Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Challenge

The Medea Complex – Rachel Florence Roberts

Historical Crime 4*'s
Historical Crime
4*’s

The beginning of this book took me by surprise, for a horrible moment I thought this was going to be a poorly researched voyage into the late nineteenth century; I was wrong, this book was a mixture of authentic details of life in the changing world of lunatic asylums along with a gripping mystery about what really happened on the fateful day when Lady Anne Stanbury killed her son. So why my initial hesitation? The language used was more modern than would usually be found in historical novels which I initially found quite off-putting. Anne uses colourful language, but she was incarcerated for being insane so this is entirely fitting with the illness and later on as she makes steps towards recovery the use of profanities declines.

The story is told from multiple viewpoints including her Dr George Savage’s daily notes on his wealthy patient. Dr Savage is a leading psychiatrist at Bethlem Royal Hospital where he alone can be the one to free Anne from the hospital. The doctor is walking a thin line, as in his eagerness to see Anne become well enough to leave the hospital he starts counselling her husband, Edgar. Edgar is using alcohol as a crutch as he struggles with opposing emotions about his wife and needs all the help he can get!

For the reader who enjoys their historical mysteries to be well-plotted with a firm grip on the newest ideas of the times this is well worth a read. I confess that I had some quibbles about the language used and minor historical facts at the crux of this book were well researched providing an enjoyable read on a subject rarely covered.

When Rachel emailed me about this book I was intrigued. I suspect I know more than most people about infanticide and mental illness during this period as I was a proof-reader for my daughter’s dissertation on this very subject. As in many areas I became interested in the books and articles she carted backwards and forwards to university and soon progressed to on-line historical newspapers which covered these tragic cases. One of the related subjects that I picked up along the way was that of baby-farming. Amelia Dyer the chief perpetrator makes an appearance in the Medea Complex and although I didn’t quite agree with the context it did go some way to sum up the complex morality in late Victorian England which is neatly echoed by this accomplished debut.

I received a free copy of this book from the author in return for this honest review.

Related books click on the covers to read my reviews

Caversham Lock

The Ghost of Lily Painter

Caversham Lock
The Ghost of Lily Painter
Amelia Dyer: The Woman Who Murdered Babies for Money

The Medea Complex was my fifth read for the COYER challenge
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Posted in Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (November 13)

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 two books

The Medea Complex by Rachel Florence Roberts

The Medea Complex

I’ve posted quite a lot about this book over the last couple of days so by way of an update I’m still loving it!

And Love Nina by Nina Stibbe

Love Nina

Blurb

In the 1980s Nina Stibbe wrote letters home to her sister in Leicester describing her trials and triumphs as a nanny to a London family. There’s a cat nobody likes, a visiting dog called Ted Hughes (Ted for short) and suppertime visits from a local playwright. Not to mention the two boys, their favourite football teams, and rude words, a very broad-minded mother and assorted nice chairs. From the mystery of the unpaid milk bill and the avoidance of nuclear war to mealtime discussions on pie filler, the greats of English literature, swearing in German and sexually transmitted diseases, Love, Nina is a wonderful celebration of bad food, good company and the relative merits of Thomas Hardy and Enid Blyton.  Netgalley

This book of letters is easy to dip in and out of so I am expanding my ability to read two books at once!  Love Nina was published on 7 November by Penguin Books

Link to Love Nina Amazon UK

I have just finished Imago by Celina Grace the third in the Kate Redman series.

Click on the book cover to read my review

Imago

Next in line for a read is Water’s Edge by Jane Riddell

Water's Edge

When Madalena invites her four children to Switzerland for a family gathering, she isn’t prepared for the excess baggage of their lives they bring along – secrets they are compelled to keep and those that must be divulged; the compromises they make, and, ultimately, what can and can’t be resolved – for Madalena, too, has things about her past that she would prefer not to reveal.
Set against a backdrop of mountains and lakes, Water’s Edge is a tapestry of love, lies and family. Amazon

Link to Water’s Edge Amazon UK

Posted in Weekly Posts

Teaser Tuesday (November 12)

Teasing Tuesday CB

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser this week comes from The Medea Complex by Rachel Florence Roberts

The Medea Complex

Taken from the Second Chapter entitled Behind A Beautiful Smile, my teaser is from the notes of Dr George Savage on October 12th 1885.

Such a normal looking woman. Demure. Soft. Kind.
I remember only too well the screaming crowd outside the hospital on the day she arrived.

Blurb

Anne wakes up in a strange bed, having been kidnapped from her home. Slowly, she realizes she is in a lunatic asylum.
1885. Anne Stanbury – Committed to a lunatic asylum, having been deemed insane and therefore unfit to stand trial for the crime of which she is indicted. But is all as it seems?
Edgar Stanbury – the grieving husband and father who is torn between helping his confined wife recover her sanity, and seeking revenge on the woman who ruined his life.
Dr George Savage – the well respected psychiatrist, and chief medical officer of Bethlem Royal Hospital. Ultimately, he holds Anne’s future wholly in his hands.
The Medea Complex tells the story of a misunderstood woman suffering from insanity in an era when mental illnesses’ were all too often misdiagnosed and mistreated. A deep and riveting psychological thriller set within an historical context, packed full of twists and turns, The Medea Complex explores the nature of the human psyche: what possesses us, drives us, and how love, passion, and hope for the future can drive us to insanity Amazon

I’m about a quarter of the way through this book and really enjoying it! If you like the sound of it this book is free on kindle until Wednesday 13 November at Amazon (UK and US)

Posted in Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (November 8)

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!

So as I am working hard to read some of my free and cheap books on my e-reader in November the last thing I should be doing is looking at more books to buy, or requesting new ones from Netgalley!

As it happens the people at Random House have been really kind to me this week and I have 3 new books from Netgalley.

Wake by Anne Hope to be published 16 January 2014

Wake

Blurb

Unfolding over five days leading up to 11 November, 1920, a powerful debut telling of three women who have lost loved-ones, set against the journey of the Unknown Soldier from Northern France to the Cenotaph.
Five Days in November, 1920:
As the body of the Unknown Soldier makes its way from the fields of Northern France to the Cenotaph, three women are overcoming loss in their own way: Hettie, who dances for sixpence a waltz at the Hammersmith Palais; wealthy Evelyn, who toils at a lowly job in the pensions office, and Ada, a housewife who snatches glimpses of her dead son in the street.
As each struggles to move on with her life, a wartime mystery begins to unravel. But where will the threads lead, and will they bring the answers these women crave? In this shattering novel of intertwining lives, Anna Hope shows the beginnings of a new era, and the day the mood of the nation changed, for ever Netgalley

This looks like a great addition to feed my historical fiction.

I also received A Pleasure And A Calling by Phil Hogan which looks like a real psychological thriller.

A Pleasure and a Calling

Publication date 13 February 2014, be scared if you receive this one as a Valentines gift!

Blurb

You won’t remember Mr Heming. He showed you round your comfortable home, suggested a sustainable financial package, negotiated a price with the owner and called you with the good news. The less good news is that, all these years later, he still has the key.
That’s absurd, you laugh. Of all the many hundreds of houses he has sold, why would he still have the key to mine?
The answer to that is, he has the keys to them all.
William Heming’s every pleasure is in his leafy community. He loves and knows every inch of it, feels nurtured by it, and would defend it – perhaps not with his life but if it came to it, with yours…

and lastly Stone Bruises by Simon Beckett

Stone Bruises

Publication date 30 January 2014

Blurb

‘Somebody!’ I half-sob and then, more quietly, ‘Please.’ The words seem absorbed by the afternoon heat, lost amongst the trees. In their aftermath, the silence descends again. I know then that I’m not going anywhere…Sean is on the run. We don’t know why and we don’t know from whom, but we do know he’s abandoned his battered, blood-stained car in the middle of an isolated, lonely part of rural France at the height of a sweltering summer. Desperate to avoid the police, he takes to the parched fields and country lanes only to be caught in the vicious jaws of a trap. Near unconscious from pain and loss of blood, he is freed and taken in by two women – daughters of the owner of a rundown local farm with its ramshackle barn, blighted vineyard and the brooding lake. And it’s then that Sean’s problems really start…
Superbly written, Stone Bruises is a classic nail-shredder of a thriller that holds you from the beginning. The narrative slowly, inexorably tightens its grip as the story unfurls and will keep you guessing until the unnerving and shocking final twist…Netgalley

I have to admit I am a little worried that this one might be a bit too scary for me (I know I pretend to be big small and brave but maybe I’m not quite as fearless after all… I’ll let you all know!

I couldn’t resist The Medea Complex by Rachel Florence Roberts when she offered me a free copy… the fact that it is billed as a psychological thriller within a historical context meant that my heart quickly typed ‘yes please’ as it overruled the head which was saying ‘you’ve loads of books to read and review already!’

The Medea Complex

Blurb

***Based On A True Story***
Anne wakes up in a strange bed, having been kidnapped from her home. Slowly, she realizes she is in a lunatic asylum.
1885. Anne Stanbury – Committed to a lunatic asylum, having been deemed insane and therefore unfit to stand trial for the crime of which she is indicted. But is all as it seems?
Edgar Stanbury – the grieving husband and father who is torn between helping his confined wife recover her sanity, and seeking revenge on the woman who ruined his life.
Dr George Savage – the well respected psychiatrist, and chief medical officer of Bethlem Royal Hospital. Ultimately, he holds Anne’s future wholly in his hands.
The Medea Complex tells the story of a misunderstood woman suffering from insanity in an era when mental illnesses’ were all too often misdiagnosed and mistreated. A deep and riveting psychological thriller set within an historical context, packed full of twists and turns, The Medea Complex explores the nature of the human psyche: what possesses us, drives us, and how love, passion, and hope for the future can drive us to insanity Amazon

The Medea Complex

and another kind author Jane Riddell has also sent me a copy of her book Water’s Edge

Water's Edge

Blurb

When Madalena invites her four children to Switzerland for a family gathering, she isn’t prepared for the excess baggage of their lives they bring along – secrets they are compelled to keep and those that must be divulged; the compromises they make, and, ultimately, what can and can’t be resolved – for Madalena, too, has things about her past that she would prefer not to reveal.
Set against a backdrop of mountains and lakes, Water’s Edge is a tapestry of love, lies and family – Goodreads

Water’s Edge

On top of these wonderful sounding books I have two purchases to make Imago by Celina Grace with the third of the Kate Redman Mystery series which I have enjoyed so much. .

Imago

Publication date Sunday 10 November

Blurb

They don’t fear me, quite the opposite. It makes it twice as fun… I know the next time will be soon, I’ve learnt to recognise the signs. I think I even know who it will be. She’s oblivious of course, just as she should be. All the time, I watch and wait and she has no idea, none at all. And why would she? I’m disguised as myself, the very best disguise there is.”
A known prostitute is found stabbed to death in a shabby corner of Abbeyford. Detective Sergeant Kate Redman and her partner Detective Sergeant Olbeck take on the case, expecting to have it wrapped up in a matter of days. Kate finds herself distracted by her growing attraction to her boss, Detective Chief Inspector Anderton – until another woman’s body is found, with the same knife wounds. And then another one after that, in a matter of days.
Forced to confront the horrifying realisation that a serial killer may be preying on the vulnerable women of Abbeyford, Kate, Olbeck and the team find themselves in a race against time to unmask a terrifying murderer, who just might be hiding in plain sight… Amazon

and The Flavours of Love by Dorothy Koomson which was published yesterday 7 November 2013

FOL
Blurb

‘I’m looking for that perfect blend of flavours; the taste that used to be you. If I find it, I know you’ll come back to me.’
It’s been 18 months since my husband was murdered and I’ve decided to finish writing The Flavours of Love, the cookbook he started before he died. Everyone thinks I’m coping so well without him – they have no idea what I’ve been hiding or what I do away from prying eyes. But now that my 14-year-old daughter has confessed something so devastating it could destroy our family all over again, and my husband’s killer has started to write to me claiming to be innocent, I know it’s only a matter of time before the truth about me and what I’ve done is revealed to the world.
My name is Saffron Mackleroy and this is my story.

The Flavours of LoveDorothy Koomson’s novels are all extremely well plotted and with the sort of writing that immerses you in the story…

All I need now is a time machine to make enough time to read everything I’ve got planned!

Please let me know what you have found this week because as you can see I’m always looking for more books to read!