Things we Choose to Hide

50544743._SY475_On the rebound at the end of a long-term relationship, Rachel flees to friends in Florence – and falls in love with handsome, albeit secretive, Tommaso. They marry within weeks. It seems a rash decision for such an independent, intelligent woman with career prospects – plans she has no intention of giving up or changing for the preferences of a man bound by Italian convention. And this especially since she’s given up everything to stay in Italy with her new husband; to learn his first language, make new friends, and pursue her photography career in a foreign country rather than on home ground in Scotland.
Unease grows within the relationship when Rachel discovers her husband is keeping secrets. During a low time, Rachel travels to India to revisit the places she grew up as a child. The poverty and spirituality she experiences there and a sympathetic meeting-of-minds through the Catholic priest, Pasha, contrasts sharply with the rich scenery and her privileged, more formal way of life in Italy. As Tommaso’s complex secrets come to light and disaster strikes, Rachel must find great reserves of character to keep afloat, both emotionally and practically. Her reward – eventually – is to discover love in the most unexpected of places.
The great strength and appeal of this book lies in the rich descriptive knowledge the author brings to the locations: the food, the people, and the culture, without detracting from the story. I did sense some detachment from the main character from time to time, where a little more depth might have convinced me more assuredly of her emotions and motivations. Otherwise, a well written novel with ambitious scope. Great escapism.

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Daughters of the Lake

24715963A Classy, Contemporary Family Drama.
Eager to celebrate an anniversary and announce her news, Madalena requests the company of her four adult children and their respective partners to her hotel in majestic Switzerland. These relationships are mightily dysfunctional and complex. The reasons behind the indifference between self-obsessed Portia and her neurotic, flat-chested pianist sister, Vienne; Annie’s sexual confusion and Lawrences’ loss of direction in life, are slowly unravelled. The arrival of Portia’s confused thirteen-year-old daughter –  expelled from school – adds to the discord as old family secrets threaten to implode.
I’m not sure I really liked any these people but I was desperately interested in their plight! I thought some of the narrative a little dialogue heavy here and there, and perhaps some of the revelations were not fully explored as the number of characters and the plot tended to take over. A lot of characters are introduced fairly early on so one needs to pay attention and I admit to starting this one a couple of times. Overall though, I really enjoyed the book and intend to seek other works by this author.

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