imagined? When the Princess sends her on an assignment to London, she grasps the opportunity to unravel the truth.
Caught up in a web of treachery and deceit, Emilia is determined to discover who she really is – even if she risks losing everything . . .
I actually didn’t read this one this month, but at the beginning of the year and ghave just realised I didn’t let you know what I thought. This one gripped me withnin a few pages and had me hooked. I am a big fan of historical fiction and enjoy all the nods to actual events that happened during the time the book was set.
Emilia was a likeable lead, and this helped immensely as you read on to find out what happens to her. It was also great to read about Caroline of Brunswick and I always love a book which inspires you to find out more about a character, as I have been with her.
A great read which combines history and mystery with a dash of romance.
That’s this month’s round ups! I have an exciting post coming soon about a book I was sent and am LOVING so can’t wait to let you all know about that. Fingers crossed I will be back with a bang and lots of great books next month. As always let me know what you have been reading and would recommend in the comments below. Happy reading!
This post may contain affiliate links. These do not affect your purchases in any way, or cost you extra. They may however, earn me some pennies if you click on them before purchasing an item. Thankyou