Monthly Archives February 2022

#BookReview ‘The Black Dress’ by Deborah Moggach #contemporary

If you like unpredictable storylines with twist after twist try The Black Dress, the latest by Deborah Moggach. Like her last, The Carer, it is much darker and less humorous than the publisher’s blurb suggests. It is difficult to pin down to a genre owing to the numerous twists, it is part-crime, part-family drama, part-romance, part-humorous though I’d didn’t find it to be a laugh-out-loud story. Pru is 69 when her husband walks out; shedding his wife and his possessions, he goes to a silent retreat in Rutland. Pru’s friend Azra says she should’ve fought to get him back. But as Pru remembers the last few years with Greg she starts to question the veracity of her memories and wonders what he’d really been thinking. Feeling alone, son Max lives in Canada and daughter Lucy in Iceland, Pru stays on in the family home in Muswell Hill, surrounded by smug couples leading exactly the sort of life she used to enjoy. Only Pam who lives opposite, nastily nicknamed Pritt-Stick-Pam by Pru and Greg as they mock what they see as Pam’s neediness, sees Pru is struggling and tries to help. As Greg moves to their cottage in Dorset and they
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Categories: Book Love.

#BookReview ‘Oh William!’ by @LizStrout #contemporary #literary

What a gifted writer Elizabeth Strout is. Oh William! sees the return of Lucy Barton as she meets again her first husband, William, and reflects on love, loss, friendship and the fact that life can seem bewildering. Lucy’s voice is so real it seemed as if we were having a real conversation, face-to-face. This is the stream-of-consciousness story – complete with ums, ahs, meanderings and distractions – of a few months in Lucy’s life, after the death of her second husband David and when William’s latest wife, Estelle has just left him. Lucy and William were married for twenty years and have two daughters; that’s a lot of baggage. The connections that bind a married couple do not disappear after they are divorced, memories and experiences are inextricably linked. William, now 71, came home one day to find the flat looking odd, with gaps where things should be, and a note from his wife Estelle saying she had moved out. As he explains to Lucy, now a successful writer in her sixties, what has happened, she relives the moment she also left William, how she felt at the time and how she feels now. She calls him Pillie, he calls
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Categories: Book Love.

#BookReview ‘Dead Lions’ by Mick Herron #spy #thriller

No tuxedos, no superheroes, no gadgets. The Slough House spy thrillers by Mick Herron feature the spies who, having messed up, have been consigned to a dead-end department [in London, not Slough, but that’s the joke]. Dead Lions is second in the series. The title is taken from a kids’ party game, ‘You have to pretend to be dead. Lie still. Do nothing.’ When elderly retired streetwalker Dickie Bow, a spy good at following people on the street and discovering their secrets, turns up dead on a train near Oxford no-one takes much notice. Except Jackson Lamb, Slough House boss and pragmatist. The bloody-minded Lamb considers whether an old Soviet cold war tactic, planting sleeper agents in a foreign country to activate at a future date, is again being used. But who by, and why? What is there to gain? Herron populates his stories with many layers and in that they are John le Carré like. Le Carré had his own alcoholic, shambling agent in Alec Leamas and Jackson Lamb, like Leamas, is good at talking his way into unlikely places, places others would never expect to find answers. He also has a cynical sense of humour, rather like Len
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Categories: Book Love.

#BookReview ‘The Garden of Angels’ by @david_hewson #WW2 #thriller

David Hewson is a new author for me. The Garden of Angels is a combination of historical novel and World War Two thriller, written in a patient, multi-layered style which explores a moment in history through the lives of a small number of people. Hewson makes wartime Venice come alive in all its stench, beauty, cruelty, fear and starvation. It is 1943 and the locals are watching the news, following the Allies’ progress towards Rome, wondering how much longer they must wait to be free once more. Meanwhile the Germans search amongst the locals for partisans, traitors, communists. But most of all they search for Jews. A teenage boy, alone after his parents are killed in a bombing raid, must continue the business of the family firm, jacquard weavers of the most beautiful velvet. He must complete the commission his father won just before he died. He stays within the four walls of his home, whilst on the streets outside people are being killed. Until one day Paulo sees something that makes him determined to do something rather than stand by. The story hinges on the modern-day relationship between a boy and his grandfather, encapsulated from page one as Nonno
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Categories: Book Love.

#BookReview ‘Plague Land’ by @SD_Sykes #historical #plague

I’ve realised that when I start reading the first book in new series, I should have different expectations. It will not be a standalone novel so there will be continuing threads, unanswered questions and seemingly unrelated sub-plots which all come good in later books. In other words, I wear my ‘be patient’ hat. Plague Land by SD Sykes is first in the historical mystery Oswald de Lacy series. Set in 1350 in countryside ravaged by the plague, teenager Oswald reluctantly finds himself called home from the monastery to be lord of the manor. For almost the whole of the book, he is out of control of events. This is a historical mystery with an uncertain, inexperienced young lord at its centre. Oswald’s mother and sister are rude to him, the locals simply ignore him, his servants show a lack of respect. A neighbouring lord and the local churchman see him as easy to manipulate and when he is new to his role, Oswald agrees with them. He longs to return to the monastery with his mentor, Father Peter, who returned to Somershill Manor with Oswald. Sykes does a good job portraying a young adult trying to occupy a mature man’s
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Categories: Book Love.

#BookReview ‘The War Child’ by @RenitaDSilva #WW2 #historical

Two women, two generations apart. In The War Child, Renita D‘Silva explores the connections between a mother and child, through danger and separation, self-sacrifice, unstoppable events and the pressures of modern life. D’Silva tells the dual timeline stories of Clara and Indira over many decades, setting the strength and promise of women across four decades against the twentieth century prejudices of chauvinism and racism. In London, 1940, teenager Clara is woken by her mother as their home is bombed. Her mother presses into Clara’s hand a necklace, a St Christopher’s medal, with the promise that it will always protect her. Orphaned, Clara is taken in by her aunt and begins helping at a local hospital treating injured soldiers. When nurses and doctors ignore a wounded Indian soldier because of the colour of his skin, Clara nurses him to health. When the war ends, she decides to fulfil a long-held promise to herself. Inspired by sitting on her father’s knee and listening to his stories of India, Clara takes a job as nurse companion to a delicate boy whose parents are re-locating to India. And there, she falls in love. In India, 1995, 33-year old Indira is chairing a board meeting
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Categories: Book Love.