Thursday, September 14, 2023

The Impossible Truths of Love by Hannah Beckerman


Paperback: 282 pages                                                                                   

Genre:  Fiction

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing 2021

Source: Tywyn Public Library

Review Quote: “WONDERFUL. I read The Impossible Truths of Love by Hannah Beckerman in one gulp. The intrigue at this book’s heart genuinely ‘got’ me.” —Marian Keyes, Author. 

First Sentence: The baby in the cot beside her cries, shattering the silence.

My Opinion: 

Just like her previous novel 'If Only I Could Tell You' that I have read by this author she has once again written a thought provoking novel that is full of grief. Yet somehow I still found myself wanting to know more.

A dual timeline story with Nell telling us her story 'Now' and her mother Annie relating her story of 'Then' 35 years ago. The storyline pivots on Nell's father's declaration to her, causing her to probe into childhood memories that have aways haunted her.

A highly emotional storyline, which is not always an easy read. Recommend doing so though if you can cope with your emotions whilst reading. 

Previous Review:  If Only I Could Tell You

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

From bestselling author Hannah Beckerman comes a moving story about memory, secrets, and what it really means to feel that you’re one of the family.

When Nell’s father makes a deathbed declaration that hints at a long-held secret, it reignites feelings of isolation that have plagued her for years. Her suspicions about the family’s past only deepen when her mother, Annie, who is losing her memories to dementia, starts making cryptic comments of her own.

Thirty-five years earlier, Annie’s life was upended by a series of traumas—one shock after another that she buried deep in her heart. The decisions she made at the time were motivated by love, but she knew even then that nobody could ever understand—let alone forgive—what she did.

As the two women’s stories unravel, a generation apart, Nell finally discovers the devastating truth about her mother’s past, and her own.

In this beautifully observed and emotionally powerful story of identity, memory and the nature of family, Hannah Beckerman asks: To what lengths would you go to protect the ones you love?

Author Profile and Photo From Amazon: 

            Author Logo

Hannah Beckerman is a bestselling author and journalist whose novels have been translated into more than a dozen languages worldwide. She is a book critic and features writer for a range of publications including The Observer and the FT Weekend Magazine, and has appeared as a book pundit on BBC Radio 2 and Times Radio. She chairs literary events across the UK, interviewing authors and celebrities, and has judged numerous book prizes including the Costa Book Awards. Prior to writing her first novel, Hannah was a television producer and commissioning editor for the BBC, Channel 4 and the Discovery Channel, and for two years lived in Bangladesh, running a TV project for the BBC. She now lives in London where she writes full-time.

Her About Me on her Website makes an interesting read. 

Photograph and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites:

Amazon Author Profile    Official Website - Hannah Beckerman.  Twitter Profile

Instagram Profile    Facebook Profile

Monday, September 11, 2023

Fair Rosaline by Natasha Solomons


Hardback: 335 pages                                                                                   

Genre: Historical Romantic Fiction

Publisher: Bonnier Books UK 2023

Source: Tywyn Public Library

Review Quote: Lovers of Shakespeare's most adapted tragedy will not be disappointed by Solomons' subversive counter-narrative. Vivid, turbulent and compelling. ― The Independent

First Sentences: The funeral was held at dawn and little more than an hour after Madonna Emelia Capulet passed out of this world. Rosaline trailed behind their, disconsolate with loss.

My Opinion:  Natasha Solomons is not an author whose novels I know much about, having only prior to 'Fair Rosaline' read one other and that was in 2011, 'Mr Rosenblum's List'. I selected this novel to read as I was fascinated by the following comment in the book blurb. 'A subversive, powerful untelling of Shakespeares's best-known tale, narrated by a fierce, forgotten voice: this is Rosaline's story.' The author goes on to explain in the novels notes that although we know of Rosaline's existence in Romeo and Juliet, she never appears in the play and we only hear about her existence as 'Capulet's fair niece' and that it is in order to seek her there that Romeo attends the masquerade.

I suppose I always thought of Romeo and Juliet as describing ill fated romantic love. However in this shrewd retelling Rosaline is the one person who is prepared to fight back against Romeo and expose his penchant for vulnerable young girls. This novel places Rosaline as the protagonist and also gives us a chance to see the controlling side of Romeo's character. It is a devastating tale that feels so credible and I will never see the play in quite the same way again.

Highly recommended. This clever uptake on a famous Shakespearian tale makes for a very compelling read.

Previous Review:  Mr Rosenblum's List

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

Was the greatest ever love story a lie?

The first time Romeo Montague sees young Rosaline Capulet he falls instantly in love.

Rosaline, headstrong and independent, is unsure of Romeo's attentions but with her father determined that she join a convent, this handsome and charming stranger offers her the chance of a different life.

Soon though, Rosaline begins to doubt all that Romeo has told her. She breaks off the match, only for Romeo's gaze to turn towards her cousin, thirteen-year-old Juliet. Gradually Rosaline realises that it is not only Juliet's reputation at stake, but her life.

With only hours remaining before she will be banished behind the nunnery walls, will Rosaline save Juliet from her Romeo? Or can this story only ever end one way?

A subversive, powerful untelling of Shakespeare's best-known tale, narrated by a fierce, forgotten voice: this is Rosaline's story.

Author Profile From Amazon: 

                                       Author Logo

Thank so much for visiting my amazon page! Here are a few things about me. I've always worked as a writer more or less. After University I completed an MPhil in Eighteenth century literature at the University of Glasgow and then began a doctorate researching Women’s Romantic Poetry and the Domestic Muse.

Unfortunately, I became un-stuck on a chapter on Verse Letters and so began writing my first novel as way of avoiding correcting the footnotes. My entire career to date has been an extremely elaborate form of avoiding that tricky chapter…

I still love research and writing immersive fiction and hate footnotes. I live in Dorset, in a thatched cottage with my husband -- the award winning children's writer David Solomons – and our children and Labrador, Mr Bingley. Sometimes David and I write screenplays together. Then we argue about them.

Photograph and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites:

Goodreads Author Profile    Twitter - Natasha Solomons.  Amazon Author Profile

Instagram - Natasha Solomon's

Thursday, September 7, 2023

It Ends at Midnight by Harriet Tyce


Hardback328 pages                                                                                       

Genre: Psychological Fiction

Publisher: Wildfire, Headline 2022

Source: Tywyn Public Library

Review Quote: Full of twists and turns. An unpredictable, unforgettable read. ― Woman's Weekly

First Sentences: The fox hates fireworks. While they're going off, she'd rather keep herself hidden, curled up in a bush somewhere quiet.

My Opinion:  I have read and enjoyed both of Harriet Tyce's previous novels, so was keen to read 'It Ends At Midnight'. The level of suspense was such that I could not put it down and finished within a day!

The main protagonist is Sylvie an ambitious young Barrister with her sights set on becoming a judge. The mystery revolves around a secret that Sylvie shares with her close friend Tess. Circumstances cause the secret and lies they have told for years to start to unravel. At times it does get rather dark and complex, but this is surely, in this case, what keeps the reader turning the pages.

Recommended to anyone that appreciates a well written psychological thriller.

Previous Review:  Blood Orange   The Lies You told

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

It's New Year's Eve and the stage is set for a lavish party in one of Edinburgh's best postcodes. It's a moment for old friends to set the past to rights - and move on. 

The night sky is alive with fireworks and the champagne is flowing. But the celebration fails to materialise.

Because someone at this party is going to die tonight.

Midnight approaches and the countdown begins - but it seems one of the guests doesn't want a resolution.

They want revenge.

Author Profile:

                                                   Harriet Tyce

Harriet Tyce was born and grew up in Edinburgh. She graduated from Oxford in 1994 with a degree in English Literature before gaining legal qualifications. She worked as a criminal barrister for ten years, leaving after having children. She completed an MA in Creative Writing – Crime Fiction at UEA where she wrote Blood Orange, the Sunday Times bestselling novel. It was followed by The Lies You Told, another Sunday Times bestseller. It Ends At Midnight has just been published to critical acclaim. She lives in north London with her family and two dogs.

Photograph and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites:

Amazon Author Page     Goodreads - Author Profile  Harriet Tyce - Author Offical Website

Twitter Account - Harriet Tyce.
 Instagram - Harriet Tyce

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

A Secret Garden Affair by Erica James



Hardback: 405 pages

Genre: Romantic Fiction, Family Saga, Historical Fiction,

Publisher: Harper Collins 2023

Source:  Tywyn Library

First Sentence: Libby Mortimer was not the running away sort, she really wasn't, but having been given the chance to escape London with all its cruel reminders of romantic fairy-tale weddings, she couldn't get away fast enough.

Setting: Suffolk, England

Review Quote: ‘A wonderfully compelling family drama… Warm, escapist and utterly uplifting’ Sunday Express

My Opinion:  Erica James is one of my long time favourite authors for a guaranteed agreeable read. Once again she has not disappointed me.  ‘A Secret Garden Affair’ is a dual time-line story with delightful characters and a plot that draws the reader in immediately. Mainly set in an old Manor House with beautiful gardens of which the descriptions are wonderful. It is widely known among her fans that Erica James has a tremendous love of gardening. Her inspiration for this novel stemmed from curiosity about garden designers.

The protagonists of the story are Elfrida, the owner of Larkspur House and a prestigious garden designer in her time.  Bess her long time servant, friend and confidant and the latter’s great niece Libby. It is the stories of Elfrida and Bess in the past that in the eighties timeline come together, with so many enigmas which Libby discovers when past and present merge. Libby has grown up spending many happy times at Larkspur House as their guest and it seemed the obvious  place to flee to when her heart is broken.

Highly recommended to lovers of romantic escapism at its best.

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads: 

July 1981. As the country prepares to celebrate Prince Charles’ wedding to Lady Diana, Libby wants to be as far away from royal wedding fever as possible.

Having caught her own fiancé in bed with her best friend just weeks before they were due to marry, she’s fled London for the comfort of the Suffolk countryside.

At Larkspur House, with its magical garden created by renowned garden designer and one-time socialite Elfrida Ambrose, and its comfortingly familiar kitchen presided over by Libby’s great-aunt Bess, she hopes to find a way to put her life back together.

But for lifelong friends Bess and Elfrida, Libby’s arrival has stirred up the ghosts of the past. And before they can help her rebuild her shattered future, they must confront their own unspoken secrets, lost loves, and tragedies…

Author Profile:         

                                      Erica James holding her novel, Gardens of Delight in one hand, and the Romantic Novelist of the Year award in the other hand.    

                                                     Courtesy of Authors Website

In the author's own words from her website.

I grew up on the south coast of England with never a thought in my head as a child that I would one day be an author. But somehow, I’m now the author of twenty-four bestselling novels, with recent Sunday Times Top Ten bestsellers including Swallowtail Summer, Coming Home to Island House, Letters from the Past, and Mothers and Daughters.  With sales of over five million around the world, including a No. 1 in Norway, I’m told that my books are loved by readers looking for beautifully drawn relationships, emotionally powerful storylines and evocative settings. 

In 2006 my novel Gardens of Delight won the Romantic Novel of the Year award and in 2020 I received the Nielsen Silver Award for sales of over a quarter of a million copies for both Love and Devotion and Tell it to the Skies. 

I live in Suffolk and travel as often as time permits to see my eldest son and his family in the US and my youngest son in Japan.

Photographs, Trailer and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites:

Erica James - Official Website.   Erica James - Twitter.  Instagram - Erica James

Goodreads Author Profile  Erica James - Amazon Author Page.  Erica James - Facebook