Archives for Great War

#BookReview ‘Stanley and Elsie’ by @nicolaupsonbook #literary #art #historical

My knowledge of English artist Stanley Spencer was sketchy to say the least when I started reading Stanley and Elsie by Nicola Upson. This is a biographical novel that walks a difficult line between true fact and imagined conversation and walks it with skill, delicacy and drama. Definitely a novel for anyone who loves art. Upson takes us into the Spencer household at Chapel View, Burghclere after the Great War when Elsie Munday starts work as a housemaid. Stanley Spencer has been commissioned to paint the inside of a chapel; his wife Hilda, also a painter, minds their young daughter Shirin. Through Elsie’s eyes we see the lives of this family, their ups and downs, the artistic differences, the selfishnesses of Stanley and Hilda, smoothed by the tact, diplomacy and efficiency of Elsie. The title could make some people assume Stanley and Elsie were romantically attached but theirs is a master/servant relationship that deepened into mutual respect and friendship. Stanley, selfish, focussed, is a difficult master, a difficult husband, and Elsie finds herself caught in the middle of disputes between husband and wife. Often she is exasperated with both of them. Instead she becomes indispensable to the household. Upson gives us
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Categories: Book Love.

#Bookreview ‘You’ll Never See Me Again’ @LesleyPearse #historical #romance

When a character in a film says ‘never’ it’s a sign that the impossible thing will definitely happen before the end. Such is the title of the new novel from Lesley Pearse,You’ll Never See Me Again. It is 1917 and a storm is thrashing the Devon coast at Hallsands. Betty Wellows is with her shell-shocked husband Martin at his mother’s home, safely up the cliffs. Martin no longer recognises Betty, he is a different man from the fisherman who went to war. Betty is working all hours to support her husband and his mother, putting up with insults, petty grievances, grief for the loss of her husband. As the storm becomes wild and dangerous, Agnes instructs her daughter-in-law to go to her own house beside the beach to rescue her belongings from the flood. Afraid, Betty escapes the older woman’s abuse and runs into the storm. As the waves crash into her home, Betty realises this is her chance to escape Hallsands, Agnes and Martin. The dramatic opening grabbed my attention and my emotions. Betty is trapped in a life of poverty with a husband who no longer recognises her and a mother-in-law who takes her money and treats her
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Categories: Book Love.

Book review: Summertime

From the first chapter, this novel is steeped in its setting. Florida, 1935. Racial divides, love [extra-marital and long lost], the US mistreatment of its Great War veterans, and the threat of the elements dominate this tale of Heron Key. Vanessa Lafaye is a debut novelist but she handles her explosive material with assurance, taking time to build the story as the town prepares for the annual beach barbeque on Independence Day. With the weather reports showing a hurricane approaching, tensions build between the townsfolk and the war veterans camped nearby in cockroach-infested mouldy conditions. Lafaye took her inspiration from two real events, the Labor Day Hurricane in 1935, and the appalling way the US Government treated its war veterans. Heron Key is fictional as are the characters, but some of the things which happen during the hurricane are based on real-life reports. This is a wonderful meld of fiction and fact, handled by skilled storyteller. Lafaye handles the suspense as if she has been telling stories like this all her life. Click here for Vanessa Lafaye’s blog. If you like this, try:- ‘The Knife with the Ivory Handle’ by Cynthia Bruchman ‘The Last Runaway’ by Tracy Chevalier ‘The Other
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Categories: Book Love.