From our reviewers: General fiction

Last updated 15:00 12/04/2014

Our reviewers take a look at general fiction books available now.

The Road from Midnight
By Wendyl Nissen (Paul Little Books, RRP $29.95)

Reviewed by Gaye Turner

New Zealand born Jane lives life in the limelight as editor of woman's fashion magazines in both Australia and then back in Auckland, New Zealand.

She marries Lawrence who features on news channels in New Zealand and is seeking his next news assignment in whatever way he needs to.

They go off on a European train tour with their daughter Charlotte, 5, who disappears during an Italian overnight journey.

Jane refuses to leave Italy hoping Charlotte will return someday. Jane will not give up hope.

She prays to the Madonna daily and seeks refuge in Venice's many churches for Charlotte to return to her. Lawrence eventually goes back to his glitzy life in New Zealand concluding Charlotte has gone for good.

In Italy Jane meets up with Marco an old friend from New Zealand now living in Venice restoring churches.

Jane has a romantic encounter with the policeman heading Charlotte's case who treats her to a lavish lifestyle of designer shopping, wining and dining and exploring the island of Italy of which his family own substantial landholdings.

Jane eventually returns to Marco in Venice where they plan a return visit to New Zealand to visit family. Marco has lived in Venice for years and Jane hasn't seen her parents since Charlottes disappeared.

Jane sees Charlotte in an angel coming back to her in Venice.

Charlotte is adopted by a wealthy Russian man who lives in a private estate outside of St Petersburg.

Here she is cared for well by Nikolai and housekeeper Ola for several years in a sheltered quiet life.

Nokolai is grooming Charlotte, or Kayla, her Russian name for himself and three other wealthy businessmen to become their mistress and travel and entertain them at their request.

The author has captured you in a page turning journey to all corners of the globe following the lives of these people and their liaisons until the dream Jane Lyndhurst had finally comes true and she's reunited with her daughter after 15 years. She never gave up hope.

Jeeves and the Wedding Bells
By Sebastian Faulks (Hutchinson, RRP $35)

Reviewed by Maree Field

I'm a big P G Wodehouse fan. I've been reading his novels and short stories on and off since high school, when friends of mine put me on to Jeeves and Wooster.

Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks is an effort to replicate that singular wit, and it almost gets there.

Wodehouse had such a light touch as a writer, combined with such a clever wit, that it would be almost impossible to replicate.

Bertie Wooster and his faithful man Jeeves find themselves changing places after Bertie meets a young woman in France that he rather takes a fancy to.

Unfortunately, the young lady is promised to another, whose family fortune is set to save her guardian from certain ruin.

Add in a stately home, another young couple asundered by love and the hint of an aunt, and you have all of the ingredients of a Wodehouse classic.

Jeeves and the Wedding Bells is, however, not a Wodehouse classic.

It's a clever copy at best, but the wit feels a little bit forced and I can't help feeling that Bertie and Jeeves should have been left as they were: preserved with the memory of a great wit and clever writer.

Instead, it feels a little bit like a clone.

It's close to the original but not, of course, quite up to scratch.

The Road Between Us By Nigel Farndale (Random House, RRP $38)

Reviewed by Maree Field

In 1939, two young men in a Picadilly Circus hotel are unaware that their lives are about to change in drastic and unforseen ways.

Charles and Anselm are arrested for homosexuality. Charles is discharged from the RAF, and Anselm is sent to a labour camp in France.

In 2012, Edward, a diplomat who has been a hostage of the Taliban for 11 years is unexpectedly released from captivity.

The story of The Road Between Us shifts between the past and the present, bringing together Charles, Anselm, Edward and Edward's daughter Hannah's stories together in sometimes unexpected ways.

Farndale doesn't flinch from the horrors of World War II, and the chapters focusing on Anselm's time in the labour camp are particularly harrowing.

Edward's journey from long-term hostage to functional member of society is just as harrowing, if less graphic.

The connection between the past and the present is always there, but understated and ultimately heartbreaking.

The Road Between Us isn't an easy read at all, but it's definitely worth the time.

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