A Persephone Book Haul!!

Sometimes it needs to be done!!   You just need more grey books in your life, so through a combination of online used book sites and local charity shop finds, I have found myself the new owner of 7 more Persephone titles to add to my collection – bringing the total now to 35!

So here’s a little look at the new titles – would love your thoughts if you’ve managed to read any of these! Which one should I read first?!

An Interrupted Life: The Diaries and Letters of Etty Hillesum 1941-43

Etty Hillesum (1914-43) lived in Amsterdam, like Anne Frank, and like her she kept a diary. ‘All the writings she left behind,’ writes Eva Hoffman in her Preface to this edition of her diaries and letters, ‘were composed in the shadow of the Holocaust, but they resist being read primarily in its dark light. Rather, their abiding interest lies in the light- filled mind that pervades them and in the astonishing internal journey they chart. Etty’s pilgrimage grew out of the intimate experience of an intellectual young woman – it was idiosyncratic, individual, and recognisably modern… The private person who revealed herself in her diary was impassioned, erotically volatile, restless… Yet she had the kind of genius for introspection that converts symptoms into significance and joins self-examination to philosophical investigation… In the last stages of her amazing and moving journey, Etty seemed to attain that peace which passeth understanding… Finally, however, the violence and brutality she saw all around her overwhelmed even her capacity to understand… But by knowing and feeling so deeply and fully, an unknown young woman became one of the most exceptional and truest witnesses of the devastation through which she lived.’

Dimanche and Other Stories

by Irène Némirovsky
Irène Némirovsky, b.1903, has become one of France’s most famous writers. But after her death in 1942 she was virtually forgotten. It was only with the rediscovery of the manuscript of Suite Française in a suitcase and its publication in France in 2004 and in the UK and USA in 2006 that her name started to become as well-known as it is today.

Némirovsky was brought up in Tsarist Russia, but after the Revolution her family escaped to France, where they lived a comfortable bourgeois life in Paris and in Biarritz. Her first novel, David Golder, came out when she was 26 and she became instantly famous. The book was a penetrating glimpse of a world she knew well, the circle of successful or not-so successful Russian Jewish businessmen, speculating ruthlessly in oil and minerals. David Golder is appallingly treated by his wife: she owes something to Némirovsky’s mother (from whom she was estranged most of her adult life). The book’s enormous success was based on the directness of its language, including crudities unusual in good literature.

None of the later novels were as successful as David Golder and the short stories were written in large part because Némirovsky and her husband had two daughters and both needed to earn in order to help support what was by now quite a lavish way of life. Yet the ten pieces in Dimanche are everything that a short story should be: beautifully written, novels in miniature, fascinating, profound, all this and more. As in a Chekhov short story, little happens but everything happens. Whether describing the impatience of a girl waiting for her lover, the tortured relationships of a large family, or the emotions of someone fleeing the Nazis, Némirovsky is always an extremely astute observer, delicate, perceptive and ironic.

Tea with Mr. Rochester

by  Frances Towers
When these captivating and at times bizarre stories were published posthumously in 1949, Angus Wilson wrote: ‘It appears no exaggeration to say that Frances Towers’s death in 1948 may have robbed us of a figure of more than purely contemporary significance. At first glance one might be disposed to dismiss Miss Towers as an imitation Jane Austen, but it would be a mistaken judgment, for her cool detachment and ironic eye are directed more often than not against the sensible breeze that blasts and withers, the forthright candour that kills the soul. Miss Towers flashes and shines now this way, now that, like a darting sunfish.’ ‘At her best her prose style is a shimmering marvel,’ wrote the Independent on Sunday, ‘and few writers can so deftly and economically delineate not only the outside but the inside of a character…There’s always more going on than you can possibly fathom.’ And the Guardian said: ‘Her social range may not be wide, but her descriptions are exquisite and her tone poised between the wry and the romantic.’

Five of the stories were read on BBC Radio 4.
 

The Wise Virgins

by Leonard Woolf
The Wise Virgins (1913) is a semi-autobiographical novel about a dilemma: whether Harry, the hero, should go into the family business and marry the suitable but dull girl next door or move in artistic circles and marry one of the entrancing ‘Lawrence’ girls. For, as Lyndall Gordon writes in her Persephone Preface: ‘It is a truth widely acknowledged that Camilla Lawrence is a portrait of the author’s wife – Virginia Woolf.’ This is one reason why the novel is so intriguing. But it is also a Forsterian social comedy, funny, perceptive, highly intelligent, full of clever dialogue and at times bitterly satirical; while the dramatic and emotional denouement still retains a great deal of its power to shock. It was on his honeymoon in 1912 that Leonard Woolf began writing his second (and final) novel. He was 31, newly returned from seven years as a colonial administrator, and asking himself much the same questions as his hero. Helen Dunmore wrote in The Sunday Times: ‘It’s a passionate, cuttingly truthful story of a love affair between two people struggling against the prejudices of their time and place. Woolf’s writing is almost unbearably honest.’ 

The Expendable Man

by Dorothy B.Hughes
The critic HRF Keating chose The Expendable Man as one of his Crime & Mystery: The 100 Best Books. ‘A late addition to the thirteen crime stories Dorothy B Hughes wrote with great success in one prolific spell between 1940 and 1952,’ it was, in his view, her best book. But it is far more than a crime novel. Just as her earlier books had engaged with the political issues of the 1940s – the legacy of the Depression, and the struggles against fascism and rascism – so The Expendable Man, published in 1963 during Kennedy’s presidency and set in Arizona, evokes the emerging social, racial and moral tensions of the time.

William – An Englishman

by Cicely Hamilton
William was ‘written in a rage in 1918; this extraordinary novel… is a passionate assertion of the futility of war’ (the Spectator). Its author had been an actress and suffragette; after 1914 she worked at the Scottish Women’s Hospital at Royaumont and organised Concerts at the Front. William – an Englishman was written in a tent within sound of guns and shells; this ‘stunning… terrifically good’ novel (Radio 4’s A Good Read) is in one sense a very personal book, animated by fury and cynicism, and in another a detached one; yet is always ‘profoundly moving’ (Financial Times).

In the view of Persephone Books, William is one of the greatest novels about war ever written: not the war of the fighting soldier or the woman waiting at home, but the war encountered by Mr and Mrs Everyman, wrenched away from their comfortable preoccupations – Socialism, Suffragettism, so gently mocked by Cicely Hamilton – and forced to be part of an almost dream-like horror (because they cannot at first believe what is happening to them). The scene when William and Griselda emerge after three idyllic weeks in a honeymoon cottage in the remote hills of the Belgian Ardennes, and encounter German brutality in a small village, is unforgettable. The book, which won the Prix Femina-Vie Heureuse in 1919, is a masterpiece, written with an immediacy and a grim realism reminiscent of an old-fashioned, flickering newsreel. 

The Carlyles At Home

by Thea Holme
This book about Thomas and Jane Carlyle’s life together at 5 (now 24) Cheyne Row, Chelsea was written in the 1960s by a former actress who was then living there as co-custodian of the house with her husband. The Carlyles at Home evokes everyday life from the day the Carlyles moved in, in 1834, until Jane’s death in 1866. Each of the eleven chapters describes different aspects of the house, whether it is yet another builders’ drama or a maid giving birth in the china closet while ‘Mr Carlyle was taking tea in the dining-room with Miss Jewsbury talking to him!!! Just a thin small door between!’

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#BookReviews #PersephoneReadathon The Fortnight in September by R.C.Sherriff and Flush by Virginia Woolf

My time doing the Persephone Readathon seems to be a big success this time round! Have found myself finishing the 2 books I’d set out to read – who knows, I might even find time to fit one more in before the end!  My thanks to Jessie at Dwell In Possibility for hosting another fabulous readathon, and making me want to keep adding to my Persephone collection!

Here’s my thoughts on the 2 wonderful books that I’ve managed to read – so far! – for this readathon!

THE FORTNIGHT IN SEPTEMBER by R.C.SHERRIFF – 5 stars

I think the brilliance of this book is its’ simplicity! There are no gimmicks, there’s not a lot that really happens! Other than you get to follow a family in the build up, and then on, their yearly 2 week holiday to the seaside. 

They go to the same place every year and have perfected the art of the routine of preparing to leave and then following the ‘same proceedure as every year’ (my nod to The Dinner For One sketch!) and how the years have gone by that small changes are beginning to appear in what happens and what each person gets from their break.

The preparation is meticulous, especially by the father. It’s like a military operation with him organising everyone to sort the ‘to do list’ – who to leave pets with, what food to leave in the fridge, which neighbour to leave the keys with – and we get to see this build up from his point of view and then from his wife’s which is slightly different. She is a quiet woman who pretends she enjoys this time, but underneath she’s very anxious and seems to just go through the motions for the sake of her family.

The boarding house they go to has seen a number of changes, not for the best, over the years but they feel duty bound to go there as the owner has become like family to them – their sense of loyalty is overwhelming. 

With the children getting older, they all seem to have different thoughts on how their holiday should be spent – the father enjoys time alone walking, the eldest of the children are beginning to enjoy a little bit of freedom – and seeing the changes in their characters as they experience different things on the holiday allows them all to breathe a little bit more when they’re around one another.

It gives them all time to dwell on achievements and disappointments they’ve all faced in the past, and seeing how they can become different people entirely when they’re around others. It also makes them appreciate the simple pleasures, especially when they encounter their fathers’ boss whose aim in life seems to be showing off his wealth with no regard for others – his vulgarity makes the family appreciate all that their father does for them.

And just as they settle into their ‘holiday mode’ their fortnight is up – a feeling we’ve all gone through and I think that’s what makes this book so appealing! It captures the feelings and the escape that a holiday can bring for a family and all those little details that make or break a day in that fortnight and the family dynamic.

A truly lovely read!!

FLUSH by VIRGINIA WOOLF – 4 stars

An enchanting ‘dog biog’ that allows you to see the world from the perspective of Flush and all he encounters in his life, starting in the country and then late in the city as the pet of Elizabeth Barrett Browning who is often confined to her room with a mystery sickness and Flush keeps her company 24/7. 

His early life is one of freedom in the countryside, so when he starts his new life in the city it is completely alien to him – the noise, the smells, the lack of freedom and he spends many years in a life of rigid routine and you sense his frustration but he accepts the restrictions as he’s devoted to his owner.

As her health improves, he finds that she’s not entirely devoted to him as her attention is taken by the dashing Mr Browning, who Flush takes an instant dislike to. Flush soon finds himself living in very difficult circumstances and it makes Elizabeth realise how important he is to her.

I found this to be a touching portrait of a dog living different lives over the years in different places and loved the way he was portrayed – the things he noticed about what was going on at the time with many touches of humour that added so much to the story and made it feel very ‘human’. Thoroughly enjoyable!

My Bookish Weekly wrap up – 1st June 2019 #bookblogger

hello and happy 1st June to you all!! And set for a heatwave this weekend too in the UK – sounds like a good excuse to hide in the shade and read books all weekend to me!!

This past week has been a slow week on the reading front for me with just 2 books finished – if only it had been a slow week on the bookpost/book buying front! oops!  A total of 10 different books (1 library book!) has made their way into my life this week through various means so oops!  I could blame my niece as she wanted to go to Waterstones for a spot of bok shopping this week and with her being as much of a bookworm as I am, then I think it was fatal that we just led each other astray! But let’s focus on the positives.. no new Netgalley books this week! Wahoo!!

So here’s a quick look back at my bookish week….

BOOKS FINISHED

Normal People by Sally Rooney – 3 stars

It was ok! Just didn’t do it for me!

Haverscroft by S.A.Harris – 5 stars

Loved this creepy ghost story! Don’t read this at bedtime!!

BOOKHAUL

Do Not Feed The Bear by Rachel Elliott

Published by Tinder Press – Publication Date August 2019

A life-affirming novel of love, loss and letting go – for readers of ELEANOR OLIPHANT, THE TROUBLE WITH GOATS AND SHEEP and WHEN GOD WAS A RABBIT 

On her forty-seventh birthday, Sydney Smith stands on a rooftop and prepares to jump…

Sydney is a cartoonist and freerunner. Feet constantly twitching, always teetering on the edge of life, she’s never come to terms with the event that ripped her family apart when she was ten years old. And so, on a birthday that she doesn’t want to celebrate, she returns alone to St Ives to face up to her guilt and grief. It’s a trip that turns out to be life-changing – and not only for herself.

DO NOT FEED THE BEAR is a book about lives not yet lived, about the kindness of others and about how, when our worlds stop, we find a way to keep on moving.

THE HUNTINGFIELD PAINTRESS by PAMELA HOLMES

published by Urbane Publications – for blog tour

Plucky and headstrong Mildred Holland revelled in the eight years she and her husband, the vicar William Holland, spent travelling 1840s Europe, finding inspiration in recording beautiful artistic treasures and collecting exotic artifacts. But William’s new posting in a tiny Suffolk village is a world apart and Mildred finds a life of tea and sympathy dull and stifling in comparison. When a longed-for baby does not arrive, she sinks into despondency and despair. What options exist for a clever, creative woman in such a cossetted environment? A sudden chance encounter fires Mildred’s creative imagination and she embarks on a herculean task that demands courage and passion. Defying her loving but exasperated husband, and mistrustful locals who suspect her of supernatural powers, Mildred rediscovers her passion and lives again through her dreams of beauty. Inspired by the true story of the real Mildred Holland and the parish church of Huntingfield in Suffolk, the novel is unique, emotive and beautifully crafted, just like the history that inspired it.

THE TEN THOUSAND DOORS OF JANUARY by ALIX  E. HARROW

published by Orbit – publication September 2019

In the early 1900s, a young woman searches for her place in the world and the mystery behind a magical door in this captivating debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world, and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own. 

THE FARM by JOANNE RAMOS 

– signed edition – Goldsboro books Book of the Month

13 hours, 54 minutes 

Nestled in the Hudson Valley is a sumptuous retreat boasting every amenity: organic meals, private fitness trainers, daily massages—and all of it for free. In fact, you get paid big money—more than you’ve ever dreamed of—to spend a few seasons in this luxurious locale. The catch? For nine months, you belong to the Farm. You cannot leave the grounds; your every move is monitored. Your former life will seem a world away as you dedicate yourself to the all-consuming task of producing the perfect baby for your überwealthy clients.

Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines and a struggling single mother, is thrilled to make it through the highly competitive Host selection process at the Farm. But now pregnant, fragile, consumed with worry for her own young daughter’s well-being, Jane grows desperate to reconnect with her life outside. Yet she cannot leave the Farm or she will lose the life-changing fee she’ll receive on delivery—or worse.

Heartbreaking, suspenseful, provocative, The Farm pushes our thinking on motherhood, money, and merit to the extremes, and raises crucial questions about the trade-offs women will make to fortify their futures and the futures of those they love.

THE DESERTER’S DAUGHTER and A RESPECTABLE WOMAN by SUSANNA BAVIN

lovely signed copies from the Author

THE DESERTER’S DAUGHTER – Manchester, 1920. Carrie Jenkins reels from the revelation that her beloved father was shot for desertion during the Great War, not tragically killed in heroic action as she had previously been led to believe. Worse, Carrie’s sweetheart jilts her on the eve of their wedding, despite her pregnancy.Facing some tough choices and needing to provide a home for her baby and invalid mother, Carrie is forced to accept the unsettling advances of Ralph Armstrong. It is a decision she will regret

.A RESPECTABLE WOMAN – After losing her family in the Great War, Nell is grateful to marry Stan Hibbert, believing she can recapture a sense of family with him. But five years on, she is just another back-street housewife, making every penny do the work of tuppence and performing miracles with scrag-end. When she discovers that Stan is leading a double-life, she runs away to make a fresh start.

Two years later, in 1924, Nell has carved out a fulfilling new life for herself and her young children in Manchester, where her neighbors believe she is a respectable widow and a talented machinist. But the past is hard to run from, and Nell must fight to protect the life she has made for herself and her children.

WUNDERSMITH by JESSICA TOWNSEND 

Morrigan Crow and her best friend Hawthorne Swift are now proud scholars in the elite Wundrous Society, but life is far from perfect. Does Morrigan have what it takes to prove that she belongs in the Society?

 THE FIVE by HALLIE RUBENHOLD

Five devastating human stories and a dark and moving portrait of Victorian London – the untold lives of the women killed by Jack the Ripper.

Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers. 
What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888. The person responsible was never identified, but the character created by the press to fill that gap has become far more famous than any of these five women.

For more than a century, newspapers have been keen to tell us that ‘the Ripper’ preyed on prostitutes. Not only is this untrue, as historian Hallie Rubenhold has discovered, it has prevented the real stories of these fascinating women from being told. Now, in this devastating narrative of five lives, Rubenhold finally sets the record straight, revealing a world not just of Dickens and Queen Victoria, but of poverty, homelessness and rampant misogyny. They died because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time – but their greatest misfortune was to be born a woman. 

HE WANTS by ALISON MOORE – library book

Lewis Sullivan, an RE teacher at a secondary school, is approaching retirement when he wonders for the first time whether he ought to have chosen a more dramatic career. He lives in a village in the Midlands, less than a mile from the house in which he grew up. He always imagined living by the sea. His grown-up daughter visits every day, bringing soup. He does not want soup. He frequents his second-favourite pub, where he can get half a shandy, a speciality sausage and a bit of company.

When an old friend appears on the scene, Lewis finds his routine and comfortable life shaken up.

A RIGHT ROYAL FACE-OFF by SIMON EDGE

Published by Lightning Books – for blog tour

It is 1777, and England’s second-greatest portrait artist, Thomas Gainsborough, has a thriving practice a stone’s thrown from London’s royal palaces, while the press talks up his rivalry with Sir Joshua Reynolds, the pedantic theoretician who is the top dog of British portraiture. Fonder of the low life than high society, Gainsborough loathes pandering to the grandees who sit for him. However, he changes his tune when he is commissioned to paint King George III, his German queen and their vast family. He discovers a taste for royal company—but who will be chosen as court painter, Tom or Sir Joshua? Meanwhile, two and a half centuries later, a badly damaged painting turns up on a downmarket antiques TV show being filmed in Suffolk. Could the monstrosity really be, as its eccentric owner claims, a Gainsborough? If so, who is the sitter? And why does he have donkey’s ears?

CURRENTLY READING

The Fortnight In September by R.C.Sherriff #PersephoneReadathon

The Western Wind by Samantha Harvey

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How has your bookish week been?Hopefully a little more under control than mine!!

HAPPY READING!!

My June TBR #bookblogger #TBR

I have a plan!!! It may be very hopeful, but it’s a start!!  And with the start of the 20 Books Of Summer I seem to have a lot of reading that needs to be done in the month ahead!!  Alongside Blog Tour books, the Elizabeth Taylor Reading Project book of the month and the Persephone Readathon I’m taking part in – I don’t think I’ll be sleeping this month as every minute is precious in the quest to READ MORE BOOKS!   Any bets the reading slump fairy will strike me down in the next few days?!!!

So here’s a look at the books that I NEED to be reading in the month ahead, mainly for Blog Tours!

MRS PALFREY AT THE CLAREMONT by ELIZABETH TAYLOR

for the Elizabeth Taylor Reading Project group on  GoodReads

On a rainy Sunday in January, the recently widowed Mrs. Palfrey arrives at the Claremont Hotel where she will spend her remaining days. Her fellow residents are magnificently eccentric and endlessly curious, living off crumbs of affection and snippets of gossip. Together, upper lips stiffened, they fight off their twin enemies—boredom and the Grim Reaper. Then one day Mrs. Palfrey strikes up an unexpected friendship with Ludo, a handsome young writer, and learns that even the old can fall in love.

FLUSH by VIRGINIA WOOLF (Persephone Readathon)

This story of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s cocker spaniel, Flush, enchants right from the opening pages. Although Flush has adventures of his own with bullying dogs, horrid maids, and robbers, he also provides the reader with a glimpse into Browning’s life. Introduction by Trekkie Ritchie.

THE FORTNIGHT IN SEPTEMBER by R.C.SHERRIFF (persephone readathon)

The Fortnight in September embodies the kind of mundane normality the men in the dug-out longed for – domestic life at 22 Corunna Road in Dulwich, the train journey via Clapham Junction to the south coast, the two weeks living in lodgings and going to the beach every day. The family’s only regret is leaving their garden where, we can imagine, because it is September the dahlias are at their fiery best: as they flash past in the train they get a glimpse of their back garden, where ‘a shaft of sunlight fell through the side passage and lit up the clump of white asters by the apple tree.’ This was what the First World War soldiers longed for; this, he imagined, was what he was fighting for and would return to (as in fact Sherriff did).

THE SPACE BETWEEN TIME by CHARLIE LAIDLAW (for Blog Tour)

There are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on Earth…

Emma Maria Rossini appears to be the luckiest girl in the world. She’s the daughter of a beautiful and loving mother, and her father is one of the most famous film actors of his generation. She’s also the granddaughter of a rather eccentric and obscure Italian astrophysicist.

But as her seemingly charmed life begins to unravel, and Emma experiences love and tragedy, she ultimately finds solace in her once-derided grandfather’s Theorem on the universe.

The Space Between Time is humorous and poignant and offers the metaphor that we are all connected, even to those we have loved and not quite lost.

THE SERPENT’S MARK by S.W.PERRY (for Blog Tour)

Treason sleeps for no man…

London, 1591. Nicholas Shelby, physician and reluctant spy, returns to his old haunts on London’s lawless Bankside. But, when the queen’s spymaster Robert Cecil asks him to investigate the dubious practices of a mysterious doctor from Switzerland, Nicholas is soon embroiled in a conspiracy that threatens not just the life of an innocent young patient, but the overthrow of Queen Elizabeth herself.

With fellow healer and mistress of the Jackdaw tavern, Bianca Merton, again at his side, Nicholas is drawn into a dangerous world of zealots, charlatans and fanatics. As their own lives become increasingly at risk, they find themselves confronting the greatest treason of all: the spectre of a bloody war between the faiths…

CONFETTI AT THE LITTLE DUCK POND CAFE by ROSIE GREEN (for blog tour)

With Ellie and Zak’s Big Day on the horizon, the sun is shining brightly on the Little Duck Pond Café community. But as dark clouds begin to roll in, threatening more than one close relationship, will the wedding of the year take place at all? 

NEEDLEMOUSE by JANE O’CONNOR (for blog tour)

Time to come out of hibernation…

Sylvia Penton has been hibernating for years, it’s no wonder she’s a little prickly…

Sylvia lives alone, dedicating herself to her job at the local university. On weekends, she helps out at a local hedgehog sanctuary because it gives her something to talk about on Mondays – and it makes people think she’s nicer than she is.

Only Sylvia has a secret: she’s been in love with her boss, Professor Lomax, for over a decade now, and she’s sure he’s just waiting for the right time to leave his wife. Meanwhile she stores every crumb of his affection and covertly makes trouble for anyone she feels gets in his way.

But when a bright new PhD candidate catches the Professor’s eye, Sylvia’s dreams of the fairy tale ending she has craved for so long, are soon in tatters, driving her to increasingly desperate measures and an uncertain future.

Sylvia might have been sleep walking through her life but things are about to change now she’s woken up…

A quirky, charming uplifting novel perfect for fans of Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and Sarah Haywood’s The Cactus. The feelgood bestseller about unrequited love, loneliness and the redemptive qualities of hedgehogs featuring the most unlikely heroine of 2019.

SOMETHING TO LIVE FOR by RICHARD ROPER (for blog tour)

Sometimes you have to risk everything to find your something…

Andrew works with death for a living. Searching for people’s next of kin and attending the funerals if they don’t have anyone, he’s desperate to avoid the same fate for himself. Which is fine, because he has the perfect wife and 2.4 children waiting at home for him after a long day. At least, that’s what he’s told people.

The truth is, his life isn’t exactly as people think and the little white lie he once told is about to catch up with him.

Because in all Andrew’s efforts to fit in, he’s forgotten one important thing: how to really live. And maybe, it’s about time for him to start.

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Looks a pretty nice month ahead IF it was just these books to be read!  But I’m really looking forward to June and hope a few of these will stick in my mind for years to come! Hope your June TBR is one to make you smile!

HAPPY READING!

Persephone Readathon #3 – count me in!! #PersephoneReadathon #BookBlogger

One of my favourite discoveries of recent years has been the wonderful world of  Persephone Books so any excuse to spend time reading them is fine by me! Thankfully the lovely Jessie of  Dwell In Possibility sets up regular Persephone Readathons and there’s another one starting tomorrow – May 31st 2019 – and lasting until June 9th, where we all get to wallow in the loveliness that is Persephone books and there’s an opportunity to discuss all things connected! 

There are no real rules – just choose to read as much or as little Persephone over the week that you can, and this time there’s also a Persephone Readalong which you can choose to take part in as well so we can all discuss what we think of that chosen book.

I have a steadily growing colllection of 28 Persephone Books so it’s never easy choosing which ones to pick for a Readathon, but I was in a charity shop the other day and luckily managed to find a perfect condition Persephone for £1 so I had to snap it up and I think that is going to be my main focus for the week ahead

THE FORTNIGHT IN SEPTEMBER by R.C.SHERRIFF

The Fortnight in September embodies the kind of mundane normality the men in the dug-out longed for – domestic life at 22 Corunna Road in Dulwich, the train journey via Clapham Junction to the south coast, the two weeks living in lodgings and going to the beach every day. The family’s only regret is leaving their garden where, we can imagine, because it is September the dahlias are at their fiery best: as they flash past in the train they get a glimpse of their back garden, where ‘a shaft of sunlight fell through the side passage and lit up the clump of white asters by the apple tree.’ This was what the First World War soldiers longed for; this, he imagined, was what he was fighting for and would return to (as in fact Sherriff did).

He had had the idea for his novel at Bognor Regis: watching the crowds go by, and wondering what their lives were like at home, he ‘began to feel the itch to take one of those families at random and build up an imaginary story of their annual holiday by the sea…I wanted to write about simple, uncomplicated people doing normal things.’ 

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The Readalong book is available as a free download here

FLUSH by VIRGINIA WOOLF

This story of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s cocker spaniel, Flush, enchants right from the opening pages. Although Flush has adventures of his own with bullying dogs, horrid maids, and robbers, he also provides the reader with a glimpse into Browning’s life. Introduction by Trekkie Ritchie.

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Are you a fan of Persephone? Will you be joining in the readathon?! I hope so and look forward to seeing what everyone else is reading using the  #PersephoneReadathon tag on social media!!

HAPPY PERSEPHONE READING!!

My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – 25th May 2019 #bookblogger #bookhaul

Happy Saturday! It’s so sunny here that even the squirrels are sunbathing!  And a long weekend here in the UK ahead so hopefully that means extra time for reading – and I’m going to need it with all the books that appear to have made it into my possession this week…..oops I did it again!!

It’s been a good bookish week just gone thankfully!  4 books have been finished, just one new addition from NetGalley (it lured me back in!!), one library book made me pick it up, but there seems to have been another 10 new books that have found their way to my home!  Hope you’re sitting comfortably today!!

BOOKS FINISHED

If Trees Could Talk by Holly Worton  – 4 stars

Ahead of the blog tour next month, a fascinating and thought provoking non fiction read

Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase – 3 stars

Enjoyable dual timeline story of family and secrets

The Wedding Group by Elizabeth Taylor – 3 stars

Another enjoyable study of fascinating characters by Elizabeth Taylor

One Summer in Little Penhaven by Angela Britnell – 5 stars

Fabulous story of escaping your life and about taking a chance

BOOKHAUL

Let’s start at Netgalley…

PAN’S LABYRINTH by GUILLERMO DEL TORO/CORNELIA FUNKE

publication day – July 2019

Oscar winning writer-director Guillermo del Toro and New York Times bestselling author Cornelia Funke come together to transform del Toro’s hit movie Pan’s Labyrinth into an epic and dark fantasy novel for readers of all ages, complete with gorgeous and haunting illustrations.

This book is not for the faint of heart or weak in spirit. It’s not for skeptics who don’t believe in fairy tales and the powerful forces of good. It’s only for brave and intrepid souls like you, who will stare down evil in all its forms.

Inspired by the critically acclaimed film written and directed by Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro and reimagined by New York Times bestselling author Cornelia Funke, this haunting tale takes readers to a darkly magical and war-torn world filled with richly drawn characters like trickster fauns, murderous men, child-eating monsters, courageous rebels, and a long-lost princess hoping to be reunited with her family.

I recently placed an order over at Louise Walters Books for FALLIBLE JUSTICE but as I was the 100th order, the lovely Louise sent me all the books she’s published in a lovely parcel!! So I got this lovely lot to add to my TBR!!

FALLIBLE JUSTICE by LAURA LAAKSO – BOOK #1

In Old London, where paranormal races co-exist with ordinary humans, criminal verdicts delivered by the all-seeing Heralds of Justice are infallible. After a man is declared guilty of murder and sentenced to death, his daughter turns to private investigator Yannia Wilde to do the impossible and prove the Heralds wrong.

Yannia has escaped a restrictive life in the Wild Folk conclave where she was raised, but her origins mark her as an outsider in the city. These origins lend her the sensory abilities of all of nature. Yet Yannia is lonely, and struggling to adapt to life in the city. The case could be the break she needs. She enlists the help of her only friend, a Bird Shaman named Karrion, and together they accept the challenge of proving a guilty man innocent. 

So begins a breathless race against time and against all conceivable odds. Can Yannia and Karrion save a man who has been judged infallibly guilty?

ECHO MURDER by LAURA LAAKSO – BOOK #2

Yannia Wilde returns to the Wild Folk conclave where she grew up, and to the deathbed of her father, the conclave’s Elderman. She is soon drawn back into the Wild Folk way of life and into a turbulent relationship with Dearon, to whom she is betrothed. 

Back in London, unassuming office worker Tim Wedgebury is surprised when police appear on his doorstep with a story about how he was stabbed in the West End. His body disappeared before the paramedics’ eyes. Given that Tim is alive and well, the police chalk the first death up to a Mage prank. But when Tim “dies” a second time, Detective Inspector Jamie Manning calls Yannia and, torn between returning to the life she has built in Old London and remaining loyal to the conclave and to Dearon, she strikes a compromise with the Elderman that allows her to return temporarily to the city. 

There she sets about solving the mystery of Tim’s many deaths with the help of her apprentice, Karrion. They come to realise that with every death, more of the echo becomes reality, and Yannia and Karrion find themselves in increasing danger as they try to save Tim. Who is the echo murderer? What sinister game are they playing? And what do they truly want?

THE LAST WORDS OF MADELEINE ANDERSON by HELEN KITSON 

Once upon a time Gabrielle Price wrote and published an extraordinary novel. 

But twenty years on her literary star has dimmed, her “work of genius” is all but forgotten, and no further novels have materialized. She now lives an unremarkable life: middle-aged, living alone in the sleepy village she grew up in, and working as a housekeeper for the local vicar. Her lonely existence is dominated by memories of her best friend Madeleine, who died young, in tragic and mysterious circumstances. 

Gabrielle’s quiet world is turned upside down when she meets and befriends Simon – young, attractive, a would-be writer, and enthusiastic fan of the astonishing novel that Gabrielle published all those years ago. Charmed and flattered, she recklessly invites him into her home and her heart. But Simon is mysterious and manipulative, and it’s not long before he forces Gabrielle to confront the demons in her past. Gabrielle’s obsession begins to destroy her carefully cultivated life, and she comes to feel increasingly threatened by Simon’s presence. Who is he? Why did he seek her out? And what does he really want?

A LIFE BETWEEN US by LOUISE WALTERS

Once upon a time Gabrielle Price wrote and published an extraordinary novel. 

But twenty years on her literary star has dimmed, her “work of genius” is all but forgotten, and no further novels have materialized. She now lives an unremarkable life: middle-aged, living alone in the sleepy village she grew up in, and working as a housekeeper for the local vicar. Her lonely existence is dominated by memories of her best friend Madeleine, who died young, in tragic and mysterious circumstances. 

Gabrielle’s quiet world is turned upside down when she meets and befriends Simon – young, attractive, a would-be writer, and enthusiastic fan of the astonishing novel that Gabrielle published all those years ago. Charmed and flattered, she recklessly invites him into her home and her heart. But Simon is mysterious and manipulative, and it’s not long before he forces Gabrielle to confront the demons in her past. Gabrielle’s obsession begins to destroy her carefully cultivated life, and she comes to feel increasingly threatened by Simon’s presence. Who is he? Why did he seek her out? And what does he really want?

THE ROAD TO CALIFORNIA by LOUISE WALTERS

Proud single parent Joanna is accustomed to school phoning to tell her that her 14 year old son, Ryan, is in trouble. But when Ryan hits a girl and is excluded from school, Joanna knows she must take drastic action to help him.

Ryan’s dad, Lex, left home when Ryan was two years old. Ryan doesn’t remember him – but more than anything he wants a dad in his life. Isolated, a loner, and angry, Ryan finds solace in books and wildlife. 

Joanna, against all her instincts, invites Lex to return and help their son. But Lex is a drifter who runs from commitment, and both Joanna and Ryan find their mutual trust and love is put to the test when Lex returns, and vows to be part of the family again.

Time for some Blog Tour books…

 DEATH ON THE OCEAN by MARTHA FISCHER

A story where romance meets crime. Amanda Lipton leads a fairly uneventful life as a teacher. The most she has to worry about is staff room politics and petty quarrels among pupils and colleagues. But everything changes as she wins a million in a TV show! 

To escape the stuffy atmosphere at school, Amanda decides to change her life and take a luxury cruise, no expense spared. Expecting a life of luxury aboard the Belgravia, she is dismayed to find events rapidly spiraling out of control. Her fellow passengers are not as they seem and eventually she’s drawn to two men – but can she trust them? And… whom to choose? 

When she witnesses what looks like a cold blooded murder, Amanda realises that her own life could be in danger. 

A delightful romantic comedy with a twist of suspense and murder to it.

THE SERPENT’S MARK by S.W.PERRY

Treason sleeps for no man…

London, 1591. Nicholas Shelby, physician and reluctant spy, returns to his old haunts on London’s lawless Bankside. But, when the queen’s spymaster Robert Cecil asks him to investigate the dubious practices of a mysterious doctor from Switzerland, Nicholas is soon embroiled in a conspiracy that threatens not just the life of an innocent young patient, but the overthrow of Queen Elizabeth herself.

With fellow healer and mistress of the Jackdaw tavern, Bianca Merton, again at his side, Nicholas is drawn into a dangerous world of zealots, charlatans and fanatics. As their own lives become increasingly at risk, they find themselves confronting the greatest treason of all: the spectre of a bloody war between the faiths…

THE BEST OF CRIMES by K.C.MAHER

One afternoon in a leafy New York City suburb, Walter Mitchell walks into the local police station and turns himself in for kidnapping thirteen-year-old Amanda Jonette, his daughter’s best friend. The police chief tells him to go home – no one wants to prosecute. But Walter refuses, and is finally arrested and charged.
This is a novel about a man who is faced with temptation but does not succumb; the extraordinary relationship that develops between he and his beloved, and the bond between these two bright, lost individuals as the painful inevitability of the end draws near.
This timely and provocative book will appeal to fans of Marilynn Robinson’s Lila and Sofka Zinovieff’s Putney

Then, a chance visit to a charity shop let me find this beautiful Persephone book for £1!

THE FORTNIGHT IN SEPTEMBER by R.C.SHERIFF

The Fortnight in September embodies the kind of mundane normality the men in the dug-out longed for – domestic life at 22 Corunna Road in Dulwich, the train journey via Clapham Junction to the south coast, the two weeks living in lodgings and going to the beach every day. The family’s only regret is leaving their garden where, we can imagine, because it is September the dahlias are at their fiery best: as they flash past in the train they get a glimpse of their back garden, where ‘a shaft of sunlight fell through the side passage and lit up the clump of white asters by the apple tree.’ This was what the First World War soldiers longed for; this, he imagined, was what he was fighting for and would return to (as in fact Sherriff did).
He had had the idea for his novel at Bognor Regis: watching the crowds go by, and wondering what their lives were like at home, he ‘began to feel the itch to take one of those families at random and build up an imaginary story of their annual holiday by the sea…I wanted to write about simple, uncomplicated people doing normal things.’

The latest addition to my Alma Classics collection from the fab ALMA BOOKS

LEAVES OF GRASS by WALT WHITMAN  –

First published in 1855 and extended by the author over the course of more than three decades, Leaves of Grassembodies Walt Whitman’s lifetime ambition to create a new voice that could capture the spirit and vibrancy of the young American nation, while celebrating at the same time “Nature without check with original energy”.

Famously written in free verse and brimming with sensuous imagery and an unbridled love of nature and life in all its forms, and containing celebrated poems such as the ebullient ‘Song of Myself’ – described by Jay Parini as the greatest American poem ever written – and the elegiac ‘When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d’, Leaves of Grass is not only the finest achievement of a highly unique poet, but a founding text for American literature and modern poetry.

And last but not least was a trip to the library where this caught my eye! Might use this one in my Little & Large #20booksofsummer challenge as it’s only about 150 pages long!

THE BIRDS OF THE INNOCENT WOOD by DEIRDRE MADDEN

Sisters Sarah and Catherine each have a secret. However, as winter gives way to spring at the bleak and isolated farm where they live with their mother Jane, the burden of these secrets becomes intolerable. Deirdre Madden won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature for Hidden Symptoms.

CURRENTLY READING

HAVERSCROFT by S.A.HARRIS

NORMAL PEOPLE by SALLY ROONEY

🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻

Phew! What a week!! I’m off to join the squirrel in having a lie down now! Enjoy the weekend!!

HAPPY READING!!

#BookReview The Runaway by Elizabeth Anna Hart #PersephoneReadathon

Sad to see another Persephone Readathon come to an end – thanks to Jessie at Dwell In Possibility for hosting another wonderful spell of reading! Hope there’ll be another one very soon!

Had hoped to read 2 Persephone books this time round, but just managed the one as had too many other books to read. But it was a goodie so made the time fly by and so enjoyable! It ended up being my bedtime read and I was eager to get to bed every night just to read some more!

THE RUNAWAY by ELIZABETH ANNA HART  

 

This 1872 novel by a mid-Victorian poet and novelist is about a girl named Clarice, living with her widowed father and her governess ‘in a charming home at a convenient (railway) distance from the city.’ One day she finds a girl of her own age hiding in the shrubbery. She is Olga and ‘there is no question that she is the liveliest child character in English fiction’ said the Observer in 1936

Published by Persephone Books

MY REVIEW  – 4 stars

A sweet and charming read which is definitely lifted by the inclusion of some beautiful illustrations that work so well with the storyline.

Clarice is a young girl who likes to do things the right way and isn’t one to ‘play up’ but when she finds a runaway hiding in the grounds, she starts telling lies for the first time in her life to help keep Olga a secret, hidden away in her closet while trying to make her do the right thing and return home and let her family know where she is.

Olga is a peculiar and feisty young girl – she has run away as she’s not happy but keeping quiet isn’t her greatest forte so she likes to play tricks on the members of the household where Clarice lives, despite Clarice telling her to stay quiet and hidden! It doesn’t seem in her nature to do so and causes members of the staff to worry there’s strange things going on in the house.

This was lots of fun to read and would suit readers of all ages! It has that innocence about it that was refreshing to read and is one of the sweetest books I’ve read in quite a while!

                                            👧👧👧👧

#BookReview The Winds of Heaven by Monica Dickens

About the book

The Winds of Heaven is a 1955 novel about ‘a widow, rising sixty, with no particular gifts or skills, shunted from one to the other of her more or less unwilling daughters on perpetual uneasy visits, with no prospect of her life getting anything but worse’ (Afterword). One daughter is the socially ambitious Miriam living in commuter belt with her barrister husband and children; one is Eva, an aspiring actress in love with a married man; and the third is Anne, married to a rough but kindly Bedfordshire smallholder who is the only one who treats Louise with more than merely dutiful sympathy. The one relation with whom she has any empathy is her grandchild.

Publisher  – Persephone Books

Purchase Links

Persephone Books

Amazon UK

My Review

Another exquisite read from the Persephone stable that is full of drama, some ghastly characters and wonderful observations on the quirks and idiosyncrasies of families.

You cannot help but empathise with the main character Louise. Left penniless and homeless when her over-controlling husband passes away, she is left to rely on the ‘charity’ of her 3 daughters who each have her stay with them in turn for short bursts, before she spends each winter in a guest house on the Isle of Wight. But far from being a caring family, the daughters all see time with their mother as a burden and she’s often left feeling in the way. You do wonder how such a woman brought up 3 quite ungrateful daughters, who all seem to take after their father in the way they look down on their mother.

There are bright lights in her life though – her granddaughter Ellen has the same outlook on life as Louise, and they are very similar and always thrive in each others’ company. And then Louise meets a kind stranger, who shows genuine interest in her and it’s lovely to see this friendship blossom as she is treated like a human being for the first time in a very long time.

Louise is such a calming character, despite those around her treating her so harshly, and you often wish she’d just tell her daughters exactly what she thinks of them! She often blames herself too for their behaviour. The sisters are all so wrapped up in their own existence that they fail to see life from the point of view of their mother and I think that resonates even now with some aspects of society.

Desperate to read more now from Monica Dickens.

                                                      ㆝㆝㆝

#BookReview Harriet by Elizabeth Jenkins #Persephonereadathon

Have had a great start to the month of June by taking part in the mini Persephone Readathon hosted by the lovely Jessie at Dwell In Possibility! Managed to finish one book and make my way through half of another book, so hopefully there’ll be another Persephone review on its’ way very soon! 

But first here’s a bit more about the book I finished and my thoughts!

Harriet by Elizabeth Jenkins

About the Book

Harriet Ogilvy is a young woman with a small fortune and a mental disability, making her the ideal target for the handsome and scheming Lewis Oman. After winning Harriet’s love, Lewis, with the help of his brother and mistress, sets in motion a plan of unspeakable cruelty and evil to get his hands on her money. With consummate artistry, Elizabeth Jenkins transforms the bare facts of this case from the annals of Victorian England’s Old Bailey into an absolutely spine-chilling exploration of the depths of human depravity.

Based on the real-life 1877 case of Harriet Staunton, Harriet (1934) was a bestseller and a major critical success, beating Evelyn Waugh’s A Handful of Dust to win the Prix Femina. This edition features a new afterword by Dr. Catherine Pope. 

MY REVIEW

Seems strange to say you ‘enjoyed’ a book that was so disturbing and based on the real life case in 1877 of Harriet Staunton (the Penge Murder Mystery), but I found myself captivated and horrified in equal measures over this story.

Harriet is at the centre of the story. She had learning difficulties and was cared for by her mother, Mrs Ogilvy, until her head was turned by a chancer who promised her the world, but was really only interested in the money that Harriet had for her care after a relative left her a large amount in their will.

You can feel the agony of the mother as she watches her daughter be taken in by this man and his family who make Harriet feel that her mother has been ruining her life. But once Harriet has left and married her life is changed as she loses that care and attention from her mum, and is cruelly treated by Lewis, his brother, his sister in law and her sister, who see her as an inconvenience to be locked away out of sight. She is made to cut all ties to her mother – another heartbreaking element to the whole story.

Even when Harriet falls pregnant there seems little care or concern by those people and it was heartbreaking to see them living life to the full with no thought to Harriet and her son. After reading this book I looked up details of the real case and it made it even more tragic to read of the treatment she received.

A story that will stay with me for a long time to come.

✾✾✾✾✾

Mini Persephone Readathon 1st – 3rd June 2018

Any excuse to pick up another Persephone is fine by me, and so I’ll be excited to take part in this little mini persephone readathon, hosted by the lovely Jessie over at DwellInPossibility  and it’s just a little laid back affair – my favourite kind of affair! – and just gives us a chance to read and chat all things Persephone!

Be sure to share your readathon experience and follow along with #PersephoneReadathon on social media as well.

And it is never easy to decide which book to pick up for these things, but I’ve gone for Harriet by Elizabeth Jenkins.  I know very little about this book other than it’s based on a real life case, so I’m trying to avoid as many spoilers as I can and will just dive in and see how I get on with it – it has received rave reviews so that fills me with great hope!

When a handsome, unscrupulous fortune hunter approaches Harriet, a young woman of means whom most people would call half-witted, no good can result. Elizabeth Jenkins’s artistry, however, transforms the bare facts of this case from the annals of Victorian England’s Old Bailey into an absolutely spine-chilling exploration of the depths of human depravity.

✿✿✿

Have you read this book? Will you be taking part in the readathon? Look forward to seeing what everyone else picks up that weekend!!