#BlogTour THE BIRD IN THE BAMBOO CAGE by HAZEL GAYNOR #BookReview #TheBirdintheBambooCage @HazelGaynor @HarperFiction @RandomTTours

An absolute delight to be here with you today for the Blog Tour for THE BIRD IN THE BAMBOO CAGE by HAZEL GAYNOR. My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of Random Things Tours  for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all

ABOUT THE BOOK

 ‘Beautiful … warm, loveable characters who had me rooting for them all the way’ Tracy Rees

 ‘An absolute treat’ Liz Nugent

 China, 1941. With Japan’s declaration of war on the Allies, Elspeth Kent’s future changes forever. When soldiers take control of the missionary school where she teaches, comfortable security is replaced by rationing, uncertainty and fear.

 Ten-year-old Nancy Plummer has always felt safe at Chefoo School. Now the enemy, separated indefinitely from anxious parents, the children must turn to their teachers – to Miss Kent and her new Girl Guide patrol especially – for help. But worse is to come when the pupils and teachers are sent to a distant internment camp. Unimaginable hardship, impossible choices and danger lie ahead. 

Inspired by true events, this is the unforgettable story of the life-changing bonds formed between a young girl and her teacher, in a remote corner of a terrible war.

 ‘Moving and authentic’ Dinah Jefferies 

‘Vivid, heart-rending and so, so beautiful’ Jenny Ashcroft

PUBLISHED BY HARPER COLLINS

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon

Hive.co.uk

Blackwell’s

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hazel Gaynor is an award-winning, New York Times, USA Today, and Irish Times, bestselling author of historical fiction, including her debut THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME, for which she received the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award. THE LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER’S DAUGHTER was shortlisted for the 2019 HWA Gold Crown award. She is published in thirteen languages and nineteen countries. Hazel is co-founder of creative writing events, The Inspiration Project, and currently lives in Ireland with her family, though originally from Yorkshire.

MY REVIEW

Wow!! This is a book that I find myself unable to stop thinking about since finishing it. 

It’s a historical story told from 2 viewpoints – one of a child, one of a teacher – living through extraordinary times in China during the Second World War and the impact that has on their school when it is taken over by the Japanese. Seeing how it impacts  on people of different ages was a fascinating insight on how we all deal with traumatic events differently – how our thought processes work when faced with an extreme situation and how we can often appear to put on a brave face but when we’re alone it’s a different story. And that dilemma is what faces Elspeth, the teacher, as she tries to remain stoic in front of the children she is in charge of, whilst facing her own heartache and despair at the situation unfolding around her.

Elspeth works at a missionary school in China, where Nancy is a pupil.  The girls and teachers become family as they spend so much time together, and the teachers become surrogate parents to the girls who are away from their own families for such a long time. But their calm and secure little school is soon to become a scary place when Japanese soldiers come in and take over, and they all soon find themselves sent off to camp, fearful of what conditions and treatment they are all to face.

What I loved about the different viewpoints was how they had different ways of looking at their experiences – the teachers would be very cynical and see things for how they actually were, whilst the children would block out the worst and come up with nicknames for the soldiers. They would just be kids! But what brought them all together is their shared hope in the smallest things around them – the sight of a sunflower seed growing amidst the chaos would begin to mean so much to them all.

Despite the awful conditions they often found themselves facing, what I admired most was their resilience. The fact that they never gave up hope that things would get better for all of them.  And the fact that life carried on whilst they were there – the teachers would hope to distract the girls with different lessons, whilst also helping them through changing times both in the world and in their own bodies.

The treatment  by the soldiers was often horrific and graphic and just shows what kind of things everyone had to endure and really brought home how brave these prisoners were.  It was the little moments of hope, friendship and determination that made them stronger and united them all in a way that few of us could imagine. They say the worst of times brings out the best in some people and that is so true for these teachers and pupils.

An emotional and stunning story.  Highly recommended!!

★★★★★

#BlogTour MEET ME IN MONACO by HAZEL GAYNOR and HEATHER WEBB #BookReview @Harper360UK @HazelGaynor @msheatherwebb #MeetMeInMonaco

Thrilled to be the latest stop on the Blog Tour for the fabulous MEET ME IN MONACO by HAZEL GAYNOR and HEATHER WEBB. My thanks to the publishers for the copy of the book and letting me be part of it all!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Set in the 1950s against the backdrop of Grace Kelly’s whirlwind romance and glamourous wedding to Prince Rainier of Monaco, New York Times bestselling author Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb take the reader on an evocative sun-drenched journey along the Côte d’Azur in this page-turning novel of passion, fate, and second-chances.

Movie stars and paparazzi flock to Cannes for the glamorous film festival, but Grace Kelly, the biggest star of all, wants only to escape from the flash-bulbs. When struggling perfumer Sophie Duval shelters Miss Kelly in her boutique, fending off a persistent British press photographer, James Henderson, a bond is forged between the two women and sets in motion a chain of events that stretches across thirty years of friendship, love, and tragedy.

James Henderson cannot forget his brief encounter with Sophie Duval. Despite his guilt at being away from his daughter, he takes an assignment to cover the wedding of the century, sailing with Grace Kelly’s wedding party on the SS Constitution from New York. In Monaco, as wedding fever soars and passions and tempers escalate, James and Sophie—like Princess Grace—must ultimately decide what they are prepared to give up for love.

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK  £8.96

hive.co.uk  £7.75

whsmith  £6.47

MY REVIEW

If you’re looking for a book to transport you back in time – to a time of glamour, glitz and wonderful settings, then look no further! This is the book  for you! And I found myself totally swept up in the romance and pining for the glamorous times and stars of  the past!

It’s the story of 2 women – one slightly more well known than the other! When a young actress finds herself pursued by a photographer at the Cannes Festival, she hides out in a perfume shop and gets talking to the owner and they strike up a wonderful friendship that carries them both through changing times!  

Sophie runs a perfume shop but times are tough.  She will do anything to save her beloved shop which means so much to her but she’s running out of options and time!  When the young actress, Grace Kelly, ends up in her shop she’s captivated by the scents created by this woman and the friendship that follows between the two is enchanting.  

The photographer chasing after Grace is James who is a London photographer and has been sent on assignment to capture the sights of the Cannes film festival. When he meets Sophie he is firmly put in his place by her but there’s just something about her that he can’t shake.  

Throughout the story we also get snippets of the news of the time concerning Grace Kelly and her rise to fame, and how the timeline went for her as she fell for a Prince.   I loved this little look back and how the media interest just grew and grew, and how their romance blossomed from a chance meeting.

The striking feature throughout the book is loyalty – Sophie was loyal to Grace and vice versa, and the loyalty shown by Sophie and James too was also clear to see.  He doted on his daughter despite having to spend so much time away from her, and his devotion for her  is something that really connects with Sophie even when it means it may come between them.

I found this book to be utterly spellbinding!  The historical element was perfectly played, as was the romances and the difficult choices that many characters had to make on their journeys.  I have since found myself looking back at old photos and video clips of Grace and Prince Rainier and just imagining Sophie and James being part of it all behind the scenes!!

★★★★★

The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor #bookreview

THE BLURB

The author of The Girl Who Came Home turns the clock back one hundred years to a time when two young girls from Cottingley, Yorkshire, convinced the world that they had done the impossible and photographed fairies in their garden. Now, in her newest novel, international bestseller Hazel Gaynor reimagines their story.

1917… It was inexplicable, impossible, but it had to be true—didn’t it? When two young cousins, Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright from Cottingley, England, claim to have photographed fairies at the bottom of the garden, their parents are astonished. But when one of the great novelists of the time, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, becomes convinced of the photographs’ authenticity, the girls become a national sensation, their discovery offering hope to those longing for something to believe in amid a world ravaged by war. Frances and Elsie will hide their secret for many decades. But Frances longs for the truth to be told.

One hundred years later… When Olivia Kavanagh finds an old manuscript in her late grandfather’s bookshop she becomes fascinated by the story it tells of two young girls who mystified the world. But it is the discovery of an old photograph that leads her to realize how the fairy girls’ lives intertwine with hers, connecting past to present, and blurring her understanding of what is real and what is imagined. As she begins to understand why a nation once believed in fairies, can Olivia find a way to believe in herself?

Shopping Links

Amazon UK

Hive.co.uk – buy online and support your local bookstore

Book Depository

 

 

MY REVIEW

I believe!!

I found this to be a magical, charming and wonderful story that mixes fact with fiction in a delightful story that kept me enthralled from start to finish!

It mixes the ‘then’ storyline of 1917 when 2 girls, Frances and Elsie, fooled the world with their photographs of the fairies they saw playing at the beck in Cottingley, and how it consumed their lives and often left them feeling they hadn’t let the world know of their secret!

And in the present day we follow Olivia who is struggling to connect with her life as she loses close relatives, is struggling to keep her beloved bookshop open and is facing her wedding day with major doubts over her relationship with the odious Jack. As she is decluttering she stumbles across a manuscript written by Frances and details her life and she is enthralled by what she finds and sets about trying to find the truth behind the story she reads and how it connects to her family.

The characters were a major strength in this book. The young girls and their story was fascinating as their lives weren’t easy, but they found comfort in spending time with each other and the garden visitors and it helped them make sense of the world. And Olivia was delightful in her devotion to her family, especially her grandparents, after her tragic youth and her inquisitive mind was perfect to let the story develop while she discovered more about herself – both of her past and for her own personal decisions she needed to make. The fairy magic begins to creep into the bookshop too and maybe life is about to be transformed for Olivia!

I found this really easy to read and can highly recommend it to those who love history and a story full of magic!