#BookReview BLUE HOUR by SARAH SCHMIDT @headlinepg @Emily_JP #BlueHour

ABOUT THE BOOK

She thinks of blue mountain, her favourite place. ‘We’re going somewhere where we can be safe. We never have to come back here.’ She eyes the rearview mirror, keeps a look out for headlights, keeps a look out for him.

As dawn breaks over sleeping houses, Eleanor straps her infant daughter Amy, into the back of her car. Together they will escape the private hell of Eleanor’s marriage to make the drive to blue mountain, a place of enchantment and refuge that lit up Eleanor’s childhood. Can she be sure that her husband, Braun, is not on their trail?

As the car eats up the long miles of highway, so Eleanor’s mind dives back into the depths of her childhood, and into her fraught relationship with her mother, Kitty. Kitty a woman who wanted so much, in marriage and in love. Kitty who always tried to hard to bend Eleanor, her brother and her father, to her image of the perfect family.

In her masterful second book, Sarah Schmidt, acclaimed author of SEE WHAT I HAVE DONE? reworks the classic road novel to tense, devastating, and ultimately redemptive effect.

PUBLISHED BY HEADLINE BOOKS

PURCHASE LINK

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MY REVIEW

This was an exquisite read. Often troubling, very dark and unflinching in the way it explores relationships, it is a story that grips you from page one and still has a hold on you long after you close the book up after finishing it.

It’s the story of a family over different generations – starting with the dramatic story of Eleanor who is leaving with her daughter Amy, walking away from her marriage, to escape to blue mountain where she has the strongest memories from her childhood. It was her refuge and you notice that nature is always her ‘get out’ at the most troublesome of times and that leads the story to take us back to her mother and father, cleverly switching between the 1970’s and the 1940’s.

The story of Kitty is another shocking aspect of this book. It tells of a troubled relationship with Eleanors’ father and how the times shaped their lives. Her life was always focussed on getting away from her parents, so she became a nurse tending to returning soldiers and it’s here she meets George and quickly falls in love. But they’re young and their passion soon fizzles out but she feels obligated to be with him – it seems to become her duty to take care of him when he returns a shell of his former self, dealing with his mood swings and she is pregnant too.

What follows is an exploration of those expectations of what life is – the reality of motherhood, the impact of mental illness on those around, and trying to make sense of it all and trying not to let history repeat itself. Noticing those signs and trying to change the course of your life, but then walking that same path allows her to understand what really was going on back in her childhood that she missed seeing.

This is a brutal book at times, it shares some explicit scenes as the author isn’t afraid to confront the worst of human relationships – the lengths people go to for love and the fine line between that and control. You get that sense of ownership, be it of a parent over a child, or a lover over a partner, and how dark and soul destroying that impacts on the people involved.

There is so much hurt in this family that your heart just breaks as you read their stories. There’s tragedy throughout and it can make this a very disturbing read at times, but it just lays bare the realities and complexities that humans face, and how that shapes them in their journey and future relationships.

There are shocking revelations littered throughout which just adds to the emotional impact of this story, but it is a staggering piece of work and although it may break you at times as it did me, it is one of those powerful stories that you feel honoured to have read. Stunning! 

★★★★★

My thanks to Emily Patience and Headline Books for the advance copy in return for a fair and honest review.

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See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt – book review

THE BLURB

When her father and step-mother are found brutally murdered on a summer morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden – thirty two years old and still living at home – immediately becomes a suspect. But after a notorious trial, she is found innocent, and no one is ever convicted of the crime.

Meanwhile, others in the claustrophobic Borden household have their own motives and their own stories to tell: Lizzie’s unmarried older sister, a put-upon Irish housemaid, and a boy hired by Lizzie’s uncle to take care of a problem.

This unforgettable debut makes you question the truth behind one of the great unsolved mysteries, as well as exploring power, violence and the harsh realities of being a woman in late nineteenth century America.

Haunting, gripping and gorgeously written, SEE WHAT I HAVE DONE by Sarah Schmidt is a re-imagining of the unsolved American true crime case of the Lizzie Borden murders, for fans of BURIAL RITES and MAKING A MURDERER.
‘Eerie and compelling, Sarah Schmidt breathes such life into the terrible, twisted tale of Lizzie Borden and her family, she makes it impossible to look away’ Paula Hawkins

Out May 2nd 2017

More about Lizzie Borden via Wikipedia

Hive.co.uk – buy online and support your local bookstore – £10.65 hardback pre-order

Amazon UK  £6.49  Kindle Edition

Lizzie Borden took an axe

And gave her mother forty whacks.

When she saw what she had done,

She gave her father forty-one.


MY REVIEW
I do love the books I read to be a little out of the ordinary – in subject matter or writing style – and this book certainly fits into that ‘out there’ category !!  You might remember the story as more of a skipping rope song than just a grissly murder, and I have to say that I knew very little of the Bordens’ or the events of that night, but since finishing this wonderfully dark book then I’ve been obsessed with reading all I can about that event and those involved!


It is an astonishing debut as I found that the author tells the story in a really compelling way.  Taking it in turns with each chapter to share the viewpoint of the main protagonists, and that really built up the backstory and the present so well.  There is very little empathy to be had with many of the characters but there are little glimpses into their lives that shows you how they had seemingly suffered that you find yourself warming, only a little!, to their situation.  It shows life in a very unhappy family and just how resentment, hatred and tension builds up and festers within people, until they reach a tipping point and then……


The story centres around events leading up to and that night in question in 1892 when Lizzies’ father and stepmother were brutally murdered, and we follow the plot via the viewpoints of four different characters, the main ones being Lizzy and her sister Emma.  I found the story from Bridget, the housekeeper, a fascinating one too!  And their stories are enthralling and captivating with a very dark edge that just keeps you turning the pages wanting more details – or maybe that’s just my twisted side showing itself again!


I’d highly recommend this to those of you looking for something different from a read and one that allows you to peek behind the net curtains as to the events that led up to such an awful crime.


Thank you to Georgina Moore, Publicity Books and Tinder Press for the advanced copy in return for a fair and honest review!