Historical Fiction

#BookReview
The Dressmaker’s Dowry by Meredith Jaeger
@Meredith_Jaeger @WmMorrowBks

#BookReview The Dressmaker’s Dowry by Meredith Jaeger @Meredith_Jaeger @WmMorrowBksTitle: The Dressmaker's Dowry

Author: Meredith Jaeger

Published by: William Morrow on February 7, 2017

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 384

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: William Morrow, Edelweiss

Book Rating: 8/10

 

 

Synopsis:

For readers of Lucinda Riley, Sarah Jio, or Susan Meissner, this gripping historical debut novel tells the story of two women: one, an immigrant seamstress who disappears from San Francisco’s gritty streets in 1876, and the other, a young woman in present day who must delve into the secrets of her husband’s wealthy family only to discover that she and the missing dressmaker might be connected in unexpected ways

An exquisite ring, passed down through generations, connects two women who learn that love is a choice, and forgiveness is the key to freedom…

San Francisco: 1876

Immigrant dressmakers Hannelore Schaeffer and Margaret O’Brien struggle to provide food for their siblings, while mending delicate clothing for the city’s most affluent ladies. When wealthy Lucas Havensworth enters the shop, Hanna’s future is altered forever. With Margaret’s encouragement and the power of a borrowed green dress, Hanna dares to see herself as worthy of him. Then Margaret disappears, and Hanna turns to Lucas. Braving the gritty streets of the Barbary Coast and daring to enter the mansions of Nob Hill, Hanna stumbles upon Margaret’s fate, forcing her to make a devastating decision…one that will echo through the generations.

San Francisco: Present Day

In her elegant Marina apartment overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, Sarah Havensworth struggles to complete the novel she quit her job for. Afraid to tell her husband of her writer’s block, Sarah is also hiding a darker secret—one that has haunted her for 14 years. Then a news headline from 1876 sparks inspiration: Missing Dressmakers Believed to be Murdered. Compelled to discover what happened to Hannelore and Margaret, Sarah returns to her roots as a journalist. Will her beautiful heirloom engagement ring uncover a connection to Hanna Schaeffer?


Review:

Intriguing, thought-provoking and heartwarming!

This story is told from two different perspectives. One is that of Sarah, a young woman who stumbles upon an unsolved mystery from the 1870s while working on her thesis. And the other is Hanna, a young woman struggling to survive and raise her siblings in a time when women had no rights and few options.

It is, ultimately, a story about loneliness, loss, injustice, determination, strength, tragedy, guilt, and love.

The writing is smooth. The characters are strong, multi-layered, and fascinating. And the multiple plots quickly unravel into a engrossing mystery that not only manages to intertwine all the subplots, but also ends with a little surprise.

Overall this is a wonderful debut novel and I look forward to reading more from Jaeger in the future.

 

This book is due to be published on February 7, 2017.

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

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Thank you to Edelweiss, especially William Morrow, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Meredith Jaeger

Meredith is a USA Today Bestselling Author. She is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, where she was raised by a Swiss father and an American mother. She is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Her own engagement ring, which is an heirloom from 1903, inspired her to write her debut novel The Dressmaker’s Dowry. She wrote it on weekends while working for a San Francisco startup.

Meredith finds the immigrant experience a rich part of the fabric of American history. Her second novel, Boardwalk Summer, will be published in June 2018. Meredith lives outside San Francisco with her husband, their rambunctious toddler and spoiled English bulldog, where she now writes full time.

Photo credit: Erika Pino Photography

#BookReview & #BlogTour
Chasing Shadows by T.A. Williams
@TAWilliamsBooks @canelo_co

#BookReview & #BlogTour  Chasing Shadows by T.A. Williams @TAWilliamsBooks @canelo_coTitle: Chasing Shadows

Author: T.A. Williams

Published by: Canelo on January 16, 2017

Genres: Contemporary Romance, Historical Fiction

Pages: 272

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: Canelo, NetGalley

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Amy had it all – money, brains and beauty. And then the accident happened.

The Present Day: Left blind and without her family, Amy feels she needs to get away. On a trip along the Camino, she is accompanied by the mysterious and troubled Luke. Having been set up to help Amy by a mutual friend, Luke finds he is also running from his past…

1314: A Templar Knight, Luc, is also running. He meets the wife of a former comrade, now blinded in a terrifying attack: Aimee. Taking her under his wing, they must journey together through a dangerous world.

As they travel through the stunning scenery of Northern Spain, this couple, so very like Luke and Amy, emerge from the shadows of time carrying a treasure of inestimable value.


Review:

Heartwarming, clever and incredibly intriguing!

In this latest novel by Williams he diverts from his usual genre of contemporary romance with a touch of history and instead gives us an historical time-slip piece full of mystery, facts, friendship, relationship dynamics, and of course a little love. 

The writing is vividly described, well researched, and remarkably eloquent. The characters in both time periods are troubled, strong and endearing. And the plot is a captivating, sometimes dangerous journey from the beautiful countryside of the South of France, over the rugged mountainous Somport Pass, to the Galicia region of Spain and the tomb of St. James.

T. A. Williams wrote one of my favourite books last year, What Happens at the Beach…, and once again he has written a novel that shows his extraordinary talent as a writer and his passion for history in a tale that sweeps you away to another time and place and leaves you yearning to travel.

 

This book is available now. 

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

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CanadaIndigoKobo

 

 

Thank you to Canelo and T. A. Williams for providing me with a copy in an exchange for an honest review.

 

About T.A. Williams

T.A. Williams lives in Devon with his Italian wife. He was born in England of a Scottish mother and Welsh father. After a degree in modern languages at Nottingham University, he lived and worked in Switzerland, France and Italy, before returning to run one of the best-known language schools in the UK. He’s taught Arab princes, Brazilian beauty queens and Italian billionaires. He speaks a number of languages and has travelled extensively. He has eaten snake, still-alive fish, and alligator. A Spanish dog, a Russian bug and a Korean parasite have done their best to eat him in return. His hobby is long-distance cycling, but his passion is writing.

 

#BookReview
The Wicked City by Beatriz Williams
@bcwilliamsbooks @WmMorrowBks

#BookReview The Wicked City by Beatriz Williams @bcwilliamsbooks @WmMorrowBksTitle: The Wicked City

Author: Beatriz Williams

Published by: William Morrow on January 17, 2017

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 292

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: William Morrow, Edelweiss

Book Rating: 9/10

 

 

Synopsis:

New York Times bestselling author Beatriz Williams recreates the New York City of A Certain Age in this deliciously spicy adventure that mixes past and present and centers on a Jazz Age love triangle involving a rugged Prohibition agent, a saucy redheaded flapper, and a debonair Princetonian from a wealthy family.

When she discovers her husband cheating, Ella Hawthorne impulsively moves out of their SoHo loft and into a small apartment in an old Greenwich Village building. Her surprisingly attractive new neighbor, Hector, warns her to stay out of the basement at night. Tenants have reported strange noises after midnight—laughter, clinking glasses, jazz piano—even though the space has been empty for decades. Back in the Roaring Twenties, the place hid a speakeasy.

In 1924, Geneva “Gin” Kelly, a smart-mouthed flapper from the hills of western Maryland, is a regular at this Village hideaway known as the Christopher Club. Caught up in a raid, Gin becomes entangled with Prohibition enforcement agent Oliver Anson, who persuades her to help him catch her stepfather Duke Kelly, one of Appalachia’s most notorious bootleggers.

Headstrong and independent, Gin is no weak-kneed fool. So how can she be falling in love with the taciturn, straight-arrow Revenue agent when she’s got Princeton boy Billy Marshall, the dashing son of society doyenne Theresa Marshall, begging to make an honest woman of her? While anything goes in the Roaring Twenties, Gin’s adventures will shake proper Manhattan society to its foundations, exposing secrets that shock even this free-spirited redhead—secrets that will echo from Park Avenue to the hollers of her Southern hometown.

As Ella discovers more about the basement speakeasy, she becomes inspired by the spirit of her exuberant predecessor, and decides to live with abandon in the wicked city too. . . . 


Review:

Once again Beatriz Williams sweeps us away into another time and place with a storyline full of deception, lies, adultery, jealousy, love, loss, passion and murder.

The story is told from two different perspectives. Gin, a young, strong-minded woman who enjoys her independence and the love of more than one man in New York City in the Roaring Twenties when prohibition, jazz, and speakeasies are the norm.  And Ella, an intelligent, inquisitive woman who is determined to move forward after discovering her husband’s infidelity in the Big Apple metropolis of the late 1990s.

The prose is exquisite and vividly described. The characters are flawed, multi-faceted, and intriguing. And the plot is a fast-paced, complex, fascinating tale with lots of twists, turns, action and suspense that will keep you engaged until the very end.

What more can I say, I really enjoyed this novel and I can’t help but highly recommend it.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out my review of her previous novel, A Certain Age, you can find it HERE.

 

This novel is due to be published on January 17, 2016. 

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

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CanadaIndigoKoboB&N

 

 

Thank you to Edelweiss, especially William Morrow, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Beatriz Williams

Beatriz Williams is the New York Times bestselling author of A Hundred Summers, The Secret Life of Violet Grant, Along the Infinite Sea, A Certain Age, and several other works of historical fiction. A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA in Finance from Columbia University, Beatriz worked as a communications and corporate strategy consultant in New York and London before she turned her attention to writing novels that combine her passion for history with an obsessive devotion to voice and characterization. Beatriz’s books have won numerous awards, have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and appear regularly in bestseller lists around the world.

Born in Seattle, Washington, Beatriz now lives near the Connecticut shore with her husband and four children, where she divides her time between writing and laundry.

#BookReview
The Fire By Night by Teresa Messineo

#BookReview The Fire By Night by Teresa MessineoTitle: The Fire by Night

Author: Teresa Messineo

Published by: William Morrow on January 17, 2017

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 336

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: William Morrow, Edelweiss

Book Rating: 9/10

 

 

Synopsis:

A powerful and evocative debut novel about two American military nurses during World War II that illuminates the unsung heroism of women who risked their lives in the fight—a riveting saga of friendship, valor, sacrifice, and survival combining the grit and selflessness of Band of Brothers with the emotional resonance of The Nightingale.

In war-torn France, Jo McMahon, an Italian-Irish girl from the tenements of Brooklyn, tends to six seriously wounded soldiers in a makeshift medical unit. Enemy bombs have destroyed her hospital convoy, and now Jo singlehandedly struggles to keep her patients and herself alive in a cramped and freezing tent close to German troops. There is a growing tenderness between her and one of her patients, a Scottish officer, but Jo’s heart is seared by the pain of all she has lost and seen. Nearing her breaking point, she fights to hold on to joyful memories of the past, to the times she shared with her best friend, Kay, whom she met in nursing school.

Half a world away in the Pacific, Kay is trapped in a squalid Japanese POW camp in Manila, one of thousands of Allied men, women, and children whose fates rest in the hands of a sadistic enemy. Far from the familiar safety of the small Pennsylvania coal town of her childhood, Kay clings to memories of her happy days posted in Hawaii, and the handsome flyer who swept her off her feet in the weeks before Pearl Harbor. Surrounded by cruelty and death, Kay battles to maintain her sanity and save lives as best she can . . . and live to see her beloved friend Jo once more.

When the conflict at last comes to an end, Jo and Kay discover that to achieve their own peace, they must find their place—and the hope of love—in a world that’s forever changed. With rich, superbly researched detail, Teresa Messineo’s thrilling novel brings to life the pain and uncertainty of war and the sustaining power of love and friendship, and illuminates the lives of the women who risked everything to save others during a horrifying time. 


Review:

Incredibly moving, hauntingly realistic and exceptionally captivating!

This is an impactful story that is told from two different perspectives. Jo, an American nurse whose compassion and strength are tested near the front lines of the western front. And Kay, Jo’s friend and fellow nurse who must endure horrific conditions and extreme brutality after being taken as a POW by the Japanese in the Pacific.

This is story about war, strength, bravery, hope, loss, injustice, love, and survival.

The prose is poetic. The imagery is remarkably descriptive. The characters are young, dedicated, damaged and disheartened. And the plot uses alternating points-of-view, and a back-and-forth style to give depth and understanding to all the personalities, relationships, and situations within it.

Overall, I would have to say I found this story to be profound and heartbreaking and a real reminder of just how indomitable the human spirit can truly be.

.

This novel is due to be published on January 17, 2017.

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

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Thank you to Edelweiss, especially William Morrow, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

#BookReview
Beyond Derrynane by Kevin O’Connell

#BookReview Beyond Derrynane by Kevin O’ConnellTitle: Beyond Derrynane

Author: Kevin O'Connell

Series: The Derrynane Saga #1

Published by: Gortcullinane Press on June 7, 2016

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 348

Format: eBook

Source: Kevin O'Connell

Book Rating: 8/10

 

Synopsis:

Wed in an arranged marriage to a man nearly fifty years her senior, sixteen-year-old Eileen O’Connell goes from being one of five unmarried sisters to become the mistress of Ballyhar, the great estate of John O’Connor, one of the wealthiest and most influential men in Ireland.

When O’Connor dies suddenly seven months into their marriage, Eileen must decide whether she will fulfill her brother’s strategic goals for her family by marrying her late husband’s son.

Headstrong and outspoken, Eileen frustrates her brother’s wishes, as, through the auspices of her uncle, General Moritz O’Connell of the Imperial Austrian Army, she, along with her ebullient elder sister, Abigail, spend the ensuing richly-dramatic and eventful years at the court of the Empress Maria Theresa in Vienna. The sisters learn to navigate the complex and frequently contradictory ways of the court–making a place for themselves in a world far different from remote Derrynane. Together with the general, they experience a complex life at the pinnacle of the Habsburg Empire.

Beyond Derrynane – and the three books to follow in The Derrynane Saga – will present 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” (of which the O’Connells were counted as being amongst its few basically still-intact families) at the courts of Catholic Europe, as well as relating their complex, at times dangerous, lives at home in Protestant Ascendancy-ruled Ireland.

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 threads around which the tale itself is woven, into which strategic additions of numerous historical and fictional personalities and events intertwine seamlessly. 


Review:

Well researched, exceptionally detailed and highly informative!

This story takes us back into the 1760s, when women were considered mere objects and independence was unheard of, and gives us an in-depth look into the life and loves of the author’s ancestors.

It is ultimately a story about family relationships, betrayal, wealth, adventure, self discovery, fulfillment and love.

The writing is well done with beautiful imagery. The main characters are two Irish sisters; Abigail the homely, kind, content older sister; and Eileen the strong, determined, daring younger one. And the plot unfolds chronologically with a good mix of historical fact, authentic dialogue, and heartfelt emotion that keeps the story flowing from start to finish.

This is the first book in “The Derrynane Saga” and I look forward to reading the continuation of Eileen’s story in the next novel in the series when it is published.

 

This book is available now.

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

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CanadaChapters/IndigoBook Depository

 

Thank you to Kevin O’Connell, the author, 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

#BookReview
The Magdalen Girls by V. S. Alexander

#BookReview The Magdalen Girls by V. S. AlexanderTitle: The Magdalen Girls

Author: V.S. Alexander

Published by: Kensington Publishing on December 27, 2016

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 294

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: Kensington Books, NetGalley

Book Rating: 9/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Dublin, 1962. Within the gated grounds of the convent of The Sisters of the Holy Redemption lies one of the city’s Magdalen Laundries. Once places of refuge, the laundries have evolved into grim workhouses. Some inmates are “fallen” women—unwed mothers, prostitutes, or petty criminals. Most are ordinary girls whose only sin lies in being too pretty, too independent, or tempting the wrong man. Among them is sixteen-year-old Teagan Tiernan, sent by her family when her beauty provokes a lustful revelation from a young priest.

Teagan soon befriends Nora Craven, a new arrival who thought nothing could be worse than living in a squalid tenement flat. Stripped of their freedom and dignity, the girls are given new names and denied contact with the outside world. The Mother Superior, Sister Anne, who has secrets of her own, inflicts cruel, dehumanizing punishments—but always in the name of love. Finally, Nora and Teagan find an ally in the reclusive Lea, who helps them endure—and plot an escape. But as they will discover, the outside world has dangers too, especially for young women with soiled reputations.

Told with candor, compassion, and vivid historical detail, The Magdalen Girls is a masterfully written novel of life within the era’s notorious institutions—and an inspiring story of friendship, hope, and unyielding courage.


Review:

Harrowing, poignant, and deeply moving!

This novel brings to light and reminds us of the abhorrent institutions known as “laundries” where women who were supposedly fallen were sent for treatment, often for trivial reasons, only to endure emotional and physical abuse, excessive workloads, meagre basic necessities and often vicious, sadistic punishments.

The story follows the lives of three different girls, Teagan, Nora and Lea, and reflects on the different spirits, strength, and resilience each uses to survive in such demeaning environments. 

The prose is sophisticated and descriptive. The characters are multi-layered, dejected, and strong. And the plot is a good mix of historical fact and intriguing fiction.

I have to say I did not know much about these so-called “laundries” before I read this novel and I am touched and appalled to think of all the women who lived and suffered in these horrific institutions and continued to do so late in the 20th century, with the last one only closing in 1996.

Overall, this is definitely an enlightening, heartrending novel that is well researched, well written and extremely impactful.

 

This book is due to be published on December 27, 2016. 

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

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CanadaKoboBook Depository

 

 

Thank you to NetGalley, especially Kensington Books, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

#BookReview
The King’s Consort by Debbie A. McClure
@debbiemcclure59

#BookReview The King’s Consort by Debbie A. McClure @debbiemcclure59Title: The King's Consort

Author: Debbie a McClure

Published by: BWL Publishing Inc. on February 11, 2017

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 370

Format: eBook

Source: Debbie A. McClure

Book Rating: 8/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Most little girls dream of marrying their Prince Charming and having the happy ever after, but what if the fables we’ve been told don’t tell the whole story?

Born the illegitimate daughter of a seamstress in Denmark’s mid-1800s, Louise Rasmussen rises to become a noted ballerina with the Royal Danish ballet, but getting pregnant with her own illegitimate child dashes her every hope and dream, forcing her to start a new life. Falling in love with Crowned Prince Frederik of Denmark should have made her life easier, but fate is fickle.

Despite severe opposition from the nobility, Frederik weds Louise, the newly titled Countess Danner, soon after he is crowned King. Deeply in love, the two must fight to find some semblance of happiness in an environment that refuses to bend, and amid pending war and social turmoil, Louise and Frederik discover what is most important. Many claim she was a gold-digger, yet toward the end of her life, she creates Danner House, a home for unwed mothers and orphans, which still exists today.


Review:

Insightful, atmospheric, and extremely fascinating!

This story is set in Denmark in the mid-1800s and tells the story of Louise Rasmussen, an illegitimate ballerina who not only had a relationship and a son with Carl Berling, the paper heir, but also went on to fall in love with and marry Prince Frederik of Denmark.

The prose is smooth and clear. The characters are intriguing, progressive, and complex. And the plot unfolds chronologically with just the perfect amount of fact, fiction, narration, dialogue, surprises, and emotion to keep you eagerly flipping the pages.

Louise Rasmussen was a strong, determined women ahead of her time. Her perseverance, intelligence and compassion allowed her to endure a life filled with humiliation, rejection, opposition, poverty, and societal disdain while still loving to her heart’s content and establishing a legacy for women in need, The Danner House, that still stands and operates today.

 

This book is available now.

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

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CanadaChapters/Indigo

 

 

Thank you to Debbie A. McClure for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. It was enlightening, captivating and a real pleasure to read.

#BookReview #BlogTour
Fifteen Words by Monika Jephcott Thomas

#BookReview #BlogTour Fifteen Words by Monika Jephcott ThomasTitle: Fifteen Words

Author: Monika Jephcott Thomas

Published by: Clink Street Publishing on November 22, 2016

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 293

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: Authoright

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Two young doctors form a profound and loving bond in Nazi Germany; a bond that will stretch them to the very limits of human endurance. Catholic Max – whose religious and moral beliefs are in conflict, has been conscripted to join the war effort as a medic, despite his hatred of Hitler’s regime. His beloved Erika, a privileged young woman, is herself a product of the Hitler Youth. In spite of their stark differences, Max and Erika defy convention and marry.

But when Max is stationed at the fortress city of Breslau, their worst nightmares are realised; his hospital is bombed, he is captured by the Soviet Army and taken to a POW camp in Siberia. Max experiences untold horrors, his one comfort the letters he is allowed to send home: messages that can only contain Fifteen Words. Back in Germany, Erika is struggling to survive and protect their young daughter, finding comfort in the arms of a local carpenter. Worlds apart and with only sparse words for comfort, will they ever find their way back to one another, and will Germany ever find peace?

Fifteen Words is a vivid and intimate portrayal of human love and perseverance, one which illuminates the German experience of the war, which has often been overshadowed by history.


Review:

Insightful, poignant, and incredibly moving!

This is an extremely compelling story that allows us a rare opportunity to see the war from two different German perspectives and reminds us of the emotional, psychological and physical horrors seen and endured during times of conflict and their long-lasting effects on not only the soldiers themselves, but also the families they leave behind.

The story is set in both Germany and Siberia, Russia, and is told from two points of view; Max, a German doctor, who continues to aid and comfort to the best of his abilities even when freedom seems beyond reach and home seems a world away; and Erika, Max’s wife, a young doctor herself who struggles to stay positive and raise and support her daughter despite her flagging optimism.

This is story about war, loss, loneliness, determination, hope, love, courage, and survival.

The prose is descriptive and smooth. The characters are strong, real, multi-layered, and damaged. And the plot is subtle but impactful with an underlying current that sometimes we can say so much with so few words.

Overall, this is truly a powerful story I won’t soon forget.

 

This novel is available now.

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

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada

 

 

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

 

About Monika Jephcott Thomas

Monika Jephcott Thomas grew up in Dortmund Mengede, north-west Germany. She moved to the UK in 1966, enjoying a thirty year career in education before retraining as a therapist. Along with her partner Jeff she established the Academy of Play & Child Psychotherapy in order to support the twenty per cent of children who have emotional, behavioural, social and mental health problems by using play and the creative Arts. A founder member of Play Therapy UK, Jephcott Thomas was elected President of Play Therapy International in 2002. In 2016 her first book Fifteen Words was published.

 

 fifteen-words-alternative-banner

#BookReview
To Capture What We Cannot Keep
by Beatrice Colin @beatricecolin

#BookReview To Capture What We Cannot Keep by Beatrice Colin @beatricecolinTitle: To Capture What We Cannot Keep

Author: Beatrice Colin

Published by: Flatiron Books on November 29, 2016

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 291

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: Flatiron Books, NetGalley

Book Rating: 8/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Set against the construction of the Eiffel Tower, this novel charts the relationship between a young Scottish widow and a French engineer who, despite constraints of class and wealth, fall in love.

In February 1887, Caitriona Wallace and Émile Nouguier meet in a hot air balloon, floating high above Paris, France–a moment of pure possibility. But back on firm ground, their vastly different social strata become clear. Cait is a widow who because of her precarious financial situation is forced to chaperone two wealthy Scottish charges. Émile is expected to take on the bourgeois stability of his family’s business and choose a suitable wife. As the Eiffel Tower rises, a marvel of steel and air and light, the subject of extreme controversy and a symbol of the future, Cait and Émile must decide what their love is worth.

Seamlessly weaving historical detail and vivid invention, Beatrice Colin evokes the revolutionary time in which Cait and Émile live–one of corsets and secret trysts, duels and Bohemian independence, strict tradition and Impressionist experimentation. To Capture What We Cannot Keep, stylish, provocative, and shimmering, raises probing questions about a woman’s place in that world, the overarching reach of class distinctions, and the sacrifices love requires of us all.


Review:

Incredibly atmospheric, extremely alluring, and remarkably insightful.

This story is predominantly set in Paris in the late 1880s when the city was bursting with industrialization, immigration, artistic freedom, and high fashion; and is, ultimately, a story about familial obligations, social acceptance, independence, morality, impropriety, secrets and passion.

The prose is clear, precise, descriptive and fluid. The characters are genuine, engaging, and complex. And the story has two distinct plots; one involving the ingenuity, foresight, hardships and struggles involved in the creation and completion of the iconic Eiffel Tower; and the other the budding romance developing between Émile Nouguier, a wealthy, upper-class engineer, and Caitriona Wallace, the lowly, Scottish widower.

I will say that although I enjoyed reading this novel I did find the ending a little lacklustre and wish that it had just a little bit more.

However, overall this book is well written, well researched, with a varied cast of characters that is well worth the read.

 

This book is due to be published on November 29, 2016. 

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

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CanadaChapters/IndigoBook Depository

 

 

Thank you to NetGalley, especially Flatiron Books, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Beatrice Colin

Beatrice Colin was born in London and lives in Glasgow, Scotland. A former arts and features journalist, she also writes novels for adults, children, short stories, radio plays for the BBC. She has spoken at numerous book festivals, taught at Arvon and was a judge and mentor for the Scottish Boom Trust's New Writers Award.
Beatrice was also once a singer in the band, April Showers, whose single, Abandon Ship, reached the number 144 in the charts.

#BookReview
Victoria by Daisy Goodwin
@daisygoodwinuk

#BookReview Victoria by Daisy Goodwin @daisygoodwinukTitle: Victoria

Author: Daisy Goodwin

Published by: St. Martin's Press on November 22, 2016

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 404

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: St. Martin's Press, NetGalley

Book Rating: 7.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

“They think I am still a little girl who is not capable of being a Queen.”

Lord Melbourne turned to look at Victoria. “They are mistaken. I have not known you long, but I observe in you a natural dignity that cannot be learnt. To me, ma’am, you are every inch a Queen.”

In 1837, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria – sheltered, small in stature, and female – became Queen of Great Britain and Ireland. Many thought it was preposterous: Alexandrina — Drina to her family — had always been tightly controlled by her mother and her household, and was surely too unprepossessing to hold the throne. Yet from the moment William IV died, the young Queen startled everyone: abandoning her hated first name in favor of Victoria; insisting, for the first time in her life, on sleeping in a room apart from her mother; resolute about meeting with her ministers alone.

One of those ministers, Lord Melbourne, became Victoria’s private secretary. Perhaps he might have become more than that, except everyone argued she was destined to marry her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. But Victoria had met Albert as a child and found him stiff and critical: surely the last man she would want for a husband….

Drawing on Victoria’s diaries as well as her own brilliant gifts for history and drama, Daisy Goodwin, author of the bestselling novels The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter as well as creator and writer of the new PBS/Masterpiece drama Victoria, brings the young queen even more richly to life in this magnificent novel.


Review:

This is a fascinating interpretation about the life of Alexandrina Victoria, a young, sheltered girl who became the Queen of England at the age of eighteen, and her dependence and close relationship with the then mature Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne.

It is a story about familial responsibilities, monarchical duties, coming-of-age, friendship, and love.

Queen Victoria’s early reign was during a time when government was in turmoil, the parties in power were changing and the populace was highly critical of the choices and decisions made by the monarchy, and although she was small in stature and seemingly immature she possessed a confidence and strength beyond her years.

The prose is clear and fluid. And the story line takes us into a short time in Queen Victoria’s life when she may have had a strong reliance, attraction, and reverence for the British statesman, Melbourne.

Overall, even though this book is only centred on Victoria’s life from her early teens to her marriage proposal to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in her early twenties, it is quite intriguing and captivating and definitely a good choice for anyone interested in the British Monarchy.

 

This novel is due to be published on November 22, 2016.

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

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CanadaChapters/IndigoBook Depository

 

 

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

 

About Daisy Goodwin

DAISY GOODWIN, a Harkness scholar who attended Columbia University’s film school after earning a degree in history at Cambridge University, is a leading television producer in the U.K. Her poetry anthologies, including 101 Poems That Could Save Your Life, have introduced many new readers to the pleasures of poetry, and she was Chair of the judging panel of the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction. That was the year she published her first novel the American Heiress ( My Last Duchess in UK) , followed by The Fortune Hunter and now Victoria. She has also created VICTORIA the PBS/ITV series which starts in January. She has three dogs, two dogs, and one husband.

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