February is the month of love! Members of our library team have chosen the books with relationships that resonate for Valentine’s Day. So whether you prefer Frog Music or Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows, expect passion, class, complication, tragedy, murder and lust.
The Rosie Project Series by Graeme Simsion
The Rosie Project Series (The Rosie Project, The Rosie Effect and The Rosie Result) explore the quest of the protagonist’s search for the perfect partner. Don is a genetics professor and has a somewhat quirky approach to life (which may or may not be due to autism). He believes the way to find his perfect match is to use a questionnaire to weed out the women who do not fulfil his criteria. During his quest, however, he meets a woman called Rosie who – although does not appear to tick all of his boxes – may actually be the one person who truly understands and accepts him.
The books are all written with great humour and at times are extremely poignant.
Ross Poldark by Winston Graham
Ross returns from America to find that his father has died and the girl he loved is engaged to his cousin. Despite turbulent family relationships, he grows close to Verity who has her own challenges.
He struggles with the upper classes, to which he belongs, and his greater affinity to the lower class mining families.
Then he takes in a young girl who causes drastic changes in his home relationships, as their perception of one another changes as she becomes a woman.
Full of love, hate, joy and trials, this book shows you how relationships can be… for better and worse.
The Lovers Of Amherst et al by William Nicholson
William Nicholson has a rare gift for writing reality. That’s why I enjoy the relationships within his novels, because they’re complicated, silly and sometimes heart-breaking, just like everyone else’s.
If you like period dramas, poetry and forbidden passion try The Lovers Of Amherst. Teen romance more you’re thing, with plenty of angst and laughs along the way? I’d recommend you get to know Rich and Mad.
If, like me, you enjoy a touch of reality, where lovers have wobbly bits and insecurities, sex is squeezed in around family life and comfort and security sometimes triumph over passion and romance, then you might like to sample his All The Hopeful Lovers series, set locally and recognisable to anyone juggling love, family and all the rest that life throws at us.
Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal
A lively, sexy, and thought-provoking East-meets-West story about community, friendship, and women’s lives at all ages.
Every woman has a secret life… and the proper Sikh widows of this book have a wealth of fantasies and memories to share in their creative writing class. Although the women are warned to keep their stories secret from the Brotherhood (a group of highly conservative young men who have appointed themselves the community’s “moral police”), some of the class erotica is shared among friends, and it sparks a scandal that threatens them all.
I really loved these widows finding a voice and changing their lives through the writing and sharing of their erotic stories. A great alternative Valentines read!
Days Without End by Sebastian Barry
When I began reading this novel about the American Civil War, I didn’t expect the first chapter to introduce me to two teenage orphan boys, who dress up as women to sell chaste dances to miners in a saloon!
Thomas and John find genuine acceptance and intimacy with each other amidst great brutality and a truly gruelling existence. The makeshift family they create (with a little orphaned Sioux girl named Winona) is really touching. The prose shifts effortlessly between the two extremes of human interaction; shocking acts of violence and selfless acts of love.
Frog Music by Emma Donoghue
Described by Donoghue as “a crazy quilt of fact and fiction” and set in the grimy technicolour of 1870s San Francisco. A city overwhelmed by drought and smallpox where unwanted babies are sent to “farms” and left to die in squalor.
The story focuses on the real murder of frog-catching, cross-dressing Jenny Bonnet “part boy, part clown, part animal” and unlikely detective Blanche Beunon – burlesque dancer and sex worker.
In a flourish of dramatic irony, Jenny is shot dead in the first few pages, then in a series of flashbacks you can’t help falling in love with both her, Blanche and their emerging relationship.
This is often harsh historical fiction, sweltering, stinking and sexy. Especially for fans of Alias Grace; Tipping The Velvet; The Sisters Brothers and True Grit.
Have you read any of the books featured in this feature? If so we’d love to hear what you thought! Leave your reviews in the comments below. Missed January’s book reviews? Catch up on them here.
You can find out more about libraries in East Sussex by visiting the East Sussex County Council website.