I have chosen them because I really enjoyed them, even though they are not yet especially well known. Each book is completely different, and each book left me feeling that it had, in some way changed my view of myself or the world. Each author is also known to me through the network I have become a small part of since I started writing.
My first chosen book is 'A Bird in the House' by Bronwen Griffiths. Bronwen lived in Hastings for over 15 years and published this novel in 2014.
The story tells how refugee doctor, Mohamed, flees war-torn Libya with his young son, Ahmed, after the tragic death of his wife. They find themselves in a Sussex coastal town, similar to Hastings, where author Bronwen lived for many years. Ahmed stumbles into the seemingly tranquil world of widow, Betty, who has been left to cope with her seven-year-old great-niece for the summer. Just as life begins to settle, Mohamed makes the dangerous journey back to Tripoli, where he is faced with the devastation the war has wreaked on those around him. For Betty, the conflict threatens to unearth skeletons from a past she would rather forget.
I loved the way the two countries and their ways of life are woven together throughout the plot. Bronwen uses her local knowledge to create settings for her story which are atmospheric and highly credible. She also describes the actions, words and feelings of the children in the story in a way which shows genuine empathy. Most special was the way that she increased my ability to imagine the life of a refugee and, indeed, of those people who are close to them. The book is immensely readable, easy to pick up, hard to put down, and I highly recommend it.
You can hear Bronwen read an excerpt from her books and answer questions at the Writer's Cafe, Wickham Bistro, Bexhill at 7pm on 19th October 2017.