Welcome back to my Best Of 2011 posts, where I am highlighting my favourite book from each month of the year.
The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark
The Sandalwood Tree is the story of two Western women in India at different times. American Evie has moved to India in 1947 with her scholar husband Martin, and whilst she is there she finds a cache of letters written by two Victorian women, Felicity and Adela. This is a very evocative book and both stories are delightful. You'll definitely want to visit India after reading this one. Recommended for armchair travellers and fans of historical fiction.
Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff
This is hands-down the best history book I've read all year, the one that has the best balance between being readable and satisfying history buffs. It's full of great little facts and manages to place Cleopatra's life in the context of the time in which she lived, rather than mythologising her. A good introduction to reading non-fiction if you're not a regular reader.
The Cellist of Sarajevo by Stephen Galloway
This is simply a beautiful book about normal people and normal life during the worst siege of modern times. When death becomes a random act and the person next to you is gunned down by a sniper whilst you survive, how can you continue to live as normal? Quite a philosophical book, it still has a story that is devastating in places.
Purge by Sofi Oksanen
There's not much I can say about this book apart from: it's amazing and go and buy a copy right now. It's a harrowing story about the abuse of two Estonian women during the late twentieth century, but it also has lots of elements of a psychological thriller and one of the creepiest characters I've read about in a long time. Go and read it!
I hope you've enjoyed this run-down of my favourite books of the year, I've certainly enjoyed reading the lists on other people's blogs. I'll be celebrating Christmas with my family over the next few days, so see you all on the 27th...Merry Christmas!