Monday, January 24, 2022

Swallowtail Summer by Erica James


Erica James has written over twenty novels and over the years I have read the vast majority. There were a few in recent years that I missed so I am currently catching up on her back catalogue. 'Swallowtail Summer' took me to familiar territory as set in the Norfolk Broads where I have spent many holidays over the years. The descriptions are very realistic, so I was able to visualise the settings perfectly.

The story takes place in and around Linston End a much loved house set on the banks of one of the rivers. It has been the scene of many happy gatherings for the owner and his two best friends, plus their families for several decades. That is all about to change as unexpected news unsettles the equilibrium as the friends struggle to come to terms with what is happening.

The author has written a very readable contemporary novel that reveals a surprising number of secrets within its pages. A well-constructed story about family, friendships, love and loss. Recommended if you are looking for escapism that has some depth.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

A Rose Petal Summer by Katie Fforde

Katie Fforde is an author I turn to when I am in need of romantic escapism. I have been reading her novels since 1995 when she was first published, so can safely call myself a long time fan of her writing.

Our heroine Caro has taken a job in Scotland as an elderly gentleman’s companion, as she feels in need of a change from living on her barge in London whilst her daughter is away travelling. So, begins a magical and romantic summer that takes her from London to Scotland and back plus trips to the South of France. The latter in search of a classic lost perfume with plenty of love and romance in the mix.

Another 4* read from an author that knows how to lift a reader’s spirits, definitely this reader anyway. The storyline may be a somewhat cute and unlikely scenario but honestly is this not what we want from this author? A feel good read that I am sure her many fans will enjoy, just don’t read if you are looking for something deep and meaningful.

If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman


‘If Only I Could Tell You’ is not a novel that I can say I enjoyed, as it is about a family that face one tragedy after another, quite harrowing. There is absolutely nothing positive about it and I found it an upsetting read. I am glad that I did read it, but had I realised in advance just how tragic it was I may not have done.

Told from the perspective of each of the three main characters, Audrey and her daughters Jess and Lily. The storyline is very traumatic as not only has Audrey been diagnosed with terminal cancer, but also her daughters have been estranged for many years. Their children are not even allowed to meet up with each other. Audrey’s last wish is that her family should be reconciled before her death.

Well written and worth reading if you feel you can cope with the reality and tragedy.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

The Missing Sister by Dinah Jefferies

Dinah Jefferies is a favourite author of mine because she transports me to locations that come alive on the page. 'The Missing Sister' is a poignant story, set in Burma, which felt particularly genuine to me. Probably because I have had the good fortune to have travelled to this very special country, now known as Myanmar. The writing is so realistic and atmospheric that I felt I was there.

Belle Hatton, the protagonist has taken a job in a nightclub there, with the ulterior motive of investigating the disappearance of her sister in Burma some twenty five years previously. The story is very emotional and complex, with plenty of intrigue to keep the reader guessing.

Dinah Jefferies has written another novel that is so evocative in terms of period and place that I would recommend it to fans of historical romantic fiction.

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Coming Home to Island House by Erica James

I have been reading and enjoying the novels of Erica James since 1996. I therefore consider myself a long-time fan of her style of escapism. Heart-warming, romantic stories which often tend to be emotional roller coasters. 

‘Coming Home to Island House’ is no exception, with a period story, set just prior to the start of World War II, which is full of engaging characters. Island House is the family home of Jack Devereux and it here that he and his wife a successful author, Romily Temple, are when he is taken ill in the summer of 1939.  His estranged family are summoned home and discover after his death that to meet the terms of his will, they must reconcile their differences. Far from an easy ask for siblings that have spent a lifetime not getting on, plus discovering they now have a stepmother!  A family divided but united by the trials and tribulations they face as they suffer heartbreak and loss thanks to the horrors of war. 

 In conclusion this is a heart rending story with great character portrayals. Recommended for those that enjoy escapism, plus with this novel a good sense of historical background.