Katherine – Anya Seton

Katherine - Anya Seton
Katherine – Anya Seton

I devoured any and all of Anya Seton’s novels that I could lay my hands on in my later teenage years.

Returning to Katherine, her telling of the story of Katherine de Roet, later Lady Swynford, and John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, I found it less enthralling and more of a Mills & Boon mediaeval romance; a lengthier version of an Elizabeth Chadwick historical novel, with a slightly later, 14th century Plantagenets, setting.

Publisher page: Katherine – Anya Seton

The Three-Arched Bridge – Ismail Kadare

The Three-Arched Bridge - Ismail Kadare
The Three-Arched Bridge – Ismail Kadare

Legends, history and changes from 14th century Arberia, wrought around the construction of a bridge to span the wicked waters of the Ujana, the Ujana e Keqe.

Pre trip reading, I enjoyed this far more than Ismail Kadare’s The Accident, memories of which were still rather putting me off embarking on this short novella.

The story draws on the legend of a woman being immured in the walls of Rozafa Castle in Shkodër, which is on our itinerary so I’m glad I managed to read The Three-Arched Bridge before we head off to Tirana and thence north into The Accursed Mountains.

Publisher’s page: The Three-Arched Bridge – Ismail Kadare (Translated from the Albanian by John Hodgson)

Days Without End – Sebastian Barry

Days Without End - Sebastian Barry
Days Without End – Sebastian Barry

This has been on my reading list for yonks. I can’t remember where I read the rave reviews – one of the Guardian’s “Books of the Year” or “Summer/Winter Reading Recommendations” possibly.

I found it hard going. A great story – two young Irish men, boys really when they arrive as immigrants fleeing famine. Travelling West, and still pre-teen, they meet and find work as saloon bar entertainers. In time they become soldiers, first in the Indian Wars and later in the Civil War.

So why hard going? The oral history style. Once I’d got used to it, and was caught up in the stories, I was OK. But it didn’t work as a “one chapter before bed” type of read.

Publisher page: Days Without End – Sebastian Barry

The Narrow Road to the Deep North – Richard Flanagan

The Narrow Road to the Deep North - Richard Flanagan
The Narrow Road to the Deep North – Richard Flanagan

Oh, how I loved this novel.

An Australian (Tasmanian?)’s take on the Burma Railway and the brutal treatment of Australian PoWs in World War II.

But more than that: A love story; love stories.

Beautiful.

Author’s webpage: The Narrow Road to the Deep North – Richard Flanagan