Tuesday, October 26, 2021

The Cancer Ladies' Running Club by Josie Lloyd


Josie Lloyd has written a heart rending story which highlights the importance of having family and friends around you, that truly love you, during times of difficulty.

In this case the protagonist Kiera is coping with a Cancer diagnosis and the author takes us very descriptively through this difficult journey. It is not an easy read but it feels so honest that one becomes attached to the characters Your emotions will be stirred as you are reminded that ‘Life is a gift not a given.”

In conclusion I recommend this moving read, when you consider that one in two of us will get Cancer in our life times. One in eight women get Breast Cancer. I was one of those women in 2019, with our wonderful NHS and the excellent treatments available, I am proud to say I am a Cancer Survivor.

Beautiful World Where Are You by Sally Rooney


The protagonists of this novel are four thirty somethings, the outline of the story is perfectly put in the official precis.

Alice, a novelist, meets Felix, who works in a warehouse, and asks him if he’d like to travel to Rome with her. In Dublin, her best friend, Eileen, is getting over a break-up and slips back into flirting with Simon, a man she has known since childhood. Alice, Felix, Eileen, and Simon are still young—but life is catching up with them. They desire each other, they delude each other, they get together, they break apart. They have sex, they worry about sex, they worry about their friendships and the world they live in. Are they standing in the last lighted room before the darkness, bearing witness to something? Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world?

As this book is written in conversations between Alice, Eileen, Felix and Simon it was a good introduction for me to listening to a novel instead of reading! I am not sure it is something that will become a habit but it worked this time as I am currently in Quarantine in Hong Kong and was able to listen whilst pedalling away on an exercise bike.

What a complicated world we live in! The author navigates the four protagonists through the complex friendships they have with each other. She makes the reader realise how easy it is to make assumptions about relationships, that can actually do more harm than good. Obviously fans of Sally Rooney should enjoy this latest novel but also those that like to read contemporary relationship stories.

The Rose Garden by Tracey Rees


What a moving and beautifully told tale about the strength of female relationships in Victorian England.

Olive, Mabel, Ottilie and her mother Abigail are the main characters all living in London in 1895 and leading very different lifestyles. Their lives become intertwined and friendships formed that shock some of the Hampstead residents.

Poverty, racism, sexism, women’s rights (or rather lack of) and domestic abuse were all big problems during the Victorian era. They are all covered in this novel with plenty of detail, intrigue and drama to keep you turning the pages.

Recommended for fans of historical fiction, especially if you enjoy the writing of Rachel Hore and Dinah Jeffries.

A Narrow Door by Joanne Harris


The third novel in the Malbry trilogy, A Narrow Door is a sequel to Gentleman and Players (2005) and Different Class (2016). This entire series has been an enthralling read, as Joanne Harris writes haunting psychological thrillers.

It was great to catch up once again with a character I felt I knew, Roy Straitley, his boys, colleagues and St Oswald’s School. Times have moved on at St Oswald’s and the traditional narrow door has opened a smidgeon and admitted not only a female head of school but also girls as pupils.

The head teacher and female protagonist Rebecca Buckfast, nee Price is the future of the school and Roy Straitley who has been a main male character in all three books, is the traditional past. Both Roy and Rebecca have dark memories buried in their pasts that torture them. The story unfolds as they reveal their stories to each other and the reader is drawn deep into the complex events of the past.

Written by an author who is skilful at keeping us guessing right up to the very last page, I recommend highly to her many fans and those that enjoy psychological thrillers.

A Beautiful Spy by Rachel Hore


What a lovely read this was, for me made even more interesting by the fact it is based on a true story.

Rachel Hore has written a great story built around a young woman who in the thirties in pre-war London found herself working for MI5.

The protagonist Minnie is a woman ahead of the times as independent women were far from the norm in that period. Living this lifestyle impacted on her private life and at times she struggled to continue. What a determined and brave young woman she was, dedicated to serving her country.

Recommended to anyone that wants to read an emotional adventure about a woman leading a double life.

Playing Nice by J.P. Delaney

I read 'Playing Nice' as it was a Richard and Judy Book Club choice. I am glad I did as J.P Delaney is an author I have not read previously and it was an enjoyable though disturbing psychological thriller.

Two families reeling from the shocking discovery that their respective sons were swapped somehow at birth. They have been raiding each others child for the last two years! A terrible dilemma that you cannot begin to imagine. The Rileys and the Lamberts, start off by trying to resolve the situation themselves. However a plan to sue the hospital, finds them embroiled in an official investigation, which in turn triggered all sorts of unpleasantness. The conclusion which I was not expecting, will make you wonder just how an earth you would respond if faced with such an extreme situation.

Worth reading if you are a fan of psychological thrillers.

Widowland by C.J Carey


If you have ever wondered what Britain would have been like if we had lost WWII, plus you have read and enjoyed other alternative dystopian histories such as 'The Hand Maidens Tale or 'Fatherland' then 'Widowland' is one for you.

It is set over a period of a few weeks in the Spring of 1953 when the country, a part of The German Alliance since 1940 is preparing for the Coronation of King Edward VIII and Queen Wallis. 

Feminist literary slogans are appearing around the country in the run up to this very important event. This rebellion needs to be quashed and quickly. Rose Ransom works at the Ministry of Culture, rewriting literary classics and for this reason she is chosen to try and find the perpetrators.

Although the setting is fictional, many of the characters actually existed, which gives the novel political and emotional strength. 

Recommended if you want to read a powerful feminist story.

When We were Young by Richard Roper


Two young men Joel and Theo were friends through childhood and their teenage years until a traumatic event meant they did not speak for years. As adults they have an opportunity to try and reignite their friendship by doing the walk they had many years ago promised to do together.

Well it was ok but did nothing for me which was somewhat disappointing as I believe I am in the minority. Some of the events and consequences just all felt slightly ridiculous, a shame as the idea was a good one in theory but just did not work for me. Maybe my thoughts would have been otherwise had I chosen to read it for different reasons.A slow moving story about friendship which sadly did not meet my expectations. I picked it up from the library last week as the blurb drew me in mentioning that the protagonists were planning to walk The Thames Path.

The Therapist by B.A. Paris

                                              The Therapist

I read 'The Therapist' in just two days as it was so gripping. I had to keep reading as I just wanted to know what was go

Betrayal, conflicting emotions and a twist that I completely missed. What a shock!

Alice, the protagonist, like me, suspected just about everyone around her when she discovered that her new home had been the scene of an unpleasant event.

An entertaining read which provides perfect escapism.