What if the life you have always known is taken from you in an instant? What would you do to get it back?
Twins Jeanie and Julius have always been different from other people. At 51 years old, they still live with their mother, Dot, in rural isolation and poverty. Their rented cottage is simultaneously their armour against the world and their sanctuary. Inside its walls they make music, in its garden they grow (and sometimes kill) everything they need for sustenance.
But when Dot dies suddenly, threats to their livelihood start raining down. At risk of losing everything, Jeanie and her brother must fight to survive in an increasingly dangerous world as their mother’s secrets unfold, putting everything they thought they knew about their lives at stake.
This is a thrilling novel of resilience and hope, of love and survival, that explores with dazzling emotional power how the truths closest to us are often hardest to see.
PUBLISHED BY FIG TREE
I listened to the audio version of this book. This author has such a wonderful way with the characters she creates! This isn’t a joyful book to lift the spirits, but it’s a story of the impact of family secrets on characters who have been shielded from the world for so long that when their world is shattered they don’t really know how to process what is happening.
Twins Jeanie and Julius are in their 50’s and still live at home with their mother. She’s protected them from the ‘real world’ so when she passes, the reality hits them hard. Their mother never accepted help from others, so they are determined to do things their own way despite a lack of money and lack of real awareness of how the world operates. We hear more of the story from the viewpoint of Jeanie, who seems to have a fairly optimistic approach to what life throws her way and hates the fuss of people in the village offering their help. She has her gardening to help her escape and that is her distraction from the unfolding events of being evicted from their home.
You couldn’t help but feel for the twins – they’d always been looked on as odd by the locals, but to them they were living a ‘normal’ family life, helping their mother, pulling together and just getting on with things – never making a fuss. The more they begin to see the world for what it’s really like, and the more the secrets about the past begin to reveal themselves the more shocking the story becomes!
The slow pace really allows you to get under the skin of these characters and adds to the impact of the revelations as they are discovered. The realisations of being lied to, the consequences that those lies have made…. just devastating! A beautifully written book.
Hello and Happy Saturday!! Seriously lacking on the energy front this week but has been very frustrating… but it seems to have made me buy extra books so .. oops!! It’s been a very good and very busy bookish week! I managed to finish 6 books so yay! If only I’d kept myself under control on the Netgalley and buying front – 5 new NG additions, 1 book won via a FB group giveaway, and then 7 new book buys!! Anyone got any creative book storage ideas?!! Here’s my look back.. get comfy!
The song surrounded her now, the murmuring of the library insistent, and her foot took the first step on the winding stairs. She knew it wasn’t entirely a dream. It was the library calling her, its magic driving her.
When Sophie is offered a job at the Ayredale Library – the finest collection of rare books in the world, and the last place her bookbinder mother was seen when Sophie was just a teenager – she leaps at the chance. Will she finally discover what happened to the woman she’s always believed abandoned her?
Taking in the endless shelves of antique books, the soaring stained-glass windows, and the grand sweeping staircase, usually shy Sophie feels strangely at home, and is welcomed by her eccentric fellow binders. But why is the Keeper of the Library so reluctant to speak about Sophie’s mother? And why is Sophie the only person who can read the strange spells in the oldest books on display, written in a forgotten language nobody else understands?
The mysteries of the library only deepen when Sophie stumbles upon an elaborately carved door. The pattern exactly matches the pendant her mother left behind years ago, engraved with a delicate leaf. As the door swings open at her touch, Sophie gasps at the incredible sight: an enormous tree, impossibly growing higher than the library itself, its gently falling golden leaves somehow resembling the pages of a book. Amidst their rustling, Sophie hears a familiar whisper…
‘There you are, my Sophie. I knew you’d come back for me.’
An absolutely spellbinding read about long-hidden family secrets and the magic that lurks between the pages of every ancient book. Perfect for fans of The Ten Thousand Doors of January, The Night Circus and The Binding.
THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY by AMOR TOWLES
publication date – October 2021
Emmett returns home to pick-up his little brother Billy, tie-up his late father’s estate and get out of town for good. Since leaving the Kansas youth facility where he’s served time, Emmett has wanted one thing: to give them both a fresh start – and that means heading out to the sparkling west.
Young, precocious Billy has plans of his own – to get to San Francisco, where he believes their long-estranged mother is waiting for them. However, as soon as they’ve loaded Emmett’s bright blue Studebaker with their few belongings, trouble arrives and brings its sidekick in the form of Duchess and Woolly, two runaways from the very facility Emmett just left behind him.
Insatiable Duchess and his devoted, but slow companion Woolly soon wreck Billy’s plan to get onto the open road, one well-intentioned blunder at a time. Each young man sees this journey as his chance to pursue his dreams, settle scores and find riches. And a simple journey quickly becomes a dazzling odyssey filled with obstacles, villains and ruses fit only for heroes to overcome.
Bursting with life, charm and unforgettable characters, The Lincoln Highway is an extraordinary journey through 1950s America from a master storyteller.
THE VISITORS by CAROLINE SCOTT
publication date – November 2021
From the highly acclaimed author of The Photographer of the Lost, a BBC Radio 2 Book Club Pick, comes a tale of a young war widow and one life-changing, sun-drenched visit to Cornwall in the summer of 1923…
Esme Nicholls is to spend the summer in Cornwall. Her late husband Alec, who died fighting in the war, grew up in Penzance, and she’s hoping to learn more about the man she loved and lost.
While there, she will stay with Gilbert, in his rambling seaside house, where he lives with his former brothers in arms. Esme is fascinated by this community of eccentric artists and former soldiers, and as she gets to know the men and their stories, she begins to feel this summer might be exactly what she needs.
But everything is not as idyllic as it seems – a mysterious new arrival later in the summer will turn Esme’s world upside down, and make her question everything she thought she knew about her life, and the people in it.
Full of light, laughter and larger-than-life characters, The Visitors is a novel of one woman finally finding her voice and choosing her own path forwards.
THE SPIRIT ENGINEER by A.J WEST
publication date – October 2021
Belfast, 1914. Two years after the sinking of the Titanic, high society has become obsessed with spiritualism in the form of seances that attempt to contact the spirits of loved ones lost at sea.
William is a man of science and a sceptic, but one night with everyone sat around the circle something happens that places doubt in his heart and a seed of obsession in his mind. Could the spirits truly be communicating with him or is this one of Kathleen’s parlour tricks gone too far?
This early 20th century gothic set in Northern Ireland contains all the mystery and intrigue one might expect from a Sarah Waters novel. Deftly plotted with echoes of The Woman in Black, readers will be thrilled to discover West’s chilling prose.
Based on the true story of William Jackson Crawford and famed medium Kathleen Goligher, and with a cast of characters that include Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini, The Spirit Engineer conjures a haunting tale that will keep readers guessing until the very end.
THE MAN WHO DIED TWICE by RICHARD OSMAN
publication date – September 2021
It’s the following Thursday.
Elizabeth has received a letter from an old colleague, a man with whom she has a long history. He’s made a big mistake, and he needs her help. His story involves stolen diamonds, a violent mobster, and a very real threat to his life.
As bodies start piling up, Elizabeth enlists Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron in the hunt for a ruthless murderer. And if they find the diamonds too? Well, wouldn’t that be a bonus?
But this time they are up against an enemy who wouldn’t bat an eyelid at knocking off four septuagenarians. Can The Thursday Murder Club find the killer (and the diamonds) before the killer finds them?
I won a copy of this lovely book via a Facebook group…
THE ILLUSTRATED CHILD by POLLY CROSBY
Romilly Kemp has an idyllic childhood, roaming the wilderness that surrounds her father’s ramshackle farmhouse. But when he makes her the star of his beautifully illustrated books, her carefree if somewhat lonely existence is threatened.
The books are thought to hold clues to an elaborate treasure hunt, and strangers turn up at their door, anxious to get a glimpse of the ‘Kemp Treasure Girl’. But when her father falls ill, leaving Romilly more isolated and alone than ever, she begins to delve deeper into the books – and her past.
As she makes sense of the clues he has hidden, she finds a truth that is far darker and more devastating than any treasure hunt has a right to be. For not everything that is hidden is gold.
And then I went on a little spending spree……
THE MANNINGTREE WITCHES by A.K.BLAKEMORE
Wolf Hall meets The Favourite in this beguiling debut novel that brilliantly brings to life the residents of a small English town in the grip of the seventeenth-century witch trials and the young woman tasked with saving them all from themselves.
England, 1643. Puritanical fervor has gripped the nation. And in Manningtree, a town depleted of men since the wars began, the hot terror of damnation burns in the hearts of women left to their own devices.
Rebecca West, fatherless and husbandless, chafes against the drudgery of her days, livened only occasionally by her infatuation with the handsome young clerk John Edes. But then a newcomer, Matthew Hopkins, arrives. A mysterious, pious figure dressed from head to toe in black, he takes over the Thorn Inn and begins to ask questions about what the women on the margins of this diminished community are up to. Dangerous rumors of covens, pacts, and bodily wants have begun to hang over women like Rebecca–and the future is as frightening as it is thrilling.
SORROW AND BLISS by MEG MASON
This novel is about a woman called Martha. She knows there is something wrong with her but she doesn’t know what it is. Her husband Patrick thinks she is fine. He says everyone has something, the thing is just to keep going.
Martha told Patrick before they got married that she didn’t want to have children. He said he didn’t mind either way because he has loved her since he was fourteen and making her happy is all that matters, although he does not seem able to do it.
By the time Martha finds out what is wrong, it doesn’t really matter anymore. It is too late to get the only thing she has ever wanted. Or maybe it will turn out that you can stop loving someone and start again from nothing – if you can find something else to want.
PURE by JO PERRY
Caught in a pincer movement between the sudden death of Evelyn (her favourite aunt) and the Corona virus, Ascher Lieb finds herself unexpectedly locked down in her aunt’s retirement community with only Evelyn’s grief-stricken dog Freddie for company.
As the world tumbles down into a pandemic shaped rabbit-hole Ascher is wracked with guilt that her aunt was buried without the Jewish burial rights of purification.
In order to atone for this dereliction of familial duty, Ascher – in her own words ‘a profane, unobservant, atheist Jew, frequent liar and grieving loser’ –volunteers to become the newest member of Valley Haverim Chevra Kadisha, a Jewish burial society on-call twenty-four-seven during lockdown and performing Mitzvot at no cost to the bereaved.
What follows is a journey through the insanity of lockdown in Los Angeles as Ascher attempts to bring peace to a troubled soul, and perhaps in the end redemption for herself.
In the hands of a lesser-writer a novel set in the time of covid could lead to a cliché ridden trope-fest, but instead with the skill and grace we’ve come to expect from Jo Perry she has delivered a book that is wise and beautiful and uplifting.
WE ARE ANIMALS by TIM EWINS
A cow looks out to sea, dreaming of a life that involves grass.
Jan is also looking out to sea. He’s in Goa, dreaming of the passport-thief who stole his heart (and his passport) forty-six years ago. Back then, fate kept bringing them together, but lately it seems to have given up.
Jan has not. In his long search he has accidentally held a whole town at imaginary gunpoint in Soviet Russia, stalked the proprietors of an international illegal lamp-trafficking scam and done his very best to avoid any kind of work involving the packing of fish. Now he thinks if he just waits, if he just does nothing at all, maybe fate will find it easier to reunite them.
His story spans fifty-four years, ten countries, two imperfect criminals (and one rather perfect one), twenty-two different animals and an annoying teenager who just…
His story spans fifty-four years, ten countries, two imperfect criminals (and one rather perfect one), twenty-two different animals and an annoying teenager who just…
But maybe an annoying teenager is exactly what Jan needs to help him find the missing thief?
Featuring a menagerie of creatures, each with its own story to tell, We Are Animals is a quirky, heart-warming tale of lost love, unlikely friendships and the certainty of fate (or lack thereof).
For the first time in her life the cow noticed the sun setting, and it was glorious.
A WASH OF BLACK by CHRIS MCDONALD
IT’S NOT LIFE THAT IMITATES ART. IT’S DEATH.
Anna Symons. Famous. Talented. Dead.
When the body of a famous actress is found mutilated on an ice rink in Manchester, recreating a scene from a blockbuster film she starred in years ago, DI Erika Piper must find the culprit; the media-dubbed ‘Blood Ice Killer.’
Having recently returned to work after suffering a near-fatal attack herself, she must once again prove her worth. But when another body is found, and the killer issues a personal threat, Erika must put her demons aside and crack the case, or suffer the deadly consequences.
WHISPERS IN THE DARK
Who will heed the call when Death comes whispering?
Small time drug dealer, Marcus Stone and DCI Clive Burston had never met until one night in August. By the end of that night, both had been shot dead in a small bedroom in the heart of gang territory.
DI Erika Piper is called to the scene but is at a loss to explain what’s happened. How did these two even meet, let alone end up dead in what appears to be a strange murder-suicide?
As Erika leads the investigation, another two bodies are found, killed in a similar fashion. One murder, one suicide. But who is controlling this macarbre puppet show?
As Erika delves deeper into the lives of the dead, the pieces begin to fit together and a number of nefarious characters crawl out of the woodwork – one of whom is almost certainly pulling the strings.
A catastrophic event and a personal miracle threaten to derail the investigation. Erika must find the strength to continue, before the whispers catch up with her too…
ROSES FOR THE DEAD
MURDER CAN BE MAYHEM.
2013 Rockstar Johnny Mayhem sits on his bed, holding a bloody baseball bat. On the floor, clutching a lavender rose in her fist, is his wife, Amanda, who he has just beaten to death. Erika Piper knows this because she is one of the first on the scene. Mayhem is arrested and led away, screaming that they’ve got the wrong man. But the evidence is irrefutable and when Mayhem is sentenced to life in prison, no one is surprised.
Now Thanks to new evidence, Johnny Mayhem is a now free man. During a television interview, he issues a thinly veiled threat to those involved in the original case before seemingly disappearing off the face of the Earth. When the body of Mayhem’s dealer is found, Erika Piper is pulled from the safety of her desk job and thrown into the hunt for the Rockstar. Can she find Mayhem before he can enact his revenge on everyone involved, including Erika? Or, has he been telling the truth all along? Did the police really get the wrong man?
Delighted to be with you today as part of the Blog Tour for the fabulous THE HEIGHTS by LOUISE CANDLISH. My thanks to the author and publisher for putting the tour together, and letting me be part of it all!!
He thinks he’s safe up there. But he’ll never be safe from you.
The Heights is a tall, slender apartment building among the warehouses of Shad Thames, its roof terrace so discreet you wouldn’t know it existed if you weren’t standing at the window of the flat directly opposite. But you are. And that’s when you see a man up there – a man you’d recognize anywhere. He’s older now and his appearance has subtly changed, but it’s definitely him.
Which makes no sense at all since you know he has been dead for over two years.
I found this to be a book that horrifies, terrifies, excites and thrills in equal measures!! You just can’t get over the intensity as the hate builds and the twists and turns end up punching you in the gut with their verocity!! I’m still in shock!!
It’s the story of parents dealing with grief, and in the case of Ellen she isn’t coping well! She’s doing her best to get on with her life after losing her son, but you’re always aware with her that there is an edge and she’s obsessed with what happened – and how what she has just seen has sent shockwaves through her. The case has consumed her and there is no limit to how far she’ll go to get what she wants! After losing her son, she had a media campaign to be involved with wanting longer sentences and it’s almost as if she got addicted to the feeling of power and control. Is it justice she wants? Or revenge?! I know where I’m putting my money!!
As well as seeing the story from her point of view, we get the viewpoint of Vic, the father of Lucas, and how the case impacted on and how he sees what Ellen is up to now and how it changed her as a person back then.
I loved the slow build up in this book. It really sets the scene to the characters state of mind, so their actions begin to make sense and allows you to put yourself in the same position and wonder if you’d be driven to such extremes if faced with the same situation!
This was such an engrossing read that I raced through it and didn’t want it to end – especially with all the twists and turns ramping up the tension!!
Delighted to be sharing my review today as part of the Blog Tour for the fabulous CLOTHES.AND OTHER THINGS THAT MATTER by ALEXANDRA SHULMAN. My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of RandomThingsTours for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all!
ABOUT THE BOOK
In Clothes… and other things that matter, Alexandra Shulman delves into her own life to look at the emotions, ambitions, expectations and meanings behind the way we dress. From the bra to the bikini, the trench coat to trainers, the slip dress to the suit, she explores their meaning in women’s lives and how our wardrobes intersect with the larger world – the career ladder, motherhood, romance, sexual identity, ambition, failure, body image and celebrity. By turns funny, refreshingly self-deprecating and often very moving, this startlingly honest memoir from the ex Editor of British Vogue will encourage women of all ages to consider what their own clothes mean to them, the life they live in them and the stories they tell. Shulman explores the person our clothes allow us to be – and sometimes the person they turn us into.
PUBLISHED BY CASSELL
PRAISE FOR CLOTHES… AND OTHER THINGS THAT MATTER
Book of the Week – OBSERVER
‘A must-read memoir for even those beyond the fashion set.’ — EVENING STANDARD
Best books of the year – FINANCIAL TIMES
Best memoirs of the year – DAILY MAIL
‘Self-deprecating and stylish, this is sure to become a classic.’ — VANITY FAIR
‘Warm, thought-provoking and honest.’ – VICTORIA HISLOP
‘What do clothes really mean? If there’s anyone who can answer that question, it’s former British Vogue editor-in-chief Alexandra Shulman. The little black dress, the white shirt, the bikini – they all get their moment in the spotlight, as Shulman considers their role in her life and in ours – prompting funny, forceful meditations on topics ranging from celebrity and body image to love and failure. When we choose what to wear, she says, we’re not only revealing our personal histories, we’re also shaping our futures. Because, while they might not exactly make us, clothes do help determine where life takes us. Revealing and self-deprecating, the book glints with shrewd social observation and intriguing snippets of fashion history.’ – PORTER
‘Such a great read – so open and honest and funny. I devoured it in one sitting.’ — KIRSTY WARK
‘Clever, emotionally intelligent, revelling in style without making us yearn to shop.’ — THE TIMES
‘Scintillating reading.’ — THE SPECTATOR
‘Thoughtful, wry and candid.’ — MAIL ON SUNDAY‘
In three dozen tidy, perceptive essays, the former editor-in-chief of British Vogue explores the semiotics of clothes and her relationship with bikinis and boiler suits,white shirts and Chanel jackets (“the epitome of status dress for the successful magazine executive,” she writes). A handy read for those wanting a deeper understanding of modern dress.’ – FINANCIAL TIMES
‘Alexandra Shulman’s style is unaffected, immediate and hilariously dry. She’s brilliant at observing everyday feelings in a joy-sparking turn of phrase – but better still she has made me feel so much better about owning too many clothes. Instead of doing a ruthless edit I find myself curating my own private exhibition – inside my wardrobe hang not just clothes, not just stories but my own autobiography.’ – HELENA BONHAM CARTER
‘Shulman weaves memory, history and anecdote with observations about working life. An early mentor tells her that no matter how few the words “you have to tell a story”, and this advice makes for compelling reading.’ – TLS
Best summer reading – GUARDIAN
‘Shulman’s wardrobe might be larger than many of our own, but it holds the same mix of memories, online splurges, the hits and misses as well as the vortex we all get sucked into while shopping for a new life-changing item. I’m also with her on the quest to find the right pink lipstick, which thus far has proved elusive.’ – THE GLOSS
‘Beautiful, nostalgic, wry, clever company.’ – SOPHIE DAHL
‘It’s funny, honest and in typical Shulman style mixes high and low effortlessly. We don’t know many people who can write about bras, Donald Tusk and Madeleine Albright all in the same sentence.’ — A LITTLE BIRD
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alexandra Shulman is a journalist, consultant and commentator. She was Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue from 1992–2017, the magazine’s longest serving editor. She has been Trustee of the National Portrait Gallery and The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity and is an honorary fellow of the University of the Arts. She won 2017 Periodical Publisher’s Association Editor’s Editor Award and The Drapers Award 2017 for Outstanding Contribution to Fashion. She is Vice President of The London Library and was awarded the CBE in the 2017 New Year’s Honours List. She has a weekly column in the Mail on Sunday, is a contributor to other national newspapers and has written two novels: Can We Still Be Friends? (2012) and The Parrots (2015). Inside Vogue: The Diary of My 100th Year was published by Fig Tree in October 2016 and sold more than 30,000 copies in hardback and paperback (Nielsen TCM). Alexandra was featured in a three-part primetime BBC series on Vogue’s centenary year in 2016.
I expected this to be a stylish read, and I haven’t been disappointed! It’s a wonderful mix of looking back over a life devoted to fashion, and all those memories that just a single item of clothing can evoke in us all!
I found myself smiling so many times as Alexandra looks back at different items of clothing over the years that have meant so much to her, and the world of fashion from the humble little black dress, to the white shirt, t-shirts, handbags and bras! There’s so much that made me think back to my own life through clothes I’ve worn – the successes and failures! – and I loved just how relatable her style of writing was!
She uses items of clothing to represent how different items define us at different stages in our lives, and the emotional bonds we build up over an item that carries memories of our own, and that of those closest to us. And how 2020 has made us look at clothing and fashion so differently!! Will we ever be able to break out of our comfort clothing style now?!
I loved the glimpses into her working life and found that part really interesting to see her journey progressed and how clothes became even more important to her to make a statement and the responsibility she had when working in fashion. She shares many stories of famous people she has worked with and met, and how even she finds clothes shopping can be a wonderful experience or a completely deflating one!!
This is one of those books that I think will connect with so many of us! It has brought back so many memories to me while reading and how styles have changed over the years – some good, some bad!! – and I just found it to be such a treat to read and highly recommend it!
Super excited to be with you today as part of the Blog Tour for the fabulous A NARROW DOOR by JOANNE HARRIS. My thanks to the author, publisher and Tracy of Compulsive Readers for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all!ABOUT THE BOOK
Your favourite authors have been gripped by this electric psychological thriller!
‘A dark world of emotional complexity and betrayal, where twist follows twist and nothing is what it seems’ ALEX MICHAELIDES ‘Exhilarating, addictive, fierce’ BRIDGET COLLINS ‘A psychological thriller you can’t put down and an antiheroine you won’t forget’ HARLAN COBEN ‘Dark, Gothic, and propulsively readable – past secrets and present discoveries entangle in an intricately crafted conclusion’ RUTH WARE ‘Engrossing, cunning, sharp, sinister . . . kept me enthralled till the final pages’ CHRIS WHITAKER ‘A clever chess game of repressed fears, power struggles, secrets and lies’ LUCY ATKINS ‘A complex, chilling mystery full of shifting truths and dark corners where the unburied past lies in wait’ TAMMY COHEN ‘A dark and richly enjoyable novel that already feels like a classic’ ELLY GRIFFITHS ‘Irresistibly readable, dark and brilliant with a masterful emotional punch’ CATRIONA WARD
* * * * *
Now I’m in charge, the gates are my gates. The rules are my rules.
It’s an incendiary moment for St Oswald’s school. For the first time in its history, a headmistress is in power, the gates opening to girls.
Rebecca Buckfast has spilled blood to reach this position. Barely forty, she is just starting to reap the harvest of her ambition. As the new regime takes on the old guard, the ground shifts. And with it, the remains of a body are discovered.
But Rebecca is here to make her mark. She’ll bury the past so deep it will evade even her own memory, just like she has done before. After all…
You can’t keep a good woman down.PUBLISHED BY ORIONPURCHASE LINKAMAZON
MY REVIEW Dark. Twisted. Thrilling. Sinister… got your interest yet?! This is one of those books that I was absorbed in from the get go! You are confronted by a woman who is determined, single minded and not prepared to put with anything. And now she’s in the perfect position to put everything into play… and that means settling scores! Be prepared to be led down a garden path, or school corridor!, on a number of occasions as the story flits from the now to the past and the shocking events that plagued her childhood and have made her the woman she has become. When a body is discovered on the school grounds, Rebecca seems untroubled by the events, and more concerned with how a certain member of staff reacts to the news. Amidst the school setting we get to see the politics at play and the sexist attitudes never far from action and that really adds to the muddying of water as you make up your mind about Rebecca and her motives! The more you find out about her childhood and the past, the more the ‘now’ begins to make sense and that undercurrent of darkness is forever present and storyline of her past was particularly intense and gripping! This is a psychological thriller full of complex characters and situations and I was totally ensnared in the web of intrigue!!
Olive Westallen lives a privileged, if rather lonely, life in her family’s grand Hampstead home. But she has radical plans for the future of her family – plans that will shock the high-society world she inhabits.
For her new neighbour, twelve-year-old Ottilie Finch, London is an exciting playground to explore. Her family have recently arrived from Durham, under a cloud of scandal that Otty is blissfully unaware of. The only shadow over her days is her mother’s mysterious illness, which keeps her to her room.
When Mabs is offered the chance to become Mrs Finch’s companion, it saves her from a desperate life on the canals. Little does she know that all is not as picture-perfect as it seems. Mabs is about to become tangled in the secrets that chased the Finches from their last home, and trapped in an impossible dilemma . . .
The Rose Garden is an absorbing and moving novel, perfect for fans of Dinah Jefferies and Rachel Hore.
PUBLISHED BY PAN MACMILLAN
Wonderful!! It’s not often you find a book full of characters that could each have their own book that you’d happily read, but they’re all here!! Under one banner and it was just so lovely to be part of their world for the duration of this story. The author really does do historical fiction so well, and captures the essence of the times whilst including such strong, fascinating characters!
Set in London, around 1895, we’re introduced to very different characters living very different lives. Olive has a life many people would dream of, and she’s fully aware of the privilege she has. But she’s not one of those obsessed with indulgences and endless partying, she wants to do good and becomes determined to adopt a young girl from the local orphanage – definitely not the done thing if you’re a young, single woman!
Then there’s Ottilie, who is 12, and has recently moved to the area from Durham with her family. And she’s excited to be living in London and just wants to explore and learn! Another determined young lady!
And then there is Mabs, who has a tough home life after losing her mother, helping her father provide for her 6 siblings. When she’s offered the chance to work for the Finch family as a companion to the poorly Mrs Finch she jumps at the chance and is determined to do her best. She is soon part of the family and so grateful for the opportunities she has been granted.
What follows is their stories and how they come into contact with one another. It’s a fascinating story of independent women of the time and how that was frowned upon, and they were expected to tow the line and do as they were told. It was heartbreaking at times to see the lengths some people would go to to keep them in their place, so to speak, but their spirit never waivered and seemed to be inspired by what they saw around them.
An engrossing story full of wonderful female characters! Adored it!!
She loves the community on Kip, her yoga classes drawing women across the tiny island together. Now Lorna’s arrival might help their family finally mend itself – even if forgiveness means returning to the past…
So with two decades, hundreds of miles and a lifetime’s worth of secrets between Lorna and the island, can coming home mean starting again?
PUBLISHED BY ORION
This is a wonderful story of facing up to the past and reconnecting and in such a wonderful setting! It’s full of characters that you take to your heart, and understand their pain and frustration, and watching their story unfold just fills your heart with glee!
Lorna and her daughter Ella are leaving London and heading to a remote Scottish Island where Lorna grew up, but left in haste 20 years ago and doesn’t mention. Ella is excited to be meeting up with ‘family’ after so long, but Lorna is extremely anxious and unsure if they are doing the right thing. Immediately you are intrigued as to what happened 20 years ago that made her so desperate to escape.
Alice lives on the Island of Kip, with Jack (Lorna’s brother), and is desperate to meet her sister in law and niece for the first time as Jack never mentions them. He’s very reluctant to discuss what happened in the past and the events of recent years have made him even more reticent to discuss his sister and their childhood.
Seeing how Lorna reacts to being ‘home’ makes the story more intriguing and it doesn’t take long before she’s thinking about the past and her childhood, and how to talk to Jack about what happened when he was 14 and his big sister just upped and left him behind.
The community is so welcoming I wanted to move up there! It’s lovely to see how everyone helped everyone out, a big change from London for Lorna where she was on her own bringing up her daughter with very few friends, and only her job as a teacher to keep her going. The more time she spends on Kip, the more her old character is revealed and the dreams and passions she forgot about and time allows her and Jack to start to share memories – good and bad – and the truth of what happened finally begins to reveal itself.
This is a story that just shows how reconnecting with ghosts from the past and confronting those memories you tried to forget allows you to find ways to move on and I just loved it all!
‘This may just have saved my life…’ The hurried scribble in the dusty visitors’ book catches Gwen’s eye. Just like that, she is drawn into a mystery at the heart of the pretty village of Hopley, and her troubles seem to fall behind.
When tragedy strikes, Gwen Stanley finds herself jobless and heartbroken. With nowhere else to turn, she retreats to Hopley, a crumbling little village in the sun-dappled English countryside. Wandering the winding lanes and daydreaming about what could have been, Gwen feels so very lost for the first time…
Until one day she pushes through the creaking doors of a tiny stone church on the edge of the village, forgotten by nearly everyone. There she stumbles on a little book full of local secrets. It might just change her life.
Perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes, Cecilia Ahern and Fiona Valpy, this is a gorgeous, feel-good read from a Richard and Judy bestselling author.
PUBLISHED BY BOOKOUTURE
This is book 13 of my 20 Books of Summer 2021.
I love Tracy Rees and she hits the spot again with this wonderful feelgood story of hope, friendship and finding purpose in a world that seems to often be against you.
Gwen finds herself back in Hopley, the village where she grew up, and she’s feeling lost. But she finds solace at the little local church and becomes rather obsessed with the visitor book, connecting with the little messages that each visitor over the years has left. She’s living with her Aunt Mary and it’s proving a very stressful time.
Jarvis is also living in Hopley, and living with his parents, seemingly having no real plan for life, other than enjoying a drink or 3! To appease his parents, he finds himself volunteering to help out after a plea from the local vicar to raise much needed funds for the church. So that’s how Jarvis meets Gwen.
They soon become addicted to tracking down people who have put messages in the visitor book, in the hope that they might donate some money to the fund! And the feelings of self worth and joy it gives them to find someone and get a donation is truly heartwarming! And the more time they spend focussed on this and not all the negative things in their lives, it starts to make them both blossom as people and start to thinking about their own dreams and passions.
The characters in this book are just the loveliest! And it was wonderful to see how just a simple task could bring about such change in their fortunes. I loved hearing from the past visitors of how this little church had meant so much to them and stayed in their minds, and how their different stories helped open new doors of opportunities for Gwen and Jarvis.
Hello and Happy Saturday! Happy to report that my 2nd jab went well so haven’t been able to use that as an excuse for extra reading time this week! It does seem to have made me buy more books this week though so can’t complain about that!!! That’s the kind of side effect I can cope with!! I managed to finish 4 books this week, including 2 audiobooks, so still happy with that! And I steered well clear of Netgalley, but not of online bookshops where I bought 5 books, and got another 3 books for review/blog tours! Oops! Here’s my look back.
From the best-selling author of The Elegance of the Hedgehog comes a story about a woman’s journey to discover the father she never knew and a love she never thought possible.
Rose has just turned forty when she gets a call from a lawyer asking her to come to Kyoto for the reading of her estranged father’s will. And so for the first time in her life she finds herself in Japan, where Paul, her father’s assistant, is waiting to greet her.
As Paul guides Rose along a mysterious itinerary designed by her deceased father, her bitterness and anger are soothed by the stones and the trees in the Zen gardens they move through. During their walks, Rose encounters acquaintances of her father–including a potter and poet, an old lady friend, his housekeeper and chauffeur–whose interactions help her to slowly begin to accept a part of herself that she has never before acknowledged.
As the reading of the will gets closer, Rose’s father finally, posthumously, opens his heart to his daughter, offering her a poignant understanding of his love and a way to accept all she has lost.
FOR YOUR OWN GOOD by SAMANTHA DOWNING
publication date – 19th August 2021
Teddy Crutcher won Teacher of the Year at the prestigious Belmont Academy. Everyone thinks he’s brilliant. Only you know the truth.
They all smile when he tells us his wife couldn’t be more proud. But no-one has seen her in a while.
They’re impressed when he doesn’t let anything distract him – even the tragic death of a school parent. Even when the whispers start, saying it was murder.
You’re sure Teddy is hiding something about what happened that day.
You’re sure you can prove it.
But you didn’t stop to think that when it comes to catching a killer, there’s no place more dangerous than just one step behind . . .
THE END OF THE WORLD IS FLAT by SIMON EDGE
publication date – 16th August 2021
A satirical comedy featuring Christopher Columbus, a tech billionaire, and a global delusion. Mel Winterbourne is the founder of a small, single-issue charity in the obscure field of mapmaking. Its success in achieving modest aims attracts the attention of handsome tech billionaire Joey Talavera, who evicts Mel and hijacks her charity for his own ends: to convince the world that the earth is flat. Although his chances of doing so seem slim, Flat Earthery is an idea whose time has come. With the historical reputation of Christopher Columbus in free-fall, old-style ‘globularism’ becomes heretical for a new generation of angry, anti-Establishment free-thinkers. Teachers, politicians, and celebrities face ruin if they refuse to sign up to the new orthodoxy. For Mel, something must be done. Teaming up with a pariah tabloid journalist and a faded writer of gross-out movie comedies, she sets out to challenge Talavera and his deranged beliefs. Will history and the billionaire’s own family origins be their unexpected ally? Using his trademark mix of history and satire to poke fun at modern foibles, Simon Edge is at his razor-sharp best in a caper that may be much more relevant than you think.
NIGHTMARE ABBEY by THOMAS LOVE PEACOCK
published by Renard Press
This 1818 novel is set in a former abbey whose owner, Christopher Glowry, is host to visitors who enjoy his hospitality and engage in endless debate. Among these guests are figures recognizable to Peacock’s contemporaries, including characters based on Lord Byron and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Mr. Glowry’s son Scythrop (also modeled on a famous Romantic, Peacock’s friend Percy Bysshe Shelley) locks himself up in a tower where he reads German tragedies and transcendental philosophy and develops a “passion for reforming the world.” Disappointed in love, a sorrowful Scythrop decides the only thing to do is to commit suicide, but circumstances persuade him to instead follow his father in a love of misanthropy and Madeira. In addition to satire and comic romance, Nightmare Abbey presents a biting critique of the texts we view as central to British romanticism
And then SANDSTONE PRESS put out a little Twitter plea the other day saying they needed some sales to help them out – and the bookish world responded in the best way we know how! Shopping!! Here’s the little bundle I purchased!!
SWEET FRUIT, SOUR LAND by REBECCA LEY
Winner of the Not the Booker Prize 2018
Shortlisted for the Betty Trask Prize 2019
In the last circle of luxury in a barren London, government ministers hold glamorous parties. Mathilde and Jaminder, evading hunger and the restrictions on women’s bodies, form an unbreakable bond. But there’s a high price for pleasure and escape is far from easy.
THE TYRANNY OF LOST THINGS by RHIANNON LUCY COSSLETT
Two hot summers converge, twenty years apart, as Harmony returns to the North London house where she lived as a child with her bohemian parents. Like theirs, her days are hazed by drugs and sex and cheap wine. Nothing else is the same in Longhope Crescent, but it’s only here she can make sense of the anxiety and loss that plague her.
BLASTED THINGS by LUCY GLAISTER
1920: Britain is trying to forget the Great War. Clementine, who nursed at the front and suffered her own losses, must bury the past and settle for a life of middle class respectability. Then she meets Vincent, an opportunistic veteran whose damage goes much deeper than the painted tin mask he wears to face the world. Powerfully drawn together they enter a deadly relationship that careers towards a dark and haunting resolution.
FINER THINGS by DAVID WHARTON
London: 1963. The lives of a professional shoplifter and a young art student collide. Delia needs to atone for a terrible mistake; Tess is desperate to convince herself she really is an artist. Elsewhere in London, the Krays are on the rise and a gang war is in the offing.
Tess’s relationship with her gay best friend grows unexpectedly complicated, and Delia falls for a man she’s been paid to betray.
Another treat for me today, to get to hand over the Blog once again to the lovely Angela Britnell so she can share her thoughts with you on Publication Day for the fabulous A CORNISH SUMMER AT PEAR TREE FARM!! Get downloading it NOW!!
Over to you Angela…. 🌞🌞🌞
Release Day: A Cornish Summer at Pear Tree Farm by Angela Britnell
Thank you so much for inviting me over to say hello on publication day for A Cornish Summer at Pear Tree Farm! When it became obvious earlier in the year that I wouldn’t be able to travel across the pond and enjoy a real Cornish summer yet again, I decided a fictional one would do the trick which is when this book came to life.
I soon discovered at the core of Nessa Vivian’s character was a generous heart towards people who needed a refuge from their everyday lives which struck me as fortuitous because in a way she ended up doing the same thing for me. She also has the very special quality of not having to know the reason why someone needs her help but simply accepting that they do. The way Nessa sees it, if they want to tell her they will. Polly and Jack Green have lived on the site for thirty years without ever explaining to Nessa, or her parents before her, why they left Birmingham in the first place, why they’ve never returned or had any family come to visit them at Pear Tree Farm. Nessa treats army veteran Crispin Davies the same way. Almost three years earlier, he turned up in the middle of winter asking for a place to pitch his tent in return for work around the site. The hardworking Welshman is a loner and Nessa respects his reticence and never presses him to talk about his past. But things change when Ward Spencer arrives. Their mutual attraction is obvious from day one, but he’s clearly a man with secrets and for once that isn’t good enough for her. She’ll have to decide whether to break her golden rule or risk losing something – and someone – very special.
I rarely write sequels but when I finished A Cornish Summer at Pear Tree Farm there were two special characters begging for their own chance at love and a sense of belonging so I gave them
what they asked for. You’ll have to read A Cornish Christmas at Pear Tree Farm, due out in December, to find out if they took it!
About the Book:
Cornish charm and a Tennessee twist – the perfect pair?
Nessa Vivian is determined to keep her parents’ business afloat, but Pear Tree Farm near the backwater Cornish village of Polgarth didn’t do well as farm, and it’s not faring much better as a camp site. Maybe it’s due to Nessa’s habit of taking in troubled runaways, like ex-soldier Crispin, for next to nothing. Or perhaps her highly-strung sister Lowena is right – caravans named after Beatles’ songs and homegrown pears are not enough to turn the farm into a tourist haven.
Then another troubled runaway turns up, posing the greatest threat yet. Ex-musician Ward Spencer from Tennessee is certainly intriguing, but could his plans to put nearby Tregereth House on the map mean Pear Tree Farm is finished – or does his arrival signal a second lease of life, and not just for Nessa’s business?
Angela was born in St. Stephen, Cornwall, England. After completing her A-Levels she worked as a Naval Secretary. She met her husband, a US Naval Flight Officer, while being based at a small NATO Headquarters on the Jutland Peninsula in Denmark. They lived together in Denmark, Sicily, California, southern Maryland and London before settling in Franklin, Tennessee.
Angela took a creative writing course in 2000 and loved it so much that she has barely put her pen down since. She has had short stories and novels published in the US. Her novel Sugar & Spice, won Choc Lit’s Search for an American Star competition and was her UK debut.