Monthly Archives November 2021

#BookReview ‘Jane Austen A Life’ by Claire Tomalin #books #writerslife

As a lifelong Jane Austen fan, how I wish I had read this biography years ago. So many details from Jane’s life, her observations in letters to sister Cassandra and comments about Jane by her own relatives shed a spotlight on characterisations and situations portrayed in her novels. Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin was first published in 1997. Limited by the destruction of so many of Jane’s own letters, Tomalin builds a picture of Jane’s life from the accounts of her family and acquaintances, and of life at that time in Georgian England. The amount of research done must be formidable but Tomalin sets her story of Jane Austen’s daily life against her literary progress, including the times when she was unable to write. She is revealed as having a sparkling and at times dry wit, perhaps more Lizzie Bennet than Emma Woodhouse.  Also interesting is the account of first her father then her brother Henry at getting her books published. On Jane’s death, Cassandra was sole proprietor of Jane’s copyright though Henry continued to negotiate with publishers. Any writer will be familiar with the reactions of one’s closest relatives to the publication of a new book. The
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

#BookReview ‘The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society’ #romance #WW2

I prefer to come to a book without reading reviews so I can make up my own mind. But sometimes there is a book that I missed in its early days but which goes onto be hugely popular. The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows is such a book. It was first brought to my attention by fellow author Claire Dyer who chose it as her ‘Porridge & Cream’ comfort read. When I asked Claire why it was her choice, she said, “it’s essentially about good people and reading it reminds me that there’s more goodness in the world than sometimes is apparent.” Now I know what she means. The story is told in letter form, a structure I admit to having doubts about before I started reading. But the manner in which the letters flow and the information is dripped in means there are no information gaps, no repetitions. It is 1946 and writer Juliet Ashton receives a letter from a man in Guernsey who by chance owns a book that once belonged to her. And so begins Juliet’s correspondence with Dawsey Adams and his fellow members of the Guernsey Literary
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Categories: Book Love.

#BookReview ‘A Brush with Death’ by @fkleitch #crime #cosycrime

A Brush with Death by Fiona Leitch is the second Nosey Parker cosy mystery and the first I’ve read. Jodie Parker, ex-Metropolitan police officer, and newly single mum has returned home to Cornwall. It’s the week of Penstowan’s inaugural arts festival and Jodie, no longer working for the police, is doing the catering. The festival’s main attraction is painter Duncan Stovall, famous for his Penstowan series of sea paintings. This is a story with instant fizz. Written in the first person, Jodie’s, I loved the sly sometimes saucy asides that pull you straight into the jokes, the personalities and the action. If it were an item of food on a menu catered by Jodie, this book would be a mash-up of a Cornish saffron bun slathered with butter and clotted cream, a mug of steaming tea and a glass of scrumpy. Cornwall is a part of the book’s DNA, not just the dialect of the Penstowan residents or the food but the wonderful descriptions of coastal scenery that make you want to get into the car and head south on the M5. When a visiting author is found dead at the bottom of the cliffs Jodie can’t resist sticking her
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Categories: Book Love.

#BookReview ‘Beneath the Keep’ by Erika Johansen #fantasy #Tearling

Beneath the Keep by Erika Johansen is the standalone prequel novel to her Tearling trilogy, the first of which was excellent, the second good, the third disappointing. Beneath the Keep is every bit as good as the first novel, if not better. If you haven’t read the trilogy, read this first. It’s a rollercoaster ride, a dystopian story of a country at war, the rich denying the poor, drought, famine, rebellion, cruelty and the hope of a True Queen who may exist at some time in the future. Many names are familiar from the trilogy, many are completely new.Christian is twenty. An orphan, he was born in the Creche, the labyrinth of tunnels beneath the Tear’s capital city New London. The Creche is only one layer of the underground and it is not the worst, in some dark places unimaginable horrors take place. Since he was a small child, Christian has been a fighter. Now he is a legend, unbeaten, still alive unlike the many he defeated. It is a deadly game of kill or be killed. He cares only for one person. As small children he and fellow orphan, now prostitute, Maura were sold together into slavery, together they learned
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Categories: Book Love.

#FlashPIC 57 Winter Sky #writingprompt #amwriting

Looking up to the sky on the kind of winter’s day when you want to be outside, wrapped up warm, breathing the chill air deep into your lungs, can be uplifting. Experiment with capturing this feeling, write notes, take photographs, research the weather conditions, so you can use it for the setting for a future story. This writing prompt is from the Writers’ BLOCKbusters series. Concentrate on writing about atmosphere, your perception of the day, the weather, how it makes you feel. This prompt is not about character or plot. Describe the contrast of cold air in your lungs and warm sun on your face. The woolly hat on your head. The heavy boots on your feet. The tingle of frost on your cheeks. The need for sunglasses. What emotions do you feel? How do you see others react to the beautiful weather? Think about how a winter’s day can look like a day in summer, except for the difference in temperature and the trees bare of leaves. Explore all aspects of this winter’s day as the setting for a future short story. © ‘Writers’ BLOCKbusters’ by Sandra Danby Want more inspiration? Try these other FlashPICs:- Union Jack & trees Parking
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Categories: Writers' BLOCKbusters and Writing exercises.