Monthly Archives: February 2017

BOOK REVIEW – The Liberation by Kate Furnivall

the-liberationKate Furnivall is known for her sweeping, epic novels and The Liberation will not disappoint those who’ve loved her previous books.

Set in a post WWII Italy that is struggling to find itself and regain some of its former glory, Furnivall artfully depicts what it must have been like to live in a post-war era. While one would imagine that once the war was over, things slowly got back to normal, the reality was very far from this. There is so much to wade through in order for the country to truly move forward, and this is what the author focuses on.

Caterina Lombardi’s family are a shattered shell. First her mother left them eleven years earlier, to run off with a man from a rival family (it’s Italy remember, they love and hate with equal passion); then two years earlier her father was killed when his woodworking workshop was bombed. She has been left to look after her blind grandfather and her younger brother, Luca. Thankfully her father passed on his carving skills and knowledge to Caterina and she’s able to create beautiful wood articles to sell in order to make a little money for them to survive on.

It is through her craft that she meets two soldiers, British Harry Fielding, and American Jake Parr, and discovers that although they primarily appear to merely be part of the Allied forces in Italy to help the country regain its footing, they’re actually intelligence officers on a much more disturbing mission.

What follows is an intricate and convoluted tale of corruption, greed, intrigue, deception and conspiracy in which Caterina must clear her late father’s name and uncover the truth about Italy’s stolen artworks. With Furnivall’s talent for descriptive narrative, we’re able to picture it all against a magnificent Italian backdrop that is still beautiful, despite being ravaged by war.

The cast of characters is quite a heavily populated one and it did take me some time to figure out who was who. But everyone is well defined. I had some difficulty with Caterina’s brother Luca, who at just 11 years old seemed to act far older than this, even when one took the effects of the war into account.

If you’re looking for something fast-paced then I wouldn’t suggest this. Even though it has that element of mystery, it’s quite drawn out and because of the extensive narrative the action tends to lose some of its impact.

However, for fans of this genre and author I’d highly recommend this. I give it a 3.5 to 4 star rating – because there are no half stars, I’m going the 4 star route!

My thanks to the author and TBC Reviewer Request Group (on FB) for my copy of this in return for an honest review.

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BOOK REVIEW – The Food of Love by Amanda Prowse

the-food-of-loveYou think you know your children better than anyone else, don’t you? You’d say you were close, wouldn’t you? That they’re willing to share everything with you, and come to you when they have a problem? That’s what Freya and Lockie think about their teenage daughters Charlotte and Lexi.

And then one day Freya gets a phone call from school and is asked to come in for a ‘meeting’ about Lexi. She’s not overly concerned. Lexi’s dyslexic and has had learning difficulties in the past but she’s overcome all of that and seems to be on a steady footing with her schoolwork now. But this isn’t about her schoolwork. There’s a concern that Lexi might be having an issue with food. Freya finds this notion utterly preposterous! She’s a food writer after all, someone who’s always been open about food, especially all things relating to healthy eating. And anyway, she has such a good relationship with her girls. She’d notice immediately if something wasn’t right.

But something is very, very wrong. 15-year-old Lexi has an extremely serious condition. She is obsessed with the concept of taking food into her body. She literally cannot even tolerate the thought and will do anything she can to avoid it. And it’s getting worse. So far she hasn’t been discovered, but how long until she is?

Of course, Lexi’s secret is eventually exposed and her family are horrified at the lengths she’ll go to to avoid eating. And so follows a terrifying journey into an unknown world of doctors, treatments, psychiatric hospitals, forced feeding, tough-love, online chatrooms, support groups … all associated with the dreaded word that Freya can barely bring herself to think, let alone say: Anorexia.

Along the way, they learn that Anorexia in fact, has less to do with food, and more to do with the psychological association that the person has with its intake. It’s about the power one can exert over oneself. She and Lockie increasingly clash over the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way to handle Lexi’s condition, Freya wanting to take the typical mother’s approach of nurturing and caring, not being able to bear seeing her child suffer, while Lockie prefers the stronger, tougher stance: don’t let her get away with it, if we’re stricter with her and show her who’s boss then it will all be fine! He feels that by being too soft on Lexi, she’s getting away with something that she shouldn’t be allowed to. But obviously it is far more complex than this.

This is a heartbreaking, often truly painful read of a family’s struggle with a devastating, destructive condition. Amanda Prowse is, as always, current and relevant. She writes honestly and with complete sincerity, making her characters so utterly believable and likeable that you feel like you just want to be there for them!

Highly recommended reading, especially for anyone who is a parent to teens (not just girls!), or who is involved in educating or mentoring teens. Yes, I’m well aware that this is a fictionalised account and professionals would obviously need to read up more academically based research on the topic. For those who are looking for a basic understanding of the subject, this is an excellent place to start.

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