Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover

September – October 2023 Reading Round Up

After a month away from interviewing, I started back in September in earnest. The below are mostly books for the podcast (only Fair Rosaline was read without a plan to interview) however they were all books I wanted to read regardless.

All books are works of fiction.

Book cover of Celina Baljeet Basra's Happy Book cover of Elizabeth Fremantle's Disobedient Book cover of Maggie Brookes' Acts Of Love And War Book cover of Natasha Solomons' Fair Rosaline Book cover of Stacey Thomas' The Revels

Celina Baljeet Basra: Happy – Happy, of Jalandhar, in a spot that used to be his parents’ land but was sold to a theme park, is looking to move to Europe; he writes his thoughts in various different voices and looks forward to a hopeful film career. But to reader things may seem a bit different. This is an intriguingly told story of migration and poor environments – the narrative takes some getting used to but once you’re there the story opens to you completely, and there is a poignant ending involved.

Elizabeth Fremantle: Disobedient – Artemisia Gentileschi is growing up under the art tutelage of her father, Orazio; they are loosing money and have to move but Artemisia’s talent is eclipsing her father’s and the family is okay. But in the 1600s women are owned and not at all independent and when her father starts bringing around another painter, trying to ingratiate himself into a bigger project, the man takes a liking to her. A richly detailed historical tale, Fremantle brings her story of survival to life.

Maggie Brookes: Acts Of Love And War – British brothers Tom and Jamie decide to go to Spain during the civil war, each of them supporting a different side; Lucy, loving both of them, finds herself seeking to travel also, to try and get them to come home, but when a fellow teacher introduces her to the work Quaker volunteers are doing in Spain, Lucy adopts a second purpose – she will find the men but in the process help the lives of a great many refugee children. A good look at the Spanish Civil War from a perspective not well known, with a different romantic thread and arguably great ending.

Natasha Solomons: Fair Rosaline – Where was Rosaline in those days when Romeo and Juliet were together? In this tale, Solomons shows us the time of the play through the eyes of the forgotten cousin, matching many of the scenes with her own and creating others that fit until a point where she changes it to suit. This is a wonderful, wonderful book that shows the original story in the light the author feels is Shakespeare’s purpose – and given the new things we’ve learned about Shakespeare it’s very possible. Romeo is not a good guy, Juliet is the young teenager she is, and things are fair from peachy.

Stacey Thomas: The Revels – When Nicholas’ brother dies, his father summons him home; he’s to journey with Judge Percival, looking into witch trials. But what no one knows is that Nicholas meets the criteria for being a witch; the dead sing of the manner of their death, and Nicholas hears it. He must work with this knowledge, all the while knowing the many women put to death are innocent. But when he meets Althamia, he starts to wonder about his gift, and when he meets her cousin, this gift starts to become very insistent. A beautifully told tale – good storytelling and incredibly fitting prose, that looks at the witch trials of Britain from both a different point of view, person-wise, and different angles, concept-wise. It’s difficult to explain without giving too much away – read it!

These were a good couple of months; I may have read less than I hoped to, but the reading experience was fantastic. I very much recommend Baljeet-Basra’s book to those looking for uniqueness – the narrative is very different to anything I’ve read previously; at most I’d say it’s a little like the chapter formatted to look like a tree in Zadie Smith’s NW, but it really is only slightly like it, it’s just the most apt comparison I can make. I was rather taken by Stacey Thomas’ prose, and I could and have waxed lyrical about Solomon’s retelling – I didn’t know any of the background before reading it and was surprised by it, but what the author has created is exceptional. No less praise for Elizabeth Fremantle and Maggie Brookes – the former’s work just keeps getting better and better, more and more focused, and the latter’s ending for this, her second novel, really was fab – bold for a book with such a focus on the romantic thread.

November has so far seen me read Jennifer Saint’s Atalanta, and Lucy Barker’s The Other Side Of Mrs Wood, both great. I’m also in the middle of Kristy Woodson Harvey’s The Wedding Veil which I got after loving The Summer Of Songbirds. And I’ve made a tentative start on Tomorrow, And Tomorrow, And Tomorrow – the gaming in it is rocking my reading sessions.



December 2, 2023, 4:14 pm

Hi Charlie, this looks like you have enjoyed a wonderful selection of books. I have enjoyed a couple of Fremantle’s novels, so I am particularly interested in Disobedient.

Blessings, Jessica 💌


December 8, 2023, 1:28 pm

If you’ve liked what you’ve read so far, you’ll most likely enjoy Disobedient, too. It’s a step up in Fremantle’s writing once more.



Comments closed