Read more Book Recommendations

Haven by Emma Donoghue

Reviewed by Zissy

Published by Pan Macmillan

In a nutshell 

Set in seventh-century Ireland, Haven tells the story of three men on a quest to attain Godliness. Artt is a scholar and priest who has a dream which instructs him to leave the sins of the world behind and take two monks – young Trian and old Cormac – to set up a monastery in an untouched by man land. They drift into the Atlantic and find an impossibly steep and bare island inhabited by thousands of birds and claim it for God. But how can they survive an inhospitable mountain in the middle of the ocean far away from civilization?

Book club Notes 

The book is a masterclass in storytelling. It’s vivid, haunting, moving and told in the voices of all three men captures each man’s pain, longing and spirit. It’s a book that made me think – of religion, the balance between belief and action, and realizing we are physical beings living in a physical world. It challenged my views and beliefs, and I was constantly reminded to be open minded to listen to their story, to try understanding them and not impart my own beliefs onto it. Especially because although it is a work of fiction, there are truths to it. I was reminded of a quote from Dear Reader in which Cathy Rentzenbrick shares that one of the joys of reading is the mind-expounding privilege of walking in someone else’s shoes. That is what Haven was for me. It’s a book that builds as you read, making the ending more gripping and intense, peaking at what was the perfect ending for a book like this. 

But if you’re anything like me, you’ll finish the book read her author notes and spend hours deep diving into the history of the location she chose for this novel. A history that makes this book so much richer because like I said although it’s fiction, there are webs of truth weaved throughout.

When McKinsey Comes to Town by Walt Bogdanich & Michael Forsythe

Reviewed by Feige 

Published by Penguin Random House 

In a nutshell

This book is an expose on Mckinsey & Company written by award-winning investigative journalists. Walt Bogdanich & Michael Forsythe managed to penetrate the secrecy surrounding the firm. Through interviews, documents and following the money, they show the shady side of the world’s most prestigious & successful management consultant firm.

Book Club Notes 

This book is equal parts fascinating, sickening, eye opening and educational. Whether you work in management consulting or not, chances are high that you’ve heard of McKinsey and that what you’ve heard is shrouded in positive light. 

This book bends that light and gives insight into what can happen when McKinsey is hired to boost profits and cut costs, spoiler alert – employees and citizens lose.

Although I found the majority of the book interesting, chapter 12 – about South Africa I enjoyed the most. By the time I got there I just knew they had to somehow be involved with Eskom.

Too Big to Jail by Chris Blackhurst

Reviewed by Zissy 

Published by Pan Macmillan

In a nutshell 

HSBC is a bank that sells itself as the world’s local bank, the friendly face of corporate and personal finance. A decade ago, HSBC was hit with a record US fine of $1.9 billion for facilitating money laundry for ‘drug kingpins’ and rogue nations. Between 2003 and 2010, HSBC allowed El Chapo and the Sinola cartel, one of the most notorious and murderous criminal organizations in the world, to turn blood money into clean dollars. 

In Too Big to Jail, award winning business writer Chris Blackhurst takes you on a mind blowing journey through Hong Kong to London, Washington, The Cayman Islands and Mexico to try uncover how a bank with aspirations of becoming the biggest bank in the world got itself intertwined with one of the most barbaric groups of gangsters in the world and help them wash their dollars clean. Moreover why no one in HSBC was ever charged or convicted, where drug pushers and drug lords were jailed. 

Book club Notes 

At the end of Money in One Lesson, author Gavin Jackson writes: “Money accompanies us through everything we do, the good and the bad. We might not like what we see in the mirror, but can we blame the mirror for that. Ultimately, if money has made us unequal it is because we let it”. That sentiment sums up this book, it is the bad side of money and gives you a fascinating and often jaw dropping look inside the world of banking and drugs and how those two worlds collide ­­– through money. It makes you question the power corporates and big banks are given and why they get away with doing what they want when others are punished for much lesser crimes. It’s a superbly researched and written wild ride of a story and while it for me it was a slower read, it was an interesting one that never bore me. 

A Jewish Girl in Paris by Melanie Levensohn

Reviewed by Feige 

Published by Pan Macmillan

In a nutshell 

In 1940 Paris, Judith, a young Jewish girl meets Christian, the son of a wealthy banker and Nazi sympathizer, and they secretly fall in love. As restrictions on Jews grows, they plan to flee but before they can, Judith disappears.

42 Years later on his death bead, Judith’s father, Lica, confesses to his daughter Jacobina, that she has a half-sister named Judith. He lost contact with her when he fled the Nazis. Jacobina promises her father that she will find her.

Book club Notes 

This book is a slow starter, but I really enjoyed the storyline. Although it is a novel, the true inspiration behind the story is quite remarkable and touching. As the story develops and you get into it, it gets harder to put down. Some of the plot points were predictable, but there were enough surprises to keep you turning pages.

An Angel’s Demise by Sue Nyathi

Reviewed by Zissy 

Published by Pan Macmillan

In a nutshell 

The year is 1977 and on a farm in Somabhula, Zimbabwe, Angel is born. The farm is run by Paul Williams and when Angel’s parents leave to join the liberation struggle, she is left in the care of her two grandmothers who have been working for the Williams family for generations. 

Angel grows up on the farm over momentous decades that see a convoluted past and inheritance grow into a complicated future. A future in which Angel needs to find her own identity and assert her own independence. 

Book club Notes 

What I enjoy about Sue Nyathi’s writing is how she shares her birth country, Zimbabwe with readers. Giving us a glimpse into life at various stages of the complicated and harsh history of the country. In An Angel’s Demise she does that particularly well sharing historical facts among the fiction. She also writes drama like no other. 

At points in the book, I felt like there was too much information given, like we were rushing through details and people without pausing to get to know a character beyond the surface. That being said, I enjoyed how the beginning and the ending connected giving you a full circle moment that perfectly closed the story. 

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