Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Third Wife – Lisa Jewell

Contemporary Fiction 4*'s
Contemporary Fiction

What would you think if you heard that a couple went on holiday with the man’s previous two ex-wives and five children age-range five to twenty-three, and everyone was happy? My initial reaction was ‘that’s a bit odd,’ but then I reflected on the rest of the blurb…

In the early hours of an April morning, Maya stumbles into the path of an oncoming bus. A tragic accident? Or suicide? She even got on with his two previous wives and their children. In fact, they’d all been one big happy family.
But before long Adrian starts to identify the dark cracks in his perfect life.
Because everyone has secrets.
And secrets have consequences.
Some of which can be devastating.

As a reader we only meet Maya on that tragic night in 2011, subsequently the book is told from Adrian Wolfe’s point of view as he is left wondering what happened to his big cosy family. He chronicles the background to that awful morning as well as pursuing his only investigation in the present, desperate to find out what happened that fateful morning.

Lisa Jewell, as always, pens a hypnotic tale and, like Maya, I was quickly dazzled by the harmony of Adrian’s family and decided that Adrian Wolfe must have been an exceptional man indeed to have blended the phases of his life together so successfully. all the while knowing that all was not as it appeared.

Although I didn’t enjoy this book quite as much as I have Lisa Jewell’s previous novels, like those, it examines contemporary issues without judgement, instead letting the reader digest and come to their own conclusions. Once again this outstanding author has given us some perfectly drawn characters from the youngest Wolfe to the eldest. The minutiae of details are written to be absorbed and are provide building blocks of the characters rather than depending on lengthy monologues we are given a gradual shading in of the outline of the person followed by a peeling back of the layers to expose the hidden parts.

This is an enjoyable, mature read which takes the now familiar tale of a broken and blended family and examines the cost to each member of this example.

I’d like to thank the publishers Random House UK who gave me the opportunity to read this book in return for my honest opinion. The Third Wife was published on 3 July 2014.

My favourite Lisa Jewell books:

click on the covers to read my reviews

Before I Met YouThe House We Grew Up InThe Making of UsThe Truth About Melody Browne

Lisa Jewell Novels
• The Third Wife (2014)
• The House We Grew Up In (2013)
• Before I Met You (2012)
• The Making Of Us (2011
• After The Party (2010)
• The Truth About Melody Browne (2009)
• 31 Dream Street (2007)
• Vince and Joy (2005
• A Friend of the Family (2004)
• One Hit Wonder (2001)
• Thirtynothing (2000)
• Ralph’s Party (1999)

Posted in Books I have read

Caitlin Davies, Hunter Davies and Margaret Forster – what a family of writers!

This morning I reviewed Family Likeness by Caitlin Davies; I was especially pleased to be chosen to read a copy in return for an honest review as in my opinion she is an excellent writer and daughter of two authors who I hold in high esteem.

Margaret Forster wrote what is probably my favourite book of all time – ‘Shadow Baby’ which shares the theme of abandoned children with ‘Family Likeness’

Shadow BabyShadow Baby by Margaret Forster

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of my favourite books of all times and one of the few that I re-read for sheer pleasure from time to time

The story is about two girls adopted 100 years apart, the reasons why they were adopted and how they and their mothers reacted to adoption.

During the book we get to know the girls and their mothers through their own narratives. This is an emotional story and I often think of the real Evie’s that lived in the shadows because of the time and circumstance of their birth. I recommend reading Hidden Lives: A Family Memoir which includes the Margret Forster’s family history, including that of her Grandmother who wouldn’t speak of her early life at all. I am sure this wonderful book is the author’s way of revealing some of what may have led to those secrets.

You can’t do better than this for a dual time tale with a hefty dollop of social history included.

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While Hunter Davies was our family companion with his Flossie Teacake adventures which kept us amused during long car journeys when my children were small. These books were entertaining enough for this weary parent to stomach many a repeat on the old tape cassette player and dear old Flossie is remembered fondly in our house more than 15 years on.

Earlier this year Margaret Forster published another fantastic book

The Unknown Bridesmaid

and I would also recommend

Isa and MayIsa and May by Margaret Forster

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I put off buying this as although [[ASIN:0140258361 Shadow Baby]] is my favourite book of all time, the last couple of Margaret Forster’s books didn’t hit the same mark as far as I’m concerned.

This book although really plays to the authors exceptional skill in writing about family relationships both those that work and those that don’t. The characters were all likeable, especially both Grandmother’s who though totally different had both contributed and been involved in Isamays life. I love the way the different relationships including the natural frustrations that occur in family life are described.

Isamays dissertation on other Grandmothers nicely interjects the main story and as it is a dissertation does so in a natural and readable way.

I will read this again I’m sure and have another excuse to remember my Grandmother who helped shape my life

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and the book that I believe lead to Shadow Baby which is a fascinating look at social history, particularly that of women

Hidden Lives: A Family MemoirHidden Lives: A Family Memoir by Margaret Forster

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This personal biography by Margaret Forster is a fascinating exploration of how lives of women have changed over a period of 100 plus years starting in the 1870’s.

Margaret Ann was the author’s grandmother, orphaned at the age of 2, her early life is a mystery. Margaret Ann simply doesn’t give any details away of her early life, all that her family knew was from 1893 onwards. Why was Margaret Ann so keen to conceal her early life? We also meet Lilian, Margaret’s mother a working class woman living in Carlisle, the author depicts a woman who yearns for the better things in life. There are moving scenes where the family try to locate a cafe on holiday which will meet Lilian’s expectations. The interaction of each of the characters is moving and honest. Lilian wonders at Margaret’s life as a wife and mother, the difference domestic appliances made to a housewife’s day etc.

This book clearly presents social history in an interesting and personal way but it also reminds us of the changes to woman’s role in society as a whole. It is a book that makes you think about women’s expectations, in many ways I found Lilian’s story the hardest to read as she clearly wanted more from her life was born just a little too early!

The research for this book clearly led into the novel Shadow Baby which is my favourite book of all time, I would recommend both these for anyone interested in the life of a working class woman.

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

Me Before You – Jojo Moyes

Contemporary Fiction 5*'s
Contemporary Fiction

When Lou Clark loses her job in a cafe she ends up working for Wil Traynor a quadriplegic and this is the story of how the experience changed her outlook on life. Describing this book is difficult as the subject matter sounds grim, but the writing and the humour, particularly between the lead characters, lifts the story and makes this a truly memorable read. That said there are some sad parts and I certainly had a lump in my throat more than once.

I chose this book having read Jojo Moyes latest book The Girl You Left Behind which was also brilliant.
I really enjoyed this book, Jojo Moyes has a real flair for writing with great characterisation including the minor characters. As well as the central tale there are themes of family relationships, education and living life to the full potential. A perfect book in every respect.