Blurb: Northern Iceland, 1829.
A woman condemned to death for murdering her lover.
A family forced to take her in.
A priest tasked with absolving her.
But all is not as it seems, and time is running out:
winter is coming, and with it the execution date.
Only she can know the truth. This is Agnes's story.
Thoughts: We've sort of got a book-sharing club at work whereby we swap books with each other when we've particularly enjoyed a book. This has come from my now regular book swap partner who knows I love a book which creates ambiance and atmosphere which transports you to a particular place and time. This book felt a bit of a slow burner at the start and it was a bit of a trudge, but I think that is what the author was aiming for. I really enjoyed (not sure that's quite the right word with the context) this book and found myself not able to put it down toward the end. If you like a fictionalised account of a real story, which is well researched and appears so realistic you don't realise it is actually fiction (like I did), then this is well worth a read.
8. Mystery in White - J. Jefferson Farjeon
Blurb: 'The horror on the train, great though it may turn out to be, will not compare with the horror that exists here, in this house.' On Christmas Eve, heavy snowfall brings a train to a halt near the village of Hemmersby. Several passengers take shelter in a deserted country house, where the fire has been lit and the table laid for tea - but no one is at home. Trapped together for Christmas, the passengers are seeking to unravel the secrets of the empty house when a murderer strikes in their midst.
Thoughts: This is a recent British Christmas tradition I can get behind - the republishing of lost crime novels from the early 1900s. There always seem to be a resurgence around Christmas of Christmas crime novels, which almost feels like a hark back to the Victorian love of a ghost story at Christmas. I rather enjoyed this. Unlike many a crime novel where I can predict pretty quickly which way the plot is going to go, I actually couldn't with this one. The ending was a nice (if actually a bit predictable) surprise. A cosy novel which will go down well with many.
9. Paris by the Book - Liam Callanan
Pages: 368 (2254)
Blurb:In a city of millions, it’s easy to lose someone…
Twelve weeks before Leah Eady arrived in France, her husband disappeared. Early one morning, he walked out the door and never came back. All he left behind was a scrumpled note in a cereal box, leading her to the bustling streets of Paris.
Once she arrives, she discovers a mysterious unfinished manuscript written by her husband, and set in the very same city. Hoping to uncover more clues, Leah takes over a crumbling bookshop with her two young daughters, only to realise that he might just be closer than any of them ever imagined…
…but what if he doesn’t want to be found?
Thoughts: This book caught my eye in a book swap telephone box in Nuremberg of all places. I absolutely loved this book and feel it has rocketed to one of the best books I have ever read. It is brilliantly written and took so many turns I had no idea what was coming next. The story keeps revealing little bits which all attempt to make sense of Robert's disappearance. A twist in chapter 16 was totally unexpected and turns the whole thing on its head. This is definitely going to be making an appearance at the book swap club.
Must do better next year - what a paltry list of books read!