Historical Fiction

#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.

 

 

#BookReview
Bachelor Girl by Kim van Alkemade
@KimvanAlkemade @SimonSchusterCA

#BookReview Bachelor Girl by Kim van Alkemade @KimvanAlkemade @SimonSchusterCATitle: Bachelor Girl

Author: Kim van Alkemade

Published by: Touchstone on March 6, 2018

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 416

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: Simon & Schuster Canada

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Orphan #8 comes a fresh and intimate novel about the destructive power of secrets and the redemptive power of love—inspired by the true story of Jacob Ruppert, the millionaire owner of the New York Yankees, and his mysterious bequest in 1939 to an unknown actress, Helen Winthrope Weyant.

When the owner of the New York Yankees baseball team, Colonel Jacob Ruppert, takes Helen Winthrope, a young actress, under his wing, she thinks it’s because of his guilt over her father’s accidental death—and so does Albert Kramer, Ruppert’s handsome personal secretary. Helen and Albert develop a deepening bond the closer they become to Ruppert, an eccentric millionaire who demands their loyalty in return for his lavish generosity.

New York in the Jazz Age is filled with possibilities, especially for the young and single. Yet even as Helen embraces being a “bachelor girl”—a working woman living on her own terms—she finds herself falling in love with Albert, even after he confesses his darkest secret. When Ruppert dies, rumors swirl about his connection to Helen after the stunning revelation that he has left her the bulk of his fortune, which includes Yankee Stadium. But it is only when Ruppert’s own secrets are finally revealed that Helen and Albert will be forced to confront the truth about their relationship to him—and to each other.

Inspired by factual events that gripped New York City in its heyday, Bachelor Girl is a hidden history gem about family, identity, and love in all its shapes and colors.


Review:

Passionate, evocative, and thoroughly absorbing!

Bachelor Girl is an intriguing interpretation about the life of Colonel Jacob Ruppert, the wealthy American brewer and owner of the New York Yankees who became known for his successful acquisition of the legendary slugger Babe Ruth, the construction of the iconic Yankee Stadium, and the unusually large endowment he left to a young, unknown actress upon his death.

The prose is eloquent and fluid. The characters are genuine, well drawn, and endearing. And the story sweeps you away to New York City during the 1920s when women were shortening their skirts, cutting their hair and gaining independence, prohibition was in full force, and love in all its forms was expressed but still hidden.

Bachelor girl is a fascinating, well-written, richly described story about friendship, loyalty, familial relationships, sexual identity, secrets, prosperity, ambition, life, loss, and love. And even though there is not much known about Colonel Jacob Ruppert’s close, personal relationships, van Alkemade has done an exceptional job of taking historical facts and surrounding them with fiction that is both captivating and exceptionally alluring.

 

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 Kim van Alkemade

Kim van Alkemade was born in New York City and spent her childhood in suburban New Jersey. Her late father, an immigrant from the Netherlands, met her mother, a descendant of Eastern European Jewish immigrants, in the Empire State Building. She attended college in Wisconsin, earning a doctorate in English from UW-Milwaukee. She is a professor at Shippensburg University where she teaches writing, and lives in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Her creative nonfiction essays have been published in literary journals including Alaska Quarterly Review, So To Speak, and CutBank. Orphan # 8 was her first novel.

#BookReview
The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard
@janetbeardauthor @HarperCollinsCa

#BookReview The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard @janetbeardauthor @HarperCollinsCaTitle: The Atomic City Girls

Author: Janet Beard

Published by: William Morrow on February 6, 2018

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 353

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: HarperCollins Canada

Book Rating: 8/10

 

 

Synopsis:

In the bestselling tradition of Hidden Figures and The Wives of Los Alamos, comes a riveting novel of the everyday women who worked on the Manhattan Project during World War II

“What you see here, what you hear here, what you do here, let it stay here.”

In November 1944, eighteen-year-old June Walker boards an unmarked bus, destined for a city that doesn’t officially exist. Oak Ridge, Tennessee has sprung up in a matter of months—a town of trailers and segregated houses, 24-hour cafeterias, and constant security checks. There, June joins hundreds of other young girls operating massive machines whose purpose is never explained. They know they are helping to win the war, but must ask no questions and reveal nothing to outsiders.

The girls spend their evenings socializing and flirting with soldiers, scientists, and workmen at dances and movies, bowling alleys and canteens. June longs to know more about their top-secret assignment and begins an affair with Sam Cantor, the young Jewish physicist from New York who oversees the lab where she works and understands the end goal only too well, while her beautiful roommate Cici is on her own mission: to find a wealthy husband and escape her sharecropper roots. Across town, African-American construction worker Joe Brewer knows nothing of the government’s plans, only that his new job pays enough to make it worth leaving his family behind, at least for now. But a breach in security will intertwine his fate with June’s search for answers.

When the bombing of Hiroshima brings the truth about Oak Ridge into devastating focus, June must confront her ideals about loyalty, patriotism, and war itself.


Review:

Atmospheric, authentic, and immersive!

The Atomic City Girls is a fascinating story that sweeps you away to Oak Ridge, Tennessee during the mid-1940s when WWII was raging on the battlefields of Europe, and back home the American government was funding a top-secret project that would triumphantly and tragically have a resounding effect on the entire world for years to come.

The prose is captivating and vividly described. The four main characters June, Sam, Cici, and Joe are unique, hardworking, and patriotic. And the plot, interspersed with real-life photos, is a compelling story about life, love, friendship, self-discovery, segregation, survival, tragedy, war, romance, uranium enrichment, nuclear weapons, and morality.

Overall, The Atomic City Girls is a well-written, exceptionally researched novel that does a remarkable job of highlighting Beard’s incredible knowledge into a period and historical event that is often forgotten or overlooked.

 

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 Janet Beard

Born and raised in East Tennessee, Janet Beard moved to New York to study screenwriting at NYU and went on to earn an MFA in creative writing from The New School. Her first novel, Beneath the Pines, was published in 2008, and her follow-up, The Atomic City Girls will be published in 2018. Janet has lived and worked in Australia, England, Boston, and Columbus, Ohio, where she is currently teaching writing, raising a daughter, and working on a new novel.

#BookReview
Songs of Love and War by Santa Montefiore
@SantaMontefiore @SimonSchusterCA

#BookReview Songs of Love and War by Santa Montefiore @SantaMontefiore @SimonSchusterCATitle: Songs of Love and War

Author: Santa Montefiore

Published by: Simon & Schuster UK on February 13, 2018

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 528

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: Simon & Schuster Canada

Book Rating: 9/10

 

 

Synopsis:

The #1 international bestseller about the enduring bond between three women and the castle they will never forget.

Their lives were mapped out ahead of them. But love and war will change everything…

It’s the early 1900s and Castle Deverill stands staunchly untouched by time, hidden away in the rolling Irish hills. Within the castle walls, three friends have formed a close bond: affluent, flame-haired Kitty Deverill; Bridie Doyle, Kitty’s best friend and daughter of the castle’s cook; and Celia Deverill, Kitty’s flamboyant English cousin. They’ve grown up together, always sheltered from the conflict embroiling the rest of the country. But when Bridie learns of a secret Kitty has been keeping, their idyllic world is forever torn apart.

Later, the three women scatter to different parts of the globe. Kitty must salvage what she can before Castle Deverill and everything she has ever known is reduced to ash. Songs of Love and War is an epic generational saga about the lasting bonds of true friendship and the powerful ties we all have to the place we call home.

Previously published in the US as The Girl in the Castle.


Review:

Insightful, riveting, and incredibly atmospheric!

Songs of Love and War is an intriguing tale that sweeps you to Co. Cork in the early 1900s when Ireland is full of unrest and upheaval not only due to the Great War being waged on the fields of Europe but in their own countryside where the simmering anger and need for self-identity, patriotism, and independence from Anglo rule are about to come to a head.

The prose is poetic and vividly described. The three main characters Kitty, Birdie, and Celia are strong and independent, and their lives are bound and entangled together by the magnificent Castle Deverill that graces the Irish hillside and in some way each calls home. And the plot is an engaging saga filled with self-discovery, familial drama, social stratification, spiritual occurrences, tragedy, heartbreak, romance, war, life, loss, and friendship.

Songs of Love and War is an exquisitely written, exceptionally detailed, beautiful start to a trilogy that is sure to be a big hit with historical fiction fans and book clubs everywhere, and you can be sure that Daughters of Castle Deverill, Deverill Chronicles #2, is already on my TBR list.

 

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 Santa Montefiore

Santa Montefiore’s books have been translated into twenty languages and have sold more than four million copies in England and Europe. She is married to writer Simon Sebag Montefiore. They live with their two children, Lily and Sasha, in London.

Photograph by Santa Montefiore

 

#BookReview
Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
@ChanelCleeton @BerkleyPub

#BookReview Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton @ChanelCleeton @BerkleyPubTitle: Next Year in Havana

Author: Chanel Cleeton

Published by: Berkley Publishing on February 6, 2018

Genres: General Fiction, Historical Fiction

Pages: 394

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: Berkley Publishing, NetGalley

Book Rating: 9/10

 

 

Synopsis:

After the death of her beloved grandmother, a Cuban-American woman travels to Havana, where she discovers the roots of her identity–and unearths a family secret hidden since the revolution…

Havana, 1958. The daughter of a sugar baron, nineteen-year-old Elisa Perez is part of Cuba’s high society, where she is largely sheltered from the country’s growing political unrest–until she embarks on a clandestine affair with a passionate revolutionary…

Miami, 2017. Freelance writer Marisol Ferrera grew up hearing romantic stories of Cuba from her late grandmother Elisa, who was forced to flee with her family during the revolution. Elisa’s last wish was for Marisol to scatter her ashes in the country of her birth.

Arriving in Havana, Marisol comes face-to-face with the contrast of Cuba’s tropical, timeless beauty and its perilous political climate. When more family history comes to light and Marisol finds herself attracted to a man with secrets of his own, she’ll need the lessons of her grandmother’s past to help her understand the true meaning of courage.


Review:

Atmospheric, absorbing, and incredibly heartfelt!

Next Year in Havana is a riveting tale that sweeps you into a country ravished by rebellion, oppression, economic instability, and political upheaval, and a populace that’s confused, disappointed, angry and struggling with self-identity, patriotism, and a lack of freedom and rights.

The story is set in Cuba during both the late 1950s, as well as present day and is full of mystique, familial drama, heartbreak, secrets, deception, history, culture, courage, loss, self-discovery, hope, and romance.

The prose is eloquent and vivid. The characters are multi-layered, sympathetic, and torn. And the plot is well crafted and uses a past/present style to unravel all the motivations, personalities, and relationships within it.

Next Year in Havana is the perfect blend of historical facts, intriguing fiction, and palpable emotion. It’s a beautifully written story that is nostalgic, heartbreaking, fascinating and sweet and highlights Cleeton’s passion for her familial heritage.

 

This novel is available now.

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

                                            

 

 

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

 

About Chanel Cleeton

Originally from Florida, Chanel Cleeton grew up on stories of her family’s exodus from Cuba following the events of the Cuban Revolution. Her passion for politics and history continued during her years spent studying in England where she earned a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Richmond, The American International University in London and a master’s degree in Global Politics from the London School of Economics & Political Science. Chanel also received her Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law. She loves to travel and has lived in the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia.

#BookReview
The Pearl Sister by Lucinda Riley
@lucindariley @AtriaBooks

#BookReview The Pearl Sister by Lucinda Riley @lucindariley @AtriaBooksTitle: The Pearl Sister

Author: Lucinda Riley

Series: The Seven Sisters #4

Published by: Atria Books on January 23, 2018

Genres: Historical Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 528

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: Atria Books, NetGalley

Book Rating: 10/10

 

Synopsis:

From the breathtaking beaches of Thailand to the barely tamed wilds of colonial Australia, The Pearl Sister is the next captivating story in New York Times bestselling author Lucinda Riley’s epic series about two women searching for a place to call home.

CeCe D’Aplièse has always felt like an outcast. But following the death of her father—the reclusive billionaire affectionately called Pa Salt by the six daughters he adopted from around the globe—she finds herself more alone than ever. With nothing left to lose, CeCe delves into the mystery of her familial origins. The only clues she holds are a black and white photograph and the name of a female pioneer who once traversed the globe from Scotland to Australia.

One hundred years earlier, Kitty McBride, a clergyman’s daughter, abandoned her conservative upbringing to serve as the companion to a wealthy woman traveling from Edinburgh to Adelaide. Her ticket to a new land brings the adventure she dreamed of…and a love that she had never imagined.

When CeCe reaches the searing heat and dusty plains of the Red Centre of Australia, something deep within her responds to the energy of the area and the ancient culture of the Aboriginal people, and her soul reawakens. As she comes closer to finding the truth of her ancestry, CeCe begins to believe that this untamed, vast continent could offer her what she’s always yearned for: a sense of belonging.


Review:

Poignant, enthralling, and exceptionally moving!

The Pearl Sister, the fourth instalment in the The Seven Sisters series, is predominantly set in the dusty Australian heat during both the early 1900s and twenty-first century as it delves into the life, ancestors, and heritage of CeCe, the struggling, awkward artist who seems adrift and in desperate need of some inspiration, companionship, and contentment.

The prose is expressive, eloquent, and heartfelt. The characters are complex, genuine, and endearing. And the plot is a compelling, heartwarming saga filled with familial drama, introspection, love, loss, grief, determination, passion, and loyalty, as well as an in-depth look at the culture, history, and politics of Australia, including the effects and influence of both the aboriginal people and the pearling industry.

The Pearl Sister is hands down another mesmerizing, superbly written time-slip novel by Riley that continues to highlight her incredible talent and imagination as a masterful researcher and storyteller.

 

This book is available now.

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

                                          

 

 

Thank you to Atria Books for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Lucinda Riley

Lucinda Riley was born in Ireland, and after an early career as an actress in film, theatre and television, wrote her first book aged twenty-four. Her books have been translated into over thirty languages and sold over ten million copies worldwide. She is a Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling author.

Lucinda’s novels include The Seven Sisters, a seven-book series telling the story of adopted sisters and based allegorically on the mythology of the famous star constellation. The first three books, The Seven Sisters, The Storm Sister, and The Shadow Sister have all been No.1 bestsellers across Europe, and the rights to a multi-season TV series have already been optioned by a Hollywood production company.

To read about the inspiration behind The Seven Sisters series, please visit thesevensistersseries.com

When not writing, travelling or running around after her children, she loves reading books that she hasn’t written with a glass or two of Provençal rosé!

#BookReview
Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore
@PGCBooks @groveatlantic

#BookReview Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore @PGCBooks @groveatlanticTitle: Birdcage Walk

Author: Helen Dunmore

Published by: Atlantic Monthly Press on August 1, 2017

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 416

Format: Hardcover

Source: Publishers Group Canada

Book Rating: 7.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

It is 1792 and Europe is seized by political turmoil and violence. Lizzie Fawkes has grown up in Radical circles where each step of the French Revolution is followed with eager idealism. But she has recently married John Diner Tredevant, a property developer who is heavily invested in Bristol’s housing boom, and he has everything to lose from social upheaval and the prospect of war. Soon his plans for a magnificent terrace built above the two-hundred-foot drop of the Gorge come under threat. Tormented and striving Diner believes that Lizzie’s independent, questioning spirit must be coerced and subdued. She belongs to him: law and custom confirm it, and she must live as he wants–his passion for Lizzie darkening until she finds herself dangerously alone.

Weaving a deeply personal and moving story with a historical moment of critical and complex importance, Birdcage Walk is an unsettling and brilliantly tense drama of public and private violence, resistance and terror from one of our greatest storytellers.


Review:

Poignant, ominous, and remarkable descriptive!

Birdcage Walk takes us back to Bristol in the late 1790s when France was full of unrest, war was on the horizon, and the British people struggled with impoverishment, scarcity, impending disaster, and financial ruin.

The prose is expressive and raw. The main characters include the maternal, independent, supportive Lizzie and the jealous, iron-fisted, ruined Tredevant. And the plot, although a little slow in the middle, is laced from start to finish with an underlying feeling of despair and a real, palpable bleakness as the ongoing drama, social strife, economic uncertainty, marital tension, and increasing violence unravels.

I have to admit that even though Birdcage Walk is not my favourite novel by Dunmore, it is still a beautiful, haunting tale that highlights her talent of writing historical fiction that moves, informs, and leaves a lasting impression. The passing of Dunmore earlier this year is certainly a tremendous loss for the literary world and to quote from the inscription on the grave of her fictional character in this novel, “Her Words Remain Our Inheritance.”

If you haven’t had a chance to read my review for “The Lie” by Dunmore be sure to check it out here:

 

This novel is available now.

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

                                            

 

 

Thank you to PGC Books & Grove Atlantic for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Helen Dunmore

Helen Dunmore is the author of twelve books, including The Greatcoat, The Betrayal, a New York Times Editors’ Choice; The Siege, a best seller and finalist for the Whitbread Novel of the Year Award; and A Spell of Winter, winner of the Orange Prize.

Helen Dunmore (1952 – 2017)

#BookReview
The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale
by Rebecca Stonehill @bexstonehill

#BookReview The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale by Rebecca Stonehill @bexstonehillTitle: The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale

Author: Rebecca Stonehill

Published by: Sunbird Press on October 29, 2017

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 298

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: Rebecca Stonehill

Book Rating: 9/10

 

 

Synopsis:

A compelling page turner of a buried past resurfacing, set against a backdrop of the 1960’s youth culture and war-torn Crete.

1967. Handsome but troubled, Jim is almost 18 and he lives and breathes girls, trad jazz, Eel Pie Island and his best friend, Charles. One night, he hears rumours of a community of young people living in caves in Matala, Crete. Determined to escape his odious, bully of a father and repressed mother, Jim hitchhikes through Europe down to Matala. At first, it’s the paradise he dreamt it would be. But as things start to go wrong and his very notion of self unravels, the last thing Jim expects is for this journey of hundreds of miles to set in motion a passage of healing which will lead him back to the person he hates most in the world: his father.

Taking in the counter-culture of the 1960’s, the clash of relationships between the WW2 generation and their children, the baby boomers, this is a novel about secrets from the past finally surfacing, the healing of trauma and the power of forgiveness.

A captivating story that will mesmerise fans of Lucinda Riley, Dinah Jefferies and Tracy Rees.


Review:

Atmospheric, insightful, and profoundly moving!

The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale is predominantly set on the island of Crete during both the 1960s and WWII and is told from two perspectives; Jim, a young man who travels to Matala to live for the moment and be free from his stifling home life and strained relationship with his father; and Alfred, a young man embarking on a journey of survival in a time of utter devastation and destruction.

The prose is expressive, vivid, and eloquent. The characters are multi-faceted, genuine, and sympathetic. And the plot is a sweeping saga filled with life, loss, familial dynamics, secrets, determination, self-discovery, loneliness, friendship, war, survival, forgiveness, and love.

The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale is truly a wonderfully written, poignant novel by Stonehill that does an exceptional job of blending historical facts, remarkable characterization, and heartfelt fiction into an incredibly moving story that reminds us that life is very precious and often all too short.

If you haven’t read my review of Stonehill’s previous novel, The Girl and the Sunbird, one of my favourite novels of all time, be sure to check it out here:

 

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following link.

 

 

Thank you to Rebecca Stonehill for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. It’s always an honour!

 

About Rebecca Stonehill

Rebecca Stonehill is from London but currently lives in Nairobi with her husband and three young children where she set up Magic Pencil, an initiative to give children greater access to creative writing and poetry. She has had numerous short stories published over the years, for example in Vintage Script, What the Dickens magazine, Ariadne’s Thread and Prole Books but The Poet’s Wife (Bookouture) is her first full-length novel, set in Granada during the Spanish Civil war and Franco’s dictatorship. Her second novel, The Girl and the Sunbird, was published by Bookouture in June 2016.

 

#BookReview
A Pearl for My Mistress by Annabel Fielding
@DearestAnnabel @HQDigitalUK

#BookReview A Pearl for My Mistress by Annabel Fielding @DearestAnnabel @HQDigitalUKTitle: A Pearl for My Mistress

Author: Annabel Fielding

Published by: HQ Digital on August 9, 2017

Genres: Historical Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 384

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: HQ Digital, NetGalley

Book Rating: 8//10

 

 

Synopsis:

A story of class, scandal and forbidden passions in the shadow of war. Perfect for fans of Iona Grey, Gill Paul and Downtown Abbey.

England, 1934. Hester Blake, an ambitious girl from an industrial Northern town, finds a job as a lady’s maid in a small aristocratic household.

Despite their impressive title and glorious past, the Fitzmartins are crumbling under the pressures of the new century. And in the cold isolation of these new surroundings, Hester ends up hopelessly besotted with her young mistress, Lady Lucy.

Accompanying Lucy on her London Season, Hester is plunged into a heady and decadent world. But hushed whispers of another war swirl beneath the capital… and soon, Hester finds herself the keeper of some of society’s most dangerous secrets…


Review:

Insightful, exceptionally researched, and richly descriptive!

A Pearl for My Mistress takes us back to the 1930s, the interwar period, and gives an in-depth look into the formation of the British far-right movement and Germany’s influence and infiltration of British politics and high society.

The prose is fervent and captivating. The main characters include the scarred, loyal, enamored Hester and the bold, independent, resourceful Lucy. And the plot unfolds chronologically with a nice mix of historical events, intriguing fiction, social strife, forbidden love, political manipulation, and heartfelt emotion that keeps the story flowing from start to finish.

A Pearl for My Mistress is a well written, fascinating novel that highlights Fielding’s incredible knowledge and enormous passion for a period of time that is often forgotten and overlooked.

 

This novel is available now.

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

                                  

 

 

Thank you to Annabel Fielding & HQ Digital for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Annabel Fielding

Annabel Fielding, having graduated from the University of Arts London with an MA in Public Relations, is a PR assistant by day and a novelist by night. Being a self-professed history geek, she dedicates her free time to obscure biographies, solo travel and tea.

#BookReview
Two Journeys Home by Kevin O’Connell

#BookReview Two Journeys Home by Kevin O’ConnellTitle: Two Journeys Home

Author: Kevin O'Connell

Series: The Derrynane Saga #2

Published by: Gortcullinane Press on November 1, 2017

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 310

Format: Paperback

Source: Kevin O'Connell

Book Rating: 8/10

 

Synopsis:

It’s now the late-Summer of 1767. As the eagerly anticipated sequel to Beyond Derrynane opens, having spent almost six eventful years at the court of Maria Theresa, Eileen O’Connell has availed herself of a fortuitous opportunity to travel back to Ireland.

Her vivacious personality matched only by her arresting physical presence, Eileen returns to Derrynane this time not as a teenage widow but, rather, as one of the most recognised figures at the glittering Habsburg court. Before departing Ireland several months later, she experiences a whirlwind romance, leading to a tumult of betrayal and conflict within the O’Connell clan. Once back in Vienna she unexpectedly finds her responsibilities as governess to the youngest Habsburg archduchess now linked to relations between France and Austria.

Abigail, rather than being eclipsed by her colourful younger sister, has instead ascended to the vaulted position of principal lady-in-waiting to Empress Maria Theresa. No longer “just a girl from deep in Kerry,” she is a beloved – and powerful – figure at court.

Hugh O’Connell, the youngest of the large family, leaves behind waning adolescence and a fleeting attraction to the youngest archduchess when he begins a military career in the Irish Brigade of the armies of Louis XV. But, perhaps as a foreshadowing of his adult life and career, more royal entanglement awaits him in France …

In the continuing saga, the O’Connells will confront intrigue, romance – even violence. Despite their innate wisdom, cunning and guile, what their futures hold remains to be seen.

With his uniquely-descriptive prose, Kevin O’Connell again deftly weaves threads of historical fact and fancy to create a colourful tapestry affording unique insights into the courts of eighteenth-century Catholic Europe as well as Protestant Ascendancy–ruled Ireland. Watch as the epic unfolds amongst the O’Connells, their friends and enemies, as the tumultuously-dangerous worlds in which they dwell continue to gradually – but inexorably – change.

Along with Beyond Derrynane, Two Journeys Home – and the two books to follow in The Derrynane Saga – comprise an enthralling series of historical novels, presenting a sweeping chronicle, set against the larger drama of Europe in the early stages of significant change, dramatising the roles, which have never before been treated in fiction, played by a small number of expatriate Irish Catholics of the fallen “Gaelic Aristocracy” at the courts of Catholic Europe, as well as relating their complex, at times dangerous, lives at home in an Ireland still controlled by the Sassenach.

In addition to Eileen’s, the books trace the largely-fictional lives of several other O’Connells of Derrynane, it is the tantalisingly few facts that are historically documented about them which provide the basic facts which give rise to the tale, into which strategic additions of numerous historical and fictional personalities and events mesh seamlessly.


Review:

Fascinating, insightful and richly descriptive!

Two Journeys Home is an intriguing tale that picks up where “Beyond Derrynane” left off, taking us back to the 1760s where family honour and respect are more righteous than love and emotional happiness and the youngest sister Eileen is struggling to fulfill her wishes and dreams amongst an abundance of betrayal and violence.

The prose is captivating and vivid. The characters are bold, resilient, and willful. And the plot takes us from the 1760s through to the 1770s, from the dazzling courts of Austria to the green hills of Ireland where upheaval, acceptance, and familial strife weigh heavily on the heart and mind.

Two Journeys Home is a well written, sophisticated novel that certainly highlights O’Connell’s outstanding research, incredible knowledge, and enormous passion for his family’s history and genealogy.

Two Journeys Home is the second novel in “The Derrynane Saga” and if you haven’t already read my review for Beyond Derrynane (Derrynane Saga #1) be sure to check it out here:

 

This novel is available now.

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

                        

 

 

Thank you to Kevin O’Connell for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. It was a pleasure and honour to read.

 

About Kevin O'Connell

Kevin O'Connell is a native of New York City and a descendant of a young officer of what had—from 1690 to 1792—been the Irish Brigade of the French army, believed to have arrived in French Canada following the execution of Queen Marie Antoinette in October of 1793. At least one grandson subsequently returned to Ireland and Mr. O'Connell's own grandparents came to New York in the early twentieth century. He holds both Irish and American citizenship.

He is a graduate of Providence College and Georgetown University Law Centre.

For much of his four decades-long legal career, O'Connell has practiced international business transactional law, primarily involving direct-investment matters, throughout Asia (principally China), Europe, and the Middle East.

The father of five children and grandfather of ten, he and his wife, Laurette, live with their golden retriever, Katie, near Annapolis, Maryland

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