Nowhere to Lay One’s Head by Francoise Frenkel: “In 1921, Françoise Frenkel a Jewish woman from Poland opens Berlin’s very first French bookshop. It is a dream come true. The bookshop attracts artists and diplomats, celebrities and poets. It brings Françoise peace, friendship and prosperity. Then one summer’s day in 1939 Berlin’s Jewish shops and businesses are smashed to pieces. The dream ends, and Françoise’s desperate, headlong flight from Nazi persecution begins”.
This memoir was a recent Book of the Week on Radio 4 and I read it because it’s a period of history I’m interested in. It was a straightforward read, but I couldn’t help but feel it was all a little too glib. Surely, when hiding from the Nazis, she would have experienced sheer terror and somehow that never comes across. Whenever she’s in a tight spot, there always seemed to be a rescuer waiting in the wings. Also, I want to why, given that she was married, there’s no mention of her husband.
My Glory Was I had Such Friends by Amy Silverstein: “Nearly twenty-six years after receiving her first heart transplant, Amy Silverstein’s donor heart plummeted into failure. If she wanted to live, she had to take on the grueling quest for a new heart—immediately. A shot at survival meant uprooting her life and moving across the country to California. When her friends heard of her plans, there was only one reaction: “I’m there.” Nine remarkable women put demanding jobs and pressing family obligations on hold to fly across the country and be by Amy’s side. Creating a calendar spreadsheet, the women—some of them strangers to one another—passed the baton of friendship, one to the next, and headed straight and strong into the battle to help save Amy’s life.”
I was attracted to this book by it’s title, which is part of one of my favourite quotations from W B Yeats. Its subject matter notwithstanding, I really enjoyed reading this book. I learnt so much about what it’s like to live with a donor organ and what happens to the other parts of the recipient’s body – things that I’d never fully considered before. The strength that Silverstein found from her sisterhood of 9 friends was both remarkable and inspirational.
My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella (Kindle): I saw this reviewed on Melissa‘s blog and thought it might be something I might enjoy. “What if you were struggling to make it in London? What if your boss seemed to have the perfect life? What if your own social media was… ahem… slightly idealized?” The central character Katie (or Cat, as she calls herself in her London life) wasn’t very likeable to begin with, but once she had an unexpected sabbatical back at home in Somerset, she became much more personable. I whipped through this over two evenings and decided I neither loved it nor hated it. It would make a perfect beach read,