Historical Fiction

#BookReview
The Subway Girls by Susie Orman Schnall
@susieschnall @StMartinsPress

#BookReview The Subway Girls by Susie Orman Schnall @susieschnall @StMartinsPressTitle: The Subway Girls

Author: Susie Orman Schnall

Published by St. Martin's Griffin on July 10, 2018

Genres: Historical Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 320

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: St. Martin's Press, NetGalley

Book Rating: 8/10

 

 

Synopsis:

In 1949, dutiful and ambitious Charlotte’s dream of a career in advertising is shattered when her father demands she help out with the family business. Meanwhile, Charlotte is swept into the glamorous world of the Miss Subways beauty contest, which promises irresistible opportunities with its Park Avenue luster and local fame status. But when her new friend—the intriguing and gorgeous fellow-participant Rose—does something unforgivable, Charlotte must make a heart-wrenching decision that will change the lives of those around her forever.

Nearly 70 years later, outspoken advertising executive Olivia is pitching the NYC subways account in a last ditch effort to save her job at an advertising agency. When the charismatic boss she’s secretly in love with pits her against her misogynistic nemesis, Olivia’s urgent search for the winning strategy leads her to the historic Miss Subways campaign. As the pitch date closes in on her, Olivia finds herself dealing with a broken heart, an unlikely new love interest, and an unexpected personal connection to Miss Subways that could save her job—and her future.

The Subway Girls is the charming story of two strong women, a generation apart, who find themselves up against the same eternal struggle to find an impossible balance between love, happiness, and ambition.


Review:

Charming, alluring, and lighthearted!

The Subway Girls is set in New York City during the late 1940s, as well as present day, and is told from two different perspectives, Charlotte, a young woman who yearns to have a career and be more than just a wife and mother, and Olivia a marketing executive who’s determined to prove she deserves the same recognition and success as her male counterparts.

The prose is precise and effortless. The characters are ambitious, independent, creative, and strong. And the plot, alternating between past and present, is a nostalgic, fascinating tale of life, love, deception, betrayal, heartbreak, perseverance, friendship, family, romance, and the world of marketing.

The Subway Girls is a well-written, exceptionally researched novel that highlights Susie Orman Schnall’s incredible knowledge into the Miss Subway advertising campaign that graced the inside of NY Subway cars from 1941 to 1976 and reminds us that even though we’ve come so far the work-life balance is still a very real struggle for professional women today.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

 

 

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Susie Orman Schnall

Susie Orman Schnall is the author of the novels THE SUBWAY GIRLS, THE BALANCE PROJECT, and ON GRACE. She grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. Her writing has appeared in publications including The New York Times, The Huffington Post, POPSUGAR, Writer’s Digest, and Glamour. In addition, she has spoken extensively on work-life balance and is the founder of The Balance Project interview series. She lives in Purchase, NY, with her husband and their three sons.

#BookReview
Dear Mrs. Bird by A.J. Pearce
@ajpearcewrites @SimonSchusterCA

#BookReview Dear Mrs. Bird by A.J. Pearce @ajpearcewrites @SimonSchusterCATitle: Dear Mrs. Bird

Author: A.J. Pearce

Published by Scribner on July 3, 2018

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 288

Format: Paperback

Source: Simon & Schuster Canada

Book Rating: 9/10

 

 

Synopsis:

A charming, irresistible debut novel set in London during World War II about an adventurous young woman who becomes a secret advice columnist—a warm, funny, and enormously moving story for fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Lilac Girls.

London 1940, bombs are falling. Emmy Lake is Doing Her Bit for the war effort, volunteering as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. When Emmy sees an advertisement for a job at the London Evening Chronicle, her dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent seem suddenly achievable. But the job turns out to be typist to the fierce and renowned advice columnist, Henrietta Bird. Emmy is disappointed, but gamely bucks up and buckles down.

Mrs Bird is very clear: Any letters containing Unpleasantness—must go straight in the bin. But when Emmy reads poignant letters from women who are lonely, may have Gone Too Far with the wrong men and found themselves in trouble, or who can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she is unable to resist responding. As the German planes make their nightly raids, and London picks up the smoldering pieces each morning, Emmy secretly begins to write letters back to the women of all ages who have spilled out their troubles.

Prepare to fall head over heels with Emmy and her best friend, Bunty, who are spirited and gutsy, even in the face of events that bring a terrible blow. As the bombs continue to fall, the irrepressible Emmy keeps writing, and readers are transformed by AJ Pearce’s hilarious, heartwarming, and enormously moving tale of friendship, the kindness of strangers, and ordinary people in extraordinary times.


Review:

Spirited, poignant, and moving!

Dear Mrs. Bird is an intriguing tale that takes you back to the streets of London during WWII and into the life of Emmeline Lake a cheery, optimistic, young woman who after finding herself inadvertently working on the advice column for Woman’s Friend magazine takes it upon herself to begin secretly doling out guidance to those on the home front seeking advice for “inappropriate topics”.

The prose is comical and light. The characters are plucky, sympathetic, and real. And the plot is an engaging, perfectly paced tale about life, loss, self-discovery, friendship, tragedy, heartbreak, uncertainty, hilarious misunderstandings, good intentions, meddling, and the realities of war. 

Overall, Dear Mrs. Bird is a delightfully heartwarming, wonderful debut for Pearce that does an exceptional job of highlighting the incredible impact war had on the personal lives of those it touched both at home and away and the significant roles and contribution of women during those dark times.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

 

 

 

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About A.J. Pearce

AJ Pearce grew up in Hampshire and studied at the University of Sussex. A chance discovery of a 1939 women's magazine became the inspiration for her ever-growing collection and her first novel Dear Mrs Bird. She now lives and writes in the south of England.

#BlogTour #Excerpt
Summer of Love by Caro Fraser
@carofraser @aria_fiction

Synopsis:

The dark days of the war are over, but the family secrets they held are only just dawning.

  In the hot summer of 1949, a group of family and friends gather at Harry Denholm’s country house in Kent. Meg and Dan Ranscombe, emerging from a scandal of their own making; Dan’s godmother, Sonia; and her two young girls, Laura and Avril, only one of whom is Sonia’s biological daughter. Amongst the heat, memories, and infatuations, a secret is revealed to Meg’s son, Max, and soon a terrible tragedy unfolds that will have consequences for them all. Afterwards, Avril, Laura and Max must come of age in a society still reeling from the war, haunted by the choices of that fateful summer. Cold, entitled Avril will go to any lengths to take what is hers. Beautiful, naive Laura finds refuge and love in the London jazz clubs, but Max, with wealth and unrequited love, has the capacity to undo it all.

 

Excerpt:

1949

The air was full of the fresh, damp scents of early spring as Meg and Dan Ranscombe turned off the road and walked up the narrow path that led to the back of Woodbourne House. They made a handsome couple – Meg, in her early thirties, was vividly pretty, with dark eyes and chestnut hair curling to her shoulders; Dan, a few years older, was by contrast fair-haired and blue-eyed, his clean-cut features marked by a faint arrogance, a remnant of youthful vanity. They walked in thoughtful silence. It was four years since they had last been to Woodbourne House, the home of Sonia Haddon, Meg’s aunt and Dan’s godmother.

‘I’m glad we took the train instead of driving,’ said Dan, breaking the quiet. ‘I have fond memories of this walk.’

They paused by a big, whitewashed stone barn standing at the foot of a sloping apple orchard.

‘Uncle Henry’s studio,’ murmured Meg. ‘I remember that summer, having to traipse down every morning with barley water and biscuits for him while he was painting.’

Sonia’s husband, Henry Haddon, had been an acclaimed artist in his day, and in pre-war times to have one’s portrait painted by him had had considerable cachet. In Britain’s post-war modernist world, his name had fallen out of fashion.

Dan stood gazing at the barn, lost in his own memories: that final day of the house partytwelve years ago, when he had come down to the studio to say farewell to his host. Finding Henry Haddon, his trousers round his ankles, locked in an embrace with Madeleine, the nanny, against the wall of the studio had been absurd and shocking enough, but what had then transpired had been even worse. He could remember still the sound of the ladder crashing to the floor, and the sight of five-year-old Avril peeping over the edge of the hayloft. Presumably the shock of seeing his daughter had brought on Haddon’s heart attack. That, and unwonted sexual exertions. The moments afterwards were confused in his memory, although he recalled setting the ladder aright so that Avril could get down, then sending her running up to the house to get someone to fetch a doctor, while he uselessly attempted to revive Haddon. Madeleine, unsurprisingly, had made herself scarce. And the painting – he remembered that. A portrait of Madeleine in her yellow sundress, seated on a wicker chair, head half-turned as though listening to notes of unheard music, or the footfall of some awaited lover. Haddon had been working on it in the days running up to his death, and no doubt the intimacy forged between painter and sitter had led to that brief and ludicrously tragic affair. The falling ladder had knocked it from the easel, and he had picked it up and placed it with its face to the wall next to the other canvases. He didn’t to this day know why he had done that. Perhaps as a way of closing off and keeping secret what he had witnessed. To this day nobody but he knew about Haddon’s affair with Madeleine. Had the painting ever been discovered? No one had ever mentioned it. Perhaps it was there still, just as he had left it.

Meg glanced at his face. ‘Penny for them.’

‘Oh, nothing,’ said Dan. ‘Just thinking about that house party, when you and I first met.’

What a fateful chain of events had been set in motion in the summer of 1936. He had been a twenty-four-year-old penniless journalist, invited to spend several days at Woodbourne House with a handful of other guests. Meeting and falling in love with Meg had led to the clandestine affair they had conducted throughout the war years behind the back of her husband Paul. Its discovery had led to estrangement with much of the family. Paul, a bomber pilot, had been killed on the way back from a raid over Germany, and the possibility that his discovery of the affair might have contributed in some way, on some level, to his death, still haunted them both. They never spoke of it. Meg and Dan were married now, but the guilt of what they had done remained. Meg’s mother Helen had been trying for some time to persuade her sister, Sonia, to forgive Meg and Dan, and today’s invitation to Woodbourne House was a signal that she had at last relented.

They walked up through the orchard, and when they reached the flagged courtyard at the back of the house Meg said, ‘I’m going to the kitchen to say hello to Effie. I don’t think I can face Aunt Sonia quite yet. I’ll let you go first. Cowardly of me, I know, but I can’t help it.’ She gave him a quick smile and a kiss, and turned in the direction of the kitchen.

 

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy of this novel from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links!

          

 

 

Thank you to Caro Fraser and Aria Fiction for being featured on my blog today!

 

About Caro Fraser

 

Caro Fraser is the author of the bestselling Caper Court novels, based on her own experiences as a lawyer. She is the daughter of Flashman author George MacDonald Fraser and lives in London.

 

 

For more information on Aria Fiction visit them at:

Website | Twitter | FacebookInstagram | NetGalley | Newsletter

 

#BlogTour & #BookReview
The Concubine’s Child by Carol Jones
@Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books

#BlogTour & #BookReview The Concubine’s Child by Carol Jones @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_BooksTitle: The Concubine's Child

Author: Carol Jones

Published by Aria on April 1, 2018

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 320

Format: eBook

Source: Aria, NetGalley

Book Rating: 8/10

 

 

Synopsis:

In 1930s Malaya a sixteen-year-old girl, dreaming of marriage to her sweetheart, is sold as a concubine to a rich old man desperate for an heir. Trapped, and bullied by his spiteful wife, Yu Lan plans to escape with her baby son, despite knowing that they will pursue her to the ends of the earth.

Four generations later, her great-grandson, Nick, will return to Malaysia, looking for the truth behind the facade of a house cursed by the unhappy past. Nothing can prepare him for what he will find.

This exquisitely rich novel brings to life a vanished world – a world of abandoned ghost houses, inquisitive monkeys, smoky temples and a panoply of gods and demons. A world where a poor girl can be sold to fulfil a rich man’s dream. But though he can buy her body, he can never capture her soul, nor quench her spirit.


Review:

Somber, evocative, and poignant!

The Concubine’s Child is a compelling tale that sweeps you away to a country where money is power, freedom is often beyond reach, and the people are governed by the ancient superstitions, traditions, and spirituality that have been passed down and ingrained from generation to generation.

The prose is vivid and rich. The characters are multi-layered, sympathetic, and vulnerable. The plot is well crafted and uses a back-and-forth, past/present style to unravel all the motivations, relationships, and personalities within it. And the story set in Malaysia during both the 1930s, as well as present day, is full of familial drama, heartbreak, lost love, jealousy, obsession, discord, mystique, culture, courage, grief, self-discovery, hope, solace, and survival.

Overall, I would have to say that The Concubine’s Child is a heart-wrenching tale that does an exceptional job of highlighting the indomitable spirit of women and their ability to face, endure, survive, and conquer any challenges, struggles, or tragedies that come their way.

 

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                                      

 

 

Thank you to Aria, an imprint of Head of Zeus for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Carol Jones

Born in Brisbane, Australia, Carol Jones taught English and Drama at secondary schools before working as an editor of children’s magazines. She is the author of several young adult novels as well as children’s non-fiction.

 

 

#BookReview
The Broken Girls by Simone St. James
@simone_stjames @BerkleyPub #NetGalley

#BookReview The Broken Girls by Simone St. James @simone_stjames @BerkleyPub #NetGalleyTitle: The Broken Girls

Author: Simone St. James

Published by Berkley Publishing on March 20, 2018

Genres: Mystery/Thriller, Historical Fiction

Pages: 336

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: Berkley Publishing, NetGalley

Book Rating: 9/10

 

 

Synopsis:

A suspense novel from the award-winning author of The Haunting of Maddy Clare…

Vermont, 1950. There’s a place for the girls whom no one wants–the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It’s called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it’s located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming–until one of them mysteriously disappears. . . .

Vermont, 2014. As much as she’s tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister’s death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister’s boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can’t shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past–and a voice that won’t be silenced. . . .


Review:

Haunting, imaginative, and mystical!

In this latest novel by St. James, The Broken Girls, she transports us to Barrons, Vermont a small town where the restoration of an abandoned boarding school will unearth powerful emotions, tragic memories, and more long-buried secrets and skeletons than anyone could have imagined.

The prose is eerie and dark. The plot, told from alternating timelines, is gripping, suspenseful and filled with familial drama, neglect, hatred, abuse, desperation, violence, and murder all interwoven with a thread of the supernatural. And the characterization is spot on with a cast of characters that are damaged, fearless, and loyal, and a setting, Idlewild Hall, that is a character itself with its dereliction and isolation.

Overall, The Broken Girls is an intelligent, unique, skillfully crafted page-turner that will have you on the edge of your seat from the very first page and will ultimately leave you chilled, surprised, satisfied and thoroughly entertained.

 

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                        

 

 

Thank you to Berkley Publishing Group for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Simone St. James

Simone St. James is the award-winning author of The Haunting of Maddy Clare, which won two RITA awards from Romance Writers of America and an Arthur Ellis Award from Crime Writers of Canada. She wrote her first ghost story, about a haunted library, when she was in high school, and spent twenty years behind the scenes in the television business before leaving to write full-time. She lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband and a spoiled cat.

#BookReview
Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley
@SusannaKearsley @SimonSchusterCA

#BookReview Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley @SusannaKearsley @SimonSchusterCATitle: Bellewether

Author: Susanna Kearsley

Published by Simon & Schuster Canada on April 24, 2018

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 414

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: Simon & Schuster Canada

Book Rating: 10/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Some houses seem to want to hold their secrets.

It’s 1759 and the world is at war, pulling the North American colonies of Britain and France into the conflict. The times are complicated, as are the loyalties of many New York merchants who have secretly been trading with the French for years, defying Britain’s colonial laws in a game growing ever more treacherous.

When captured French officers are brought to Long Island to be billeted in private homes on their parole of honour, it upends the lives of the Wilde family—deeply involved in the treasonous trade and already divided by war.

Lydia Wilde, struggling to keep the peace in her fracturing family following her mother’s death, has little time or kindness to spare for her unwanted guests. French-Canadian lieutenant Jean-Philippe de Sabran has little desire to be there. But by the war’s end they’ll both learn love, honour, and duty can form tangled bonds that are not broken easily.

Their doomed romance becomes a local legend, told and re-told through the years until the present day, when conflict of a different kind brings Charley Van Hoek to Long Island to be the new curator of the Wilde House Museum.

Charley doesn’t believe in ghosts. But as she starts to delve into the history of Lydia and her French officer, it becomes clear that the Wilde House holds more than just secrets, and Charley discovers the legend might not have been telling the whole story…or the whole truth.


Review:

Powerful, absorbing, and incredibly fascinating!

Bellewether is an enthralling tale set on the eastern shores of Long Island during the late 1750s, as well as present day, and is told from three different perspectives. Lydia, a strong, hardworking young woman struggling to care and support those she loves in a time of uncertainty and upheaval. Jean-Philippe, a French-Canadian soldier who finds himself captured and a parole of honour in the final pivotal days of the Seven Years’ War. And Charley, an intelligent, independent woman determined to discover all the skeletons hidden inside the Wilde House, as well as her own.

The prose is eloquent and expressive. The characters are alluring, sympathetic, multi-layered, and authentic. And the plot is a sweeping saga filled with familial drama, introspection, love, loss, grief, mystique, heartbreak, romance, secrets, passion, loyalty, as well as a little peek into a war that had a tremendous impact on the culture and history of Canada as we know it today.

Bellewether is a beautifully written, exceptionally atmospheric novel that transports you to another time and place and immerses you so thoroughly into the personalities, feelings, and lives of the characters you never want it to end. It is without a doubt one of my favourite novels of the year that once again highlights Kearsley’s extraordinary imagination and talent as a masterful storyteller and researcher.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

 

 

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Susanna Kearsley

A former museum curator, Susanna Kearsley brings her passion for research and travel to her novels, weaving modern-day and historical intrigue. She won the prestigious Catherine Cookson Fiction Award for her novel Mariana, the 2010 Romantic Times Book Review’s Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Historical Fiction novel for The Winter Sea, was shortlisted for a 2012 RITA Award for The Rose Garden, and was a finalist for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel from the Crime Writers of Canada for Every Secret Thing.

Photograph © Jacques du Toit

#BookReview
The Cursed Wife by Pamela Hartshorne
@PamHartshorne @PGCBooks @panmacmillan

#BookReview The Cursed Wife by Pamela Hartshorne @PamHartshorne @PGCBooks @panmacmillanTitle: The Cursed Wife

Author: Pamela Hartshorne

Published by Pan Macmillan on March 8, 2018

Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller

Pages: 480

Format: Paperback

Source: Publishers Group Canada

Book Rating: 7.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

She is living a lie, And lies can be deadly.

Mary is content with her life as wife to Gabriel Thorne, a wealthy merchant in Elizabethan London. She loves her husband and her family, is a kind mistress to the household and is well-respected in the neighbourhood. She does her best to forget that as a small girl she was cursed for causing the death of a vagrant child, a curse that predicts that she will hang. She tells herself that she is safe.

But Mary’s whole life is based on a lie. She is not the woman her husband believes her to be, and when one rainy day she ventures to Cheapside, the past catches up with her and sets her on a path that leads her to the gibbet and the fulfilment of the curse.

The Cursed Wife is a page-turning, psychological thriller set in Elizabethan London.


Review:

Atmospheric, gritty, and haunting!

The Cursed Wife is a well-paced, historical thriller set in England in the late 1600s that’s told from two different perspectives. Mary, a considerate, helpful, young woman with a past steeped in misfortune and deception. And Cat, a selfish, unscrupulous young lady driven by impulsiveness and jealousy.

The writing is immersive and eerie. The characters are tormented, hardened, and resourceful. And the plot, using a back-and-forth style is evocative, taut, and twisty from the very first page until the spine-chilling ending you won’t see coming.

The Cursed Wife is an intriguingly dark and sinister novel that sweeps you back in time and transports you from the opulent manor houses found in the English countryside to the dingy, dangerous London docks in an engrossing tale rife with desperation, survival, manipulation, abuse, deviance, violence, class disparity, and murder.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                        

 

 

Thank you to Publishers Group Canada for providing me with a copy of this story in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Pamela Hartshorne

Pamela Hartshorne is a historian as well as an award-winning romance author. She lives in York, England and continues to draw inspiration from her PhD research to write about the 16th century, in fact or fiction. Time’s Echo, her first novel written under her real name, was shortlisted for awards on both sides of the Atlantic.

  

#BookReview
Tangerine by Christine Mangan
@HarperCollinsCa

#BookReview Tangerine by Christine Mangan @HarperCollinsCaTitle: Tangerine

Author: Christine Mangan

Published by Ecco on March 27, 2018

Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller

Pages: 320

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: HarperCollins Canada

Book Rating: 8/10

 

 

Synopsis:

The last person Alice Shipley expected to see since arriving in Tangier with her new husband was Lucy Mason. After the accident at Bennington, the two friends—once inseparable roommates—haven’t spoken in over a year. But there Lucy was, trying to make things right and return to their old rhythms. Perhaps Alice should be happy. She has not adjusted to life in Morocco, too afraid to venture out into the bustling medinas and oppressive heat. Lucy—always fearless and independent—helps Alice emerge from her flat and explore the country.

But soon a familiar feeling starts to overtake Alice—she feels controlled and stifled by Lucy at every turn. Then Alice’s husband, John, goes missing, and Alice starts to question everything around her: her relationship with her enigmatic friend, her decision to ever come to Tangier, and her very own state of mind.

Tangerine is a sharp dagger of a book—a debut so tightly wound, so replete with exotic imagery and charm, so full of precise details and extraordinary craftsmanship, it will leave you absolutely breathless.


Review:

Chilling, atmospheric, and ominous!

Tangerine is a well-paced, psychological thriller set in Tangier, Morocco that is told from two different perspectives. Alice, a wealthy, fragile, young woman with a history of tragedy and a husband and new home she’s not entirely comfortable or content with. And Lucy, a dangerous, manipulative young lady who seems to lack a conscience and be driven by an unhealthy, violent obsession.

The writing is taut and vividly descriptive. The characters are complex, flawed, and highly unstable. And the plot, using alternating chapters, does a superb job of building tension and unease as it subtly unravels and intertwines an intricate web of lies, secrets, pretense, desperation, infatuation, violence, and murder.

Overall, Tangerine is a fantastic debut for Mangan that transports you to another time and place and reminds you that some friendships are not only toxic but often deadly.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

 

 

Thank you to HarperCollins Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Christine Mangan

Christine Mangan has her PhD in English from University College Dublin, where her thesis focused on 18th-century Gothic literature, and an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Southern Maine. Tangerine is her first novel.

#GuestPost
The Summer Will Come by Soulla Christodoulou
@schristodoulou2 @rararesources

 

Synopsis:

Set in the 1950s, the story begins in Cyprus. EOKA, British rule, and the fight for Enosis (unity) disrupt the world of two Greek Cypriot families, living in different villages on the island. They are desperately trying to cope with the unpredictability of this fractious time. Circumstances over a five-year period push both families to escape to London where, as immigrants, they struggle to settle, face new challenges, trauma and cope with missing their homeland’s traditions and culture. Both families’ lives cross paths in London and it seems that happier beginnings could be theirs. But at what cost? A story of passion for a country in turmoil, family love, loyalty and treachery and how, sometimes, starting over isn’t always as imagined.

 

About the Author:

Born in London to Greek Cypriot parents Soulla Christodoulou spent much of her childhood living carefree days full of family, school and friends. She was the first in her family to go to university and studied BA Hotel & Catering Management at Portsmouth University. Years later, after having a family of her own she studied again at Middlesex University and has a PGCE in Business Studies and an MA in Education.

Soulla is a Fiction author and wrote her first novel Broken Pieces of Tomorrow over a few months while working full time in secondary education. She is a mother of three boys.

She is a compassionate and empathetic supporter of young people. Her passion for teaching continues through private tuition of English Language and Children’s Creative Writing Classes as well as proof reading and other writing services.

Her writing has also connected her with a charity in California which she is very much involved in as a contributor of handwritten letters every month to support and give hope to women diagnosed with breast cancer. One of her letters is featured in a book ‘Dear Friend’, released on Amazon in September 2017.

When asked, she will tell you she has always, somewhere on a subconscious level, wanted to write and her life’s experiences both personal and professional have played a huge part in bringing her to where she was always meant to be; writing books and drinking lots of cinnamon and clove tea!

She also has a poetry collection, Sunshine after Rain, published on Amazon and The Summer Will Come is her second novel. She is currently working on a third novel Trust is a Big Word about an on-line illicit relationship that develops between two people.

 

And now Soulla Christodoulou:

Thank you for inviting me to post as part of the blog tour for the launch of The Summer Will Come out on 25th March 2015. I thought long and hard about what I could share with you and then I remembered how my family has always celebrated ‘Name Days’. So I asked my mum about them and did a little research of my own too.

In Cyprus ‘Name Days’ traditionally are celebrated more than actual birthdays which weren’t even registered until the 1900s in Cyprus. This is because in Cyprus, and across Greece too, children are typically named after a Patron Saint of their region,

with the eldest son often being named after his paternal grandfather, and the eldest daughter after her paternal grandmother. This is why it’s common to see a continuation of names in the family line and often cousins within the same family will share names too.

I looked up Saint Days for the Greek Orthodox Church and found that every day of the year, with no exception, is dedicated to the memory of at least one saint or martyr and in some cases there are more than one to celebrate on each day. (you can view the calendar by clicking HERE). 

So what do we do to celebrate our ‘Name Day’? Traditionally, in Cyprus the person celebrating their Name Day has a party and invites all their family and friends who bring gifts of food, flowers and presents. It is a party for all so whoever wants to join in can and in the villages very often the party continues all day and in the evening. The host will have food and drinks ready and will welcome everyone into their home as a way of rejoicing together. My ‘Name Day’, my full name is Anastasia, was celebrated on the 22nd January – I cooked a special meal for my family and I received lots of wishes and phone calls wishing me a happy ‘Name Day’. If I was living in Cyprus I am in no doubt that my neighbours and friends would have come over for a drink and even a dance and wished me Xponia bolla! – may you be blessed with many years!

Each Greek Orthodox Church is also named after a saint, therefore there are also community celebrations for its ‘Name Day’, known as panigiria, which include food, fireworks and fairs. On the eve of the saint’s day, villagers and street-vendors may gather in the grounds of the patron saint’s church to sell local delicacies and homemade gifts and bric-a-brac.

So following in the Greek tradition why not look up your ‘Name Day’ date and if you need an excuse that is, use it as just that and have a party with your friends and family. Thank you and happy ‘Name Day’ to you all.

 

Thank you to Soulla Christodoulou for being a guest on my blog today! It was truly an honour!

 

Pick up a copy of this novel from your favourite retailer or from the following link!

 

For more information on Soulla Christodoulou follow her on the following:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Scriggler

 

#BookReview
The Italian Party by Christina Lynch
@Clynchwriter @StMartinsPress

#BookReview The Italian Party by Christina Lynch @Clynchwriter @StMartinsPressTitle: The Italian Party

Author: Christina Lynch

Published by St. Martin's Press on March 20, 2018

Genres: General Fiction, Historical Fiction

Pages: 336

Format: Hardcover, ARC

Source: St. Martin's Press

Book Rating: 8/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Newly married, Scottie and Michael are seduced by Tuscany’s famous beauty. But the secrets they are keeping from each other force them beneath the splendid surface to a more complex view of ltaly, America and each other.

When Scottie’s Italian teacher―a teenager with secrets of his own―disappears, her search for him leads her to discover other, darker truths about herself, her husband and her country. Michael’s dedication to saving the world from communism crumbles as he begins to see that he is a pawn in a much different game. Driven apart by lies, Michael and Scottie must find their way through a maze of history, memory, hate and love to a new kind of complicated truth.

Half glamorous fun, half an examination of America’s role in the world, and filled with sun-dappled pasta lunches, prosecco, charming spies and horse racing, The Italian Party is a smart pleasure.


Review:

Picturesque, insightful, and delightfully winsome!

The Italian Party is an immersive story that takes you back to Siena, Italy during the mid-1950s when The Cold War was still influencing Italian politics, Communism was rampant, spies were everywhere, and in this tale newly married American couple Michael and Scottie have just arrived with glamour, high-tech gadgets, and an abundance of secrets.

The prose is eloquent and atmospheric. The characterization is exceptionally well drawn with a whole slew of characters that are colourful, affable, and quirky. And the plot is an intriguing mix of spy thriller, romance, and comedy, that’s full of life, love, self-discovery, deception, betrayal, grief, friendship, antics, and community.

I have to admit I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started The Italian Party but it wasn’t long before Lynch swept me away in a debut that’s mysterious, informative, and witty and gave me a beautiful picture postcard of the history, landmarks, culture, and culinary fare of a country she obviously loves and knows well.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

 

 

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Christina Lynch

Christina Lynch’s picaresque journey includes chapters in Chicago and at Harvard, where she was an editor on the Harvard Lampoon. She was the Milan correspondent for W magazine and Women’s Wear Daily, and disappeared for four years in Tuscany. In L.A. she was on the writing staff of Unhappily Ever After; Encore, Encore; The Dead Zone and Wildfire. She now lives in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. She is the co-author of two novels under the pen name Magnus Flyte. She teaches at College of the Sequoias. The Italian Party is her debut novel under her own name.

 

 

%d bloggers like this: