Friday, January 30, 2015

Perfect by Rachel Joyce

Hardback: 361 pages
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Doubleday 2013
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentences: In 1972, two seconds were added to time. Britain agreed to join the Common Market and 'Beg, Steal or Borrow' by the New Seekers was the entry for Eurovision.
Review Quote: "A near-flawless novel of emotional truth. Joyce executes this story with precision and flair... Its unputdownable factor lies in its exploration of so many multilayered emotions... It is her clever did-I-read-that-right twist at the end that really got to me and had me scrabbling back through the chapters, open-mouthed." (Evening Standard)
Favourite Quote: “That's what nobody realizes. Two seconds are huge. It's the difference between something happening and something not happening. You could take one step too many and fall over the edge of a cliff. It's very dangerous.” 
My Opinion: A beguiling read.

Whilst researching for an author profile of  Rachel Joyce recently I discovered that the character of Byron, the protagonist of 'Perfect' has been in her thoughts for much longer than her previous novel 'The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry' With this information in mind I decided that despite not having read the earlier novel, I know how did I miss out on it,  I would go ahead and read 'Perfect' first.  Rachel Joyce tells us in a letter on her website that  ' The idea about the cost of perfection and an idea that changes everything, as well as the central characters, has been loitering in my head for many years.' 

Perfect scene setting draws one in immediately, a hot English July day in a country garden where the air is heavy with the scent of flowers.  The story revolves around the female protagonist Diana, the fragile middle class wife that is in an unhappy marriage. Her husband is a control freak, even managing to rule her life when he is away in the city working all week. One summer day in 1972 two seconds are added to time and it is this that causes, dramatic life changes for the family 
with poignant consequences. Her son Byron was terrified by the addition of those seconds, thanks to a vivid imagination and what happened that day. With a friend he seeks to try and find out what really happened, but is he successful. 
Jump on forty years to the present day and we meet Jim, a discharged psychiatric patient who finds life out side an institutional setting over whelming. Just how these two stories link up and provide the reader with a beguiling read I leave you to discover for yourself.

Having enjoyed the writing style of this author I will look out for any future novels she writes and have of course added 'The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry to my wishlist. Do not be misled by the title 'Perfect' which does create in one's mind something completely different to the tragic story that unfolds in this novel which I highly recommend to all lovers of literary fiction.

Author Profile

Rachel Joyce is the author of the Sunday Times and international bestseller The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and Perfect published in July 2013. She was awarded the Specsavers National Book Awards 'New Writer of the Year' in December 2012.
Joyce has also written over 20 original afternoon plays for BBC Radio 4, and major adaptations for both the Classic Series, Woman's Hour and also a TV drama adaptation for BBC 2. In 2007 she won the Tinniswood Award for best radio play.
She moved to writing after a twenty-year career in theatre and television, performing leading roles for the RSC, the Royal National Theatre, The Royal Court, and Cheek by Jowl, winning a Time Out Best Actress award and the Sony Silver.

The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and her writing.

Goodreads - Author Profile     Amazon Author Profile   Rachel Joyce - Official Website

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Heroes' Welcome by Louisa Young

Hardback: 260 pages
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Publisher: The Borough Press, Harper Collins Imprint. 2014
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentences: Riley Purefoy did not think very much about the war. He didn't have to. It was part of him. 
Review Quote: ‘Powerful, sometimes shocking, boldly conceived, it fixes on war’s lingering trauma to show how people adapt – or not – and is irradiated by anger and pity’ The Sunday Times
My Opinion:  A moving account of the after effects of the First World War.

The latest choice for a book club I belong to Louisa Young is an author I had not come across before, so I had no idea that 'The Heroes Welcome' is a sequel to 'My Dear, I Wanted To Tell You'  Had I perhaps known this beforehand I would have made the effort to read this first, as I do feel it would have given me more insight into the background of the main characters who all appeared in the first novel.  'The Heroes Welcome' does however stand alone as a moving account of the after effects of the First World War. 

The story is indeed a very depressing one as it follows the attempts of the main characters Nadine, Riley, Julia, Peter and Rose to come to terms with all that they have suffered. Starting on a happy note, it is the Spring of April 1919 and Nadine Waverney marries her long-time sweetheart Riley Purefoy. Riley is badly disfigured due to a wartime wound and feels that his relationship with Nadine has changed from one of passion and deep love to one of pity and dependency.  The character of Peter Locke, formerly Riley's commanding officer, now his friend is struggling to readjust to family life with his overwrought wife Julia and young son at the family home in the Kent countryside. The other main protagonist is Rose Locke, a cousin of Peter's who just happened to nurse Riley after his injury. All of them have been damaged by the Great War and this novel is an evocative account of their trials and tribulations. 

A moving account of the after effects of the First World War on a group of friends. Well written this novel will appeal to those that have read the prequel and want to find out what happened to everyone. Also anyone that is interested in the psychological effects of war on not only those that fought but those left behind as well.

Author Profile

Louisa was born in London, England. Her father was the politician and writer Wayland Young, Lord Kennet. Her mother is Elizabeth Young, Lady Kennet. She has several siblings, including the sculptor Emily YoungShe was educated at Hallfield Primary School, Paddington; St Paul's Girls' SchoolWestminster School; and Trinity College Cambridge. She was for many years a freelance journalist, working mostly for the Motorcycle Press, Marie Claire and The Guardian. She has travelled widely and published ten books. She lives in London and Italy with her daughter (born 1993). She is also the author of the best-selling Lionboy trilogy, with her daughter Isabel Adomakoh Young. She was engaged to the composer  Robert Lockhart when he died in January 2012.

If you are interested in more biographical detail Louisa has written a great profile on her Official Website

The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and her writing.

Amazon Profile - Louisa Young     Author - Official Website    Wikipedia - Louisa Young 

 Twitter Profile    Louisa Young - Facebook Profile

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Threshing Circle by Neil Grimmett


eBook:  1501 KB
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Grimpen Publications (19 Feb 2014)
Source: Loaned from Amazon as part of my Amazon Prime Membership.
First Sentence: Kapetanios Michaelis crept through the village, blending with shadows, listening to sleepers snoring, dreamers murmuring, another young widow weeping.
Favourite Quote: 'They're like the pieces in a mosaicuntil they're all set in place,there's no clear picture.'

My Opinion:  Tangled and absorbing tale of revenge.

This novel is well outside my normal preferred genres, but I do like to step outside my comfort zone from time to time. In fact I do read thrillers but normally psychological ones. How shall I describe this thriller, well it is very intense with evil bloody scenes and sexual violence, you have been warned. Everything the author has written is relevant to the storyline though as this complex mystery is set in Crete, a country that has a long history of occupation by other nations. It is this history that fuels the tradition of vendettas that last for generations. One such family feud is at the root of this tangled and absorbing tale of revenge.

 In May 1942 during WWII a dreadful crime was committed on the island of Crete and sixty years later  a young couple arrive on the island determined to find out what really happened all those years ago. The problem is they disappear, local Scottish ex-pat Kirsty and local Barba Yiorgos form an unlikely alliance in a hazardous attempt to find them. Their search is full of danger, mysterious happenings and fascinating and evil characters. Romantic myths and violence abound before some choices have to be made if this mystery has a chance of coming to a satisfactory conclusion. Immerse yourself in this powerful mystery if you want to learn what happened, in the wilds of Crete. 

Set in a beautiful location, with a mystery that will hold your attention right to the final pages I recommend this to any one that enjoys a well written and intense thriller.

Author Profile

Neil Grimmett was born in Birmingham and after having travelled extensively in Greece and Spain now lives in Somerset with his wife Lisa. the Threshing Circle is his first full length novel to be published. He has had over eighty five short stories published, by among others: London Magazine, Stand, Panurge, Iron, Ambit, Postscripts Magazine, Pretext etc. Australia, Quadrant, South Africa, New Contrast. Plus stories in the leading journals of Singapore, India, France, Canada, and the USA, where he has appeared in Fiction, The Yale Review, DoubleTake, The southern Humanities Review, Green Mountains Review, Descant, The Southern Review, West Branch and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. He has appeared online in Blackbird, Plum Ruby Review, Tatlin's Tower, Web Del Sol, In Posse Review, m.a.g., Word Riot, Blue Moon Review, 3AM, Gangway, Eclectica, The Cortland Review, Segue, The Dublin Quarterly , Ducts, Sugar Mule, Mysterical E, Thuglit and over thirty others. His stories have also appeared in the anthologies: ENGLAND CALLING, BOOK OF VOICES and Italy’s ISBN’s Top International Stories. He has made the storySouth Million Writers Notable Short Story list for the last three years. In addition, he has won the Write On poetry award, 7 Oppenheim John Downes Awards, 5 major British Arts Council Awards, a Royal Society of Authors award and was just awarded a major grant from the Royal Literary Fund.

The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and his writing.

Goodreads - Author Profile     Neil Grimmett - Twitter   Author's Official Website   

 Neil Grimmett - Amazon Author Profile

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Perfect Match by Katie Fforde

Hardback: 357 pages
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Fiction 
Publisher: Century 2014
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentences: Bella Castle took a breath and put on a smile she hoped would hide her frustration.
Review Quote: “A lovely sit-back-and-relax number that whisked me from my poky London flat to the rolling Cotswold hills … twenty novels in and Katie Fforde has still got it.”
Daily Express
My Opinion: Perfect relaxation reading.

Regular readers of my reviews may remember that I admit to having been a fan of Katie Fforde's writing since 1995. Picking up her latest novel is always a guarantee of finding a story to provide one with perfect relaxation reading, romantic plots with a feel good factor.  'The Perfect Match' is her twentieth romantic contemporary novel written in her inevitable warm and witty style with the sort of  ending one has come to expect! Cannot say that this was a favourite though as it felt superficial with no depth to the storyline, although I did enjoy the characterisations, particularly of 'wimpy' Bella and 'fiesty' Alice. Bella irritated me no end with her behaviour, yet Alice I admired, maybe as being of a similar age I thought go for it girl!       

I will just give you a brief synopsis of the storyline, to tempt you to pick up 'The Perfect Match' if this is a genre you enjoy. The female protagonists are Bella and Alice, the former is Alice's god-daughter and they share a delightful home together in the Cotswolds. Bella had moved in with her god-mother three years previously when she left her home town after a disastrous affair, if one could call it that. Now successfully working as an estate agent in the area and dating her boss, Bella may well have thought she was settled but the balance is about to be upset. She finds her boyfriend is not all she thought and her ex love turns up in the village! As for Alice, in contrast to Bella a much more likeable character, still single at 60 she suddenly finds herself falling for a younger man after a chance meeting. Alice finds the situation difficult especially when she has to meet her lovers adult children, but she is a strong lady, who proves it does not matter how old you are when you fall in love. 

To say more would spoil the story line, so I just recommend to Katie Fforde fans and fans of the genre if you have not yet discovered her writing. Her novels are perfect for when you are in the mood for a touch of romance, presented in a readable novel with the inevitable happy ending that one can relax with. 

Author Profile

Catherine Rose Gordon-Cumming was born on 27 September 1952 in Wimbledon, London, UK.  She has lived near Stroud, Gloucestershire  for over twenty years, with her husband and three children. It was after the birth of her third child that she started writing using her married name of Katie Fforde.  She is founder of the Katie Fforde Bursary for writers who have yet to secure a publishing contract. She was for many years a committee member of the Romantic Novelists' Association and was elected its twenty-fifteenth chairman (2009–2011) and later its fourth president. In June 2010 she was announced as a patron of the UK's first National Short Story Week.

I am also sharing here what she has to say about herself on her website as she says it so well.

About Katie
I was born and brought up in London but I am basically a country girl. I’ve lived in Stroud with my family for thirty years and while I love London and visit it frequently, I don’t think I could actually live there.

My husband Desmond and I started married life on the water, where we took two 70’ x 6’10 narrowboats around the canals as a hotel. It was very hard work! From there we went to Wales where we had two baby boys and narrowly avoided keeping goats. It was while we lived in Wales that I became addicted to Mills & Boon novels. My husband was away at sea for a lot of the time, leaving me with two small children who didn’t sleep well. I loved the fact that you could pick up a Mills & Boon and be able to follow the plot and enjoy the escapism even if you’d had little sleep. They were my reward for every household task. I’m so glad I was addicted to reading and not chocolate or Valium.

I did have the idea that I wanted to write Mills & Boon novels but didn’t do anything about it until my mother gave me a writing kit for Christmas. By now we lived in Stroud, and I also had a daughter as well as the two sons, Irish Wolfhound and two cats we had in Wales (although not the hens.). I didn’t think I had time to write but my mother thought differently and I took up the challenge. Ten years later I had a book on the shelves. It wasn’t a Mills & Boon, although I had tried to write one for eight years; it was Living Dangerously.

I had met an agent through the Romantic Novelists’Association and, when I was about to give up my ambitions to become a writer, she convinced me I could write something else. I was extremely lucky that the novel was chosen as part of a WHSmith’s Fresh Talent promotion, which gave it a terrific start in life.

There have been over seventeen novels since, as well as some grandchildren and a few stone of extra weight. However, I love being a writer. It gives me the chance to have all the jobs I couldn’t get now even if I did know anything about horses or pottery or indeed almost anything else. I love doing the research, although it has taken me way out of my comfort zone at times. I have been a porter for an auction house, learned how to gut fish, and taken part in a Ray Mears survival course. I loved it!

My hobbies, when I have time for them, are singing in a choir and flamenco dancing. Watching television is research and so I call it work.


  • Living Dangerously (1995)
  • The Rose Revived (1995)
  • Wild Designs (1996)
  • Stately Pursuits (1997)
  • Life Skills (1999)
  • Thyme Out (2000) aka Second Thyme Around
  • Artistic Licence (2001)
  • Highland Fling (2002)
  • Paradise Fields (2003)
  • Restoring Grace (2004)
  • Flora's Lot (2005) aka Bidding for Love
  • Practically Perfect (2006)
  • Going Dutch (2007)
  • Wedding Season (2008)
  • Love Letters (2009)
  • A Perfect Proposal (2010)
  • Summer of Love (2011)
  • Recipe for Love (2012)
  • A French Affair (2013)

The biographical information photo and video used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and her writing.

Twitter Profile   Goodreads Author Profile  Katie Fforde - Official Website   Katie Fforde - Wikipedia

Amazon Profile    Katie Fforde - Facebook