Not one but two in the marriage

Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire Book Cover Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire
Amanda Foreman
history, literary fiction, social history, military
HarperCollins UK
1999
463

Follows the turbulent life of the young noblewoman who became the style icon of late eighteenth-century England.

I loved the film and found the history and character of Georgiana fascinating. She was a complicated and complex person in a very complex and complicated world, where one did not marry for love but for family enhancement and improvement.

Unfortunately, I did not find the novel quite as fascinating and maybe I shouldn’t have seen the film first? Films of novels are never quite true to the story and sometimes the history changes for convenience. I probably expected too much from the novel.

It is good but not good enough to keep me enthralled and not unputdownable.

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What comes next?

On the Other Side Book Cover On the Other Side
Carrie Hope Fletcher
magic, occult, literary fiction
Sphere
February 23, 2017
432

THE NUMBER ONE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER 'An enchanting and magical love story that reminded me so much of Cecelia Ahern' Ali McNamara EXCLUSIVE! Contains an extract from Carrie's next novel All That She Can See! Your soul is too heavy to pass through this door, Leave the weight of the world in the world from before Evie Snow is eighty-two when she quietly passes away in her sleep, surrounded by her children and grandchildren. It's the way most people wish to leave the world but when Evie reaches the door of her own private heaven, she finds that she's become her twenty-seven-year-old self and the door won't open. Evie's soul must be light enough to pass through so she needs to get rid of whatever is making her soul heavy. For Evie, this means unburdening herself of the three secrets that have weighed her down for over fifty years, so she must find a way to reveal them before it's too late. As Evie begins the journey of a lifetime, she learns more about life and love than she ever thought possible, and somehow, some way, she may also find her way back to the only man she ever truly loved . . . Powerful, magical and utterly romantic, On the Other Side will transport you to a world that is impossible to forget. A love story like no other, it will have you weeping from the sheer joy and beauty of it all.

My daughter recommended this book to me as a really interesting book and nice to read.

I found it rather boring. I couldn’t get into it and found the whole premise rather sugary… sorry Darling!

But if you like this kind of thing – critics loved it – romantic, enchanting etc were the words bandied about, but it just didn’t do it for me. I failed to get more than about 20% of the way through.

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When a friend asks –

A Simple Favour Book Cover A Simple Favour
DARCEY. BELL
Literary fiction, Contemporary, psychological
Pan Macmillan
December 14, 2017
352

A Simple Favour is a twisting free-fall ride filled with betrayal, reversal, secrets and revelations, love and loyalty. Darcey Bell ratchets up the tension in a taut, unsettling, and completely absorbing thriller that holds you in its grip until the final page.It starts with a simple favour - an ordinary kindness mothers do for one another.When her best friend, Emily, asks Stephanie to pick up her son from school she happily says yes.Their children are classmates and best friends. And five-year-olds love being together - just like she and Emily. As a widow and stay-at-home blogger mum living in suburban Connecticut, Stephanie was lonely until she met Emily, a glamorous and successful PR executive.The trouble is that Emily doesn't come back. No matter what the police say, Stephanie knows that she would never leave her son. Terrified, she reaches out to her fellow mummy bloggers.And she also reaches out to Emily's husband - just to offer her support.What Stephanie hasn't shared are the secrets buried in a murky past.

The film adaptation of the book stars Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively as the seemingly mismatched pair of best friends.

A book that starts out like a ‘normal’ story of a mother and her best friend, and mommies in NY suburbs and then gradually becomes darker and more twisted as the truths of their lives begin to unfold.

And then, half-way through, a really big twist turns the story into something else entirely! Something you had not anticipated and it all goes into a spiral from there…

And at the end there is a cliff-hanger, that leaves you to make up your own mind about the ending.

I found this really enticing as a story as the main characters have such secrets that they have carefully hidden, for a variety of reasons, and their own real personalities are hidden too. I couldn’t wait to find out what they would do next. And how they would spin half-truths and blame others… All of them characters you really could not empathise with, for any reason at all…

Good solid writing if not great.

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That which lasts..

Durable Goods Book Cover Durable Goods
Cole and Callahan Thriller
Patricia Hale
Fiction, suspense, thriller, psychological
Intrigue Publishing, LLC
April 15, 2018
215

Detective John Stark approaches the PI team of Griff Cole and Britt Callahan with a postcard he's sure is from his estranged daughter, Kira. She's been listed as a runaway for three years by Portland, Maine police but John isn't convinced that her continued absence is by choice. As Stark's long-time friends, Cole and Callahan agree to look into the postcard marked only with the letters OK. The postmark leads them to Oracles of the Kingdom, a farm where women sell fresh produce in return for a fresh start with God. But nothing seems right about the town or the farm and Britt goes undercover to look for Kira. Once inside, she realizes that Oracles of the Kingdom is not the refuge it appears.

And can be re-used…

This was a read that really tests your belief in pastors and religion and demonstrates how easily they can twisted to one person’s beliefs and self.

Here we see a so-called pastor preying on girls who had lost their self-esteem and thus believed that they were worthless and when they found a ‘saviour’ behaved according to his rules. Even when those rules were harmful to them. This is how cults work. They take those who are needy and work on their self-esteem until only the cult can fulfil those needs. They become grateful for what is supplied – food, shelter, and if it is abuse, then they believe that it is justified.

And often fathers are just as much to blame in a patriarchal society as they can idolise the sons and use and re-use the daughters with both mental and physical abuse until the girls are lost.

But isn’t courage doing what is right and good even when you are afraid? And we see this courage in action in this story.

I found the story disturbing and hard to read at times but somehow the writing didn’t quite flow as well as a 5 star book, so 4 it is.

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Dancing Shoes

Sally Red Shoes Book Cover Sally Red Shoes
Ruth Hogan
death, bereavement, romance, literary fiction
Two Roads
(3 May 2018)

Masha's life has stopped. Once a spirited, independent woman with a rebellious streak, her life has been forever changed by a tragic event twelve years ago. Unable to let go of her grief, she finds solace in the silent company of the souls of her local Victorian cemetery and at the town's lido, where she seeks refuge underwater - safe from the noise and the pain.

But a chance encounter with two extraordinary women - the fabulous and wise Kitty Muriel, a convent girl-turned-magician's wife-turned-seventy-something-roller-disco-fanatic, and the mysterious Sally Red Shoes, a bag lady with a prodigious voice - opens up a new world of possibilities, and the chance to start living again. But just as Masha dares to imagine the future, the past comes roaring back ...

 

Like her bestselling debut, The Keeper of Lost Things, Ruth Hogan's second novel introduces a cast of wonderful characters, both ordinary and charmingly eccentric, who guide us through a moving exploration of the simple human connections that make life worth living.

In homage to this book I visited Abney Garden cemetery. This is technically an Arboretum and was planted with 2500 trees when first opened, many of them being unusual species brought in by the local nurseryman in Stokey, who at that time had the largest greenhouse  in Europe. Sadly, after around 100 years of business, his business collapsed and the greenhouse is no more.

I took a photo of my take on the Inebriated Field and also the most wonderful Davidia tree – aka the Handkerchief tree in full flower – a rare site and never one to be timed but lucky happenstance.

The leafy paths were full of dog walkers, in particular a lovely chocolate lab who wanted to walk with us rather than his owner!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And – well, Lidos are clearly an ‘in’ topic having just The Lido and they are very cold indeed when outdoors.

[ Fun fact: New Scientist has just published an article about crows and their face recognition. Not only do they recognise you, but they can tell other crows how to recognise you!]

And now, what did i think of the book?

It was different. It was sad and yet not sad – it reminded us that grief takes a long time to get over, especially the loss of a child.

Ruth Hogan writes in an empathetic manner that tells us much about human emotions and her portrayal of Sally demonstrates this.

But, although I loved the writing, the style and content, and everything about the story, the interspersing of the two women and their stories made the ending rather obvious to those of us who read crime/thriller/suspense stories. So there was no surprise there, which was a shame.  This downgrades a 5 to a 4 as I really don’t think we should know the ending that soon.

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