Review | The Amber Heart | Catherine Czerkawska

The Amber Heart is a love story in an historical setting. Maryanne and Piotro are the star-crossed lovers who are kept apart by wealth (or lack of it), social class and convention. The novel spans their entire lives and you find yourself drawn into their world, sharing their emotions, passions and frustrations.

The historical setting is Poland in the nineteenth century and there is sufficient detail, based on the author's personal researches into her own heritage, to make the story interesting and to create an unusual background without turning into a history textbook.

The writing is clear and direct and the entire book is well presented. The author has skilfully and plausibly presented the dilemmas faced by the two main characters and she has the ability to sustain this throughout this substantial novel. The supporting characters are developed well and dialogue is naturalistic and convincing. All the loose ends are competently tied up by the end of the story and there is a good sense of satisfaction as you finish the book that everything has been resolved.

An excellent holiday read or for any other time you want to loose yourself in a good book.

Review | I Know You Will Find Me | David Harris Wilson

I have already read and enjoyed Tales of Johan by David Harris Wilson and although it is a very different type of novel I have enjoyed reading I Know You Will Find Me as well. The story-line is familiar: there has been a pandemic and society is falling apart. The protagonist, biology teacher Peter, has lost track of his son and in the process of searching for him acquires a surrogate family. There are however some unexpected twists in the tale which moves along at a good pace with some tense, breath-holding moments. I liked Peter, the teacher, and his attempts to explain the pandemic and the situation, anticipate the future and explain away his actions. As a teacher he seemed real; as a survivor (like most of us I suspect) he struggles. The supportive cast are well written with sufficient detail to make the novel interesting but this is overwhelmingly Peter's story. As you read you share his confusion, his worries, his hopes and his desolation; by the end of the novel you feel you know him well and you really hope that somehow everything will turn out alright for him. I thought I Know You Will Find Me was a real page-turner and it would make a great holiday read.