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Together – Julie Cohen

Published July 13, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

This is not a great love story.
This is a story about great love.

On a morning that seems just like any other, Robbie wakes in his bed, his wife Emily asleep beside him, as always. He rises and dresses, makes his coffee, feeds his dogs, just as he usually does. But then he leaves Emily a letter and does something that will break her heart. As the years go back all the way to 1962, Robbie’s actions become clearer as we discover the story of a couple with a terrible secret – one they will do absolutely anything to protect.

Perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes’s Me Before You, David Nicholls’s One Day and M L Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans.

What did I think?:

First of all, the hugest “thank you,” to Lauren Woosey and the lovely team at Orion books for sending me a copy of Julie Cohen’s new novel, Together in exchange for an honest review. I’ve only read one other of Julie’s novels, Dear Thing which was selected as part of the Richard and Judy Book Club here in the UK a little while ago and both myself and my sister, Chrissi Reads absolutely loved it. When I saw the advertisements for Together going around on Twitter (especially with this STUNNING cover), I knew I had to have it and am so grateful and excited for the opportunity to tell you all how madly I fell in love with these beautiful characters and their fascinating story.

The story is essentially a love story between Robbie and Emily which begins when they are older and going through some difficulties health-wise. The most brilliant thing about this narrative is however that the story begins here and then goes backwards in time so we see the entirety of their relationship, all their struggles and triumphs in reverse. We, the reader, find out very early on that there is a huge secret that the couple have kept throughout their time together, something that no one else knows and if anyone else finds out it has the potential to destroy them. As a result, Robbie and Emily keep quiet about the shadow in their past and just live each day together as a happy couple as their love continues to strengthen and grow. Of course, we eventually find out exactly what the secret is and it’s just as mind-blowing, devastating and heart-breaking as I could have anticipated that it might be.

Obviously, I’m not saying anything about the “big reveal,” but I just want to talk about how this book was presented to me by Orion Books which was completely wonderful. I read until a certain point in the narrative (perhaps about twenty pages from the end?) and then was asked to tweet how I felt at this period. The rest of the pages in the novel had been placed in an envelope and I then eagerly ripped it open, desperate to discover how the story would end and just what on earth was going on with our characters and their lives. Let me just say, it’s a goodie. No, that’s not even the word for it – it’s phenomenal, suck-your-breath in, gasp and hold it for a little while before you can breathe normally kind of good!

Throughout this novel, I completely fell in love with the characters of Robbie and Emily and the hardships they have been through as a couple. Of course by the end I was gaping in disbelief but in no way, shape or form did it change what I felt about the characters at all. I’m afraid they had already stolen my heart and I still continue to think about them and their story weeks after finishing the novel. I’m certain that one of the signs of a brilliant author is how much the narrative sticks with you after you’ve finished reading. If Together is anything to go by, I’m going to be thinking about Robbie and Emily for a long, long time. Julie Cohen’s delicious characterisation and beautiful writing style had me hooked from page one and I’m glad I had a day off when I began this novel as I didn’t put it down until I had finished it!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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Stranger Than We Can Imagine: Making Sense Of The Twentieth Century – J.M.R. Higgs

Published September 4, 2016 by bibliobeth

26171683

What’s it all about?:

The twentieth century should make sense. It’s the period of history that we know the most about, an epic geo-political narrative that runs through World War One, the great depression, World War Two, the American century and the fall of the Berlin Wall. But somehow that story doesn’t quite lead into the world we find ourselves in now, this bewildering twenty-first century, adrift in a network of constant surveillance, unsustainable competition, tsunamis of trivia and extraordinary opportunity.

Time, then, for a new perspective. With John Higgs as our guide, we step off the main path and wander through some of the more curious backwaters of the twentieth century, exploring familiar and unfamiliar territory alike, finding fresh insight on our journey to the present day. We travel in the company of some of the most radical artists, scientists, geniuses and crazies of their age. They show us that great innovations such as relativity, cubism, quantum mechanics, postmodernism and chaos maths are not the incomprehensible, abstract horrors that we assume them to be, but signposts that bring us to the world we live in now.

John Higgs brings us an alternative history of the strangest of centuries. He shows us how the elegant, clockwork universe of the Victorians became increasingly woozy and uncertain; and how we discovered that our world is not just stranger than we imagine but, in the words of Sir Arthur Eddington, ‘stranger than we can imagine’.

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to New Books Magazine and http://www.nudge.com for providing me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review. When I first read the synopsis for John Higgs’ fascinating narrative about the twentieth and early twenty-first century I was instantly intrigued and had to know more. What I found within the brilliantly concise chapters was both interesting and highly educational with a dash of humour on the side and I really feel I’ve learned a lot about subjects I had previous little or no knowledge about.

The author takes a variety of different topics – with chapter headings such as Modernism, War, Individualism, and Uncertainty to name just a few and takes the reader on an epic journey to discover why exactly the twentieth century was so pivotal. Although I still have to admit to being none the wiser about Einstein’s theory of relativity, I count that as my own personal demon as Higgs explains theories, ideas and notions in a very down to earth and comprehensible fashion that will instantly make you want to go out and do further research of your own into certain topics.

Personally speaking, I’ve always been fascinated by psychology and the author’s chapter on the “id,” Freud’s model of our basic human instincts was a joy to read. However, there are so many other examples of interesting subjects that I’m certain every reader will find something meaningful and informative to connect with. For example, did you know that the author H.G. Wells predicted machines that could fly, wars fought in the air, fascist dictatorships and even the European Union? Or that the term “genocide” was only coined in 1944 to describe “a deliberate attempt to exterminate an entire race?” The word hadn’t even existed before then!

As a piece of non-fiction, this book ticks all the right boxes for me. It’s insightful, holds your interest with short, snappy chapters that get over what the author wants to say in perfect fashion and is a unique way of looking at certain concepts that are not really covered in other works. I didn’t connect with every single chapter but then again, I didn’t really expect to, everyone is different in their own personal interests. However, I did find it a solid, brilliant piece of writing that taught me much more than I could have expected.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars