#BookReview WINDSWEPT by ANNABEL ABBS #NonFiction #Windswept


Annabel Abbs’s Windswept: Walking the Paths of Trailblazing Women is a beautifully written meditation and memoir that reflects on that most fundamental way of connecting with the outdoors: the simple act of walking. In absorbing and transporting prose, Abbs follows in the footsteps of groundbreaking women, including Georgia O’Keeffe in the empty plains of Texas and New Mexico, Nan Shepherd in the mountains of Scotland, Gwen John following the French River Garonne, Daphne du Maurier following the River Rhône, and Simone de Beauvoir—who walked as much as twenty-five miles a day in a skirt and espadrilles—in the mountains and forests of France. These trailblazing women were reclaiming what had historically been considered male domains.

The stories of these incredible women and artists are laced together by the wilderness walking in Abbs’s own life, beginning with her poet father who raised her in the Welsh countryside as an “experiment,” according to the principles of Rousseau. Windswept is an inventive retrospective and an arresting look forward to the way walking brings about a kind of clarity of thought not found in any other activity, and how it has allowed women throughout history to reimagine their lives and break free from convention. As Abbs traces the paths of these exceptional women, she realizes that she, too, is walking away from, and towards, a very different future. Windswept crosses continents and centuries in an arresting and stirring reflection on the power of walking in nature.







Just glorious!! I found this book to be inspiring, thought provoking, educational, fascinating and just wonderful!

The author uses her own life experiences, especially when she found herself in hospital unable to walk, to explore the art of walking and the fact that there was very few books around by women about walking and their adventures, when there are so many by men. With extensive research she uncovers some amazing characters – many of whom I had heard nothing about – and has brought their stories to life by challenging herself to walk the routes they did in the past, and this really just makes this book so immersive and inspiring.

The women she features are Frieda Lawrence, Gwen John, Clara Vyvyan, Nan Shepherd, Simone de Beauvoir, Georgia O’Keefe, but there is also reference to Daphne Du Maurier and Emma Gatewood.
All very different women but all sharing a deep passion for walking, exploring – and shockingly for women – walking by themselves!! The shame!! But in their adventures they enjoyed the freedom it gave them and allowed them to find their own minds, and the author shared these feelings as she uses each chapter to share her walk, alongside that of the woman she was walking in the footsteps of. There’s a look back in time to the lives of these amazing women, their trials and tribulations, the scandals, alongside her own experiences and thoughts on the changes over time as to the attitudes towards a variety of different topics.

It explores the benefits to your health of walking, the stories of the kindness of strangers met along the way, the pitfalls and reality of walking in the middle of nowhere by yourself, and the overwhelming sense of achievement and confidence these women had when they had finished a walk. And how eager they were to go on other adventures. Some weren’t afraid to go against convention, some lost their families over their actions, but most were just inspired by the solace they felt while walking, despite all of them having a real strong attachment to ‘home’ and realising just how little they needed in their lives.

I learnt so much about these women as the author relayed their stories, alongside her own walking experiences and how that time alone gave her time to think over her life choices. Reading about these women, inspired me to research a little more about them and their work and it’s been enlightening to learn more about these amazing women. The way the author connected with each woman also made this more of an experience as she wanted to feel what

It is one of those books that inspires, educates and just makes you want to walk!! To use your time wisely, and when you get the chance to grab that time for yourself and go out exploring, no matter how near or far!



#BookReview Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel by Ruth Hogan

About the book

From the bestselling author of The Keeper of Lost Things and The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes – a novel of mothers and daughters, families and secrets and the astonishing power of friendship.

Tilly was a bright, outgoing little girl who liked playing with ghosts and matches. She loved fizzy drinks, swear words, fish fingers and Catholic churches, but most of all she loved living in Brighton in Queenie Malone’s Magnificent Paradise Hotel with its endearing and loving family of misfits – staff and guests alike.

But Tilly’s childhood was shattered when her mother sent her away from the only home she’d ever loved to boarding school with little explanation and no warning. Now, Tilda has grown into an independent woman still damaged by her mother’s unaccountable cruelty. Wary of people, her only friend is her dog, Eli. But when her mother dies, Tilda goes back to Brighton and with the help of her beloved Queenie sets about unraveling the mystery of her exile from The Paradise Hotel and discovers that her mother was not the woman she thought she knew at all … Mothers and daughters … their story can be complicated … it can also turn out to have a happy ending.

Published by Two Roads

Publication Date – 7th February 2019

Purchase Links

hive.co.uk  £11.39

waterstones   £14.99


This was a beautifully written story that centres around family relationships, mental health and the consequences of not being truthful to those you love. For me it didn’t quite have the emotional impact as The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes, but still made for an engaging, enthralling and thought provoking read.

I love the fact that we got to see the story from both a young perspective and that of an adult, and how times changes and perceptions can deceive you. Young Tilly is the perfect example of a Daddy’s girl and is devastated when her father goes away and is left with a mother who she thinks doesn’t care about her, and that belief is reinforced when she is sent away to school.

When Tilly grows up she still holds on to that resentment and never has a close relationship with her mother, so when she returns following the death of her mother she is confronted with a mix of emotions as she talks to neighbours, and starts to look back at things with the help of the diaries of her mother that she finds. Tilda shares many traits with her father, and that of her mother too and it’s only when she starts to see her mother as a person, and not the ogre that she remembers, that she starts to really find out who she was, and that helps clear the picture of just who Tilda is as well.

There’s a wonderful cast of characters that the author creates, and the little details in descriptions really help things ping to life and makes the world of Tilda and the way her mind works feel even more real. The struggles she goes through when confronted with a past different to how she saw it is such a fascinating one and makes you warm to her as a character even more. Highly recommended.


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

#BookReview The Cactus by Sarah Haywood

People aren’t sure what to make of Susan Green – a prickly independent woman, who has everything just the way she wants it and who certainly has no need for messy emotional relationships.

Family and colleagues find her stand-offish and hard to understand, but Susan makes perfect sense to herself, and that’s all she needs.
At forty-five, she thinks her life is perfect, as long as she avoids her feckless brother, Edward – a safe distance away in Birmingham. She has a London flat which is ideal for one; a job that suits her passion for logic; and a personal arrangement providing cultural and other, more intimate, benefits.
Yet suddenly faced with the loss of her mother and, implausibly, with the possibility of becoming a mother herself, Susan’s greatest fear is being realised: she is losing control.
When she discovers that her mother’s will inexplicably favours her brother, Susan sets out to prove that Edward and his equally feckless friend Rob somehow coerced this dubious outcome. But when problems closer to home become increasingly hard to ignore, she finds help in the most unlikely of places.
This sparkling debut is a breath of fresh air with real heart and a powerful emotional punch. In Susan we find a character as exasperating and delightful as The Rosie Project’s Don Tillman. An uncompromising feminist and a fierce fighter, it’s a joy to watch her bloom.

Publisher – Two Roads

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

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

Book Depository



5 stars for the cover – it’s stunningly beautiful! But unfortunately only 3 stars for the story! That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it as it was an interesting story, but I just didn’t connect with the character as I hoped I would and I just felt that the book was missing something although I’m not sure what that was!

The main character, Susan Green, is very set in her ways! She’s very independent and likes her own routine and seems at odd with the modern world around her at times. She is a fan of the old fashioned approaches to life! She’s not on social media to the surprise of her work mates, and is happy enough just getting on with her job and taking care of her Cactus collection.

The story then follows her as she deals with the death of her mother, the fractured relationship with her brother thereafter and trying to come to terms with decisions made by others in her past that finally reveal themselves to her – all while she is coming to terms herself with her finding out she is pregnant and determined to raise the child by herself.

You definitely see a softer side of Susan as the months tick by – she finds a friend in the unlikeliest of places and the quest to try and contest the will that her mother left also leads to some startling revelations that unsettle her and shatter everything she thought she knew. She has to learn the art of compromise and to think of others and their feelings – something that has never been easy for her to deal with.

I enjoyed the times when Sarah was looking back at her childhood and how those events changed her, and overall I found it a pretty enjoyable read.