Here's what I've been reading in November:
Heartman by M.P. Wright - this is a stunning debut novel which is set in 1960s Bristol. A young deaf and dumb West Indian woman goes missing and local politician Earl Linney asks down on his luck Barbadian ex-cop Joseph JT Ellington to track her down. JT finds himself in a world of prostitution, kidnapping and conspiracy.
We find out that JT has deep heartache in his past and he spends a lot of time with family members and friends who are part of the close knit immigrant community in Bristol. I especially liked Cousin Vic and slow witted but loyal Carnell and his bossy but loving wife Loretta.
The plot has lots of twists and turns and I found it really hard to put the book down. It is part of a trilogy with part 2 out in May 2015. It's one of my favourite books this year. If you haven't read it yet - you must!
The Perfume Garden by Kate Lord Brown - the story jumps between the Spanish Civil War and the days leading up to and the aftermath of 9/11. Emma Temple has just lost her mum Liberty, the founder of Liberty Temple Perfumes who leaves her a box of letters and a key to a villa in Valencia in Spain. Emma's ex Joe is now in a relationship with Lila and Emma flees to Spain to start afresh pregnant with Joe's child.
Her grandmother Freya was a nurse in Spain during the Civil War and has painful memories of her time there. Her brother and her try to stop Emma going but there are ties that bind Emma to Spain which we find out about as the story progresses. I really enjoyed this book.
Academy Street by Mary Costello - Tess is a shy and sensitive child who grows up in rural Ireland in the 1940s. She follows her sister to 1960s New York where she lives for over four decades. She returns to Ireland in her 60s for her brother's funeral. She lives quietly on Academy Street where she loves deeply, suffers loss, loneliness, has few friends and struggles sometimes through life. She never feels like she has been a good enough mother to her adored only son Theo. I'll be keeping an eye out for Mary Costello's next book as I loved this one.
The Story of You by Katy Regan - Robyn the main character is a Psychiatric nurse who cares for mental health patients who we find out more about as the story progresses. She goes back to her home town when her ex-boyfriend Joe's mum dies. She's not seen Joe for 16 years. The story covers family life, mental health, depression, anxiety, miscarriage and birth. Robyn writes letters to Lily and we find out the secret she can't tell Joe. I simply loved it (the story made me happy, sad and made me cry too). If you love Jojo Moyes you'll love this book.
Wendill Patin's Pork Pie by M P Wright - this short story is set just before Christmas 1966. JT Ellington (who we met in Heartman) is drowning his sorrows in the pub. He is lonely and finds himself at a loose end at weekends. He's missing what he has lost. He finds out that Wendill Patin, a known thief has stolen from Gangland Boss Billy Ryder and hidden his stolen goods in his pork pie hat. He tries to be a good Samaritan and decides to help Patin out but JT is sure his path will cross in the future with Billy Ryder...A great short read.
My final book this month is The Last Rose of Summer by Kate Lord Brown - this is again a short story - a prequel to The Perfume Garden. In this book we learn about Liberty Temple, Emma's mum. She meets up with her ex love John, Emma's dad in Spain and she shows him round a villa she is buying for Emma. We find out Liberty is dying and John suggests she writes letters to Emma for every occasion she may need help from her mum in the future - on love, on friendship etc. John buys Liberty a black lacquered perfume box to hold the letters in...I loved this story and I felt it didn't matter that I'd read The Perfume Garden first.
What have you been reading this month?