Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Beauty & Lace Book Club Book Review: The Land Girls by Victoria Purman 

I've heard a lot of good things about Victoria Purman but have only managed to read one of her novels so far, so when I was given the opportunity to read Victoria's latest novel, The Land Girls, I was more than happy to get on board.

The story is set in Australia, in the 1940's during the war, with Australians fighting for their future.
There are three women who decide to become members of the Australian Women's Land Army - Flora, Betty, and Lily.

Flora is a spinster in her thirties and works in an office in Melbourne. She is the only female in her family; having lost her mother years ago. She lives with her beloved father John, and brother Jack. Her other brother Frank is away at war. 

Betty is 17 years old and lives in Sydney. Her next door neighbour Michael is her best friend, and also her first love. When he joins the army, she decides to leave her job at Woolworths and become a Land Girl.

Lily is from Adelaide and her love interest is a man named David, who is away in the air force. She wants a break away from her overbearing family.

The story is told in alternating sections, but the majority of it is told from Flora's perspective. 
As it unfolds, we discover the reasons behind the women wanting to join the Land Girls. 
Each of them embrace their new roles, even though the work is hard and tiring. 
They also get to make some fantastic friendships with other members as they travel over Australia to contribute towards combating labour shortages on rural properties.

Whilst the three women don't work together until towards the end of the story, there are chance meetings throughout the story where they cross paths. 
By becoming Land Girls, these three women get to grow into the women they hope to be, and work towards living the life they want.

I adored this story. The females all showed a lot of bravery and resilience. They were hard working and dedicated to helping farmers with their crops, even in stifling weather conditions. 
They each had their fair share of heartbreak and their courage is something that I admired.
Flora in particular really grew from the start to the end of the story; she managed to fulfill a lot of things for herself that she thought would never be more than wishful thinking. 
I enjoyed reading about her time on the Nettlefolds farm at Two Rivers in Mildura. Owner Charles Nettlefold is widowed and lives at the property with his two adorable young daughters and his mother. 
She forms a strong relationship with Charles and is welcomed and respected by the family.

I learnt a lot about what that period of time must have been like for Australians. I have read many wartime novels but they have mainly been set in European countries, so this made for a different reading experience. 

I would gladly recommend The Land Girls.
Thank you to Beauty & Lace and Harlequin Books Australia for the opportunity to read and review The Land Girls. (You can read my original review on The Beauty & Lace post here: http://bookgirl.beautyandlace.net/book-club-the-land-girls) 

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Book Review: Little One by Peter Papathanasiou 

It's been a while since I've read a memoir, so when I was given the opportunity to read Little One, I was happy to get involved.

Peter Papathanasiou grew up in Australia as an only child to two loving parents, Elizabeth and Bill.

His parents migrated from Greece in the mid 1950's, and they tried for a number of years without success to have a baby. 
The couple had always envisioned having a big family, but sadly, after three miscarriages, it didn't look as though they would even be blessed with one child, let alone many.
It bought shame and sadness for them among their family and the Australian Greek community. 
They were desperate to become parents; they even tried to adopt a child but sadly, it wasn't a success.

Finally in 1973, Elizabeth's brother Savvas and his wife Anna, who lived in Greece, offered to have a baby and then give it to Elizabeth and Bill to raise as their own in Australia. 

The couple was so grateful to them; they had waited so long to become parents. 
Anna and Savvas already had two boys of their own, Georgios and Billy, and they reassured Elizabeth and Bill that they had finished their family and wanted to do this for them.
Fortunately, Anna and Savvas were true to their word, and when baby Peter was born, they handed him over so that finally Elizabeth and Bill could be the parents they had always dreamed of.

Peter was in his  mid 20's when his mum told him the truth about his parentage. 

It was 1999, and Peter was about to embark on PhD in genetics, after completing 6 years of university. 
Sadly, his biological mother Anna had passed away by then, but Peter was happy to discover that he had two brothers alive and well in Greece.

The story spans over the years, tracing back to his parents struggles as migrants, the dedication for a better life, and an act of kindness and love.

It also looks at Peter's career as a geneticist, and his wish of meeting his brothers.

I thought that this was a very well told story. There were moments of sadness, but also happiness and hope.

I really enjoyed reading about Peter and his family. The family photos included helped form a visual connection to the story.
I am married to a man of Greek heritage, and so the traditions and culture surrounding the Greek nationality discussed in the story felt familiar to me. 

I felt that the book may have benefited from a glossary included for the Greek phrases and/or words that are mentioned throughout the story (I personally had no issue at all with it as I can understand Greek, but those that are unfamiliar with the language may have found it handy).

I would recommend Little One to those who enjoy memoirs, and stories about families, heredity and love.

Little One is available now through Allen & Unwin Australia

RRP $29.99
For further information on this title, head here

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Book Review: How It Feels To Float by Helena Fox 

Please note: Trigger warnings - potential distressing content, mental health, suicide

How It Feels To Float is a novel that I was sent recently to read and review. I didn't know much about it (but that is how I like it).  :)
I was immediately drawn in when I read the attached author letter that was sent along with the book. Helena Fox explains how a few short years ago, she lost someone close to her, and wanted to give up on everything.
Thankfully, she is still here and penned this story, drawing from her experience of that time.

Elizabeth, or Biz as she is better known, is a teenage girl who lives with her mum and her younger twin siblings.
When Biz was 7 years-old, her father passed away, and she has been grieving and dissociating since.
She misses her dad immensely, and she feels his presence around her a lot of the time, but she doesn't tell anyone, not her mum, or even her best friend Grace.
She is also trying to find her place in the world, not knowing if she is attracted to males or females. When she spontaneously kisses Grace one day, it is awkward and Biz is embarrassed and confused.
Then a new kid, Jasper, starts school and Biz finds that she wants to know more about him.

As the story unfolds, Biz struggles with managing her runaway thoughts; her mental health issues increase, and she is on the verge of a breakdown.
She experiences suicidal thoughts, and the reader discovers that Biz has never fully dealt with her father's death, and carries a lot of sadness and pain within herself. 
I really felt for her, and I could relate to some of her experiences.
As someone who has had mental health issues myself, I felt that I wasn't just reading this book, but connecting. 

There isn't a whole heap of action throughout the story, it is more of an unraveling of who Biz is, and a journey of her struggles. 
I loved all of the characters in the novel - Sylvia, (an elderly lady that Biz befriends in a photography class) is such a sweetheart, and Biz's mum is also kind, caring, and desperate to help in any way she can. 
Helena Fox has used her own experiences with mental illness and she portrays such an accurate picture of it in this novel in a sensitive and beautiful way, and that is just one of the reasons that I would gladly recommend this book.

How It Feels To Float is available now through Pan Macmillan Australia and has an RRP of $17.99