#bookreview The Mortification of Grace Wheeler by Colette Dartford Published August 18th by Whitefox @ColetteDartford @Bookish_Becky @Gabriellamay24 @midaspr @wearewhitefox

Hugh thanks to the team at Midas for my proof copy of this fantastic novel of a woman in crisis.

proof copy

SYNOPSIS

A stale marriage, an illicit affair. Who pays the price?

Faced with an empty nest when her only child goes to university, the flaws in Grace’s marriage are sharply exposed. Finding excuses to escape the taut atmosphere at home, she is drawn into an affair that ignites a mid-life sexual awakening.

But when her secret is discovered there is a terrible price to pay, and Grace is not the only one who pays it.

A compelling and emotional read, The Mortification of Grace Wheeler shines a spotlight on a marriage in crisis, the challenges of being a middle-aged woman, and the fear that your best years are behind you.

MY THOUGHTS

I’ve been lucky enough to read some really good novels featuring women in their 40’s and 50’s this year and this is another great read to add to that list.

Being in my early 50’s myself, and, having had children, now getting used to them living elsewhere, it really does feel like starting another chapter of life, and it’s great seeing this portrayed in modern day fiction. I’m finding it harder to relate to female protagonists in say their 20’s and 30’s in novels these days, so I have been enjoying reading more books featuring older, but not old, women. Whatever the story line.

In The Mortification of Grace Wheeler the synopsis quickly lets us know that the character is set for troubled times, but I wasn’t expecting the story to go as it did and was surprised by the twists the author placed within the story line making it something a little different.

With Grace’s only child moving out to start University, she finds she can no longer ignore the cracks and faults in her marriage. Whilst learning how to fly fish, (a surprise for her son so they can spend time together when he comes home in the holidays) and a reason to spend less time at home, she meets her instructor and soon begins an affair. This may sound fairly cliché but the author does a fabulous job at explaining what Grace is thinking when she decides to act on this decision and makes the reader fully aware that our main character knows exactly what this could mean for her family. I also loved how the author doesn’t write the affair as all physical passion and self assurance and highlights real, believable moments and incidences that would be far more likely to happen and Grace’s thoughts and reaction to them.

We soon learn of the background to her marriage and the real reasons it has become what it has. The author writes wonderfully of our main character and uses friends and step children to great effect in allowing the reader to really get a feel for Grace and her current state and life at this present time. The story also highlights some important social issues, which I really wasn’t expecting, but what again makes this such a realistic and believable read.

A novel which had me drawn in from the very start and kept me fully invested throughout.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Colette Dartford writes contemporary fiction with compelling emotional themes. Her debut novel, Learning to Speak American, was shortlisted for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and published by Bonnier Zaffre. Her second novel, An Unsuitable Marriage, was a Kindle bestseller for over 18 months. In addition to her novels, Colette has had award-winning Flash fiction, short stories and poetry, published in popular magazines and anthologies. The Mortification of Grace Wheeler is her third novel. Colette lives in Bath with her husband and a very demanding labradoodle.

#quickbookreviews HIS OTHER WOMAN by Sarah Edghill THE GIRL ON THE 88 BUS by Freya Sampson IT ENDS AT MIDNIGHT by Harriet Tyce @EdghillSarah @jennapetts @RosieMargesson

So behind in posting reviews at the moment, I thought I’d do a 3 in 1.

Three very different books.

In His Other Woman we meet main character Lucy as she deals with a personal crisis that isn’t what it at first appears. We follow Sylvie in It Ends At Midnight as we learn more and more about her dark past secret and we meet a bunch of charming characters in The Girl On The 88 Bus, as they join forces to track down an old man’s lost love.

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SYNOPSIS

Lucy’s husband has been missing for days while she tries to pretend to those around her, including her distracted teenagers, that everything is normal. In desperation she uses a phone app to track him—and discovers he’s with another woman.

As her life falls apart, Lucy realises nothing is as it seems. There is another woman in her husband’s life, but it’s someone she has known—and hated—for twenty years.

As the story unfolds, including in the national press, the family must pull together before lives are destroyed . . .

MY THOUGHTS

A quick read that moves along at a good pace but equally a novel that features some tough topics. If you like family dramas this new novel from Sarah Edghill is one about a family crisis that also reveals deeper relationship problems which are lurking under the surface, revealing flawed characters that are ticking along trying to pretend everything in life is fine. Until it most certainly isn’t!! A number of twists that kept the pages turning with an ending that, on reflection, seemed right to me. I’ve also really enjoyed Sarah’s previous book A Thousand Tiny Disappointments so do check that out!

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SYNOPSIS

It’s New Year’s Eve and the stage is set for a lavish party in one of Edinburgh’s best postcodes. It’s a moment for old friends to set the past to rights – and move on.

The night sky is alive with fireworks and the champagne is flowing. But the celebration fails to materialise.

Because someone at this party is going to die tonight.

Midnight approaches and the countdown begins – but it seems one of the guests doesn’t want a resolution.

They want revenge.

MY THOUGHTS

The story opens with two dead bodies impaled on some garden railings. We don’t know who they are or how they’ve come to be there. We follow the main character Sylvie, a barrister and district judge, currently working on a case which could get her noticed. as she is in the throws of a new relationship with a chef. Not long into the book, something happens in the life of her best friend, which in turn opens up a long buried moment in Sylvie past, which her friend now want her to revisit.

The opening of this novel was intriguing and the author’s dark and tense writing soon came through. The characters, although not overly likable, which I think is intentional, all felt slightly unreliable and added to the feel of the story. I did however find the middle part of the story quiet slow moving and a little thin on plot, but all is revealed at the end and the truth comes out revealing the identity of the bodies at the beginning.

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SYNOPSIS

When Libby Nicholls arrives in London, broken-hearted and with her life in tatters, the first person she meets on the bus is elderly pensioner Frank. He tells her about the time in 1962 he met a girl on the number 88 bus with beautiful red hair just like her own. They made plans for a date at the National Gallery, but Frank lost the ticket with her number written on it. For the past sixty years, he’s ridden the same bus trying to find her.

Libby is inspired by the story and, with the help of an unlikely companion, she makes it her mission to help Frank’s search. As she begins to open her guarded heart to strangers and new connections, Libby’s tightly controlled world expands. But with Frank’s dementia progressing quickly, their chance of finding the girl on the number 88 bus is slipping away.

More than anything, Libby wants Frank to see his lost love one more time. But their quest also shows Libby just how important it is to embrace her own chances for happiness – before it’s too late.

MY THOUGHTS

Having just been horribly dumped by her boyfriend and told to leave their home, Libby has gone to stay with her sister, aka look after her nephew, and whilst travelling down on the 88 bus, she meets an elderly gentleman called Frank and learns of a girl he once met on the same bus route sixty years before and has been looking for her ever since. Whilst we see Libby trying to deal with the breakup of her relationship and the comments she and her sister receive from her mother! Libby sets out to help Frank, to see if once and for all he can find his lost love before it’s too late. Meeting Frank’s carer, Dylan and other people along the way, we are told a story about how people connect with one another and how small acts of kindness can have a big effect on peoples lives. A wonderfully warm and tender story with a great positive feel.

Huge thanks to the authors and publishers for proof copies of these books and the chance to read and review. All three books are out now!