Books to enjoy this month

THE CHILDREN’S BOOK by A. S. Byatt in paperback at 10 euros

Shortlisted for the 2009 Booker Prize, this received fantastic reviews when it came out in hardcover last year and, although it didn’t win the Booker, it’s definitely a must-read now it’s out in paperback.

Olive Wellwood is a famous writer, interviewed with her children gathered at her knee. For each of them she writes a separate private book, bound in different colours and placed on a shelf. In their rambling house near Romney Marsh they play in a storybook world but their lives, and those of their rich cousins and their friends, are already inscribed with mystery. Each family carries their own secrets.

This vivid, rich and moving saga is played out against the great events of the day, taking us from the Kent marshes to Paris and Munich and the trenches of the Somme. Born at the end of the Victorian era, growing up in the golden summers of Edwardian times, a whole generation grew up unaware of the darkness ahead.  Beautifully crafted, this is an unashamedly literary novel and a joy to linger over.

THE HORSE BOY – A Father’s Miraculous Journey to Heal His Son by Rupert Isaacson in paperback at 10 euros

An inspiring true story about a family’s quest to help their autistic son.  Rupert and Kirstin Isaacson were heartbroken when they learned that their two-year-old son Rowan was autistic. As he grew, Rowan became more isolated and experienced uncontrollable fits, and with each failed treatment, his parents became increasingly despondent.

Then one day Rowan escaped and ran into a field of horses. Rupert anticipated the worst but, as he watched anxiously, he saw a miracle occur. The horses responded lovingly to Rowan and he to them. Could Rowan’s affinity with these animals stop their son’s deterioration?

The Isaacsons left their home in Texas and travelled to the plains and mountains of Mongolia – the spiritual home of the horse – putting their future plans on hold.  This is a moving account of an arduous, epic horseback journey in search of a cure for Rowan and the healing power of horses. 

LAND OF MARVELS by Barry Unsworth in paperback at 10 euros

This acclaimed novel is set on the brink of World War I as an English archaeologist called Somerville is fulfilling a lifelong dream to direct an excavation in the desert of Mesopotamia. Forces beyond his control threaten his work as various interest groups are vying for control over the land and its treasures.

The Great War is looming and Somerville, whose intention is purely to discover and preserve the land’s ancient treasures, finds his idealism sorely tested. Naked ambition, treachery and greed are at play, in a thrilling adventure from one of the masters of the historical novel.