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The Books I Read In April 2022: A Wrap Up

April was one of the best reading months I’ve had in a while. I managed to read 10 books and not one of them was below a 4 star. I read some brilliant books in April and quite a few five stars reads, which is rare for me!

Here’s a list of all the books I read in April 2022.

Godmersham Park by Gill Hornby

The book is based on a real diary written by Fanny Austen and tells the story of Anne Sharp, the lifelong friend of Jane Austen. It’s 1804 and Anne arrives at Godmersham Park to take up the position of governess to 12-year-old Fanny Austen. Anne has no work experience but after her mother dies and she suffers a change in fortune, she is desperate for work.

Fanny and Anne instantly build a connection but Anne finds the relationship with the rest of the household much harder to establish. She is neither family nor servant and so struggles to find her place at Godmersham. Preferring to keep herself to herself, she spends much of her time in her room with Fanny.

However, when the dashing Henry Austen and his sister Jane arrive, they take an instant interest in Anne. The governess finds it harder to maintain a polite distance from the family and finds herself falling in love.

What a charming book! It was a lovely change of pace from the books I’ve been reading lately and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Click here to read my full review of Godmersham Park by Gill Hornby.

Careless by Kirsty Capes

On a hot day in June in the 1990s, 15-year-old Bess discovers she’s pregnant. She knows she should tell someone, but who? She can’t tell her social worker Henry, he’s useless. Her foster mother Lisa, wouldn’t understand and would only lay the blame on her. She should tell Boy but she hasn’t spoken to him in weeks. Bess and her best friend Eshal stick together and try to think of a plan as Bess considers what to do next.

The story is beautifully written and the author has created vivid characters that are brave, compassionate and complicated. I loved this book and will definitely be looking out for more by Kirsty Capes.

Click here to read my full review of Careless by Kirsty Capes. 

Mrs England by Stacey Halls

It’s 1904 and Norland nanny Ruby May is posted to a remote home in Yorkshire, charged with caring for the four England children. The children are the offspring of a wealthy couple from a powerful dynasty of mill owners. Mr England is charismatic and welcoming but Mrs England is beautiful yet mysterious. Mrs England is not what Ruby expected. She is quiet, withdrawn and seems to lack any maternal feelings for her children. Her relationship with her husband is a strained one and Ruby is intrigued to know why she seems so detached from her family.

Ruby is concerned for the family as a whole but as strange events start to occur, Ruby feels quite isolated. The other servants ignore her and she’s not sure who she can trust. Ruby has secrets of her own and is desperate that the events from her mysterious past don’t catch up with her.

Stacey Hall’s novels always have a dark and menacing undertone which I just love. Her style of writing always captivates me and keeps me gripped until the final page. Mrs England had the same simmering tension and sense of foreboding as her previous novels and I really enjoyed it.

Click here to read my full review of Mrs England by Stacey Halls.

A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting by Sophie Irwin

After both her parents died and left them penniless and alone, Kitty Talbot and her sisters are worried for their future. Kitty, the eldest sibling, knows that in order to secure their financial future, she needs to find a rich husband. With only 12 weeks until the bailiffs come knocking, Kitty needs to quickly ingratiate herself into London society and bag herself a man with a fortune. However, when Lord Radcliffe sees Kitty set her eyes on his younger brother, he is instantly suspicious. Who is Kitty Talbot and what does she want with his brother? Radcliffe is determined to thwart Kitty’s plans while she will stop at nothing to protect her sisters.

I really enjoyed this book. Kitty was a fantastic character. She wasn’t the meek and mild heroine expected of the time, she was brave, brash and bold. It was a fast-moving, joyful story and I’ll definitely be looking out for more books by Sophie Irwin.

Click here to read my full review of A Lady’s Guide To Fortune-Hunting by Sophie Irwin.

The Other Bennet Sister

As the plainest Bennet sister, Mary is regularly ignored and belittled. Her awkwardness and uncertainty is often misconstrued as arrogance or conceit, and she struggles to make any meaningful connections, even with her sisters. She’s a constant disappointment to her mother, who values beauty above all else and she finds it hard to talk to her father, despite their shared love of reading.  It’s hard for Mary to be an introvert in a family of extroverts and she turns to her books for both company and guidance.

As her sisters marry, either for love or some semblance of respectability, it seems Mary is destined to remain single and live out her life at Longbourn.

However, perhaps there’s more to Charlotte than anyone has realised and as she steps out of the shadows of her sisters, maybe she can show the world who she really is.

I really enjoyed this book. It was interesting to see such well-known characters from a different perspective and read what might have happened after Lizzie married Darcy. I loved the slow burn romance but, for me, the best part of the book was Mary stepping out of the shadows of her sisters and finally being confident in herself.

Click here to read my full review of The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow.

Songbirds by Christy Lefteri

When her husband dies and Nisha is unable to support her beloved daughter, she is forced to make the heartbreaking decision to leave her home in Sri Lanka and try to find work in Cyprus. Her daughter is left behind with Nisha’s mother as she finds a job as a domestic worker. Nisha sends money back home to her family and her only contact with her daughter is through nightly video calls.

Nisha has worked for Petra for nine years. She cooks and cleans and cares for Petra’s daughter. Then one night Nisha vanishes. Petra realises she knows very little about the woman who has lived in her home for almost a decade. She knows nothing of Nisha’s dreams and fears.

Yiannis is Nisha’s secret lover and a man, who despite his flaws, wants to offer Nisha everything she’s dreamed of. He, too, is puzzled by Nisha’s disappearance. Both he and Petra know she would never just up and leave and they both team up to try and uncover the truth about what happened to Nisha.

I loved everything about this book. The beautiful writing, the vivid descriptions of the wildlife, the wonderful characters… it was absolutely brilliant.

Click here to read my full review of Songbirds by Christy Lefteri.

Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield

The Swan pub stands on the bank of the Thames and is known as the place to hear stories. One night, as the landlord is about to launch into a tale, an injured man staggers through the door, with what appears to be a dead little girl. The locals care for the man and respectfully place the girl in a different room, as there was nothing they could do to help. However, a few hours later the girl wakes up. Is it a miracle? And who does this little girl belong to? The story of these miraculous events circles far and wide and is heard by several families, who all believe the child to be theirs.

I was captivated by this story from the first page. It’s an atmospheric tale that entwines folklore and myth with the everyday lives of the characters. The plot is so intricate that I definitely found it to be a book that required my full attention. Thankfully it was so gripping and immersive that my mind was never given the chance to wander!

Click here to read my full review of Once Upon A River By Diane Setterfield.

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

The Mercies is inspired by the real events that prompted witch trials on the small Norwegian island of Vardø in 1617. After a devastating storm claims the lives of almost the entire male population, the women, whose livelihood had depended on their fishermen, are forced to carry on without them in an unforgiving climate.

Maren grew up on Vardø and lost both her father and brother to the storm, along with the man she was to marry. Like the other women on the island, Maren is forced outside the traditional role as a woman in those times and learns to take on what was always a man’s role in order to survive.

Meanwhile, in a different part of Norway, Ursa is a young woman, devoted to her poorly sister. When her father tells her she is to be married to a man named Absalom Cornet she is left with very little choice. Ursa leaves her home and moves to Vardø with her new husband, who is granted the role of commissioner. He is tasked with bringing religious order and righteousness to the community and is instantly suspicious of any woman who is a free thinker.

I found this book to be completely enthralling and I was captivated by the dark and menacing atmosphere. There was a real sense of foreboding as the story built up to its climax and I just couldn’t put the book down.

Click here to read my full review of The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave.

The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams

As a child, without a mother to guide and care for her, Esme spends most of her time at her father’s feet in the Scriptorium. It’s here the great lexicographer James Murray and his team gather words for the first ever Oxford English Dictionary. Sitting under the table listening to her father and his colleagues do their work, Esme becomes increasingly fascinated by words. When, one day, she sees a slip of paper containing a forgotten word flutter to the floor, she decides to collect words for her very own dictionary – The Dictionary of Lost Words.

During her time hidden under the table in the Scriptorium, Esme knows she needs to be silent and invisible to allow the men to concentrate on their task. What she doesn’t realise, yet, is how women throughout the world are silenced and their words discarded. As she begins to collect these rejected words, Esme becomes fascinated by their meaning and the stories of the people who use them. She soon realises that a lot of the words relating to women’s experiences are often the ones that go unrecorded and discarded. She wonders how these words, which are used so frequently by some, can be deemed unimportant and of no significant consequence.

We follow Esme as she grows up in a tumultuous time, with war looming and women fighting for votes, as she tries to understand the significance of the language we use.

The story offers a fascinating insight into the evolution of words and their meanings. It clearly shows the impact language can have in defining class and gender. I found it so frustrating how women’s experiences were diminished as words were discarded and deemed unworthy by a team of men. I never fully appreciated how men and women could have different interpretations of certain words and how language could be limited and sanitised by rejecting and discarding certain words.

Click here to read my full review of The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams.

The Dance Tree by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

This book is set during the real-life dancing plague of 1518 in Strasbourg. In the midst of a blistering hot summer, one lone woman, starving and living in poverty, starts to dance. She dances for days without pause or rest, and as she is joined by hundreds of others, the authorities declare an emergency. The women are dancing until their feet bleed, and some dance all the way to death.

Meanwhile, Lisbet is pregnant after losing multiple losses and lives with her husband and mother in law, tending bees as their only source of income. As the dancing plague gathers momentum, Lisbet’s mysterious sister in law returns from seven years’ penance in the mountains for a crime no one will discuss.

Lisbet is determined to uncover the truth and keep her family safe from the hysteria that is gathering throughout the city. However, her family is full of secrets and deceits and Lisbet quickly realises she is dancing to a very dangerous tune.

This is another atmospheric, beautifully written novel by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. As with The Mercies, the tension was palpable throughout and I could feel the oppressive, breathless heat the characters had to endure.

It’s a character-driven novel and a celebration of female friendship. I loved reading about the kinship and loyalty between these strong, courageous women. Alef Plater was as vile as Cornet in the Mercies, using religion as a weapon to punish those he disagrees with. The author has a real talent for creating characters you really despise, as well as those you can really root for.

Click here to read my full review of the Dance Tree by Kiran Millwood Hargrave.

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You may also be interested in reading the books I read in March 2022 and my other previous monthly reads.