What constitutes a good book?

A wee while ago I asked you as my followers what is your favourite book? I was a little sad to find out that only one of you replied which made me think about how many people come in here each day, week or month and who really is reading this blog. Anyway one nice follower who does follow my blog answered my question and said that she enjoys reading romance books. OK I am a woman, I guess that I am a bit of a romantic girl at heart but have I had the desire to read a romance book? Probably not? But then again I ask what type of romance books does she enjoy? I mean they could historical romance- think modern day writers such as Diana Gabaldon, Philippa Gregory or perhaps she likes the classic romantic writers such as Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austin. So this got me thinking.

What constitutes a good book?

A good book should be in my view, a book that can entertain, a book that may be able to teach me something new, a book that can enthuse me and a book that I can remember in years to come. I find that many books out there have a wonderful looking cover on them only to find that they lack substance or the blurb at the back does not match up to what I thought was going to be in the book so it gets read but it just sits there looking idle on my shelves until I decide to do a rare thing and cull it with some of the other books that have sat around for too long in my home.

Recently I took a book out of the library. I find many a great book there that I can read, take out and enjoy for a period of time. This particular book is more of a reference book than anything but it helped me to answer my question that I had looming in my head “What constitutes a good book?”. And in this book, 501 Must-Read Books helped me to appreciate why some books have become best sellers and what makes them popular with us all. Some are actually on my shelves and not because they are best sellers either. Often a book has come into my possession because I have read about it or that I have read the back of it to find out if it is something that I would enjoy and that is the thing if I enjoy the book then most other people will feel the same, which in return is then reviewed by the real reviewers of the world and then it becomes a best seller. But then there are some books out there that have never had the chance to shine and if by some miracle someone picks it up one day and thinks to themselves.. Hey this is great reading, news may spread and before you can blink, the book becomes famous maybe even after the author has died in some cases but the book becomes a sought after item, everyone is now wanting to get their hands on it just as they do when a best seller is made public and that dear folks is what I think may constitute a good book.


How does she do it?

The Book

A Taste of India



Madhur Jaffrey



What it says on the back cover

A photo of two women sitting side by side sorting through a handful of chillis on the grass in front of a big wicker basket that is filled with the chillis that they are handling.

Is this book worth buying?

This book is an excellent way to appreciate the diverse food that is found in each region scattered around India. Written with care and love, Jaffrey takes on a journey of her homeland starting with an Introduction that tells us stories of her childhood, food memories and how the food she ate, was made. It then goes on to discuss Indian cuisine, the flavourings and seasonings that it uses and how the variety of food in India varies from one region to the next. It also shares with us some of the spices that may be found in an Indian cupboard, growing up in India and India as a nation, its history and restaurant food. The introduction also introduces us to other country’s food nearby, beverages and what each region of India has in common with each other. the breads, meats and so on. It looks at how Indian’s eat, the Indian medicine, history, before returning back to Jaffrey’s childhood and her memories, discussions on religion, vegetarianism, traditions in India, and regional cooking.

Regional Cuisine is a 9 chapter section of the book that starts in Dehli and covers the Punjab and Haryana regions and it ends in Kerala. Each recipe is given an English name and then a Hindu name underneath. The back of the book covers Basic recipes and General notes. Basic recipes contain recipes to make the side dishes that make up Indian cuisine. These include the breads such as pappadums, naan, roti, to name a few, the rice and Lassi, the yoghurt drink often found in our Indian restaurant menus but is popular with Indians as a snack or taken as part of their breakfast or lunch. The basic recipe page also contains two recipes for the dessert Halwa, a dish that is usually made with semolina.

The General notes page is more like a guide or a dictionary of the ingredients used in this book which are listed from A to Z and several photographs of some of the ingredients.

Finally the book concludes with a Recipe index broken into subheadings of meals that start with Soups and Possible Starters and finishing with Chutneys, Relishes, Salads and Sweets. The end of the book is rounded off wuth an index of the foods, recipes and illustrations highlighted in italics.

The reason for the title of this book is because Jaffrey is not only a cookery book author but she is also a well known actress. My book says that it was published in 1985, although when I checked online there are references to the same book saying it was published in 1988 but either way this book is one of several that Jaffrey has written over the years and I salute her for taking the time to write and act which must be a juggling act in itself or that she is excellent with her time management skills. I think its wonderful. But this book is an excellent way to introduce yourself to what makes up Indian cuisine and then once you have cooked your way through it, you can then decide which regions food is for you. Naturally you do not need to pick a region but they are all diverse, some are more hotter than others and some use different spices or do not use a particular ingredient. Once you have learnt which recipe comes from where, you can seek out other books that have other recipes that match that cuisine. This is the first of Jaffrey’s books that I have purchased. Not that I have had any problems with her books in the past but because it was affordable for me to purchase. One of my favourite cooks of all time will be revealed at some point but this book does a fine job of being a book that I enjoy. One that discusses some of my favourite topics food, culture, and travel. What more could I ask for?

No wonder the British felt at home here. They could hunt- there are plenty of wild ducks and migrating Siberian geese- and they could fish for the sweet-fleshed mahaseer or for trout which a nineteenth-century Scotsman had introduced to the streams- Madhur Jaffrey (1985).

An Asian cookbook worth a look

The Book 

Adam’s Big Pot: Easy Meals for your family


Adam Liaw



What it says on the back cover

Simple enough for the novice home cook, affordable enough to feed the whole family and made from basic supermarket ingredients, Adam’s Big Pot shares recipes that will become new family favourites from just one big wok, pan, dish or pot.

What made me pick up this book?

The back cover’s inscription…

Seriously many a person does not want to pick up a book and go through it only to find there are only a few things that they have in their pantry and they may find themselves having to go out and get new ingredients for. Not everyone is adventureous and not everyone has the money to do so. Adam’s Big Pot is a book which aims to share with the reader a bunch of yummy recipes that have ingredients which may be found in our kitchens. OK I use that term ‘maybe’ loosely because there are many out there like myself who have a pantry filled with stuff that alot of people out there have no idea what to do with and then there are others who are new to this food business, they want to try something out because they have eaten it at some restaurant and are keen to replicate it in their own home… now thats called experimenting and for me, its one of the reasons I enjoy cooking because it allows me to play with my food a little, dabble in a bit of science and try something that is different to what I grew up on. I am a bit daring perhaps but in today’s world and with the population of my country growing (New Zealand) more and more people are flocking to my homeland to make it their land too.  Having travelled has been a bonus for me but for some, they have not been to some of those great places I love to visit – Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia.. yes they don’t just eat camel by the way.

Is this book worth buying?

This book was a book I borrowed yet again from my library. Seriously dear readers if you saw my home you would appreciate why I chose to borrow this book out. I will eventually buy a big enough to house my books but for now this home has a bookcase dedicated to my cookbooks, cookbook memoirs, historical cookbooks that date back to after the wars, books from famous places such as Raffles to the Titantic. I really do have a big fascination with food, it really is part of who I am. But back to the book…

Adam’s big Pot is a delightful read and even more delightful one to cook with. The first night I got it home I found myself whizzing up one of his pastes to add to my freezer for various dishes. The recipes are simple but confusing at first due to the layout. The ingredients are listed at the top of the page with the method and the name of the recipe and a blurb at the bottom… this is somewhat confusing at first when there are perhaps two recipes on the same page. Each recipe has a photograph but still I got a wee bit lost with it at first.

This book is an excellent starting point for someone who is just starting out and experiment with flavours. I was quite bemused when my Mum came over recently and I found her flipping through the book. That to me signals a great book for a novice and the back cover must have grabbed her attention much in the way it grabbed mine. But I am more of an experienced cook and have been using some of these things for years. One of the things that will most attract me to a book are the little condiments or the sauces that chefs or cooks add to their meals and how I could use these in other areas. Adam’s book has done that. In this book I found a recipe for a friend’s favourite dish of Tandoori Chicken and although I have several recipes for this dish I was very impressed on how Adam used this same recipe which he used for his Butter Chicken. Now that is my kind of book. Now as I have said, I have many a cookbook, many a book which is lovely, but one more wouldn’t hurt would it? And if I had the money right now, this would be it. I really enjoyed it and cooking the recipes from it which all turned out beautifully. For now I have handwritten out several of his recipes and will get the book when I can. Thank you Adam 🙂

“So many bits and pieces leftover from cooking can be put to excellent use, extracting flavours that might otherwise have gone to waste. Prawn shells are a great example. Instead of consigning them to the bin, just fifteen minutes of effort will produce a rich stock that will improve your soups, curries, or even stir fried dishes immeasurably”  (Adam Liaw, Adam’s Big Pot, 2014).

What are your favourite books?

Children, like many of us adults enjoy reading and writing. It is a way for them to express themselves and have an understanding of what goes on around the world. Literature can take us to far off places, places in which can be found in our imaginations and in the backs of our minds.

To enjoy literature a child will often find a subject that they will find that is of interest. Books are a source of these and can be on many subjects.

For example if a child wants to learn about space and astronomy he or she may wish to visit the Science section of their library and do that, they may look for a book which not only is filled with information about the topic itself but whether it is also visually entertaining. A book that has lots of colourful pictures is going to be more popular than a book that just has written text inside.

Adults are the same. In today’s society many adults are very interested in history and what was happening in the world in a previous timeframe. Often the word ‘retro’ comes to mind and people are recreating situations that reflect yesteryear with furniture that graced our homes in the fifties and them giving a new coat of paint to modernize the look to make it more in tune to what is happening today. Today’s adults are more in tune to what is around them than ever before and with the invention of the Internet, sometimes the beloved book has taken the back seat.

But there are still people out there who love books. When the storm sets in and the fire is lit and you are forced to light a candle for light. A book maybe the entertainment that you need while waiting for the power to come back on. Books are much more friendlier than powering up the computer or tablet each day.

OK so I am writing a blog and in days gone by it would have been a typewriter so I am not saying the internet is bad or having a tablet is bad, I have both a computer and a tablet and both serve their purpose well but if you look at my home, its chocker block with wonderful books which I have read time and time again. Some are firm favourites that come out almost on a regular basis and some stay on the shelves until I need them or wish to refer to them.

So while you are reading my blog, pause for a moment and think of your own favourite books. Why are they special to you and what makes you want to keep them on your very own shelves. I would like to open a conversation up about it.


I look forward to hearing from you 🙂

Bridget meet Molly…


The Book 

Weekend in Paris

Author (s)

Robyn Sisman



What it says on the back cover


One Friday afternoon Molly Clearwater walks out of her job, smarting from her boss’s taunt that she is ‘just a stupid secretary’. Twenty-one, a country girl who has lived her life mainly through the pages of books, she feels nothing exciting has ever happened to her, or ever will.

On impulse she boards the Eurostar to Paris, emerging into a bewitching world of leafy boulevards, luscious foods, crazy traffic and smouldering Frenchmen. Within hours she’s racing along beside the Seine on the back of a scooter, infiltrating a conference in a Cleopatra wig, caught up in a roller-blade chase, and sharing with a complete stranger her deepest darkest secret.

The weekend turns into a dizzying carousel-ride of passion, excitement and self discovery. By Sunday night Molly is a new person.

What made me pick up this book?

With an introduction on the back cover like the above described, I was lured into reading more about this young woman and what lay out for her as she ventured around France and in Paris for a weekend. I smiled at the cuteness of the picture on the front cover, smiling at it and knowing that this was what many would call a ‘chick lit’ short for chick literature and one that I could see myself reading over this winter. I did not expect however to finish it within the week.

Is this book worth buying?

This book has many interesting things about it. When reading other reviews about it, I have noticed that others have either given it a five or a one star. I guess that after a while of reading chick lit books, some may say that this book is just another story and one that they could predict what may happen next as Molly moves from one part of Paris to another. Maybe so but I liked it. I am not British and I know that as a fan of Bridget Jones, I have read very few chick lit books with the exception of Helen Fielding’s Brilliant Jones’ novels. It’s not that they do not interest me but I have often found fictional stories which have a history element must grab me first and maybe this is what made me think about buying this book as it’s author has obviously done her homework or has travelled or been to Paris before. The book is fun in the sense that it had me giggling as I read it, it made me think of how lucky the British are to have Europe on their doorsteps just waiting to be discovered just like Molly did and how she walked away from her comfort zone for the weekend.

This book had adventure from the time Molly meets Alicia, a rather outward Australian who invites Molly to a party after they meet in Molly’s hotel room and how Fabrice capture’s Molly’s heart by taking her on a whirlwind trip around Paris, his  Paris on the back of his scooter. I love the way Sisman sends Molly off into dream world so we can capture her inner most thoughts, what is going through her head and way she conducts herself as if she was a true Parisian. I like the sophisticated and suave Fabrice and how he romances Molly and her mind. This book is a true gift of Sisman’s itching for me to tell her to write a sequel or a movie at that. Sure we have our beloved Bridget but this is Molly and yes she is smart, she knows more French artists than most and indeed she does find herself amongst a head in the clouds but her feet still firmly on the ground. Molly not only learns about herself but she teaches a few others about themselves too.  It’s a delightful read and it left me wondering what next will fill me as much as this did on a rather heavy rainy week. I encourage you to forget it is a chick lit and read it, it will leave you smiling, well it did for me anyway. A smile curls up my face now…

“But I adore this story,’ he said, taking her hand  between both of his. “That is how life should be. Impulsive, Unplanned. One must follow one’s spirit , not submit oneself to the petty exigencies of commerce.’  (p 231, A Weekend in Paris, Robyn Sisman).

The Pilot’s Daughter

The Book

Hidden in Plain Sight: Growing up in the Shadow of Saddam

Author (s) 

Zainab Salbi and Laurie Becklund



What it says on the back cover

Zainab Salbi was eleven years old her father was chosen to be Saddam Hussein’s pilot and her family’s life was grafted onto his. Zainab’s mother taught her the skills she needed to survive. A plastic smile. Saying yes. “Learn to erase your memories,” she said. “He can read eyes”.

Zainab later agreed to an arranged marriage in America, unaware it was to save her from Saddam’s growing affection. Fleeing her abusive husband but stranded by the Gulf War, Zainab rebuilt her life in the States, and created an organisation to fight on behalf of the female victims of war.

In this fascinating quest for truth, Zainab describes tyranny as she saw it: through the eyes of a privileged child, a rebellious teenager, a violated wife and ultimately a public figure fighting to overcome the skill that once kept her alive: silence.

“This may be the most honest account of life within Saddam’s circle so far”. Publishing News

“A remarkable, astonishing memoir”. Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple.

What made me pick up this book?

Having lived in the Middle East (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) during the start of the second Gulf war, I could only imagine what was happening across the border from me. I remember staying up as early as two or three in the morning watching the war unfold before my eyes on Al Jazerra, one of the Gulf’s leading news stations as it went to air. Naturally my heart went out and I went to bed with the knowledge knowing that this was something serious. Zainab grabbed my attention whilst looking for other women’s organisations across the world when I was part of a group called Business and Professional Women. Her group had devoted itself to help women who had become victims of war and named themselves Women for Women International, an organisation that Zainab created together with her second husband in 1993.

Is this book worth buying?

Imagine yourself being carefree and young without a care in the world. Happy and content and born to a family that loved you and you them. Then imagine yourself at eleven years of age, your father comes home and tells you and your family, he has been recruited as an airline pilot and a pilot to Saddam Hussein at that. Zainab’s story is a story of putting on a brave face each day that you face the world, putting on a mask that showed that you were happy and still carefree. A face that would hide pain, frustration, anger and despair and a face that showed a smile to the world that all was well…when really it wasn’t.

A book such as Zainab’s makes one aware of how a man such as Saddam could have such a profound on not just one person or one family but on many families. How whatever he said was final, how women would fight over who had given him the best gold, the best gift and how he could break families apart that were once so loving and tear couples apart which sadly happened to Zainab’s parents who did everything they could to avoid being a part of Saddam’s socialist Baath Party. Zainab does not want pity but she wants women to have a voice. This story shows us how it feels to live in a bubble, a home that was known as a farm house yet felt nothing remotely like a farm house and where Saddam could drop in when he saw fit and take Zainab and her girlfriends out for a drive unbeknownst to her family who were sleeping and became worried when they awoke and unaware of Zainab’s whereabouts. Saddam known as Amo (Arabic for Uncle) throughout the book was a man who could demand anything and get anything just with a look and where he could read people’s eyes just as her mother had taught her.

As Zainab approached her late teens little did Zainab know but her mother had arranged for her to marry a man in the United States just so Zainab could escape Saddam’s watchful eye and the growing attraction he had for her. This marriage which Zainab left her beloved Iraq for the United States was to be violent and not the fairytale that Zainab had wished as a child and soon she found herself escaping her husband only to find herself with no money and very little in a country so far removed from her own. In Christmas of 1991 Zainab had surrounded herself with all her most valuable possessions that she owned and took a train to Washington wrapped in her Dior coat and a Persian rug at her feet, she had to escape the marriage that she was in. Fortunately she had a job to go to and then as she became acquainted with the city she made new friends and a man her later was to become her second husband.

Zainab’s story is full of courage, a woman who had experienced hardships of her own but in different ways to many of her fellow country women back home. Desperate to help these women and other women who have been affected by war, Zainab, together with her husband created Women for Women International helping them regain their lives again by teaching them new skills, giving them a sense of purpose, helping them rebuild their lives again through learning about how to take care of their health, their well being, make money for themselves and their families and to connect with other women worldwide.

This book is a book that you will remember long after you have finished reading it as you may find yourself wanting to learn more about this incredible lady and the work she has done to support those who have been marginalized and had otherwise lost hope again to another part of war and the tragedy that it creates in so many different parts of the world.

For further information please visit Zainab’s organisation

Women for Women International

and Zainab herself talking about growing up under the shadow of Saddam Hussein.

“Always, always, you would smile. With my mother, the only person I could ever talk to about Amo with any honesty at all, I called it my “plastic smile”… weekends were Amo’s designated downtime, and we were his entertainment, part of our job was to make him laugh at the right moment” (Zainab Salbi, “Hidden in Plain Sight: Growing up under the Shadow of Saddam” 2006).

The book that took me two days to read…

The Book Fifty days of Silence (2008 updated)

Author (s) Jan Ruff  – O’ Herne

What it says on the back cover

How can you tell your daughters? Your grandchildren? I mean, the shame, the shame was still so great. I knew I had to tell them but I couldn’t tell them face to face so I decided to write all down.

Jan Ruff O’ Herne’s idyllic childhood in Dutch colonial Indonesia ended when the Japanese invaded Java in 1942. She was interned in Ambarawa Prison Camp along with her mother and two younger sisters.

In February 1944, when Jan (pronounced as Yon) was just twenty-one, she was taken from the camp and forced into sexual slavery in a brothel for the Japanese military where she was repeatedly beaten and raped for a period of three months. She was then returned the prison camp with threats that her family would be killed if she revealed the truth about the atrocities inflicted upon her.

For fifty years, Jan told no-one  of her wartime experiences, but in 1992, after seeing Korean war rape victims making appeals for justice on television, she decided to speak out and support them. Before she could testify publicly, though. she had to find a way to tell her family and friends about all that she had suffered.

Jan’s survival is a tribute to her inner strength and deep faith. For the past fifteen years, she has worked tirelessly to protect the rights of women in war and armed conflict.

This is a moving and emotional account of the trauma and terror Jan Ruff- O’Herne endured as a young ‘comfort woman’. Her story conveys the pain and humiliation of sexual servitude. – THE AGE

This is an important book … Do read it, – THE CANBERRA TIMES

What made me book up this book

Recently I was asked to write-up a number of letters that a WW1 solider had written to his wife while at war. After researching this man’s journey and having the opportunity to do this for the veteran I found myself more and more interested in what went on in both wars one and two.

This book is set in WW2 and in a time when Indonesia was dominated by the Dutch people of Holland.Both the Indonesians and the Dutch people lived together harmoniously before it was invaded by the Japanese in the Dutch East Indies in 1942. Many like Jan, had been brought up in Java one of the islands in Japan and it was home to many from as early as the late sixteenth century which made Java and other Indonesian islands their home. Jan’s family was one of many, and Jan herself a fourth generation of a Dutch colonial family.

About the book

This book takes us back to a time when Japan occupied Indonesia in the 1942 and where many Dutch were sent away to prison camps and lost their lives and homes to Japanese occupation. Being of a nice family and having an idyllic childhood, Jan was accustomed to having servants working in her household who were like family to her own. Sadly that was all about to change and Jan’s life came crashing down when she and her mother and two younger sisters were sent to a prison camp and later Jan to a brothel which was known as the House of the Seven Seas which she was held against her will for a period of three months.

Jan’s story talks about the her life inside the prison known as Ambarawa and how those that were held survived on little and did whatever was necessary to survive. One day Jan and her fellow inmates were given spades in order to grow vegetables for a garden but the ground and soil was so hard that it was hardly a ground that would show much chance of success of growing anything and plants often would wither up and hardly have a chance to grow properly due to the lack of food.  Vegetables such as cabbages that were planted and were pulled out by those who were hungry  even before the they could reach their full growth and size.

Fifty years of Silence was an easy book for me to read and maybe it was because of my love of this history and learning of people who have suffered hardship and lives that have shaped the way they are. I enjoyed this book despite it horrific contents as it showed me another side of war, another side to the women, that was somewhat unlike the War Brides book I have reviewed recently.  Jan shows us that war is something we never think will happen in our own worlds yet when it is inflicted on us, we make the best out of the situation and although what she went through and endured over those three months was horrific, Jan was able to forgive the Japanese but never forget. It was her faith that kept her strong, it was also a strong belief that she would be reunited with her family again. For me it was kept me turning page after page much in the way I did in Judith Kelly’s book I reviewed in Rock me Gently.

Is this book worth buying?

As I have a rather well established ‘library’ of my own I try not to buy too many books now days or at least get rid of some that are ones that I have not touched after purchasing them at a book fair etc… and are selecting books from my local library.

This book however is a book that is worth purchasing if you have a deep connection to war and would like a book which views it from a woman and of a part of war crime that is unthinkable, unbelievable and hard to imagine could happen to anyone. But this is no ordinary book, it is as if Jan is talking to you as you read it and much of what she discusses in her book, she explains in the documentary that I recommend that you watch after reading my review. Jan’s book opened my eyes again to the trauma of war, the reality of what went on and the stories that many of us did not or at least did not want to know what really went on. Jan’s book is tender, it is also emotional and it is filled with love for Christ and her family and friends.

There are so many points in it that she makes seem positive in such a negative atmosphere as she speaks of fondness for her family, her friends, the other “comfort” women that she embraced and met from other parts of the world.  Jan did not want to inflict pain onto her family when she wrote her story, she wanted to let go of something that she held onto for almost fifty years. To keep a secret for that long is something which needed to be heard, and I can appreciate why she reached out to the Korean women when she heard their own stories of what happened to them and the so-called ‘comfort’ women who were used as sex slaves throughout this war. Jan had forgiveness in her heart, but never forgot the atrocities and suffering she and many others endured, whether as a ‘comfort’ women or as a person who went to, lived through, or was somehow connected with yet another world war.

To watch Jan’s story please refer to this clip from You Tube

and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBchgNkcCA0

“The Japanese never seemed to talk to us when giving orders, they always had to shout… no reasons were given… we were not told where we were going. We were terrified” ( Jan Ruff O’ Herne- Fifty Years of Silence, 2008)

You is good…

The Book

The Help

Author (s)

Kathryn Stockett

What it says on the back cover

‘Outstanding, immensely funny, very compelling, brilliant’  Daily Telegraph

‘Immensely readable’ Observer

Enter a vanished world; Jackson, Mississippi, 1962. Where black maids raise white children, but are trusted not to steal the silver…

There’s Aibileen, raising her seventeenth white child, and nursing the hurt caused by her own son’s tragic death; Minny, whose cooking is nearly as sassy as her tongue; and white Miss Skeeter, home from college, who wants to know why her beloved maid has disappeared. Skeeter, Abileen and Minny. No one would believe they’d be friend; fewer still would tolerate it. But as each woman finds the courage to cross boundaries, they come to depend and rely upon one another. Each is a search of a truth. And together they have an extraordinary story to tell…

What made me pick up this book

Having read Alice Walker’s The Color Purple some time ago and throughly enjoying it. I felt it necessary to read this book about black maids who worked in service industries to the white people in the United States. I had seen the film and throughly enjoyed it and after reading this, I think I enjoyed it even more than the film.

About the book

Set in Mississippi, USA this journey makes its entrance by introducing Aibileen, a coloured woman in August 1962. It begins with Abileen introducing her seventeenth white child that she has raised known as  Mae Mobley (age two) and how s Abileen takes care of the infant as well as any cooking, cleaning, and other chores that were expected of her around a white middle class family home. Aibileen does not live with her employers but commutes each day across town in Jackson which is home to some 200,000 people. In Chapter three we are then introduced to Minny, Aibileen’s friend who also works in service and then Miss Skeeter, a young university student who comes home and befriends the two women which was unheard of considering she is white and the other two are coloured.

Is this book worth buying?IMG_20150327_162901

The book (as the author mentions in the interview in the last few pages of the book) is loosely based on a maid that the author had as a youngster and growing up in Missisippi. Although the story itself is a work fiction, Stockett does an excellent job of bringing these women together to make them seem real and that they did exist back in the sixties. Stockett’s own maid shared stories with her as she grew up such tales of getting sunburnt despite her dark skin. But this book is a book of love, it’s about having the courage to stand for what you believe in and tell it like it is. It is a tale about women of colour who were scared out of their wits when they were asked to share their story but in the end, it helped us to understand them, appreciate them for who they are and remember what life really was like for a maid and a maid of colour. I enjoyed the movie and I loved the book. It would be wonderful if Stockett could write a conclusion to Aibileen’s life after she retired and what became of her. But in many ways the way it ended gives us as the reader or the viewer a sense that her job was done and she lived out her days quite comfortably and maybe hired a maid for herself! A beautiful read and very hard to put down. I totally recommend it.

Brides of war

The BookGI Brides

GI Brides: The Wartime Girls who crossed the Atlantic for Love

Author (s)  Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi

What it says on the back cover

They left everything behind to follow their hearts… True stories that illuminate the experiences of British war brides in America after World War 2.

American soldiers stationed in the UK came away winning more than just a war, they also won the hearts of young women across Britain. At the end of World War 2, more than 70.000 GI Brides followed the men they’d married men they barely knew to begin a new life in the United States. Meet four of these women:

SYLIVA BRADLEY, a loyal, bright-eyed optimism

RAE BREWER, a resourceful, quick-witted tomboy

MARGARET BOYLE, an English beauty who faced down every challenge

GWENDOLYN ROWE, a brave woman ahead of her time

Though all made the bold choice to leave family and the world they knew, the journey each experienced was unique – ranging from romantic to heartbreaking. Fascinating and unforgivable, GI Brides plays homage to these brave women, propelled by love and hope, who embarked on an adventure that would change their lives.

“Heartbreaking yet tender… Rich in historical detail and masterfully researched.” – Marjorie Hart, New York Times. Best selling author of Summer at Tiffany

“Beautifully rounded portraits… delightful and touching.” – Daily Mail

What made me pick up this book

Having been asked to write-up documents on a World War One veteran for a family in the town I live in here in New Zealand, I was asked by my mother if I would be interested in reading this book which belongs to her. I readily said yes as it gave me a wonderful perspective on what life was like for war brides having only ever written from a viewpoint of a solider. This book is an excellent biography into four lives who uprooted their homeland to a place that they had never seen before. Expecting romance and love till the day they died, these women suffered hardships and homesickness trying to adjust to their new homeland.

About the book

This book follows on from the equally successful book written by the same authors under the name of Sugar Girls. Written as part biography and part memoir,  the book opens its first chapter by introducing Sylvia and then later in Chapter two it moves onto Rae with subsequent chapters referring to Margaret and Gwendolyn. The book can be read either by reading each chapter as it is laid out in the book or read it as the book progresses and switches between each women as their story develops. At the back of the book a conversation was documented with the authors by perhaps the publishers and offers a website on the back cover and a page on further reading inside the book. http://www.gibrides.com

GI Brides

Is this book worth buying?

This book is a must for anyone interested in war history, war brides and what life was like for British women between 1939 – 1945. I throughly enjoyed each women’s account of how life was for them which gave me another perspective into what it was like to be a warbride and how these women overcame many obstacles to make the United States their home.What is interesting is that despite some of the heartaches and dissapointments some of these women endured, they fought hard to save their marriages at any cost and  although it was not all doom and gloom, marriage was something that they took seriously and fought hard to keep it all together not just for their own sakes but for their children that they bore to whom they  tried to remain positive for in times of sadness. Many back home had little idea what some women went through as sad as things may have been.

“They were quite unlike the Tommies of the British Army in their heavy serge- the better cut and higher-quality of the Yanks’ outfits made it hard to tell an officer from a private” (In Sylvia from GI Brides: The Wartime Girls who crossed the Atlantic for Love. Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi. 2014).