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Library Loans January

Here is my first library loans post of the year. I started doing this as a way for me to share the many many books I've borrowed and loved from the library but didn't necessarily have time to review.

These are a selection of the books I borrowed from Norfolk Library Service, read and loved over the course of January.

Hearts and Minds by Jane Robinson

 Set against the colourful background of the entire campaign for women to win the vote, Hearts and Minds tells the remarkable and inspiring story of the suffragists' march on London.

1913: the last long summer before the war. The country is gripped by suffragette fever. These impassioned crusaders have their admirers; some agree with their aims if not their forceful methods, while others are aghast at the thought of giving any female a vote.

Meanwhile, hundreds of women are stepping out on to the streets of Britain. They are the suffragists: non-militant campaigners for the vote, on an astonishing six-week protest march they call the Great Pilgrimage. Rich and poor, young and old, they defy convention, risking jobs, family relationships and even their lives to persuade the country to listen to them.

This is a story of ordinary people effecting extraordinary change. By turns dangerous, exhausting and exhilarating, the Great Pilgrimage transformed the personal and political lives of women in Britain for ever. Jane Robinson has drawn from diaries, letters and unpublished accounts to tell the inside story of the march, against the colourful background of the entire suffrage campaign.

Fresh and original, full of vivid detail and moments of high drama, Hearts and Minds is both funny and incredibly moving, important and wonderfully entertaining.

My long term followers will know I'm a history fan. I couldn't teach it without being super geeky over it. I'm a modern history at heart and thanks to my history teacher I love anything involving the suffragettes. Luckily for me there seems to be an enormous amount of books being published this year and I was so glad I started with this one. 

Hearts and Minds looks at the stories of the ordinary women of the suffrage campaign with more of an emphasis on the work of the suffragist movement. I loved it because it gave me a real insight into the suffragist campaign which I never knew much about and having read this book I was all the poorer for not knowing more about them. Their efforts and resilience was amazing and I was over awed learning about the efforts they went to to secure women the vote, tackling the issue in a calmer manner than their militant counterparts in the suffragettes. I particularly loved learning about the role of Elizabeth Garrett Andersen in the campiaign having only come across her previously as the first women to qualify as a doctor in the UK. 

I also loved this book because of the stories of individuals involved with the campaign, both suffragette and suffragist such as the story of the suffragette who refused to wear her prison outfit as a protest for not being treated as a political prisoner and sat in her cell naked and when they authorities tried to put her in a straitjacket as a punishment she was so slim that she just wriggled out of it.

In short I loved it and I can definitely see me picking up my own copy sooner rather than later.

The Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan

Dreams start here...

'Charming, made me long to escape to Mure. Total joy.' - Sophie Kinsella

On the quayside next to the Endless Beach sits the Summer Seaside Kitchen. It's a haven for tourists and locals alike, who all come to eat the freshest local produce on the island and catch up with the gossip. Flora, who runs the cafe, feels safe and content - unless she thinks too hard about her relationship with Joel, her gorgeous but emotionally (and physically) distant boyfriend.

While Flora is in turmoil about her relationship. her best friend Lorna is pining after the local doctor. Saif came to the island as a refugee, having lost all of his family. But he's about to get some shocking news which will change everything for him.

As cold winter nights shift to long summer days, can Flora find her happy-ever-after with Joel?

I love a Jenny Colgan book. Having only discovered her in the last year or so she's now one of my most read authors of all time as I'm managed to work my way through a significant chunk of her backlist. The Endless Beach is set back on the Isle of Mure and back to the story of Flora from The Summer Seaside Kitchen. It's a perfect sequel to that book but what I love about Jenny's books is that even if you haven't read the previous book she includes a summary at the front of her books to remind you who everyone is and what happened in the previous book so you don't have to spend the first few chapters clueless. I loved getting back to Mure and spending more time with the characters.

Still Me by Jojo Moyes

Louisa Clark arrives in New York ready to start a new life, confident that she can embrace this new adventure and keep her relationship with Ambulance Sam alive across several thousand miles. She is thrown into the world of the superrich Gopniks: Leonard and his much younger second wife, Agnes, and a never-ending array of household staff and hangers-on. Lou is determined to get the most out of the experience and throws herself into her job and New York life within this privileged world.

Before she knows what's happening, Lou is mixing in New York high society, where she meets Joshua Ryan, a man who brings with him a whisper of her past. In Still Me, as Lou tries to keep the two sides of her world together, she finds herself carrying secrets--not all her own--that cause a catastrophic change in her circumstances. And when matters come to a head, she has to ask herself Who is Louisa Clark? And how do you reconcile a heart that lives in two places?

I read the first book in this series years ago and only managed to get to the sequel in the middle of last year when I picked it up in the library on a whim. I liked the previous two well enough but didn't get completely obsessed with them like other people seemed to. I did however really love this. I loved seeing Louisa as she goes out into the world and I loved following her New York adventure complete with the crazy super rich people she ends up working for. For me it was a lovely read which I really enjoyed and one I think could happily be read as a standalone.