Posted in Books I have read

The Ladies of the House – Molly McGrann

Contemporary Fiction 3*'s
Contemporary Fiction

The Ladies of the House is an unusual and enticing read from Molly McGrann, a read that worms its way under your skin and won’t let go. The gentle unfolding of a quite straightforward story got to me and that despite the fact that I found some of the scenes quite hard to read precisely because of the lack of drama.

So what is it all about? One day Marie Gillies is on her way to Heathrow when she spots a headline in the paper, three elderly people have all been found dead at a house in Primrose Hill. The weather had been very warm, there had been a spate of deaths, particularly in the vulnerable so why did Marie feel that these deaths were somehow connected to her?

I really don’t want to spoil any of the story for those of you who want to read this unusual novel but the house is the site of a former high-class brothel and at least one of the occupants has been present throughout its history but Marie lives in Kettering, with her widowed mother, many miles from Primrose Hill. Marie has a job in a linen shop, she isn’t any great beauty and her life consists of work followed by an evening eating treats in front of the TV with her elderly mother. This is ultimately a story about long-kept secrets, some which are discovered and others will forever remain a mystery to all except the characters who reveal them to the reader.

As is fitting for a book whose beginning starts in post-war England the story is told in the present day and using flashbacks allowing the reader to build the elements together to the finale, which quite frankly was a bit far-fetched but at least gave us the answer to the questions I posed in the opening paragraph. The author did give a good sense of time and place, I could easily visualise Soho from her descriptions as well as seeing the house which has deteriorated both in sense of looks and vitality from the days when it welcomed wealthy gentlemen to its inviting party atmosphere, for them a place of pleasure and relaxation.

This book has a lot to say but what it is telling us lies as much in the unsaid as the said, the characters are all, without exception individuals for whom life hasn’t gone the way they wanted it to, and their response hasn’t been to change and evolve, rather they have got stuck playing parts assigned to them many years ago. They live in a narrow world, one where other people rarely play a part and this gives a great feeling of claustrophobia and disappointment which co-exists against the stories told from years ago. Unfortunately this book had a vein of sadness running through it, despite being billed as a tragi-comic novel about hidden love and second chances, I only felt a profound sadness for many of the characters. For all that it is a book I’m glad I read, it kept my interest until the final page and I have a feeling that this one will be a book that it is hard to forget.

I’d like to thank the publishers Pan McMillan for allowing me to read The Ladies of the House which was published on 26 March 2015.

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (March 31)

First Chapter

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

My post this week is from Ladies of the House by Molly McGrann which was published on 26 March 2015 by Pan Mcmillan.

The Ladies of the house


On a hot July day, three elderly people are found dead in a dilapidated house in Primrose Hill. Reading the story in a newspaper as she prepares to leave the country, Marie Gillies has an unshakable feeling that she is somehow to blame. How did these three people come to live together, and how did they all die at once? The truth lies in a very different England, and in the secret world of the ladies of the house… NetGalley

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

It was a minor item in the newspaper, her last English newspaper, or the last one she would read on English soil. Just the kind of headline to draw her eye: Three Found Dead in North London, and then their names. Police were alerted after a woman collapsed outside her home in Primrose Hill and was found dead at the scene, despite all efforts to revive her. Two more bodies were found inside the house. Neighbours say there were no suspicious circumstances to report, except that they were all dead, all at once. Given the recent high temperatures around the country – such a dry, hot July, the barley blackened, the corn stunted, hens not laying right – early discovery of their bodies was a relief, for the smell of lingering death was not sweet, not a fairy-tale ending. ‘Unfortunately there was nothing to be done,’ said a police spokesman. Other heat-related fatalities had been reported and the hospitals were said to be overflowing.

Please note the quote is from a proof copy

Do you want to know more? Would you keep reading?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Stacking The Shelves (March 28)

Stacking the shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you’re adding to your shelves, be it buying or borrowing. From ‘real’ books you’ve purchased, a book you’ve borrowed, a book you’ve been given or an e-book they can all be shared!

A bumper week for me with the long awaited Peter James book landing on my doorstep; You Are Dead, featuring Roy Grace for his eleventh outing which will be published on 21 May 2015.

You Are Dead


The last time that Jamie Ball heard from his fiancée, Logan Somerville, was a terrified call from her mobile. She was convinced that somebody was watching her in the dank underground car park beneath their block of flats in Brighton. He heard her scream, then the phone went dead. The police arrive at the scene immediately but Logan has already vanished. In another part of Brighton workmen digging up a park uncover the remains of a woman in her early twenties who has been dead for 30 years. The two events seem unconnected until yet another beautiful young woman with long brown hair goes missing and yet another body surfaces from the past. It seems that a serial killer is at large.
Meanwhile Logan’s uncle, an eminent London psychiatrist, has a visit from a strange new patient claiming to know where Logan is. Grace has the chilling realisation this man might hold the key to both the past and present crimes…. but is he telling the truth or is he just playing a sinister and sadistic game? Macmillan

From NetGalley I have a copy of The Ladies of the House by Molly McGrann picked because I read this fantastic review by A Life In Books.

The Ladies of the house


On a hot July day, three elderly people are found dead in a dilapidated house in Primrose Hill. Reading the story in a newspaper as she prepares to leave the country, Marie Gillies has an unshakable feeling that she is somehow to blame. How did these three people come to live together, and how did they all die at once? The truth lies in a very different England, and in the secret world of the ladies of the house… NetGalley

I was also swayed by the tweets for new crime thriller novel published by Bookouture, the publishers that bought us the fantastic Silent Scream by Angela Marsons, so I have a copy of Don’t Turn Around by Caroline Mitchell I can honestly say I barely noticed publisher details before I started blogging and now I’m choosing books based on the publisher! How did that happen?

Don't Turn Around


You don’t know him. But he knows you.
Soon he would be able to touch her, to feel the warmth of her blood. And when the time came, nothing would stop him.
As D.C. Jennifer Knight investigates a routine stabbing in the quiet town of Haven, she is shocked What what seems like a personal message from beyond the grave.
When more bodies are found, Jennifer is convinced the killings are somehow linked.
What she discovers is more chilling than she could possibly imagine. The murders mirror those of the notorious Grim Reaper – from over twenty years ago. A killer her mother helped convict.
Jennifer can no longer ignore the personal connection. Is there a copycat killer at work? Was the wrong man convicted? Or is there something more sinister at play …
With her mother’s terrifying legacy spiralling out of control, Jennifer must look into her own dark past in a fight not only to stop a killer – but to save herself and those she loves. NetGalley

And after thoroughly enjoying (if that is the right words) The Magnificent Spilsbury and the case of the Brides in the Bath by Jane Robbins, Margot Kinberg of Confessions of a Mystery Novelist pointed me in the direction of Dancing for the Hangman by Martin Edwards which is a fictionalised autobiographical account of the case of Dr Crippen who featured early on in Jane Robbins look at Bernard Spilsbury.

Dancing for the Hangman


Martin Edwards dissects not only the facts but also the gaps and uncertainties in he historical record. This novel may bring us as close to the truth about Crippen as we are ever likely to get. Back Cover

So this weeks sees me adding more death and destruction to my shelves… What have you found to read this week? Please do share in the comments below