Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Soldier's Wife by Joanna Trollope

Hardback: 320 pages
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Fiction
Publisher: Doubleday 2012
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentence: Even before her eyes were open, Isabel could tell that the house was awake.
Review Quote: 
'The Soldier's Wife is a cracking read and has clearly been thoroughly researched. All the little details which animate a novel ring true. ....compassionate, humourous and topical' --Spectator, Feb 2012
My Opinion: A sensitive portrayal of forces life and how families cope with the aftermath of deployment. 

I am a long time fan of Joanna Trollope. Have been reading her novels since her first 'The Choir' was published in 1989 and always found her novels to be light and entertaining, 'Aga Sagas' used to be the popular term for them. In fact it is many years since I last read one, though I have a few reclining on my bookshelves, somehow they never got read whilst I was living abroad! Having now rectified this by reading this latest title, I now intend to catch up with her back catalogue just as soon as I can. Although the term 'Aga Saga' is not heard much nowadays it does still seem to describe her writing about contemporary relationships. Certainly 'The Soldier's Wife' is a sensitive portrayal of forces life and how families cope with the aftermath of deployment. 

Alexa Riley is married to Dan, a major in the British Army currently on a six month tour of Afghanistan. Coping alone with toddler twins and a teenager she is very much looking forward to his imminent return from deployment to have his support again with the trials and tribulations of family life. Dan though is a highly trained fighter and returning to domesticity is not an easy one, as he continues to focus on the problems faced by his unit rather than those of his own family. Failing to connect with Alexa, the couple seem to be heading for marital disaster as Dan continues to remain oblivious to family issues that need resolving. The 21C forces wife has changed and while Alexa is prepared to support her husband, unlike earlier generations who gave up everything to do so, she is determined to keep her own identity and lead a fulfilling life of her own. Will these issues be resolved?

Sadly the storyline in this novel is one that far too many forces families around the world face on a daily basis. It is impossible to fully understand the issues without personal experience but reading this will go some way to giving you an insight. Recommended to fans of contemporary fiction and anyone that wants to try to understand a little more about the difficulties of family life within the forces. 

I am including the link to a very interesting interview that Joanna Trollope gave to the BBC on the difficulties facing military families.  BBC Interview

Joanna Trollope introduces The Soldier's Wife.

Author Profile

Joanna Trollope was born on 9 December 1943 in her grandfather's rectory in Minchinhampton, Gloucestershire, England, daughter of Rosemary Hodson and Arthur George Cecil Trollope. She is the eldest of three siblings. She is a fifth-generation niece of the Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope and is a cousin of the writer and broadcaster James Trollope. She was educated at Reigate County School for Girls followed by St Hugh's College, Oxford. On 14 May 1966, she married the banker David Roger William Potter, they had two daughters, Antonia and Louise. In 1983 they divorced, two years later, she married the television dramatist Ian Curteis, they divorced in 2001.

From 1965 to 1967, she worked at the Foreign Office. From 1967 to 1979, she was employed in a number of teaching posts before she became a writer full-time in 1980. In 1996 she was awarded the OBE for services to literature.She now lives alone in London.

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.

Author Profile - Goodreads   Amazon - Joanna Trollope    Wikipedia - Joanna Trollope   YouTube Video

BBC Interview   Facebook - Joanna Trollope  Official Author Website

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Paperback: 305 pages.
Genre:  Contemporary Romantic Fiction.
Penguin (11 April 2013)
Source: Tywyn Public Library.
First Sentence: I may have found a solution to the Wife Problem.
Review Quote: 
Don Tillman is one of the most endearing, charming and fascinating literary characters I have met in a long time (The Times)

Favourite Quote: “Fault! Asperger’s isn’t a fault. It’s a variant. It’s potentially a major advantage. Asperger’s syndrome is associated with organization, focus, innovative thinking, and rational detachment.” 
My Opinion: L
et us hope Graeme Simsion has plans for a future for his creation.

A recent choice for the Tywyn Book Club that I participate in and although I enjoyed it and had heard about it, I still doubt it is something I would have chosen to read for myself.  The style of writing I found was at first not an easy one, but considering the subject matter it fits the concept perfectly. 

The male protagonist, Don Tillman is an Asperger's Syndrome Sufferer and finds relationships and the concept of relating to others with emotion a very difficult one to manage. If you know someone with this condition as I do it is even more interesting to see life through a sufferer's eyes.  I actually learnt more about how difficult it can be for those people to relate to others, so for that reason alone it was well worth while reading. It is a very funny read and that is not making fun of the situations that Don finds himself in.   

Nearing his fortieth birthday Don has decided that the time is right for him to get married, the problem is he has no idea who his future wife is to be. A genetics professor uncomfortable in social situations he has decided that the way forward with his challenge is not to date anyone that is unsuitable. To overcome this obstacle he writes a comprehensive questionnaire that all prospective dates have to complete before he will even consider going out with them. With his good looks, apparently a Gregory Peck look a like he is not short of offers but his impossible high and inflexible demands are not making it easy for him to find the one! Searching for love is not it seems the easy option and maybe love will come looking from an unexpected direction and take him quite by surprise.  No spoilers, so to find out if the project is successful read the book, it is worth it, completely different from anything else you have read recently I suspect. 

In my opinion 'The Times' nailed it when they said in a review that Don Tillman is one of the most endearing, charming and fascinating literary characters of recent times. Completely in agreement with their comment this has to be recommended reading for those of us that always enjoyed the Adrian Mole character from the late Sue Townsend.  Maybe Don Tillman will become just as popular as it would be great to learn more about his life, let us hope Graeme Simsion has plans for a future for his creation.

NB. Since writing the above I have learnt 'The Rosie Effect' will be published in September 2014.

Don Meet Rosie - Rosie Meet Don
Video courtesy of Simon & Schuster 

Author Profile

Graeme Simison was born in New Zealand but now calls Melbourne, Australia home, where he lives with his wife and two children. A full time writer, also screen-writer, playwright and data modeller. He recently won the 2012 Victorian Premier's Unpublished Manuscript Award for his book, The Rosie Project. 

Learn more interesting facts about the author on the About Me page on his 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 his writing.

YouTube Video   Goodreads Author Profile    The Rosie Project   Graeme Simsion - Facebook

Twitter - Graeme Simsion   Wikipedia - Graeme Simsion  Graeme Simsion - Official Website

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Falling For You by Giselle Green

Paperback:  439 pages.
Genre: Contemporary Fiction.
Publisher: Yule Press 2012

Source: The author in return for an honest and unbiased review.
First Sentences: I swore I would not do this again and yet...Here I am.
Review Quote: ‘Tender and compelling – guaranteed to keep you hooked till the very last word.’ 
-Margaret Leroy
My Opinion: Emotionally charged love story.

It is only very recently that I first read this author when I saw mention of her novels on a social media site. It was then I realised I had Pandora's Box her début novel sitting on my bookshelves. If you read my recent review for this you will already know that I was keen to read more of Giselle Green's work. She had already offered me the opportunity to review her latest novel 'Finding You', also sending me a copy of 'Falling For You' which I decided to read and review first. Having enjoyed her début  novel I was still hoping for more with this one and I was not disappointed. This is a complex and emotionally charged love story with a twist, a Romeo and Juliet situation!

The protagonists Rose, sole carer for her disabled father in rural Kent and Lawrence a paramedic in Sri Lanka, relate the story to us in dedicated chapters from their own points of view.  Rose is desperately trying to find a way to leave Merry Ditton and build a life for herself that includes university, love and a career. Whilst Lawrence has been obliged to return to the very same place but he is a man on the run from his past and it is whilst in hiding in the area that he and Rose meet. As they get to know each other and we them via their stories you will become aware of just how much complicated history there is in their backgrounds.
No spoilers so if you want to discover just how courageous these two young people are and how it all turns out, you will have to read 'Falling For You' for yourself.

I recommend not just this novel but the author's writing in general if you enjoy contemporary romantic fiction that will stretch you emotionally. As her novels are so emotionally charged they are a good choice for book clubs as there is plenty of material that is open for discussion.

Author Profile

Born in Chiswick, London, UK.  Giselle Green was brought up in Gibraltar from the age of seven to eighteen when she returned to the UK to study Biology at King's College London, followed by an MSc in Information Science at the City University. She is also a qualified Astrologer, with a particular interest in medieval astrology.
Her début novel Pandora's Box won the Romantic Novelists' Association New Writer's Award in 2008. Her third novel, A Sister's Gift achieved best-selling number one slot on Amazon Kindle in 2012.
Her fifth novel, the sequel to Little Miracles - Finding You - is due to be released on kindle on the 30th March 2014 and as a paperback later in the year.
Giselle now lives in Kent with her husband and their six sons.
A fuller biography appears on her website here

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.

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Pollyanna Plan by Talli Roland

EBook:  1343kb  (Print edition 237 pages)
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Fiction.
Lake Union Publishing (11 Mar 2014)
Source:  Author in exchange for honest and unbiased review.
First Sentence: Another rejection, Emma Beckett muttered, shaking her head.
My Opinion: Once again she has not failed to make me smile.

I have been reading and reviewing the writing of this talented author since 2010, when she asked me to review her first novel, 'The Hating Game',  Since the publication of her first novel Talli has embraced the importance of social media as a marketing tool for her novels as that is where she finds her target market. I am probably one of her older fans but The 'Pollyanna Plan' is the fifth one I have read and once again she has not failed to make me smile. A good enough reason in my opinion for me to continue to enjoy her writing!

What a safe but boring life Emma Beckett is leading, until suddenly she loses both her job and her fiancé in the same week. Suddenly she finds her world is spiralling out of her control and she has no idea of how she is ever going to cope again. Her best friend Alice, thinks that a happy life is just a matter of attitude, I have to agree that she is right, in many ways. So Alice's challenge to Emma to adopt a Pollyanna attitude to life for a year is a good one.
It was Emma that provided the most laughs for me in this story with her fastidious attention to the details in her life. This well constructed but easy read will I think make some readers realise that a positive attitude to life is certainly helped by trying to find the good in situations when ever you can. Take some risks, it might just change your life and make you happier!

As previously mentioned, I am probably somewhat older than her targeted market. If though you consider yourself young at heart, then like me you may well enjoy her writing.  I find she writes well and that I enjoy her novels, sometimes it is good to try something different. I have come to rely on her novels to provide me with a laugh, my high ratings of her novels are worth it for this factor alone. So if you are looking for a light entertaining read I can recommend this novel and her others as this author has a delightful writing style and she creates some great characters.

My reviews of some of her previous novels can be read by following the links:
The Hating Game    Watching Willow Watts   Build A Man   Construct A Couple

Author Profile

Talli Roland was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, by the age of 13, she’d finished her first novel and received very encouraging rejections from publishers. Talli was very athletic at school and university, achieving provincial records and becoming a Canadian university champion in the 4 × 400 meter relay. After getting her BA, she turned to writing again, earning a Masters in Journalism. 

A few years later, she left Canada behind and settled in London, where she now lives with her husband and their young son.

Her début novel, The Hating Game, was short-listed for Best Romantic Read at the UK's Festival of Romance, and her second, Watching Willow Watts, was selected as an Amazon Customer Favourite.

You can  learn more about Talli in the About Me section of her website.

Biographical, other information and photo are with thanks to the following links where you can find out more about Talli Roland. 

Talli Roland - Facebook Profile    Twitter - Talli Roland   Author's Official Website - Talli Roland

Goodreads Author Profile   Amazon - Author Profile