book review/Books/Fantasy/fiction
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How memory travels

The Possible World Book Cover The Possible World
Liese Schwarz
literary fiction, contemporary, women's fiction,
Hutchinson
July 12, 2018
400

'Every now and then I come across a book I wish I'd written. The Possible World is one of those... A gorgeously wrought exploration of who gets to tell the story of our lives, and who gets to inhabit that story with us' Jodi Picoult

Ben is the sole survivor of a crime that claims his mother and countless others. He is just six years old, and already he must find a new place for himself in the world.

Lucy, the doctor who tends to Ben, is grappling with a personal upheaval of her own. She feels a profound connection to the little boy who has lived through the unthinkable. Will recovering his memory heal him, or damage him further?

Clare has long believed that the lifetime of secrets she's been keeping don't matter to anyone anymore, until an unexpected encounter prompts her to tell her story.

As they each struggle to confront the events - past and present - that have defined their lives, something stronger than fate is working to bring them together...

This is a story with a difference.

I am calling it fantasy as it makes an assumption about how souls and their memories can be transferred from one person to anotehr after death.

At first I found  it tricky to follow what was going on but suddenly it all came clear and I was entranced. It would have been 5 stars if I hadn’t been tempted to put the book down after a couple of chapters due my confusion.

It is gently written in a clear and unassuming style. A style that is easy to get lost in and a book that I didn’t want to end.

The description of the hurricane was devastating and Clare’s life, of penance almost, afterwards, was told with great empathy and affection for this damaged woman. And Leo, as he told his story, was so tragic, you really wanted to cuddle him forever. You forget now, just how harsh some of the religious houses were for orphans – the way they were treated like indentured servants despite their ages, and one can only be thankful, that this no longer happens. Although, orphanages are still far from good….

Read this book to find out what the Depression was really like for the American South.

 

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book review/Books/fiction/Romance
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Love a good Regency romance?

Lord of Secrets
Rogues to Riches #5
Erica Ridley
Romance, historical, Regency
WebMotion
June 15, 2018

Some secrets should never be unveiled…

Heath Grenville is the problem-solver for London's elite. Unmask the devious cretin skewering the tonwith audacious caricatures? With pleasure. His success should keep the powerful happy. But when his work leads him to a young lady outside his class, surely he won’t do anything so scandalous as to fall in love...

By day, Miss Eleanora Winfield is a proper, unremarkable paid companion. By night, Nora’s skillful hands sketch the infamous penny caricatures rocking high society. Nora desperately needs the money…andher anonymity. But how can she keep them both, when she’s fallen for the one man whose livelihood and reputation requires him to expose her?

In the Rogues to Riches historical romance series by USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Erica Ridley, Cinderella stories aren’t just for princesses… Sigh-worthy Regency rogues sweep strong-willed young ladies into whirlwind romance with rollicking adventure.

As always with Erica Ridley, you get a good solid Regency romance, with a twist, and with identifiable, real people. Who are far from prim and proper, but are indeed lusty and have real emotions.

Erica writes well and amusingly, and has enough knowledge of the period to make the stories ring true.

 

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Seeing the Sea?

Manhattan Beach Book Cover Manhattan Beach
Jennifer Egan
Contemporary fiction, women's fiction
Corsair; 01 edition
(3 Oct. 2017)

'We're going to see the sea,' Anna whispered.

Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to the house of a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. Anna observes the uniformed servants, the lavishing of toys on the children, and some secret pact between her father and Dexter Styles.

Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that had always belonged to men. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. She is the sole provider for her mother, a farm girl who had a brief and glamorous career as a Ziegfield folly, and her lovely, severely disabled sister. At a night club, she chances to meet Styles, the man she visited with her father before he vanished, and she begins to understand the complexity of her father's life, the reasons he might have been murdered.

Mesmerizing, hauntingly beautiful, with the pace and atmosphere of a noir thriller and a wealth of detail about organized crime, the merchant marine and the clash of classes in New York, Egan's first historical novel is a masterpiece, a deft, startling, intimate exploration of a transformative moment in the lives of women and men, America and the world. Manhattan Beach is a magnificent novel by one of the greatest writers of our time.

Whilst I have read the entire book it has not been a story that has gripped me and made me want to complete it in one sitting.

I have picked it up for Tube journeys on my phone and read as much as the journey has permitted and then left it until the next journey.

And yet I did find parts of it very interesting. For instance, when Anna  learns to dive. Finding out about what diving suits were like during the 1940s and how they worked was fascinating in a technical way. And of course the misogyny of the ship yards came through very strongly.

But this section exemplified what for me was the major problem with the book. The writing style. It lacked humour and tended to be dry rather than fluid.

The book jumped back and forward in time with no introduction, and each time I was lost for a while trying to figure out the year, and what had happened. Especially the section about Merchant ships.

There were a confusing number of names and I lost track of who was who each time it jumped.

For me, this was a novel with a story that should have been, but just wasn’t. Disappointing. Really a 2.5.

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No Noise?

House of Silence Book Cover House of Silence
Sarah Barthel
Fiction
Kensington
2016-12
300

Oak Park, Illinois, 1875. Isabelle Larkin s future like that of every young woman hinges upon her choice of husband. She delights her mother by becoming engaged to Gregory Gallagher, who is charismatic, politically ambitious, and publicly devoted. But Isabelle s visions of a happy, profitable match come to a halt when she witnesses her fiance commit a horrific crime and no one believes her. Gregory denies all, and Isabelle s mother insists she marry as planned rather than drag them into scandal. Fearing for her life, Isabelle can think of only one escape: she feigns a mental breakdown that renders her mute, and is brought to Bellevue sanitarium. There she finds a friend in fellow patient Mary Todd Lincoln, committed after her husband s assassination. In this unlikely refuge, the women become allies, even as Isabelle maintains a veneer of madness for her own protection. But sooner or later, she must reclaim her voice. And if she uses it to expose the truth, Isabelle risks far more than she could ever imagine. Weaving together a thread of finely tuned suspense with a fascinating setting and real-life figures, Sarah Barthel's debut is historical fiction at its most evocative and compelling."

The publisher’s write-up sounded fabulous and so I attempted to read this book several times. But found that whilst the beginning was engaging, once Isabelle was committed to the asylum, I found myself getting less interested and less interested. Somehow my attention wandered… I never managed to complete the book.

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Do a Crime – get Schooling? No Contest.

Lord of the Night Book Cover Lord of the Night
Rogues to Riches #3
Erica Ridley
history, literary fiction, romance
WebMotion
(20 July 2017)

Unlike proper debutantes, Miss Dahlia Grenville is secretly Robin Hood in a bonnet. Her home for wayward girls has too many dependents and not enough donations. But just as she’s about to pull off the heist of the Season, she tumbles straight into the arms of the handsome detective who has sworn to deliver Mayfair’s mysterious thief straight to the gallows. Highly principled Bow Street runner Simon Spaulding’s world is black and white. There’s no mastermind too clever, no criminal alive who can escape the hangman. Until he realizes the delightful young lady he’s been courting is a liar and a thief. Suddenly, his career—and his heart—are in peril. How can he bring her to justice when it means losing her forever?

And again Erica writes a good historical romance with a modern twist – or at least a feminist twist.

Here we have a nicely brought up young woman not only starting her own school for destitute and desperate young girls but also finding a way to support the school through somewhat illegal means – although she would point out that no-one was actually physically harmed, and anyway, those she took from could well have afforded to donate instead, but didn’t. So almost deserved it….

And we have the start of the Peelers to add to the mix. Which again will intrigue people who like their history and crime fiction…

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