When your letter gets lost

The Lost Letters of William Woolf
Helen Cullen
Literary fiction, Contemporary
Michael Joseph
July 15, 2018
464

Lost letters have only one hope for survival . . . Inside the Dead Letters Depot in East London, William Woolf is one of thirty letter detectives who spend their days solving mysteries- Missing postcodes, illegible handwriting, rain-smudged ink, lost address labels, torn packages, forgotten street names - they are all the culprits of missed birthdays, broken hearts, unheard confessions, pointless accusations, unpaid bills and unanswered prayers. But when William discovers letters addressed simply to 'My Great Love', his work takes on new meaning. Written by a wistful woman to the soulmate she hasn't met yet, the missives capture William's heart in ways he didn't know possible, and soon he begins to wonder- Are these letters truly lost? Or might he be the intended recipient-could hebe her great love?

A slow burn story of the small (ish) lives we can allow ourselves to lead, where everything irritates and is no longer an amusing trait.

“was real romance just persevering when times were hard, hidden in the daily domestic rituals of a shared life.”

This element of the book was beautifully portrayed.

But.

Overall, I found the book to be slightly disappointing form the hype. I expected to love it and award it 5 stars, But I don’t and I haven’t.

A nice read but by the end I found the whole ‘Winter’ concept to be annoying especially after William ignored the big clue with the photographs. And I found the denouement unsatisfactory.

 

PS. 3 foot in size Grandfather clocks are known as Grandmother clocks! We have a beautiful one on our wall.

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Let’s go and garden!

Digging in
Loretta Nyhan
Fiction, humour, literary fiction
Lake Union Publishing
2018-04
252

In author Loretta Nyhan's warm, witty, and wonderful novel, a widow discovers an unexpected chance to start over--right in her own backyard. Paige Moresco found her true love in eighth grade--and lost him two years ago. Since his death, she's been sleepwalking through life, barely holding on for the sake of her teenage son. Her house is a wreck, the grass is overrun with weeds, and she's at risk of losing her job. As Paige stares at her neglected lawn, she knows she's hit rock bottom. So she does something entirely unexpected: she begins to dig. As the hole gets bigger, Paige decides to turn her entire yard into a vegetable garden. The neighbors in her tidy gated community are more than a little alarmed. Paige knows nothing about gardening, and she's boldly flouting neighborhood-association bylaws. But with the help of new friends, a charming local cop, and the transformative power of the soil, Paige starts to see potential in the chaos of her life. Something big is beginning to take root--both in her garden and in herself.

I actually think that Petra Polly might have a good book in there…  so a book within a book. Petra certainly makes some good and valid points from my own experience of organisations, especially about sharing knowledge. But I don’t like the idea of competing for your job! The loser gets sacked.

So an interesting story about the older women at work and how their knowledge and experience works with creativity and enthusiasm as displayed by the ‘youngsters’.

And how digging in a garden is good for your health and growing your own food expands your emotions.

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Cold Water Swimming

The Lido Book Cover The Lido
Libby Page
swimming, literary fiction, romantic humour
Orion
(19 April 2018)

'THE LIDO is a joyous and uplifting debut - a testament to kindness and friendship and all those values society must hold dear' SARAH WINMAN, author of When God Was a Rabbit and Tin Man

Meet Rosemary, 86, and Kate, 26: dreamers, campaigners, outdoor swimmers...

Rosemary has lived in Brixton all her life, but everything she knows is changing. Only the local lido, where she swims every day, remains a constant reminder of the past and her beloved husband George.

Kate has just moved and feels adrift in a city that is too big for her. She's on the bottom rung of her career as a local journalist, and is determined to make something of it.

So when the lido is threatened with closure, Kate knows this story could be her chance to shine. But for Rosemary, it could be the end of everything. Together they are determined to make a stand, and to prove that the pool is more than just a place to swim - it is the heart of the community.

The Lido is an uplifting novel about the importance of friendship, the value of community, and how
ordinary people can protect the things they love.

'A standout hymn to female friendship and the power of collective action' Stylist

'Feel-good and uplifting, this charming novel is full of heart' Lucy Diamond

'Did I #lovethelido? So much my heart broke a little turning the last page. A stunning debut' Clare Mackintosh

Brrrr…

My grandkids swim in an outdoor pool, I doubt it is heated, but I know their mother sits and watches wrapped in several blankets with a hot drink and a hot water bottle! Me – I like my water 30 degrees at least  – above permitted heat I know but…

So I maybe wouldn’t have joined the petition to keep the Lido open, not for me, but certainly there are lots of people who don’t mind the cold so maybe I would join for them. And for a Community Asset which should be kept of course!

I read a recent article by Libby Page who wrote of friendship. Across age, backgrounds and cultures. And the importance of community assets as meeting places to facilitate these friendships. without somewhere where everyone is welcomed, we are impoverished and the lesser for it.

This novel reminds us of the richness of a locality where feet traverse the soil and encounters with others is the norm.

I really must visit Brixton and the market!

 

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When your heart needs mending

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae Book Cover The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae
Stephanie Butland
literary fiction, contemporary
Zaffre; 1 edition
(19 April 2018)

Ailsa Rae is learning how to live.

She's only a few months past the heart transplant that - just in time - saved her life. Life should be a joyful adventure. But . . .

Her relationship with her mother is at breaking point and she wants to find her father.
Have her friends left her behind?
And she's felt so helpless for so long that she's let polls on her blog make her decisions for her. She barely knows where to start on her own.

Then there's Lennox. Her best friend and one time lover. He was sick too. He didn't make it. And now she's supposed to face all of this without him.

But her new heart is a bold heart. 

She just needs to learn to listen to it . . 

A book that contrives to be both a serious and empathetic story about Ailsa and her life-defining illness, but at the same time is an uplifting and humorous tale of her struggles as both a blue and a pink heart.

Ailsa has a rare heart defect that could have killed her at birth but through surgical intervention she makes it through her life and even takes a degree, but in her mid-twenties it begins to fail. during the latter part of this period she begins a blog about her life and struggles as someone with a life-defining illness.

The excerpts in the book of her blueheart blog are wonderful and show just how difficult it can be to live when every day could be your last.

It also tells us clearly how difficult it is to have a successful romance under these circumstances and how believing in this romance has issues.

I liked the introduction of the tango as an illustration of this belief in Ailsa’s life and future development.

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Where to go that’s safe?

Home Book Cover Home
Amanda Berriman
literary fiction,
Doubleday
(8 Feb. 2018)

Meet Jesika, aged four and a half. The most extraordinary narrator of 2018.

She lives in a flat with her mother and baby brother and she knows a lot. She knows their flat is high up and the stairs are smelly. She knows she shouldn't draw on the peeling wallpaper or touch the broken window. And she knows she loves her mummy and baby brother Toby.

She does not know that their landlord is threatening to evict them and that Toby’s cough is going to get much worse. Or that Paige, her new best friend, has a secret that will explode their world.

An unusual and disturbing story told from the point of view of a four year old girl as she experiences her life.

She is a very bright little girl but her understanding of events is, of course, limited by her experience, and what her mother has told her. Her life has been difficult as her father abandoned her mother when she was pregnant with their second child and went back to Poland. He doesn’t provide any  support and this leaves them living in a rented flat in a rather unsavoury building. a flat that is damp, lacks reliable reliable heating and maintenance with doors and windows that don’t fit properly and up several flights of stairs. the owner of the flat also is inclined to request services rather than cash for rent from her mother…

Our little heroine has a friend, Paige, and gradually as the friendship between them develops as it also does with their mothers, we begin to work out just what is really happening in Paige’s life.

I was initially unsure about this story as it was tricky reading a story told in the voice of a child – but it was not written in a sentimental manner and indeed her voice was very poignant. i got hooked and found it excellent.

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