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Package Deals: A literary journey around the world

  • Submitted: 29th December 2015

This has been a good year in fiction. The places we’ve been and the people we’ve met!

The joy of reading has been quite a journey this year – with a varied array of passengers along the way. From the Girl on the Train (snooping from a train window has never been so chilling) to a mechanical octopus in TheWatchmaker of Filigree Street.

We’ve sailed to Portugal with Rebecca Mascull, drank tea in Ceylon with Dinah Jefferies and worn taffeta bonnets with Sophia Tobin who told us of The Widow’s Confession – and what a story it was.

But let’s now have a top ten of literary gems that have dropped into our hands this year. In no particular order as well, it’s like choosing your favourite child  – here is the booktrail best:




Wolf Winter

Cecilia Ekback

The premise of entering the homes and minds of the Swedish laplanders in 1717 is enthralling and as their lifestyle and belief system is revealed then the whole landscape becomes one of intrigue, folklore and the battle between good and evil.

This was one of the most evocative books read this year with the snowy chill of the mountains and the faint howling of the wolves audible as I turned the pages.




Rembrandt’s Mirror

Kim Devereux

I loved this for so many reasons. The chance to get inside the mind of a genius for one and the minds of the women who loved him. The women who shared his life, his mad moments, his obsessions and his moods. This was one fascinating book and one of the most beautiful to be honest with a gold primed cover and gold page edges, this book was a piece of art in itself. I was particularly thrilled to feel the crisp pages – just like those of the olden days. My reading experience was complete. The story told via the man’s most famous paintings. Genius!



Close to the Philippines

Lucy Clarke

This book worked on so many levels with us. I think it was the sense of adventure that Lana and Litty have when they board a yacht in the Philippines. The crew are unknown to them but they are invited to join them for the adventure of a lifetime.  Paradise may be the long days sailing, catching fish for dinner, drinking on deck and swimming or it could easily turn into something dark – where sailing becomes a race to safety,  where it’s not just the fish being hunted…and where drinking and swimming in the middle of nowhere can be the last thing you ever do.

Talk about wiping  through the pages to see where this all would lead. I loved this book and loved taking to Lucy about her inspiration for such a ride!



A Place Called Winter

Patrick Gale

Inspired by a real life family mystery of a family member who emigrated to Canada, Patrick Gale has drawn a sobering picture of love, family duty, self discovery and hope.

Harry Cane is a quiet unassuming man living in London and married to respectable Winnie Wells. But behind the facade, the dark truth is bubbling. Harry is soon forced to leave everything behind and to emigrate to the Canadian prairies at the very time that the railways were booming.

I felt as if this was one of the most personal books I’d read this year and I was humbled to have discovered some of the author ‘s family history. The history and family emotions in this book are so raw and poignant that I really think it’s one of my top books on the year and one I’d recommend to everyone.



The Tea Planter’s Wife

Diniah Jefferies

We loved The Separation here at the booktrail and to be honest love the TeaPlanter’s Daughter even more. This is such an evocative story in every sense of the word that the tea leaves fluttered from each and every page as I read. The story itself is epic and inspired by real events so even more shocking. The rich poetic writing was a joy to read and I savoured this book and lingered over it. The story of a young girl moving to a tea plantation in former Ceylon with a husband she has barely met has so many twists and turns – from the fate of the plantation workers to the shady history of the husband that I read with as few breaks as possible. When it was announced that it was one of the Richard and Judy book club picks for 2015, I cheered. How well deserved!


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