Nicky Pellegrino - Under Italian Skies
A novel that takes the reader on a true escape as we follow Stella searching for meaning in her life. At the age of 49 she finds herself single, with no ties and out of a job, so she plunges into a house swap which takes her from her small flat in London to an old villa in southern Italy. At first she fees isolated as a stranger in a country where she doesn't speak the language. But gradually she is drawn into the small community where she has taken up residence. This is helped by the book of 'outings' that her landlord, Leo, has left for her to dip into when she is feeling bored. Entering into a correspondence with Leo while he lives in her London flat, she begins to question her own hopes and dreams for the future. Atmospheric and captivating, this is a joy of a book, one of the best I have read recently.
Victoria Helen Stone - Evelyn, After
This was an Amazon new release choice for October. Naturally I was fascinated by the title, as it's not often I find a heroine with my own name. Although it's not the usual type of book I read, it pulled me in and I found it a satisfying read. In distressing circumstances, Evelyn's husband Gary (an eminent psychiatrist) confesses that he's been having an affair with a patient. In the months that follow this revelation, Evelyn is forced to face the person she has become in twenty years of marriage. She's given up her ambitions to be an artist, and her life revolves around being a homemaker, mother and loyal wife to her successful husband. Her husband's betrayal leads her to break out of these boundaries in a very human and intense way. Her actions in her rebellion are not always admirable, but understandable, and her journey is compelling and believable. The heroine has inherent decency and is sympathetically drawn.