Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Mount TBR 2018

Sweet William – Iain Maitland

Crime Fiction
4*s

Sometimes when you have quite a few books on your TBR, many of which I have added because of the wonderful reviews my fellow bloggers have written, I don’t remember any of the details of quite why I bought them. In my defence I read many books and even more reviews of books so I can’t be expected to remember the finer details. So in short it isn’t that unusual for me to dive into a book with only a faint idea of what to expect. I can safely say, I didn’t expect what I got with this book, one that is anything other than forgettable.

Raymond Orrey has a plan. He is going to escape from the psychiatric unit, his current home to find his son William and take him away to the South of France to live a blissful life. Orrey is not mad, not like his fellow guests at the Nottinghamshire hospital, he doesn’t dribble or rock himself, he’s planned his escape, as well as he possibly can and he knows where he needs to get to. To the house in Aldeburgh where his son William is visiting with his ‘new’ parents, to attend the parade for Halloween and maybe to have a ride at the funfair. Raymond is going to take William away to a better life, with him, his father.

William is really quite small but he’s had a hell of a disrupted life in that short time and although the short break in the holiday home isn’t friction free – after all, families all have their tensions especially when more than one generation gathers at a time and his ‘grandparents’ are part of the treat. William is also diabetic and not a fan of having his blood tested for sugars.

What follows is mad. Not a politically correct word I’ll admit but the most suitable one. Reading Sweet William is a bizarre experience. Raymond Orrey gives us a blow by blow account of his escape and his thoughts. We are drawn into his world when he seems to ask advice when his plans go awry. Seeing as he didn’t really have any beyond escaping and travelling to his son, this happens frequently. Should this man run or try to blend in with the crowd? Would the police be looking for him or does he have time before they are alerted? We have the questions and then see what he chose in the next chapter – this goes on for 48 hours and is exhausting. Why? Because it pulled this reader entirely into a world where it is hard to keep reminding yourself that Raymond is mad, most likely very dangerous and it doesn’t matter how many times he tries to convince you otherwise. Of course we are never convinced by those who need to repeatedly tell us they aren’t mad but this author has written this so well that sometimes despite this, you get drawn into Raymond Orrey’s chaotic world so that when he weighs up his options you find yourself predicting which, if any, will be the most successful whilst keeping in mind the careful care needed to keep William safe and well, care I wasn’t sure his father would manage.

This is an unusual piece of crime fiction, I’m so glad I took Fiction Fan’s advice, the skill of the writer is abundantly apparent even if the title is entirely misleading, this is the darkest read I’ve unexpectedly fallen into in a long, long time! That said I can’t wait to see what this author produces next.

This is the 18th book I’ve read and reviewed as part of my Mount TBR Challenge for 2018. I am aiming to read 36 books across the year from those purchased before 1 January 2018. Sweet William was purchased on 28 December 2017 thereby qualifying by the skin of its teeth!

First Published UK: 19 October 2017
Publisher: Saraband
No of Pages: 251
Genre: Crime Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (May 23)

This Week In Books
Hosted by Lipsy 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

My current read is Sweet William by Iain Maitland which has been on my TBR since the end of last year following an excellent review by trusted blogger FictionFan

Blurb


Life and death played out over 48 hours.

A father desperate to be with his young son escapes from a secure psychiatric hospital, knowing he has just one chance for the two of them to start a new life together.

His goal is to snatch the three-year-old – a diabetic who needs insulin to stay alive – and run away to France… but first he must find the boy, evade his foster family and stay well clear of the police, already in pursuit.

A real page-turner cut through with dark humour, Sweet William zeroes in on a potent mix: mental illness, a foster family under pressure, and an aggrieved father separated from his precious child. The result is an incisive and deeply affecting literary thriller. Amazon

The last book I finished was Who Killed Little Johnny Gill by Kathryn McMaster, a tale that heavily uses the details of a horrific Victorian child murder in Bradford.

Blurb

One foggy morning, just a few days after Christmas, John Gill’s mother waves goodbye to her eldest son that morning with no idea that this will be the last time she will see him. Johnny doesn’t come home for his lunch and his mother starts to worry about him. The family search frantically for him for three days and nights. They search Manningham, and wider Bradford until someone finds him early on the Saturday morning, just meters from their home.

His little body has been hacked up, drained of blood, thoroughly washed, his organs displaced and his intestines are draped around his neck eerily similar to the murders that have been happening in London done by Jack the Ripper. Several letters were sent by Jack stating that he would murder a little boy soon. After the murder another letter was sent stating that he had been up to Bradford. However, was this murder committed by the infamous Jack the Ripper? There are other clues involving Masonic rituals found in a local house at the same time of Johnny’s death that point to the possibility that it was. And yet, William Barrett was the last one to see Johnny. The modus operandi could well be a copy-cat murder. In addition, William Barrett isn’t saying much. Amazon

Next I intend The Perfect Affair by Clare Dyer a book that has been on my TBR since March 2014. I actually ‘discovered’ this author earlier this year when I read, and enjoyed, The Last Day.

Blurb

What happens if you fall in love with the wrong person?

Rose knows only too well the exhilaration and devastation of loving a married man. So she watches with a keen eye as Eve – her closest companion, the granddaughter she never had – meets Myles, the new tenant in her downstairs flat.

Quietly and softly and against the backdrop of their own unsatisfactory marriages, Myles and Eve fall in love and, as they try to have the perfect affair like Rose did before them, they come to learn about the pain of lost opportunities, to decide whether it is ever better to follow your head or your heart, to know what it is to be torn between love and duty. Amazon

I’ve finally powered my way through those books I needed to read for review purposes before I go on holiday next month with all three choices this week coming from my personal collection.

What do you think? Any of these take your fancy?

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Sweet William – Beryl Bainbridge

Classic Fiction 4*s
Classic Fiction
4*s

Ann is a young woman who works at the BBC in London and when we first meet her she is waving off her fiancé, academic who is flying to America to start a new life. Soon Ann will follow. Ann’s mother is very proud of the new life, less enamoured it would seem of Gerard, the fiancé particularly his carnal desires, in reality than on paper.

I wonder how differently this story would play out if it was set now, and not in the midst of the sexual revolution. Why? Because Ann meets William, a married man who captivates and thrills Ann in a way Gerard never has. William visits Ann’s bed and then cycles off to look after his children while their mother works and has a font of bizarre tales to distract from his frequent absences, the furtive phone calls and crucially his intentions. However William is an important man, he is putting on a play which will tour England, and even though Ann is less than impressed by the play itself, she understands that her role is to support, so out goes the job at the BBC so that she can devote herself to this exceptional man. Oh the irony.

This is not only Ann’s story but in the shadows are other women connected to William, the wife, the mother, her landlady, her cousin and those women who phone up looking for him at odd times of the night and day. It is also the story of Ann’s mother, a woman who lives in Brighton with Ann’s father, a man who seems entirely eclipsed by his indomitable wife, who represents those who lived before the sexual revolution.

Ann felt it was funny that anyone should call Mrs Walton ordinary. It wasn’t an adequate word. She thought of her mother’s piano playing her scheming, her ability to read French, the strength of her convictions, the inflexibility of her dreadful will.

The truth is that when Ann met William, she was woefully unprepared, she’s an unworldly girl who it seems has none of the support that most women today enjoy. Perhaps because the women that knew them both were complicit in covering up William’s fickle ways, his selfishness and his disregard for Ann’s feelings.

She didn’t know enough about men. Her mother said they were brutes, self-absorbed and secretive. But William wasn’t like that: he was open and he loved her and he had forced her to meet his wife.

This love story takes a turn for the worse, as well you might expect but there is plenty of black humour, something that Beryl Bainbridge employs to great effect. To be honest the black humour is made infinitely easier because I don’t think I am the first person to read this book who wants to shake Ann and truly open her eyes to the half-truths she knows. So while I felt a smidgen of sympathy for her plight, I couldn’t believe she couldn’t see what was right in front of her. After all William may have lied but when pushed he really makes the situation very obvious:

‘But Edna needs to look after me. I give her money for the housekeeping… she doesn’t want to be done out of cooking for me. Who am I to deny her that?’
He bent his head humbly. There was a flaw in his argument, she knew, but she couldn’t put it into words. He’d denied Edna everything else; it didn’t’ seem particularly cruel to tell her he didn’t want any food.

The more I read of this author’s work, the more I enjoy it. Beryl Bainbridge is definitely my find of the year with her exceptionally clever writing and yet still immensely readable. This black comedy published in 1975 both conjures up a bygone time and yet, I know that Sweet William still exists, maybe in a slightly different guise, although I suspect this was his true era, when there were plenty of naïve women just waiting to fall for his charms and willing to shake of the older generation’s morals that had protected the majority of previous generations.

I received my copy of Sweet William from the publishers Open Road Integrated Media who are republishing a number of this authors books, this one on 29 November 2016.

First Published UK: 1975
Publisher: Open Road Integrated Media
No of Pages: 192
Genre: Classic Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Reviews of other books by Beryl Bainbridge

Harriet Said
An Awfully Big Adventure

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (November 16)

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

I am currently reading The Beautiful Dead by the very talented Belinda Bauer.

the-beautiful-dead-png

To read the synopsis and an excerpt see yesterday’s post.

I have recently finished my third Beryl Bainbridge book this year, in case you can’t tell I’m pretty keen on her take on life – this latest book was Sweet William which is being re-published by Open Road Media on 29 November 2016.

sweet-william

Blurb

When dull professor Gerald leaves London for the United States, his fiancée, Ann, is a bit afraid and sad to see him go—never has he looked so handsome and masculine as when he’s about to board the plane. But a few days later at a religious service, Ann is beckoned to sit next to a stranger with yellow curls and a nose like a prizefighter’s. Her heart inexplicably begins to race; she feels like she has the flu. This stranger, William McClusky, tells Ann in his Scottish accent that he is a playwright who will be interviewed on TV the very next day. Furthermore, he promises to have a television dropped by her house so she can watch him! From this first bizarre seduction, Ann is infatuated, and in the days following, William begins to take over her life.

In the throes of the affair, Ann gives up her BBC job, helps a friend get an abortion, encourages adultery, and writes a break-up letter to her fiancé. Her engagement to Gerald had been rushed, after all, and was designed to serve her mother’s desires more than her own. With William, on the other hand, everything feels different. But is this new man really who he says he is? Is he a genius or a fraud, a compassionate soul or a cheater? Perhaps William is simply a means by which Ann can play out her dangerous fantasies and finally take part in the swinging sixties. Only one thing is certain: Now that she’s with him, there’s no turning back.

An ironic investigation into the art of self-deception and the repercussions of sexual freedom, this blend of black comedy and social satire showcases the wit of award-winning author Beryl Bainbridge, and affirms her status as a mainstay in twentieth-century British literature. NetGalley

Next up I am in for a real treat with the latest from one of the greatest of crime writers; Out of Bounds by Val McDermid

Out of Bounds

Blurb

‘There were a lot of things that ran in families, but murder wasn’t one of them . . .’
When a teenage joyrider crashes a stolen car, a routine DNA test could be the key to unlocking the mystery of a twenty-year-old murder inquiry. Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie is an expert at solving the unsolvable. With each cold case closed, justice is served. So, finding the answer should be straightforward, but it’s as twisted as the DNA helix itself.
Meanwhile, Karen finds herself irresistibly drawn to another case, one that she has no business investigating. And as she pieces together decades-old evidence, Karen discovers the most dangerous kind of secrets. Secrets that someone is willing to kill for . . . NetGalley

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

Weekly Wrap Up (October 30)

Weekly Wrap Up

Life continues at a pace here in Jersey with normal everyday life taking up far too much reading time – but I had a free slot on Monday which I’d jealously guarded when my lovely daughter decided that was the night she was going to publish her wedding photos on Facebook – the free time disappeared oohing and ahhing lost in the memories of that fabulous day.

So… I now present Cleo from Cleopatra Loves Books in her gigantic hat – the only time I have ever blocked anyone’s view of anything! I promise that this is the last ever post about the wedding now!

cleo-and-the-hat

us-4-at-the-weddingme-and-beth

On the Blog

I have been playing a minor supporting role in Lipsyy Lost and Found to publicise her Flash Fiction competition for Horror October – the voting closed at 8pm on 28 October 2016 and she has now crowned the very deserving winner – you can read their entry here. A huge thank you to all of those who voted.

Monday had my review of the fifth in the DI Kim Stone Series, Blood Lines by Angela Marsons, one of my favourite new crime series and an exceptionally compulsive read.

On Tuesday my excerpt came from Nuala Ellwood’s My Sister’s Bones which was a far more intelligent and meaningful read than I expected, my review will follow soon.

My this week in books indicated my intention to read The Museum of You by Carys Bray – I started this one, but I’m not very far through yet…

My second review of the week was for The Blood Card by Elly Griffiths which transported me neatly back to the run up to the Queen’s Coronation in 1953 with Edgar Stephens & Max Mephisto on a secret mission – a wonderful read.

Friday I tackled The 100 Book Tag which had me perusing my various lists of books and dreaming how to spend £100 on books!

This Time Last Year…

I was reading The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell, a book set in the Peak District with a story line split between the 1980s and the present day. A wonderful read which has lingered on in my mind over the last year. I had a check to see if the author has written anything else since this book, but sadly it doesn’t seem so.

The Shadow Year

Blurb

1980. On a hot summer’s day five friends stumble upon an abandoned cottage hidden deep in the English countryside. Isolated and run-down, it offers a retreat, somewhere they can escape from the world. But as the seasons change, tensions begin to rise…
Three decades later, Lila arrives at the remote cottage. Bruised from a tragic accident and with her marriage in crisis, she finds renovating the tumbledown house gives her a renewed sense of purpose. But why did the cottage’s previous inhabitants leave their belongings behind? And why can’t she shake the feeling that someone is watching her? Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

I would like to start this part by stating that however gratefully I received this selection, I didn’t actively seek out any of them… well except one!

I received a copy of A Motif of Seasons by Edward Glover, a very smart looking edition for my bookshelf (which is incredibly overcrowded) which will be published on 18 November 2016.

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 won a copy of the two books by Tony Black from Black & White Publishing:

Artefacts of the Dead

artefacts-of-the-dead

Blurb

It s a dead man . . . Can t you see someone’s put a bloody great spike through him? The discovery of a dead banker sends shock waves through the sleepy coastal town of Ayr. And it s up to DI Bob Valentine recently back on the force after his near-fatal stabbing to find the killer. But leads are hard to find and the pressure is on from an anxious Chief Superintendent who is being hounded by the media and still has serious concerns about her DI’s mental health. And as it becomes clear that there’s a serial killer on the loose, Bob Valentine must battle the demons of his post-traumatic stress, an investigation team that’s leaking like a sieve and frightening visions that might just be the key to unlocking the mystery. Valentine is close to breaking point, but can he crack the case before he cracks up? Goodreads

A Taste of Ashes

a-taste-of-the-ashes

Blurb

When DI Bob Valentine returns to duty after a narrow escape with death, he is faced with the discovery of a corpse on a kitchen table with a horrific neck wound and a mystery surrounding the victim’s missing partner and her daughter. It’s all too close to his own near-fatal stabbing.

When the murder investigation begins to reveal a tragic family drama, Bob Valentine struggles to deal with the rapidly unfolding events and the terrifying visions that haunt him. As he starts to uncover the illicit secrets of the family’s past, can he keep a grip on the case and on his own sanity before the body count starts to rise? Goodreads

Gerta from Open Road Media had noted that I’m interested in the recent editions they’d posted on NetGalley for readers from other territories to enjoy Beryl Bainbridge and offered me a copy of Sweet William

sweet-william

Blurb

Romantic comedy meets social satire in this delirious novel about sexual freedom versus British tradition in swinging 1960s London.

When dull professor Gerald leaves London for the United States, his fiancée, Ann, is a bit afraid and sad to see him go—never has he looked so handsome and masculine as when he’s about to board the plane. But a few days later at a religious service, Ann is beckoned to sit next to a stranger with yellow curls and a nose like a prizefighter’s. Her heart inexplicably begins to race; she feels like she has the flu. This stranger, William McClusky, tells Ann in his Scottish accent that he is a playwright who will be interviewed on TV the very next day. Furthermore, he promises to have a television dropped by her house so she can watch him! From this first bizarre seduction, Ann is infatuated, and in the days following, William begins to take over her life.

In the throes of the affair, Ann gives up her BBC job, helps a friend get an abortion, encourages adultery, and writes a break-up letter to her fiancé. Her engagement to Gerald had been rushed, after all, and was designed to serve her mother’s desires more than her own. With William, on the other hand, everything feels different. But is this new man really who he says he is? Is he a genius or a fraud, a compassionate soul or a cheater? Perhaps William is simply a means by which Ann can play out her dangerous fantasies and finally take part in the swinging sixties. Only one thing is certain: Now that she’s with him, there’s no turning back.

An ironic investigation into the art of self-deception and the repercussions of sexual freedom, this blend of black comedy and social satire showcases the wit of award-winning author Beryl Bainbridge, and affirms her status as a mainstay in twentieth-century British literature. NetGalley

And lastly… FictionFan cracked the obvious iron willpower that I possess by tempting me with Black River Road by Debra Komar with this excellent review.

black-river-road

Blurb

In 1869, in the woods just outside of the bustling port city of Saint John, a group of teenaged berry pickers discovered several badly decomposed bodies. The authorities suspected foul play, but the identities of the victims were as mysterious as that of the perpetrator. From the twists and turns of a coroner’s inquest, an unlikely suspect emerged to stand trial for murder: John Munroe, a renowned architect, well-heeled family man, and pillar of the community. Munroe was arguably the first in Canada’s fledgling judicial system to actively defend himself. His lawyer’s strategy was as simple as it was revolutionary: Munroe’s wealth, education, and exemplary character made him incapable of murder. The press and Saint John’s elite vocally supported Munroe, sparking a debate about character and murder that continues to this day. In re-examining a precedent-setting historical crime with fresh eyes, Komar addresses questions that still echo through the halls of justice more than a century later: is everyone capable of murder, and should character be treated as evidence in homicide trials? Goodreads

PicMonkey Collage TBR

TBR WATCH

Since my last post I have read 4 books but managed to gain 5 and so my TBR has reached the second weekly new high of 183 books!

96 physical books
69 e-books
18 books on NetGalley

What have you found to read this week?