A Guest Post by Alexandra George
It took me a shamefully long time to start reading The Kite Runner - the book came out in 2003, and I only read it this week. However, once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down.
The Kite Runner is a beautifully written story, about a young boy growing up in Afghanistan. Long days are spent playing with his servant: climbing trees, picking fruit, and participating in kite fighting tournaments. The first part of the book gives us a good picture of the life of an affluent family in pre-soviet Afghanistan - lavish parties, nice clothes and bicycles, travel, and education. From there, the story take us from the fall of Afghanistan's monarchy, through the Soviet military intervention, and finally to the rise of the Taliban regime.
Country: Saudi Arabia
Girls of Riyadh intrigued me precisely because of its title – girls in Riyadh are never spoken of, never written of, and therefore it was immensely appealing to gain some perspective on a world that is never really discussed.
As a summer read, it checks many boxes and it is an engaging page turner.
This week we will take a short look at four fantastic nonfiction books.
1.) A Thousand Sisters – Lisa Shannon
2.) In Search of Hope – The Global Diaries of Mariane Pearl.
3.) I Live Here – Mia Kirshner, J.B.MacKinnon, Paul Shoebridge, Michael Simons
4.) King Peggy – Peggielene Bartels and Eleanor Herman
Country: United States
Bonaventure Arrow is born out of tragic circumstance, yet is perfectly healthy, gifted even, but lacks the ability to make a sound. And yet, he hears everything. Not just conversations and household noises, but the secrets contained in boxes, in stones, in his own backyard and across town.
Bonaventure is a charming yet mysterious child and he is at the centre of several tangled tales. The grief of his single mother. The lingering sorrow of his father’s mother, and the magnetic draw of her chapel. The once-handsome man now locked in an insane asylum. And the life of Trinidad, the only person who seems to share and understand his gift, whose own life has been a dramatic and intriguing saga.
Kate Pullinger’s award winning Mistress of Nothing is set in Egypt in the mid-1800s, and is based loosely on the life of English socialist and author, Lucie, Lady Duff Gordon, but told from the point of view of her lady’s maid, Sally. Sally’s life has been marked by her devotion to service and her dedication to the Duff Gordon family. When Lady Duff Gordon travels to Egypt with the intention treating her tuberculosis, Sally is the only member of the staff to accompany her. Together, Lady Duff Gordon and Sally throw themselves into Egyptian life – sailing the Nile, learning Arabic, adopting local customs. Under these conditions, Sally thrives and passions and freedoms previously unknown to her in life as a servant.
TurnipSeed Travel is pleased to welcome and introduce Benjamin Szweda who has contributed this guest post. Please read more about him below!
Countries: Italy, UK, USA
Nocturnes is a collection of five short stories. My favourite of the five is the first, which is titled "Crooner." This particular story set in Venice, Italy, follows a couple on their last trip. Their surprise interaction with a musician from a local cafe is a memorable experience for all the fictional characters involved. Whether working his piazza or playing his guitar in a gondola, this foreign musician helps the couple relive the happiest moments of their years together.
In a fictional community at the southwestern tip of Australia, we meet Tom, a lighthouse keeper and WWI veteran who is haunted by the trauma of war, and Isabel, a lively, bold, adventurous young women who has a comfortable life in town.
An unlikely courtship brings the two together and when Tom takes a posting as a the lighthouse keeper of Janus Island - little more than a rock in the middle of the ocean. Marriage to Isabel soon follows, and the population of Janus island doubles overnight.
As a lighthouse keeper, Tom takes comfort in the routine, regularity, and rules of his trade and is meticulous in his work. Isabel, more surprisingly also easily takes to life at the lighthouse, bringing a lively sense of home to their isolated, remote abode.
Countries: Canada, United States
In honour of Black History Month, I have selected a book that was an absolute favourite of my childhood and is both appropriate for preteens / teenagers and will be enjoyed by adults alike: Underground to Canada.
When the central character, Julily, is separated from her mother and sent to work on a brutal slave plantation, she survives in part by forming a strong friendship by another young girl in equally distressing circumstances, Liza. Together, their lasting friendship is more than just a social bond: it is the key to their survival. Julily helps Liza with the backbreaking work, and Liza provides encouragement and relief with her wry sense of humor.
As the frigid February days surround me, I'm trying to make the most of the bitterly cold winter -no easy thing, as I live in the second coldest capital city in the world - Ottawa! But we always manage to make the best of the snow and ice and each year we celebrate Winterlude. On a basic level, Winterlude celebrate the freezing of the Rideau Canal - the world's longest outdoor skating rink and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From this, Winterlude has grown into festival with diverse events - from concerts to ice sculpting contests. It's along this theme that I review this week's book: The Frozen Thames by Helen Humphries (who lives very close to Ottawa, in nearby Kingston!)
This would be a great book for a girl to leaf through no matter where she is in the world.
Since starting my weekly review of novels that inspire travel, I have looked at several works with high critical acclaim. One of them, 419, is a major award winner. This week, however, I'm taking a slightly different approach. Don't be concerned - this week's book is still well written and well thought out. It's just that, well, I'm almost afraid to say it, but this selection nearly falls into the category of "chick-lit"!!
It's no Bridget Jones' Diary I read, but rather Gaile Parkin's charming and delightful "Baking Cakes in Kigali".
Our central character, Angel, is a busy, mother-hen type of figure. A talented baker and cake decorator, as well as a savvy business woman, she decided the time is right to move to Kigali and set up a cakes-to-order business. She reasons that as Rwanda moves past their sad history of genocide, there will be much personal and political celebration.