This Much Huxley Knows: A Story of Innocence, Misunderstandings and Acceptance by Gail Aldwin – #BookReview – Friendship Fiction

Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

This Much Huxley Knows by Gail AldwinI’m seven years old and I’ve never had a best mate. Trouble is, no one gets my jokes. And Breaks-it isn’t helping. Ha! You get it, don’t you? Brexit means everyone’s falling out and breaking up.

Huxley is growing up in the suburbs of London at a time of community tensions. To make matters worse, a gang of youths is targeting isolated residents. When Leonard, an elderly newcomer chats with Huxley, his parents are suspicious. But Huxley is lonely and thinks Leonard is too. Can they become friends?

Funny and compassionate, this contemporary novel for adults explores issues of belonging, friendship and what it means to trust. 

His Review:

Huxley is a very precocious young boy. His forté is understanding words by re-spelling them in his head. The fun in the story is his occasional misunderstanding of the meaning and the resultant chaos resulting from this error. His vocabulary is very advanced for his age group. However, in school he is often corrected by his teacher who recognizes his attempted faux pas, and he wonders why his jokes are curtailed.

This Much Huxley Knows by Gail AldwinHe has difficulty making friends. One of his friends is Leonard, a senior invalid in a wheelchair. Leonard understands his jokes and is often good for a small piece of chocolate. The adults in the school community take umbrage to his hanging around the school yard and giving candy to the children. Huxley cannot understand why he is restricted from seeing and visiting with Leonard.

The innocence of youth runs headlong into the wisdom of parents. He is told not to talk to Leonard or go near him. He is confounded by this directive and is hurt by his fathers’ lack of understanding about his friend. Many of the other parents, especially the fathers, take it upon themselves to correct the situation.

The story is replete with suspicion and innuendo. The ending is satisfied when the situation with Leonard is fully understood. Huxley is asked to curtail his visits with Leonard but still has the ability for an occasional visit. The author visits the situation from both the innocence of youth and the suspicion of the parents involved.

CE WilliamsThe manipulation of words by this young wordsmith make the reading fun and amusing. I highly recommend it. 5 stars – CE Williams

We received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are his honest opinions.

Book Details:

Genre: British Contemporary Literature, Friendship Fiction, Coming of Age Fiction
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
ASIN: B0944Q8SGV
Print Length: 217 pages
Publication Date: July 8, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: This Much Huxley Knows [Amazon]
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Gail Aldwin - authorThe Author: Gail Aldwin is a British writer who has lived and worked in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Uganda and Spain. As well as novels, short fiction and poetry, Gail co-writes short plays and comedy sketches with 3-She, a collaborative group of three women writers. Their shows have been staged at theatres and arts centres in South West England. Follow Gail on social media – she loves to interact with readers and writers.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/gailaldwin
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gailaldwinwriter/
Blog: https://gailaldwin.com

©2021 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Normal People: A Novel by Sally Rooney – #Audiobook Review – #literaryfiction – #readingirelandmonth21

Normal People by Sally Rooney

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Literature & Fiction

Book Blurb:

Connell and Marianne grew up in the same small town, but the similarities end there. At school, Connell is popular and well liked, while Marianne is a loner. But when the two strike up a conversation – awkward but electrifying – something life changing begins.

A year later, they’re both studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne has found her feet in a new social world while Connell hangs at the sidelines, shy and uncertain. Throughout their years at university, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. And as she veers into self-destruction and he begins to search for meaning elsewhere, each must confront how far they are willing to go to save the other.

Normal People is the story of mutual fascination, friendship, and love. It takes us from that first conversation to the years beyond, in the company of two people who try to stay apart but find that they can’t. 

My Review:

OMG, I HOPE that Marianne and Connell are NOT “normal” people.

The storyline begins while they are still in school in a small town in West Ireland. And then for the next four years, the plot revolves around each with their own POV, going to college in Dublin, meeting other people, discovering new talents or the lack thereof, and maturing, except in their relationship.

Normal People by Sally RooneyBoth knew they had a strong connection early on. But Connell hails from the other side of the tracks. He strongly feels his inferior place in her life—she is a daughter from a wealthy, entitled family. While he is the product of a poor mother who loves and supports him, her family is detached, dysfunctional. They each carry their upbringing on their shoulders. It weighs on them. But each time their lives cross, that mutual powerful attraction between them begins where it left off.

Then they go their separate ways again, each to new lovers or experiences, unsatisfying, incomplete, and, what do you know? Their lives cross again—and again—and still they deny the full disclosure of their feelings toward each other.

The plot explores the sharp divide between classes, bullying, dysfunctional families, self-esteem, and the baggage of childhood—left open ended.

Obvious from the beginning they love each other.

So GET OVER IT!

As the reader progresses through each meet up and hopes they’ll finally have that last, final, heart-to-heart going between them, the time wasted comes ever more sharply into focus.

Two intelligent adults. And the clock is ticking. Each get-together lacking that all too important communication. Tomorrow is not promised.

It’s downright depressing.

I didn’t realize I was in the conclusion until the whole story ended. There was no plot really, not necessary to tie anything up, it just ended. No change, no closure—there never was going to be one. What was the point? It’s one of those books that just left me—meh.

Book Details:

Genre: Coming of Age Fiction, Literary Fiction
Publisher:  Random House Audio
ASIN: B07PC2K62C
Listening Length: 7 hrs 34 mins
Narrator: Aoife McMahon
Publication Date: April 16, 2019
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Normal People [Amazon]

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Three Stars three stars

Sally Rooney - authorThe Author: SALLY ROONEY was born in the west of Ireland in 1991. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Granta and The London Review of Books. Winner of the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award in 2017, she is the author of Conversations with Friends and the editor of the Irish literary journal The Stinging Fly.

Aoife McMahan - narratorThe Narrator: Aoife McMahon was born in 1973 in Clare, Ireland. She is known for her work on Random Passage (2002), Broken (2017) and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (2013).

©2021 V Williams

In An Instant by Suzanne Redfearn – a #BookReview – #souls

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars

Book Blurb:

An Amazon Charts bestseller.

In An Instant by Suzanne RedfearnA deeply moving story of carrying on even when it seems impossible.

Life is over in an instant for sixteen-year-old Finn Miller when a devastating car accident tumbles her and ten others over the side of a mountain. Suspended between worlds, she watches helplessly as those she loves struggle to survive.

Impossible choices are made, decisions that leave the survivors tormented with grief and regret. Unable to let go, Finn keeps vigil as they struggle to reclaim their shattered lives. Jack, her father, who seeks vengeance against the one person he can blame other than himself; her best friend, Mo, who bravely searches for the truth as the story of their survival is rewritten; her sister Chloe, who knows Finn lingers and yearns to join her; and her mother, Ann, who saved them all but is haunted by her decisions. Finn needs to move on, but how can she with her family still in pieces?

Heartrending yet ultimately redemptive, In an Instant is a story about the power of love, the meaning of family, and carrying on…even when it seems impossible.

My Review:

Right from the git-go, you know this trip to Big Bear will not go well. It says so in the blurb.  As Finn Miller turns to gaze at her family, Mo her best friend, sister Choe’s boyfriend Vance, the neighbors and their daughter Natalie, and her brother’s dog Bingo, she realizes she is viewing the scene disconnected. And the scene, and her body, is not pretty.

In an Instant by Suzanne RedfearnThey had gotten to the cabin just fine with only a hint of snow, but had promised Oz, her brother, pancakes for dinner at their favorite resort restaurant and took off again, stopping to pick up a young man at his disabled auto. The snowstorm was becoming dangerous and before they could make the restaurant, circumstances slammed them into a guardrail and over the side of the mountain. It was to have been a long weekend of skiing and snowboarding and instead found them all struggling to survive.

Finn is trapped by the threads of life from everyone aboard, the emotional connection not as quickly severed as her death. Everything Finn has always thought about her family members, the neighbors–best friends of her parents for a long time–begins to twist what her sixteen years had made her believe. Finn can observe, hear, and even discern some of their thoughts and feelings, watching the scene unfold before her eyes as they move to secure her father then go about snugging in the camper van as best they can against the elements of the blizzard. Then they begin to differ on the next step.

Each character handles the trauma differently, Natalie totally detached, Finn’s mother surprisingly rising to the challenge along with Kyle, Mo resourceful. Who made selfless decisions and who abandoned any pretense of sharing or caring for more than their own? Extreme circumstances. Each of the characters are so well-developed you either rooted or loathed them, disbelieving the circumstances surrounding the neurologically handicapped thirteen-year-old Oz could happen. An argument in and of itself.

Underlying the main plot, that of survival under severely shocking conditions and different planes of injury, a sub-plot involving cross characters leads the well-paced storyline through rescue, examining how the characters handle the lingering post-trauma issues. Each character seeing the story through their own eyes, trying to come to an understanding, each playing a blame game. Guilt, loss, regrets. No do-overs.

How would you conduct yourself in similar circumstances? You can’t know until it happens and pray it never does. I’ve been exposed to extreme temps in the mid-west and I can tell you even plunging fingers into water to warm them, heralds some major pain. Freezing to death isn’t painless. Reading the Author’s Note at the end of the book tells her own story of the similar circumstances that formed the idea for her book. The responsibility of your own child can be crushing much less taking on the responsibility of another’s child.

After reading the review for In An Instant on Shalini’s Books & Reviews, I went scrambling to see if I could still get it on NetGalley. I could and did! (Shalini knows a winner when she reads it.) This one totally blew me away–glued and flipping the pages, reaching for tissues, alternately gasping and raging at small tragedies and shouting hoorahs at tiny victories. I am MOST grateful to have been provided this ARC by the publisher in exchange for a review. Totally recommending this heart-stopping narrative of the enduring human spirit and the experiences that shape each individual.

Book Details:

Genre: Coming of Age Fiction, Women’s Friendship Fiction
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

  • ISBN-10:1542006589
  • ISBN-13:978-1542006583
  • ASIN: B07NVD1276

Print Length: 326 pages
Publication Date: March 1, 2020
Source: BookBlogger referral, Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: In An Instant (Amazon)

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Rosepoint recommended

Suzanne Redfearn - authorThe Author: Suzanne is the bestselling author of three novels: In an Instant, No Ordinary Life, and Hush Little Baby.

Born and raised on the east coast, Suzanne moved to California when she was fifteen. She currently lives in Laguna Beach with her husband where they own two restaurants: Lumberyard and Slice Pizza & Beer. In addition to being an author, Suzanne is an architect specializing in residential and commercial design.

©2020 V Williams V Williams