THIS week’s bookcase includes reviews of Moth by Melody Razak and Songbirds by Christy Lefteri.
From India to Cyprus, these books have a truly global reach…
1. Moth by Melody Razak is published in hardback by W&N, priced £14.99 (ebook £7.99). Available now
Both a heartbreaking and heart-warming story, Melody Razak’s debut transports the reader into the home of a Brahmin family in 1940s Delhi.
She navigates their beautiful yet complicated relationships as India builds up to and enters Partition.
Bappu and Ma (liberals of the time) teach at Delhi University, and their daughter Alma is due to get married.
But the direction of their lives – already torn between modern values and tradition – is soon turned upside down.
Razak hones in on the strength and suffering of women; with moments as small as sharing stories, cooking food and plaiting hair becoming lifelines.
Empathy is felt even for the more dislikeable Daadee Ma, who despite her distinctness, could be anyone’s grandmother.
Moth has a backdrop of religion, politics, class and violence, but the central focus is on family life.
The character portrayal is so intricate that as the plot twists and turns, you’ll truly care what happens to them.
(Review by Hannah Millington)
2. Songbirds by Christy Lefteri is published in hardback by Manilla Press, priced £14.99 (ebook £9.99). Available now
Inspired by the real life stories of domestic workers in Cyprus, Songbirds examines the prejudices faced by migrants crossing borders in search of a better life. Nisha is a loving mother forced by financial pressures to leave her daughter in Sri Lanka to work as a maid in Nicosia.
One night, she disappears. Swapping between the perspectives of her employer Petra and lover Yiannis, the book pieces together her life – its loves, losses and sacrifices.
Their search for answers is met by indifferent police, exposing society’s treatment of migrant women.
The story deftly explores themes of freedom, motherhood, community and identity.
Symbolic descriptions of the island’s landscape and wildlife provide poignant lyrical moments, while the migrant community are sensitively given a voice and the injustices they face uncovered.
A moving and important read.
(Review by Tom Pilgrim)
3. Yours Cheerfully by AJ Pearce is published in hardback by Picador, priced £14.99 (ebook £7.99). Available now
A joyous story of friendship, courage and love, Yours Cheerfully sees aspiring journalist Emmeline Lake at her best when the going gets tough.
In this light-hearted sequel to AJ Pearce’s debut Dear Mrs Bird, Emmy takes on the challenge of becoming a wartime advice columnist, and she gets a call from the Ministry of Information to help recruit female workers to the war effort.
Emmy makes friends with some factory girls with personal struggles and – with the support of faithful friend Bunty and boyfriend Charles (who is posted in England for now) – has to ultimately decide where her loyalties lie.
The story is uplifting in nature, with the Blitz spirit and camaraderie between the characters shining through.
The strength of the women is inspiring and can be a lesson to us all during the struggles we’re facing in this pandemic – let’s stick together and help lift each other up as best we can, no matter how hard life might get.
(Review by Karen Sykes)
4. Consumed: A Sister’s Story by Arifa Akbar is published in hardback by Sceptre, priced £16.99 (ebook £9.99). Available now
Arifa Akbar’s story is one of sisterly love, a family trapped between two cultures, and the repeated misdiagnosis of a deadly disease.
Arifa’s older sister Fauzia died a painful and unnecessary death as doctors failed to recognise she was suffering from tuberculosis – otherwise known as consumption. Consumed takes the reader down a journey of the conflicts between two countries, as Arifa’s family relocate from Pakistan to the UK and back more than once.
The chief theatre critic for the Guardian, Akbar leans heavily on her work and integrates the story of TB down the ages for her first full-length book, from the suffering heroines of opera and poet Keats’ deathbed, to its resurgence in this country.
Published at a time when Britain is reeling from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, this story of sisterly love – and sometimes hate – will resonate with many.
A lasting tribute to a beloved sister, it shows sometimes love is not enough.
(Review by Roddy Brooks)
1. Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
2. Animal by Lisa Taddeo
3. Klara And The Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
4. Sunset by Jessie Cave
5. Sorrow And Bliss by Meg Mason
6. The Passenger by Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz
7. The Missing Sister by Lucinda Riley
8. Yours Cheerfully by AJ Pearce
9. Ariadne by Jennifer Saint
10. Uzumaki by Junji Ito
1. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse by Charlie Mackesy
2. The Power Of Geography by Tim Marshall
3. Joe’s Family Food by Joe Wicks
4. Ancestors by Alice Roberts
5. Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given
6. The Anglo-Saxons by Marc Morris
7. Guinness World Records 2021 by Guinness World Records
8. Hold Still: A Portrait Of Our Nation In 2020 by Patron Of The National Portrait Gallery
9. Operation Pedestal by Max Hastings
10. Why We Kneel How We Rise by Michael Holding
(Compiled by Waterstones)