Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Jeweller’s Wife – Judith Lennox

Historical Fiction 4*s
Historical Fiction
4*s

In the best tradition of saga novels The Jeweller’s Wife has at its centre a complex couple, a fabulous house, sumptuous jewellery and enough of those seven vices to keep the momentum turning.

Having opened in Cairo just as the Second World War was going to start young Juliet is in dire need of money and takes her fifteenth birthday present from her father to a jeweller to sell it. Henry Winterton was in the shop looking for rare gems, but he didn’t just walk away with the pearls, he had married nineteen year old Juliet within two weeks and bought her to his home in Essex. Grand Marsh Hall on the edge of the Blackwater salt marshes in Essex, a large home for Juliet to learn new skills as a wife, and before too long a mother, but it doesn’t take long for that old adage ‘marry in haste repent at leisure’ to become increasingly insistent. It’s fair to say Henry Winterton is not an easy man to live with. Fortunately the family jewellery business on London’s best street keeps him busy.
Judith was in a way a woman born before her time, or perhaps a woman who was born before time allowed her to fulfil her personality. With Henry so difficult from the beginning she made friends with her sister-in-law, Helen and as her children grew used her artistic talents for the good of the local school and putting on concerts at the house.

Nearby to the women with their comfortable lifestyle is a young woman who lives in a cottage on one of the islands. Frances has twins and feels like she’s been imprisoned away from her family and friends, she knows why she’s a secret but that doesn’t mean she is happy about it. Frances’s story reminds us of the perils of biology at a time when options were few and reliance on the father of the child to do the right thing was the only way to survive.
Of course in any saga that spans more than thirty years there are gaps in the story as the story is moved forward to take in the younger generations as they also find their own way in life. It is here, as the choices, both good, and bad, of their parents begin to have a real impact and Juliet realises that some of hers are at the heart of the somewhat fracture family.

The setting is superb, the unpredictable water rushing in and out of the salt marshes makes for a treacherous and somewhat bleak landscape, the perfect backdrop for a story which has its fair share of low-points for most of the characters although with some artists in the family the ever-changing tides could provide inspiration.

After a slowish start where the scene was set I was really drawn into this read, following the two generations as they suffered all manner of calamities, especially in the latter chapters which brings the story up to the 1960s and a changing world illustrated by the need of one young mother to work as well as have a child. A world where unlike poor Juliet, it was possible to walk away from a marriage that looked sure to bring nothing but unhappiness.

The writing style seemed a little bit remote at first, describing scenes rather than from the point of view of any particular character, but I realise this is probably because of the numerous books that I now read in the first person present tense and in time got to appreciate the wider viewpoint that this afforded the reader.

This is an enjoyable saga for those readers who want to be absorbed in another world; in fact perfect autumnal reading.

I’d like to thank the publishers Headline for allowing me to read a copy of this book. This honest opinion is my thank you to them.

First Published UK: 8 September 2016
Publisher: Headline
No of Pages: 512
Genre: Historical Fiction (family saga)
Amazon UK
Amazon US

 

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (September 7)

This Week In Books

Lypsyy 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 (ok well just about to start) The Trespasser by Tana French, the fifth in the Dublin Murder Squad series. This has to be one of my most highly anticipated reads of the year so I’m hoping for great things. The Trespasser will be published on 22 September 2016.

The Trespasser

Blurb

Antoinette Conway, the tough, abrasive detective from The Secret Place, is still on the Murder squad, but only just. She’s partnered up with Stephen Moran now, and that’s going well – but the rest of her working life isn’t. Antoinette doesn’t play well with others, and there’s a vicious running campaign in the squad to get rid of her. She and Stephen pull a case that at first looks like a slam-dunk lovers’ tiff, but gradually they realise there’s more going on: someone on their own squad is trying to push them towards the obvious solution, away from nagging questions. They have to work out whether this is just an escalation in the drive to get rid of her – or whether there’s something deeper and darker going on. NetGalley

I have just finished the epic tale which follows Juliet Winterton in The Jeweller’s Wife by Judith Lennox

The Jeweller's Wife

Blurb

1938. As England awaits the outbreak of war, Juliet Winterton journeys from the Mediterranean to the Essex countryside to begin her life as the beautiful young wife of a London jeweller.
But beneath her husband’s intelligence and ambition, lies a cruel and ruthless man. And when dashing politician Gillis Sinclair comes to stay at Marsh Court, Juliet is drawn to his irresistible charm.
So begins a passionate affair that will have consequences far beyond anything Juliet imagines. For Gillis Sinclair is hiding a dark secret and, as the next generation of Wintertons grows up, Juliet fears that they, too, will be tainted by the past… NetGalley

Next I am going to be reading The Murder at the Vicarage for the Agatha Christie Blogathon organised by Christina Wehner for 16 to 18 September 2016.

The Murder at the Vicarage

Blurb

’Anyone who murdered Colonel Protheroe,’ declared the parson, brandishing a carving knife above a joint of roast beef, ‘would be doing the world at large a service!’
It was a careless remark for a man of the cloth. And one which was to come back and haunt the clergyman just a few hours later. From seven potential murderers, Miss Marple must seek out the suspect who has both motive and opportunity. Amazon

Have you read any of these beauties? Do you want to?

Let me know what you are reading this week by adding your comments or leaving your link below.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (September 4)

Weekly Wrap Up

Well that’s the last of our Bank Holiday’s gone until Christmas time and with the nights beginning to draw in I’m setting myself up to an autumn full of brilliant reads after such a hectic summer. It is a double-edged sword living in a beautiful but easily accessible place in that we have lots of visitors and as our last set departed Friday I have spent my Saturday tidying up my book lists, adding my reviews to Goodreads and Amazon and planning my upcoming reads – I’m really not able to do the ‘I’ll see what takes my fancy approach’ and so I now feel much happier!

This was also the week where my book reviews for the year passed the magic 100 mark – you can see them all here

This week I was delighted to appear on  The Book Review Cafe’s #TopFiveThursday post where you can find out more about my favourite reads of the year.

TopFiveThursday

Last Week on the Blog

With the last big push before the end of the 20 Books of Summer Challenge I reviewed The Narrow Bed by Sophie Hannah. This is the latest in the Culver Valley Series and a very bookish mystery which perfectly showcased Sophie Hannah’s unique approach to murder mystery writing.

My book choice for First Chapter ~ First Paragraph this week was from The Twins by Saskia Sarginson – my review for this book is here

My post for Wednesday also included my other reads for the week namely two debut novels of the crime fiction persuasion.

This was swiftly followed by a review of Jenny Blackhurst’s psychological thriller Before I Let You In which I awarded the full five stars. This author is now firmly on my ‘must-read’ list.

Yesterday I posted my review for my 15th  and final read for the 20 Books of Summer; Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain, which in turn was wonderful and an exasperating read but one that I am pleased I persevered with.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading The Game Changer by Louise Phillips, the fourth in the Dr Kate Pearson series. If you haven’t read any of this author’s Irish crime fiction, I’d urge you to try these books featuring Criminal psychologist Dr Kate Pearson. This book looks at the way memory works, or doesn’t and had an incredible amount packed into the story to keep even the most hyperactive reader entertained. Sadly I can’t see any sign of the fifth in this series, but if you know otherwise please let me know!

The Game Changer

Blurb

A suspected suicide in Dublin. A brutal murder in New York. The abduction of a child over two decades earlier. All linked … but how?

Criminal psychologist Dr Kate Pearson has the answer. Because she was the young girl abducted all those years ago.
And, when she begins to investigate the suspicious suicide in Dublin and confirms a connection to her own disappearance, she is forced to start asking questions. Why did her parents lie to her, telling her she was missing for only a few hours? And why doesn’t she have any memory of the time she was held?
When a sinister note arrives at her home, it becomes clear that Kate is being targeted. But by whom? And why now? Kate is consumed by her efforts to uncover the truth, knowing that her life is in very real danger.
The Game Changer wants someone to pay for the past – and Kate is being held accountable. Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

Well, my low submission last week was actually down to a lack of organisation and bad memory as I’d received two books in the hectic days before the wedding and not added them to the list!

First up the lovely people at Quercus books kindly answered my request for a copy of The Apprentice of Split Crow Lane: The Story of the Carr’s Hill Murder by Jane Housham with a proof copy ahead of publication on 3 November 2016. This book fits perfectly with my renewed interest in historical true crimes, especially in the context of the life and times of the Victorian era.

The Apprentice of Split Crow Lane

A Victorian Murder. A Victorian Madman. A Modern Judgement.

Gateshead, April 1866

The Apprentice of Split Crow Lane takes the forgotten case of a child murder in 1866 as a springboard to delve deeply into the pysche of the Victorians. What Jane Housham finds, in this exploration of guilt, sexual deviance and madness, is a diagnosis that is still ripe for the challenging and a sentence that provokes even our liberal modern judgement.

Set around Gateshead, it is a revelatory social history of the North – an area growing in industry and swelling with immigration, where factory workers are tinged blue and yellow by chemicals, the first tabloids are printed, children are left alone by working parents and haystack fires sweep the county in rebellion against the introduction of the police force. Into this landscape, a five-year-old Irish girl named Sarah Melvin sets out over the fell to look for her father, and a troubled young man makes a frightening leap of logic to save his own skin.

Told here for the first time, this is an extraordinary story of sexual deviance and murder. In lively, empathic prose, Jane Housham explores psychiatry, the justice system and the media in mid-Victorian England to reveal a surprisingly modern state of affairs. Amazon

I had also received a copy of Linda Huber’s forthcoming psychological suspense novel, Ward Zero ahead of publication on 1 October 2016.

Ward Zero

Blurb

Horror swept through her. Had she been buried alive?

On Sarah’s first visit to see her foster mother, Mim, in Brockburn General Hospital, she is sucked into a world that isn’t what it should be.

Someone is lying, someone is stealing. And someone is killing – but who? With a grieving child to take care of, as well as Mim, Sarah has to put family first. She doesn’t see where danger lies – until it’s too late.

If you think you’re safe in a hospital, think again

And delightfully I won my choice of the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best First Novel on Margot Kinberg’s blog, Confessions of a Mystery Novelist. Margot donated this prize after serving on the panel for this award and using the giveaway to support a wonderful charity Storytime which provides books to New Zealand’s most deprived children.  If you haven’t discovered this blog, I urge you to do so Margot has a wealth of knowledge and is exceptionally supportive of other bloggers. After careful consideration I plumped for Inside The Black Horse by Ray Berad as my choice, having noted that this was also was a finalist for ‘Best Crime Novel’ in the Ngaio Marsh Awards.

Inside the Black Horse

Blurb

A Desperate young man commits an armed robbery of a pub that interrupts a drug deal, upending many lives and lighting the fuse on a violent chain of events that exposes a grittier side of Aotearoa. The International Judging panel for the Ngaio Marsh called it “A lucid and potent portrait of good people and gangsters that is unmistakably Kiwi in flavour and tone… a fine crime story with considerable depth” Amazon

I’ve also added books from NetGalley this week starting with a historical fiction novel The Jeweller’s Wife by Judith Lennox This promises to be an epic tale of passion and betrayal which should provide a change from crime fiction.

The Jeweller's Wife

Blurb

1938. As England awaits the outbreak of war, Juliet Winterton journeys from the Mediterranean to the Essex countryside to begin her life as the beautiful young wife of a London jeweller.
But beneath her husband’s intelligence and ambition, lies a cruel and ruthless man. And when dashing politician Gillis Sinclair comes to stay at Marsh Court, Juliet is drawn to his irresistible charm.
So begins a passionate affair that will have consequences far beyond anything Juliet imagines. For Gillis Sinclair is hiding a dark secret and, as the next generation of Wintertons grows up, Juliet fears that they, too, will be tainted by the past… NetGalley

I was taken by my next book after reading an excerpt on Heather’s blog Worth Getting Into Bed For when she featured it on the First Chapter ~ First Paragraph meme; The Woman on the Orient Express by Lindsay Jayne Ashford caught my eye and seems to promise a bit more variety to my reading this month.

The Woman on the Orient Express

Blurb

Hoping to make a clean break from a fractured marriage, Agatha Christie boards the Orient Express in disguise. But unlike her famous detective Hercule Poirot, she can’t neatly unravel the mysteries she encounters on this fateful journey.

Agatha isn’t the only passenger on board with secrets. Her cabin mate Katharine Keeling’s first marriage ended in tragedy, propelling her toward a second relationship mired in deceit. Nancy Nelson—newly married but carrying another man’s child—is desperate to conceal the pregnancy and teeters on the brink of utter despair. Each woman hides her past from the others, ferociously guarding her secrets. But as the train bound for the Middle East speeds down the track, the parallel courses of their lives shift to intersect—with lasting repercussions.

Filled with evocative imagery, suspense, and emotional complexity, The Woman on the Orient Express explores the bonds of sisterhood forged by shared pain and the power of secrets. NetGalley

And lastly one of my must-read authors Belinda Bauer has a new book which will be published on 3 January 2017 titled, The Beautiful Dead.

The Beautiful Dead

Blurb

Belinda Bauer is an award-winning British crime writer of the highest caliber, whose smart, stylish novels have captivated readers and reviewers on both sides of the Atlantic and earned her a reputation as “the true heir to the great Ruth Rendell” (Mail on Sunday (UK)). Her latest, The Beautiful Dead, is a riveting narrative centered on a down-on-her-luck journalist and a serial killer desperate for the spotlight.

TV crime reporter Eve Singer’s career is flagging, but that starts to change when she covers a spate of bizarre murders—each one committed in public and advertised like an art exhibition. When the killer contacts Eve about her coverage of his crimes, she is suddenly on the inside of the biggest murder investigation of the decade. But as the killer becomes increasingly obsessed with her, Eve realizes there’s a thin line between inside information and becoming an accomplice to murder—possibly her own. NetGalley

PicMonkey Collage TBR

TBR WATCH

Since my last post I have read 3 books, had to DNF a NetGalley read purely because the formatting rendered it unreadable, and gained 6 so the total is now on the ascent again to 174 books!

83 physical books
69 e-books
22 books on NetGalley

What have you found to read this week?

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

One Last Dance – Judith Lennox

Historical Saga 4*'s
Historical Saga
4*’s

I had forgotten how enjoyable a well-written saga can be, that feeling of enormous satisfaction of following a family through their ups and downs, or more usually, downs and further downs, spanning decades isn’t replicated in the same way in any other type of genre and in One Last Dance I felt I’d travelled on a journey with Esme starting at the time of World War I and continuing to the 1970’s.

In 1974 Esme decides she wants her 75 birthday party to be held at Rosindell a somewhat diminished grand house which belongs to the Reddaway family and while we witness a scene where her daughter is somewhat perturbed at this choice of venue the story then switches back to 1917 when Devlin Reddaway visits England while on leave. The story that follows has all the normal components of love, jealousy, secrets and lies that you’d expect from the genre and pleasingly well-executed. The pace is measured and despite there being, as you’d imagine over such a time-span, quite an array of characters, these are well-defined so that there is no confusion. Judith Lennox has created some great characters, which develop well over the course of the book without ever losing their central characteristics thereby allowing the reader to sympathise or react in horror at the actions they choose to take.

The key protagonists are Esme and her elder, more beautiful sister, Camilla and Devlin Reddaway with the relationship between them being central to the story although as the book progresses we get to know the younger generations and understand their lives in context of the past.  Much of the setting is the wonderfully described Rosindell, which Devlin’s father had failed to maintain and the house he is determined to restore to its former glory, but there are other settings that Judith Lennox brings to life as far apart as London during World War II and San Francisco in the 1960’s where another house is built by one of Devlin’s children.

The earlier part of the book concentrates on a close time-span depicting the events that will haunt the family for decades to come while later on the sections depict wider ranging dates which avoids slowing down the pace and better still these sections add further nuance and complexity to the story avoiding the feeling that they are included for filling purposes.  In fact every one of the 500 plus pages adds a little to the story either in way of place, character or plot.

This is a gentle nostalgic story with enough action to keep the reader engaged with fantastic descriptions of both time and place that add to the richness of this read.

I’d like to thank Bookbridgr along with the publishers Headline Review for allowing me to read a copy of this book which was published in paperback on 11 September 2014.

Posted in Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (September 17)

WWW Wednesday green

Hosted by Miz B at Should be Reading

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I am currently reading One Last Dance by Judith Lennox

One Last Dance

Blurb

‘Times change, and sometimes for the better…’
As the twentieth century draws to a close, Esme Reddaway knows that she must uncover the truth. A truth that began during the First World War when Devlin Reddaway fell passionately in love with Esme’s elder sister, Camilla, and promised to rebuild his ancestral home, Rosindell, for her.
But the war changes everything and Devlin returns to England to find that Camilla is engaged to someone else. Angry and vengeful, he marries Esme, who has been secretly in love with him for years. Esme tries to win Devlin’s heart by reviving the annual summer dance. But as the years pass she fears that Rosindell has a malign influence on those who live there, and the revelation of a shocking secret on the night of the dance at Rosindell tears her life apart. Decades later, it is she who must lay the ghosts of Rosindell to rest.
Spanning the last century, Esme’s story of sibling rivalry, heartbreak, betrayal and forgiveness is sure to appeal to fans of Kate Morton, Rachel Hore and Downton Abbey. Goodreads

I have just finished reading The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion, my review will be following soon.

The Rosie Effect

Blurb

GREETINGS. My name is Don Tillman. I am forty-one years old. I have been married to Rosie Jarman, world’s most perfect woman, for ten months and ten days.
Marriage added significant complexity to my life. When we relocated to New York City, Rosie brought three maximum-size suitcases. We abandoned the Standardised Meal System and agreed that sex should not be scheduled in advance.
Then Rosie told me we had ‘something to celebrate’, and I was faced with a challenge even greater than finding a partner.
I have attempted to follow traditional protocols and have sourced advice from all six of my friends, plus a therapist and the internet.
The result has been a web of deceit. I am now in danger of prosecution, deportation and professional disgrace.
And of losing Rosie forever. Goodreads

Next I am going to read The Dark Meadow by Andrea Maria Schenkel

The Dark Meadow

Blurb

Bavaria, Germany, 1947
At the end of the war, Afra Zauner returns to her parents’ cottage on the edge of Mauther Forest. Unmarried, and pregnant. As she struggles to raise her child, her father’s shame, her mother’s fury and the loud whispers of the neighbours begin to weigh upon her. She doesn’t believe in her sin. But everyone else does.
And someone brings judgement down upon her.
Many years later, Hermann Müller is throwing a drunk out of his tavern. A traveller, who won’t stop ranting about a murder left unsolved, about police who never investigated. Out of curiousity, the file is reopened. And in the cold light of hindsight, a chilling realisation creeps upon the community.
No-one ever atoned for Afra’s death. But her story is waiting to be told.
Andrea Maria Schenkel returns to the form of her groundbreaking The Murder Farm, narrating through suspects, victims and investigators to lead the reader to their own awful understanding. Goodreads

Please share your reads with me in the comments box below.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (September 12)

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).

So, come on — share with us your FRIDAY FINDS

Well I’m now in serious trouble as the number of physical books entering the house has far exceeded the limit I was given of a miserly five books per month – yes I’ve had more than that and it is only early in the month!

As I’ve pointed out it isn’t my fault – the first book for this week was a complete surprise as I won it! I am the proud owner of a signed copy of The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters which I’m delighted to have as I loved the previous books by this author, even better this one is set in one of my favourite time periods.

The Paying Guests

Blurb

It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned; the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villa — a large, silent house now bereft of brothers, husband, and even servants — life is about to be transformed as impoverished widow Mrs. Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers.
With the arrival of Lilian and Leonard Barber, a modern young couple of the “clerk class,” the routines of the house will be shaken up in unexpected ways. Little do the Wrays know just how profoundly their new tenants will alter the course of Frances’s life — or, as passions mount and frustration gathers, how far-reaching, and how devastating, the disturbances will be.

From NetGalley I have the latest in the Jefferson Tayte series from the genealogical mystery writer Steve Robinson, this one has the impressive title The Lost Empress

The Lost Empress

Blurb

From acclaimed author Steve Robinson comes a bold new Jefferson Tayte mystery. On a foggy night in 1914, the ocean liner Empress of Ireland sank en route to England and now lies at the bottom of Canada’s St Lawrence River. The disaster saw a loss of life comparable to the Titanic and the Lusitania, and yet her tragedy has been forgotten. When genealogist Jefferson Tayte is shown a locket belonging to one of the Empress’s victims, a British admiral’s daughter named Alice Stilwell, he must travel to England to understand the course of events that led to her death. Tayte is expert in tracking killers across centuries. In The Lost Empress, his unique talents draw him to one of the greatest tragedies in maritime history as he unravels the truth behind Alice’s death amidst a backdrop of pre-WWI espionage. This is the fourth book in the Jefferson Tayte mystery series but can be enjoyed as a stand-alone story. NetGalley

Almost exactly a year ago I wrote a post about Genealogy in Fiction that include information about the previous books in this series, if you’re interested you can read ithere

I also received a copy of One Last Dance by Judith Lennox which is another WWI
tale.
One Last Dance

‘Times change, and sometimes for the better…’
As the twentieth century draws to a close, Esme Reddaway knows that she must uncover the truth. A truth that began during the First World War when Devlin Reddaway fell passionately in love with Esme’s elder sister, Camilla, and promised to rebuild his ancestral home, Rosindell, for her.
But the war changes everything and Devlin returns to England to find that Camilla is engaged to someone else. Angry and vengeful, he marries Esme, who has been secretly in love with him for years. Esme tries to win Devlin’s heart by reviving the annual summer dance. But as the years pass she fears that Rosindell has a malign influence on those who live there, and the revelation of a shocking secret on the night of the dance at Rosindell tears her life apart. Decades later, it is she who must lay the ghosts of Rosindell to rest.
Spanning the last century, Esme’s story of sibling rivalry, heartbreak, betrayal and forgiveness is sure to appeal to fans of Kate Morton, Rachel Hore and Downton Abbey. Goodreads

… and then I went to a book sale where the books were only 50p each. As I explained to the keeper of book tally, I left a lot of books behind but I did pick up this little pile.

Book Sale Sept 2014

Great finds in this list include The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society which I’ve been meaning to read for ages and seeing as it features our sister Channel Island should not be missed,  Before the Poison by Peter Robinson which has been on my wishlist since April as well as two PD James books which although I’ve read, are missing from my collection.

What have you found to read this week?