Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The One I Was – Eliza Graham

Historical Fiction
4*s

Eliza Graham is one of those authors we simply don’t hear enough about in my opinion as each and every one of her historical novels is not only a joy to read they also have a real feeling of authenticity about them no doubt from the careful research that she undertakes.

The One I Was is split between the past and the present. In the present Rosamund Hunter is returning to a house she knows from years ago, Fairfleet. Rosamund has great memories of the old house but she is also wary of letting her potential employer know that she knows the place.

So what job is Rosamund applying for? A nurse for a man dying of cancer who wants to remain in his own home. There is a housekeeper and the potential for other medical professionals to come on board and help as the patient’s condition worsens and it seems like she’s a good fit for the household.

Her patient is Benny Gault. He is a successful man, one who originally arrived in England as part of the kindertransport in 1938 when he was just eleven-years-old. Benny lived at Fairfleet as it was home cum school for him and a few other boys who made the journey and were adopted by Lord and Lady Dorner.

The story is told in the main in the present tense by Rosamund and in the past by Benny and there are some distressing scenes as might be expected given the nature of the job Rosamund has undertaken.

That said, this aspect is softly done with enough ‘truth’ that it doesn’t feel whitewashed but not so raw that it becomes far too distressing to read. This isn’t a straight dual time-line novel as the scenes that we see are those throughout Benny’s life and we are aware of the connection between our two main protagonists from the off.

There are a number of strands to the story, the most poignant of all is that Benny remembers his friend Rudi Lange as he was when he last saw him in a secluded area shortly before he made the trip that was to change his life beyond belief.

I have to admit that I preferred Benny’s story but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty of drama for Rosamund, particularly when an unwanted visitor comes to call at Fairfleet.

The author tackles this aspect of the war without drama, one of the reasons why I enjoy her books so much. The characters don’t tend to have an overblown sense of their own importance and so I find their stories all the more believable. Harriet Dorner flies planes, a female pilot would surely have had plenty to boast about but she doesn’t although her excitement comes through it does so without being muddied by any feeling that she’s boasting.

There are some moral questions that are posed within the book and although some of the reveals weren’t the surprise that they may have been intended to be, that didn’t stop me enjoying the journey through the years.

First Published UK: 21 April 2015
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
No of Pages: 320
Genre: Historical Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (July 29)

This Week on the Blog

This was another week where all my reviews were for books being published during this week, starting with my thoughts on The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola .

My excerpt post was from The Liar’s Room by Simon Lelic which will be published on 9 August 2018.

This Week in Books featured the authors P.D. James, Stephen Bates and Lisa Ballantyne.

My second review of the week was for the superb Fatal Inheritance by Rachel Rhys (aka Tammy Cohen), a novel set on the Riviera in 1948 which was published on 26 July 2018.

That was followed by my review for another exceptionally good psychological thriller; Open Your Eyes by Paula Daly.

My week concluded with me choosing my titles for The Classics Club Spin #18 – I have to wait for Wednesday to find out the result so fingers crossed it’s a good (and short) one!

This Time Last Year…

I was reading Shelter by Sarah Franklin. Set in the time of WWII and featuring lumberjill’s working in the Forest of Dean as part of the war effort.

Reading this book was a somewhat strange experience as I lived in the area from the age of nine until I left home and yet I had no idea about this part of its history.

The chief protagonist Connie hails from Coventry and wanted more from life than working in a factory followed by marriage meanwhile Seppe is a POW caught while fighting a war he didn’t believe in. There stories take in the local characters and captured the essence of life in a small community which was still evident when I lived there, decades later.

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

Blurb

Early spring 1944.

Connie Granger has escaped her bombed-out city home, finding refuge in the Women’s Timber Corps. For her, this remote community must now serve a secret purpose.

Seppe, an Italian prisoner of war, is haunted by his memories. In the forest camp, he finds a strange kind of freedom.

Their meeting signals new beginnings. But as they are drawn together, the world outside their forest haven is being torn apart. Old certainties are crumbling, and both must now make a life-defining choice.

What price will they pay for freedom? What will they fight to protect? Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

I was recently contacted to see if I would like to read James Henry’s second book in the DS Lowry series, Yellowhammer. Having greatly enjoyed visiting Essex during the 1980s in the first book Blackwater, I jumped at the chance.



Blurb

July 1983, Essex. A boy playing hide-and-seek sees a fox tugging at something up on a railway embankment. He approaches it cautiously. Seconds later, a blast is heard, and rooks ascend from the poplars surrounding the farmhouse at which the boy is spending his summer holiday with cousins.

DI Nick Lowry is called upon to investigate two deaths at Fox Farm, the home of eminent historian Christopher Cliff. The body in the farmhouse kitchen is Cliff himself, having seemingly taking his own with an antique shotgun. The fox-disturbed body on the property boundary is as yet unidentified.

Lowry is already under pressure: County Chief Merrydown was at college with Cliff and knows the family. He must enlist colleagues Daniel Kenton and Jane Gabriel to answer two key questions: just who was at the house with Cliff that morning, and just what has since happened to Cliff’s wife? Amazon

Having built up three whole book tokens I went on a spending spree and spent the lot, although one book is yet to be delivered.

Those of you who read my review of Life After Life by Kate Atkinson won’t be at all surprised to hear that I bought a copy of A God in Ruins which takes up the story of Teddy Todd who appeared in the former novel.

Blurb

A God in Ruins relates the life of Teddy Todd – would-be poet, heroic World War II bomber pilot, husband, father, and grandfather – as he navigates the perils and progress of the 20th century. For all Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge will be to face living in a future he never expected to have.

This gripping, often deliriously funny yet emotionally devastating book looks at war – that great fall of Man from grace – and the effect it has, not only on those who live through it, but on the lives of the subsequent generations. It is also about the infinite magic of fiction. Few will dispute that it proves once again that Kate Atkinson is one of the most exceptional novelists of our age.

I also have a copy of The One I Was by Eliza Graham, an author who has greatly impressed me with her historical novels, my most recent read being Another Day Gone

Blurb

Restless, troubled Rosamond Hunter has spent most of her life running away from the past, filled with guilt about her involuntary role in her mother’s death. When her nursing job brings her back to Fairfleet, her childhood home, to care for an elderly refugee, she is forced to confront the ghosts that have haunted her for so long.

Her patient, Benny Gault, first came to Fairfleet, England, in 1939, having fled Nazi Germany on a Kindertransport train.

As his health fails, he and Rosamond begin to confide in each other. At first their tentative friendship revolves around the love they both shared for Rosamond’s glamorous grandmother, Harriet, but as their trust in each other grows, guilty secrets are exposed and history is turned on its head.
From the acclaimed author of Playing with the Moon and Restitution comes a beautiful and haunting tale of friendship, redemption and forgiveness across generations. Amazon

 

What have you found to read this week?

tbr-watch

Sadly I’m back to only having finished 2 books this week and have gained 3 that brings the total to  171!
Physical Books – 114
Kindle Books – 41
NetGalley Books –15
Audio Books –1

 

 

I have added no reviews of my own books this week so technically I have 1 1/3 books (but one of those has been spent so it’ll disappear very soon)

 

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Another Day Gone – Eliza Graham

Historical Fiction 5*s
Historical Fiction
5*s

I chose this book purely based on the author, back in 2010 I read a book called Jubilee which has proved to be one that I have carried with me ever since so I leapt at the chance to read an advance copy of this one. When preparing my weekly excerpt post, I was instantly drawn into the tale of a bomb going off in Coventry, shortly before the start of World War II, and promptly read the first three chapters before getting back to the job in hand.

So did the rest of the book live up to the opening – of course it did, I loved this story which is full of secrets, shame and consequences that rippled down the years.

The main part of this story is set in 2005 Sara is caught up in the London bombing, her partner is away working, out of reach in a jungle, and so she seeks comfort in her childhood home on the banks of the Thames. Her grandfather died a few years back but the house has never been sold because Sarah’s elder sister Polly, who will share the proceeds, has been missing for over ten years. Bridie the family housekeeper, the girls’ nanny has moved into a care home and the house feels empty and a little neglected but far safer to Sara than the scenes she has fled. Sara and Polly had a secure loving upbringing with their Grandfather and Bridie after the death of their parents, when both were too small to remember them and although the house was a little isolated the two sisters were really close until Polly began to draw away.

But in the beginning there was a bomb, set in Coventry which killed some and maimed others, a young girl who witnessed a man with the bicycle shortly before it exploded, and gave evidence in court which led to the only sentence given for such an act, death. This is the story of the repercussions and the retribution that would follow, spawning in its wake lies and half-truths as well as the stain of shame in a time where being able to hold your head high was the most important commodity the poor had.

Eliza Graham spins this multi-stranded tale with a deft and confident touch, the periodic details sprinkled sparingly, but there nonetheless, giving colour to the key time periods of 1939, the early 1990s and 2005. The characters are distinct and realistic in form. Be warned though, this is no magic wand story, the author has under-lined the realism by not giving everyone a happy ever after, what she does instead is give them the truth, a story that at times it can be hard to comprehend from a distance, a time where standards and expectations were unforgivingly imposed by the community and the church.

I really enjoy books about consequences that occur far later than the initial act, decision or mistake but to pull this type of story off, you need great characters, ones whose behaviour and actions are recognisable as realistic, given the circumstances, at any point in the story. Eliza Graham has this absolutely nailed. I was transfixed and reached that stage of reading where I wanted to know the ending but simultaneously wanted to stay with the characters, for just a little bit longer.

I’d like to thank the publishers Lake Union Publishing for allowing me to read a copy of Another Day Gone ahead of publication on 22 November 2016. This review is my unbiased thanks to them, and of course, Eliza Graham for her fantastic story.

First Published UK: 22 November 2016
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
No of Pages: 320
Genre: Historical Fiction (1939-2005)
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (November 9)

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

At the moment I am reading A Motif of Seasons by Edward Glover which is the third part of a trilogy, but hey when did I let reading out of order get in the way of a new book!

a-motif-of-seasons

Blurb

Two powerful 19th-century English and Prussian families are still riven by the consequences of an ancestral marriage – one that bequeathed venomous division, rivalry and hatred. Three beautiful women – each ambitious and musically gifted – seek to break these inherited shackles of betrayal, revenge and cruelty in their pursuit of sexual freedom and love. But the past proves a formidable and vicious opponent. Set against the backdrop of Europe’s inexorable slide towards the First World War, the final resolution of this ancient and destructive quarrel hangs by a thread – and with it the fate of an 18th-century music book full of secrets.
The last volume in the thrilling Herzberg trilogy, A Motif of Seasons finally solves the intriguing mystery at the heart of the series – in a definitive and surprising way. Amazon

I have recently finished the very enjoyable Another Day Gone by Eliza Graham

another-day-gone

An excerpt and the synopsis featured in yesterday’s post

Next up I am finally going to read In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings which I am very much looking forward to, having read some very good reviews both pre and post publication.

In Her Wake

Blurb

A tragic family event reveals devastating news that rips apart Bella’s comfortable existence. Embarking on a personal journey to uncover the truth, she faces a series of traumatic discoveries that take her to the ruggedly beautiful Cornish coast, where hidden truths, past betrayals and a 25-year-old mystery threaten not just her identity, but her life.Chilling, complex and profoundly moving, In Her Wake is a gripping psychological thriller that questions the nature of family – and reminds us that sometimes the most shocking crimes are committed closest to home. Amazon

So that’s my week sorted – What are you reading this week? Do share your links and thoughts in the comments box below.

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (November 8)

First Chapter
Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

This week my opening paragraph comes from Another Day Gone by Eliza Graham, a dual time line fiction set across three generations.

another-day-gone

Blurb

Coventry, 1939. Days before the outbreak of World War II, a terrorist bomb explodes on a busy street, killing and maiming innocent civilians. A man is hanged on the evidence given by a young witness. As time goes on, the witness doubts her recollection of events, but her testimony has already had far-reaching consequences.
Over sixty years later, in the wake of the 7/7 London bombings, Sara returns to her childhood home to find that her sister, Polly, missing for more than ten years, has finally come back too. Why now—and where has she been? The sisters grew up under the fierce protection of their nanny, Bridie, herself haunted by a family secret. And there are other secrets that Bridie has kept from the two girls she brought up as her own. Polly’s return sets in motion events that will stretch the women’s fragile bond to its breaking point.
Set against three generations of violence and retribution, Another Day Gone reveals the enduring consequences of a single mistaken memory. NetGalley

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

PROLOGUE

Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital, 6 p.m., 25 August 1939

The girl with the cut face sitting up in the hospital bed closed her eyes for a moment. Probably hoping the ward might disappear and she’d find herself back on Broadgate, shopping for frocks or stockings. The sergeant watched fear and confusion sweep her young face as she opened her eyes and looked at her plastered left wrist. From the corner of the side-room a distressed sigh came from the girl’s mother.
‘Did you see anything before the bomb went off, miss?’ the sergeant asked. ‘Anything at all out of the usual?’
‘Just the pavement sweeper ad the shoppers.’
‘You didn’t notice a bicycle on Broadgate?’
‘Oh.’ She sat up grimacing with the effort. ‘I saw a ma with a tradesman bike.’
‘And this man you saw left the bicycle outside Burton’s store?’

I’m going to do my usual and ask you if you’d keep reading – while preparing this post, I got totally distracted and read three chapters straight! Although this excerpt is about setting the scene in the earliest part of the story the next chapters take us swiftly from 1992 to 2005.

So… would you keep reading? Please leave your thoughts in the comments box below.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (October 23)

Weekly Wrap Up

I will be in Wales having celebrated a wedding of one of my partner’s school friends when this post gets published. Sadly my reading still isn’t up to the normal rate, real life is just too busy at the moment. That said I have managed to write a respectable four reviews this week.

Monday’s review was from The Apprentice of Split Crow Lane by Jane Housham. This is a non-fiction historical true crime story set in the Gateshead area in the mid-Victorian era. The book is as much about what happened afterwards taking in a look at the newly opened Broadmoor Hospital for the criminally insane – a fantastic read that easily deserved the full five stars.

Tuesday’s excerpt came from the fifth in Angela Marsons’ DI Kim Stone series, Blood Lines which was up to her usual incredible high standards – my review of this book will be published soon.

On Wednesday my reading week also took in Elly Griffiths and Alex Caan, neither of which were finished at the time of writing this post but hopefully I will manage some reading during the travelling!

Thursday’s review was of Pariah by David Jackson, a book I purchased following his incredibly A Tapping at my Door. This series is set in New York and is an action packed thriller.

I returned to the historical crime fiction on Friday by reviewing a shortlisted book for the Man Booker Prize; His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet – a stunning read which was also set in the mid-Victorian era, this time in Scotland.

My final review of the week was for the stunning debut The Two O’clock Boy by Mark Hill, a book that reaches back to the 1980s for the seed of a current murder spree.

 

This Time Last Year…

I was reading Nowhere Girl by Ruth Dugdall. Although I personally preferred the earlier books featuring Kate Austin set in the UK, this book set in Luxembourg has lingered in my mind which to me says I probably liked it more than the review at the time suggests.

Nowhere Girl

Blurb


From the top of the Ferris wheel, Ellie can see everything. Her life, laid out beneath her. Ellie looks up. She wants freedom.
Down below, her little sister and mother wait, watching as people bundle off the wheel and disappear into the crowd. No Ellie. Must be the next box.
But the Ferris wheel continues to turn.

When Ellie goes missing on the first day of Schueberfouer, the police are dismissive, keen not to attract negative attention on one of Luxembourg’s most important events.
Probation officer, Cate Austin, has moved for a fresh start, along with her daughter Amelia, to live with her police detective boyfriend, Olivier Massard. But when she realises just how casually he is taking the disappearance of Ellie, Cate decides to investigate matters for herself.
She discovers Luxembourg has a dark heart. With its geographical position, could it be the centre of a child trafficking ring? As Cate comes closer to discovering Ellie’s whereabouts she uncovers a hidden world, placing herself in danger, not just from traffickers, but from a source much closer to home. Amazon


Stacking the Shelves

This week from NetGalley I have a copy of Another Day Gone by Eliza Graham, an unusual choice for me but I read Jubilee by this author many years ago which was a huge hit with me so I’m hoping for not only a change of style but more great writing.

another-day-gone

Blurb

Coventry, 1939. Days before the outbreak of World War II, a terrorist bomb explodes on a busy street, killing and maiming innocent civilians. A man is hanged on the evidence given by a young witness. As time goes on, the witness doubts her recollection of events, but her testimony has already had far-reaching consequences.
Over sixty years later, in the wake of the 7/7 London bombings, Sara returns to her childhood home to find that her sister, Polly, missing for more than ten years, has finally come back too. Why now—and where has she been? The sisters grew up under the fierce protection of their nanny, Bridie, herself haunted by a family secret. And there are other secrets that Bridie has kept from the two girls she brought up as her own. Polly’s return sets in motion events that will stretch the women’s fragile bond to its breaking point.
Set against three generations of violence and retribution, Another Day Gone reveals the enduring consequences of a single mistaken memory. NetGalley

From Amazon Vine I have a copy of The Stranger in My Home by Adele Parks, a book that caught my eye because I’ve heard wonderful things about this author but haven’t read any of her books.

the-stranger-in-my-home

Blurb

What would YOU do if your child wasn’t yours?

Utterly compelling, Sunday Times bestseller Adele Parks’s new contemporary novel The Stranger In My Home, is sure to move, grip and delight her fans, along with readers of Liane Moriarty, Jane Shemilt and Lisa Jewell.

Alison is lucky and she knows it. She has the life she always craved, including a happy home with Jeff and their brilliant, vivacious teenage daughter, Katherine – the absolute centre of Alison’s world.

Then a knock at the door ends life as they know it.

Fifteen years ago, someone else took Alison’s baby from the hospital. And now Alison is facing the unthinkable.

The daughter she brought home doesn’t belong to her.

When you have everything you dreamed of, there is everything to lose. Amazon

Lastly, unrequested but gratefully received from Trapeze Books is a copy of Ragdoll by Daniel Cole. Fortunately this won’t be published until 23 February 2017 so I have a space on my spreadsheet for it!

ragdoll

Blurb

A body is discovered with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together like a puppet, nicknamed by the press as the ‘ragdoll’.
Assigned to the shocking case are Detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes, recently reinstated to the London Met, and his former partner Detective Emily Baxter.
The ‘Ragdoll Killer’ taunts the police by releasing a list of names to the media, and the dates on which he intends to murder them.
With six people to save, can Fawkes and Baxter catch a killer when the world is watching their every move? Amazon

PicMonkey Collage TBR

TBR WATCH

Since my last post I have read 2 books, and gained 3 and so my TBR has reached a new high of 182 books!

93 physical books
69 e-books
20 books on NetGalley

What have you found to read this week?