Book Review: Sweet Delicious Madness and the Many Mysterious Deaths of Silvio Berlusconi by Julie Sarff

Sweet Delicious Madness and the Many Mysterious Deaths of Silvio BerlusoniThe best time to start planning a holiday and dreaming of far-away places is always during the first few months of the year: Christmas is all but forgotten; the weather’s mostly miserable; and summer seems a distant dream.  So reading about a hot and sunny location like Italy seemed the perfect pick-me-up.  Although rain appears to be far more frequent in Italy than I had previously imagined, as this story approaches its conclusion and the summer heat descends I found myself basking in the imaginary sunlight streaming from my Kindle screen.  The more the characters gasped in the humidity, the better I felt.

The strong sense of place is the best thing about this intriguingly titled ebook.  The author, Julie Sarff, tells me that she once lived in Italy for a time, and it shows.  You get a really good feel for the country’s culture-clash of modern and traditional values, as well as discovering its colourful people.

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Book Review: Wild Swans by Jung Chang

Wild Swans by Jung ChangReading this book, totally caught up with the unfolding terror, I kept thinking that Wild Swans ought to be a set text in schools.  I am shocked at how ignorant I was about China and its history.  The events of the country’s last century alone would have kept me enthralled with horror during my history lessons if they had been mentioned on the curriculum.

The novel recounts the lives of three generations of women: the writer Jung Chang, her mother, and her grandmother.  In her youth, her grandmother lived the traditionally repressed life expected of a Chinese woman of her time, with no voice and no freedom.  She was forced to become a concubine to increase her father’s power and standing in society, but was lucky to escape this “gilded cage” when her daughter was two years old and was eventually able to forge a new life somewhat more on her own terms.

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