In My Hands Today…

Bitter Almonds – Laurence Cossé

15812228Edith can hardly believe it when she learns that Fadila, her sixty-year-old housemaid, is completely illiterate. How can a person living in Paris in the third millennium possibly survive without knowing how to read or write? How does she catch a bus, or pay a bill, or withdraw money from the bank? Why it’s unacceptable! She thus decides to become Fadila’s French teacher. But teaching something as complex as reading and writing to an adult is rather more challenging that she thought. Their lessons are short, difficult, and tiring. Yet, during these lessons, the oh-so-Parisian Edith and Fadila, an immigrant from Morocco, begin to understand one other as never before, and from this understanding will blossom a surprising and delightful friendship. Édith will enter into contact with a way of life utterly unfamiliar to her, one that is unforgiving at times, but joyful and dignified.

 

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In My Hands Today…

Small Remedies – Shashi Deshpande

124893Savitribai Indorekar, born into an orthodox Hindu family, elopes with her Muslim lover and accompanist, Ghulaam Saab, to pursue a career in music. Gentle, strong-willed Leela, on the other hand, gives her life to the Party, and to working with the factory workers of Bombay.

Fifty years after these events have been set in motion, Madhu, Leela’s niece, travels to Bhavanipur, Savitribai’s home in her last years, to write a biography of Bai. Caught in her own despair over the loss of her only son, Aditya, Madhu tries to make sense of the lives of Bai and those around her, and in doing so, seeks to find a way out of her own grief.

In My Hands Today…

Murder in Steeple Martin – Lesley Cookman

14572709Artist and ex-actress Libby Sarjeant is busy directing a play for the opening of a new theatre in her village when one of her cast is found murdered. The play, written by her friend Peter, is based on real events in his family, disturbing and mysterious, which took place in the village during the last war. As the investigation into the murder begins to uncover a tangled web of relationships in the village, it seems that the events dramatised in the play still cast a long shadow, dark enough to inspire murder. Libby’s natural nosiness soon leads her into the thick of the investigation but is she too close to Peter’s family, and in particular, his cousin Ben, to be able to recognise the murderer?

In My Hands Today…

Tamil Tigress – Niromi de Soyza

11034948Two days before Christmas in 1987, at the age of 17, Niromi de Soyza found herself in an ambush as part of a small platoon of militant Tamil Tigers fighting government forces in the bloody civil war that was to engulf Sri Lanka for decades. With her was her lifelong friend, Ajanthi, also aged 17. Leaving behind them their shocked middle-class families, the teenagers had become part of the Tamil Tigers’ first female contingent.

Equipped with little more than a rifle and a cyanide capsule, Niromi’s group managed to survive on their wits in the jungle, facing not only the perils of war but starvation, illness, and growing internal tensions among the militant Tigers. And then events erupted in ways that she could no longer bear.

How was it that this well-educated, mixed-race, middle-class girl from a respectable family came to be fighting with the Tamil Tigers? Today she lives in Sydney with her husband and children, but Niromi de Soyza is not your ordinary woman and this is her compelling story.

In My Hands Today…

The Genizah at the House of Shepher – Tamar Yellin

623924A scholar, returning to her family home in Jerusalem becomes embroiled in a family dispute over a discovered Codex, brought home originally her great-great grandfather. Set against the backdrop of a hundred and thirty years of change, this is a novel of exile and belonging, displacement and the quest for both love and a true promised land.

In My Hands Today…

Friendly Fire: A Duet – A.B. Yehoshua, translated by Stuart Schoffman

3573219A couple, long married, are spending an unaccustomed week apart. Amotz, an engineer, is busy juggling the day-to-day needs of his elderly father, his children, and his grandchildren. His wife, Daniella, flies from Tel Aviv to East Africa to mourn the death of her older sister. There she confronts her anguished seventy-year-old brother-in-law, Yirmiyahu, whose soldier son was killed six years earlier in the West Bank by “friendly fire.” Yirmiyahu is now managing a team of African researchers digging for the bones of man’s primate ancestors as he desperately strives to detach himself from every shred of his identity, Jewish and Israeli.