Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Secrets We Left Behind – Susan Elliot Wright

Contemporary Fiction 4*'s
Contemporary Fiction
4*’s

How does a woman learn to live with a secret that has been buried for more than thirty years? Not just any old secret, one that makes her heart pound with fear whenever she considers the truth coming out!  The prologue starts in Sheffield in 2010 with a woman skulking in the bushes trying to catch a glimpse of a loved one.

In 2009 where we meet our protagonist, a woman who has everything she could have wished for: a loving husband, a daughter she is proud of, a beautiful house and job where she helps others less fortunate than herself, but when she believes she may have seen someone from long ago, she is scared, and then the telephone starts ringing….

The secret she is desperate to keep has its roots in the sweltering hot summer of 1976 when following the death of her mother the teenager leaves Newquay in Cornwall for the bright lights of London.  Bewildered and out of her depth in the city she meets a motherly woman just a couple of years older than herself who offers her a room in the squat she inhabits with her partner in Hastings.

Susan Elliot Wright weaves a tale that will make you question, every step of the way, what would I do? The author spun a story that I invested in, all the while rooting for the motherless teenager while knowing that in the future the consequences of the hot summer would be bought to bear on a life that had been fought for.

Although I was quite young during 1976 there were enough authentic details included in this book that took me back to the summer that seemed to last forever from the ingenious ways the squatters found to water their plants while they were re-enacting ‘The Good Life’ with their home-grown vegetables, natural medicines and an art and craft stall selling jewellery made out of the shells they found on the beach. I could taste the melting ice-creams as our protagonist grows up alongside her new found friends.  I could  picture her in her room furnished with a rocking chair bought for 50p and the red lava lamp in the corner for 20p a time and place bought to life with a lightness of touch by the author.

I raced through this book, eager to know what had happened this is a book where the tension slowly mounts as the past is uncovered and the pace was perfect for the richness of the writing.  This would make the perfect beach read.

I did guess the secret but that didn’t take away the enjoyment I found reading this tale, a story of love and loss, growing up and taking responsibility as well as relationships in all their guises. Susan Elliot Wright shies away from depicting her characters as good or bad, each one we meet in this book is a ‘real’ person a mixture of strengths and weaknesses that I missed when I closed the last page.

I was delighted to be given the opportunity to read and write an honest review of this book by the publishers, Simon & Schuster, ahead of the publication date of tomorrow, 8 May 2014, because I had enjoyed Susan Elliot Wright’s debut novel The Things We Never Said which is also set in Hastings.

Posted in Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (May 7)

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 The Ties That Bind by Erin Kelly which tells the tale of Luke a man researching the murder of Jacky Nye who was strangled and thrown into the sea many decades ago. Was the murderer actually the gangster’s partner Joss Grand? With a good mix of characters this is shaping up to be a great read.

The Ties That Bind

I have just finished reading The Secrets We Left Behind by Susan Elliot Wright.

click on the cover to read my review

The Secrets We Left Behind

Blurb

She has built a good life: a husband who adores her, a daughter she is fiercely proud of, a home with warmth and love at its heart. But things were not always so good, and the truth is that she has done things she can never admit.
Then one evening a phone call comes out of the blue. It is a voice from long ago, from a past that she has tried so hard to hide. Scott knows who she really is and what she has done. Now he is dying and he gives her an ultimatum: either she tells the truth, or he will.
And so we are taken back to that long hot summer of 1976 to a house by the sea, where her story begins and where the truth will be revealed… NetGalley

Next on my list is The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle by Kirsty Wark

The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle

Blurb

Elizabeth Pringle has lived on the beautiful island of Arran for over 90 years; the retired teacher and spinster is a familiar and yet solitary figure tending her garden and riding her bicycle around the island. When she dies she leaves her beloved house, “Holmlea” to a woman she merely saw pushing a pram down the road over thirty years ago. That young mother, Anna, had put a letter through Elizabeth’s door asking to buy the house, but Elizabeth never pursued her. But time passed and Anna is now in a home with dementia and it falls to her daughter Martha, the baby in the pram, to come and take up their inheritance. Goodreads

What are you reading this week?

Posted in Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (April 30)

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 A Dark and Twisted Tide by Sharon Bolton, the fourth in the Lacey Flint series.

A Dark and Twisted Tide NG

Blurb

Former detective Lacey Flint quit the force for a safer, quieter life. Or that’s what she thought.
Now living alone on her houseboat, she is trying to get over the man she loves, undercover detective Mark Joesbury. But Mark is missing in action and impossible to forget. And danger won’t leave Lacey alone.
When she finds a body floating in the river near her home, wrapped in burial cloths, she can’t resist asking questions. Who is this woman, and why was she hidden in the fast-flowing depths? And who has been delivering unwanted gifts to Lacey?
Someone is watching Lacey Flint closely.
Someone who knows exactly what makes her tick . . .

I have just finished the quietly menacing Her by Harriet Lane (review to follow shortly)

Her
Blurb

Would you be friends with her?
Two different women; two different worlds. Nina is sophisticated, moneyed and damaged. Emma is a struggling young mother who has put her life on hold. After Nina meets Emma by chance, she begins to draw Emma into her privileged world.
But this isn’t the first time the women have crossed paths. Nina remembers Emma and she remembers what Emma did. But what did Emma do? How far will Nina go to punish her? And when will Emma realise that her new friend is a disturbing face from the past? Goodreads

Next I am going to read The Secrets We Left Behind by Susan Elliot Wright

The Secrets We Left Behind

Blurb

She has built a good life: a husband who adores her, a daughter she is fiercely proud of, a home with warmth and love at its heart. But things were not always so good, and the truth is that she has done things she can never admit.
Then one evening a phone call comes out of the blue. It is a voice from long ago, from a past that she has tried so hard to hide. Scott knows who she really is and what she has done. Now he is dying and he gives her an ultimatum: either she tells the truth, or he will.
And so we are taken back to that long hot summer of 1976 to a house by the sea, where her story begins and where the truth will be revealed… NetGalley

What are you reading this week?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (March 21)

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!

I’m starting this weeks Friday Finds with a book which is part of a series which always goes to pre-order well before publication date
Want You Dead by Peter James is incredibly the tenth book in the Roy Grace series and is due to be published on 5 June 2014.

Want You Dead

Blurb

Virtual romance becomes a terrifying obsession in Want You Dead…
Single girl, 29, smouldering redhead, love life that’s crashed and burned. Seeks new flame to rekindle her fire. Fun, friendship and – who knows – maybe more?
When Red Westwood meets handsome, charming and rich Bryce Laurent through an online dating agency, there is an instant attraction. But as their love blossoms, the truth about his past, and his dark side, begins to emerge. Everything he has told Red about himself turns out to be a tissue of lies, and her infatuation with him gradually turns to terror.
Within a year, and under police protection, she evicts him from her flat and her life. But Red’s nightmare is only just beginning. For Bryce is obsessed with her, and he intends to destroy everything and everyone she has ever known and loved – and then her too . . .Amazon

The lovely Naomi at The Writes of Women held a giveaway for How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti and I was one of the lucky winners of what sounds like a great read and a matching postcard with a lovely note from Naomi which will be its bookmark.

Blurb

How Should A Person Be

Blurb

Reeling from a failed marriage, Sheila, a twenty-something playwright, finds herself unsure of how to live and create. When Margaux, a talented painter and free spirit, and Israel, a sexy and depraved artist, enter her life, Sheila hopes that through close—sometimes too close—observation of her new friend, her new lover, and herself, she might regain her footing in art and life.
Using transcribed conversations, real emails, plus heavy doses of fiction, the brilliant and always innovative Sheila Heti crafts a work that is part literary novel, part self-help manual, and part bawdy confessional. It’s a totally shameless and dynamic exploration into the way we live now, which breathes fresh wisdom into the eternal questions: What is the sincerest way to love? What kind of person should you be? Goodreads

From NetGalley I have a copy of The Broken by Tamar Cohen which is due to be published on 22 May 2014 by Random House UK

The Broken

Blurb

Best friends tell you everything; about their kitchen renovation; about their little girl’s schooling. How one of them is leaving the other for a younger model.
Best friends don’t tell lies. They don’t take up residence on your couch for weeks. They don’t call lawyers. They don’t make you choose sides.
Best friends don’t keep secrets about their past. They don’t put you in danger.
Best friends don’t always stay best friends.

Simon & Schuster are publishing The Secrets We Left Behind by Susan Elliot Wright whose debut novel The Things We Never Said was an insightful read.

The Secrets We Left Behind

Blurb

She has built a good life: a husband who adores her, a daughter she is fiercely proud of, a home with warmth and love at its heart. But things were not always so good, and the truth is that she has done things she can never admit.
Then one evening a phone call comes out of the blue. It is a voice from long ago, from a past that she has tried so hard to hide. Scott knows who she really is and what she has done. Now he is dying and he gives her an ultimatum: either she tells the truth, or he will.
And so we are taken back to that long hot summer of 1976 to a house by the sea, where her story begins and where the truth will be revealed… NetGalley

I found the last book on my TBR on Goodreads. Due to be published by Penguin Ireland on 5 June 2014, Fallen by Lia Mills will be another addition to my World War I collection.

Fallen
Blurb

Spring, 1915. Katie Crilly gets the news she dreaded: her beloved twin brother, Liam, has been killed on the Western Front.
A year later, when her home city of Dublin is suddenly engulfed in violence, Katie finds herself torn by conflicting emotions. Taking refuge in the home of a friend, she meets Hubie Wilson, a friend of Liam’s from the Front. There unfolds a remarkable encounter between two young people, both wounded and both trying to imagine a new life. Lia Mills has written a novel that can stand alongside the works of Sebastian Faulks, Pat Barker and Louisa Young. Goodreads

What have you found to read this week?

Posted in Books I have read

The Things We Never Said – Susan Elliot-Wright

Women's Fiction 4*'s
Women’s Fiction
4*’s

This great debut novel tells a poignant story which deals with serious issues sensitively and without being melodramatic about it. Split between the early 60’s narrated by Maggie, a young woman who leaves home to follow her dream to make props for a theatre company, and 2008 – 2009 by Jonathan a teacher at a secondary school. Both tales are well written and successfully authentic.

If anything I enjoyed Jonathan’s story more than Maggie’s which is an accolade to the author’s ability to bring his story to life rather than focussing on that of Maggie’s which is mainly set in on a psychiatric ward unable to piece together what had led to her being there. The skilful way the author draws a picture of the surroundings, from the boarding house to the sea at Hastings, along with the edge of suspense to what is essentially a familiar story made it hard to believe this is the author’s first novel. I was particularly glad that this is one of those books which had a proper ending, one that I have to confess brought a tear to my eye.

Susan Elliot Wright is definitely an author I will be looking out for in the future.