The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney – book review

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The blurb….

Emma
Reeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant—and it does.

Jane
After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street she is instantly drawn to the space—and to its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home’s previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror, as the girl before.

Book Review

 

My review….

Wow! What a read! haven’t enjoyed a book since than Girl on a Train.. this kept me gripped so much that I completed it in 24 hours! I really enjoyed it – the tension continued throughout – and I liked the double narrative – ‘ Then’ – Emma’s story – ‘Now’ Jane’s story. The two women had very distinct personalities; they each went through similar experiences but their reactions were different. One example is the Sushi restaurant they are taken to by Edward – I found I related much more to Jane’s reaction than Emma.

Both women were recovering from a recent trauma – Emma having an intruder in her flat in the middle of the night and Jane – after losing a still birth.

The house appears to offer a place of recovery – the clean lines and uncluttered space is reflective of a monk’s cell – austere but with its own sense of serenity. The technology in the house is designed to intuitively support the needs of the occupants – shower settings are automatically adjusted each time to the person’s preferences.

However, the technology becomes oppressive – Jane finds services are withheld until she completes on going psychological tests – each of the questions are moral debates and add to the tension as the questions become more intrusive. The house also completes health checks and monitors overall wellbeing into a quantifiable score – Jane is expected to adjust to improve her scores.

The book blurb linked this with Girl on a Train (which I also loved) and Fifty Shades of Grey… (which almost put me off – I despised that book because it was so awful!) Yet, Edward Montford is a controlling character – JP Delaney understands dominant controlling behaviour and uses it very effectively. Edward has power – his designs have made him wealthy, he is good looking and he is also a perfectionist – which makes him quite an interesting character. I agree that there are also similarities between Girl on a Train… but I don’t want to spoil the read for you – so I won’t say why here.

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The story unravelled at quite a pace – I loved the way the two characters experiences were similar and the way they engaged in a relationship with Edward – kept the tension. Edward had exacting standards – the conditions of living in the house were a huge list of rules – and the women sought to meet those exacting standards.

The plot twists were interesting – and the tension built nicely – I could not put the book down! The conclusion was satisfying – I won’t say any more as I don’t want to spoil it for you!

The only negative thing I can say about this book is that I hate it when they use Americanisms… this is set in London, the story is English why then, does Jane refer to her bangs rather than her fringe? Surely American readers would be able to look it up – if they don’t know what a fringe is?

J.P Delaney is a skilful writer, although Good Reads describes them as

J. P. Delaney is the pseudonym of a writer who has previously published best-selling fiction under another name.

I also note there is another book written under this name… which is great news! Clicking on Amazon as soon as I have finished this review.

The book is going to made into a film.. please leave it in London not New York like The Girl on the Train… !

Overall – five gold stars – ten out of ten -quite brilliant!

 

The Dress Shop of Dreams – Menna Van Praag book review

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This is the second book I have read from this author – she creates such cosy worlds full of kind people. The dress shop in question is magical – when a woman tries on one of the beautiful silk dresses – she is clothed in the confidence and beauty to attain her dreams – which mostly revolve around finding love.

This book is about love and loss and finding your way. It is full of kind hearted people who for many reasons are lost. Cora – a scientist has closed off her heart after the tragic death of her parents – begins to remember what happened that night and decides to get to the bottom of the mystery.

Walt – the owner of the nearby bookstore – makes the most delicious cherry pies – has been in love with Cora all his life – but Cora seems immune to his advances. He reads books on the local radio – and his deep voice draws may admiring letters which Walt has no interest in responding to. Dylan – the radio producer begins to write back to some of the ladies – and finds love.

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The shop owner – Etta – who is also Cora’s grandmother – is pining for a lost love years ago – and while she can stitch magic into the dresses that bring out confidence and beauty in every woman – she can’t help herself.

All these lovely broken people – somehow navigate their way through the book to a satisfying ending. This is a tale about love, loss and recovery and finding the courage to love again.

These books are a great escape and enjoyable to read – I intend to read another of her books soon.

Menna Van Praag – Lost Art of Letter writing book review

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I can’t recall how I stumbled across this author, but I am so glad I did, if you enjoyed Chocolat then this author is going to really delight the senses – she writes joyful tales that include just a sprinkling of magic, in the same way that Chocolat does – its believable magic, that hint that somewhere out there is a force for good.

I don’t know about you, but with all that is going on in the world, I find I want to escape into a good book, where people are kind, and there is hope – Menna’s writing is just such an escape and the settings she chooses for her tales are so close to my heart that I find them irresistible.

Letter writing

The Lost Art of Letter Writing begins with a tiny, shop tucked away in the Cambridge, it contains beautiful paper, pens and a magical writing desk. Clara the shop owner walks the streets after closing – observing the inhabitants and then writes them letters of encouragement – these letters give hope or support – what ever she is drawn to write.

However, waiting for her is her own mystery, a discovery of a box of letters that send Clara on an adventure beyond the four walls of the shop. It is not just her story, there is a mix of other stories interwoven – the people Clara sends encouraging letters to – which fragmented the story a little.

However, it is a pleasurable read, one that I could recommend.

 

Joyful Easter, the only time it’s safe to put all your eggs in one basket!

Happy Easter

Having Easter in April feels just right, March always seems too early for this celebration of renewal. Long before clothes shopping was an everyday occurrence, Easter was a time when everyone wore new clothes – a small remnant remains in the many Easter Bonnet activities that still go on in Schools. Easter is a pivotal celebration – the dreariest months of the year are behind us and summer is not that far away. Time to pack up winter woolies, and make room for floaty dresses and cotton cardigans. Absence does make the heart grow fonder – because each box is a rediscovery –   like a whole new wardrobe -not just a new outfit.

Pink Crochet Baby Blanket

My beloved, daughter is expecting a little girl in August – I can’t tell you how excited I am about being a Nanna! I attended a midwife appointment with her which was marvellous – the little girl’s heartbeat resounded in the room loud and strong. Knowing its a girl somehow makes her a person already.

It is splendid that already the  process is so much better than my own experience – my own mother had died long before my daughter was born – those early days after giving birth came with such a deep longing for my mother that I suffered both baby blues and bereavement, it was a bleak time; I am so thrilled that I am here to support my daughter, if she needs me.

This is me a few days after having my daughter, I was 22 years old and had been married nearly two years –  we all wore Laura Ashley back then!

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I want to wrap my daughter up, in warm fuzzy love, cherish her through this process – I am glad to see mothers  have so much more support, net mums is a great resource and one that is available for those early morning feeds when you feel you are the only one awake and  she can text the midwife anytime.

It has also drawn us closer together – she was my first baby – it is miraculous that my baby is having a baby! I am amazed at how much I had forgotten until we discuss morning sickness, stretch marks and that phenomenal sensation of fluttering baby movements. I am planning a baby shower for her, which is a lovely invention that has crossed the pond – that I am savouring every moment.

I am crocheting a pink and cream blanket, the wool is sensuously soft and delicate, I believe that you can put a positive intention of love in every stitch – which will in time wrap around the baby – pink is the colour of self love so there is a lot of it going around right now!

Vision board

This is my vision board which is plastered on the fridge, I wanted to focus on being more healthy this year and this has taken the form of mindful eating and weaning myself off sugar. Vision boards are the most fun you can have with paper, scissors and glue! You simply take a stack of magazines and cut out pictures that inspire you, paste them to paper (I use lining wall paper) and then put them somewhere you will see them every day. Repeat often – the brain loves novelty and often filters out after  a while, it is a great way to keep on track and fill every day with inspiration. I sometimes make these focussing on colours – or home decoration – Country Living is a feast of beauty and inspiration.

 

Saffron Tales
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I would say I was quite addicted to sugar – after all from an early age I was rewarded with sweets and my Nanna loaded me up with comforting sweet tea. I am not alone in this process – it seems every article on health or fitness has a campaign of demonising sugar. All the writing on the subject blames the demonising of fat thirty years ago – which has produced an epidemic of type 2 diabetes, as manufacturers loaded up our fat free food with sugar to make it palatable. I rarely eat pre packaged food, because I want to know what I am eating, sugar has many names and many forms -I was amazed to discover fresh chicken is pumped full of glycerine because it weighs more!   Despite this trend, the dairy producers are slow to react – try buying full fat yoghurt!

The Saffron tales is a delightful book – armchair travel to the middle East – including a recipe for Energy balls which can be eaten as breakfast on the go. They are made from 160g of dates which I replaced with apricots – they provide the right note of natural sweetness when my desire for a sugar hit is at its height – usually around 4 o’clock in the afternoon when dinner is hours away.  You whizz up the apricots with a cup full of flaked almonds, a table spoon each of cinnamon and vanilla in a food processor. Add enough Tahini (or you can use Almond or Peanut butter) so that the mixture forms balls – and then roll these in coconut or ground almonds. The combination of nuts and natural sugar – releases its energy over time so you avoid the crash that happens just after a sugar hit. I find they sustain me as I don’t feel hungry for a good while afterwards – I can get to suppertime without going through a dozen biscuits!

Yoga for Life

As part of my intention for a healthier year – I have been enjoying this delightful yoga lifestyle book from Maya Fiennes.  The chapters are based around the chakras – using Kundalini yoga (I did not realise there were different types of yoga before reading this book).

A Kundalini session leaves you feeling fighting fit, ready and able to tackle every day challenges with new zest.

The book contains positive quotations, recipes and poses as well as lots of beautiful inspirational photography. It encouraged me to go out and buy some kaftans and leggings – dressing the part makes me feel halfway there and they are sooo gloriously comfortable I often keep my yoga outfits on the rest of the day!

I go to a yoga class every week, but this is a great guide for those days when I want to continue to practise at home – I tried the frog pose and it was the first time I felt the soar of energy that comes from using the poses. It was like discovering magic, and it does make me feel more alive!

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Our evening beach walks are lovely, the sea round here is rarely choppy, and the beaches have never been crowded. I am really enjoying my photography, Barney makes a good subject!

At the end of the week we enjoyed another writing session, which is also in tune with mindful attention – its only when you step back from life an become an observer that you have an opportunity to notice all the small things.

We have family gatherings to look forward to and it is wonderful to enjoy a long weekend. Happy Easter

Easter Eggs

 

 

Enchanted April – Sunday Sevens 9th April 2017

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OH! what bliss it is to wander in Spring sunshine without a coat! It has been a delightful early spring so far, March went out like a lamb and April has been all sunshine and smiles!  The Crab apple trees on our daily walk are beautiful leaving a carpet of pink among the grass! There seems to be an abundance of pink everywhere we look –  pink is the colour of self love.  It is hard not to be affected by the burst of positive energy all around – life feels great.

I have been rifling through my seasonal clothes and have been re-united with some of my lovely summer dresses – everything feels lighter and brighter. The seeds I planted are coming along well, and we have been enjoying longer walks in the evenings – which lifts my energy levels and makes me feel better.

Spring

I unearthed my supremely comfortable pink (of course!) walking  boots and we headed to the local woods to see if we could find any wild garlic -we spotted clumps of white among the bluebells but the carpet of white flowers were anemones! They look so pretty and fresh among the vibrant greens, but I am not sure they are edible.

Primroses in the woods

These little beauties were flourishing at the side of the path – I remember when I was a child the woods would be covered in a carpet of blue, yellow and white – so it is nice to see there are still abundant wild flowers.

Old tree trunk in the woods

This tree trunk looks like some sort of Velociraptor (see the jaws on the right?) goodness knows how long its been there, but it is beautiful.

Live Simply

My quote this week reflects my decision this year to seek out the small pleasures. I know that Simple Abundance is having a huge impact and I feel as if I am waking up from a deep slumber. Once I began to mindfully, taste, touch, smell and hear it connects me with nature,  – everything you need is right here, right now, and there are gifts everywhere.

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I am a real fan of older films – this is from a film called Enchanted April made not that long ago in 1992, it is perfect Sunday afternoon viewing. Its available on Amazon for under a fiver.

A careworn middle class woman, Lottie Wilkins sees an advertisement to rent a small castle in Italy for April – England seems to be endlessly raining and her life seems so small and drab, She spends her life seeing to the whims of her husband.  When Lottie notices another lady, Rose Arbuthnot – looking just as downcast and in need of a holiday, they agree to rent it together. Two other ladies join them, a socialite Lady Caroline and a dowdy, widow Mrs Fisher. Italy works its magic and we see the women flourish among the terraced gardens and turrets of the small castle.

The book, by Elizabeth Arnim was written in 1921 – and is semi-biographical created when she was physically, and emotionally exhausted, having recently become a single mother. To recover  she travelled to Italy to get away from dreary England – and one day she observed the beautiful gardens below her study, and so she transformed the magic into a story of hope and liberation.

What the book highlights, is just how burdened women can be – and not just from responsibility but their own continual desire to ensure the happiness of those around them, family, friends neighbours. Nearly 100 years later women are still juggling with these same issues of commitments and family stress.

Women run on expectations, the way a car is fuelled by gas. And it doesn’t matter whose: unspoken assignments from parents, bosses clients, children and lovers all crowd our calendars’ borders in ink only we can see.

While the film is delightful, I am finding the book has more depth, you read from each character’s perspective – you get inside their heads whereas the film can only hint at hidden motives. I found the character Lady Caroline more interesting, she is stunningly beautiful – but it is a burden that perhaps I had not appreciated until reading her tale.

hair do

My beloved son, Will is the Director of a Salon in Hampshire every 6 weeks my friend Jo and I  jaunt off for the day to have our hair done together. We usually spend a couple of hours browsing the shops and head to the Salon just after closing hours. We have the whole salon to ourselves.  Afterwards, we head out for a bite or two, sometimes we go jive dancing -depending on how exhausted he is after working all day!

Afternoon tea

Mothers Day was a protracted affair, my daughter and son in law came over for Afternoon tea, and then my son came over for a meal the following weekend, so it has been a great family time all round. I adored Mr D’s swirly sausage rolls and had more than one … or two!

Staffie in the woods
Staffordshire Bull terrier, Barney with ball

Of course, we can’t let a week go by without a Barney picture.. the ball is still intact surprisingly, although it did start out as a cuddly pig, but the pig fabric ended up decorating the lounge floor!

Happy Sunday. x

Sunday sevens is the delightful invention of Nat.. read her blog here. 

Book Review – The Taxidermist’s Daughter Kate Mosse

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It is wonderful to read a story set in your own small corner of the world, Kate Mosse is a local writer and this is the first book I’ve read that features many of the local landmarks. I loved hearing the names of places I know well, Chichester and Fishbourne which is where Kate grew up. You can read an article about the house that inspired this tale here.

What Kate does well, is to write evocatively about a place – I loved that about Winter Ghosts and I began this book almost straight after finishing Winter Ghosts, but this tale is darker and more macabre.

Sussex, 1912. In a churchyard, villagers gather on the night when the ghosts of those who will die in the coming year are thought to be seen. Here, where the estuary leads out to the sea, superstitions still hold sway.

Standing alone is the taxidermist’s daughter. At 17, Constantia Gifford lives with her father in a decaying house: it is all that is left of Gifford’s once world-famous museum of taxidermy. The stuffed animals that used to grace every parlour are out of fashion, leaving Gifford a disgraced and bitter man.

The bell begins to toll and all eyes are fixed on the church. No one sees the gloved hand pick up a flint. As the last notes fade into the dark, a woman lies dead.

While the village braces itself against rising waters and the highest tide of the season, Connie struggles to discover who is responsible, but finds herself under suspicion. Is Constantia who she seems – is she the victim of circumstances or are more sinister forces at work? And what is the secret that lies at the heart of Gifford House, hidden among the bell jars of her father’s workshop?

Told over one summer, The Taxidermist’s Daughter is the haunting new novel from the bestselling author of Labyrinth, Sepulchre, Citadel and The Winter Ghosts.

I have to admit the detailed description of the process of taxidermy described early on in the book made me feel slightly squeamish. I can’t say that it endeared me to Connie, I found it took a while to really get into the book. It was like catching glimpses in the mist, the sense of place, the marshes and the ebbing water – play just as big a role in this tale along with the characters.

wash stand Petworth Cottage Museum

The tale unfolds gradually, the lives of Gifford and his daughter resonate strongly with the sense of decay. Their art is no longer sought after or appreciated, but, Kate makes it very clear, it may be macabre but it is an Art of its own. It made me look at taxidermy in a different light – the skill is in preserving life, forever -from the smallest bird to the well loved dog.

It is gruesome in parts, especially the murders – but then it is why this tale hangs together, so reminiscent of Victorian Gothic – you get a sense of chilling in your bones, as the tidal waters rise, the crows circling or roosting in packs, even though it is more Edwardian than Victorian, it is a delightfully suspenseful tale.

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Kate’s sense of  of place is masterly, cosy tap rooms of local Public houses, an austere asylum, chilly carriage rides and living beside the frosty ebbing and flowing estuary mirroring the Giffords’ place in the community. We also have gallantry and just the wisp of romance .. if only the two lovers had a chance.

It’s a good read, one definitely for cold winter nights with a crackling fire – to ward off the chill of the mist and fog, in good gothic style.

If you loved Susan Hill’s The woman in Black, then you’ll enjoy this. (When, dear Susan, will you write another Gothic novel?)

I can’t wait to see what Kate Writes next…

Outlander Series one and The Witches Daughter – book review

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We bought an Amazon TV stick and have been enjoying some great films; this Series kept on popping up in our feed, so we decided to try it.

The basic story is about an Army Nurse in the 1940’s who is visiting Scotland with her husband after the war. One day she visits a standing stone circle and falls back in time by 200 years.

I really enjoyed the first half of the series, it was great learning about the clan culture and seeing Claire navigate her way in another time. She used her knowledge to heal and earned respect for her skills. She falls in love with one of the characters (I’ll try not to spoil it) but somehow when we reached two thirds of the way in I began to feel my interest waning.  How many times did she ignore advice and get herself in trouble? I find I was getting restless at her inability  to learn from her mistakes.

Beyond episode 11, I was watching it alone, Mr D having lost interest and it was becoming too romantic even for my interest, but the final episode left me frustrated and angry! What began as a promising tale – seemed to take a turn that left me feeling uncomfortable to watch. It seems to me that current box sets seem to desire to push boundaries, but I find it difficult to understand why the last episode would be so dire.

We became sucked into Game of Thrones a few months back – the first series was gripping, but when we reached the end of series five I felt sickened by the sheer violence depicted and refuse to watch any more. (Seriously, seeing someone squeeze a person’s eyeballs out of their sockets is gruesome! a final straw after episode after episode of skinning people alive, cutting off hands, beheading and poisoning, it is not my idea of entertainment)

However, I shall give the second series of Outlander another chance in order to recover the initial enthusiasm, maybe try and see if the books are any better than the TV series, Game of Thrones readers say there is not the same level of violence in the books.

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Outlander left me with an interest in time travelling tales: The Witches Daughter was an interesting read. I am not really into witchcraft but I do love the concept of fantasy and adventure.

Bess sees her mother hanged as a witch, with good reason it turns out. She is taught how to cast spells by a warlock called Gideon, who eventually helps her to become immortal. We follow Bess through three lives with Gideon hot on her tail.

It is an entertaining story , Paula Brackston is a talented writer: the story moves quickly and easily to a satisfying conclusion.

A good read I will give it five stars.

What do you think of time travelling tales?

Sunday Sevens -8 May 2016

New Home card

My lovely daughter moved home this week so I made her a little card to wish her well! It is also her Birthday this weekend so will be cake making! Family visiting and we are also following the Chichester Art Trail!

Mr D had a bit of a sort out last weekend – we ended up with a pile of 20 shirts that he no longer wanted to wear. I could not resist the lovely soft cottons so have been working on a little project – can you guess what I am making?

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The Colour me positive weekly challenge was ‘Art opens the closets, airs out the cellars and attics, Art brings healing’. It’s a Julia Cameron quote from the Artists way.  To be honest with you I think Art brings its own baggage with it; while it might be relaxing it can also be frustrating – things never turn out the way you visualise them. I have to battle the inner critic every time I pick up a pencil or a brush, but there are blissful moments when you can get lost in a sketch for a while. I am enjoying the challenge of having to create something and once a week is manageable – alothough this image is a lot darker in my book than it appears on here.

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This is the book group choice this month and what a gem! I cannot recommend this book enough! It is certainly original, Emma Healey is a talented writer you would never imagine she is in her twenties! Maud is a wonderfully entertaining old lady, I smiled, I laughed, I sighed – it was quite an adventure, one that I would like to read again sometime.

Here is the intro in case it peeks your interest –

Elizabeth is Missing, Emma Healey’s stunning debut novel, introduces a mystery, an unsolved crime and one of the most unforgettable characters since Mark Haddon’s Christopher. Meet Maud …

‘Elizabeth is missing’, reads the note in Maud’s pocket in her own handwriting.

Lately, Maud’s been getting forgetful. She keep

s buying peach slices when she has a cupboard full, forgets to drink the cups of tea she’s made and writes notes to remind herself of things. But Maud is determined to discover what has happened to her friend, Elizabeth, and what it has to do with the unsolved disappearance of her sister Sukey, years back, just after the war.

A fast-paced mystery with a wonderful leading character: Maud will make you laugh and cry, but she certainly won’t be forgotten.

 

The beautiful Keeley Hawes is extremely talented – the two characters she has been playing DI Denton in Line of Duty and Mrs Durrell in the Durrells could not be more different! I am bereft on Sunday nights now!  – I am just missing the querky Durrells and the blissful Corfu sunshine  what a shame it had to end!

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The fantastic Home Fires was also keeping me parked in front of the Telly – who would have thought Pat (on the right) would get the courage to have an affair!  I am the secretary for our local WI and I can assure you we are not half as sparky as these ladies. I am really disappointed to hear that there won’t be another series! I even signed a petition!

Sunday Sevens is the fabulous idea of Nat over at Threads and Bobbins, where you give a little round up of your week, if you want to participate pop over to her blog and sign up! Its such a great way to link up with other bloggers.

The House at Riverton book review

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If you haven’t read the book, don’t worry, you can read this review there is no spoiler. 

Grace Bradley went to work at Riverton House as a servant when she was just a girl, before the First World War. For years her life was inextricably tied up with the Hartford family, most particularly the two daughters, Hannah and Emmeline.
In the summer of 1924, at a glittering society party held at the house, a young poet shot himself. The only witnesses were Hannah and Emmeline and only they—and Grace—know the truth.
In 1999, when Grace is ninety-eight years old and living out her last days in a nursing home, she is visited by a young director who is making a film about the events of that summer. She takes Grace back to Riverton House and reawakens her memories. Told in flashback, this is the story of Grace’s youth during the last days of Edwardian aristocratic privilege shattered by war, of the vibrant twenties, and the changes she witnessed as an entire way of life vanished forever.
The novel is full of secrets—some revealed, others hidden forever, reminiscent of the romantic suspense of Daphne Du Maurier. It is also a meditation on memory, the devastation of war, and a beautifully rendered window into a fascinating time in history.
Originally published to critical acclaim in Australia, already sold in ten countries and a #1 bestseller in England, The House at Riverton is a vivid, page-turning novel of suspense and passion, with characters-and an ending-the reader won’t soon forget.

 

My thoughts:

Kate Morton is a very talented writer, of that there is no doubt… I found this book an engaging read.

It is so beautifully written in places:

I told you about the memories I’ve been having. I told you about the curious sensation that they are becoming more real to me than my own life. The way I slip away without warning, I am disappointed when I open my eyes and see that I am back in 1999. The way the fabric of time is changing, and I am beginning to feel at home in the past and a visitor to the this strange and blanched experience we agree to call the present.

What beautiful observation – simple genius.

There are so many metaphors where the house and the family reflect the wider society. The house personifies the fate of the aristocracy, the family’s decline is a slow painful death, as the dust begins to collect in corners. Class is brushed aside as bankers and business take control, reflecting the change in the wider society, it is the nouveau riche in the guise of Teddy that intend to bring the house back to its former glory.

The incident weaves in and out like a ghost, we catch snatches, we know someone died, we know there were two witnesses but we ebb backwards and forwards in time the story is pieced together like a jigsaw. At one point I was frustrated with the writing, we get closer and closer and then suddenly we are transported away to another time. Perhaps that is what is it is like in old age?

The last piece is not supplied by the narrator but as a recorded epilogue from Grace to her son. To be honest, I felt rather cheated by this, we never really get the story straight, the details are second hand and not fully there – we are left to surmise our own opinion about what happened.

But then so much of the novel is hinted at, Grace’s father, her mother, the game .. the mystery swirls around the story, just like the mist around the house itself.

I am not entirely sure I agree with the publishers that this is reminiscent of Daphne Du Maurier – Rebecca is a novel about a house of ghosts, but the tale has none of the suspense or tension of Rebecca as it  whirls to a crescendo where this tale just fades away.

It was an engaging read, she deserves her place on the best seller lists but I am reluctant to pick up the second book: the Forgotten Garden just now, because I am not really satisfied with the ending – it just simply faded away with Grace’s death and perhaps that was intended by the writer.

I did not mourn its loss which is an indicator of how I feel about books, when I am usually sad to let the characters go. In this instance, it was a peaceful passing!

The Cheesemaker’s House – book review

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The internet is a wonderful place – sometimes it can take you on a journey of discovery, there I was on Streetlife promoting my Happy Hookers and Knit wit’s group when up popped a post about local authors selling their books. In no time  I had clicked on the link and ten minutes later I found myself fully absorbed in this wonderful book.

I clicked on the link initially because I believe passionately that we should all try and support local artists and writers. I believe publishing has been destroyed; like so many things in our society, where the driving force is make money rather than publish good books.

I have read a couple of self published books before, so I was not expecting a great deal but I was pleasantly surprised.  From the very first page, I was absorbed in the story, something quite rare these days, not only was the quality of writing excellent but the characters were engaging from the start.

It was the sort of day when the roads melt. So William and I don’t take them. Instead I clamber over the garden fence … grass ripples around my feet and ankles, filled with the buzz of summer.

So begins the tale of the Cheesemaker’s house – Alice begins a new life in Yorkshire after her divorce – with plans to renovate her barn into a holiday let.

My mental image of a Yorkshire builder was a rotund man in a cloth cap who would exhibit a great deal of sucking of teeth when confronted with my barn. I certainly didn’t expect Richard Wainwright to be tall, dark and handsome.

Welcomed by the locals she soon hires handsome Richard to renovate her barn but they both begin to hear crying that brings Alice to the brink.

Owen a local ‘herbalist and healer’ meets Alice in church – he is quiet and caring completely different to Richard.   Pretty soon the three of them become entangled as the past and present meet when the body of a baby is discovered buried in the floor of the barn.

Jane’s writing flows easily from the page, Alice is a strong character – likeable, down to earth and no-nonsense. Her patience with the Owen went beyond mine to be honest. I did find at one point I was rather fed up with Owen’s mood swings.  Owen’s disappearance was not  fully explained, it was irritating and I never really understood why Alice loved him so much, but then I have never found vulnerability in men appealing.

As a hero in true romantic novel style- Owen is too weak. Yet it is the very fact that he is not perfect brings the story together – it makes Owen a human being and this novel a little less shallow than a romantic romp.

The incidents where the past and present meet –  were limited to sound and vision – I would have liked them to be richer – using all the character’s senses but maybe Jane intended them to be fleeting glimpses.

That said it is well worth a read – an engaging tale, light hearted with a little bit of the supernatural but nothing to give you nightmares

The writer self published because because the book doesn’t really sit neatly into a category! Yet, the mixture of supernatural and romance was just what I had been looking for! You can find out about the author, Jane Cable on her website but the really wonderful discovery is that Amazon has now shown me a whole list of authors I hadn’t heard of before to explore.

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