TONY has always looked out for his younger brother, Nick. So when Nick is badly hurt and it looks like he was the victim of sexual assault, Tony’s anger flares.
JULIA is alarmed by her husband Tony’s obsession with Nick’s case. She’s always known Tony has a temper. But does she really know what he’s capable of?
NICK went out for a drink. After that, everything’s a blank. When he woke up he found himself in a world of confusion and pain, and the man who hurt him doesn’t deny doing it. But he says the whole thing was consensual.
Three ordinary people; one life-shattering event. When the police get involved with this family in crisis, all the cracks will start to show…
Set to ignite debate and as gripping as your favourite box-set, Damage is a compulsive drama from an extraordinary new writer.
Caitlin is a Maine girl through and through. She was born to two hippies who raised her in a small town in central-southern Maine without a single stoplight in it. Caitlin left the state for four years to study criminal justice and marriage and family studies at a college in Pennsylvania. She returned to Maine after graduation to attend law school and practice law. She and her husband live in southern Maine with their dog.
When it finally arrived I was shocked to see it; to read the words Mum wrote about these women fighting for rights I know I take for granted. Mum was here. And while she was, something happened that changed the entire course of my life. Perhaps, if I can summon the courage, the next eight weeks will help me finally figure out what that was . . .’ When Jessica, a young British woman, discovers a shocking secret about her birth she travels to Switzerland in search of answers. She knows her mother spent time in the country writing an article on the Swiss women’s rights movement, but what she doesn’t know is what happened to her while she was there. Can Jess summon the courage to face the truth about her family, or will her search only hurt herself and those around her even more? A breathtaking, richly historical commercial women’s fiction debut, set against a stunning Swiss backdrop in the 1970s women’s rights movement. The Other Daughter follows one woman in her search for the truth about her birth, and another desperately trying to succeed in a man’s world.
The Other Daughter was enlightening, educational but above all a very good story.
It followed Jessica as she travelled to discover what really happened when her now deceased mother, Sylvia visited Switzerland to research the Women’s Rights Movement in the 70’s
I never realised how behind the rest of Europe it was at giving its women the vote, and recognition, always thinking it was a forward thinking country. Yet the 70’s were a period of great change and I loved how Bishop used the past and the present to illustrate the differences.
The past was Sylvia, a journalist in a a man’s world who fought to be given the real stories, ones that didn’t involve home making, babies and crafting. Her one chance, a visit to Switzerland to investigate the status of women’s votes set off a series of events that had repercussions for the future. What struck me more than anything was the utter disregard the majority of the male population both in Switzerland and the U.K. had for women. It raised so many questions. Were women a threat to their masculinity, a threat to their jobs? Who would be left to look after the children, the home and most importantly who would feed and clothe the men.
The Other Daughter wasn’t just about the women’s movement, but one of self discovery, of Sylvia’s need to balance career and motherhood, of Jess’s need to find who she was, and what her future held. Bishop used their individual voices to tell their story, as she effortlessly switched between past and present.
Bishop gave us a brilliant sense of time and place, of a 1970’s society that struggled with changing attitudes, of men who still believed women should be in the home, pregnancy a reason not to be at work, in other words women could not have it all.
The present was Jess’s search for answers not only about her past but also about herself. She, was a woman who could have the career, be a wife and children, but what do you do when that is not possible? Bishop piled on the heartache, the angst, mystery and misleading information that pushed Jess to her limits but also made her assess her own choices and indeed her future.
The Other Daughter was well written, and although seen mainly from a woman’s perspective raised so many questions that would lead to a myriad of answers and debate. Yet it didn’t forget what it was, and that was a novel, a story, one that would pull the reader into the lives of theses two wonderfully string women.
I would like to thank Simon Schuster for a copy of The Other Daughter to read and review and to Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
Caroline Bishop began her journalism career at a small arts magazine in London, after a brief spell in educational publishing. She soon moved to work for a leading London theatre website, for which she reviewed shows and interviewed major acting and directing stars. Caroline turned freelance in 2012 and a year later moved to Switzerland, where her writing veered towards travel and she has contributed to publications including the Guardian, Independent, Daily Telegraph and BBC Travel, writing mainly about Switzerland, and cowrote the 2019 edition of the DK Eyewitness Guide to Switzerland. For two years Caroline was editor of TheLocal.ch, an English-language Swiss news site, and it was during this time that she became fascinated with aspects of Swiss history and culture, particularly the evolution of women’s rights.
They say we’ll never know what happened to those men. They say the sea keeps its secrets . . . ‘A mystery, a love story and a ghost story, all at once. I didn’t want it to end’ – S J Watson
Cornwall, 1972. Three keepers vanish from a remote lighthouse, miles from the shore. The entrance door is locked from the inside. The clocks have stopped. The Principal Keeper’s weather log describes a mighty storm, but the skies have been clear all week.
What happened to those three men, out on the tower? The heavy sea whispers their names. The tide shifts beneath the swell, drowning ghosts. Can their secrets ever be recovered from the waves?
Twenty years later, the women they left behind are still struggling to move on. Helen, Jenny and Michelle should have been united by the tragedy, but instead it drove them apart. And then a writer approaches them. He wants to give them a chance to tell their side of the story. But only in confronting their darkest fears can the truth begin to surface . . .
Inspired by real events, The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex is an intoxicating and suspenseful mystery, an unforgettable story of love and grief that explores the way our fears blur the line between the real and the imagined.
The Lamplighters was one of those novels where the buzz surrounding it had and still is prevalent on my twitter feed and then it landed on my doorstep with the most wonderful cover and I had to bump it to the top of my toppling TBR pile. I entered a world of lighthouses and the men who used to man them, completely immersed in the story of their mysterious disappearance.
First off, the research by Stonex was impeccable from the beautiful descriptions of the Maiden lighthouse to the lives of the men that lived on them. You got a real sense of the cramped conditions, of the order that was needed and the constant changing of shifts to ensure the lamp stayed lit and foghorn blared out intermittently to warn shipping.
Perhaps the crux of the lifestyle was the loneliness the men could feel, cut off from the outside world, only each other for company, thoughts and emotions magnified. You didn’t know what effect this would have on Arthur, Bill and Vince and their mysterious disappearance until Stonex unraveled not only their lives but those they left onshore.
The unraveling was marvelous, words, sentences skillfully dropped into the narrative, clues to what may have happened, secrets hidden, the reader captivated as famous author, Dan, approached the three wives and girlfriend some 20 years later, determined on solving the mystery of the disappearing lighthouse keepers.
And what of those lighthouse men and their wives, who were they? Arthur, Principle Lighthouse Keeper, married to Helen, the man responsible for the safety of his fellow keeper and the lighthouse itself. He was the older statesmen but you sensed a man lost, a fractured marriage, something left unsaid between himself and Helen that we couldn’t quite put our finger on. Helen was for me the most likeable, the most sensible, the one who was able to deal with Arthur’s disappearance in a rational manner.
Bill, assistant keeper, was for me, the least likeable, dismissive of his wife, Jenny, unhappy with his life, who wanted something different, but again what was that, what did Stonex have in store for him. Jenny, his wife, was one of those frustrating characters that you wanted to bring out of her downtrodden status, one which you felt she largely brought on herself. Her constant complaining to Bill, her unsuitability as the wife of a light house keeper and the endless days on her own with three children was hard, but then she never seemed to do anything to help herself. After their disappearance she was the one who always thought he would come back, who never moved away just in case, whose life largely stood still.
Vince the supernumerary Keeper, Stonex’s wildcard, a criminal record, the person who seemed most likely to be responsible for their disappearance. He was the one I liked the most, a man who looked to start again, who saw a new future with his girlfriend Michelle. He brought a lightness, a carefree feeling to the novel, he cut through the staid serious air of Arthur and Bill. Michelle didn’t appear much, but you knew she loved him, his disappearance hit hard, but she knew she had to move on to forge a life, that may not have satisfied her, but was necessary. I felt that she had the most to lose as Dan dug around in the past, as she pushed him away afraid of the emotions it stirred and the impact it may have had on her husband and family.
Stonex flitted effortlessly between the past and the present, 1972, and 1992, the voices of her characters loud and insightful, their emotions and psyche slowly laid bare to the reader. I felt as if I were doing a giant jigsaw as I began to piece the clues, the signs together, a picture that slowly emerged, the fog that cleared around the lighthouse itself.
The men appeared to spiral into a form of paranoia, the dynamics changed and a gulf widened between them. Grudges against actions onshore crept in as Stonex led us to a spine chilling and a hold your breath conclusion.
It was almost the opposite to their wives, as twenty years later what once pushed them apart appeared to begin to push them together, secrets unfurled, assumptions crumbled and you hoped that they found answers and indeed closure.
I appear to have rambled, but I could not stop myself as The Lamplighters ticked every box that I want to see in a novel. It was multilayered, multi dimensional and you had to applaud Stonex’s ability to mix a thrilling mystery with the human frailties of a truly wonderful cast of characters. Ripe for dramatisation and already one of my novels of 2021.
I would like to thank Picador for a copy of The Lamplighters to read and review and to Midas PR for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
Emma Stonex is a novelist who has written several books under a pseudonym. The Lamplighters is her debut under her own name and has been translated into more than twenty languages. Before becoming a writer, she worked as an editor at a major publishing house. She lives in the Southwest with her family.
A remote island. A brutal murder. A secret hidden in the past . . .
In the middle of the North Sea, between the UK and Denmark, lies the beautiful and rugged island nation of Doggerland. Detective Inspector Karen Eiken Hornby has returned to the main island, Heimö, after many years in London and has worked hard to become one of the few female police officers in Doggerland.
So, when she wakes up in a hotel room next to her boss, Jounas Smeed, she knows she’s made a big mistake. But things are about to get worse: later that day, Jounas’s ex-wife is found brutally murdered. And Karen is the only one who can give him an alibi.
The news sends shockwaves through the tight-knit island community, and with no leads and no obvious motive for the murder, Karen struggles to find the killer in a race against time.
Soon she starts to suspect that the truth might lie in Doggerland’s history. And the deeper she digs, the clearer it becomes that even small islands can hide deadly secrets . . .
I have to admit I had no knowledge of the Doggerlands, a series of islands in the North Sea until i read Fatal Isles, that heightened my curiosity to visit its wildly varied landscape and eclectic inhabitants.
In fact it was the inhabitants that were the most intriguing, in particular Detective Inspector Karen Eiken Hornby who we met in what could only be seen as a bit of a predicament. Sleeping with her boss was definitely not in her plans but it allowed Adolfsson to set the tone of her less than friendly professional relationship with Smeed. It was stretched even further when his ex wife, Susanne wound up murdered and Karen found herself promoted to his job and head of the investigation.
It was an investigation that threw up few clues, but gave us the back story to many of its characters, to Susanne’s birth on a commune, the links between its inhabitants and their present circumstances. Yet none of this seemed to help Karen as she faced growing criticism, criticism that showed a police force with little regard for women, for those that kept themselves slightly aloof and thought outside of the box. I liked Karen’s guts and determination to prove them wrong and that grew as Adolfsson slowly unraveled her history, one that was tinged with grief and loss, that made you realise the reasons for her behaviour.
As Karen became more entrenched in the investigation, criss crossing the island, so Adolfsson was able to paint us a brilliantly vivid picture of its landscape of the wealthy seaside houses to the outer inland blocks of flats that housed the less fortunate in its society. It was a world that seemed caught between the modern and the traditional, between those born on the island and those who migrated from mainland UK and Scandinavia, between those who had wealth and a comfortable living and those that did not.
That theme magnified as the investigation continued, as Susanna’s real character emerged, as jealousy and grudges became more apparent, but nothing prepared you for what came next. Adolfsson lulled you into a comfortable plausible conclusion, but just like Karen you didn’t quite believe it, and as the pages turned you sensed the tension building, as the storm clouds descended and that final pieces of the jigsaw finally slotted together.
That may have been the end of the investigation but you got the feeling that Adolfsson was laying the foundations for more, the introduction of the various characters, the relationships both smooth and tension filled along with the mention of another crime that simmered in the background. A crime that sounded horrific, that tweaked your interest and planted the seed that Adolfsson had more in store for Detective Inspector Karen Eiken Hornby.
I am hoping that it will not be too long before we meet again.
I would like to thank Zaffre for a copy of Fatal Isles to read and review and to Compulsive Readers for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
Mrs Death tells her intoxicating story in this life-affirming fire-starter of a novel
Mrs Death has had enough. She is exhausted from spending eternity doing her job and now she seeks someone to unburden her conscience to. Wolf Willeford, a troubled young writer, is well acquainted with death, but until now hadn’t met Death in person – a black, working-class woman who shape-shifts and does her work unseen.
Enthralled by her stories, Wolf becomes Mrs Death’s scribe, and begins to write her memoirs. Using their desk as a vessel and conduit, Wolf travels across time and place with Mrs Death to witness deaths of past and present and discuss what the future holds for humanity. As the two reflect on the losses they have experienced – or, in the case of Mrs Death, facilitated – their friendship grows into a surprising affirmation of hope, resilience and love. All the while, despite her world-weariness, Death must continue to hold humans’ fates in her hands, appearing in our lives when we least expect her …
Ok, I’ll be honest I wasn’t exactly sure what to make of Mrs Death Misses Death, that wasn’t to say it wasn’t good because it was, it just required the reader to think out of the box and concentrate.
The structure was interesting, part narrative and part poetry, not surprising as the author is also a poet. It did take some getting used to but I felt it worked well and broke up the narrative, which was quite heavy reading at times.
The other factor was the interaction between Wolfie and Mrs Death herself. You wondered if Wolfie obviously had a chequered past, the loss of his mother in a fire, an absent father, and brought up by a grandfather who clearly didn’t want the responsibility.
I wasn’t sure if Wolfie was contemplating ending his own life, as he struggled with depression, and loneliness, his solace found in a second hand writing desk and his conversations with Mrs Death.
Mrs Death herself was an interesting concept, as were her own opinions and views. She challenged us on our perception that death was always considered male, the grim reaper the obvious image. Where did this thought come from, why do we have these perceptions?
She took us through time, to famous deaths, to murder, to those of us that hover between life and death, narrowly miss death, rising to fight another day.
You soon came to realise that Wolfie was her conduit, as he wrote down her stream of consciousness, as he examined his own journey through life, one that you found difficult to see a future.
This was a novel that examined many things, race, gender and many other themes. It was very different, but also very good, and unlike anything I have read in a very long time. It wasn’t until I had had some space from the novel and had time to think about what i had read that I was able to write my review. I don’t think my review has given it adequate justice as I think it was a novel that required the reader to form their own opinion, to get from it what they wanted which made it all the more interesting and indeed quite remarkable.
About the author
Salena Godden is one of Britain’s best loved poets and performers. She is also an activist, broadcaster, memoirist and essayist and is widely anthologised. She has published several volumes of poetry, the latest of which was Pessimism is for Lightweights, and a literary childhood memoir, Springfield Road.
Mrs Death Misses Death is her debut novel. A BBC Radio 4 documentary following Godden’s progress on the novel over twelve months was broadcast in 2018. In November 2020 she was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Rachel is at crisis point. A series of disastrous decisions has left her with no job, no home, and no faith in herself. But an unexpected job offer takes her to a remote Scottish island, and it feels like a chance to recover and mend her battered self-esteem.
The island’s other inhabitants are less than welcoming. Fraser Sutherland is a taciturn loner who is not happy about sharing his lighthouse – or his precious coffee beans – and Lefty, his unofficial assistant, is a scrawny, scared lad who isn’t supposed to be there at all.
Homesick and out of her depth, Rachel wonders whether she’s made another mistake. But, as spring turns to summer, the wild beauty of the island captivates her soul. For the first time in years she sees the hope of a better life – if only she can break the deadlock between two men who are at war with one another, and with themselves.
I want to go to the Isle of May, to experience its isolation, its wild ruggedness and the litany of birds that visit and nest on the island. I want to see the lighthouse, the bird observatory and the tumble down cottages, to watch the sea crash against the shoreline. Why? It had to be because of the vividness of Haynes narrative, her ability to translate her words into my imagination, to trigger the sights and the sounds, to feel a sense of freedom and escape from the rest of the world.
Haynes made us live this experience with her characters and in particular Rachel. Rachel a young woman that arrived on May with a back story that left her wounded, lacking in self esteem and confidence, in a vicious circle of self recrimination and regret. We wanted to know why she had come to May, what it offered and if at the end she found what she was looking for.
Then there was Fraser, already well established on the island, again a back story that hinted of turmoil, of a man lost, sullen, devoid of any feeling and emotion.
So what did Haynes do? She did what any good novelist would do and threw them together, co inhabitants of Frasers lighthouse, neither happy at the prospect of having to share space. You expected fireworks, door slamming, and yes we did get some of that but Haynes was clever as she slowly opened up cracks in their facades as they began to share thoughts and personal information as feelings entered the arena and we were not sure which way Haynes would take them.
The fly in the ointment wasn’t just themselves but also Fraser’s side kick Lefty, he was the key that would give the answers to so much that Fraser held inside and hidden. Their relationship clearly one sided as Lefty cringed at Frasers, constant nonchalance and shouting, Rachel the eventual go between who finally started to ease the tension and strain.
Whilst Rachel set out to ‘fix’ the two men, you did wonder if she would fix herself, if she would reconcile the feelings and hurt of the past and be able to move forward. One last major incidence acted as the catalyst for actions on all sides that would have you wishing matters would be resolved that Haynes would give that happy conclusion that you wanted.
I am obviously not going to spoil the ending, instead I am going to urge you to borrow of buy You, Me and The Sea and enjoy it just as much as i did.
I would like to thank Myriad Editions for a copy of Me You and The Sea to read and review and to Emma Dowson for inviting My Bookish Blogpsot to take part in the blogtour.
About the author
Elizabeth Haynes is a former police intelligence analyst who lives in Norfolk with her husband and son. Her first novel, Into the Darkest Corner, was Amazon’s Best Book of the Year 2011 and a New York Times bestseller. Now published in 37 countries, it was originally written as part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), an online challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November.
Based on the true scandal that rocked the court of James I, A Net for Small Fishes is the most gripping novel you’ll read this year: an exhilarating dive into the pitch-dark waters of the Jacobean court
Frances Howard has beauty and a powerful family – and is the most unhappy creature in the world.
Anne Turner has wit and talent – but no stage on which to display them. Little stands between her and the abyss of destitution.
When these two very different women meet in the strangest of circumstances, a powerful friendship is sparked. Frankie sweeps Anne into a world of splendour that exceeds all she imagined: a Court whose foreign king is a stranger to his own subjects; where ancient families fight for power, and where the sovereign’s favourite may rise and rise – so long as he remains in favour.
With the marriage of their talents, Anne and Frankie enter this extravagant, savage hunting ground, seeking a little happiness for themselves. But as they gain notice, they also gain enemies; what began as a search for love and safety leads to desperate acts that could cost them everything.
Prepare to be transported to 17th Century England and the outer fringes of the court of King James, in the company of two remarkable women, Anne and Frances.
Who were they? Apparently they did exist and the novel is based on extensive research by Jago into their lives. From completely opposite ends of the social spectrum, Anne and Frances were women before their time as they challenged the natural order of society, a woman’s total dependence on men for a home, finances and indeed their reputation.
Anne, wife of a well respected physician, mother to 5 children, a secret lover but an amazing talent as a fashion connoisseur, the 17th century equivalent to today’s best stylists. Not for her the trappings of wealth, but a modest house, and finances that barely covered her living expenses. Yet Jago gave her warmth, a loving caring personality, an acceptance of her lot until she glimpsed something more comfortable and easy.
That something seemed a possibility as she met Frances, Earl of Essex, a woman so far removed from Anne, still a teenager, married to a cruel despicable man, a man unable to consummate the marriage, a man Frances longed to free herself from.
You wouldn’t have expected them to be friends, but then that joint longing to seek freedom, gave Jago the means to spin a tail of drama, intrigue, of meetings with suspicious 17th century quacks, whose potions promised things you knew would never materialise.
What started as a simple means to bend the will of man, to solve a problem soon became something more complex and spelt danger for Anne and Frances, danger that they were willing to take. Jago took them and us deeper and deeper into the politics of the King’s court, of the clash of religion over happiness, of arranged marriages to strengthen the power of families.
As the plan appeared to work, they experienced a time of great happiness before Jago slowly drew the curtains, as doom seemed to push them further and further towards desperate measures that had the most awful of consequences.
You felt enormous empathy for them both, but in particular for Anne as the views and opinions of others saw her fortunes wane as everything she held dear withered away. Jago did nothing to protect us from the horrors that confronted her, but gave her so much inner resolve, determination and bravery that you couldn’t help but admire.
The bond and friendship that existed between Anne and Francis was unbreakable and something Jago portrayed brilliantly, she made you want these women to succeed, to tear up the rule book, and basically kick ass in such a male dominated court full of suspicion. The scandal they caused, the ripple it produced was like a volcano that erupted with force and intensity, that shook society to its very core and forced prejudice to the fore.
And it was that society that also shone brightly as Jago effortlessly placed us right in the centre of the 17th century. The hustle and bustle of court, the clothes worn by women and the outlandish costumes worn by men, particular those in power was vivid and colorful. You could sense the tension in the air, in the bodies of her characters, the brief glimpses of laughter, fun and frivolity that carried you along through the pages.
The squalor of the streets of London with its smells, and noise and dubious characters was nothing but brilliant. The atmospheric darkness that enveloped Anne and Frances as they visited men of dubious medicines, was tinged with the danger of discovery as you held your breath, waited for the time to pass safely.
The meticulous research done by Jago was so clearly evident, her ability to turn that research in to such high class fiction a feat I admired and respected.
A Small Net For Fishes, was nothing but utter compelling and I was totally spellbound by, as Jago has been quoted, ‘the Thelmas and Louise of the 17th century’
I would like to thank Bloomsbury for a copy of A Small Net For Fishes to read and review and to Ros Ellis for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
Lucy Jago is an award-winning writer of fiction and non-fiction and Fellow of the Royal Literary Fund. Her first book, The Northern Lights, won the National Biography prize and has been translated into eight languages. She was awarded a Double First Class Honours Degree from King’s College, University of Cambridge, and a master’s degree from the Courtauld Institute, London. She lives in Somerset.
More information about the author can be found following the link below
Falling in love with the enemy is the ultimate act of betrayal…
1917. A farm girl from Cavan, Veronica McDermott is desperate to find more to life than peeling potatoes. Persuading her family to let her stay with her aunt and uncle in Dublin so she can attend secretarial college, she has no idea what she is getting into. Recruited by Fr Michael O’Flanagan to type for Eamon De Valera, Veronica is soon caught up in the danger and intrigue of those fighing for Ireland’s independence from Britain.
The attentions of a handsome British soldier, Major Harry Fairfax, do not go unnoticed by Veronica’s superiors. But when Veronica is tasked with earning his affections to gather intelligence for Sinn Féin, it isn’t long before her loyalty to her countrymen and her feelings for Harry are in conflict. To choose one is to betray the other…
Inspired by real life events and marking the centenary of the end of the War of Independence, Dublin’s Girl is a thrilling historical debut from an exciting new Irish voice.
Don’t let the cover of Dublin’s Girl fool you, this was anything but a simple love story. It was the story of a nation that fought for independence, of a young women who found herself unwittingly involved in the struggle risking her own life for the love of her country.
Lawlor’s Veronica was a naive country girl, thrust onto the streets of Dublin, as she embarked on her secretarial course and a more exciting life. What she and the reader did not expect was just how exciting and indeed dangerous her new life would become. Handpicked by Father O’Flanagan to type for Sinn Fein activist Eamon De Valera she got a whole lot more than she bargained for. It opened up a world of police raids, of soldiers on streets, of subversive manoeuvres by Sinn Fein, and a whole gamut of political rhetoric from both sides.
I found it fascinating, as I didn’t know much of Southern Ireland’s history after the first world war and what was even more remarkable was the brutality from both sides as they each fought for what they thought was their right.
I liked that Lawlor chose to look at the conflict from a woman’s perspective, and the role and impact they had. Who would have thought a typist would play should a pivotal role?
That pivotal role was further expanded when Veronica met Major Harry Fairfax, a chance meeting that put her in further danger, but a danger that she was willing to take as something else began to grow between them. Lawlor explored Veronica’s dilemma as her affections for Harry overtook the danger, as she had to weigh up the consequences of falling in love with the so called enemy. There were illicit meetings in tea shops, in seaside towns, the frowns and looks of disgust from those around them, long separations when you wondered if Harry felt the same or just using her to get to the rebels.
Lawlor skillfully turned the screws, as the clashes between the two sides escalated and Veronica found herself where no woman wished to be. I held my breath as I waited to see what Lawlor would do, if Harry would be the gentleman and hero I so wanted him to be. Now, there is no way I am going to spoil the ending and let on what happened, and you will just have to buy of borrow Dublin’s Girl and find out for yourselves
As an aside please read the story behind the novel, as it was equally fascinating when you discovered that Lawlor’s great aunt was the real typist to Eamon De Valera.
I would like to thank Aria Fiction for a copy of Dublin’s Girl to read and review and to Vicky Joss for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
Dublin’s Girl is Eimear Lawlor’s first novel and inspired by the true story of her great aunt who typed for Eamon De Valera. She lives with her family in Kilkenny.
It’s the summer of 1959, and the well-trimmed lawns of Sunnylakes, California, wilt under the sun. And at some point during the long, long afternoon, Joyce Haney vanishes from her home.
Ruby Wright arrives for work at Sunnylakes that day expecting the usual: chores she despises; sore joints; prejudice from her employers. And at least some kindness from Joyce. Instead, she encounters two terrified toddlers and a bloodstain on the kitchen floor. Joyce is missing.
Detective Mick Blanke, recently transferred to the area, is assigned the case, but before long he realises it is Ruby who holds the key to this mystery. She knows more about the secrets lurking behind the starched curtains of Sunnylakes than he ever could . . .
The Long, Long Afternoon is a riveting and deeply atmospheric mystery from the cracked heart of the American Dream.
The Long Long Afternoon had been on my book shelf since last year and I had been longing to start but knew I had other novels to read first, so the sense of anticipation was off the scale. Once started I did not want to put it down as I entered the world of the 1950’s housewife, the race issue, a hot Californian summer, and a detective licking old wounds. It was a heady steamy mix that Vesper used to write a novel that managed to cover so many issues, yet maintain the essence of a good crime, mystery novel.
At its heart she gave us three characters, all widely different, all with different issues that affected their lives.
Joyce, housewife, mother of two, on the surface the devoted wife with all the trappings of a well off suburban 1950’s housewife. But what really lurked underneath was a deeply unhappy woman, traumatised by her upbringing and wrestling with something that Vesper slowly revealed that would shock us the reader.
Ruby, the help, the cleaner, young, and black who lived on the wrong side of town, who wanted more than she currently had. Vesper, got her character just right, gave her guts and determination, a conscience, a realistic vision of her life. I loved how Vesper used her to highlight the issues the black community faced, the derision and scorn poured on them by the wealthy suburban housewives, the don’t touch the children, use the same facilities, a real portrayal of society.
Last but not least we had Mick, the detective, a fish out of water after a life in Brooklyn. Vesper gave him a wonderful vulnerability, a man making amends, a man with a broad outlook that brought him into conflict with those he encountered.
The heat of a summer, the simmering tensions of racial discontent and the disappearance of Joyce proofed a heady mix that Vesper used to her full advantage.
The voices of Joyce, Ruby and Mick came across loud and clear, as Vesper burrowed deep into their thoughts. My heart went out to Joyce, trapped, depressed, weighed down by expectation to be the perfect mother, the perfect wife, have the perfect home. A member of the Sunnylakes Women’s Improvement Committee, you would have expected she would have found support for her woes, but oh no, the committee sought to improve their lot in the kitchen , in the home, to better support their husbands and children. You wanted to scream and shout in frustration, until you took a breath and remembered the women’s movement wasn’t yet in full swing, men dominant in their role.
It was Ruby’s voice that sang to me more than another. Vesper captured her brilliantly, a black woman in a white world, sneered at, spat at, treated as a second class citizen. She had determination, guts and bravery that saw her strive to better herself, but also to find justice for Joyce her only white friend. Her collaboration with Mick, his sympathetic and broad minded approach was tinged with danger but they carried on regardless, intent on solving Joyce’s disappearance.
And of what of Joyce’s disappearance? This is where I believe Vesper excelled, that ability to weave the human aspects with the solving of a potential crime, the myriad of twists, the multiple suspects until the big reveal. It was a reveal that displayed the very worst of human nature, of jealousy, envy, of mental illness and downright spite. It showed the weaknesses of men, the need to have it all, and the inherent pressures on women and those in minority groups, a reminder of just how far we have come as a society.
The one thing I would say, is that the Long Long Afternoon would make the most amazing drama series. I cannot wait for what Vesper will deliver next.
I would like to thank Manilla Press for a copy of The Long Long Afternoon to read and review and to Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
Inga Vesper is a journalist and editor.
She moved to the UK from Germany to work as a carer, before the urge to write and explore brought her to science journalism. She holds a MSc in Climate Change Management from Birkbeck College.
Inga has worked and lived in Syria and Tanzania, but always returned to London, because there’s no better place to find a good story than the top deck of a bus.
CAN YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH SOMEONE YOU’VENEVER SEEN?
Alice and Alfie are strangers. But they sleep next to each other every night. Alfie Mack has been in hospital for months recovering from an accident. A new face on the ward is about as exciting as life gets for him right now, so when someone moves into the bed next to him he’s eager to make friends. But it quickly becomes clear that seeing his neighbour’s face won’t happen any time soon. Alice Gunnersley has been badly burned and can’t even look at herself yet, let alone allow anyone else to see her. Keeping the curtain around her bed firmly closed, it doesn’t stop Alfie trying to get to know her. And gradually, as he slowly brings Alice out of her shell, might there even be potential for more?
First of all lets talk about that wonderful bright, eye catching cover, seemingly at odds with the blurb on the back cover. The blurb not as inviting but brilliantly intriguing, as you wondered how a relationship evolved when neither participant had seen each other?
I opened the book with great anticipation as I met Alice a young women horribly burnt in a freak accident at work and Alfie, a popular PE teacher who lost a leg in a car accident.
They were polar opposites, Alice, quiet, independent, work obsessed, few friends and a non existent social life. Alfie outgoing, happy go lucky, life and soul of the party with wonderful friends and family.
And that was where the magic happened as they found themselves laid side by side in a hospital rehabilitation ward, Alice sequestered behind curtains, Alfie, the heart and soul of the ward, cheering everyone up with his constant jokes and natter.
Houghton gave Alfie that inner resolve to make Alice speak, to be part of the ward, even if that meant taking knock backs, or a rethink of his often funny but gently probing strategy. Did Alice open up? Houghton opened her up slowly, cleverly unmasking her hidden personal life, her hard outer shell that was meant to protect her from those that could potentially harm her. We read as she unpicked her soulless life so far, the family trauma that sat heavy on her shoulders, but then there were the small glimmers of a different life, one with friends and laughter, as Alfie’s plan began to take effect.
It was all going so well, from the confines of her curtained bed, Alfie appeared to unlock Alice, but Houghton did what all novelists love to do and threw a few spanners in the works. The closed off walls of the rehabilitation ward did nothing to protect Alice and Alfie from the world they faced outside. For Alfie there were the nightmares, his disability, the what if’s of his future. For Alice, her appearance, the thought of eyes locked on her disfigurement. a future where work could no longer be her solace, her means of escape.
The subject matter may have been less than happy, but Houghton’s exploration of Alfie and Alice’s mental state was done in a gentle nonjudgmental manner. She infused her narrative with light and laughter that was perfectly balanced with the dark, tragic events and I didn’t feel bogged down or disheartened. Instead I found myself routing for Alfie and Alice, for that desperately wanted fairy tale ending. Houghton left me guessing until the very final sentence before putting this reader out of their misery.
Before I Saw You was a novel of pain and anguish but most of all laughter and hope and I loved it.
I would like to thank Transworld for a copy of Before I Saw You to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
Emily Houghton is an ex digital specialist and full-time creative writer. She originally comes from Essex but now lives in London. Emily is a trained yoga and spin teacher, completely obsessed with dogs and has dreamt of being an author ever since she could hold a pen.