My Name is Anna
mystery, thriller, literary fiction
(10 Jan. 2019)
When your whole life is a lie, can you trust anyone? Even yourself?
ANNA has always been taught by her mother that cleanliness and purity are the path to God; that her heart's desire to visit Astroland, Florida’s biggest theme park, is ungodly.
But it’s her eighteenth birthday, and Anna’s feeling rebellious. But on arrival at Astroland, everything feels familiar. Almost like she’s been there before…
ROSIE has grown up in the shadow of a missing sister she barely remembers. Her parents’ relationship has been fractured by fifteen years of searching for their daughter – abducted at Astroland as an infant.
Now Rosie is determined to uncover the truth, no matter how painful it is, before it tears what’s left of her family apart…
Beautifully told from the different teenage girls’ perspectives.
The narrative to this story is told in two voices – Anna and Rosie.
Anna lives with her mother in small town Florida. Her mother is a cleanliness fanatic – cleanliness of the heart, mind and body, also very frugal and constantly praying.
Rosie lives in the UK and lost her elder sister in a Florida amusement park when she was a baby. Her sister was stolen in some manner and may have been killed but no-one knows the real circumstances behind her abduction.
The 15th anniversary of the abduction rolls around and Rosie finds herself increasingly frustrated at not knowing the truth, whilst Anna wants to find her father and to discover who is sending her messages.
Slowly the story explores the lives of these two girls, holding the reader in suspense. The power of cults is also explored through the story.
Everything is Lies
psychological, mystery, thriller, literary fiction
Sophia's parents have lead quiet, unremarkable lives. At least that is what she's always believed. Until the day she arrives at her childhood home to find her mother hanging from a tree in the garden. Her father lying in a pool of his own blood, near to death. The police are convinced it is an attempted murder-suicide. But Sophia is sure that the woman who brought her up isn't a killer. To clear her mother's name Sophia needs to delve deep into her family's past - a past full of dark secrets she never suspected were there . . .
An architect, Sophia, goes home only to find that everything that she thought she knew about her parents was untrue. It all comes out when she discovers her parents dead at their small nursery garden – only her father survives the stabbing. the police believe that it had been an attempt at a joint suicide, or that her mother had attempted to kill her father and then hung herself in remorse. neither scenario makes sense.
This follows a series of break-ins at the nursery – which seems odd as it was small and not doing well and thus would have little to offer a would-be burglar. perhaps there was another reason for he crime?
Sophia then meets her estranged grandmother and things begin to change, and the mystery deepens as a lost manuscript that her mother was apparently writing, comes into play.
A good suspense story with Sophia gradually discovering the truth about her parents’ lives and her own family. nicely written with the plot becoming more tense as Sophia finds out more.
The Day of the Accident
psychological, mystery, thriller, literary fiction
Sixty seconds after she wakes from a coma, Maggie's world is torn apart.
The police tell her that her daughter Elspeth is dead. That she drowned when the car Maggie had been driving plunged into the river. Maggie remembers nothing.
When Maggie begs to see her husband Sean, the police tell her that he has disappeared. He was last seen on the day of her daughter's funeral.
What really happened that day at the river?
Where is Maggie's husband?
And why can't she shake the suspicion that somewhere, somehow, her daughter is still alive?
This is a story that draws you into its web of reality and unreality subtly but inexorably, until you really do need to know the truth of their lives.
So there was this car accident and a little girl was drowned. Her mother, Maggie, who wasn’t in the car at the time, tried to save her and nearly drowned herself.
As the story starts, the mother wakes up in hospital from a coma, in ICU, and very confused. She has amnesia and doesn’t remember the accident. Her life has changed dramatically whilst she has lain there very ill, in more ways than just the death of her child.
And then long buried secrets begin to spill out of Maggie’s life.
Compelling story telling. I didn’t want to go to sleep – just keep on reading….
The Possible World
literary fiction, contemporary, women's fiction,
July 12, 2018
'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.
Fiction, women's fiction, politics
June 14, 2018
'Essential . . . Evans is a brilliant storyteller' Stylist What do you do next, after you've changed the world? It is 1928. Matilda Simpkin, rooting through a cupboard, comes across a small wooden club - an old possession of hers, unseen for more than a decade. Mattie is a woman with a thrilling past and a chafingly uneventful present. During the Women's Suffrage Campaign she was a militant. Jailed five times, she marched, sang, gave speeches, smashed windows and heckled Winston Churchill, and nothing - nothing - since then has had the same depth, the same excitement. Now in middle age, she is still looking for a fresh mould into which to pour her energies. Giving the wooden club a thoughtful twirl, she is struck by an idea - but what starts as a brilliantly idealistic plan is derailed by a connection with Mattie's militant past, one which begins to threaten every principle that she stands for. Old Baggage is a funny and bittersweet portrait of a woman who has never, never given up the fight.
What do you do when the Suffragette Movement, to which you had given your youth is not more? And the First World War killed off many men and left many women single – which was not a considered a ‘natural’ state in the early part of the 20th century? And then, you still had not achieved all that you wanted to when you joined the movement, but society was not set up for you to achieve those aims – such as actually being given a degree in a degree awarding ceremony, such as running a business and obtaining a loan in your own name, or even taking part in the Olympics such that a Women’s Olympic Games was set up…
In this book we follow the stories of some of these women in the 1920s. Now middle-aged they are single – most of them – or have ‘settled’ into a marriage. And they find that young girls are rather unadventurous. And Right Wing politics were beginning to advance into the local area – which happens to be Hampstead in London.
All of which story is dear to my heart as a graduate of Mary Buss schooling.
This is a gentle story but with some serious points to make about how insidious the politics of the right can be, and how easy it was, and still is from time to time, to belittle the work of women and their ambitions – hence the lack of women on Boards – still!
I really enjoyed reading this book and found the characters believable and empathetic and was reminded – again – about my own youth and the restrictions that there still were on girls then in general.