Here’s the lady on the camel, Darlene Jones, with her recommendations for your holiday reading list.
Tis the season to curl up with an afghan, a cup of hot chocolate (or a rum toddy) and indulge in a feel-good read. Here are three books I love. The stories are not all sunshine and laughter, but they will leave you with a sense of having met new friends, learned new things, and, most importantly, with the satisfaction that comes from having spent your reading time wisely.
Domingo’s Angel by Jenny Twist. A survey showed that the most important aspect of a fiction novel to readers is that they learn. Domingo’s Angel fills the bill perfectly. The reader learns about conditions in Spain during Franco’s rule through the lives of villagers in the mountains and the young foreign girl who arrives on their doorstep. The story is beautiful, heartbreaking, and haunting. The characters, depicted so vividly, stay with the reader long after the book is done. This is one I will reread. Do pick up a copy. You won’t be disappointed. Note: The events in this story are based on the real experiences of the people of the White Villages in Southern Spain and their struggle to keep their communities alive through the years of war and the oppression of Franco’s rule.
The Palaver Tree by Wendy Unsworth. Subtle, direct, gentle, and jarring, The Palaver Tree takes the reader on an incredible journey from the safety of small town England to the dangers of Africa. But, for Ellie, Diane, and Tiffany, England isn’t safe either as the wily and unscrupulous Gabriel cons them all. And the Africa Ellie comes to know and love—the friends she makes and the children she teaches—cannot protect her from the dangers of either Gabriel or rioting as rebels attempt a coup to overturn the government. I’ve lived and traveled in Africa and found this book taking me down memory lane. Thankfully, I never had to face the dangers Ellie faced. If you’re looking for a good read, that takes “ordinary” people into extraordinary circumstances, this is it. Note: Watch for Wendy’s new book, Beneathwood, coming out in November.
And my favorite book of all: Mixed Marriage by Elizabeth Cadell. Written in 1969, it’s a timeless rendition of family (you’ll be thinking of your own as you read) and clash of cultures as a young British girl plans her marriage to a young Portuguese man. Moving to Portugal, meeting his family, learning the language—all of it told in diary entry format—makes for one of the rare books that has me laughing out loud every time I read it. If you can get your hands on a copy, all I can say is, lucky you.
Merry Christmas and Happy Reading to all.
Visit her website at www.emandyves.com