Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Border | Kapka Kassabova

This book is a page turner from the start. Not in a conventional way, but because of the people you meet in it's pages, the landscape which speaks with a unique voice and the beauty of the writing.
The Border refers to the only remaining patrolled, fenced border in Europe, that between Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey. Throughout history it has been a region of conflict and violence as people try and escape into Europe. The conflict between Islam and Christianity has waged war in the valleys and deep forest of the area, creating displaced people, abandoned villages and many life histories altered by the Border.

Kassabova lived in Bulgaria, later emigrating with her family to New Zealand. From there she returned to Europe as an adult and pursued a writing career.

She has an amazing ability to meet people, empathise with them and in turn tell their stories in a beautiful way which enlightens the reader. There is so much history in this area.

Kassabova travels mainly by car around the region engaging local guides to show her the local sights and personalities. There is a very useful map in the front, where you can follow her travels.
I'd love to see an illustrated version of this book as the landscape is a character in itself.

Best of 2017

Another year rolls by and another list for you to enjoy. These are my favourite reads of the year, which I will review individually as soon as possible. Here they are:

Border by Kapka Kassabova
Home fire by Kamila Shamsie
Tess by Kirsten McDougall
Risingtidefallingstar by Philip Hoare (note the tittle is correct, one long word!)
Cause of Death by Cynric Temple-Camp
The Longevity List by Merlin C Thomas
Island Home by Tim Winton
The Dry by Jane Harper
The Good People by Hannah Kent
The Ocean at the end of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce
The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery
See you in September by Charity Norman
Under a Pole Star by Steph Penny
One of us by Tawni O'Dell
The Friendship Highway by Charlie Carroll
Don't close your eyes by Holly Seddon
A voyage for madmen by Peter Nichols
Moonglow by Michael Chabon
The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel
The Double Blind by Chris Bohjalian
Close your eyes, hold hands byChris Bohjalian
Perfect Little Life by Kevin Wilson
The Story of a New Zealand River by Mary Jane Mander
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land
Rush Oh! by Shirley Barrett
The Infinite Air by Fiona Farrell
Enduring Grace by Carol Lee Flinders
A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline
Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr
The Telling room by Michael Paterniti
About Grace by Anthony Doerr
The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian
The Party Line by Sue Orr
Flood of Fire by Amitav Ghosh
The Village at the End of the Empire by Fiona Farrell

Monday, August 14, 2017

A Voyage for Madmen | Peter Nichols

I love a good sailing story as they contain plenty of adventurous people who are just a little bit mad. But in this book, wow, most of them are off the scale.

This is the true story of the first round-the-world yacht race. It was sponsored by the Sunday Times and was called the Golden Globe race and was seen as the last frontier: to sail singlehandedly around the world non-stop and without any assistance.

Nine men left England in 1968 and only one made it across the line (1969).

The men involved are what is amazing about this book. Each is researched and are well drawn, making us part of each man's personal journey and in the quest to win. Some had a background in the navy, some as weekend sailors, one had never sailed before...the world was a different place then!

Nothing like this race could happen now, as back then there was no GPS technology, not health and safety hounds, not much required other than the will to go on a huge voyage and try to survive in a small boat.

Much has been written about this race and the outcomes so there's not much point repeating information here but it is worth saying that if you want a good book to read, full of the challenges one must face in solitude, agains all odds, this is a great book  to read. The last of the great sea adventures.