#BookReview YOURS CHEERFULL by A.J.PEARCE



ABOUT THE BOOK


From the author of the “jaunty, heartbreaking winner” (People) and international bestseller Dear Mrs. Bird, a new charming and upliftingnovel set in London during World War II about a plucky aspiring journalist.

London, November 1941. Following the departure of the formidable Henrietta Bird from Woman’s Friend magazine, things are looking up for Emmeline Lake as she takes on the challenge of becoming a young wartime advice columnist. Her relationship with boyfriend Charles (now stationed back in the UK) is blossoming, while Emmy’s best friend Bunty, still reeling from the very worst of the Blitz, is bravely looking to the future. Together, the friends are determined to Make a Go of It.

When the Ministry of Information calls on Britain’s women’s magazines to help recruit desperately needed female workers to the war effort, Emmy is thrilled to be asked to step up and help. But when she and Bunty meet a young woman who shows them the very real challenges that women war workers face, Emmy must tackle a life-changing dilemma between doing her duty and standing by her friends.

Every bit as funny, heartwarming, and touching as Dear Mrs. BirdYours Cheerfully is a celebration of friendship—a testament to the strength of women and the importance of lifting each other up, even in the most challenging times.


PUBLISHED BY PICADOR


PURCHASE LINK


Amazon

MY REVIEW

I listened to the audio version of this book.

Having loved Dear Mrs Bird, I was so pleased that the characters would be back for another installment, and it hasn’t let me down! It’s one of those ‘nice’ books that are a pleasure to read. You enjoy the characters so much that they become like friends as you watch over their progress.

This book is set a few months after DMB, and life at the magazine during the war continues to throw up new issues and challenges for the staff. And with it being a magazine for women, the focus on the role of women during the war is top priority, so that sets Emmy off to look at new ways of incorporating the lives of women as she forges on with her journalist career.

There’s still a snobby attitude by some towards the ‘Friend’ magazine, and that only just makes those working there more determined to do the best for their readers. The advice column is still a major success and it is giving women a voice. And with the magazine asked to help get women to help out with the war effort, I loved seeing how creative Emmy and the others were in finding ways to show the impact that women can have in a positive way.

The research and attention to detail was top notch once more, and really bought home the issues facing women at the time – dealing with worrying about their loved ones, whilst trying to carry on as normal and raise their families not knowing what was round the corner. And proving the power of coming together to raise awareness and fighting for their rights. Some things never seem to change… unfortunately!

Looking forward to book three already…. if there is to be more!!

★★★★

#BookReview The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

About the book

A novel of the cruelty of war, and tenuousness of life and the impossibility of love.

Richard Flanagan’s story — of Dorrigo Evans, an Australian doctor haunted by a love affair with his uncle’s wife — journeys from the caves of Tasmanian trappers in the early twentieth century to a crumbling pre-war beachside hotel, from a Thai jungle prison to a Japanese snow festival, from the Changi gallows to a chance meeting of lovers on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Taking its title from 17th-century haiku poet Basho’s travel journal, The Narrow Road To The Deep North is about the impossibility of love. At its heart is one day in a Japanese slave labour camp in August 1943. As the day builds to its horrific climax, Dorrigo Evans battles and fails in his quest to save the lives of his fellow POWs, a man is killed for no reason, and a love story unfolds.

Published by Vintage Books

Literary Awards Man Booker Prize (2014)Miles Franklin Literary Award Nominee (2014)Prime Minister’s Literary Awards for Fiction (2014)Australian Independent Booksellers Indie Book Award for Book of the Year (2014)Bad Sex in Fiction Award Nominee (2014)The Athens Prize for Literature – Περιοδικό (δέ)κατα (2016)Prix Relay des Voyageurs Nominee (2016)Andrew Carnegie Medal Nominee for Fiction (2015)Queensland Literary Awards for Fiction Book (2014)Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Historical Fiction (2014)Waterstones Book of the Year Nominee (2014)International DUBLIN Literary Award Nominee for Shortlist (2015)

Purchase Link
hive.co.uk


MY REVIEW


Listened to the audio version of this via the Borrowbox app from the library.

An astonishing story full of love, loss and the horrors of war from a variety of perspectives. It’s also the tale before, during and after of the impacts of relationships and atrocities witnessed have on those involved. And yes there are some cliche moments dotted throughout, but overall this is historical fiction written exceedingly well and you’re left haunted and deeply moved emotionally in equal measures.

The story centres around Dorrigo Evans and his extraordinary life and through his memories we get to witness a love affair that was doomed from the start, his time at a prisoner of war camp in Japan where friendships were formed and the darkest times witnessed, and to life after the war and how being back in the real world felt so hollow and his thoughts would often go back to the past and what he had lived through and lost.

The strongest part of the book for me was the time of War, and the way it was told from the perspective of the prisoners alongside that of the Japanese officers were equally powerful. The despair on both sides of what they were experiencing wasn’t easy reading at times but made for such a compelling story.

An extraordinary story and one I was glad to hear the author reading on the audio version.
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#BookReview The Scarlet Nightingale by Alan Titchmarsh

                                                                

About the book

As war rages across Europe, one young woman is torn between love and loyalty.

Set in wartime London and occupied France, this is a thrilling story of love, danger and sacrifice from bestselling novelist Alan Titchmarsh.

It is the late 1930s when seventeen-year-old Rosamund Hanbury leaves behind the endless summers of her coastal Devonshire home for the fast pace of high society London.

Under the expert guidance of her formidable aunt, the country mouse learns how to act like a lady, hosting dinner parties and rubbing shoulders with Britain’s most influential. And when the enigmatic Harry Napier sweeps her off her feet at London’s famous Café de Paris she could almost forget that Britain has declared war.

But the Phoney War ends. Harry is posted, London reels from the first bombings of the Blitz and Rosamund suffers a devastating personal loss that leaves her all the more determined to do her bit for the war effort.
Joining the Special Forces she is sent to work alongside the Resistance on a top secret mission in France.
It is here that her courage and loyalty are truly put to the test. And where she learns that no one is what they seem: at home or abroad … 

Published by Hodder & Stoughton

Purchase Links

hive.co.uk  £14.29

waterstones  £15.99

Foyles

MY REVIEW

I found this to be a wonderful read from one of my favourite authors! 
 
It’s a fascinating look back over an extraordinary life after Rosamund, an author, passes away. She never spoke much of her past but when she dies she leaves behind a finished novel and a ragged envelope full of letters and keepsakes – an imaginative way to tell her story.
 
It was lovely to hear her story through her words as she looked back – the idyllic childhood in the countryside, the governess she adored, the friends she met, and then how she dealt with the tragedy of losing her parents and what that meant for her life, as it all changed so quickly.
 
The time period is set just before the War so the threat is always close by, and when she moves to London to live with her Aunt, it becomes even more of a reality and she is eager to ‘do her bit’ but is unsure how she can help. She isn’t afraid of a challenge though and she soon finds herself closer to the action than she could have ever imagined – part of a team who are in France to follow orders.
 
I love the relaxed style of storytelling throughout – scenes are beautifully set, characters are brought to life with their strengths and flaws and in Rosamund is a really intriguing character. So headstrong and inquisitive, but often naive and watching her blossom from childhood to adulthood is a wonderful journey that we get to share in. She isn’t content to sit back and enjoy a luxurious life, even if it means putting herself in danger. She is also aware of those she meets risking their lives too and that adds a real emotional element to the storyline as she faces so many obstacles.
 
I loved how it showed that people find strength when facing adversity and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment!
 

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The Antipodeans by Greg McGee #BookReview #historicalfiction

THE BLURB

Three Generations. Two Continents. One Forgotten Secret.

 

2014Clare and her father travel to Venice from New Zealand. She is fleeing a broken marriage, he is in failing health and wants to return one last time to the place where, as a young man, he spent happy years as a rugby player and coach. While exploring Venice, Clare discovers there is more to her father’s motives for returning than she realised and time may be running out for him to put old demons to rest.

1942Joe and Harry, two Kiwi POWs in Italy, manage to escape their captors, largely due to the help of a sympathetic Italian family who shelter them on their farm. Soon they are fighting alongside the partisans in the mountains, but both men have formed a bond with Donatella, the daughter of the family, a bond that will have dramatic repercussions decades later.

The Antipodeans is a novel of epic proportions where families from opposite ends of the earth discover a legacy of love and blood and betrayal.

‘Like a Venetian Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. You won’t want to put it down.’ – Simon Edge, author of The Hopkins Conundrum

‘Hugely evocative’ – Sarah Franklin, author of Shelter

 

Publisher Lightning Books

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Greg McGee is an award-winning New Zealand playwright, television screenwriter, novelist, and biographer.

A promising young rugby player, McGee became a Junior All Black and All Blacks trialist. He graduated from law school, then in 1980 his first play, Foreskin’s Lament, debuted. Centred around rugby, this play became iconic in New Zealand and garnered McGee popular acclaim.

He is a successful screenwriter, writing based-on-true story dramatisations and mini-series based on the Erebus disaster and the infamous Lange Government, as well as contributing to several popular television shows (Marlin Bay, Street Legal, Orange Roughies). He also penned the screenplay for Old Scores, a rugby-based feature film.

As a novelist, McGee first wrote under the pseudonym Alix Bosco, winning the prestigious Ngaio Marsh Award for his debut, CUT & RUN. He also wrote All Blacks captain Richie McCaw’s biography, one of the bestselling New Zealand books of recent years.

 

MY REVIEW

Extremely thankful to Lightning Books who made me aware of this book as they knew I loved historical reads – and this was a captivating and compelling story that I’m extremely glad to have had the pleasure of reading.

Mainly set over 2 timelines; 2014 – Clare and her father go to Venice as her father is dying and he wants to revisit his past, while Clare is escaping her present. 1942 – 2 Kiwi POW’s are helped out by an Italian family who hide them from their captors and they become part of the community during their stay. You wonder how the timelines are linked and what has really prompted the trip to Venice now and it is fascinating as the past is revealed and secrets are uncovered leading to Clare finding out so much more about her father than she ever thought possible.

The dual timeline works so well in this story – the present storyline has so many layers to it from the father trying to make sense of his past, alongside Clare dealing with escaping her cheating ex and the let downs she has suffered over the years. When her father is taken ill whilst in Venice, she is then faced with even more revelations that rock her. Her father kept diaries of his time as a rugby coach in Italy and whilst at times I did find these a little confusing as they centred around politics of the time and featured a lot of names, the details soon all came together to help things slot into place and make things clearer.

And the story line throughout the war years was a complex mix of life on the run, the brutal reality of times of war and the relationships built up between soldiers and those they sought shelter with.

This book was such a quality mix of history, family bonds, secrets, loves and lies and I can see why this book was such a big hit in New Zealand where it spent almost a year on the bestseller chart. The short, snappy chapters really helped with the pace of the story as I found myself not wanting to put it down once I’d started it, and for a book of nearly 450 pages that is quite a feat!! I enjoyed the bond between Clare and her father, and the time they spent in Italy was quite a journey for both of them and brought so vividly to life by the author. As were the war years and the horrors that the soldiers witnessed and how they survived by pulling together and relying on the kindness of strangers.

Cannot recommend this highly enough as an absorbing read that will stay with me for some time!

Operation Heartbreak by Duff Cooper #bookreview #MyYearOfPersephone

The hero of Operation Heartbreak (1950) is called Willie Maryngton; the central tragedy of his life is that he is too young to fight in the First World War and too old for the Second. Willie ‘knew perfectly well that when a regiment went abroad on active service some officers and men were left behind. But he had never thought that he would be among those officers. The Colonel had talked about the first scrap, but that was just the scrap he wanted to be in. He had said something about heavy casualties. Willie minded little how heavy they were if he was in it, but how could he bear to sit at home, hoping that his brother officers would be killed so that he could take their place?’ But Willie does in the end play a vital part in the Allies’ eventual victory, and the knowledge that this book is based on a true wartime incident is in part why it is so moving. ‘A story of why men go to war,’ comments Nina Bawden, ‘it is also a heart-wrenching love story; a wonderful novel by a masterly writer that should be on everyone’s bookshelf.’ And Emma Smith writes, ‘I remember weeping copiously over Operation Heartbreak when I first read it – it is a deeply-moving book, beautifully written.’

Persephone Books

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MY REVIEW

My year of Persephone continues and this was the latest pick off my Persephone bookshelf and what a fantastic little read this one was! I was a little dubious as to whether I would find this book fascinating as I knew very little of it, but it has received rave reviews on some sites so that made me pick it up and I’m blooming glad I did!

What a powerful and emotional little book! Another classic from Persephone and one I feel glad to have read – and shed a tear or two whilst doing so!

Such an understated book of a nearly man -Willie Maryngton – who was determined to fight for his country but fate always conspired against him so he always seemed to miss out. Too young in the First World War, too old in the Second World War. Even in his personal life he was plagued by unrequited love, and he finds himself hit by depression and poor health and it was often a heartbreaking read as you see him stumble through life unable to fulfill his dream to go overseas and fight in a battle with his colleagues. 

The character of Willie is an easy one to bond with – the way he’s always willing to be involved but taking disappointment on the chin – and as he suffers setback after setback, your admiration for him grows as he won’t give up.

When I found out that his story was partly based on a real life incident it made it even more poignant to know what his life ended up meaning and how life has a strange way of working out.

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The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris #bookreview

THE BLURB

The incredible story of the Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist and the woman he loved.

Lale Sokolov is well-dressed, a charmer, a ladies’ man. He is also a Jew. On the first transport from Slovakia to Auschwitz in 1942, Lale immediately stands out to his fellow prisoners. In the camp, he is looked up to, looked out for, and put to work in the privileged position of Tätowierer– the tattooist – to mark his fellow prisoners, forever. One of them is a young woman, Gita, who steals his heart at first glance.

His life given new purpose, Lale does his best through the struggle and suffering to use his position for good.

This story, full of beauty and hope, is based on years of interviews author Heather Morris conducted with real-life Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov. It is heart-wrenching, illuminating, and unforgettable

PUBLISHER;  http://www.zaffrebooks.co.uk/

Amazon UK  –  £10.59 H/B

Hive.co.uk – buy online and support a local bookstore  –  £9.59 H/B

Waterstones  –  £12.99 H/B

MY REVIEW

This is a powerful novel based on the true love story of Lale and Gita, who met when he was put in charge of tattooing those who were brought to Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1942. Lale himself was a prisoner, but everyone there found themselves doing all they could to survive and get through the horrors they were witness to everyday. In his role as Tattooist it allowed him a little more freedom, a little extra food (which he then shared with others) and the ability to meet more people, and that is how Gita caught his eye when he had to tattoo the number on her arm.

Their relationship and their time in such a horrific place is sensitively portrayed throughout this book. With many books of this type some authors feel the need to shock with graphic descriptions of what was happening, but this author didn’t feel the need to do that and to go into too much detail of the horror that was part of these peoples’ lives. As a reader you still sensed the darkness and it was seeing how those living in the camps dealt with it which was a fascinating aspect. They had to focus on the small things – a small piece of chocolate, a message from the outside, the kindness of strangers – to see out each day and were living with hope that their suffering would soon be over.

It is a story full of horror but of hope and the strength of human spirit in the face of adversity and Lale and Gita were such an admirable, brave couple and I’m glad I got to read their story, as many stories were unable to be told.

Thank you to the publishers and Readers First for my advanced reading copy in return for a fair and honest review.