Fiona Valpy - The Beekeeper's Promise
This is a tenderly written book, full of atmosphere, spanning two time eras. In present day, Abi has travelled to France to attend a yoga retreat to help her recover from a traumatic time in her life. Unexpectedly she meets Sara, who lives at the nearby chateau where she runs a wedding business with her husband. Accepting the surprise offer of a job there, Abi begins to open up to the real world again. As the days pass Sara relates the story of Eliane who worked as beekeeper and help at the chateau during World War II. It was a time of occupation, fear, deprivation, loyalty and courage. Her experiences reach down the years to touch Abi. A very satisfying read, and it is not surprising that this is an award-nominated novel.
Leah Fleming - The Olive Garden Choir
A rare contemporary novel by this writer, set in Crete which is her home for part of the year. As expected, it is full of local colour, with varied characters drawn from an ex-pat community on a fictional island. Retired teacher Ariadne has the idea of forming a choir from the English emigres to perform at Christmas in aid of the refugees who are trying to make a new home on the island. Some singers join the group with reluctance, others with enthusiasm, but the very act of drawing together sparks changes in all their lives. Long-held troubles and secrets come to light, and new challenges face them as they cope with the festive season far from home. Full of heart and depth, this is a gem of a novel.