#BookReview THE MISSING LETTERS OF MRS BRIGHT by BETH MILLER @bookouture

ABOUT THE BOOK

You’ve met Mrs Bright. She’s that nice woman who lives three doors down and always smiles at you in the mornings. She’s planning her thirtieth wedding anniversary with her husband. She wants to travel, read endless books and take beautiful pictures. She’s been waiting for this forever.

For the past twenty-nine years, Kay Bright’s days have had a familiar rhythm: she works in her husband’s stationery shop, cooks for her family, tries to remember to practice yoga, and every other month she writes to her best friend, Ursula, and Ursula replies. Kay could set her calendar by their letters: her heart lifts when the blue airmail envelope, addressed in Ursula’s slanting handwriting, falls gently onto the mat.

Ursula is the only one who knows Kay’s deepest secret, something that happened decades ago that could tear Kay’s life apart today. Ursula has always been the person Kay relies on. Knowing she will hear from Ursula is like being sure the sun will rise tomorrow.

And now Ursula has stopped writing. Three missing letters doesn’t sound like a lot, but Kay gets out her shoebox of notes from her best friend, in case there’s something she overlooked. Ursula seems fine, but the further back she goes, the more Kay begins to question every choice she has made in her life. Which might be why, at ten o’clock one morning, Kay walks out of her yellow front door with a just a rucksack, leaving her wedding ring on the table…

An emotional and heart-warming novel for anyone who knows it’s never too late to look for happiness. Fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely FineA Man Called Ove and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry will fall in love with this feel-good and moving story that shows you that the best friendships truly last forever.

PUBLISHED BY BOOKOUTURE

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

MY REVIEW

A beautifully written book that had me reading through tears at times! It’s a story of a woman who has decided her life isn’t what she thought it was going to be and makes that brave leap from a safe and routine life, to following her dreams and finding out that there is more to life and how her actions also end up waking up the rest of her family from living life in slumber and learning to take chances.

When Kay decides to leave her husband, Richard, of almost 30 years the shock waves are felt far and wide – even she doesn’t know why she’s picked this moment but it’s something she knows that she needs to do.  She escapes to her bolthole in Wales to figure out things, while her daughter moves back to help her dad adjust to this news.

Throughout the book we get to see letters that Kay has written to Bear over the years, and we discover the identity of Bear when Kay goes to visit her in Australia. The women have been friends since school and it’s clear that they share everything with one another. Friendship is a big thing for Kay – she relies on Rose too to help her through and they’re always seemingly honest with her about whatever she has planned – they’re not afraid to burst her bubble if her plans get too out there!

We also hear from her daughter, Stella, who is dealing with her own issues in her relationship and work life and it was interesting to see how she had inherited that strong bond with her family from her mum, but still couldn’t work out what her mum was playing at and shows how complex that mother/daughter relationship can be at times.  You could feel the frustration from Stella especially as to why was her mum doing these things now – was this a mid life crisis thing?!

This was a book about being brave!  What happens if you step outside your comfort zone and grab hold of new chances in life and it was so inspiring. It also faces those ‘what if’ moments we all have  looking back over our lives and how just being honest can mean new starts for everyone. It was emotional and touching and I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with all these characters and I look forward to reading more from this author!

★★★★

#BookReview The Woman Who Wanted More by Vicky Zimmerman

ABOUT THE BOOK

Two lonely women. An unlikely friendship. And one big life lesson: never be ashamed to ask for more . . .

 No woman dreams of being unceremoniously dumped and moving back in with her mother on the eve of her 40th birthday. Food technician Kate Parker’s first response? Denial, long days under her duvet and bucket loads of cheesy pasta. A reluctant Kate finds herself volunteering at the Lauderdale House For Exceptional Ladies. There she meets 96-year-old Cecily Finn – spiky and sharp as a pin, but the spark has gone out of her. She has resigned herself to the imminent End.Having no patience with Kate’s self-pity, Cecily prescribes her a self-help book with a difference – it’s a 1957 cookery manual, featuring menus for anything life can throw at ‘the easily dismayed’. It promises the answers to essential life questions: ‘what shall one give to one’s rich aunt Emma that will be palatable but not prodigal; to one’s husband’s managing director, at once memorable and modest; one’s old love’s new love; the man one hopes will stay on after dinner; the man one hopes will not …’

.Can Kate find a menu to help a broken-hearted woman let go? If Kate moves forward, might Cecily too?The cookbook holds the secrets of Cecily’s own remarkable and heartbreaking story, and the love of her life. It will certainly teach Kate a thing or two. So begins an unlikely friendship between two lonely and stubborn souls – one at the end of her life, and one stuck in the middle – who come to show each other that food is for feasting, life is for living and the way to a man’s heart is . . . irrelevant!

published by ZAFFRE

Publication Date – 30th May 2019

PRE-ORDER LINKS

Amazon UK  £7.74

hive.co.uk  £5.99

WHSmith  £5.75

MY REVIEW

What a charming and delightful book! I adored the characters – especially Cecily! – and found it to be one of those books that is heartwarming and inspiring, and even made me shed a tear or two!

Kate Parker is the main character and her life is seemingly all going swimmingly – she’s in a loving relationship with Nick who shares her passion for food and cooking (note – do NOT read this book on an empty stomach!!) and is settled in her work life, but that settled life is soon disrupted by Nick dropping a bombshell while they’re away on holiday together and it leaves her feeling very unsettled and very down on life. She moves back in with her mum who is a completely different character to her – very outgoing and free-spirited – who tries setting her up with friends’ sons and offering her the advice to stop being the victim and to move on with her life. Kate isn’t so sure she’s able to and still pines for her and Nick getting back together.

While she has some spare time, a friend gets her to volunteer at a local old people’s home – Lauderdale House for Exceptional Ladies – which is full of some of the most wonderful characters, the most entertaining being 97 year old Cecily! She takes no prisoners and doesn’t mince her words and seems to enjoy heckling Kate who takes on the role of cookery demonstrator! Despite their prickly start, they soon form such a wonderful friendship as Cecily takes on the role of life advisor, and lends her an amazing cookbook that combines recipes with great life advice and Kate starts taking the pages of the book to heart.

I loved the scenes between Kate and Cecily and think I need a Cecily in my life! She’s wise, witty and wonderful! She shares her own life story with Kate, but also gets Kate to question her own life plan and pushes her to explore different things in life and to stop sitting around waiting for Nick to change his mind and to find her own worth. 

What made this story even more touching was that the author based it on her own grandmother and it really added such a wonderful feel to the book, especially with the photos of her grandmother at the end. What a woman and what a story!!

★★★★

My thanks to Readers First  and Zaffre for the advanced reading copy in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookReview The Woman Who Kept Everything by Jane Gilley

About the book

The Lady in the Van meets The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry in this uplifting, funny and moving debut novel about a 79-year-old hoarder who is convinced the world is against her.

79-year-old Gloria Frensham is a hoarder. She lives amongst piles of magazines, squashed cardboard boxes, surplus carpet rolls, heaps of towels and knick-knacks littering the stairs. She hasn’t left her home for years, until a loud bang and a sudden smell of singeing sets in motion Gloria’s unwilling exodus from her home…

That day is the start of a journey that will never return Gloria back to her beloved, hoarded possessions, nor to her son’s house to live. For it is the start of her journey to discover life again – and she’s going to make some good friends and defiant decisions along the way, with just one very small suitcase in tow…

Heart-warming and poignant in equal measure, this is a story about the loneliness of life, the struggles of growing old, the power of kindness, and the bravery it takes to leave our comfort zones.

Published by Avon

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

MY REVIEW

This was an enjoyable and easy read that follows the story of 79 year old Grace as she leaves behind her life as a hoarder and begins to enjoy life again, despite the best intentions of her son who just seems more interested in pound signs than the welfare of his own mother!

Grace never found the way she lived a problem. Yes she couldn’t reach certain parts of rooms as they were covered in clutter, and yes there was a smell, but her home was her safe place, where she led a very simple life since losing her beloved husband. A friend would bring shopping in for her and she made do with what she had. But when disaster strikes she is forced to move into a care home for a couple of weeks, and breaking out of this routine seem to set her off on an amazing journey to meet new friends and have new experiences. Life begins at 79 it seems!

This book does look at the issue of extreme hoarding and depression and it was sensitively portrayed, although I did feel at times it was a little rushed in how quickly it all seemed to get out of her system. She then met others who had the same issue and she was the right person to help them understand how they were living wasn’t helping them, and showed a touching and caring side that many who choose to live this way are just lonely and how the presence of friends or family can help them move on and escape this sadness.

I loved Grace and how she took to her new way of living so well! She was out to have a good time, and she did! Her son wasn’t a pleasant character at all and just highlighted the sadness of those people in the world that can just give up on elderly relatives – until there is money to be had.

I think the ending fell a little flat for me with so much happening so quickly but I did enjoy this book overall and it was a story that did well in its’ portrayal of a woman who had suffered for so long but managed to get her happy ending!

My thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the e-cop in return for a fair and honest review.

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#BookReview The Lido by Libby Page

ABOUT THE BOOK

A tender, joyous debut novel about a cub reporter and her eighty-six-year-old subject—and the unlikely and life-changing friendship that develops between them.

Kate is a twenty-six-year-old riddled with anxiety and panic attacks who works for a local paper in Brixton, London, covering forgettably small stories. When she’s assigned to write about the closing of the local lido (an outdoor pool and recreation center), she meets Rosemary, an eighty-six-year-old widow who has swum at the lido daily since it opened its doors when she was a child. It was here Rosemary fell in love with her husband, George; here that she’s found communion during her marriage and since George’s death. The lido has been a cornerstone in nearly every part of Rosemary’s life.

But when a local developer attempts to buy the lido for a posh new apartment complex, Rosemary’s fond memories and sense of community are under threat.

As Kate dives deeper into the lido’s history—with the help of a charming photographer—she pieces together a portrait of the pool, and a portrait of a singular woman, Rosemary. What begins as a simple local interest story for Kate soon blossoms into a beautiful friendship that provides sustenance to both women as they galvanize the community to fight the lido’s closure. Meanwhile, Rosemary slowly, finally, begins to open up to Kate, transforming them both in ways they never knew possible.

In the tradition of Fredrik Backman, The Lido is a charming, feel-good novel that captures the heart and spirit of a community across generations—an irresistible tale of love, loss, aging, and friendship.

Published by Orion

Hardcover page count – 384

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

Hive.co.uk

Book Depository

MY REVIEW

I adored this book! From the first few pages you are immediately drawn into the world of Kate, who is struggling with anxiety in the world she lives in and often shuts herself away in her flat. She works at the local paper and is soon given the chance of writing a story about the local Lido which is soon to be demolished. Kate doesn’t know that working on this story is set to change her life and her outlook and help banish some of those demons living inside her head.

Rosemary is 86 and a regular swimmer at the Lido. It has become her second home since the loss of her beloved husband, and the thought of it no longer being there springs her into action to try and save the little piece of heaven that means so much to her and many others in the community. To the ‘men in suits’ it is just a building, but to those who use the Lido it means so much more – where romances start, friendships are made, childhood memories abound – and to lose that can be devastating for those living in the area.

Kate is sent to interview Rosemary and the most wonderful and touching friendship begins these two women and it was just a delight to read how this bond strengthens throughout, how they both help each other personally and of what can be achieved when people in a community pull together.

I loved the sense of community throughout, and also how we see that despite the struggles that both characters face throughout, there is always that thread of hope and how unlikely friendships blossom. Kate and Rosemary are two amazing characters as well – Kate suffers with anxiety and you get a real sense of the terror she often feels in those moments when the walls seem to be closing in on her, and Rosemary is still struggling with life without her beloved George and it was so joyous to look back on their life together through her eyes.

I had tears in my eyes by the end but my heart was filled with so much love and all the feels and I cannot recommend this book highly enough!  If you loved Eleanor Oliphant by Gail Honeyman, or A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, then this is the book for you!

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