#BookReview THREE WOMEN AND A BOAT by ANNE YOUNGSON @HJ_Barnes

ABOUT THE BOOK


Eve expected Sally to come festooned with suitcases and overnight bags packed with everything she owned, but she was wrong. She arrived on foot, with a rucksack and a carrier bag.
‘I just walked away,’ she said, climbing on to the boat. Eve knew what she meant

Meet Eve, who has departed from her thirty-year career to become a Free Spirit; Sally, who has waved goodbye to her indifferent husband and two grown-up children; and Anastasia: defiantly independent narrowboat-dweller, suddenly vulnerable as she awaits a life-saving operation.

Inexperienced and ill-equipped, Sally and Eve embark upon a journey through the canals of England, guided by the remote and unsympathetic Anastasia. As they glide gently – and not so gently – through the countryside, the eccentricities and challenges of canalboat life draw them inexorably together, and a tender and unforgettable story unfolds.

Disarmingly truthful and narrated with a rare, surprising wit, THREE WOMEN AND A BOAT is a journey over the glorious waterways of England and into the unfathomable depths of the human heart.


PUBLISHED BY DOUBLEDAY


PURCHASE LINKS


Amazon

hive.co.uk
blackwell’s

MY REVIEW


What a wonderfully touching and funny book this was! If you’re looking for a hug in bookish form then look no further! It sweeps you up and gives you that embracing squeeze that we could all do with right now!!

It’s a story of 3 women who come together for a little adventure on the waterways of England, while dealing with personal problems that have brought them together in the first place. They often say that the world works in mysterious ways, and it was only by chance that Eve, Sally and Anastasia came to be in each others lives to start with, and they prove to be the tonic they all need!

Eve has left her career behind her to become a free spirit, Sally has walked out on her husband and kids to find herself, and Anastasia is facing a dark time in her life with illness so the story begins with their paths crossing and what led to their extraordinary adventure!

The impact each woman has on each other is so empowering and heartwarming. It also shows the effect that others can have on you, be it from just offering a different opinion on a problem to giving people the confidence to move on in their lives. As they were older women, I loved their spirit and their honesty and their ‘can do’ attitudes! I loved being on the journey with them, and the characters that they met along the way which really showed the community feel of the boat world in which they found themselves.

This is a story of hope and friendship and it was a wonderful read.

★★★★★

My thanks to Hayley at Transworld Books for my advanced reading copy, in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookReview 337 by M.JONATHAN LEE #BookReview #337LEE @HideawayFall @MJonathanLee

ABOUT THE BOOK


337 follows the life of Samuel Darte whose mother vanished when he was in his teens. It was his brother, Tom who found her wedding ring on the kitchen table along with the note. While their father pays the price of his mother’s disappearance, Sam learns that his long-estranged Gramma is living out her last days in a nursing home nearby. Keen to learn about what really happened that day and realising the importance of how little time there is, he visits her to finally get the truth. Soon it’ll be too late and the family secrets will be lost forever. Reduced to ashes. But in a story like this, nothing is as it seems.


PUBLISHED BY HIDEAWAY FALL

PURCHASE LINK

AMAZON


MY REVIEW

I found this to be one of those ‘quiet’ books that focus on a family plagued by tragedy, that then sledgehammers you with the truth later on, so all the trauma, the angst and issues that have impacted on Sam and his family are laid bare.

The story centres around a family where the mother disappeared while her 2 sons were younger – one day she was there, the next they find a note on the table with her wedding ring and no sign of her. This causes major upheaval for the family with police questioning, rumours and gossip from the neighbourhood – a major impact on the 2 young boys who have to try and make sense of it all.

WE catch up with them as men, Sam mainly, who is the only one around to go and visit his grandmother in a home as she’s on the verge of death. Can she shed more light on the events all those years ago?

I was so gripped by the human aspect to this story – how traumatic events play such a huge role on the outlook on life of those involved. How it had split the brothers up, how Sam found himself constantly living in the past unable to move on and live life normally. So much anger and resentment had built up so he goes to visit his grandmother hoping to find answers.

This was definitely a powerful page turner for me, watching as the mystery of the story was revealed with flashbacks to the family in the past – before and after the mother disappeared. This adds to the tension and makes you understand why Sam acts the way he does now. And then there’s that ending… I’m still reeling now!!

★★★★★

My thanks to the author and publisher for the advanced reading copy in return for a fair and honest review.

My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – 28th November 2020

Hello! Happy Saturday!! Hope everyone is well! Just about staying sane here… praise be for books to keep me on the straight and narrow!!
It’s been a quieter reading week for me these past 7 days, with just 2 books finished, 1 of which was an audiobook! That’s just how it goes sometimes eh!! But I’ve been well behaved over at Netgalley with just 1 newbie appearing and some rather epic bookpost appearing through the letterbox that made me squeal with delight!!
So here’s my look back!


BOOKS FINISHED


10 MINUTES 38 SECONDS IN THIS STRANGE WORLD by ELIF SHAFAK – 4 STARS

THE BELOVED CHILDREN by TINA JACKSON – 5 STARS

BOOKHAUL


starting at netgalley…


THE FREQUENCY OF US by KEITH STUART

PUBLICATION DATE – MARCH 2021

In Second World War Bath, young, naïve wireless engineer Will meets German refugee Elsa Klein: she is sophisticated, witty and wordly, and at last his life seems to make sense . . . until, soon after, the newly married couple’s home is bombed, and Will awakes from the wreckage to find himself alone.

No one has heard of Elsa Klein. They say he was never married.

Seventy years later, Laura is a social worker battling her way out of depression and off medication. Her new case is a strange, isolated old man whose house hasn’t changed since the war. A man who insists his wife vanished many, many years before. Everyone thinks he’s suffering dementia. But Laura begins to suspect otherwise . . .

From Keith Stuart, author of the much-loved Richard & Judy bestseller A Boy Made of Blocks, comes a stunning, emotional novel about an impossible mystery and a true love that refuses to die. 


And then in the post, this wonderful thing appeared….


PANENKA by RONAN HESSION

publication date – March 2021

His name was Joseph, but for years they had called him Panenka, a name that was his sadness and his story. Panenka has spent 25 years living with the disastrous mistakes of his past, which have made him an exile in his home town and cost him his dearest relationships. Now aged 50, Panenka begins to rebuild an improvised family life with his estranged daughter and her seven year old son. But at night, Panenka suffers crippling headaches that he calls his Iron Mask. Faced with losing everything, he meets Esther, a woman who has come to live in the town to escape her own disappointments. Together, they find resonance in each other’s experiences and learn new ways to let love into their broken lives.

CURRENTLY READING

337 by M.Jonathan Lee

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#BookReview #BlogBlast WITCH BOTTLE by TOM FLETCHER @JoFletcherBooks #WitchBottle

Hello and welcome to my post for the Blog Blast today to help share the love for this rather creepy and haunting read from Tom Fletcher.  My thanks to the author and Milly Reid for the copy of the book!
Here’s a little bit about the book before my review….

A deeply atmospheric literary horror novel about the nature of repressed guilt, grief and fear.

Daniel once had a baby brother, but he died, a long time ago now. And he had a wife and a daughter, but that didn’t work out, so now he’s alone. The easy monotony of his job as a milkman in the remote northwest of England demands nothing from him other than dealing with unreasonable customer demands and the vagaries of his enigmatic boss.

But things are changing. Daniel’s started having nightmares, seeing things that can’t possibly be there – like the naked, emaciated giant with a black bag over its head which is so real he swears he could touch it . . . if he dared.

It’s not just at night bad things are happening, either, or just to him. Shaken and unnerved, he opens up to a local witch. She can’t t discern the origins of his haunting, but she can provide him with a protective ward – a witch-bottle – if, in return, he will deliver her products on his rounds.

But not everyone’s happy to find people meddling with witch-bottles. Things are about to get very unpleasant . . .

Witch Bottle is literary horror at its finest, perfect for fans of Andrew Michael Hurley’s The Loney and Starve Acre. 

Published by Jo Fletcher Books


Purchase Links

Amazon
waterstones
hive.co.uk

MY REVIEW


This is a a story with an air of menace throughout – and I loved it!  It’s dark, unsettling and liable to take you on a very dark journey! It certainly kept me on the edge of my seat and was really unsettling and I think that’s why I couldn’t put it down once I’d started.


It really explores the human emotion of loss, of grief, of loneliness and of self preservation.  Those times when you need to take yourself off and be by yourself, and when you push others away in your times of need as you’re in  fear of hurting those you love.  The main character, Daniel, a milkman, is just one of those people who has faced tragedy in his life, and while trying to get his life back on track he encounters a local witch who he comes to see as a ray of light in these darker times, but she’s involved in making ‘witch bottles’ which are supposed to protect people from nightmares and harm….not all those in the area are as understanding as he is of ‘witchy’ ways so more strange things begin to happen and there seems no escape from them.


This is a really different read – there’s a lot of time devoted to the milk round he is on as it becomes his life.  Out on the road by himself, spending too much time in his own head and the strange things he encounters along the way.  It’s not a scream out loud horror, but it’s one of those really unsettling reads that you never quite know just where it is going to take you.


The more you learn about Daniel and his past, the more you begin to understand his current state of mind.  I sometimes even wanted just a bit more shock from the story as it was often a bit of a slow burn.  That didn’t distract from the overall feel of the story as it was just so different from my recent reads, and nothing prepares you for the twists and turns along the way!!


I really did enjoy the contrasts of his normality – the daily milkround  – alongside the darker struggles he faced daily.  Seeing how those traumatic events from his past had taken their toll on him was the chilling aspect of the story.
A haunting, dark and twisty story!!


★★★★

#BookReview CHRISTMAS AT THE LITTLE BEACH CAFE by MORTON S.GRAY

ABOUT THE BOOK


Run away to the little beach café this Christmas …

Five years ago at Christmas, solicitor Justin Sadler made the decision to leave his comfortable existence behind and move to the coast. Since then, he’s tried his best to ignore the festive season and, as he sits in the little beach café and reflects on that fateful night when his life was turned upside down, he expects his fifth Christmas alone to be no different to any of the others since he made his escape.

But when he encounters a mystery woman on the beach, he soon realises he may have found a fellow runaway and kindred spirit. Could Justin finally be ready to move on and let Christmas into his life again


PUBLISHED BY CHOC LIT


PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Christmas-Little-Beach-Cafe-heart-warming-ebook/dp/B08L3VTGZL/ 

Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/christmas-at-the-little-beach-cafe/id1535456533?itsct=books_toolbox&itscg=30200&at=11lNBs&ct=books_christmas_at_the_little_beach_cafe&ls=1 

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/christmas-at-the-little-beach-cafe 

Google:  https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Morton_S_Gray_Christmas_at_the_Little_Beach_Cafe?id=ZB4EEAAAQBAJ 

Nook:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/christmas-at-the-little-beach-cafe-morton-s-gray/1137896817?ean=2940162820031 

MY REVIEW

The perfect blend of romance, mystery and drama – all set in the wonderful setting of Borteen Bay. This is book 5 in the series, but very easily read as a standalone and is the perfect festive read!

Justin is the focus of this story and he moved to the Bay 5 years ago. What prompted his sudden move and his aversion to the festive period soon become clear, and you wonder if he’s ever going to be able to move on in his life and embrace the tinsel and baubles of Christmas!

When he encounters a mystery woman on the beach, it seems clear his path to a happier life may soon be on the cards! But she has secrets of her own and he is intrigued by her. Silvie is her name and she is finding life tough and seems on tenterhooks permanently. She wants to get away from something and is reluctant to let people into her life.

But there’s an ease and instant connection between Justin and Silvie – maybe their past experiences bond them, and I just loved seeing how well they clicked and how they supported one another in trying to move forward in their lives!

There’s plenty of unexpected drama along the way that really adds to the tension and I loved the mix of light and dark!! Fabulous festive fiction!!

★★★★★

#BookReview 10 MINUTES 38 SECONDS IN THIS STRANGE WORLD by ELIF SHAFAK

ABOUT THE BOOK


An intensely powerful new novel from the best-selling author of The Bastard of Istanbul and Honour

‘In the first minute following her death, Tequila Leila’s consciousness began to ebb, slowly and steadily, like a tide receding from the shore. Her brain cells, having run out of blood, were now completely deprived of oxygen. But they did not shut down. Not right away…’

For Leila, each minute after her death brings a sensuous memory: the taste of spiced goat stew, sacrificed by her father to celebrate the long-awaited birth of a son; the sight of bubbling vats of lemon and sugar which the women use to wax their legs while the men attend mosque; the scent of cardamom coffee that Leila shares with a handsome student in the brothel where she works. Each memory, too, recalls the friends she made at each key moment in her life – friends who are now desperately trying to find her. . . 

MY REVIEW

I listened to the audioversion of this book.


Wow!! Wasn’t expecting that!! I had heard a few things about this story and was wondering just how it works – how can you tell the story of someone who has just died from their perspective? Well, this book manages it in such a unique way that I was enthralling!
Leila is the victim. She’s been murdered and finds herself dumped in a bin in Istanbul. But for just over 10 minutes after her death, she is still conscious in her mind and she’s looking back over her life at pivotal moments that have stood out for her, along with the moments leading up to her murder.


From being a young girl and growing up in a very religious and dysfunctional family, to dealing with horrific sexual abuse from a relative, to setting out on her own path in the world, this was a haunting, emotional and enthralling story that will stay with me for quite some time. She talks about people she’s met along the way that have shaped her life – for good or bad – and for her, life really does flash in front of her eyes.


I found the aftermath of her death to be so touching with her close friends wanting to do right by her, after the impact she’d made on their lives. As outsiders in society they were all drawn together, and hearing that she was being buried at the Cemetery of the Companionless – a real place – they just wanted her to get the burial she deserved.


A very powerful and captivating book


★★★★

#BookReview IN THE SWEEP OF THE BAY by CATH BARTON

ABOUT THE BOOK


This lyrical, warm-hearted tale explores marriage, love, and longing, set against the majestic backdrop of Morecambe Bay, the Lakeland Fells, and the faded splendour of the Midland Hotel.

Ted Marshall meets Rene in the dance halls of Morecambe and they marry during the frail optimism of the 1950s. They adopt the roles expected of man and wife at the time: he the breadwinner at the family ceramics firm, and she the loyal housewife, but as the years go by, they both find themselves wishing for more…

After Ted survives a heart attack, both see it as a new beginning… but can a faded love like theirs ever be rekindled?

Cath Barton lives in Abergavenny. She won the New Welsh Writing AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella in 2017 for The Plankton Collector, which was published in September 2018 by New Welsh Review under their Rarebyte imprint. She also writes short stories and flash fiction and, with her critical writing, is a regular contributor to Wales Arts Review. In the Sweep of the Bay is her second novella.


PUBLISHED BY LOUISE WALTERS BOOKS


PURCHASE LINKS

Publisher Website

Amazon

hive.co.uk

MY REVIEW

For a book that just has over 100 pages, this was pure quality! It’s a gentle, quietly written book with a devastating exploration into a marriage. How time spent with the one you love often becomes a duty, just going through the motions, settling into a routine and not wanting to rock the boat.

I loved how this was full of those little observations that we often take for granted and miss, you become that fly on the wall as you look back at Ted and Rene as their life passes them by. The highs and the many lows. The trials and tribulations that face us all and how we should take time to treasure the good moments instead of dwelling on the bad!

Watching this couple over the years often left me with an overwhelming sadness! Their union seemed to become a marriage of resentment and bitterness and I found the tears falling down my face at certain points as you just felt so sad for them both and what their lives had become. Even more so when their daughter was going through their possessions and realising just how little she knew about her parents and that brings home that we often don’t realise how much we don’t know about those closest to us.

Being set from the 50’s onwards really showed the attitudes of those towards marriage back then. The fact that the woman was just expected to give up her life for her husband and future children, despite the life she was missing out on … she just kept quiet and let the bitterness build up inside her. You just wanted her to scream or shout – just to react and let her feelings out!

This is an exquisite little novella – small in stature, but huge in style and impact!!

★★★★★

#BookReview LOST CONNECTIONS by JOHANN HARI #NonFictionNovember

ABOUT THE BOOK


From the New York Times bestselling author of Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, a startling challenge to our thinking about depression and anxiety.

Award-winning journalist Johann Hari suffered from depression since he was a child and started taking antidepressants when he was a teenager. He was told—like his entire generation—that his problem was caused by a chemical imbalance in his brain. As an adult, trained in the social sciences, he began to investigate this question—and he learned that almost everything we have been told about depression and anxiety is wrong.

Across the world, Hari discovered social scientists who were uncovering the real causes—and they are mostly not in our brains, but in the way we live today. Hari’s journey took him from the people living in the tunnels beneath Las Vegas, to an Amish community in Indiana, to an uprising in Berlin—all showing in vivid and dramatic detail these new insights. They lead to solutions radically different from the ones we have been offered up until now.

Just as Chasing the Scream transformed the global debate about addiction, with over twenty million views for his TED talk and the animation based on it, Lost Connections will lead us to a very different debate about depression and anxiety—one that shows how, together, we can end this epidemic. 

PUBLISHED BY BLOOMSBURY PUBLISHING

MY REVIEW

This was a really fascinating and eye opening book on the causes/remedies behind depression and anxiety. It is one of those books, I think, that will split readers based on their own personal knowledge and dealings with depression and anxiety as it puts the case across for not ‘swallowing’ (pardon the pun) the normal prescriptive advice from the medical profession and to treat the problem as a whole – what has caused the low moods?

I think the world we live in nowadays, pills seem to be put forward as the answer to everything. In this book, the author looks a bit more objectively to that market and how that some people who are continually prescribed pills to deal with their depression, soon find that the pills begin to wear off so the dosage has to be increased – and repeat the process again. The author wants people to look a little more into the actual cause of the depression in your life and to work on that rather than just hoping a little pill will change your life overnight – for some that works! for others it doesn’t so it was nice to read this book to give the different views and options for helping yourself. It puts a lot of modern life into perspective and I enjoyed the way he looks at the world we live in and sees how that affects our perception of life and of happiness. The impact of social media in this disconnected culture we live in was staggering – basically our society sucks!! It’s a never ending world of wanting more stuff, feeling unworthy and forever chasing that ‘buzz’ be it something new, or a like on a social media post and it’s only going to get worse as youngsters are growing up in this world seduced by brands and impacted on how people portray themselves on instagram. You can see why many more young people struggle with their mental health nowadays – am so glad I grew up before the internet came along!

One phrase I’ll take away from this book is ‘ see the sanity in your sadness, not the madness’

This is a book that divides opinions but I’m grateful for reading something that challenges the pill popping world we find ourselves in – it makes you look a little more into drug companies as well and their ‘claims’! Scary!!

★★★★

My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – 21st November 2020

Hello all! Happy Saturday!! No Dinosaurs near you I hope?! Did make me smile seeing this one this week! It’s the little things in life, and with the way 2020 is working out I wouldn’t be surprised in seeing some rock up somewhere!!
On to books, and I’ve had a pretty good reading week! Needed more rest this week which has worked out well for getting through a few books as I got 5 finished this week. The TBR pile is still overwhelming though!  2 newbies on my netgalley shelves this week, a digital download from the library and a book to review in the post! I’ve had worse weeks!!
Here’s my look back…


BOOKS FINISHED


Christmas at the Little Beach Cafe by Morton S.Gray – 5 stars

Three Women and a Boat by Anne Youngson – 5 stars

A Kiss in the Snow (Little Duck Pond Cafe) by Rosie Green – 5 stars

Lost Connections by Johann Hari – 4 stars

The Museum of Broken Promises by Elizabeth Buchan – 2 stars (audiobook)

BOOKHAUL


What did Netgalley tempt me with this week??!!


CUNNING WOMEN by ELIZABETH LEE

out April 2020

Lee is a magnetic new voice in historical fiction and CUNNING WOMEN is sure to be loved by fans of The Essex Serpent and The Mercies.

Spring of 1620 in a Lancashire fishing community and the memory of the slaughter at Pendle is tight around the neck of Sarah Haworth. A birthmark reveals that Sarah, like her mother, is a witch. Torn between yearning for an ordinary life and desire to discover what dark power she might possess, Sarah’s one hope is that her young sister Annie will be spared this fate.

The Haworth family eke out a meagre existence in the old plague village adjoining a God-fearing community presided over by a seedy magistrate. A society built upon looking the other way, the villagers’ godliness is merely a veneer. But the Haworth women, with their salves and poultices, are judged the real threat to morality.

When Sarah meets lonely farmer’s son Daniel, she begins to dream of a better future. Daniel is in thrall to the wild girl with storms in her eyes, but their bond is tested when a zealous new magistrate vows to root out sins and sinners. In a frenzy of fear and fury, the community begins to turn on one another, and it’s not long before they direct their gaze towards the old plague village … and does Daniel trust that the power Sarah wields over him is truly love, or could it be mere sorcery?


THE LAST HOUSE ON NEEDLESS STREET by CATRIONA WARD

out March 2021

This is the story of a serial killer. A stolen child. Revenge. Death. And an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street.

All these things are true. And yet they are all lies…

You think you know what’s inside the last house on Needless Street. You think you’ve read this story before. That’s where you’re wrong.

In the dark forest at the end of Needless Street, lies something buried. But it’s not what you think…


CURRENTLY READING

THE BELOVED CHILDREN by TINA JACKSON

out December 2020

“There is some really atmospheric storytelling and joyful language at play here, with Jackson as an entertaining mistress of ceremonies.” – Ben East, The Observer

What can we say about this book from Tina Jackson except that it’s something very special indeed.

Three young women; Chrysanthemum, Rose & Orage are thrown together on the stage of Fankes’ Theatre during the closing days of the Second World War performing as The Three Graces.

It’s there they come under the spell of wardrobe mistresses Dolores and Janna – a chance encounter that will guide and change all of their fates forever.

Set in the dying days of vaudeville theatre and laced with mysticism, fortune tellers, ghosts, and evocative descriptions of the closing days of the War – The Beloved Children will literally make you laugh out loud and perhaps even shed the odd tear.

The Beloved Children is wise, funny, heart-breaking, joyous, poignant, and entirely entirely enthralling.

Tina Jackson has conjured characters that you will fall unapologetically in love with and placed them in a world that you won’t want to leave.

If any Fahrenheit book is ever going to be nominated for The Booker Prize it’ll be this one.

#GuestPost THE HOUSE IN THE HOLLOW by ALLIE CRESSWELL

A huge delight for me today to welcome Allie Cresswell to my Books and Me! blog, to share a guest post following the release of her latest publication, THE HOUSE IN THE HOLLOW.  I hope you’ll find her thoughts as  fascinating and thought provoking as I have, especially given the relevance of the topic!
Over to you Allie…..

Introducing Diversity

My latest novel, The House in the Hollow, is set during the Regency era, over the course of the Napoleonic War. This time-period is the setting of Jane Austen’s novels but my book is not related to hers other than that I have attempted to emulate some of her erudition of dialogue, as being appropriate to the age.

I was about a third of the way through writing it when a furore blew up in the Jane Austen Fan Fiction (JAFF) community—as everywhere else—about the issue of diversity.

I had become involved with Austenesque writers and readers because of my Highbury Trilogy, which is inspired by Jane Austen’s Emma. I had used the JAFF community to promote my books and to connect with other writers who are inspired to continue, vary or just re-visit Jane Austen’s stories. I’d had it in my mind to explore the hinted-at backstory of Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill since I first read Emma when I was at school, forty-odd years ago. I was amazed to find how many Jane Austen variations there were and how many writers, like me, had attempted to capture something of her wit and elegance.

What the majority of these books have in common, however, is their lack of diversity. It might be argued that Jane Austen’s books lacked it too; apart from Miss Lambe in Sanditon there are no characters specifically identified as BAME. My own Highbury Trilogy is no different although there is, in a throw-away line, a suggestion that newcomers to Highbury might be, “Mulattoes, children of a West Indian plantation owner, come to England for the first time.”

With the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter campaign, in common with people in every sector of our world, JAFF writers began to ask themselves whether this lack of diversity was in fact a fair and true reflection of the Regency era in Britain and whether, regardless of what seems to be the case in Jane Austen’s novels, we ought to try and show a much broader, more inclusive range of race and colour—and, for that matter, disability, age and sexual orientation—in our work. For me, a brilliant article by JAFF writer Bella Breen suggested to me that the overwhelmingly white population we see in TV and film adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels is far from being historically accurate. In the light of her informative and challenging article and after my own research into the question I reviewed my WIP (work in progress). I had no desire to jump on any bandwagons, nor to simply tick a box labelled ‘diversity’. If I was going to be more inclusive it had to be natural, seamless and realistic. As it happened The House in the Hollow has at its centre a gentleman whose wealth stems from his involvement with the East India Company and who has spent much of his youth in Bengal. This provided a natural and ready-made opportunity for me to introduce some Indian characters which I took advantage of, although with some trepidation: one would not wish to patronise, misrepresent, disrespect or—worse of all—be accused of tokenism. Later I also created a valet who is a person of colour to be the romantic interest for one of my secondary characters. It seemed to me to be a completely plausible situation.

What I hope I’ve produced is a story with historically accurate diversity; believable characters whose ethnicity is secondary to their impact on the plot and their interactions with others.

How successful have I been? You must be the judge.

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Talbots are wealthy. But their wealth is from ‘trade’. With neither ancient lineage nor title, they struggle for entrance into elite Regency society. Finally, aided by an impecunious viscount, they gain access to the drawing rooms of England’s most illustrious houses.

Once established in le bon ton, Mrs Talbot intends her daughter Jocelyn to marry well, to eliminate the stain of the family’s ignoble beginnings. But the young men Jocelyn meets are vacuous, seeing Jocelyn as merely a brood mare with a great deal of money. Only Lieutenant Barnaby Willow sees the real Jocelyn, but he must go to Europe to fight the French. The hypocrisy of fashionable society repulses Jocelyn—beneath the courtly manners and studied elegance she finds tittle-tattle, deceit, dissipation and vice.

Jocelyn stumbles upon and then is embroiled in a sordid scandal which will mean utter disgrace for the Talbot family. Humiliated and dishonoured, she is sent to a remote house hidden in a hollow of the Yorkshire moors. There, separated from family, friends and any hope of hearing about the lieutenant’s fate, she must build her own life—and her own social order—anew.

UK PURCHASE LINK

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