Posted in Books I have read

The Crooked House – Christobel Kent

Psychological Thriller 4*'s
Psychological Thriller
4*’s

When Alison Grace was born she was named Esme Grace but after a terrible event befell her whilst she was still in her mid-teens she changed her name, choosing Alison because she went to school with four girls named Alison, reason enough to believe the name would grant her the anonymity she needed. Thirteen years later she has learnt to play her cards close to her chest and lives and bland life bereft of anyone who knows what happened in her past. All that changes when she meets Paul, a man who doesn’t seem interested in her past, a man who doesn’t need to understand her. All goes swimmingly until one day an invitation arrives for a wedding, the only problem is being held at the very place where Alison’s story begins and he is determined that she accompanies him. Unable to relinquish Paul, Alison decides to front it out but soon she regrets her decision.

This book deals with memories, a subject that I find enormously intriguing, what we remember and how it is remembered could be determined by the amount of trauma or of course the depth of understanding we have at the time as well as the inevitable re-writing of events to fit the narrative that makes most sense at the time. The memories that Esme/Alison is trying to grasp are partially obscured due to her age and partially, you have to surmise, because she hasn’t wanted to remember, better perhaps to have a half-formed narrative than one that causes you to confront some painful truths?

The Crooked House is just that, an odd looking house set in a small community, a setting which breeds secrets, half-truths and rumours, and best of all, a distrust of anyone from ‘outside.’ Has this community really been able to mask the truth for so many years not just about Alison but the other tragedies that surfaced around the same time. Who are the unseen watchers, who wants the stories supressed? As we meet the different characters they all have part of the tale to tell, nothing is quite straightforward and yet all these different strands build a picture of what really happened in the Crooked House over time.

This is a complex novel, the narrative swirls around and there are many characters to keep track of but this adds to the feeling of dread of what Alison is going to find out, what she should be sharing and what she should be keeping a secret. It is a compelling tale, I longed to find out the truth yet at the same time so absorbed was I in this dark tale that I dreaded what was going to emerge.

Christobel Kent has created a story that is positively swirling with menace and intrigue with a protagonist who simply doesn’t know who or what to believe, the clever slicing of the different character’s stories raising this tale well above the generic small town mystery.

I am grateful to the publishers Little Brown Group UK who allowed me to read this book in return for my review. The Crooked House will be published on 8 January 2015.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (December 19)

Friday Finds Hosted by Should be Reading

FRIDAY FINDS showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

This week I’m going to start with my favourite find courtesy of the lovely Quercus publishers. Earlier this week a copy of Runaway by Peter May plopped through my letterbox, you may have heard the squeals of delight!

Runaway

Blurb

The decision for five teenage boys to leave their homes in Glasgow in 1965 and head to London is led by Jack Mackay when he is expelled from school. His friends need little incentive to run away from their abusive families and dead end jobs to pursue fame and fortune as a band. However, the boys find their dreams to be devastatingly different from reality, and within less than twelve months of their departure, only three of them return home, their lives irrevocably damaged.
Fifty years later in 2015 a brutal murder takes place in London and the three men, who are now in their sixties, are forced to return to the city to confront the demons which have haunted them and blighted their lives for five decades.
Runaway is a gripping crime novel spanning two cities and half a century. This extraordinary work by Peter May, explores how aspirations and expectations shape us and the pivotal yet changeable role that friendships have in our lives. Quercus

Runaway is inspired by events in Peter May’s own life. The leading character Jack Mackay is based on Peter’s own experiences of being expelled from school at the age of 16 in the mid sixties. After enduring 3 months in a dead end job, Peter told his 3 band mates that he was leaving home for London and they immediately decided to join him. Much like the characters in the book, Peter and his friends found surviving London unrelentingly difficult and after some time, broke, hungry and filthy, Peter and his friend Stephen returned home without the record deal that they had dreamt of but having learned a lot of life lessons. Due to be published 15 January 2015.

From NetGalley I have a copy of The Crooked House by Christobel Kent which is due to be published on 8 January 2015.

The Crooked House

Blurb

Alison is as close to anonymous as she can get: with no ties, no home, a backroom job, hers is a life lived under the radar. She’s a nobody; she has no-one and that’s how she wants it.
But once Alison was someone else: once she was Esme Grace, a teenager whose bedroom sat at the top of a remote and dilapidated house on the edge of a bleak estuary. A girl whose family, if not happy, exactly, was no unhappier than anyone else’s – or so she thought.
Then one night a terrible thing happened in the crooked house, a nightmare of violence out of which Alison emerged the only witness and sole survivor and from which she has been running ever since. Only when she meets academic Paul Bartlett does Alison realise that if she’s to have any chance of happiness, she has to return to her old life and confront the darkness that worked its way inside her family and has pursued her ever since. NetGalley

A Fifty Year Silence by Miranda Richmond Mouillot is a non-fiction memoir spanning decades.

A Fifty Year Silence

Blurb

In 1948, after surviving World War II by escaping Nazi-occupied France for refugee camps in Switzerland, the author’s grandparents, Anna and Armand, bought an old stone house in a remote, picturesque village in the South of France. Five years later, Anna packed her bags and walked out on Armand, taking the typewriter and their children. The two never saw or spoke to each other again, never remarried, and never revealed what had divided them forever.
A Fifty-Year Silence is the deeply involving account of Miranda Richmond Mouillot’s journey to find out what happened between her grandmother, a physician, and her grandfather, an interpreter at the Nuremberg Trials, who refused to utter his wife’s name aloud after she left him. To discover the roots of their embittered and entrenched silence, Miranda abandons her plans for the future and moves to their stone house, now a crumbling ruin; immerses herself in letters, archival materials, and secondary sources; and teases stories out of her reticent, and declining, grandparents.
The author reconstructs how Anna and Armand braved overwhelming odds and how the knowledge her grandfather acquired at Nuremberg destroyed their relationship. As she does so, Miranda wrestles with the legacy of trauma, the burden of history, and the complexities of memory. She also finds herself learning how not only to survive, but to thrive – making a home in the village and falling in love. NetGalley

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is a story set during the World War II

The Nightingale

Blurb

FRANCE, 1939
In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France… but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When a German captain requisitions Vianne’s home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates all around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive.
Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can… completely. But when he betrays her, Isabelle joins the Resistance and never looks back, risking her life time and again to save others. NetGalley

Lastly from Bookbridgr I have a copy of Gone by Rebecca Muddiman, a book I picked after having enjoyed her debut novel Stolen.

Gone

Blurb

250,000 people go missing in the UK every year. 91% of those reported to police are found within 48 hours. 99% of cases are solved within a year. And 1% stay gone. Eleven years ago, troubled teenager Emma Thorley went missing. The police assumed she was a runaway. But now a body with Emma’s ID on it has been found in woods near Blyth. DI Michael Gardner knows he didn’t take Emma’s disappearance seriously enough back then, and is determined to make up for it now. But when he and DS Nicola Freeman start to reinvestigate, they discover that nothing is as simple as it seems. As news of the discovery travels, the past will come back to haunt all those involved. Because there are consequences when good people do bad things, and some secrets cannot stay buried for ever… Bookbridgr

What did you find to read this week?