My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – Week 25 2018

Hello!! Hope you are fine and dandy!!  Another week of hot and sunny weather here in the UK and it still feels very odd!! Where’s the rain?! The storms?!! Weather here isn’t supposed to be like this is it?! And there’s no sign of it coming to an end either so I’m looking forward to spotting more butterflies in the garden as they’ve been very few and far between so far!

And as it’s been too hot to do much, which means MORE READING time!! So another successful week with 6 books off the TBR pile  – but books have been making their way onto the shelves too so 7 new additions are now part of my book family!  Let’s see how I can get on in July as I try and buy less books…. wish me luck!!

So here’s a look back at my week! Click on the book titles for links to the GoodReads page for more info!


Pretend I’m Dead by Jen Beagin  –  4 stars

This has been described as ‘Eleanor Oliphant on Acid’ – and I can see why! Enjoyed this funny, quirky tale!

The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson  –  5 stars


I loved this magical story! Highly recommended!!

The Cafe at Seashell Cove by Karen Clarke   –  5 stars 


Another fabulous read! Found myself laughing from page one at the antics and it was just a treat to read!

The Cottage on Sunshine Beach by Holly Martin  –  5 stars

This is book 2 in the series, but I’ve not read book 1 but loved this so will be going back to enjoy more! Such a summery treat full of wonderful characters!

The Windmill Cafe:Autumn Leaves by Poppy Blake

Enjoyed this although it wasn’t what I expected it to be! I have’t read book one in the series (this is number two!), but it was a good mix of romance and cosy crime!

The Cosy Seaside Chocolate Shop by Caroline Roberts  –  4 stars

Another book I’d not read the first in the series of, this made no difference to my enjoyment of this cosy story full of lovely characters and chocolate!! A great combination!


A few books arrived this week for review ahead of Blog Tours I’m on in the coming weeks and then I found myself in The Works today just browsing…. and we all know how that ends! 

The Whitstable High Tide Swimming Club by Katie May – the cute cover caught my eye!

Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase – heard so many good things about this one!

The Little Breton Bistro by Nina George – I loved The Little Paris Bookshop so hope this is as good!

The Madonna of Bolton by Matt Cain

I’m on the blog tour for this in July and as a Madonna fan myself I knew it was a book that might bring back some great memories for me!

Old Baggage by Lissa Evans

Have heard so many good things about this and I’ve been lucky enough to have been sent a copy for review so hoping to get reading this very soon!

What Was Lost by Jean Levy

Received this in the post from The Dome Press and the cover alone has me intrigued!!

Pretend I’m Dead by Jen Beagin

Received from OneWorld Publications




The Sing of the Shore by Lucy Wood

A short story collection.


And we’re done for another week!! How has your reading week been? Good? Bad? Ugly?!   And if you have read any of the books that have come my way this week I’d love to hear your thoughts on which ones I should pick up first! I can sense another weekend of lots of reading time ahead by the looks of the weather forecast!!



#BlogTour Song by Michelle Jana Chan #BookReview

Hugely delighted to be the latest stop on the Blog Tour for this extraordinary book – the rags to riches journey of a young boy finding his way in an often brutal world.  My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of  Random Things Through My Letterbox for letting me be part of it all.


Published –  28th June 2018

A sweeping historical epic, following one boy’s long journey from rags to riches; by award-winning journalist and travel editor of Vanity Fair, Michelle Jana Chan.

Song is just a boy when he sets out from Lishui village in China. Brimming with courage and ambition, he leaves behind his impoverished broken family hoping he’ll make his fortune and return home. Chasing tales of sugarcane, rubber and gold, Song embarks upon a perilous voyage across the globe to the British colony of Guiana, but once there he discovers riches are not so easy to come by and he is forced into labouring as an indentured plantation worker.

This is only the beginning of Song’s remarkable life, but as he finds himself between places and between peoples, and increasingly aware that the circumstances of birth carry more weight than accomplishments or good deeds, Song fears he may live as an outsider forever.

This beautifully written and evocative story spans nearly half a century and half the globe, and though it is set in another century, Song’s story of emigration and the quest for an opportunity to improve his life is timeless.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK  £18.99  £14.59

Book Depository  £16.99

About the Author

Michelle Jana Chan is an award-winning journalist and travel editor of Vanity Fair. She’s also contributing editor at Condé Nast Traveller, presenter of the BBC’s Global Guide and a writer for the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and Travel & Leisure. Michelle has been named the Travel Media Awards’ Travel Writer of the Year. She was a Morehead-Cain scholar at the University of Carolina at Chapel Hill. 


I found this to be an astonishing story which showed the best, and worst, of humanity in all its’ guises as we follow the story of Song who starts with nothing in life and fights to get the best kind of life he can for himself and those around him.

The story starts in 1878 in a small village where life is a constant struggle and the families are dependant on the weather for the crops to feed themselves and to sell to earn money.  When disaster strikes Song takes it on himself, aged 10, to venture further afield and see if the stories he’s been told of riches elsewhere are true as he wants to provide for his mother and siblings.

You find when reading this book that Song has an amazing attitude given his circumstances.   He’s not afraid of hard work and that is what he finds himself doing on a plantation.  His first piece of good luck is crossing the path of Father Holmes, who almost becomes a father figure to Song and through his care and treatment of Song helps unleash his potential into becoming a successful young man.

I loved the way the author allowed this story to flow and evolve.  No matter what knockbacks Song would receive he would always seem to dust himself off and it would just make him work harder to prove others wrong, and he wasn’t afraid to help others too.

This story approaches the subject of racism, slavery and corruption in such a sensitive way, and also in the way that shows Song dealing with all these issues.  He is aware of those doing wrong around him and isn’t afraid to confront those taking advantage of others, no matter what consequences he may face for speaking up.

A totally captivating read!

#BookReview The Cafe at Seashell Cove by Karen Clarke #20booksofsummer

About the book

Welcome to the Café at Seashell Cove, where you’ll find irresistible home-baked cakes, smiling friendly faces – and maybe even a second chance at love…

When Cassie Maitland needs a holiday from her glamorous but stressful job in event management, she escapes home to gorgeous Seashell Cove, where her family’s cosy café sits perched on the cliffs above sparkling waves and golden sand.

But a lot has changed while Cassie’s been away: her parents have transformed their tired café into a welcoming haven, her friends Meg and Tilly have whole new lives, and old flame Danny’s twinkling eyes and winning smile make Cassie feel even more flustered than they used to.

Keen to throw herself back into local life, Cassie starts to run themed events – including a not entirely successful cat-café day, complete with dozens of felines. Luckily Danny is always around to lend a helping hand, and Cassie soon begins to wonder if her life in London was really all she made it out to be…

Could a new start in Seashell Cove be exactly what Cassie needs?

A heart-warming and hilarious read about friendship, belonging and seaside living. Perfect for fans of Debbie Johnson, Holly Martin and Jenny Oliver.

Published by  Bookouture

Purchase Link

Amazon UK


It always helps when you find yourself laughing at the antics of the characters from page one, and that is what I found myself doing with this book as Cassie returns home to visit her parents! Her parents are so proud of the life she has found herself in – working hard as an events planner – and are always imagining her living such a glamorous lifestyle. The reality is not quite that good and Cassie has returned home as she’s been fired and now doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life.

As she returns home to her childhood home, all the feelings she had for the idyllic setting return and she starts trying to help arrange events to help raise the profile of her parents cafe – even though while she has been away, they’ve done an amazing job in redecorating and bringing the cafe into the 21st century. And her efforts don’t exactly go to plan so her confidence takes a big hit!

I loved Cassie and her family – they live life to the fullest and don’t do normal! And while she is back in Seashell Cove she starts to reconnect with old school friends, Tilly, Meg and Danny. He was her schoolgirl crush and seems to be a jack of all trades as he’s helped out her parents and is currently helping her nan with her garden. And even though Cassie has recently split from city boy Adam, she is torn between the lifestyle she had that seemed to make her parents so proud, and a lifestyle of being happy and following her passions in life.

This was such a fun, fresh read and I’ve found another fictional area that I want to move too – alongside a new fictional boyfriend in Danny! I’ve not read anything from this author before BUT that will be changing as I’m looking forward to reading more from her!


My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – Week 24 2018

Hello!! Greeted by this beauty in the garden this morning – it’s a Lily I’m helping to trial for the Richard Jackson Garden team and if you are looking for the easiest to look after plant then I’d highly recommend this Lily ‘Bright Joy’! We do like a plant that needs very little care!!

The sun continues to shine here in Essex and it seems to have helped no end with my reading and book acquiring habits!! Is that a good thing?! Yes to the first, No to the second! July definitely needs to be a more restrained month on the book buying front…… famous last words!

So this past week I’ve managed  to finish another 5 books and have acquired 8 books for the shelves! Oops! Here’s a little look at all the bookish action! Please click on the book titles for a link to their GoodReads page for more info!



My Mourning Year by Andrew Marshall – 4 stars

The Power of Dog by Andrew Marshall – 4 stars

Ahead of the Blog Tour for The Power of Dog I will be on in July, I read these two memoirs from Andrew Marshall and found them to be a really interesting look at grief and how to recover.

Summer at the Little Duck Pond Cafe by Rosie Green  –  4 stars

I loved revisiting this Little Duck Pond Cafe series and this is number 2 in the series! Really good read!

Call of the Curlew by Elizabeth Brooks  – 5 stars

I loved this dark, menacing read!! Watch out for a full review in July on the Blog Tour!

The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale  – 4 stars

A magical but often quite dark story! Very enjoyable and that cover is just gorgeous!!


The Rules of Seeing by Joe Heap

Publication Date – 9th August 2018

received from publisher

The Rules of Seeing follows the lives of two women whose paths cross at a time when they need each other most. Nova, an interpreter for the Metropolitan police, has been blind from birth. When she undergoes surgery to restore her sight her journey is just beginning – she now has to face a world in full colour for the first time. Kate, a successful architect and wife to Tony, is in hospital after a blow to the head. There, she meets Nova and what starts as a beautiful friendship soon turns into something more.

Ordered these from Goldsboro Books as part of the Book of the Month club so have received these signed first editions

The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar

The Puppet Show by M.W.Craven

The Baltimore Boys by Joel Dicker

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

This is the latest addition to my Alma Classics collection courtesy of their Year of Reading Classics club

The Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers

Recent winner of the 2018 Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction and it has been on my radar for a while so I treated myself!

The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter

I couldn’t resist the gorgeous cover this was reissued with for the Virago Modern Classics collection!

Mary Ann Sate, Imbecile by Alice Jolly

An Unbound release that has caught my eye as it just sounds so fascinating!


3 on the go at the mo!

The Cafe at Seashell Cove by Karen Clarke

The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson

The Death of Mrs Westaway via The Pigeonhole app


Hope your week has been as good?! Any recommendations or thoughts on this batch of books?! Would love to hear from you!

#BookReview The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale #20booksofsummer

About the book

Do you remember when you believed in magic?

The Emporium opens with the first frost of winter. It is the same every year. Across the city, when children wake to see ferns of white stretched across their windows, or walk to school to hear ice crackling underfoot, the whispers begin: the Emporium is open! 

It is 1917, and London has spent years in the shadow of the First World War. In the heart of Mayfair, though, there is a place of hope. A place where children’s dreams can come true, where the impossible becomes possible – that place is Papa Jack’s Toy Emporium.

For years Papa Jack has created and sold his famous magical toys: hobby horses, patchwork dogs and bears that seem alive, toy boxes bigger on the inside than out, ‘instant trees’ that sprout from boxes, tin soldiers that can fight battles on their own. Now his sons, Kaspar and Emil, are just old enough to join the family trade. Into this family comes a young Cathy Wray – homeless and vulnerable. The Emporium takes her in, makes her one of its own. But Cathy is about to discover that while all toy shops are places of wonder, only one is truly magical…

Published by Del Ray

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

Book Depository


A very original, magical and dark story!! And a gorgeous cover!! I started off reading this completely lost in a magical world in Papa Jacks’ Emporium full of the most wonderful toys – toy soldiers that fight their own battles, instant trees and animals who appear that they are alive – but behind the toys is a family fighting their own battles, and a girl who is running away.

Cathy is a young girl who is pregnant and has brought shame on her family so they are ready to send her away, but she takes matters into her own hands and boards the train from Leigh On Sea to London where she goes for a job interview at the Emporium – it has a way of taking in waifs and strays so she is the perfect employee for them. You just have to not stop remembering what it is like to be a child and see the magic in everything. She loves her new life there and is taken to the heart of the family very quickly.

Brothers Emil and Kaspar both work for their father at the Emporium and are always trying to outdo one another with creating the most wonderful new toy. But Kaspar soon has to go off to War while Emil stays behind to help run the business and life soon takes a darker twist for them all.

I loved the magical elements to this story and wasn’t really prepared for the darker sides to the story which did feel a little out of place at times as they were quite serious issues. Seeing someone dealing with PTSD – as we now know it – was a little heartbreaking to read and the effect it had on those around him.  Because of this I’m finding this book difficult to sum up adequately as it often felt like 2 separate stories that shouldn’t really have worked together – but for the  most part it does work and adds a different element to the reading experience you have with this book.  And maybe that was the point! On one hand you have a true fantastical element in the Emporium and all it stands for and how it wants to see the use of toys as a wondrous thing, and that is up against the harshness and brutality of the real world – somewhere we all like to escape from every now and then.

The characters were all well put together in their development and it was interesting to see they dynamic between them all, especially towards the end.

I did enjoy reading this overall but would have loved more of the magical elements for more of an escapist read!



Would love to hear your thoughts if you’ve read this book!

Top 5 Tuesday – Books I’ve read beginning with J!

It’s Tuesday again! Don’t they keep coming round quick?!!  So time to take part in another fabulous Top 5 Tuesday, hosted by Shanah over at Bionic Book Worm, and her choice for the topic today is a FREE CHOICE!!  Endless possibilities!! But I’ve gone with books I’ve read and enjoyed whose title begins with a J – for June! Obviously!!  Nice and simple, so let’s get on with it!!

Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier

Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Just the way you are by Lynsey James


So what is your favourite ‘J’ read?!

#BookReview One Summer Weekend by Juliet Archer #PublicationDay

About the book

For fans of Kathryn Freeman, Jenny Colgan and Sue Moorcroft. A heart-warming fun read, perfect for the holidays from this award-winning author! 

One summer weekend can change everything …
Alicia Marlowe’s life as an executive coach is well under control – until she meets her new client, Jack Smith. Jack’s reputation precedes him and Alicia knows immediately that he spells trouble. Not least because he reminds her of someone else – a man who broke her heart and made her resolve never to lower her guard again.

Taking Jack on as a client is a risk, but one that Alicia decides to take for the good of her career. As long as she keeps him in his place, she might just make it through unscathed. But Jack has other ideas – including a ‘business’ trip to the Lake District. One summer weekend with him is all it takes to put Alicia’s carefully organised world in a spin …

Publisher Ruby Fiction

Purchase Links

Ruby Fiction

Amazon UK


I found myself totally swept along with the characters in this fabulous story! I do love a slightly damaged cast, and this book has 2 such creatures!  Alicia Marlowe is an executive coach so should be one of those people whose lives are perfect and ordered in every sense.  In her work life that is true, but her personal life is very different and is a much happier soul when she’s working than at weekends when she’s left to her own devices.  

And then there’s Jack! Very well known in the tabloid press for his love of the ladies, he finds himself working for a company who has just expanded which means more work heading his way and his boss thinks his business approach could do with some coaching to make him work smarter… and that’s how Alicia meets Jack!

I loved these characters! Both are very wary of one another when they first meet, for very different reasons and when Jack suggests they spend time together over a weekend to impress some old friends of him she is very reluctant. But seeing it as work she goes along, and that is when you wonder who is coaching who!

Jack and his past is never too far away and it is fascinating to see how Alicia deals with that when it is clear her feelings towards Jack are beginning to change.  The more time she spends with him, then the more she sees her initial opinion is way off from how he really is!

I raced through this charming story and highly recommend it!!


My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – Week 23 2018

Happy Saturday to you!  Hope the world has been treating you well! Things have been pretty peaceful and calm here for most of the week –  I’ve even been baking scones this afternoon! I am a true domestic goddess!! Sampling the scones is definitely my favourite part of the process though….

On to books!! There has been lots!! Both in terms of books finished – 6 wahoo – and in adding them to the overstocked shelves!  7 I have bought myself – despite my best efforts to not buy more! – and 1 was kindly sent by the author!  July is definitely going to be the month I stick myself on a book buying ban…… didn’t I say that at the start of June?! oops!!

So here’s a quick round up of all that I’ve read these past 7 days – please click on the title for a link to the GoodReads page for more info! I’ve fallen behind on reviews again so that is hopefully what my Sunday will be spent doing!!


Whistle In The Dark by Emma Healey  –  3 stars

Another fascinating book from this author – I loved Elizabeth is Missing  – but this just fell a little flat for me.

The Story Collector by Evie Gaughan  –  5 stars

Loved this magical tale of The Good People and the effect they played on the inhabitants of a town in Ireland. 

Us Against You (Beartown #2) by Fredrik Backman  – 5 stars

Wow!! I’m still an emotional mess after finishing this yesterday.  If you are worried it won’t be as good as Beartown – as I was – then worry not!! Absolutely blooming amazing and I haven’t stopped thinking about it!! Prepare for a review soon that will gush even more over it! One of my books of 2018! 

Arlette’s Story by Angela Barton  –  4 stars

A stunning and emotional read about how life was for a French family during the War. 

Life in the Garden by Penelope Lively  –  4 stars

A wonderful look at the world of gardening from literary links to personal recollections from the author. Really enjoyed it!

One Summer Weekend by Juliet Archer   – 4 stars

A wonderful romance!


Was lucky to receive this from the author during the week and it just sounds like my kind of read!

Eleanor’s Secret by Caroline Beecham

Can Eleanor follow her heart in troubled times?Eleanor Roy is determined to do her bit for the war effort after being recruited by the War Artist Advisory Committee. When she meets handsome artist Jack Valante, her dreams seem to be finally coming true when Jack promises to help her pursue her ambition of becoming an artist. But after a whirlwind romance, Eleanor is devastated when Jack is posted overseas.When Eleanor receives some unexpected news she desperately tries to find Jack. But with the young couple torn apart by war, will they be reunited and find happiness at last?

Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square by Heidi Swain

Summer at Skylark Farm  by Heidi Swain

2 books for £4?! What was I supposed to do?!! Exactly!!

Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively

Elmet by Fiona Mozley

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

More bargains! My niece is looking for Agatha Christie books so I have been searching local charity shops and library sales – have found 2 for her so far but they seem a scarcity! – but that obviously means I tend to end up finding books that have been on my radar for a while!

Ice by Anna Kavan

A book I’ve heard good things about it so had to snap it up secondhand when I found a copy!

Mariana by Monica Dickens

Any excuse to add to the Persephone Collection! Found this online on AbeBooks and looking forward to starting it soon!


Call of the Curlew by Elizabeth Brooks

Virginia Wrathmell has always known she will meet her death on the marsh in reparation for the mistakes of her childhood.

On New Year’s Eve, at the age of eighty-six, Virginia feels the time has finally come.

In 1939, Virginia is ten, an orphan arriving to meet her new adoptive parents, Clem and Lorna Wrathmell, at their mysterious house, Salt Winds. The house sits right on the edge of a vast marsh, a beautiful but dangerous place. It’s the start of a new life for Virginia, but she quickly senses that all is not right between Clem and Lorna – in particular, the presence of their wealthy neighbour Max Deering, who takes an unhealthy interest in the family. When a German fighter plane crashes into the marsh, Clem ventures onto the deadly sands to rescue the airman. And that is when things really begin to go wrong…

The War of the Worlds by H.G.Wells – via the Serial Reader App

With H.G. Wells’ other novels, The War of the Worlds was one of the first and greatest works of science fiction ever to be written. Even long before man had learned to fly, H.G. Wells wrote this story of the Martian attack on England. These unearthly creatures arrive in huge cylinders, from which they escape as soon as the metal is cool. The first falls near Woking and is regarded as a curiosity rather than a danger until the Martians climb out of it and kill many of the gaping crowd with a Heat-Ray. These unearthly creatures have heads four feet in diameter and colossal round bodies, and by manipulating two terrifying machines – the Handling Machine and the Fighting Machine – they are as versatile as humans and at the same time insuperable. They cause boundless destruction. The inhabitants of the Earth are powerless against them, and it looks as if the end of the World has come. But there is one factor which the Martians, in spite of their superior intelligence, have not reckoned on. It is this which brings about a miraculous conclusion to this famous work of the imagination. 


Phew!! I need a lie down after that little lot!


#BookReview Whistle In The Dark by Emma Healey #20booksofsummer

About the book

Emma Healey follows the success of her #1 internationally bestselling debut novel Elizabeth Is Missing, winner of the Costa First Novel Award, with this beautiful, thought-provoking, and psychologically complex tale that affirms her status as one of the most inventive and original literary novelists today

Jen and Hugh Maddox have just survived every parent’s worst nightmare.

Relieved, but still terrified, they sit by the hospital bedside of their fifteen-year-old daughter, Lana, who was found bloodied, bruised, and disoriented after going missing for four days during a mother-daughter vacation in the country. As Lana lies mute in the bed, unwilling or unable to articulate what happened to her during that period, the national media speculates wildly and Jen and Hugh try to answer many questions.

Where was Lana? How did she get hurt? Was the teenage boy who befriended her involved? How did she survive outside for all those days? Even when she returns to the family home and her school routine, Lana only provides the same frustrating answer over and over: “I can’t remember.”

For years, Jen had tried to soothe the depressive demons plaguing her younger child, and had always dreaded the worst. Now she has hope—the family has gone through hell and come out the other side. But Jen cannot let go of her need to find the truth. Without telling Hugh or their pregnant older daughter Meg, Jen sets off to retrace Lana’s steps, a journey that will lead her to a deeper understanding of her youngest daughter, her family, and herself.

A wry, poignant, and masterfully drawn story that explores the bonds and duress of family life, the pain of mental illness, and the fraught yet enduring connection between mothers and daughters, Whistle in the Dark is a story of guilt, fear, hope, and love that explores what it means to lose and find ourselves and those we love.

Published by Viking Books

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

Book Depository


I found this to be an intriguing read full of mystery, although it did fall a little flat for me on emotional impact throughout. And that was a bit disappointing after I enjoyed her debut novel, Elizabeth Is Missing, so much.

It’s the story of how a family deal with a daughter who has gone missing for 4 days and then when she is found she refuses to tell them where she was, what happened… leaving them to let their imaginations run wild as to the horrors their daughter may have faced. It really explores the mother / daughter relationship well – no matter how much the mother tries to ease information out of Lana, her every attempt is seemingly thrown back in her face. And this leads to the mother going to extreme measures to try and find out any bits of information she can as to the events of those 4 days.

It was interesting to see how the rest of the family all dealt with this emotional trauma, and quite difficult to comprehend at times why the daughter was so reluctant to share any information and help the rest of her family come to terms with what happened.

I found it to be quite a slow paced read – the storyline just ambled along which did help to get a taste of how time can freeze at times of shocking events and allowed every thought that went through their minds helped build up more of the picture of the aftermath. But this did often feel like it was going nowhere and did feel a little suffocating – just like the events the family faced.

Overall it was an interesting read, if a little underwhelming at times.


#BlogTour Bed 12 by Alison Murdoch #BookExtract

Delighted to have been invited to take part in the blog tour for Bed 12 by Alison Murdoch.  Excited to be able to share an extract with you today so I hope you’ll enjoy reading it and it will tempt you to read more of this ‘love letter to the NHS’ and pick up your own copy of the book! My thanks to the publishers, author and the team at The Book Publicist for all their help in bringing this to you today!

About the book

What do you do when the most important person in your life is about to die?
Who can help you?
How do you keep going?

When Alison Murdoch’s husband catches viral encephalitis and falls into a life-threatening coma, everything changes.
Bed 12 is a survival guide to the world of acute medicine, and a poignant and darkly comic account of what it’s like to fight for someone’s life.

Over the course of a summer, machines beep and clatter, medical staff come and go, and family and friends of varying beliefs offer well-intentioned advice. For someone unfamiliar with hospitals, death and dying, the insights of Buddhism assume a greater relevance than ever before. This book is an astute, profound and uplifting insight into how to cope with despair, heartache and the unknown.

‘The object of my concern—or rather the entire focus of my current existence—is now lying in Bed 12.’

Dr Bob Grove, former Chief Executive, the Centre for Mental Health

Bed 12 by Alison Murdoch is out now, published by Hikari Press

Amazon UK  £9.99  £8.19

Book Depository  £9.99

About the Author

Alison Murdoch is former Director of the Foundation for Developing Compassion and Wisdom, a London-based NGO founded in 2005 with the Dalai Lama as its patron. As Director of several charities and NGOs she turned a Grade II listed London courthouse into the vibrant Jamyang Buddhist Centre, set up the first-ever national network of day centres for homeless people in the UK, created a catering service for refugees, and designed a research project on begging that sparked national debate. She also once smuggled herself into Tibet in the back of a lorry…

Bed 12 is the book Alison wrote when her husband became critically ill with viral encephalitis and fell into a life-threatening coma.

Described as ‘A love letter to the NHS and the everyday acts of kindness that keep it afloat’ by Dr Phil Hammond, Bed 12 is a survival guide to the world of acute medicine, and a poignant and darkly comic account of what it’s like to fight for someone’s life. It is a true story with cliffhangers that are all too real.


Please don’t move him from Bed 12

We struggle on. My beloved husband is bright pink in the face, the colour of bubble gum, and never stops twisting and turning from side to side. I mop his brow, collect more paper towels from the basin in the corner and immediately return to mop his brow again. I recall my parents doing this for me when I was ill as a child and hope that somewhere deep down he is experiencing that same sense of comfort. Simon’s feet are deathly cold, so I hold them in both hands and gently rub them. It is a relentless and terrible day.

Simon is a man of great strength and determination, and I try to take comfort from recalling his taste for long-distance solitary journeys and all the other wild and crazy things he’s done over the years. This time around the test of endurance is taking place in a dimly lit hospital ward, and I can’t help wondering how much more he can take. For the first time, my instinct is whispering that maybe I will lose him.

In the evening there is a particularly horrid incident. The 8pm handover usually takes no more than half an hour and I decide to stay on, because it has been such a worrying day. At 9.15pm the blue curtains are still drawn so I ask what’s going on. “They’re preparing to move him,” I’m told. “Where to?” “Only to the bed space opposite.” Earlier in the day an elderly man had died in that bed space. I close my eyes and get a sense of it being haunted and off balance – a place of darkness, a place where Simon will die. In contrast, we have spent two weeks doing everything we can to turn Bed 12 into a place of light and healing.

Convinced that this could be Simon’s final straw, I freak out. It’s as if I’m playing Monopoly and spending all the credit I’ve accumulated up until now as a calm and undemanding visitor on the ward. “Simon mustn’t be moved! For religious reasons, and because he’s particularly ill at the moment, and because….” (shamelessly, every reason I can think of). After a few minutes of this, preparations for the move are paused and a ward sister comes over to speak with me. I haven’t met her before but she asks me to trust her: he won’t be moved. I cycle home, thinking: have courage!

The following morning, for the first time I wake at 4.30am, deeply anxious. For half an hour I try unsuccessfully to calm my churning feelings, and then I pick up the phone. Various night nurses have encouraged me to consider ringing the ward when I feel the need for an update. However it takes an age to get through to Simon’s nurse, and when I do, I am only adding to her stress. She explains that it’s been a difficult night. Simon is very agitated and hasn’t stopped tossing from side to side. “Sorry, I have to go!” she exclaims suddenly, and puts the phone down in a rush.


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