Kate Furnivall - The Italian Wife
This is a new author for me. The novel had an unusual setting, Italy during the time of Mussolini, and explores the theme of the new towns the leader had built on reclaimed land. The heroine, Isabella, is one of the architects, and the widow of a young fascist officer who was murdered ten years prior to the opening of the story. During this time she has had to come to terms with her own injuries from that day, and remains faithful to her husband's memory. But a strange and tragic meeting leaves her with a connection with a ten-year-old girl, Rosa, and catapults her into a search for the truth of the past in the company of attractive photographer, Roberto. Intriguing and exciting, this is a fine novel.
Rosemary Goring - After Flodden
A novel of adventure, romance and mystery. Written by a historian, this book is set in the time before and after the battle between the Scots under James IV and the English under Henry VIII which resulted in a sorry defeat for the Scots and the death of their king. The heroine is Scottish Louise, searching for her brother who hasn't returned from the Flodden battlefield. From the politics of the dead king's court to the lands of the fierce border families who constantly war with each other, and into northern England, we are swept up in the raw emotions and concerns of this troubled time. The author writes with historical conviction and expert craftsmanship.
John McPhee - The Crofter and the Laird
My third choice is non-fiction. We recently visited the Scottish island of Colonsay in the Inner Hebrides, and found this gem in the island's bookshop. It was published in 1970 from a series of articles written by a New York journalist. The author decided to uproot himself and his young family to live for some on the island of his ancestors, Colonsay. It was a time when the place was inhabited by crofters, with land rented from the laird. But the twentieth century was beginning to encroach. McPhee writes compelling prose which draws the reader into his conversations with crofter and laird alike. I couldn't put it down - marvellous reading and a great insight to the traditions of a small island. It was particularly interesting to compare with the island of today, a mere 50 years on, which has mobile phones, internet, satellite television and electric cars (though I hasten to add, it is still remote and a great place to get away from it all).