#BookReview A SINGLE ROSE by MURIEL BARBERY @BelgraviaB #publicationday



ABOUT THE BOOK


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. 


PUBLISHED BY GALLIC BOOKS

Publication date – 23rd September 2021

PURCHASE LINK

 Belgravia Books

Amazon

MY REVIEW

This is an exquisitely told story that will you have you yearning for Japanese gardens and swooning over the words chosen to describe the journey you take with Rose!

Rose finds herself an orphan at 40, when the father she never knew dies and she has to travel to Japan for the reading of the will. She’s very conflicted about her feelings about this man she never met or knew and sees this trip just as ‘admin’ – not expecting what was to follow.

Happiness seems to have evaded her over the years – wrapped up in her work as a botanist, she was always lacking that passion or connection that lit up her life. You wonder if she learnt from her mother who always lived with a negative outlook on the world.

During her time in Japan she is taken on a tour of places that were important to her father, by his assistant. And those trips start to open her eyes to this man she never knew, and takes her out of that comfort zone to start experiencing a different outlook on life. As a reader you can’t help but be seduced by the use of language to describe the gardens and flowers, and Rose starts to learn things about herself.

This was a magical reading experience for me – the way it is written was just so beautiful and elegant and I really enjoyed watching Rose learn more about herself as she learnt more about her father. A beautiful book inside and out!!

★★★★★

My thanks to the team at Gallic Press for the advanced reader copy in return for a fair and honest review

#BookReview RIDER ON THE RAIN by SEBASTIEN JAPRISOT @BelgraviaB



ABOUT THE BOOK

He is suddenly and monstrously there, and his mask disguises nothing . . .

The bus never stops in Le Cap-des-Pins. Not in autumn, when the small Riviera resort is deserted. Except today, when a man with a red bag and a disconcerting stare steps out into the rain.

His arrival will throw the life of young housewife Mellie Mau into disarray. After surviving a horrific attack, she has a dark secret to hide. But a stranger at a wedding, the enigmatic American Harry Dobbs, is determined to get the truth out of her, leading her into a game of cat and mouse with dangerous consequences …

A cool, stylish and twisty thriller from cult French noir writer Sébastien Japrisot.

Praise for Rider on the Rain
‘Japrisot writes with warmth and has a gift for rendering almost every character instantly likable.’ New Yorker
 ‘A magician who lays out the truth on the page.’ Le Monde
Praise for Sébastien Japrisot 
‘With an instantly recognisable style and great story-telling techniques, he might be called the Graham Greene of France’ The Independent 
‘The most welcome talent since the early Simenons’ New York Times 
‘Utterly captivating’ The Guardian 
‘A cordon bleu mixture of suspense, sex, trick psychology and fast action’ Publishers Weekly 
‘Diabolically clever’ Anita Brookner, author of Hotel du Lac
‘Japrisot holds a unique place in contemporary fiction. With the quality and originality of his writing, he has hugely contributed to breaking down the barrier between crime fiction and literary fiction’ Le Monde 
‘A marvellous storyteller’ Télérama
‘Unreeled with the taut, confident shaping of a grand master … Funny, awful, first-rate. A rich and resonant sonata in black, astutely suspended between mythic tragedy and the grubby pathos of nagging everyday life’ Kirkus Reviews 

PUBLISHED BY GALLIC PRESS

PURCHASE LINK


BELGRAVIA BOOKS

MY REVIEW

For a short novel, this is a story that packs a punch! It’s very dark and has sinister undertones, and I loved it!

Set in France, in a small riviera resort, this is the story of a housewife, Mellie, who is subjected to an horrific attack by a man who recently shows up in town. You really sense the fear she feels when she’s attacked in her own home, and that horror continues into the next door as he sticks around… you’ll find yourself totally on her side with how she deals with this ‘man’.

And what follows is the aftermath, and the presence of an American in town who seems a little too interested in Mellie and this man – you wonder what his motive is. He’s asking way too many questions and she wonders if she can trust him.

There’s a lot of dodgy, darker goings on in this book and that intrigue kept me hooked throughout. Pulsating, thrilling and twisted – my kind of book! 

★★★★

My thanks to Gallic Press for the advanced reader copy in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookReview TRAP FOR CINDERELLA by SEBASTIEN JAPRISOT



ABOUT THE BOOK


A racy, chilling noir mystery of mistaken identity, deception, and greed by the author of A Very Long Engagement.A suspicious fire consumes a beach house at a southern French resort. Two young women — friends on the surface but deep down foes — are trapped inside. One is rich, the other poor. One is killed and the other survives, burned beyond recognition and in a state of total amnesia. Plastic surgery gives her a new pretty face, but it can not restore her memory of her identity. Who is she? The heiress or her friend? A killer or an intended victim? Only one person knows the truth about the betrayal and hair-raising terror which took place that night. And she is not about to give it away…Winner of France’s most prestigious crime-fiction award, Trap for Cinderella is an engrossing tour de force by a master of mystery and deception.


PUBLISHED BY GALLIC BOOKS


PURCHASE LINKS

Publisher Website
Blackwell’s

MY REVIEW

The book opens with a woman in a hospital room, not knowing why she’s there or who she is! And that mystery continues throughout the book in a really clever and engaging way, as she tries to put the pieces of her life back together after an horrific house fire that claimed the life of a friend, and left her with very few memories.

From her time spent in hospital, where the medical staff would just call her ‘mummy’, to the presence of Jeanne, the woman who used to take care of her pre-fire, and is there for her now to guide her back to some kind of normality. You do begin to wonder if she’s a help or hindrance at times though! As she informs her of a portrait of a none too pleasant person! A Disagreeable attitude and poor behaviour, it seems being liked was low on her list of priorities. And what of her friend who died in the fire?

As she starts to investigate certain names in her past, she begins to question who is telling her the truth of her life before. As a reader, your spidey senses are also tingling as the various accounts of her life just muddy the water and wonder about the motives involved for maybe being a little loose with the truth!

I really enjoyed the mystery and darkness of it all, along with the devious minds of the characters! I’m not sure you’d want to be friends with any of them as lying seemed to come too easily to some!


★★★★

My thanks to Gallic Books for sending me an advanced reader copy in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookReview THE READERS’ ROOM by ANTOINE LAURAIN

ABOUT THE BOOK

When the manuscript of a debut crime novel arrives at a Parisian publishing house, everyone in the readers’ room is convinced it’s something special. And the committee for France’s highest literary honour, the Prix Goncourt, agrees.

But when the shortlist is announced, there’s a problem for editor Violaine Lepage: she has no idea of the author’s identity. As the police begin to investigate a series of murders strangely reminiscent of those recounted in the book, Violaine is not the only one looking for answers. And, suffering memory blanks following an aeroplane accident, she’s beginning to wonder what role she might play in the story …

Antoine Laurain, bestselling author of The Red Notebook, combines intrigue and charm in this dazzling novel of mystery, love and the power of books. 

PUBLISHED BY GALLIC BOOKS

PURCHASE LINKS

Publisher Website

blackwell’s

MY REVIEW

This is the story of a debut crime novel that is a massive success, but those who published it have no idea of the author! And when some of the murder scenes from the book happen in real life, the police want to find out more from Violaine who is part of the publishing house that put the book out! What follows is full of twists and turns and revelations that kept me gripped until the end!

It also gives a wonderful glimpse into the life of a publishing house in Paris. The fact that they receive many more misses than hits in their submissions pile, although I do love the idea of being part of the Readers’ Room where Violaine started off her life by reading books ready to locate the next big smash, and worked her way up through the company that way!

Her life is blighted by a plane crash that leaves her in a coma, and then the memory lapses add to her distress, especially as she only seems to be forgetting certain parts of her life.

This was a very clever and intriguing read and I loved the way the story was told – the flashes into the past, the investigation side of the story and the characters evolving.

★★★★

#BookReview THE SWALLOWED MAN by EDWARD CAREY

ABOUT THE BOOK


I am writing this account, in another man’s book, by candlelight, inside the belly of a fish. I have been eaten. I have been eaten, yet I am living still. From the acclaimed author of Little comes this beautiful and haunting imagining of the years Geppetto spends within the belly of a sea beast.

Drawing upon the Pinocchio story while creating something entirely his own, Carey tells an unforgettable tale of fatherly love and loss, pride and regret, and of the sustaining power of art and imagination.

PUBLISHED BY GALLIC BOOKS

PURCHASE LINKS

Publisher Website – signed hardback

hive.co.uk

MY REVIEW

This is a re-telling of the story of Pinochio, from the viewpoint of Geppetto as he sits inside the belly of a fish, and you can’t help but be transfixed by the haunting desperation of a man as he looks back on his time as a parent, albeit to a wooden boy he created.


This is an extraodinary story and really centres on the despair and loneliness of a man, who created a boy to share his life with and the impact that had on him. The lengths it has driven him to when the little boy runs away. As Geppetto sits inside the fish awaiting his fate, he writes his story down on paper to share with his son, along with drawings and it is striking on how much his childhood was impacted by his own father and how that has shaped him as a man and father to Pinochio.


From the moment his son takes shape from the wood he uses to carve him, we see the impact of that relationship on both sides. How the meanness of Geppetto affected the young boy, but over time the father/son relationship strengthened and he grew to appreciate the company that having a family brought to him.


These are the books that I love to read! They’re quirky, different and aren’t afraid to approach storytelling from a different viewpoint. It shows the darkness and insanity of loneliness in stark terms and you’re left with an overwhelming sadness for Geppetto as he looks back over his life.


One sentence really stuck out for me especially ‘I crept about in the background of life’ and that clearly showed how he felt undervalued, and unloved until this little wooden boy appeared in his life to give him a purpose in his lonely life.
A stunning little book.

★★★★★

#BookReviews THE WOMAN OF THE WOLF by RENEE VIVIEN/ THREE RIVAL SISTERS by MARIE-LOUISE GAGNEUR @BelgraviaB

ABOUT THE BOOK


A woman rides crocodiles like horses. A queen gives up her throne for her dignity. And Prince Charming is not who you might think . . .

The Woman of the Wolf and Other Stories, written in 1904, is perhaps the finest work by sapphic poet Renée Vivien. Blending myth, fairy story and biblical tale, Vivien creates powerful portraits of strong women who stand up for what they believe in – and of the aggrieved men who trail behind them.

Bold, defiant and suffused with a unique poetic voice, this scintillating collection of short stories offers a radical alternative to traditional lore.


PUBLISHED BY GALLIC BOOKS
PURCHASE LINK

Publisher Website


MY REVIEW

This was a strong mix of short stories, many very cutting about men, but made for a fun and thought provoking look at sexist attitudes and the roles of women from the perspective of men. And considering it was first published over 100 years ago, it is pointedly still very relevant!!

There are 17 tales in total that revolve around myths and bible tales, and all featuring a very dark humour that always appeals to me! It felt so modern and feminist, which is a little worrying that we don’t seem to have come very far over the years with a lot of the behaviours of men still prevelant!

I loved the mix of stories and they all featured many fearless, confident and resilient women, played nicely off against the weaker sex!! Stories involve a she-wolf, deception, murder, brutality, fantasy and adventure and just seemed to be the perfect length of stories. I often find with short stories that there are more misses than hits, but not with this one! The darker they got, the more I lapped them up!!

★★★★



THREE RIVAL SISTERS by MARIE-LOUISE GAGNEUR



ABOUT THE BOOK

Much acclaimed amongst her contemporaries and yet all but forgotten today, Marie-Louise Gagneur was a defining voice in French feminism. These stories, translated into English for the first time, critique the restrictions of late nineteenth-century society and explore the ways in which both men and women are hurt by rigid attitudes towards marriage.

In ‘An Atonement’, the Count de Montbarrey awakes one morning to find his wife dead, leaving him free to marry the woman he really loves. Could the Count have accidentally killed his wife? And how can he atone for his crime?

‘Three Rival Sisters’ tells the story of the rivalry between Henriette, Renée and Gabrielle as they compete for the affections of one man. But marriage does not necessarily guarantee happiness, as the sisters are about to find out.

Steeped in wit, empathy and biting social criticism, and with echoes of Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Kate Chopin, these stories show Gagneur to be worthy of renewed attention.
PUBLISHED BY GALLIC BOOKS

PURCHASE LINK
Publisher Website

MY REVIEW


Two brilliant short stories all wrapped up in one lovely book package for you – what more could you want?!

The main story is Three Rival Sisters which is a biting look at the lengths 3 sisters will go to for the love (and money!) of one man! They are all brought up to believe that love and marriage are the only things that will bring them happiness, but they soon find out that this clearly isn’t true! But their main focus is to be the one that catches the eye of the wealthy suitor, who seems only too willing to pit each sister against one another! What a catch!!

I loved how the author explored the way the women were programmed to think from a young age. What they perceived as ‘love’ was really just about wanting to cement their place in society, and the role the father played in just wanting his daughters married off. With 2 weddings taking place on one day, we see that the ‘happy ever after’ was anything but and how that affected the relationships of the sisters over the years when they got to see beyond their marriage goals, and reconnect as family once more.

And the second story, An Atonement, is a much shorter offering but still exploring the role of marriage and love through the eyes of the Count de Montbarrey who finds himself plagued with guilt when he finds his wife dead one morning, leaving him free to marry his ‘true love’. His wife had been very sick and their marriage was to please his family. With her out of the way, he soon remarries but he can’t seem to get past the feelings of remorse and regret and that leads him to take on a different role as he feels he needs to atone for his past indiscretions. At only 43 pages long, it really does pack a punch!


★★★★★

My thanks to Gallic Books for the advanced reader copies of both books in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookReview HOW’S THE PAIN by PASCAL GARNIER

ABOUT THE BOOK

Death is Simon’s business. And now the ageing vermin exterminator is preparing to die. But he still has one last job down on the coast and he needs a driver. Bernard is twenty-one. He can drive and he’s never seen the sea. He can’t pass up the chance to chauffeur for Simon, whatever his mother may say. As the unlikely pair set off on their journey, Bernard soon finds that Simon’s definition of vermin is broader than he’d expected…Veering from the hilarious to the horrific, this offbeat story from master stylist, Pascal Garnier, is at heart an affecting study of human frailties.

PUBLISHED BY GALLIC BOOKS

PURCHASE LINKS

Publisher Website

hive.co.uk

blackwell’s

MY REVIEW

A book that has the ending at the beginning! BUT it works!! It doesn’t spoil the ride you are taken on with these quirkier characters and I loved it! The dryness of the humour, the darker themes with the setting and the character traits and the fact that it packs an awful, lot in to such a short space!

From the very dark opening, it’s a book that doesn’t let you go! Simon and Bernard are the main two characters and they’re not your average, run of the mill kind of blokes! Their pasts explain their present and their outlook on life. Simon finds himself in need of a driver – step forward Bernard who lives at home so he can care for his mother. But he’s looking for an escape, an adventure, so this job is the perfect opportunity for him – even if he doesn’t really understand what Simon is planning on doing!

They are an unlikely pairing but they need one another! I think Bernard sees Simon as a kind of father figure, although Simon isn’t really the kind of person to let people in and always tries to keep them at arms length. He doesn’t have time to show emotion or share feelings!

Along the way they encounter some even more intriguing characters, and they even pick up a mother and baby along the way to add to the melting pot! I did love the touches of humour that lifted the darker side of the book and I found it strangely touching, in a weird way! These misfits sharing time together while dealing with their own turmoil and troubles.

★★★★★

Thank you to Gallic Books for my arc copy of this in return for  a fair and honest review.

#BookReview THE SLEEPING CAR MURDERS by SEBASTIEN JAPRISOT


ABOUT THE BOOK

When the night train pulled into Paris, she was dead. And the riddle began . . .

A beautiful young woman lies sprawled on her berth in the sleeping car of the night train from Marseille to Paris. She is not in the embrace of sleep, or even in the arms of one of her many lovers. She is dead. And the unpleasant task of finding her killer is handed to overworked, crime-weary police detective Pierre ‘Grazzi’ Grazziano, who would rather play hide-and-seek with his little son than cat and mouse with a diabolically cunning, savage murderer.Sébastien Japrisot takes the reader on an express ride of riveting suspense that races through a Parisian landscape of lust, deception and death. With corpses turning up everywhere, the question becomes not only who is the killer, but who will be the next victim .

. .PUBLISHED BY GALLIC BOOKS


PURCHASE LINK

PUBLISHER WEBSITE

MY REVIEW

What you think might be a straight forward ‘whodunnit’ soon becomes an absorbing and twisty tale as you try and second guess just exactly what did happen on that train when a young woman is found murdered. She’d been strangled and there are very few clues around so the case facing Det Pierre Grazziano is anything but straightforward!

I loved the setting and the process that the Detective goes through to try and work out the happenings on that overnight train. He has to interview passengers who were on the train and work through their recollections of the murder victim – any tiny piece of information can help him try and make sense of it all and you’re taken along for the ride as he tries to put all the pieces together.

His investigation is hindered by more murders and I love how the story takes you down one path before throwing another curveball your way to muddy the waters! It’s only a short book as well and I’m amazed at the depth of plot that was allowed to be explored!

A twisty, dark thriller and I loved it!

★★★★


My thanks to the team at Gallic Books for the advanced reader copy in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookReview A STRANGE COUNTRY by MURIEL BARBERY #PublicationDay

ABOUT THE BOOK

Alejandro de Yepes and Jesús Rocamora, young officers in the Spanish regular army, are stationed alone at Castillo when a friendly redhead named Petrus appears out of nowhere. There is something magnetic and deeply mysterious about him. Alejandro and Jesús are bewitched, and, in the middle of the sixth year of the longest war humankind has ever endured, they abandon their post to follow him across a bridge that only he can see.Petrus brings them to a world of lingering fog, strange beings, poetry, music, natural wonders, harmony and extraordinary beauty. This is where the fate of the world and all its living creatures is decided. Yet this world too is under threat. A long battle against the forces of disenchantment is drawing to a climactic close. Will poetry and beauty prevail over darkness and death? And what role will Alejandro and Jesús play?Muriel Barbery’s richly imagined new novel, the sequel to The Life of Elves, will transport readers to a lost world exposed to the constant churn of civilisations and remind them of the power of poetry and imagination

.PUBLISHED BY GALLIC


PURCHASE LINKS


Publisher Website

Amazon

Blackwell’s

MY REVIEW


Some books take a little bit of extra effort from a reader, and I found this to be one of those books  BUT it is worth that work! It’s another beautifully written book from the author, and another fight of good vs evil with links to the other world as the worlds join forces to defeat those with evil intentions.


The story starts with a war, and the bond between soldiers despite their very different backgrounds. Fighting a common enemy unites them, and Alejandro and Jesus are 2 of the soldiers. And they find themselves facing even weirder times when they are confronted by 3 ‘ghosts’ who appear to have crossed the bridge from another world to warn the humans that they need to work together.


This inventive story really does have a mythical feel with the magical realism and once you get into the flow of the story it all begins to make sense.  The use of poetry helps lead you through the twisty journey that they find themselves on – the story flits about and it’s told in a mixed up way and I found this to be good at keeping you engaged and wondering what was round the corner for them!  


I also enjoyed the little touches of humour, and the way it unites what should be two very different forces with their outlook on the ways of the world.  Their experiences, their histories are all explored and I loved the gentle and soothing aspects of the story! The vivid descriptions transport you to this other world.  This is a prequel to Life of Elves but you don’t need to have read that – I think I preferred the storytelling aspect in this one than in ‘Elves’! It just made it easier to connect with for me!  Well worth immersing yourself in this book just for the beautiful way with words that Muriel Barbery has!!


★★★★

My thanks to Gallic for the advanced copy of the book in return for a fair and honest review.

#BlogTour A HUNDRED MILLION YEARS AND A DAY by JEAN-BAPTISTE ANDREA #BookReview

Extremely delighted to be the latest stop on the Blog Tour for A HUNDRED MILLION YEARS AND A DAY by JEAN-BAPTISTE ANDREA. My thanks to Isabelle at Gallic Books for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all!

ABOUT THE BOOK

‘On the mountain, the only monsters are the ones you take with you.’
Summer 1954. Stan has been hunting for fossils since the age of six. Now, having made a career out of studying the remains of tiny lifeforms, he hears a story he cannot forget: the skeleton of a huge creature, a veritable dragon, lies deep in an Alpine glacier. And he is determined to find it.


Leaving his life in Paris behind, Stan sets out in pursuit of a legend. But he is no mountaineer, and to attempt his dangerous expedition he must call on loyal friend and colleague Umberto, who arrives with an eccentric young assistant, and expert guide Gio. Time is short: the four men must descend before the weather turns. Bonds are forged and tested as the hazardous quest for the earth’s lost creatures becomes a journey into Stan’s own past.


PUBLISHED BY GALLIC BOOKS

PUBLICATION DATE – 11TH JUNE 2020


PURCHASE LINKS


BELGRAVIA BOOKS


HIVE.CO.UK

MY REVIEW


This was a fascinating novel about the lengths some will go to in the pursuit of a dream – the obsession, the insanity, the sacrifices and the seeds sown from a young age that will shape a person in their future endeavours.


Stan has been hunting fossils since he was 6 years old – he was much happier on his own hunting fossils but that marked him out as being different so he was bullied. Not only by other children, but by his own father which was the heartbreaking aspect of the story.  He never had that support from his dad and as he has flashbacks while climbing the mountain, we get an extraordinary glimpse into the childhood traumas the poor little Stan suffered.
And those traumas set him on the path to want to prove people wrong, which is why he doesn’t want to seem to acknowledge the danger he is putting himself and his team in on the quest to find the skeleton of a dragon in an alpine glacier.


His backstory is heartbreaking and has totally shaped his outlook on life right now and it was often emotional to witness the physical and mental battle he faces on every step of his journey. But with the darkside, he manages to find little moments of happy that keep him pushing on and that’s what I’ll take away from this book the most.  He never let the darker images dampen his determination to achieve the seemingly impossible.  Being told ‘no’ all his life, being bullied, laughed at, meant that he only wanted to prove things to himself that he was good enough – no matter what the cost.

There are the moments of loneliness, anger, and bitterness mixed with the moments of reflection, resolve and I found it to be an absorbing story.


★★★★