Blog Tour: Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent

Lying in WaitWe’re off on tour again today – we’re headed to Ireland to find out a little more about Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent, author of Unravelling Oliver (2014).

There is a review to follow, but I’ll just say that Lying in Wait is a really intersting character study which is, in places, really uncomfortable. The Fitzsimons family in particular are superbly written and the whole novel is compulsive reading.

I asked Liz if she would be able to give us a bit more background about central character Annie Doyle – it’s not a spoiler for me to tell you that she meets her end within the first few pages, but her influence continues very strongly in the rest of the book. There are lots of things I’d love to tell youabout Annie, but they would be spoilers, so I’ll leave it to Liz to tell you about this troubled but determined young woman.

Annie Doyle was born with what she considered a deformity, and a later botched operation left her with a cleft lip. She was incredibly self-conscious about this and would never have developed self-esteem about her appearance. In addition, although I do not say it in the book because the term wasn’t known in 1980 when the book is set, Annie had quite severe dyslexia which made reading and learning difficult. I imagine that her schooldays were tough. She inevitably became a frustrated troublemaker in order to assert herself as she felt physically and academically disadvantaged.

But Annie was a smart girl who loved her younger sister and although she might have been slightly jealous of her sister’s beauty and academic achievement, she worried that Karen might fall in to the same trap she had.

Annie, seeking attention wherever she could find it, became pregnant at sixteen. It must have made her feel special, at least fleetingly, to know that she was desired by a boy. The father of her baby, a teenager himself, did not want to know about her pregnancy.

The greatest shame you could bring on your family in Ireland in the mid 70s was to be pregnant outside of wedlock. The fathers of these babies were never held accountable but thousands of girls were sent away to Catholic run institutions where they were incarcerated until they gave birth and signed their babies away for adoption. The convents were paid by the state to keep these women until they had their babies, who were then often sold to American or English couples. In the meantime, the mostly young women were used as slave labour in laundries and factories.

Annie refused to sign the adoption papers for her child for eighteen months so when she finally did, she must have been a very broken young woman.

Returning to the family home would have been difficult as she was expected to carry on as if nothing had happened. She was expected to forget about the baby she had nurtured for more than a year. She must have been full of resentment towards her parents who allowed that to happen. So it is not surprising that once she had got over the institutionalisation, she turned to drink and drugs, thieving to feed her habit.

When respectable judge Andrew Fitzsimons caught her stealing his wallet red-handed, she thought that she would be in major trouble so she was surprised when her sob story about a sick mother worked on him and he showed her kindness. When he later sought her out, she reckoned he was a soft touch. Poor Annie was very wrong about that.

Huge thanks to Liz for this contribution, Lying in Wait is out now in multiple formats, and the blog tour continues on the lovely blogs below, so do check them out.

lying in wait blog tour

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Book Review: The High Places by Fiona McFarlane + Giveaway

I went into Waterstones the other day, specifically looking for short story collections. I asked to be pointed to the short story section – there were four books on the shelf, the rest were lumped in with general fiction. I suppose there is an argument to both having a dedicated section (easy access if you are looking for short stories) and for including short stories in general fiction (you might pick up a short story collection by a favourite author), but it did set me pondering and I’d be interested to know what you think about that.

DSC_0344This brings me neatly on to today’s review – a short story collection by Fiona McFarlane, The High Places. Before even opening the book, it’s a thing of beauty. I’m really encouraged by the amount of effort going into making books desirable pieces of art these days (Penguin Clothbound, anyone?) and although the cover designer isn’t credited in the book, it’s a really lovely thing to look at and touch.

Once you get past the look, the stories themselves are unique, not conforming to a certain length, format or setting. The collection moves from the UK, to Australia, to Greece, to a Pacific Island, and each serves to show circumstances from a different angle. In my favourite story ‘Unnecessary Gifts’, for example, the build up – narrated by Philip, the father of two boys – leads you to believe that something terrible and irreversible is going to happen to James, his youngest child. The tension is palpable in the story, but what you expect is not necessarily what happens. All of the stories have an element of this, but it is superbly done in this instance.

Full of atmosphere, in which the heat of the drought-ridden outback leaps off the page, The High Places is a memorable first collection which has definitely prompted me to read Fiona McFarlane’s debut novel, The Night Guest.

Since I have banged on about how lovely this book is, I’ve decided to treat you all by giving away a copy. Just retweet the pinned tweet on my Twitter feed to enter…

I received a copy of The High Places from Sceptre Books in return for an honest review.

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Blog Tour: Lawless and the Flowers of Sin – Pride

We’re on a blog tour today, and celebrating publication day of Lawless and the Flowers of Sin by William Sutton. All the stops on the tour will focus on an aspect of ‘Sinful London’ – today we’re looking at Pride…

Hello, hello, I’m William Sutton, author of Lawless and the Flowers of Sin, due out in July with Titan Books. To celebrate, I’m touring blogs sharing my sinful thoughts.

London Pride: The Flash Gent’s Guide to Swinging (18)60s London

Places and books are crucial in The Flowers of Sin and Lawless & the Devil of Euston Square. Yet how much the city has changed, and how much our reading taste changes.

Who do we think of as epitomising mid-Victorian times? Dickens and Bronte. The Great Exhibition and Albert Memorial? These may be memorable, but they are like the peaks of mountains glimpsed from afar.

Those who write of London must push closer, through the mists of time, in order to clamber on to the shoulders of these giants and gaze down into the full mountain range. To discover the rookeries, the lost rivers, the old estates, the hidden histories which still shape everything from streets to stations to skyline. I listed many sources and contemporaries here, but let all bow in homage to Lee Jackson’s inimitable victorianlondon.org, Judith Flanders’ The Victorian City and Peter Fryer’s Private Case, Public Scandal.

I’ll give the briefest biog of hidden and vanished buildings; the books I’ll leave you to discover for yourself.

Five naughty night spots in Victorian London:

Argyll1. The Argyll Assembly Rooms (also Argyle).

Started with music, dancing, and drama; ended up a place to meet prostitutes.

2. Casino de Venise (The Holborn). 

“Immense mirrors, velvet-covered sofas, handsome carpets.” Music, magnificence, madams, mistresses.

3. Kate Hamilton’s.

The non-pareil brothel. Under Leicester Square, ruled by Kate, twenty stone, quaffing champagne constantly. (London in the Sixties, 1908)
 
4. The East End: Ratcliffe Highway: “Very little beauty abroad…but a certain innate delicacy, not the artificial refinement of the West End, but genuine womanly feeling”. Nearby Ship Alley… “is full of foreign lodging-houses”. Inscription on blind tells you which nationalities are welcomed. (London Labour & the London Poor, Henry Mayhew)

5. T***f***d Street (surely Titchfield Street?). To these rooms rented by the hour, the priapic Walter (see below) brought not only married women but girls so young that the taxi-driver overcharged him in disgust. (From 1849-65, 6.5% of female admissions to one venereal hospital were under sixteen.)


Five Rotund Attractions in Victorian London

1. Burton’s Colosseum.

Panoramas: eg the view from the top of St Paul’s, painted on the inside of a dome. 
East side of Regent’s Park, demolished 1874.

2. Park Square Diorama.
Panoramas such as Mt Etna during an eruption. “Judicious introduction of light… the acme of art.” Later a Baptist Chapel. Today part of ISH hostel. (Mogg’s Visitor’s Guide, 1844)

3. Burford’s Panorama, Leicester Sq.
Panoramas eg Moving Pictures of the Siege of Sebastopol. Today Notre Dame De France Roman Catholic Church, with Cocteau murals.

4. Wyld’s Great Globe, 1851-62, middle of Leicester Sq.
The globe inside out: climb the stairs to view the continents.

5. British Museum Reading Room, 1857.
Brilliant use of space, opening books to the wider public (approved by Principal Librarian of course).

Five sensational advances

Building Sewers1. Sewers. 
Joseph Bazalgette’s extraordinary plan ended cholera epidemics, intercepting filth flowing into the Thames and pumping it out east. Only now updated, 150 years on.

2. The Embankment. 
Bazalgette again, converting ramshackle slums into gleaming carriageways fitted with gas, hydraulics, water, sewer and District Line.

3. Metropolitan Line.
The. First. Underground. Train. 
Ever wondered why it’s so often called the Metro, from Paris to Petersburg?

4. The Crystal Palace.

A prism of light and space, celebrating international culture and commerce.

5. Broadmoor.
Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum was not a perfect solution then (as Broadmoor Hospital remains today), but it was an enlightened step toward treatment of direly damaged people.

Five sensational books

Lady Audley’s Secret, Mary Elizabeth Braddon
The Notting Hill Mystery, Charles Warren Adams
The Female Detective, Andrew Forrester
The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins
The Disclosures of a Detective, Sergeant William McLevy (1861)

See also The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, one of the great London books. Ian Rankin discovers exactly why Stevenson set it in London rather than his own Edinburgh.

Five books of slang

1. The Slang Dictionary (the Vulgar Words, Street Phrases, and “Fast” Expressions of High and Low Society), John Camden Hotten
2. The Vulgar Slang, Francis Grose
3. Passing English of the Victorian Era, J Redding Ware
4. Green’s Dictionary of Slang, Jonathon Green
5. Google ngrams can be used to check any phrase’s use through the ages

Lee Jackson’s VictorianLondon has excellent slang lists.

Five books any self-respecting erotobibliomaniac would want

1. My Secret Life, ‘Walter’
2. Lady Bumtickler’s Revels, Anonymous (John Camden Hotten?)
3. Rosa Fielding, or the Victim of Lust, Anonymous
4. Madame Birchini’s Dance, Henry Thomas Buckle (“published by Lady Termagent Flaybum”)
5. The New Ladies Tickler; or Adventures of Lady Lovesport and Audacious Harry, Edward Sellon

See also Matthew Green on Victorian erotica on Londonist, Jonathon Green and his exemplary Timelines of Slang.

Wow – lots of background reading to get stuck into there, and you all know I like to read! Huge thanks to William for this post, and happy publication day for Lawless and the Flowers of Sin. To find out more, take a look at william-sutton.co.uk or look William up on Twitter.

This blog tour continues to look at some more of London’s sinful past, so do check them out this week…

Seven-Sins-Tour

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Exclusive Extract: We and Me by Saskia De Coster

Morning all! Today I am hosting an extract of Saskia De Coster’s novel We and Me. I’ve just finished reading it, so there is a review to follow, but as a bit of background, it’s an originally Flemish novel, translated by Nancy Forest-Flier and introduces the Vandersanden family, living in luxury seclusion in an exclusive community in Belgium and shows us their very personal family and individual dramas.

I’ll save the full synopsis for the review, but I do have the extract below to tempt you…

9789462380615Stefaan longs for a place of his own for keeping his music, his tools, and his heirlooms in order. He demands a hobby room. ‘A hobby room?’ Mieke sputters. ‘Are you going to start inventing hobbies?’ When he tells her about the old tools from his parents’ farm and how he wants to polish them, Mieke becomes more receptive to the idea. ‘You mean a shed, a junk shed?’ Stefaan gets her blessing for his hobby shed, to be built at the back of the garden. Before he even has a chance to consider his plan from a broader perspective, she has gone ahead and consulted with Elvira, her good friend and arbiter of taste, and drummed up an architect and a construction firm. An official from environmental planning also shows up, who is pleased to receive a fat tip. For Mieke, a new project has presented itself on which she can direct her energies.

A chain reaction is unavoidable. Now that Papa’s getting a hobby shed, Sarah wants a pond. Stefaan is dead set against this ‘ridiculous’ idea and blocks it with a well-considered argument: ‘Out of the question. You like cats, don’t you?’

‘Yes,’ says the unsuspecting prey.

‘Cats drown in ponds,’ Stefaan points out.

‘Squirrels dip their dirty, germ-infected tails in them and infect the whole biotope,’ Mieke chimes in. A pond is kitsch and kitsch is the bastard child of style and class. Before you know it there’ll be a gnome with a fishing pole on your lawn or a stone frog with a little crown on his head. No, nip it in the bud, that nonsense.

Mieke supervises the work on the hobby shed with heart and soul. Putting up an extra outbuilding―her father would have been proud to see her carrying out this ancient Flemish custom. It’s thanks to her eagle eye and the managerial capacities mastered by every housewife that within scarcely three weeks a miniature house is erected in the back garden with hot and cold running water, electricity, a desk, a sturdy workbench, and a whole battery of tools on the fibreboard walls. Gutters lead the rainwater from the roof to the cistern, and the tiles on the floor form a fleur-de-lis pattern.

The evening of the project’s completion, Mieke makes an exception and lets Stefaan drink two glasses of red wine instead of the customary ration of one. For inexplicable reasons she tears into him in bed that night, demanding sex twice without any fuss or wheedling, as if they were a couple of kids―or at least that’s how Stefaan imagines that kind of sex to be: turbulent, awkward, deeply satisfying. For a moment the thought flashes through his mind that maybe he’s made a new child, but he knows that those days are gone forever.

Stefaan is reborn the first evening he sets a ladder against the outer wall of his hobby shed and climbs up on the roof. He knows that from now on things can only get better. No more valleys, only peaks. Although peaks are also valleys standing on their heads.

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Blog Tour: Where is Emma Butler’s Life Plan? by Julia Wilmot

Morning all, a treat for you today, as I host a stop on the blog tour for Where is Emma Butler’s Life Plan? by Julia Wilmot. We’ve got an exclusive extract and a sneaky giveaway at the bottom of the page, but first, what is this book about, anyway??

IMG_1729Emma Butler doesn’t know it but she is about to get bit more angelic help than she was banking on. Someone has messed up, or have they?

It appears that Emma is about to be ‘recalled’ to heaven but has completed none of the tasks she had set herself for this life time. They must be completed before she is recalled and time is running out. Arch Angel Gregory decides to take over. He will be her Guardian Angel to ensure it all gets done.

There’s a lot to do and a very short time to do it in. Gregory is determined that it will all be completed by hook or by crook. But where does that leave free will and what about Jack who has been chosen to be Emma’s love interest? How will this impact him? Jack and Emma have no idea what is going on, but it’s not going to be plain sailing.

And so on to our extract – don’t forget the giveaway below…

The Office of Life Plan Compliance was situated at the end of a long corridor. The place was massive. Huge screens, showing the daily activities of people on earth, covered the walls. The screens were being monitored by teams of angels. Generally this office only got involved if there was some controversy or complication regarding a life plan. The pictures on the screens were changing rapidly, controlled by the angels who were sitting at terminals scanning through one picture after another as they looked for the one that they wanted to monitor. They had huge files in front of them and were cross-referencing current activity against the pre-birth plan. They appeared to be working very fast. On some of the monitors the relevant guardian angels appeared, almost like foreign correspondents, ready from their locations to answer any queries that the office had. The room was a hive of activity, with its flashing screens and gentle buzz of angelic conversation. Everyone appeared fully engaged and focussed.

Anthony, whose own office was busy enough, was always overwhelmed by the amount of activity that took place in this department. The office was primarily engaged in spot-checking life plan compliance. This involved going through someone’s pre-birth plan and assessing how closely their lives were following the path they had chosen. No wonder the office was so busy. Pre-birth planning was of course a simple task for most souls. While they rested in heaven between lives they would spend some time sitting with a group of wise elders, reviewing past lives and successes and lessons that had been learned. On the basis of what had already been achieved they would come to a conclusion as to what it would be good to explore in their next foray on earth. Sometimes they might want to continue with a particular area where it was felt more work was needed, or maybe a decision might be made to work on a different area and to ‘rest’ certain issues in the next lifetime.

Making the pre-birth plan was the easy bit. The tricky bit was that as soon as people were born, all memory of the plan was erased. Luckily most people bobbed along in the right direction, given a slight nudge every now and again by their guardian angel. But then there were those who managed to deviate almost completely from the path, and despite all angelic gentle nudging, nothing seemed to get them back on track. This office would then decide if anything else should be done to help. After all, free will was an important, albeit controversial, element of the plan.

Anthony stood at the entrance to the office and looked in wonder for a moment at the level of gentle activity that was taking place. His reveries were broken into by the angel in charge, who came over and welcomed him warmly.

‘Anthony, greetings. How lovely to see you. Is there anything I can do to help or are you just checking up on us?’

Anthony smiled at the other angel.

‘Tobias, I’m sure if you needed checking up on it wouldn’t be me that was sent, and anyway I can’t imagine this super slick operation ever gives any cause for concern.’

Tobias chuckled and bowed his head humbly.

‘Thank you, Anthony. Then is there anything I can help you with?’

Anthony lowered his voice.

‘I wonder if we could have a word privately?’

As a Supernatural fan, any talk of Angels is a big plus, so I can’t wait to get stuck in to this book. If you’d like to win one of three copies available, then just fill in the Rafflecopter below. Good luck!

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Book Review: The Ways of the World by Robert Goddard

162800901919. The eyes of the world are on Paris, where statesmen, diplomats and politicians have gathered to discuss the fate of half the world’s nations in the aftermath of the cataclysm that was the Great War. A horde of journalists, spies and opportunists have also gathered in the city and the last thing the British diplomatic community needs at such a time is the mysterious death of a senior member of their delegation. So, when Sir Henry Maxted falls from the roof of his mistress’s apartment building in unexplained circumstances, their first instinct is to suppress all suspicious aspects of the event.

But Sir Henry’s son, ex Royal Flying Corps ace James ‘Max’ Maxted, has other ideas. He resolves to find out how and why his father died – even if this means disturbing the impression of harmonious calm which the negotiating teams have worked so hard to maintain. In a city where countries are jostling for position at the crossroads of history and the stakes could hardly be higher, it is difficult to tell who is a friend and who a foe.And Max will soon discover just how much he needs friends, as his search for the truth sucks him into the dark heart of a seemingly impenetrable mystery.

What I Thought:
As a book, The Ways of the World is right up my alley – crime thriller with a distinctly historical edge. As book one in the Wide World trilogy, it’s quite clear from the start that there are far too many threads to be wound up in one book alone, and it is left very open to accommodate the remaining books. This is fine for me, seeing as I picked the book up long after all three had been published, and didn’t have to wait, but I can see that it might have been annoying initially.

The historical research on the setting, Paris in 1919, is well done, but without shoe-horning every last bit of it into the text (which is a bugbear of mine) and the action is pretty much non-stop. James Maxted is very cocksure and some aspects of his character did grate a little, but I wonder if this was perhaps intended, as he is very young and sure of himself, particularly having survived the war, maybe that’s what makes him so gung-ho.

As I said, there are lots of little intrigues, some of which were definitely not tied up neatly at the end of book one, so I’m interested to see how the action in books two and three compares.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in return for an honest review.

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Book Review: The Courtship of Two Doctors by Martha Holoubek Fitzgerald

the-courtship-of-two-doctorsFrom a private collection of nearly 800 courtship letters, the daughter of two remarkable physicians has crafted a timeless valentine to long-lasting love and the healing profession. Senior medical students from New Orleans and Omaha meet in 1937 and begin a two-year correspondence across 1,100 miles. They set their sights on a return to Mayo Clinic, the medical mecca where they found each other and danced to the haunting “Harbor Lights”. Grave illness and career setbacks shake their confidence, but the two decide to face an uncertain future together, trusting in each other and the relationship they built letter by letter. The Courtship of Two Doctors recreates the medical era before antibiotics, when health workers were at risk of serious infection, and vividly illustrates the 1930s social barriers challenging two-career marriages.

What I Thought:
What a charming and fitting tribute to her parents Martha Holoubek Fitzgerald has created! I notice from reading some reviews that other readers found this book a little slow, as it is a collection of private correspondence between two people in love, and they express it at every opportunity. I found this, and the naivete of the letters, to be somewhat of a relic of another era and it was a really sweet book to read.

Aside from the relationship between Joe Holoubek and Alice Baker, their letters are a fantastic window for medical historians on a time that we really should be thankful is gone by – Joe at one point is put on an isolation ward for several weeks as he has Scarlet Fever, a condition that my sons have had, and that was cleared up by a course of antibiotics. Alice’s life and career is also put under threat by TB – a disease we can easily treat in the modern era.

Although Alice and Joe had no idea that their letters might be used in this way at some future date, they write informative letters about cases they think will interest each other, and it’s also very clear how much they come to love each other, something that is also reinforced by the postscript.

The collection is lovingly collated by the pair’s youngest daughter, Martha, and as such you can really get a feel for Joe and Alice, and the care that Martha has taken to capture the essence of her parents. It’s really very well done.

The Courtship of Two Doctors is published by Little Dove Press.

I received a copy of this title through Netgalley, in return for an honest review.

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Book Review: The Jasper Dent Series by Barry Lyga

i-hunt-killersAn unusual book review from me today, as it’s a review of a trilogy, rather than each individual book. This is mainly because I don’t feel that this particular trilogy can be read as individual books – it’s much better for you to read them in order.

The trilogy begins with I Hunt Killers and introduces Jasper ‘Jazz’ Dent, a teenager living with his Grandmother in a backwater town. The difference with Jazz is that his father is Billy Dent – the most notorious serial killer America has ever known.

So far, intriguing idea. Jazz deals with the traditional problems a teenage boy deals with, while having the shadow of his father hanging over him, and the suspicions of the community wondering whether he will turn out just like dear old Dad. This is made worse when it appears that someone is killing women in the area – any they are not unfamiliar with Billy Dent’s methods.

As you know already that this is a trilogy, it’s not a spoiler for me to tell you that, obviously, Jazz is not the killer, but the way he deals with suspicious neighbours and uses his unique knowledge of Billy Dent is the crux of the book.

9780552170772Book two, Game, sees Jazz – travel to New York, where a series of murders has taken place, which he thinks his insight into the mind of a killer will help to solve. This is also a solid entry into the series, with a hugely open ending, which is why I feel you need to read all of the books, and not just dip into them.

imagesThe final installment of the series is Blood Of My Blood, and Jazz gets some answers to questions he has had about his early life, and he finds out exactly what Billy did to his mother.

The trilogy was excellent for me, marrying YA and crime in an original way, and this first installment was an interesting read. I felt at times that it lost focus a little bit, but as I knew it was part of a trilogy already, I could see why that might be, and any queries I had were resolved by the end of book three.

One major problem I had with book three in particular, was that the trilogy is aimed at a YA audience and I felt some of the content went a bit close to the bone even for adults, let alone young ones. I get that Jazz is 17 and that that is probably the age Barry Lyga was going for but I did have to pause there for a moment!

Despite those few bits, the trilogy was excellent. Jazz was a likeable anti-hero – much in the same way as Dexter – and his supporting characters (girlfriend Connie and best friend Howie) were well-imagined and Howie in particular was some much needed comic relief!

All three books are available now, alongside some Kindle shorts that support some of the back story, but so far I’ve only got to one of those.

You can find out more about Barry Lyga on his website.

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Book Review: Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson

18090117Lady Elizabeth Neville-Ashford wants to travel the world, pursue a career, and marry for love. But in 1914, the stifling restrictions of aristocratic British society and her mother’s rigid expectations forbid Lily from following her heart. When war breaks out, the spirited young woman seizes her chance for independence. Defying her parents, she moves to London and eventually becomes an ambulance driver in the newly formed Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps—an exciting and treacherous job that takes her close to the Western Front.

Assigned to a field hospital in France, Lily is reunited with Robert Fraser, her dear brother Edward’s best friend. The handsome Scottish surgeon has always encouraged Lily’s dreams. She doesn’t care that Robbie grew up in poverty—she yearns for their friendly affection to become something more. Lily is the most beautiful—and forbidden—woman Robbie has ever known. Fearful for her life, he’s determined to keep her safe, even if it means breaking her heart.

In a world divided by class, filled with uncertainty and death, can their hope for love survive. . . or will it become another casualty of this tragic war?

What I Thought:
I actually read this book quite a while ago, but it’s still timely as we’re right in the middle of the centenary commemorations for the First World War.

I like an historical novel anyway, but Somewhere in France was particularly good. The characters – though obviously rich and not really representative of your average family of the time – are relatable, and Lily is a likeable, feisty heroine. Jennifer Robson manages to build in what is obviously a lot of research about the period, but it is done in a natural way, and not just clumsy passages of irrelevant detail. We are able to follow Lily from her High Society life, through to the horrors of a war zone, and her journey seems a natural progression of her character.

There are some really memorable sections of the book which don’t skimp on description or atmosphere and, similar to BBC drama ‘The Crimson Field’, take you right into the action. There is also great respect shown towards the fighting men, doctors volunteers and Women’s Auxiliary Corps who are believable and worth caring about.

Ultimately, this is a very rewarding and believable novel of the First World War, and I can recommend it highly.

To find out more about the author, visit www.jennifer-robson.com, or you can connect with her via Twitter.

NB: I was sent a copy of Somewhere in France by the publisher, in return for an honest review.

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Book Review: God Help The Child by Toni Morrison

toni_morrison_3269792aSweetness wants to love her child, Bride, but she struggles to love her as a mother should. Bride, now glamorous, grown up, ebony-black and panther-like, wants to love her man, Booker, but she finds herself betrayed by a moment in her past, a moment borne of a desperate burn for the love of her mother. Booker cannot fathom Bride’s depths, with his own love-lorn past bending him out of shape. Can they find a way through the damage wrought on their blameless childhood souls, to light and happiness, free from pain?

What I Thought:

This book is my first experience of reading Toni Morrison, outside of some passages in an African-American Literature course and, in general I can see why she is among the greats of American literature – up to a point.

The novel was excellent and Bride as a character was engaging and her imagined transformation back into the body of a child was written really well. The only thing that I didn’t like was that the book was too short! I don’t say this as a fangirl omg this book was way too short etc etc, but in that some of the flashback scenes for both Bride and Booker felt rushed, and there was much more material there to explore which would’ve fully cemented their reasons for acting as they do.

Although we know why Bride broke away from her fashionable and managed life to follow Booker, it doesn’t feel FULLY explained. It is a breakdown of sorts, but is it reason enough to abandon her life? It doesn;t seem that way in the book.

That said, I’m fully prepared to give the book five stars, as I enjoyed Bride as a character and Rain and her family, when we learn their story, have a unique and powerful family relationship.

NB I obtained this copy of God Help the Child from Gullivers Bookshop, Wimborne.

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