Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Death of Mrs Westaway – Ruth Ware

Psychological Thriller
4*s

Well that was a creepy read! It is odd but somehow I always associate the creepy aspect with historical novels, after all we are too aware of the present in modern times to get spooked by an old crumbling house complete with scary housekeeper, aren’t we?

Ruth Ware is one of those writers who really knows how to create an atmosphere and so even though the greater part of this book is set in the present and that in the past only dates back to 1995, I was drawn into a world of the improbable with barely a question.

Hal (Harriet) Westaway is broke. Not the sort of broke that afflicts most twenty-somethings on a regular basis but the sort that means she is in danger of losing the only home she’s ever known, and perhaps not without damage since she’s in hock to a loan shark. She returns home one night to find a letter, one from said loan shark (or one of his mates) and one from a solicitor in Penzance who claims to have a bequest from her Grandmother who has recently died. Only problem is that Hal’s grandmother wasn’t Hester Westaway and she certainly didn’t live at Trepassen House before she died.

Of course we take a trip to Trepassen House for ourselves and find a property that is almost a character in its own right. It’s the full gothic experience complete with barred windows and secret messages and of course the very creepy housekeeper. Not quite what Hal is used to. Ok she may be in dire straits money wise but she plies her trade in reading Tarot cards on Brighton pier and her home is the only one she’s ever known. That’s not to say Ruth Ware doesn’t impress on her readers the difference of this seaside pier in the winter time, having its very own atmosphere. Safe to say she’s slightly out of her depth in this situation. Hal’s mother died and it’s her business Hal has inherited but her mother wasn’t one to mince her words, always reminding Hal:

Don’t fall into the trap of believing your own lies.

This story despite obviously being set in the present, something the author embraces rather than tries to disguise, has an old-fashioned quality to it. The sense of danger is only all too imaginable when you put yourself in the shoes of a young woman with no money even if she is someone who is not an out-and-out innocent. Normally I find myself getting highly irritated by characters who do stupid things – I’m sat tutting and shaking my head saying ‘well what did you think was going to happen?’ but somehow this author had me bought into the storyline so that, under the circumstances, the decisions seemed plausible. There are shades of Daphne Du Maurier and Patricia Highsmith but fear not this story is an original.

I can’t leave this review without stating quite how brilliantly Hal is portrayed. This definitely isn’t a one-dimensional character, she is made of shades of grey with all the complexities that real people have, something she is never more aware of than when she is reading the tarot cards for her eager audiences.

I highly recommend this book which is perhaps more suited to an autumnal evening with the rain lashing down, but fear not, I was chilled despite lying in the sunshine devouring every last word of this masterpiece.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to the publishers Random House UK who allowed me to read an advance copy of The Death of Mrs Westaway which is published today. This unbiased review is my thanks to them and of course Ruth Ware for the thoroughly entertaining read.

First Published UK: 28 June 2018
Publisher: Random House UK
No of Pages: 400
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (May 13)

I hope you my UK readers had a fab and sunny Bank Holiday Weekend last week. I decided to take a few days off blogging to enjoy the sunshine and devoted my time to learning a new knitting technique which meant watching YouTube videos, a lot of muttering (well actually swearing) but I eventually cracked it. I can know brioche stitch in two colours!

Thanks to Margot at Joyfully Retired giving me a handy tip to pretend a famous storyteller had come to visit to tell my their story, I have also mastered listening to audio books – she was right pretending there is someone there made a difference to my concentration and I am now converted and have another scarf well underway! I’ve now had to add an extra tab (and colour) to my excel spreadsheet to keep a count of audio books too!

Anyway I returned to blogging to find that WordPress had altered the font which confused me for a while but I expect I’ll get used to it and with a renewed enthusiasm for a month of reading before I go on my holiday.

This Week on the Blog

I have reviewed three books, two of which are due to be published on 17 May 2018, even better they were all really enjoyable!

My first review was for Three-Martini Lunch by Suzanne Rindell, set in 1950s New York this tale in the world of publishing gained the full five stars from me.

I then reviewed my copy of The Cliff House by Amanda Jennings; a dark gothic tale set in Cornwell in the summer of 1986.

My final review of the week took me to Brighton with The Brighton Mermaid by Dorothy Koomson, a dark tale from this accomplished author.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading one of my favourite books of 2017 – The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins was both engaging and memorable as I immersed myself into a story of a book about a book. There is always something absolutely irresistible in a this device, but The Night Visitor has taken this kernel and added the most memorable characters, a plot that is underpinned by meticulous timing so that I became bound up in Olivia’s fight for her reputation long before I understood why she was needing to fight in the first place.

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

Blurb

You have the perfect life . . . How far would you go to protect it?

Professor Olivia Sweetman has worked hard to achieve the life she loves, with a high-flying career as a TV presenter and historian, three children and a talented husband. But as she stands before a crowd at the launch of her new bestseller she can barely pretend to smile. Her life has spiralled into deceit and if the truth comes out, she will lose everything.

Only one person knows what Olivia has done. Vivian Tester is the socially awkward sixty-year-old housekeeper of a Sussex manor who found the Victorian diary on which Olivia’s book is based. She has now become Olivia’s unofficial research assistant. And Vivian has secrets of her own.

As events move between London, Sussex and the idyllic South of France, the relationship between these two women grows more entangled and complex. Then a bizarre act of violence changes everything. Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

Well my self-imposed ARC ban in April is over and I have some lovely new books to share with you all.

First up is one that I was longing to read, and I have to confess I requested my copy at the end of April but hey rules are meant to be broken!

Fatal Inheritance by Rachel Rhys is the second historical novel by this author (aka Tammy Cohen) with a stunning cover to be published on 26 July 2018.

Blurb

1948: an English housewife trapped in a dull marriage escapes to the South of France to claim a mystery inheritance. But rivals to her unexplained fortune begin to emerge, and now they want her out of the way …

She didn’t have an enemy in the world…
until she inherited a fortune

London 1948: Eve Forrester is trapped in a loveless marriage, in a gloomy house, in a grey suburb.
Out of the blue, she received a solicitor’s letter. A wealthy stranger has left her a mystery inheritance but in order to find out more, she must travel to the glittering French Riviera.

Eve discovers her legacy is an enchanting villa overlooking the Mediterranean sea and suddenly, life could not be more glamorous.

But while she rubs shoulders with film-stars and famous writers, under the heat of the golden sun, rivals to her unexplained fortune begin to emerge. Rivals who want her out of the way.

Alone in paradise, Eve must unlock the story behind her surprise bequest – before events turn deadly…

Reminiscent of a Golden Age mystery, Fatal Inheritance is an intoxicating story of dysfunctional families and long-hidden secrets, set against the razzle-dazzle and decadence of the French Riviera. Amazon

I also was lucky enough to be approved for a copy of The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware which will be published on 28 June 2018.



Blurb

When Harriet Westaway receives an unexpected letter telling her she’s inherited a substantial bequest from her Cornish grandmother, it seems like the answer to her prayers. She owes money to a loan shark and the threats are getting increasingly aggressive: she needs to get her hands on some cash fast.

There’s just one problem – Hal’s real grandparents died more than twenty years ago. The letter has been sent to the wrong person. But Hal knows that the cold-reading techniques she’s honed as a seaside fortune teller could help her con her way to getting the money. If anyone has the skills to turn up at a stranger’s funeral and claim a bequest they’re not entitled to, it’s her.

Hal makes a choice that will change her life for ever. But once she embarks on her deception, there is no going back. She must keep going or risk losing everything, even her life… Amazon

I also have a copy of Us Against You by Fredrik Backman which is the sequel to The Scandal which I adored. Us Against You will be published on 14 June 2018.

Blurb

Can a broken town survive a second tragedy?

The follow-up to the international bestseller Beartown. A small, broken town sits on the edge of a frozen lake surrounded by a forest, its wounds still raw from a tragedy that tore its fragile community in two. Beartown has lost its way. Now the cold and dark that surround the snowbound town creep in, and so do new conflicts and tensions.

What was once a friendly rivalry with the neighbouring town is beginning to turn sinister and Beartown braces itself for another tragic blow. How far will the people of Beartown go to preserve their reputations for a second, deadly time?

Us Against You is a spell-binding exposition of small-town life in all its flawed complexity. NetGalley

tbr-watch

Since my last post I have read 6 books and I have gained 5 the TBR has fallen by one to 178
Physical Books – 112
Kindle Books – 49
NetGalley Books –16
Audio Books –1

 

 

Since my last post I have two thirds of a  token so it looks like I will be able to have a small treat for my holiday reading as I’m 1 2/3 of a book in credit!