Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The September Garden – Catherine Law

Historical Fiction 4*'s
Historical Fiction
4*’s

I won a signed copy of this book from a Goodreads Giveaway which was an excellent Christmas present as I rarely win anything.  Even better despite early misgivings about the depth of the characters this turned out to be a really good read.

Blurb

Set in London during the Blitz, in occupied France, and among the rolling Chiltern hills, this is the story of two cousins thrown together by the outbreak of war. Nell and Sylvie grow up quickly during the early days of rationing, blackouts, and the arrival of RAF planes in the skies. But even as the war rages on around them, the competition and jealousy between the cousins battles on – especially in romance.
When the girls fall in love with the same man, he is spared having to choose between them as the war pulls them all apart and changes the course of their lives, with devastating consequences. For Nell, the only place she can ever find solace is inside the September Garden, her father’s walled sanctuary. It is here that she decides to hide her most dreadful secret . . .

The September Garden is the patch of ground that Nell’s father has turned into a beautiful autumn haven, full of wonderful blooming flowers. Nell’s father fought, but never really recovered from the First World War and it is at the advent of the second is where this book begins.

The story centres around Nell and her cousin Sylvie who lives in France, the two cousins a year apart in age but a mile apart in attitude share an uneasy relationship which only intensifies when Sylvie has to stay in England when the war breaks out.

At first I was unsure about this book. I thought the characters were simply outlines at the beginning but as the book commences and the two girls face up to life in wartime Buckinghamshire they soon become filled in. Alongside the cousin’s story we have the tale of life in France, shown to us through the eyes of Sylvie’s maid, Adele. What looks from the cover to be a fluffy romantic book, is anything so although there is a romance, Catherine Law does not spare us the details of life in either country with some truly horrifying events befalling each of the young characters. The young Nell doesn’t simply shrug off an air-raid with the insouciance of so many books, no stiff upper lip and her feeling of sheer terror leaps off the page and the details of life in France as the Germans began their occupation in France were often brutal but never left me feeling they were anything but true.

A well-researched novel that makes me truly grateful that I didn’t have to live through those terrible times. Published by Allison & Busby on 15 November 2013 I’d recommend this anyone who is interested in a realistic
interpretation of life in England & France during the Second World War.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (December 20)

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!

Well I am still adding to that great big TBR

First up I actually won a book in a Goodreads Giveaway, and since I rarely win anything, I am especially delighted to have a signed copy of The September Garden by Catherine Law

The September Garden
Blurb

Set in London during the Blitz, in occupied France and amid the rolling Chiltern hills of Buckinghamshire, this is the story of two cousins who, as squabbling rivals, are thrown together by the outbreak of war. Nell and Sylvie grow up quickly during the early days of rationing, black-outs, and the arrival of RAF planes in the skies over the Chilterns. Sylvie, marooned in England, is desperately worried for her parents who she left behind in Nazi-occupied Normandy, and puts up a barrier of bitterness to hide her distress. Nell, meanwhile, witnesses the crumbling of her parents’ marriage. Even as the war rages on around them, the competition and jealousy between the cousins battles on – especially in romance. When the girls fall in love with the same man, the brave and unassuming RAF officer Alex Hammond, he is spared having to choose between them. The machinations of war change the course of all their lives, with devastating consequences. Sylvie continues to hurt those who love her and to hide her pain behind her tough facade. And for Nell, the only place she can ever find solace is inside the September Garden, the walled garden that her father tended so lovingly before he left. This is the only place she feels safe in, to where she is always drawn, and where she decides to hide her most dreadful secret…Amazon

Hodder & Stoughton have kindly sent me a copy of the fabulous looking Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase by Louise Walters which will be published in February 2014
Mrs Sinclair's Suitcase

Blurb

Roberta likes to collect the letters and postcards she finds in second-hand books. When her father gives her some of her grandmother’s belongings, she finds a baffling letter from the grandfather she never knew – dated after he supposedly died in the war.
Dorothy is unhappily married to Albert, who is away at war. When an aeroplane crashes in the field behind her house she meets Squadron Leader Jan Pietrykowski, and as their bond deepens she dares to hope she might find happiness. But fate has other plans for them both, and soon she is hiding a secret so momentous that its shockwaves will touch her granddaughter many years later…Goodreads

I have also been given a copy of Watching Over You by Mel Sherratt which is due to be published on 14 January 2014 by Amazon publishing

Watching Over You

Blurb

Following the death of her husband and unborn child, Charley Belington sells the family home and bravely starts life over again. On moving into a new flat, she is befriended by her landlady, Ella, who seems like the perfect friend and confidante.
But, unbeknown to Charley, Ella is fighting her own dark and dirty demons as the fallout from a horrific childhood sends her spiralling down into madness—and unspeakable obsessions.
As Ella’s mind splinters, her increasingly bizarre attentions make Charley uneasy. But with every step Charley tries to take to distance herself, Ella moves in a tightening lockstep with her, closer and closer and closer…Netgalley

I really want a copy of A Very British Murder by Lucy Worsley but have so far resisted the urge to purchase this myself… maybe once I see what Santa brings me!

A Very British Murder

Blurb

Murder – a dark, shameful deed, the last resort of the desperate or a vile tool of the greedy. And a very strange, very British obsession. But where did this fixation develop? And what does it tell us about ourselves?
In A Very British Murder, Lucy Worsley explores this phenomenon in forensic detail, revisiting notorious crimes like the Ratcliff Highway Murders, which caused a nation-wide panic in the early nineteenth century, and the case of Frederick and Maria Manning, the suburban couple who were hanged after killing Maria’s lover and burying him under their kitchen floor. Our fascination with crimes like these became a form of national entertainment, inspiring novels and plays, puppet shows and paintings, poetry and true-crime journalism. At a point during the birth of modern Britain, murder entered our national psyche, and it’s been a part of us ever since.