Book Club

Interesting women, natural history mysteries … and a look into the future!

It’s 1954 on far-flung Verona Island, a tropical paradise with a fragile economy and a rising crime rate. Prostitution is legal and Lila Gulliver is proud of her business – a high-end brothel where her clients are guaranteed privacy and discretion. When Carità Bercy, a young, destitute, and beautiful blind woman arrives at her door seeking employment, Lila decides to give her a chance. Carità proves a valuable asset to the house, as well as a psychological puzzle to her employer. One hot night, Ian Drohan, a handsome son of a wealthy judge, visits Lila’s house for the first time, and falls madly in love with Carità. Lila doubts his sincerity and fears for Carità‘s future. But Carità has no such fears. In fact, she is a reckless force of nature, determined to succeed in ways Lila hasn’t even contemplated. Valerie Martin’s Mrs Gulliver … a steamy tale of passionate love, found and lost, and found again! Doubleday

The first thing Vanessa Carvin does when she arrives on the small island off the coast of Ireland is change her name. To the locals, she will be Willow Hale. The second is to shave her head … no longer shoulder length blonde, it’s now cropped and grey, more in keeping with a solitary outsider escaping Dublin to live a hermetic existence in a small cottage, and not a notorious woman trying to get away from the media after her husband committed a crime – one they think she is guilty of, too. Escaping her old life might seem like a good idea but the choices she has made throughout her marriage have consequences. Here, on the island, Vanessa must reflect on what she did, and did not, do. Only then can she discover whether she is worthy of finding peace at all. Water by John Boyne … a story of a woman coming to terms with the demons of her past and finding a new path forward. Penguin

It’s 2050. A climate-changed world, where humans and digital devices are closely entwined. It’s a world filled with natural disasters, drought, famine and floods. People are displaced as new immigration laws are put into effect, and the gap between the haves and have nots widens. Future Imperfect by Babette Gallard is the story of a family determined to be together … despite the horrific obstacles in their way … exhaustion, terror, the xenophobia of people struggling to protect their increasingly scarce resources. Thought-provoking, this novel raises the question of what may happen to our world in the not-too-distant future. LightEye

Hippos, a Mongoose and Me, sequel to the popular A Hippo Love Story, is a collection of vivid stories reflecting the decades that author Karen Paolillo has lived and worked in the wilds of southeast Zimbabwe. The book kicks off with the rescue of two leopard cubs from water tank, with an anxious mum waiting in a fig tree nearby, and continues with tales encompass a wide variety of animals and experiences … Karen’s extraordinary affinity with hippos, life with her beloved mongoose, characterful baboons and rescued birds, close encounters with lions and an injured buffalo, and her heart-stopping flight from an enraged elephant. To add to the drama, Karen and her husband Jean-Roger must face off against the drumbeat of political subterfuge and poaching of wildlife, sometimes at great personal risk. Such a great read … massively recommended. Penguin Books

Extraordinarily similar woodpeckers in South America and Africa. Quintessentially African trees native across South America, from Ecuador to Paraguay. How could this be? This question nagged Nick Norman, an exploration geologist by profession and keen birder by hobby. He’d been surprised to see a woodpecker in Brazil, where he was working at the time, which was strikingly similar to those he knew in the land of his birth, South Africa. In subsequent work engagements in South America, he saw other birds there, as well as trees, which represented families he knew well in Africa. That was the mystery … how the same families of flora and fauna had distributed themselves in continents astride a major world ocean, the South Atlantic. The obvious answer – continental drift – turned out to be a blind alley. Sherlock Holmes said ‘When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.’ In solving the mystery, the truth of Holmes’s axiom became more and more evident to Nick as he discovered extraordinary travelogues of trees and birds for which, given enough time, a wide ocean was no barrier. This, Nick Norman’s The Woodpecker Mystery – The inevitability of the Improbable, is a story of astonishing epiphanies, full of fact that will fascinate lovers of natural history. The Franschhoek Press


All books available at Exclusive Books.


Compiled by: Kym Argo