Sue recommends…

I particularly like books that weave the history of a country through the story, giving an insight into different cultures. Here is my ‘short-list’:

Patrick Gale, Notes from an Exhibition
This book tells the story of a troubled and mentally ill artist, Rachel Kelly, who dies, leaving behind for her family a legacy of secrets and emotional damage. The book leads the reader through the artist’s life and the impact she had on those around her. I was not expecting to enjoy this book because of its sometimes harrowing insight into mental illness, but found that I could not put it down and enjoyed it immensely.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Purple Hibiscus
This novel is at heart a family drama, but also a look at race, politics, social unrest and religious fanaticism. 15 year-old Kambili and her older brother Jaja lead a privileged life in Nigeria. As the country begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili and Jaja are sent away to their aunt, where they discover a life beyond the confines of their father’s tyrannical authority. It is a moving and intriguing story with the promise of freedom both for Kambili and for her country.

Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy
This is my absolute all-time favourite book! It is not for the faint-hearted as it is quite a tome of a book but, I think, well-worth the investment of time to read it.
It is essentially a love story about Lata and her mother who are both trying to find a suitable boy for Lata to marry. The novel paints a thoughtful, detailed and complex picture of post-independence India, with all the variable aspects of its culture. The richness of the book is wonderful, and I found it to be a fascinating read, one that I would happily read again and again.

Sue Mellerick

April – May 2020