#bookreview LIBERTY TERRACE by Madeleine D’Arcy @Doirepress #newrelease @Midaspr

Delighted to share with you today my review for a new title from Doire Press, Liberty Terrace by Madeleine D’Arcy. Many thanks to Midas PR for bringing this title to my attention and for sending me an EBook copy to read and review.

ISBN: 978-1-907682-86-5| Pages: 200 | Published: 28th Oct 2021 Available from Doire Press

Liberty Terrace by Madeleine D’Arcy

SYNOPSIS

Liberty Terrace features a bevy of characters who reside in a fictional area of Cork City in the period 2016 to 2020. The inhabitants of Liberty Terrace come and go, and their lives occasionally intersect in stories that are sometimes funny, sometimes dark, often both. The cast of characters includes retired Garda Superintendent Deckie Google, a young homeless squatter, the mother of an autistic child working part-time as a Census Enumerator, the dysfunctional Callinan family, an ageing rock star, a trio of ladies who visit a faith healer, a philandering husband, as well as a surprising number of cats and dogs. These stories shed light on how we lived before and during the Covid-19 pandemic, on what we care about and on what, if anything, we can truly count on.

MY THOUGHTS

A fantastic set of interconnecting short stories based on the residents of a fictional area of Cork City.

Each short tale is a stand alone read but as you will find as you read along, are linked in different ways by the different characters mentioned throughout the book. The stories are varied, some heart warming, others a little darker, but all with a wonderful human emotional connection that allow the reader to really feel for the characters involved.

Young and old, families which are together and some which are apart all made for a great selection of themes and topics. Deftly detailed and effectively written meant I was quickly immersed into each new story allowing me to get the most out of each short look into the life of the characters. Packed to the rafters with emotion and showing this author has a great talent at portraying the everyday life of those who’s life isn’t necessarily always everyday. I really liked the way they were all interconnected making the book feel more of a whole.

An author that I will certainly keep an ear out for further works.

About Doire Press

Doire Press was founded in the autumn of 2007 in Connemara by Lisa Frank, with skills and experience in editing and publishing, and by John Walsh, who had just received a publication award from the Galway County Council Arts Office to publish his second poetry collection, Loves Enterprise Zone. 

Since then, Doire Press has continued to blossom, finding its niche in publishing new and emerging writers who give voice to what it means to be Irish in a changing Ireland. Authors include Madeleine D’Arcy, Edward Boyne, Gerry Galvin, Susan Millar Du Mars, Adam White, Breda Wall Ryan, Willian Wall, Eamon Carr, Stephanie Conn, Simon Lewis, Amanda Bell, Annemarie Ní Churreáin, and Rosemary Jenkinson.

Doire Press gratefully acknowledges the support of the Arts Council of Ireland and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland which have funded many of our publications.

About Madeleine D’Arcy

MADELEINE D’ARCY is an Irish fiction writer. A former solicitor, she lived in the UK for 13 years before returning to live in Cork City with her husband and her son in 1999. Madeleine’s first Doire Press short story collection ‘Waiting for the Bullet’ was awarded the 2015 Edge Hill Readers’ Prize’ from Edge Hill University in Ormskirk. In 2010 she received a Hennessy X.O Literary Award for First Fiction as well as the overall Hennessy X.O Literary Award for New Irish Writer. Her stories have been short-listed and commended in many competitions, including the William Trevor/Elizabeth Bowen Short Story Competition, Fish Short Story Prize, the Bridport Prize and the Seán Ó Faoláin Short Story Competition. Madeleine has been awarded bursaries by the Arts Council of Ireland and by Cork City Council. Madeleine was a scholarship student on the inaugural MA in Creative Writing 2013-2014 in University College Cork. Waiting for the Bullet is Madeleine’s debut collection of short stories.

#bookreview #blogtour Oh! William by Elizabeth Strout @LizStrout @VikingBooksUK @PenguinUKBooks @GeorgiaKTaylor @EllieeHud #OhWilliam

Delighted to share with you today my review of Oh! William the new novel from the fabulous Elizabeth Strout. Huge thanks to Georgia Taylor and the guys at Viking Books for my proof copy.

SYNOPSIS

Lucy Barton is a successful writer living in New York, navigating the second half of her life as a recent widow and parent to two adult daughters. A surprise encounter leads her to reconnect with William, her first husband – and longtime, on-again-off-again friend and confidante. Recalling their college years, the birth of their daughters, the painful dissolution of their marriage, and the lives they built with other people, Strout weaves a portrait, stunning in its subtlety, of a tender, complex, decades-long partnership.

Oh William! captures the joy and sorrow of watching children grow up and start families of their own; of discovering family secrets, late in life, that alter everything we think we know about those closest to us; and the way people live and love, against all odds. At the heart of this story is the unforgettable, indomitable voice of Lucy Barton, who once again offers a profound, lasting reflection on the mystery of existence. ‘This is the way of life,’ Lucy says. ‘The many things we do not know until it is too late.’

MY THOUGHTS

Lucy Barton is now 63 and a widow, following the death of her second husband. In this new novel we read of Lucy’s reconnection with her first husband William, whom she left some time ago after 20 years of marriage. Having remained on reasonably good terms with William, it appears Lucy is his first ‘go to’ after a dramatic change in his personal life. He has also recently discovered some possible secret history concerning his belated mother, and wants Lucy’s help.

I really enjoyed this novel, meeting back up with Lucy following the autor’s previous books, although I didn’t feel one had to have read the previous stories to enjoy this one. Written in a relaxed style with Lucy as our narrator, it flips from her present situation as a writer, widow and mother the two grown daughters, back to her marriage to William, her relationship with his mother and her traumatic upbringing.

Constantly reflecting on what she has done in her life, or how she handled matters when they arose, it was like listening to an old friend I hadn’t seen for a while. Now of an age or time in her life where she feels able to do so but to accept what has gone before and come to terms with it.

Sad at times but also uplifting in others with the phrase Oh! William being used throughout not only as a sign of exasperation but also in pity and with love.

A wonderful look at family, past and present and how we can all effect one another’s lives. And an extremely well observed look at a long relationship which has included much heartache, and in my opinion with a very shelf centerd man! At times it felt William just expects Lucy to be there constantly for him, whenever! But perhaps Lucy always will be.

#bookreview SORROW AND BLISS by Meg Mason @wnbooks #SorrowandBliss #cheltlitfest @midaspr

Delighted to share with you today my review for Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason. I have seen so much love for this book of late, that I was thrilled when the lovely people at Midas PR sent me a copy to read and review to celebrate The Cheltenham Literature Festival which takes place between 8-17th October.

The author will be taking part in the festival on Saturday 16th October and will be talking to Clare Clark via live link from her home in Sydney.

The Cheltenham Literature Festival Oct 16th

L242 Meg Mason: Sorrow & Bliss
Quickfind L242
Sat 16 Oct 10:30am – 11:30am
Cheltenham Town Hall, Pillar Room

SYNOPSIS

Everyone tells Martha Friel she is clever and beautiful, a brilliant writer who has been loved every day of her adult life by one man, her husband Patrick. A gift, her mother once said, not everybody gets.

So why is everything broken? Why is Martha – on the edge of 40 – friendless, practically jobless and so often sad? And why did Patrick decide to leave?

Maybe she is just too sensitive, someone who finds it harder to be alive than most people. Or maybe – as she has long believed – there is something wrong with her. Something that broke when a little bomb went off in her brain, at 17, and left her changed in a way that no doctor or therapist has ever been able to explain.

Forced to return to her childhood home to live with her dysfunctional, bohemian parents (but without the help of her devoted, foul-mouthed sister Ingrid), Martha has one last chance to find out whether a life is ever too broken to fix – or whether, maybe, by starting over, she will get to write a better ending for herself.

MY THOUGHTS

Brilliantly paced and wonderfully observed, the new novel by Meg Mason, released in hardback back in June, is a brilliant story about a women and her struggles with her mental illness and the impact it has on her life and those closest to her.

Martha is married to Patrick, who she has known since a teenager when her first symptoms appeared and we follow her in present time and via flash backs from this time up to her 40th year, as she experiences more and more episodes of depression and watch as her family, in particular Patrick and her wonderful sister Ingrid, try their best to support her and help her through these times and beyond, often with not a lot in return from Martha herself.

The book explores not just the impact of mental heath issues but also family relationships and motherhood, more precisely a decision to have or not have children. Tender and also brutally written accounts of her day to day life over a 20+ year period with fantastic characters meant I really didn’t want to put this book down and just carried on reading.

Sometimes a slightly unlikeable character, Martha’s sadness is ever present in the novel but this book is full of comic touchers and super one liners, especially from Ingrid, that makes it, in my opinion, a fantastically warm read. Characters like Patrick, Ingrid and Martha’s Aunt Winsome add such a ray of hope and love to the story that stops it becoming a saddening read, also Martha’s relationship with her older friend and mentor Peregrine shows that there is love still within her. In fact I found the book almost a love story, not just between Martha and Patrick but between Martha and herself.

The author chooses not to name the condition Martha has, stating at the end of the book that her symptoms and treatment are fictional. Although at first I was a little confused by this I felt that it was a wise move. So many conditions including mental illness can vary between one sufferer to another that it stops a reader possibly shelf diagnosing or comparing it too closely to their own experiences.

A fantastic read who’s characters have long stayed with me since finishing the book.

#bookreview #newrelease What Page, Sir? by Simon Pickering @RedDoorBooks #WhatPageSir

Delighted to share with you today my review for What Page, Sir? by Simon Pickering. Thanks so much to the publishers Red Door Books for sending me this copy and for my spot on the tour.

SYNOPSIS

What Page, Sir? records the hilarious and sometimes painful experience of an English teacher as he struggles through some very familiar literary texts with some very unenthusiastic teenagers. Alongside the comedy that a teacher could really live without, is a fresh and irreverent look at the stalwarts of the school curriculum. Featuring An Inspector Calls, Lord of the Flies, and Of Mice and Men, plus the obvious works by Austen, Dickens and Shakespeare texts that seem to have been the staple for secondary schools forever, and, in some cases, remain a drag for everyone involved.

But beneath the buffoonery in the classroom, this book makes a more serious point about the education we are serving up for our children and whether it’s finally time for change.

MY THOUGHTS

This is an interesting, fun and quick read (130 pages) about one teachers experiences, over the years, of teaching English Literature at GCSE and A level, and the books that have come, gone and come back again, into the national curriculum.

Split into chapters each covering a different novel, the author gives us a reminder of the themes of the book/story line, in some instances, quoting from the text itself, ways in which he has taught it with methods and lesson plans, but also humorous insights and anecdotes on what it was like for him as a teacher, year in, year out, at different schools, with different pupils, but often hearing the same old jokes and banter from the students.

Something this book made me question, and not for the first time, was how familiar these titles are to me. Books that I studied back in the 80’s, my son’s studied in the early and mid 2010’s, and still being used today. Can the government and exam boards really not think of new one’s to use? One’s more up to date on female rights and sexuality, and with relevant issues and themes? As the synopsis asks, is it finally time for a change?

Many thanks to Lizzie at Red Door Books for bringing this book to my attention and for a copy of the book.

#blogtour #bookreview FALLING FOR A FRENCH DREAM by Jennifer Bohnet @jenniewriter @BoldwoodBooks @rararesources

It’s my stop on the blog tour today and I am delighted to share with you my review. Many thanks to Rachel Gilby of Rachel Random Resources for my invite and stop onto the tour and for the advance readers copy via Netgalley.

SYNOPSIS

After tragically losing her husband, Nicola Jacques and her teenage son Oliver relocate to his father’s family’s olive farm in the hills above the French Riviera.

Due to a family feud, Oliver has never known his father’s side of the family but Grandpapa Henri is intent that Oliver will take over the reins of the ancestral farm and his rightful inheritance.

Determined to keep her independence from a rather controlling Grandpapa, Nicola buys a run-down cottage on the edge of the family’s Olive Farm and sets to work renovating their new home and providing an income by cultivating the small holding that came with the Cottage.

As the summer months roll by, Nicola and Oliver begin to settle happily into their new way of life with the help of Aunts Josephine and Odette, Henri’s twin sisters and local property developer Gilles Bongars.

But the arrival of some unexpected news and guests at the farm, force Nicole and Aunt Josephine to assess what and where their futures lie.

*This book was previously published as The French Legacy.

MY THOUGHTS

This must be the fifth book of Jennifer’s I have read now, and she never disappoints in whisking me away to a sun drenched, idyllic French setting no matter what her characters have thrown at them!!

After Nicola and her son Oliver receive the news that her estranged husband has died, it leaves her with very mixed emotions. Sad for her son and for the loss of the man she did once love, but also with hope that now they could possibly begin to mend some bridges with her husband’s family in France. Relatives that Oliver barely knows. Following a request from farther-in-law Henri to come out to the farm in France to sort matters out, Nicola and Oliver head out there, but Nicola isn’t naïve, she is more than aware that she needs to be strong as Henri can be a controlling patriarch at the very least.

On arriving there Nicola is surprised with an ultimatum from Henri in regards to Oliver’s inheritance and makes a rushed and bold decision to move out to France. Buying a run down cottage very close to the farm means Oliver can be close to his new family, which he does appear to get on very well with, yet holding on to some of her independence and privacy, an added bonus is that she can return back to her love of gardening and the possibility make some money in doing so.

With the story line following them settling into their new lives, introducing the reader to Henri, Aunts Josephine and Odette and other characters, what follows is another charming and wonderfully set story from this author and again one that’s also full of back stories and other twists that gives the story mystery and suspense keeping the reader engaged and longing to find out the outcome for the characters involved.

As always beautifully set, this time in the surrounding countryside of the South of France, the novel wonderfully evokes the senses as you read with the sounds, smells and tastes of France plus of course with the sprinkling of possible romance making this another enjoyable and delightful read.

This book was previously published as The French Legacy.

Purchase Link  – https://amzn.to/35Z7KdX

LINKS AND AUTHOR BIO

Jennifer Bohnet is the bestselling author of over 12 women’s fiction titles, including Villa of Sun and Secrets and A Riviera Retreat. She is originally from the West Country but now lives in the wilds of rural Brittany, France.

Social Media Links –  

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100063527178184

Twitter https://twitter.com/jenniewriter

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/jenniewriter/

Newsletter Sign Up Link http://bit.ly/JenniferBohnet

Bookbub profile https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jennifer-bohnet

#BookReview The Midas Game by Abi Silver #TheMidasGame @abisilver16 @EyeandLightning @midaspr @amberchoudhary #publicationday

Publisher: Lightning Books

256 pages

E Book pub: 7th June 21

Paperback pub: Today 5th August 2021

**********************

It’s my stop on the blog tour today for Abi Silver’s new Burton and Lamb story The Midas Game.

I’m absolutely delighted to share with you my review of this new novel, today, on it’s paperback publication day!

Many thanks to the publishers Lightning Books and to Amber Choudhary of Midaspr (appropriatly!), for my advance copy.

SYNOPSIS

When eminent psychiatrist Dr Liz Sullivan is found dead in her bed, suspicion falls on local gamer and YouTube celebrity Jaden ‘JD’ Dodds. Did he target her because of her anti-gaming views and the work she undertook to expose the dangers of playing online games? And what was her connection with Valiant, an independent game manufacturer about to hit the big time, and its volatile boss?

Judith Burton and Constance Lamb team up once more to defend JD when no one else is on his side. But just because he makes a living killing people on screen doesn’t mean he’d do it in real life. Or does it?

Another thought-provoking courtroom drama from the acclaimed author of the Burton & Lamb series.

MY THOUGHTS

The Midas Game is the 5th book in the Burton and Lamb Thrillers Series and my 2nd, as I have also read and enjoyed The Pinocchio Brief. Each book can be read as a stand alone and read in any order.

These engaging and informative court room thriller/mystery novels all have a wonderful cast of characters and an of the moment, up to date tech interest to their story lines and this 5th book was no different.

In this new story we meet gamer and YouTube celebrity Jaden ‘JD’ Dodds, as Constance first meets him to interview him, after he has been held in custardy in connection with the death of a neighbour of his Dr Liz Sullivan.

With evidence linking him to the scene and Dr Sullivan’s long time work looking at gaming addiction the police consider him a prime suspect but as Constance begins her investigation she is sure there is much more to this than the police seem to want to consider.

Once again she teams up with Judith and as they set up their case to defend JD in the court hearing we also read chapters about a young game developer called Luke, who works at a small but determined company called Valiant as he introduces his new idea to his boss Eric.

Once again Abi Silver writes an enjoyable and believable court room mystery which kept me guessing till the end, with some brilliantly thought out twists and red herrings. This book covers the topic of on-line gaming, gaming addiction and the gaming industry as a whole, which I found very interesting. You do not need to be a gamer or indeed have knowledge of gaming to enjoy this book, but as a mother of two, now grown, boys I found the factual elements of the industries and potential problems gaming can have very thought provoking and I felt it was extremely well researched.

With social media sites like You Tube and Twitch becoming ever more popular and gamers having a celebrity like status to their followers, it is indeed an important and interesting topic but the author makes it very readable, as she incorporates it into this easy to follow and engaging novel. I was gripped right from the very start as we follow Constance as she gathers information, unearthing more and more details on the work of the victim.

I will definitely read more books in this series and even as I have already mentioned, these stories can be read as standalones, after reading two books now, I really want to feel more for the main two characters and the connection they have with each other, so will go back to book 2 and I can’t wait to find out more.

Many thanks to Amber, Midas pr and Lightning Books for my advance copy of the book and invite onto the blog tour, which continues until August 19th, so do check out the other posts and reviews.

The Midas game is released in paperback today!

#bookreview #blogtour #newrelease SLEEPLESS by @romyhausmann @JoeChristie @QuercusBooks #Sleepless

Many thanks to Joe Christie for sending me a proof copy of this book. I really enjoyed reading the author’s first book Dear Child so was very keen to read this new one.

Sleepless

Published June 24th 2021

Published by Quercus Books

336 pages

https://uk.bookshop.org/a/1882/9781529408362

SYNOPSIS

It’s over, my angel. Today I’m going to die. Just like her. He’s won.

It’s been years since Nadja Kulka was convicted of a cruel crime. After being released from prison, she’s wanted nothing more than to live a normal life: nice flat, steady job, even a few friends. But when one of those friends, Laura von Hoven – free-spirited beauty and wife of Nadja’s boss – kills her lover and begs Nadja for her help, Nadja can’t seem to be able to refuse.

The two women make for a remote house in the woods, the perfect place to bury a body. But their plan quickly falls apart and Nadja finds herself outplayed, a pawn in a bizarre game in which she is both the perfect victim and the perfect murderer . . .

MY THOUGHTS

Having read and enjoyed Dear Child, I was looking forward to this second novel, which didn’t disappoint. Concentration is needed for the first part of the book as there are three different story lines, with different characters to follow, but I like a mystery which keeps me on my toes.

The three story lines involve Nadja and Laura, as Laura asks for her old friend’s help after she has killed her lover! The story of Nelly Schutt, a young woman who was murdered five years before, plus interspersed between these stories are anonymous letters from yet another different time line.

I was unclear how these three strands would ever connect, but that same feeling of not quiet knowing what was going on, intentional I’m sure, was just what I wanted, reminding me of Dear Child and with a similar dark, sinister feel and cleverly written twists and turns, but this time with a slower moving pace, made for an interesting and enjoyable read.

The book covers some deeper questions and topics which were well written, and the group of often dark and unlikable characters works perfectly within the story. The end sees all that’s happened come together, as the pace and suspense builds wonderfully with a great finish.

I found this a compelling and multi layered read, which was well written and translated, and thought it another clever novel from this author.

#bookreview #blogtour Foregone by Russell Banks @noexitpress @OldcastleBooks #newrelease @holliemcdevitt #FOREGONE

It’s my stop on the blog tour today and I’m delighted to share with you all my review. Many thanks, as always, to the publishers No Exit Press/ Oldcastle Books for my proof copy.

Russell Banks, twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, is one of America’s most prestigious fiction writers, a past president of the International Parliament of Writers, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His work has been translated into twenty languages and has received numerous prizes and awards, including the Common Wealth Award for Literature. He lives in upstate New York and Miami, Florida.

SYNOPSIS

At the center of Foregone is famed Canadian American leftist documentary filmmaker Leonard Fife, one of sixty thousand draft evaders and deserters who fled to Canada to avoid serving in Vietnam. Fife, now in his late seventies, is dying of cancer in Montreal and has agreed to a final interview in which he is determined to bare all his secrets at last, to demythologize his mythologized life. The interview is filmed by his acolyte and ex-star student, Malcolm MacLeod, in the presence of Fife’s wife and alongside Malcolm’s producer, cinematographer, and sound technician, all of whom have long admired Fife but who must now absorb the meaning of his astonishing, dark confession.

Imaginatively structured around Fife’s secret memories and alternating between the experiences of the characters who are filming his confession, the novel challenges our assumptions and understanding about a significant lost chapter in American history and the nature of memory itself. Russell Banks gives us a daring and resonant work about the scope of one man’s mysterious life, revealed through the fragments of his recovered past.

proof copy

MY THOUGHTS

Leonard Fife is a mythologised Canadian American documentary filmmaker. He is so well known everyone knows his story, how he came to Canada to avoid the Vietnam draft, how he found his early stories and developed his campaigning style. Through the course of the book, effectively in soliloquy, a terminally ill Fife sets the record straight, exploding myths and exploring the truths behind the life he has led.

As a filmmaker it’s inevitable that the last interview is itself filmed. It’s a highly stylised production for national Canadian TV, with a single spotlight, so Fife (and the reader) can’t be sure who is listening. He has worked with the film crew for years, there are squabbles across the group, historical animosity and yet a willingness to get this last interview of a dying man, perhaps as a way to revive flagging and stalled careers.

Fife is a cantankerous, demanding old man. His life story builds in pieces, initially apparently at random, the story cleverly taking breaks then restarting elsewhere. At times it’s deliberately incoherent, as the reader it’s sometimes not clear if these are true events, muddled memories or the confusion of a medicated, seriously ill man. The spontaneous and random decisions of Fife’s early life are at odds with the person we are presented with at the start and it’s hard initially to believe the stories can be true. This ambiguity with the insistence of the director that they should focus on the “real”, received history keep you guessing and engaged. If the story we are told is true Fife was a serial runaway, reinventing himself in a new place and happy to perpetuate convenient misunderstandings if they suit him. This interview is his final confession to the lies that made the myth.

A compelling read written in Bank’s true style, with intelligence, grit and raw truth. As I read Fife’s ‘confession’ I began to dislike him more and more, but the style of writing constantly kept me on my toes, trying to work out what was true and what was not. I’m still trying to work that out now! A very interesting read.

THE AUTHOR

Russell Banks

RUSSELL BANKS has published ten novels, six short story collections, and four poetry collections. His novels Cloudsplitter and Continental Drift were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. Two of Banks’s novels have been adapted for feature-length films, The Sweet Hereafter (winner of the Grand Prix and International Critics Prize at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival) and Affliction (which earned a ‘Best Supporting Actor’ Oscar for James Coburn). 

Info

Foregone by Russell Banks

Published June 22nd 2021

Paperback edition

Publisher No Exit Press

320 pages

Purchase link https://uk.bookshop.org/a/1882/9780857304599

Fresh Water for Flowers by Velerie Perrin #bookreview #newrelease @Valerieperrin_ @EuropaEdUK @Midaspr @Gabriellamay24 #FreshWaterforFlowers #blogtour

cover

Fresh Water for Flowers

Published by Europa editions

Paperback released June 10th

ISBN: 9781787703117

https://uk.bookshop.org/a/1882/9781787703117

SYNOPSIS

Violette Toussaint is the caretaker at a cemetery in a small town in Bourgogne. Her daily life is lived to the rhythms of the hilarious and touching confidences of random visitors and her colleagues―three gravediggers, three groundskeepers, and a priest.

Violette’s routine is disrupted one day by the arrival of police chief Julien Seul, wishing to deposit his mother’s ashes on the gravesite of a complete stranger. Julien is not the only one to guard a painful secret: his mother’s story of clandestine love breaks through Violette’s carefully constructed defences to reveal the tragic loss of her daughter, and her steely determination to find out who is responsible.  

The funny, moving, intimately told story of a woman who believes obstinately in happiness, Fresh Water for Flowers brings out the exceptional and the poetic in the ordinary. A delightful, atmospheric, absorbing tale.

MY THOUGHTS

How do I even begin to review this book and give an insight into what it was to read it.

I adored this novel and fell into it’s pages from the moment I picked it up. I literally fell!

I swam, walked and sat amongst it’s wonderful assortment of emotions, stories, scenery and characters and don’t think I’ve ever read a novel with such a multifaceted story line.

Our main character, Violette, lives and works as a cemetery caretaker in a small town in Bourgogne. Her life appears simple as she spends her days growing vegetables and flowers, attending to the needs of the cemetery and spending parts of day with her colleagues, the local priest and those that come to attend funerals and visit the tombs and graves afterwards.

However, we soon learn a simple life is not what Violette has led, as we read we learn of the amazingly bittersweet backstory to our main character and meet the lives that have touched Violette over the last 25 odd years.

Brilliantly translated by Hildegarde Serle, the author uses dual timelines, 1st person narrative from Violette, 2nd person narrative from the perspective of other characters, and it all works beautifully, with some of it coming together at the end.

The book has an array of back stories and tales of those who come into the cemetery. The beginning shows us present day Violette and is intersperse with small, chapter length stories, of those that are buried within the beautifully kept grounds of the cemetery. It then goes on to tell us the backstory of Violette, her husband and the relationships they have both had which have impacted on their lives. We learn of heart-breaking events and emotions but also touching tales of friendship, courage and moving on.

The characters are an absolute joy to meet. Some complex and lost, others full of love and laughter. It really is a book that transported me away and took me on a journey of the most bittersweet story.

The settings are wonderfully evoked (I could have sat in the garden amongst her vegetables and flowers with the sun on my face for ages) and the pace, rhythmic flow and writing are sublime. Poetic, moving and with great sensitivity, yet even though I was sad to come to the end, I was left feeling light and soothed by reading it. Utter joy!

Hugh thanks to Gabriella Drinkald for bringing this book to my attention and sending me my copy to read. A definite contender for my read of this year and one I strongly recommend you read.

The Author

Valérie Perrin is a photographer and screenwriter who works with (and is married to) Claude Lelouch.  Her first novel, Les Oubliés du Dimanche, has won numerous prizes, including the 2016 Lire Élire and Poulet-Malassis prizes. Fresh Water for Flowers is her first novel to be translated into English and an international sensation.

Hildegarde Serle graduated in French from Oxford University. After working as a newspaper subeditor in London for many years, she obtained the Chartered Institute of Linguists Diploma in Translation. She is the translator of A Winter’s Promise and The Missing of Clairdelune, atmospheric, absorbing tale.

#blogtour #bookreview LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO by @Mrssmithmunday @orionbooks @alexxlayt

Published 1 April 2021 Hardback, eBook and Audio

Published by Orion Books

It’s my spot on the blog tour today for Nikki Smith’s new novel LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO. This is Nikki’s second book and she’s written another cracker of a read! Many thanks to the publisher and to Alex Layt for my invite onto the tour and for my proof copy.

cover image

SYNOPSIS

Two people can keep a secret . . . if one of them is dead.

Sisters Jo and Caroline are used to hiding things from each other. They’ve never been close – taking it in turns to feel on the outside of their family unit, playing an endless game of favourites.

Jo envies Caroline’s life – things have always come so easy to her. Then a family inheritance falls entirely to Jo, and suddenly now Caroline wants what Jo has. Needs it, even.

But just how far will she go to get it?

MY THOUGHTS

After reading Nikki’s first novel ALL IN HER HEAD and finding it a brilliant read, I couldn’t wait for the chance to read her second novel LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO.

We follow two sisters, Jo and Caroline, after the death of their father. The two have never been close, favouritism by different parents, troubled teenage years for Jo, has left their relationship somewhat icy. But after years of Jo living miles away, she and her family have recently returned ‘home’, to work for the family business. However, after the reading of the will shows that their father has left a majority share to Jo, Caroline and her mother start to become concerned as to what cause of action Jo will take. We then get taken on a utterly gripping tale of secrets and lies, and the reader is given privy to a dark side of one marriage.

Wow! This book was a total page turner! Complex and extremely well written, I was gripped from the very first chapter. The suspense, tension and descriptions of a toxic marriage were horrific and yet I couldn’t tear my eyes off it! Amazingly portrayed. Each and every character in the book has secrets they are keeping from the others, but in the case of the female characters, still allowing the reader to feel sympathy for each of them. A fantastic blend of psychological thriller and suspense with an engaging and absorbing family story.

What stood out for me though was the way the author kept the tension and suspense of this novel going. Like a taut piece of string, always on the verge of snapping, she feeds the reader enough information, twists and turns to keep you utterly gripped, yet at the same time keeps you in the dark and guessing for as long as she possible can. I couldn’t stop reading, desperate to know what direction the story was taking next, who’s secrets were about to be discovered and what even those secrets were!

With a brilliant ending that brings the book to a full circle, this is another smashing read from Nikki Smith and one I would highly recommend!