Monday, August 30, 2021

Mrs England by Stacey Halls

 


Hardback:    424 pages                                                                                                 

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Manilla Press

Source: Tywyn Public Library

First Sentences: The woods at night were far from silent. Nightjars and owls called their strange solos, and my boots crunched on the stones littered across the track.

Review Quote: Halls shows genuine skill in building the sense of menace within the England household and in the unfolding of its secrets. ― Sunday Times

My Opinion: I was originally introduced to the writing of Stacey Halls by my Book Club choosing her debut novel ‘The Familiars’ as one of our monthly choices in 2020. Since then, I also read ‘The Foundling ’ in March of this year. Thoroughly enjoying both her previous novels I had immediately requested ‘Mrs England’ from my local library as soon as it was published.

Although ‘Mrs England’ is a work of fiction, the author has very cleverly built the storyline around a real person and a dramatic event that occurred in a young girl’s life.  The protagonist Ruby May is based on this person, but I will say no more as I do not want to spoil the plot. You will be kept guessing as you become immersed in the intense journey that Ruby is on, along with the England family in their isolated Yorkshire home. 

Stacey Halls has in my opinion proved herself as a compelling storyteller for the 21C with this third novel. Historical novels but each one, so far, with such a different story to tell, highly recommended.


Précis Courtesy of Goodreads: 

When newly graduated nurse Ruby May takes a position looking after the children of Charles and Lilian England, a wealthy couple from a powerful dynasty of mill owners, she hopes it will be the fresh start she needs. But as she adapts to life at the isolated Hardcastle House, it becomes clear there's something not quite right about the beautiful, mysterious Mrs England. Ostracised by the servants and feeling increasingly uneasy, Ruby is forced to confront her own demons in order to prevent history from repeating itself. After all, there's no such thing as the perfect family - and she should know.


Simmering with slow-burning menace, Mrs England is a portrait of an Edwardian marriage, weaving an enthralling story of men and women, power and control, courage, truth and the very darkest deception. Set against the atmospheric landscape of West Yorkshire, Stacey Halls' third novel proves her one of the most exciting and compelling new storytellers of our times.


Links to my reviews of her previous novels. 

The Familiars   The Foundling


 

Stacey Halls was born in 1989 and grew up in Rossendale, Lancashire. She studied journalism at the University of Central Lancashire and has written for publications including the Guardian, Stylist, Psychologies, The Independent, The Sun and Fabulous. 

Her first book The Familiars was the bestselling debut novel of 2019. The Foundling is her second novel.


Photographs and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites:

Goodreads Author Profile    Instagram Account    Twitter Profile   Author Website

Amazon Author Profile

Friday, August 20, 2021

An Act of Love by Carol Drinkwater

                                                                            



Paperback: 435 pages                                                                                                 

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Penguin 2021

Source: Tywyn Public Library

First Paragraph: The temperature is falling. Evening settling beyond the window. Darkness soon, a darkness that will enshroud me. I start to shiver. Not cold, but fear. Fear for what is to come. And yet ready. So ready.

Review Quote: 'A virtual hug of a tale' JOANNE HARRIS

My Opinion: I am a fan of Carol Drinkwater's writing about her life on The Olive Farm in the south of France and have also always admired her as an actress.  However, this is the first novel of hers that I have read, having only recently discovered just what a prolific fiction writer she is.

'An Act of Love' set in France during WWII contains wonderfully descriptive writing, so the reader gets a great sense of time and place throughout.  

A sensitively told story about illicit love, woven around the life of the young protagonist Sara, as she arrives in a small village in Alpes Maritime France in the spring of 1943. Fictional but as it is based on real events that occurred in the region, it feels even more realistic and emotional.

In my opinion a worthwhile read for anyone that enjoys a tenderly written novel set in this period.


Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

France, 1943.

Forced to flee war ravaged Poland, Sara and her parents are offered refuge in a beautiful but dilapidated house in the French Alps. It seems the perfect hideaway, despite haunting traces of the previous occupants who left in haste.

But shadows soon fall over Sara's blissful summer, and her blossoming romance with local villager Alain. As the Nazis close in, the family is forced to make a harrowing choice that could drive them apart forever, while Sara's own bid for freedom risks several lives . . .

Will her family make it through the summer together?

And can she hold onto the love she has found with Alain?


Video Trailer for 'An Act of Love ' Courtesy of YouTube


Author Profile

Photos and Text Courtesy of Carols Official Website. Visit to learn more about her.  

Actress Carol Drinkwater is probably best known for her role as Helen Herriot in the BBC series All Creatures Great and Small. Also an accomplished novelist, she has achieved bestselling status with her much-loved memoirs of life on an olive farm in Provence.

Carol has been invited to work with UNESCO to help found an Olive Heritage Trail around the Mediterranean Basin. The aim is to create peace within the region and honour the heritage of this sacred tree.


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

Goodreads Profile   Official Website - Carol Drinkwater  Twitter Profile  Amazon Book Page


Sunday, August 15, 2021

Two Women in Rome by Elizabeth Buchan

                                                                     


Hardback: 356pages                                                                                                 
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Mystery
Publisher: Corvus 2012
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentence: He wrapped his arms around her and drew her even closer.
Review Quote: Buchan is a skilful writer ... captivating ― Sunday Times
My Opinion: As a confirmed Italophile and a fan of the writing of Elizabeth Buchan since the nineties, I was really looking forward to reading her latest novel.

It met my expectations, a mysterious story about ‘Two Women in Rome.’ Nina Laurence is the 1970’s protagonist. The other woman is Lottie Archer an archivist who has been given the task of archiving materials appertaining to Nina, her life in Rome and her murder.

Vivid descriptions and strong characterisation made it a very enjoyable read.

If you have a love of Italy and all things Italian plus romance and mystery in your reading, then I think you will be captivated by this novel.


Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

In the Eternal City, no secret stays hidden forever...

Lottie Archer arrives in Rome excited to begin her new job as an archivist. When she discovers a valuable fifteenth-century painting, she is drawn to find out more about the woman who left it behind, Nina Lawrence.

Nina seems to have led a rewarding and useful life, restoring Italian gardens to their full glory following the destruction of World War Two. So why did no one attend her funeral in 1978?

In exploring Nina's past, Lottie unravels a tragic love story beset by the political turmoil of post-war Italy. And as she edges closer to understanding Nina, she begins to confront the losses in her own life.


Author Profile
 

                                                    

   Elizabeth spent her childhood moving home every three years – including living for brief periods in Egypt and Nigeria before moving to Guildford, York and Edinburgh.

After graduating from the University of Kent at Canterbury with a double honours degree in English and History, she began her career as a blurb writer at Penguin Books.

Later, after having married and producing two children, she moved on to become a fiction editor at Random House before leaving to write full time which was something she had always planned to do since childhood

For a fuller biography please visit her website

Photograph and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.

Author's Official Website   Twitter Profile  Facebook Profile  Amazon Author Profile

Goodreads Author Profile

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Woman of a Certain Rage by Georgie Hall





Hardback:  436 pages                                                                                                
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Head of Zeus, July 2021
Source: LoveReading Consumer Reader Review Panel Member
First Sentences: Our dog Arty died a fortnight ago. She was sixteen, which is over ninety in dog years, the young vet told us kindly when he came to put her down.
Review Quote: 'Beautifully written and smart as a whip, this is a funny and truthful novel about love and life past the big five-0. Hall has created a character that mid life readers can not only root for but identify with too' Mike Gayle.

My Opinion:  'Woman of a Certain Age' is the debut novel of Fiona Walker's alter ego Georgie Hall. As Fiona she writes multi character comedies, to my surprise I have only read one and that was in 1994, 'French Relations', her first published novel. Maybe I should rectify this! 

Writing as Georgie she has produced a witty portrayal of the menopause, motherhood and marriage. The moral of this delightful read, set in the beautiful countryside surrounding Stratford upon Avon, is to make sure you shake your life up and don't on any account let the menopause drag you down. 

Although we may not all experience such menopausal adventures as the protagonist Eliza, many readers will certainly identify with the real life scenarios, the marital ups and downs, teenage angst, autism and the death of a much loved family pet.

Some women suffer badly during the menopause, but many others don't, so if you read this and you are pre-menopausal just don't assume Eliza is the norm! Remember this is a comic romp and should not be taken too seriously. Recommended if you want a funny, mainly authentic and fairly light hearted read.  



Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

A smart and funny novel about love, life, and a second shot at freedom for rebellious women of a certain age.

Eliza is angry. Very angry, and very, very hot.

Late for work and dodging traffic, Eliza's still reeling from the latest row with her husband Paddy. Twenty-something years ago their eyes met over the class divide in oh-so-cool Britpop London, but these days their eyes only meet to bicker over the three-seat sofa.

Paddy seems content filling his downtime with canal boats and cricket, but Eliza craves the freedom and excitement of her youth. Being fifty feels far too close to pensionable, their three teenage children are growing up fast, and even the dog has upped and died. Something is going to have to change—menopause be damned!

Woman of a Certain Rage is a smart and funny novel for all the women who won't be told it's too late to shake things up, and Eliza is a heroine many will recognise. She may sweat a lot and need a wee all the time, but she has something to prove.


Publicity Video Woman of a Certain Age


Author Profile
 


I came across this photo on a Blog Post by Fiona Walker which is worth a read

                                                               

Fiona Walker/Georgie Hall is the author of eighteen novels, from tales of flat-shares and clubbing in nineties London to today’s romping, rural romances set amid shires, spires and stiles.  In a career spanning over two decades, she’s grown up alongside her readers, never losing her wickedly well-observed take on life, lust and the British in love.

Fiona lives in Warwickshire, sharing a slice of Shakespeare Country with her partner Sam, their two daughters and a menagerie of animals.



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

Author's Official Website   Twitter : Georgie Hall   Twitter : Fiona Walker   Instagram Georgie Hall

Facebook Profile - Georgie Hall   Amazon - Georgie Hall     Goodreads Profile