A big part of my holiday joy was in getting new books to read from family and friends,that special kind of present that can be opened again and again. Apart from the lovely book that my Bookish Secret Santa sent me(which I have finished in time for Christmas), this quartet of novels were grand to find under my tree and promise to get my new year of reading off to an excellent start.
One of them happens to be one of the most talked about books of 2017,The Power by Naomi Alderman. Set in a not-too-distant future, we follow several characters as the balance of the world shifts when women and teen girls develop the ability to shoot electrical bolts from their hands.
While many are thrilled to be empowered this way,such as Roxy, the illegitimate daughter of a British gangster who is finally getting the respect she always wanted, others are frightened by the repercussions like Allie, a foster child in America who flees to a convent for protection.
As the accusations of witchcraft and a plot against men grow, along with violent retribution from now fearful males,women around the globe find themselves having to find a way to band together to hold back the rising level of chaos that could destroy them all.
I've heard and read a variety of reviews about The Power,most of which were positive. Alderman's dynamic and thought provoking story has already won The Bailey's Prize for Women's Fiction earlier this year,plus it's on the New York Times list of Best Books of the year. It will be fun to check this out for myself and there is talk of an adaptation for British TV as well. This may sound like a comic book concept but the scary truth about our reality can come from the most unexpected places:
As the young Victoria struggles to shake loose the controlling grip of her mother's paramour Sir John Conroy and be seen as a solid ruler in her own right, the best ally she has on hand is Prime Minister Lord Melbourne. Under his advice, she begins to find some confidence in her own abilities yet the close connection to "Lord M", as she calls him, could undermine the acceptance of her authority.
With Season Two soon to air, reading this book will be a fine refresher course,not to mention a thumping good read by an author who is well invested in this savvy slice of historical fiction:
Going back to the future, the copy of Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time that I got for Christmas happens to a 40th anniversary edition. First published in 1976, the leading lady of this timely tale is Connie, who was forced into a mental institution due to her visions of a possible better world.
An envoy from the year 2137 named Luciente has been showing Connie a civilization where bias of all sorts has been eliminated and people are living their best lives. However, this is only one of many realities that may come to pass and Connie's actions in her present time may decide what course the future will ultimately take.
Marge Piercy is a well known feminist writer and poet,yet I've never read her work before. With this book, the perfect opportunity for me to become better acquainted with her is here and given the cultural climate these days, the timing is eerily perfect:
Jealous of her sister's beauty yet determined to love her, Orual does her best to save Psyche from what looks like a deadly fate. However, that interference backfires, causing Orual to hide her face from the world and despite becoming the queen of her own realm, is furious at the cruelty of the gods.
This was Lewis' last novel and one that even his literary rival J.R.R. Tolkien considered to be his best. As a fan of Greek mythology, this sounds amazing and any re-imaging of a classic legend is always worth exploring,especially in the capable hands of a thoughtful writer such as C.S. Lewis was:
These weren't the only gifts that I received this Christmas but I can't help being happy to have more to read. A couple of these titles will be saved for A Winter's Respite readathon this January(which I am looking forward to with great delight) yet at least one of them will be started before then.
Happy holidays to all out there and let's keep that good feeling going as long as possible. A good source of seasonal inspiration are books, which give far more than they receive like many of the best people in your life: