Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Stranger – Saskia Sarginson

Contemporary Fiction
4*s

A small town complete with a tea room is the setting of this nuanced tale by Saskia Sarginson. This is not the obvious psychological thriller with never-ending surprises that I was expecting, but unsurprisingly given the previous two books I’ve read by this author; The Other Me and The Twins, there is undeniable tension and that sense of needing to know what happens next.

Eleanor Rathmell is the owner of the aforementioned tea room, she also keeps an assortment of animals at her home which she shares with her husband William. All is good in her life, except the secret she has kept all her married life. With few cares in her world, Ellie’s life is turned upside down when she witnesses a horrific car crash, an accident that to her horror she discovers results in William’s death. Worse is to come as she finds evidence that she wasn’t the only one with a secret.

What starts as a fairly standard secrets and lies premise quickly morphs into a fairly issue-led novel about migrants. I was delighted to find although the author had clearly done her research, this not being a ‘shouty’ book from a soapbox, she hadn’t forgotten that we, her readers, want to be entertained. I can’t deny the social commentary on an issue that is far more complex than either side of the debate can sometimes appear to be willing to understand. The migrants featured in The Stranger work on a local farm working for David, a rich farmer with two grown-up children. The local’s mistrust of these migrants could seem at odds with the fundraiser they run for the refugees of the Syrian disaster. When a Romanian moves into Ellie’s garage to help out with jobs on the smallholding strange things begin to happen and there are no shortage of people willing to warn Ellie about the mistake she is making. Ellie has to decide whether the stranger she has welcomed is behind the acts or is someone trying to remove him from the scene.

From that short taster you can see that the plot lines of a widow struggling to comprehend the loss of her husband coupled with the secrets she has uncovered seem at total odds with the local issues of migrants but all of this is neatly tied in, often revolving around the tea room where everyday life continues and Ellie gets her life back onto some sort of track with the help of her assistant Kate. Inevitably there is some romance to sweeten the darker aspects of the storyline which emerge gradually and with great restraint as the book progresses.

The characters are distinct and the dialogue convincing which combined with the measured writing creates a subtle tension when life in the village begins to unravel and Ellie is left unsure who she can trust. The final outcome all the more shocking for the way the author plays the build-up straight down the line.

Although this wasn’t quite the book I was expecting to read I found it to be both an entertaining and thought-provoking read.

I’d like to thank Little Brown for providing me with a copy of The Stranger. This unbiased review is my thanks to them.

First Published UK: 8 September 2016
Publisher: Piatkus
No of Pages: 384
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (May 16)

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 first paragraph this week comes from The Stranger by Saskia Sarginson which was published on 8 September 2016 as an eBook and in paperback on 23 March 2017.

Blurb

We all have our secrets. Eleanor Rathmell has kept one her whole life. But when her husband dies and a stranger arrives at her door, her safe life in the idyllic English village she’s chosen as her home begins to topple.

Everyone is suspicious of this stranger, except for Eleanor. But her trust in him will put her life in danger, because nothing is as it seems; not her dead husband, the man who claims to love her, or the inscrutable outsider to whom she’s opened her home and her heart. Amazon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

One

2015

The small circle of my bicycle light makes the darkness around me deeper. I stop on the deserted road, leaning over my front wheel to click it off. Will’s voice speaks in my head.
Ellie! You know how lethal these roads are at night!
Oh, stop making a fuss, I tell him.
I’m your husband, he reminds me, resigned and patient as ever, of course I want to keep you safe.
William is a worrier. He’s not a chest-beating male. He’s the sort of man who winces barefoot over pebbles on the beach, who always drives below the speed limit, who goes back to the house to check that he really did switch the bathroom light off. I roll my eyes at the imaginary Will and he grins in his good-natured way, palms up, caught out again. Secretly, I like his fussing. It lets me be the brave one. The daredevil half of our partnership.
What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (March 12)

Weekly Wrap Up

This Week on the Blog

I had a fantastic blogging week with a blog tour and three five star reviews; and yes, three five star reviews even though I’ve been following my slightly stricter criteria!!

On Monday G.J. Minett wrote a guest post on Writing Characters which gave some very sound advice as part of his blog tour to promote Lie In Wait which is now out in paperback.

My excerpt post came from a book that I’m very excited to read; A Life Between Us by Louise Walters

This Week in Books included a murderous trio of books by Leigh Russell, Peter Graham and Yrsa Sigurdardottir.

My first five star review was for the long awaited Let The Dead Speak by Jane Casey, the seventh in the Maeve Kerrigan series.

The second review was for an equally thrilling Quieter than Killing by Sarah Hilary, the fourth in the chilling DI Marnie Rome series.

And lastly, but no means least, my review for Everything But The Truth by Gillian McAllister explains why this  psychological thriller was an unexpected delight.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading No One Knows by J.T. Ellison a psychological thriller. The opening paragraph explains that I am cutting back on this genre which I find amusing because I’m still saying that now – maybe my addiction runs deeper than I thought!

This domestic noir thriller is about Aubrey whose husband went missing on his best friend’s stag night but Aubrey is convinced he is still alive. With a likeable chief protagonist this avoids some of the clichés of the 2016 domestic noir output, although it had enough surprises to keep me thoroughly entertained.

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

Blurb

Aubrey Hamilton has been mourning her missing husband for five years, despite being even while she was considered the prime suspect in his murder. But when he is officially declared dead, there are still more questions than answers: Why didn’t Josh show up at his friend’s bachelor party? Was he murdered, or did he run away? And who is the new, mysterious and strangely familiar figure suddenly appearing in Aubrey’s life? And has she finally lost her mind after years of loneliness and confusion? Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

Another restrained week for me, probably helped by the fact that Jersey has suffered from fog so we had no mail for a few days!

Jersey Evening Post

From NetGalley I have a copy of The Stranger by Saskia Sarginson chosen because I really did enjoy The Other Me by this author.

Blurb

We all have our secrets. Eleanor Rathmell has kept one her whole life. But when her husband dies and a stranger arrives at her door, her safe life in the idyllic English village she’s chosen as her home begins to topple.
Everyone is suspicious of this stranger, except for Eleanor. But her trust in him will put her life in danger, because nothing is as it seems; not her dead husband, the man who claims to love her, or the inscrutable outsider to whom she’s opened her home and her heart. NetGalley

And I bought a copy of A Time for Silence by Thorne Moore because one of the bloggers I’ve followed for the longest,  BookerTalk, suggested this one for an upcoming Put A Book on The Map post and it sounded so good that I couldn’t resist – this will be the first entry for Wales on the map!

Blurb

When Sarah, struggling to get over tragedy, stumbles across her grandparents’ ruined farm, it feels as if the house has been waiting for her. She is drawn to their apparently idyllic way of life and starts to look into her family history only to learn that her grandfather, Jack, was murdered. Why has nobody told her? Sarah becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Gwen and Jack. But are there some family stories that should never be told… Amazon

What have you found to read this week? – do share!

tbr-watch

Since my last post I’ve read 3 books and gained just 2 so the grand total is hurtling in a downward direction to 187
Physical Books – 109
Kindle Books – 64
NetGalley Books – 14