About the author and blogger ...
Anne Goodwin’s drive to understand what makes people tick led to a career in clinical psychology. That same curiosity now powers her fiction.
A prize-winning short-story writer, she has published three novels and a short story collection with small independent press, Inspired Quill. Her debut novel, Sugar and Snails, was shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize.
Away from her desk, Anne guides book-loving walkers through the Derbyshire landscape that inspired Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.
Subscribers to her newsletter can download a free e-book of award-winning short stories.
Two translated novels, both with a contemporary and historical element, which address the female struggle for autonomy and self-expression in a misogynistic and racist world.
Let me tell you about these two novels about women’s lives in terrain under occupation by external powers. The first is a historical novel about the struggle for personal and political freedom in 20th-century Greece. The second is a futuristic dystopia about how, in the climate crisis, the wealthy lay claim to the coolest lands.
History, humour, testimony, short stories and dystopia: there’s something for everyone in these 9 new mini reviews (and 1 mention)
Testimonies of historic inequalities rooted in racism: The Help & In the Upper Country
I’m pleased to share my thoughts on two recent reads which focus on collecting the testimonies of women wounded by policies and practices rooted in racism: the first set in the early 1960s and the second century before.
My final two reviews of 2022 are tenuously linked by being set in closed communities in which unempathic people hold vulnerable creatures in their power. I refer to creatures less because the staff of the nightmare care home in the first novel don’t seem to regard their charges as human and more because the inmates of the second – where the compassion of the lowliest employee almost compensates for the attitude of her senior colleagues – are dolphins.
My 12 favourite reads of 2022
These two recent reads are about challenging women’s traditional roles as homemakers in the mid twentieth century. The first focuses on the barriers facing a woman seeking a career in science in early 1960s America. The second follows the fortunes of three sisters and their mother as the times change in 1970s France.
I love the freedom fiction gives me to make things up, but I also enjoy the facts I discover in the course of my research. In my novella, Stolen Summers, I gave my character, Matilda, a dancing partner who attracted and intrigued her, partly because he came from a different background.
A woman lives with her husband on a farm a short distance from a small town. There’s a distance between the partners also but they’re bound by habit and circumstance. When strangers arrive on their land, convention dictates they should chase them away. Instead, a tentative friendship develops, much to their neighbours’ disapproval and it’s not too long before violence ensues.
The link is often tenuous when I pair my reviews. But, even when there’s a common theme, it’s unusual for a four-sentence summary to serve both. Heck, even the covers match! Yet, while both brilliant debuts, these are very different novels: the first a near-future cli-fi dystopia; the second a historical novel set at the end of the American Civil War. Read on to see which you’ll pick up first!
Swimming through Stolen Summers
Fostered: Lily & Careless
I’ve recently read a historical novel and a contemporary YA novel featuring fostered girls. In the first, it’s idyllic, especially in contrast to the institution she’s sent to at the age of six. In the second, it’s more problematic with a foster mother who can’t put her own needs aside to support the child in her care.
These two novels are about the consequences of untimely deaths on those left behind. The first is set during the First World War when a grieving soldier is set to work making masks to hide the horrific facial injuries of those wounded in the trenches. The second is about two orphaned sisters and an anthropologist with unconventional ideas about mourning rituals.
Allow me to introduce two novels about the marginalisation of women’s experience: the first set in sixteenth century Strasbourg where the church rules hearts and minds; the second in contemporary a South Africa grappling with its colonial past. Both include a scene of arson, but that is not the worst of the violence.
These two novels depict a character’s reflections on their life following the sudden death of their spouse. Both the male writer in the first novel and the female teacher in the second are mourning not only the loss of a partner but of the promise of their original romance.
Two fabulous fiction books about ordinary people in historically significant times. The first is a family saga set in China, Taiwan and America across six decades of the twentieth century. The second is a snapshot of Swiss history on a single day in 1959 when the male half of the populace denied their mothers, sisters and wives the right to vote.
These two recent reads feature characters who find themselves in morally compromised situations, partly of their own making. The first, set in the contemporary US art world, is about a young man’s relationship with a middle-aged man he saves from drowning. The second, set during a turbulent time in American history, focuses on a family of thespians, drinkers and dreamers.
Let me present two chunky novels, both published in the UK on 3rd February, about which I had some reservations but came to love. Despite a decade’s difference in age between the novels’ protagonists, both are coming-of-age stories in which an unexpected kind of love – or unconventional for their particular communities – teaches these young women about family, ambition, identity and themselves.
Dishonourable histories: Palace of the Peacock & The Bureau of Past Management
These two unconventional novels address the difficulties of reconciliation to individual and societal involvement in the exploitation and annihilation of other communities and ethnic groups. Neither tells a straightforward story, but I struggled most with the structure and style of the first. This is a pity, as I’d like to have learned more about the persecution and murder of Guyana’s indigenous people. I found the second, about the legacy of the Holocaust for contemporary Germans, an easier read.
I'll continue posting longer reviews of books gifted to me by the author or publisher, but I'll probably keep this up for books I've bought myself. It should work for me, but will it work for you? Let me know in the comments what you think.
Read on for reviews of six contemporary novels, one classic novel, a short story collection and two non-fiction books, all read over the last three months.
I’m struck by the similarities between these two novels, despite being of different genres and set six centuries apart. Both are about men who take pride in their knowledge and intellect yet are blind to the biases that limit their understanding, particularly in relation to women and to physical health. The first is about a nuclear physicist dosing himself with radiation, the second about a young monk’s encounter with the Black Death.
Elder care: Red Crosses, As We Are Now, The Girls from Alexandria & At the Jerusalem
Let me tell you about these four novels featuring older women looking back at their lives, and forward, some with dread, to what’s left of it. The first is a translated novel set in Belarus. The second and fourth are set in care homes around the middle of the twentieth century. The third is a contemporary novel set in a London hospital with flashbacks to a glittery Alexandria. All illustrate the vulnerability of old age, but also the strength and spirit of the central characters.
entertaining fiction about identity, mental health and social justice
Anne Goodwin's books on Goodreads
Sugar and Snails
ratings: 52 (avg rating 4.21)
ratings: 60 (avg rating 3.17)
ratings: 9 (avg rating 4.56)
GUD: Greatest Uncommon Denominator, Issue 4
ratings: 9 (avg rating 4.44)
The Best of Fiction on the Web
ratings: 3 (avg rating 4.67)
2022 Reading Challenge
Anne has read 2 books toward their goal of 100 books.
Annecdotal is where real life brushes up against the fictional.
Annecdotist is the blogging persona of Anne Goodwin:
slug-slayer, tramper of moors,
author of three fiction books.
LATEST POSTS HERE
I don't post to a schedule, but average around ten reviews a month (see here for an alphabetical list),
some linked to a weekly flash fiction, plus posts on my WIPs and published books.
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