Posted in Put A Book On The Map

Put A Book On The Map #BookOnTheMap #Pembrokeshire

This week I am delighted to say we are putting we are adding a book on the map to Wales – Ireland we need your entries urgently and I know that there are loads of fantastic authors and bloggers in Ireland!!

Anyway Wales, or to be precise, Pembrokeshire is the setting for Thorne Moore’s book A Time For Silence which Booker Talk nominated for a spot on the map. It is always particularly lovely to feature a blogger I’ve followed for many years, and I was thrilled that Booker Talk kindly offered her time to post here. I think you’ll  agree that  Booker Talk’s love of the region shines through in this joint post along with that of the author of this superb novel. Thorne Moore kindly supplied the photos, I particularly love the one of the cottage, the inspiration for the novel!

Although I lived on the border of England and Wales as a child and spent many holidays in Wales, I’m not entirely sure I’ve ever visited Pembrokeshire so I’m handing  the geography part in the capable hands of Booker Talk.

Stones on the Preselis

Today The Book on the Map is set in Pembrokeshire, Wales.  For those of you who were not paying attention in your geography classes, this area is to the south west of the UK, just across the sea from Ireland. It’s renowned for the beauty of its coastline with high cliffs teeming with wildlife dropping down onto small bays of golden sand, while inland the Preseli Hills (where the stones used to build Stonehenge were quarried) give way to verdant valleys. If the scenery looks a little familiar it’s because Pembrokeshire has been used extensively as a film location – most recently by the team behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Pembrokeshire is significant too for its historical connections  –  this was where Henry Tudor landed as he began his campaign to seize the crown and establish the Tudor dynasty.

This is where I go when I want an escape from a frantic work schedule. I’ve walked the coastal path, explored the many ruined castles dating from the 12th century and savoured the local produce. And then I go home refreshed.

But before I get carried away extolling this part of my country and sounding too much like a sales rep for the Pembrokeshire tourist board, lets get back to the book.

Carningli, where you can see angels, if you spend the night up there (in prayer).

A Time for Silence traces a woman’s quest to uncover the history of her grandparents Gwen and Jack who once lived in a remote farmhouse in Pembrokeshire. Sarah’s romanticised view of their lives is however turned upside down the more she delves into the past. Interest turns into an obsession which threatens to destabilise this woman who is already struggling to deal with feelings of guilt about the death of a friend. The novel is told as a dual-time narrative which switches between the mid twentieth century and present day. It’s the debut novel by Thorne Moore.

Although originally from the London area, Thorne Moore’s connection with Wales dates from her time as a history student at the University of Wales in Abertystwyth. She now lives in a Victorian farmhouse in Pembrokeshire in west Wales where she divides her time between writing and her craft business.

Let me hand you over to Thorne to tell us about herself and her love of Pembrokeshire

My mother’s family comes from Pembrokeshire, but I grew up in Luton, which is loud, busy, crowded and industrial. Luton always felt like a town which didn’t care to acknowledge history. Anything old was swept away, buried under rampantly modern development.

When I moved to Pembrokeshire in 1983, the contrast couldn’t be greater. Here, history is inescapable. The land wears it, visibly. The hills are littered with Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Dark age legacies. There are castles, cathedrals, and ruins in plenty, as well as the site of the last invasion of Britain (1797). In 1983, when I moved here, history was a living thing. My new local paper was dedicated to magistrates’ court reports and chapel funerals, with a full list of floral tributes. The High Streets had a hardware store, where washers and cup hooks were carefully counted out from rows of tiny oak drawers, and a dimly lit haberdashers, where a little old lady in mittens would emerge from behind curtains to exhibit her delicately hand-embroidered handkerchief collection. Cafés shut for lunch. The town became impassable on cattle-market day. I had stepped at least fifty years back in time.

I had also moved fifty miles away from anywhere. From Carmarthen, you’re on the slip road to the M4 motorway; Cardiff; London; the world. But first get to Carmarthen, across hills on minor roads blocked with snow in winter and silage wagons in summer. Even now, in 2017, there’s a sense of timeless isolation in North Pembrokeshire, although nowhere is really isolated any more, thanks to the internet. We do have broadband. Very slow broadband. We do have mobile phones, which can, sometimes, pick up a signal of sorts. The little shops have been replaced by supermarket chains. But even now there is still a sense of living in a closed world.

The isolated nature of North Pembrokeshire inspired my first novel, A Time For Silence. Can a secret could be kept by a community? I was told of one such secret, shared and kept for decades. How could it have been kept a secret, I wondered? It wouldn’t have been possible on the housing estate where I grew up, but here, where rural parishes could keep themselves to themselves, of course it had been possible.

The cottage that inspired the book

Another inspiration was an abandoned cottage. They were two a penny here until the demand for holiday cottages exploded. This one was just 100 yards from my garden, and almost impossible to reach without sinking in mud or being shredded on brambles. Today it is being restored, but when I first came upon it, it was forgotten, deep in trees. Peering through the windows, I could see two small rooms, with an inglenook fireplace in which a rusty old kettle had been abandoned, and a collapsed upper floor. Who had lived there? What life had been like? The inspiration was doubled when I considered that my maternal family had come from the area and had probably lived in something very similar.

My book also makes use of another inescapable aspect of the area. Language. Pembrokeshire is sometimes called Little England Beyond Wales, but that is the south of the county, which has been Anglicised for centuries. The north has remained defiantly Welsh.

My present-day heroine, Sarah, had Welsh grandparents, but she is totally English and doesn’t speak a word of their native language. She comes across the cottage where they’d lived, and discovers a dark secret which she is determined to investigate. She imagines their lives to have been a quaint, rural idyll. It is because she is so utterly separated from them by time, culture, economics, language, religion and social expectations, that the truth eludes her when she delves into her family history.

I think, perhaps, I could have set the story in isolated communities elsewhere – in the fens, perhaps, or up on the Pennines, but I would not have had the extra mystification of language to add to the mix. It helps make this area ideal for my speciality, domestic noir. It’s all very domestic. And it can be very noir.

It seems the plot of A Time for Silence was inspired by a real life event. Can you tell us more about that? 

There were two events, and going into them in detail would give the whole plot away. I was told of something that had happened, years ago, at a cottage in the vicinity. Everyone knew what had happened. Everyone, including the police, knew who was responsible, but nothing was done. No action was taken. I was intrigued by the idea of a tight little community closing ranks so completely. Whether the story is true or not, I have no idea. I was trying (and failing) to find some record of it in old copies of the local newspaper, when I came across another story – a court report from the 1950s, in which a young girl was on trial for the heinous crime of attempting suicide. When the magistrates asked her why she had done such a wicked thing, she “made allegations of a serious nature,” which everyone decided, on the surface, to disbelieve. She was packed off to Approved School in punishment, but between the lines I picked up a sense that by removing her from her home, the authorities were really trying to address a problem without openly acknowledging it. I wanted to shout “Listen to her!” But they couldn’t, because it would undermine their world.

There is a very strong sense in your book of the small rural community you call Cemaes. This is where the grandparents had their small-holding. Does Cemaes exist or is a product of your imagination? 

One of the wooded valleys between the sea and the Preseli hills.


If you drive north, from Haverfordwest, over the Preseli hills, you come to a high pass from which, suddenly, you see North Pembrokeshire, all tiny ancient fields, forests, moorland and deep valleys, with scattered hamlets and miniature marooned churches. It’s a very unique place, quite different to the land south and east of the hills and I call it Cemaes because why not? It has a suitably antique feel to it. Cemaes – or Cemais, or Kemys – was an old Hundred, or Cantref in North Pembrokeshire and there is still a Cemaes headland.


How important was the setting to you in the novel? For example did you consciously try to draw attention to the location in certain scenes, or was it more a background inspiration for you?

The North Pembrokeshire coast from the hills.

The setting was important because it is so isolated, so self-contained. I did have specific locations in my mind for some of the places in the book, such as the cottage, Cwmderwen, and I mention places like Fishguard as reference points, but otherwise it’s set in fictional places that are an amalgam of this and that around the area. I invented the market town of Penbryn, which draws bits and pieces from Crymych, Newcastle Emlyn and Cardigan, but I’m very vague about where exactly it is. I named it Penbryn because I assumed there would be so many Penbryns no-one would be able to identify it. It turns out there is only one Penbryn, which is nothing like my fictional one. Ah well.

What has been the reaction from local people to your depiction of their community? Do they recognise themselves and their community in your novel?

A Pembrokeshire hedgerow

I had my heart very much in my mouth when A Time For Silence was first published, terrified that local people would immediately attack me for painting a false or negative picture. So far, fingers crossed, no one has objected. I did draw heavily on stories people had told me about life in the area and I ploughed through many volumes of old newspapers, to get a feel for how it was, but I still thought people might find my descriptions a bit Gothic. I was surprised, and moved, when several elderly readers told me they recognised their own childhood world in my book. More than moved when one told me she had lived through very similar experiences.

Your second novel Motherlove is also located in Pembrokeshire. What is it about this part of the world that inspires you?

A lot of Motherlove happens a long way from Pembrokeshire, but I think my use of two locations illustrates precisely what inspires me here. The story is about two girls, one, repressed angry Vicky living on a claustrophobic council estate in Lyford, which is my fictional version of Luton, and the other is perfectly contented hippy-child Kelly, living on a small-holding in the Preselis with a couple of goats. Life here can be very liberating – if it’s your choice. There are no real towns so there are no urban pressures. There are very different rural ones instead.

How have you been influenced by other writers in your use of the spirit of the place?

I don’t know that I have been influenced consciously by any other recent writers, but I suppose you could say I’m ever so slightly influenced by the author(s) of the Mabinogion – Mediaeval retellings of pre-Christian myths. This is the area where Pwyll Lord of Dyfed goes hunting and finds himself ruling the Otherworld for a year, where horse-goddesses marry mortals, where warriors live on an island for 80 years with a talking head, where white boars lead you into enchanted mists. This sort of thing doesn’t happen in Luton.

Cottage interior.

Thank you Booker Talk and Thorne Moore for a fascinating piece on A Time For Silence and Pembrokeshire – I loved the book and since this feature I’ve started it has made me realise just how much authors use their surroundings, varied as they all are, to inspire the novels they write.

Book Reviews from around the Blogosphere

Suze, Likes, Loves, Finds and Dreams

Booker Talk

Cleopatra Loves Books

Now don’t forget to hop over to see Susan at The Book Trail to see the details of the book setting on her wonderful map.

I do hope you’ve enjoyed this visit to Pembrokeshire as much as I have and there are lots more wonderful destinations full of crime coming up on Put A Book On The Map.

A final thank you to Thorne Moore for writing such a brilliantly dark read set in this great destination, I will be reading your other books!

All books featured in this #BookOnTheMap project will get a place on the master page listing crime fiction by their destination with links to the wonderful collaboration between authors and bloggers.

Please email me at if you would like to participate in this feature.

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

A Time For Silence – Thorne Moore

Historical Fiction

I was introduced to this book by BookerTalk who has written a great piece along with the author Thorne Moore for the Put A Book on the Map feature which will be posted on Saturday. Now while I wouldn’t go as far as to say I’m a keen genealogist, I have traced my family back a few generations and for me the joy isn’t in collecting lots of names and dates, it is building a picture of the women (I’m far more interested in them than the men) and their lives through the facts I’ve been able to glean. These weren’t famous or rich women, they were mainly domestic servants who married men of their class and had lots (and lots) of children. My predecessors had a very different life to the one I lead but I like to think that behind the facts they had the drive that led my Grandmother and one of her sisters to take advantage of the times and push their way up the social ladder. In A Time For Silence we meet Sarah who finds the derelict farmhouse her Grandparents lived in and decides to probe what happened to the family in Cwmderwen, Pembrokeshire.

Sarah has her life mapped out in front of her, engaged to be married and having given up on her dreams to be a singer following the death of a close friend. Sarah is under pressure from a pushy mother-in-law to be, and when she takes a trip to Pembrokeshire she does a bit of digging and finds the farmhouse that her Grandparents lived in. Sarah has a romantic view of life and she is horrified to find that her Grandfather John had been killed ‘by person or persons unknown’ following the Second World War. Sarah decides she needs to know more and sets about interrogating her Grandmother’s sister to find out more. But the silence kept for so many years isn’t easily going to be broken by a nosy young woman!

The construct of this book is particularly brilliant because we hear from Gwen about life in the remote farmhouse, about her marriage, her father and sister and her children through her eyes from the time she sets foot in Cwmderwen. We know what happens there while we watch Sarah follow blind alleys and incorrect assumptions in the future. Gwen’s story is easily the most captivating made even more shocking by her understated narrative. A book that so accurately evokes a time eloquently capturing the unwritten rules that governed generations which from a contemporary point of view are almost impossible to comprehend. Sarah has no such compunction eager to knock down the walls of silence that have covered up the wrongful death of John and changed the course of the family as they moved away from Pembrokeshire.

Thorne Moore not only captured the time but the place is also bought vividly to life through her writing, with the little Welsh town and the Spartan farmhouse easily imagined both by the reader and Sarah, as having bought it as a holiday home she works to restore it to its imagined former glory complete with heavy Welsh dresser in the kitchen.

This was such an unexpected read, far more emotionally charged and the story in the past far darker than I’d anticipated but beautifully told, this really did have me captivated. Although I found Sarah’s story slightly less compelling, it is the contrast between the two women’s lives just a couple of generations apart that is so very powerful.

First Published UK: 18 October 2012
Publisher: Honno Welsh Women’s Press
No of Pages: 400
Genre: Historical Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (March 29)

This Week In Books
Hosted by Lipsyy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

I have had my brother visiting over the last week and therefore haven’t read a great deal although I did get to finally watch Heavenly Creatures which was excellent. I apologise for my lack of comments and the delay in responding to some emails etc. So onto the books!

I’m currently reading Hope to Die by David Jackson, the second in the Nathan Cody series set in Liverpool – see the wonderful post created for Put A Book On The Map by David Jackson and Karen from Go Buy The Book


When the victim seems perfect, is it the perfect crime? The gripping new serial killer thriller, from the runaway bestselling author of CRY BABY.
On a bitterly cold winter’s night, Liverpool is left stunned by a brutal murder in the grounds of the city’s Anglican Cathedral. A killer is on the loose, driven by a chilling rage.
Put on the case, DS Nathan Cody is quickly stumped. Wherever he digs, the victim seems to be almost angelic – no-one has a bad word to say, let alone a motive for such a violent murder.
And Cody has other things on his mind too. The ghosts of his past are coming ever closer, and – still bearing the physical and mental scars – it’s all he can do to hold onto his sanity. And then the killer strikes again . . . NetGalley

The last book I finished was The Housekeeper by Suellen Dainty. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but soon became hooked – my review will be up on Friday!


“I am the housekeeper, the hired help with a messy past who cleans up other people’s messy lives, the one who protects their messy little secrets.”
When Anne Morgan’s successful boyfriend—who also happens to be her boss—leaves her for another woman, Anne finds herself in desperate need of a new job and a quiet place to recover. Meanwhile, her celebrity idol, Emma Helmsley (England’s answer to Martha Stewart), is in need of a housekeeper, an opportunity which seems too good to be true.

Through her books, website, and blog, Emma Helmsley advises her devoted followers on how to live a balanced life in a hectic world. Her husband, Rob, is a high profile academic, and her children, Jake and Lily, are well-adjusted teenagers. On the surface, they are the perfect family. But Anne soon finds herself intimately ensconced in the Helmsley’s dirty laundry, both literally and figuratively. Underneath the dust, grime, and whimsical clutter, everyone has a secret to hide and Anne’s own disturbing past threatens to unhinge everything.

For fans of Notes on a Scandal and The Woman Upstairs, The Housekeeper is a nuanced and psychological drama about the dark recesses of the human mind and the dangerous consequences of long-buried secrets.

Next is a book which will be featured soon on Put A Book On The Map; A Time For Silence by Thorne Moore


When Sarah, struggling to get over tragedy, stumbles across her grandparents’ ruined farm, it feels as if the house has been waiting for her. She is drawn to their apparently idyllic way of life and starts to look into her family history only to learn that her grandfather, Jack, was murdered. Why has nobody told her? Sarah becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Gwen and Jack. But are there some family stories that should never be told… Amazon!

I need your help

Now Put A Book On The Map has been launched, and has garnered so much interest I’m wondering if you live or are familiar with an area where a book is set?

If so, would you  like to write a few words and perhaps provide some photos? Please get in touch with me

Topping the list is a shout-out for a blogger from Nottingham, or who knows the area, to feature fellow blogger Rebecca Bradley’s Hannah Robbins books.


Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (March 12)

Weekly Wrap Up

This Week on the Blog

I had a fantastic blogging week with a blog tour and three five star reviews; and yes, three five star reviews even though I’ve been following my slightly stricter criteria!!

On Monday G.J. Minett wrote a guest post on Writing Characters which gave some very sound advice as part of his blog tour to promote Lie In Wait which is now out in paperback.

My excerpt post came from a book that I’m very excited to read; A Life Between Us by Louise Walters

This Week in Books included a murderous trio of books by Leigh Russell, Peter Graham and Yrsa Sigurdardottir.

My first five star review was for the long awaited Let The Dead Speak by Jane Casey, the seventh in the Maeve Kerrigan series.

The second review was for an equally thrilling Quieter than Killing by Sarah Hilary, the fourth in the chilling DI Marnie Rome series.

And lastly, but no means least, my review for Everything But The Truth by Gillian McAllister explains why this  psychological thriller was an unexpected delight.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading No One Knows by J.T. Ellison a psychological thriller. The opening paragraph explains that I am cutting back on this genre which I find amusing because I’m still saying that now – maybe my addiction runs deeper than I thought!

This domestic noir thriller is about Aubrey whose husband went missing on his best friend’s stag night but Aubrey is convinced he is still alive. With a likeable chief protagonist this avoids some of the clichés of the 2016 domestic noir output, although it had enough surprises to keep me thoroughly entertained.

You can read my full review here or click on the book cover


Aubrey Hamilton has been mourning her missing husband for five years, despite being even while she was considered the prime suspect in his murder. But when he is officially declared dead, there are still more questions than answers: Why didn’t Josh show up at his friend’s bachelor party? Was he murdered, or did he run away? And who is the new, mysterious and strangely familiar figure suddenly appearing in Aubrey’s life? And has she finally lost her mind after years of loneliness and confusion? Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

Another restrained week for me, probably helped by the fact that Jersey has suffered from fog so we had no mail for a few days!

Jersey Evening Post

From NetGalley I have a copy of The Stranger by Saskia Sarginson chosen because I really did enjoy The Other Me by this author.


We all have our secrets. Eleanor Rathmell has kept one her whole life. But when her husband dies and a stranger arrives at her door, her safe life in the idyllic English village she’s chosen as her home begins to topple.
Everyone is suspicious of this stranger, except for Eleanor. But her trust in him will put her life in danger, because nothing is as it seems; not her dead husband, the man who claims to love her, or the inscrutable outsider to whom she’s opened her home and her heart. NetGalley

And I bought a copy of A Time for Silence by Thorne Moore because one of the bloggers I’ve followed for the longest,  BookerTalk, suggested this one for an upcoming Put A Book on The Map post and it sounded so good that I couldn’t resist – this will be the first entry for Wales on the map!


When Sarah, struggling to get over tragedy, stumbles across her grandparents’ ruined farm, it feels as if the house has been waiting for her. She is drawn to their apparently idyllic way of life and starts to look into her family history only to learn that her grandfather, Jack, was murdered. Why has nobody told her? Sarah becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Gwen and Jack. But are there some family stories that should never be told… Amazon

What have you found to read this week? – do share!


Since my last post I’ve read 3 books and gained just 2 so the grand total is hurtling in a downward direction to 187
Physical Books – 109
Kindle Books – 64
NetGalley Books – 14