Author Archives: thelastword1962

Rhubarb Rhubarb: A Correspondence between a hopeless gardener and a hopeful cook by Mary Jane Patterson and Jo Thompson

Rhubarb Rhubarb Cover

Rhubarb Rhubarb: A Correspondence between a hopeless gardener and a hopeful cook by Mary Jane Patterson and Jo Thompson

Summary:

Rhubarb Rhubarb collects the witty, wide-ranging correspondence between Leiths-trained cook Mary Jane Paterson and award-winning gardener Jo Thompson. Two good friends who found themselves in a perfect world of cupcakes and centrepieces, they decided to demystify their own skills for one another: the results are sometimes self-deprecating, often funny, and always enlightening.

Jo would find herself one day panicking about what to cook for Easter lunch: a couple of emails with Mary Jane and the fear subsided, and sure enough, a delicious meal appeared on the table. Meanwhile, Jo helped Mary Jane combat her irrational fear of planting bulbs by showing how straightforward the process can be.

The book is full of sane, practical advice for the general reader: it provides uncomplicated, seasonal recipes that people can make in the midst of their busy lives, just as the gardening tips are interesting, quick and helpful for beginners. Mary Jane shares secrets and knowledge gathered over a lifetime of providing fabulous food for friends and family, while Jo’s expertise in beautiful planting enables the reader to have a go at simple schemes with delightful results.

My Review:

During these lock-down days I have been lucky to have been surrounded by so many books to read and review. One book that arrived just recently was Rhubarb Rhubarb: A Correspondence between a hopeless gardener and a hopeful cook (Unbound) by Mary Jane Patterson and Jo Thompson and it is just was warm and friendly book that is just perfect in these difficult days. I read Rhubarb Rhubarb in one sitting.

Mary Jane Patterson and Jo Thompson

Mary Jane Patterson is a Leiths-trained cook while Jo Thompson is a leading garden designer who has won gold medals at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Both are good friends and would swop emails. I think I would fall into the category of the hopeless let alone hopeful cook as I am a qualified gardener.

The book is so friendly and packed full of really good practical advice and many great recipes some of which I am now tempted to try. Throughout the book there are many photographs both garden and kitchen related with beautiful illustrations by Laura Jazwinski. For the gardener Jo Thompson offers many good ideas while Mary Jane Patterson supplies many good mouth-watering recipes to try.

The correspondence between the two is special as there is warmth there as well as dry humour. This is an ideal gift for anyone who loves gardening or cooking.

160 Pages.

Thank you to Unbound and to Anne Cater (Random Things Tours) for the review copy of Rhubarb Rhubarb by Mary Jane Patterson and Jo Thompson

Rhubarb Rhubarb by Mary Jane Patterson and Jo Thompson was published by Unbound and was published on 2nd April 2020 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop many of which are still offering mail order while bookshops remain closed. Many are offering free delivery.

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Just Another Mountain: A memoir of hope by Sarah Jane Douglas

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Just Another Mountain: A memoir of hope by Sarah Jane Douglas

Summary:

At the age of twenty-four, Sarah Jane Douglas lost her mother to breast cancer. She was alone and adrift in the world, but had promised her mother that she would keep going, no matter what. So she turned to the beautiful, forbidding mountains of her native Scotland – and then beyond.

By walking in her mother’s footsteps, Sarah found the strength to face her grief, to accept her troubled past and, ultimately, to confront her own cancer diagnosis twenty years later.

Sometimes all you can do is put one foot in front of the other and keep walking…<

 My Review:

A memoir with so much honesty and inspiring at the same time. Just Another Mountain: A Memoir of Hope by Sarah Jane Douglas (Elliott & Thompson) is now out in paperback and I am very grateful to Alison Menzies and the publisher for sending me a copy.

Author

Sarah Jane Douglas lost her mother to breast cancer and now she was alone in the world but as a promise to her mother she would put one foot in front of another and carry on. So mountains became her solace. She climbed Kilimanjaro but if that was not enough she had got the bug of climbing mountains and then wanted to climb all of 282 of Scotland’s munros. She achieved this as well and then to the Himalayas. Sometimes we just do not know what is around the corner of life but the mountain adventures were going to be preparation for what was to follow for Sarah Jane Douglas.

But Sarah Jane Douglas also had her own personal mountain to climb. Losing her mother to cancer is horrific but she also was diagnosed with cancer twenty years later. There is so much honest, warmth and with on every page. You want to laugh and you will want to cry. Sarah Jane Douglas has written a memoir full of hope but is very much life-affirming. Highly Recommended.

304 Pages.

Thank you to Alison Menzies and Elliott & Thompson Publishers for the review copy of Just Another Mountain: A memoir of hope by Sarah Jane Douglas

Just Another Mountain: A memoir of hope by Sarah Jane Douglas was published by Elliott & Thompson and was published on 26th March 2020 in Paperback and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

 

 

The Lost Pianos of Siberia by Sophy Roberts

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The Lost Pianos of Siberia by Sophy Roberts

Summary:

Siberia’s story is traditionally one of exiles, penal colonies and unmarked graves. Yet there is another tale to tell.

Dotted throughout this remote land are pianos – grand instruments created during the boom years of the nineteenth century, and humble, Soviet-made uprights that found their way into equally modest homes. They tell the story of how, ever since entering Russian culture under the influence of Catherine the Great, piano music has run through the country like blood.

How these pianos travelled into this snow-bound wilderness in the first place is testament to noble acts of fortitude by governors, adventurers and exiles. That stately instruments might still exist in such a hostile landscape is remarkable. That they are still capable of making music in far-flung villages is nothing less than a miracle.

But this is Siberia, where people can endure the worst of the world ― and where music reveals a deep humanity in the last place on earth you would expect to find it.

My Review:

When I first heard about The Lost Pianos of Siberia (Doubleday) by Sophy Roberts it immediately shot straight to my most wanted books. This is a beautiful book that takes you on a journey across Siberia.

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Sophy Roberts debut book is breathtaking in its sheer beauty not just in the landscape and the history of this incredible landscape but of its nature. For travel journalist Roberts takes a look at the Pianos and how they and their owners made their journey to the far corners of Siberia with many going into exile. There is something about Russia and pianos going back to the 1800’s from here like seeds scattered in the wind the pianos made their journey many with their owners going into exile.

For me one of the most poignant parts of the book was when Roberts went looking for the very piano owned by the Romanovs before they were killed in 1918. But there is so much more to this book than you first think when you look at the title. This is much more than just about looking for lost pianos it is a travelogue as Roberts travels across this vast land to the far corners of Russia across barren lands and taking journeys on ships.

Imagine the winters in Siberia and what that does to such an instrument such as the piano, what it does to the keys of the piano and the very fabric that is the wood that holds it together.

So many of the pianos Roberts went in search for have so much history attached to them from the early days of the influence of the piano across Europe. Many of the pianos Sophy Roberts went in search for were never found purely as many never wanted to discuss the past. This just adds to the mystery of each one of the pianos.

The real aspect of this wonderful book is a look at the country, the history and its people and the flora and fauna of Siberia. It is a book that reads so beautifully and one that I am looking forward to listening to as an audio book during these difficult days.

448 Pages.

The Lost Pianos of Siberia by Sophy Roberts was published by Doubleday and was published on 6th February 2020 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

Virtuoso by Yelena Moskovich

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Virtuoso by Yelena Moskovich

Summary:

Zorka. She had eyebrows like her name.

1980s Prague. For Jana, childhood means ration queues and the smell of boiled potatoes on the grey winter air. But just before Jana’s seventh birthday, a new family moves in to their building: a bird-eyed mamka in a fox-fur coat, a stubble-faced papka – and a raven-haired girl named Zorka.

As the first cracks begin to appear in the communist regime, Zorka teaches Jana to look beyond their building, beyond Prague, beyond Czechoslovakia … and then, Zorka just disappears. Jana, now an interpreter in Paris for a Czech medical supply company, hasn’t seen her in a decade.

As Jana and Zorka’s stories slowly circle across the surreal fluctuations of the past and present, the streets of 1980s Prague, the suburbs of 1990s Wisconsin and the lesbian bars of present-day Paris, they lead inexorably to a mysterious door on the Rue de Prague …

Written with the dramatic tension of Euripidean tragedy and the dreamlike quality of a David Lynch film, Virtuoso is an audacious, mesmerising novel of love in the post-communist diaspora.

 My Review:

Delighted to share my review of Virtuoso (Serpents Tail) by Yelena Moskovich as part of the Swansea International Dylan Thomas Prize Blog Tour.

This is the second novel by Yelena Moskovich and Virtuoso is a dark yet also a brave account of life in 1980’s Prague. Jana begins a friendship with the mysterious Zorka. Life within the Communist state can be as dull as a Czechoslovakian winter. But Zorka’s family have moved in next door and it is Zorka who wants to show Jana that there is a life beyond the Communist state.

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In reality what we have here is a novel about female friendships and what is spoken through Moskovich’s novel is one of a complex relationship between Jana and Zorka. It is then that Zorka disappears without warning.

We fast forward and Jana is now living and working as an interpreter in Paris. Time really has moved on for Jana and then we meet Aimee who is happily married to Dominique. It is the story of these women’s lives in what is a rather strange and sexually explicit novel.

It is a novel that explores the relationships of these women and Moskovich’s unique style of writing makes this a novel sometimes takes patience and yet never really leaves you alone after you have finished reading. One that you will love or one that will frustrate you. It challenged me and I loved it.

 Shortlist Announcement is made on 7th April 2020

Winner Announced on 14th May 2020

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Ten Poems about Flowers

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Ten Poems about Flowers

Summary:

A bouquet is a welcome and beautiful thing, but the beauty is inevitably short-lived. This delightful mini-anthology, however, is guaranteed never to wither. Roses, fritillaries, daisies, gentians and the humble ragwort are celebrated here by poets ranging from Mimi Khalvati to William Wordsworth.

We experience their colours and scents in vivid language, so each lives on the page with all the intensity of a real flower. Sometimes it seems we can even learn from them.

My Review:

I am delighted to bring you one of the latest poetry pamphlets from Candlestick Press. Ten Poems about Flowers is now available to order through their website (details below).

Flowers bring joy in many forms whether it is a beautiful form garden in the summer or a bouquet of flowers to a loved one on a special occasion. These flowers however may only have a limited time, however poems about flowers can last a lifetime.

With poems by such names as John Clare, William Wordsworth, Helen Dumore as well as DH Lawrence bring colour to every page. My personal favourite is City Lilacs by Helen Dumore

“Lilac, like love, makes no distinction.
It will open for anyone.
Even before love knows that it is love
lilac knows it must blossom.”

 The stunning cover design is by Angie Lewin. If you are buying a bouquet for a loved one, then Ten Poems about Flowers would make the perfect card to accompany the bouquet.

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Thank you to Candlestick Press for the review copies of Ten Poems About Flowers Now available to order through their website: Candlestick Press

Candlestick Press are a small independent publisher based in Nottingham and were founded in 2008. The team consists of four dedicated people in Di Slaney (Publisher), Kathy Towers (Assistant Editor) and two admin assistants. Their aim is simple to spread the joy of poetry to adults and children alike who love poetry and or may be just beginning their journey in to enjoying poetry. These small pamphlets are just ideal for bedtime reading or like I have been doing and that is enjoying them on journeys.

They have published so many of these beautiful pamphlets on a wide range of topics from Christmas to Cricket, from Dogs to Sheep and even Clouds and walking and even breakfast. These wonderful poetry pamphlets make the ideal

Stubborn Archivist by Yara Rodrigues Fowler

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Stubborn Archivist by Yara Rodrigues Fowler

Summary:

When your mother considers another country home, it’s hard to know where you belong. When the people you live among can’t pronounce your name, it’s hard to know exactly who you are. And when your body no longer feels like your own, it’s hard to understand your place in the world.

This is a novel of growing up between cultures, of finding your space within them and of learning to live in a traumatized body. Our stubborn archivist tells her story through history, through family conversations, through the eyes of her mother, her grandmother and her aunt and slowly she begins to emerge into the world, defining her own sense of identity.

Shortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award

Longlisted for the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize

My Review:

First off a big apology from me. This review should have been out as part of the Blog Tour for the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize last week.

I was so intrigued when the debut novel Stubborn Archivist (Fleet) by Yara Rodrigues Fowler was longlisted for the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize as The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award that I jumped at the chance to review when offered and I am so pleased I did.

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What a wondrous story that Yara Rodrigues Fowler has created. The narrator remains anonymous throughout the storyline. It bursts into life from the first page. The narrator is born in South London and has a mother who is Brazilian and a father who is English.

The one aspect that I felt when I started to read was that this was like finding someone’s secret diary and reading about them and their thoughts on their own family. The mix of languages and translations that at times are very poetic.

Through the pages we get to know about the narrator and the women that make up her life. The mix of languages and also cultures makes this such a fabulous read as well as unearthing an exciting new writing voice.

It is at times complex but also she shares her emotions through the pages and even the blank pages are powerful in themselves. The three women that appear are key in the life of the narrator, her mother, and aunt and also her grandmother each have powerful narrative. Throughout I had the sense of the narrator asking about what is home and where is home. Our protagonist is talking to us the reader about the many facets of her life even the moments that bring a laugh or two.

As I have found in my own life stubbornness equates to pure determination and the will to never stop or to never give up. Stubborn Archivist is a pure joy to read.

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Shortlist Announcement is made on 7th April 2020

Winner Announced on 14th May 2020

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368 Pages.

Thank you to Martina Ticic (Midas PR) for the review copy of Stubborn Archivist by Yara Rodrigues Fowler.

Stubborn Archivist by Yara Rodrigues Fowler was published by Fleet and was published on 6th February 2020 (Paperback) and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary:

When your mother considers another country home, it’s hard to know where you belong. When the people you live among can’t pronounce your name, it’s hard to know exactly who you are. And when your body no longer feels like your own, it’s hard to understand your place in the world.

This is a novel of growing up between cultures, of finding your space within them and of learning to live in a traumatized body. Our stubborn archivist tells her story through history, through family conversations, through the eyes of her mother, her grandmother and her aunt and slowly she begins to emerge into the world, defining her own sense of identity.

Shortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award

Longlisted for the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize

My Review:

 

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Shortlist Announcement is made on 7th April 2020

Winner Announced on 14th May 2020

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368 Pages.

Thank you to Martina Ticic (Midas PR) for the review copy of Stubborn Archivist by Yara Rodrigues Fowler.

Stubborn Archivist by Yara Rodrigues Fowler was published by Fleet and was published on 6th February 2020 (Paperback) and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

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Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Summary:

On a summer’s day in 1596, a young girl in Stratford-upon-Avon takes to her bed with a fever. Her twin brother, Hamnet, searches everywhere for help. Why is nobody at home?

Their mother, Agnes, is over a mile away, in the garden where she grows medicinal herbs. Their father is working in London. Neither parent knows that one of the children will not survive the week.

Hamnet is a novel inspired by the son of a famous playwright. It is a story of the bond between twins, and of a marriage pushed to the brink by grief. It is also the story of a kestrel and its mistress; flea that boards a ship in Alexandria; and a glovemaker’s son who flouts convention in pursuit of the woman he loves. Above all, it is a tender and unforgettable reimagining of a boy whose life has been all but forgotten, but whose name was given to one of the most celebrated plays ever written.

 My Review:

In my younger days I became fascinated by William Shakespeare and his plays and sonnets. I have been lucky to have been to the Globe on London’s South side of the River Thames number of times. One of my favourite writers has written an intimate historical novel based on one of Shakespeare’s sons. Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell (Tinder Press) is released on 31st March.

AUTHOR

Hamnet born to William Shakespeare and his wife Agnes (Anne Hathaway) and the twin of Judith in the year 1585. One thing I will say here for Shakespeare aficionados is that this is a fictional account of the family life of the Shakespeare’s not so much about the man himself and his wife Agnes takes centre stage through the novel.

As the story opens with the young Hamnet in the house seemingly alone with his sister Judith in bed and is very poorly. Hamnet is searching for someone in his mother Agnes. Agnes is out in the fields. The story tells of how Agnes and William first met and their humble beginnings as married couple and how the couple spent time apart as William was in London trying to earn a living and Agnes was at home expecting twins.

Hamnet dies at the age of 11 at a time when a third of all children died before they reached the age of ten. It is suggested in further readings that Hamnet may have died from the bubonic plague and the plague itself takes a major part of the novel.

The effect of Hamnet’s death at such a young age has a devastating effect on the family. This is a heartbreaking story so tenderly told by Maggie O’Farrell. Losing a loved creates a feeling like the walls of life are closing in and a claustrophobic feeling and the feeling of loss never leaves as you and this comes through the storyline.

There are many characters that O’Farrell brings into the story and each has their own life that only O’Farrell can bring into her books. Even the everyday life of the people of Stratford-upon-Avon is beautifully told. There are many who question whether the death of Hamnet was when Shakespeare then wrote his play Hamlet this will be talked about but either way this is without doubt Maggie O’Farrell’s finest novel to-date and one I loved reading. I have thought a lot about Hamnet since I have read O’Farrell’s historical novel. Many might be put off because it has the ‘Shakespeare’ tag but I would highly recommend this book to anyone.

384 Pages.

Thank you to Georgina Moore (Midas PR) for the review copy of Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell is published by Tinder Press 31st March on 2020 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

In Pursuit of Spring by Edward Thomas

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In Pursuit of Spring by Edward Thomas

Summary:

In mid to late March 1913, as the storm clouds of the Great War which was to claim his life gathered, Edward Thomas took a bicycle ride from Clapham to the Quantock Hills. The poet recorded his journey through his beloved South Country and his account was published as In Pursuit of Spring in 1914. Regarded as one of his most important prose works, it stands as an elegy for a world now lost. What is less well-known is that Thomas took with him a camera, and photographed much of what he saw, noting the locations on the back of the prints. These have been kept in archives for many years and will now be published for the very first time in the book. Thomas journeys through Guildford, Winchester, Salisbury, across the Plain, to the Bristol Channel, recording the poet’s thoughts and feelings as winter ends.

 My Review:

It is ironic that I am writing a review for a book with this title as I write yet another winter storm blows through and dark winter clouds speed past as I gaze skywards from my desk the looks out to the Somerset hills.

As the darkness of winter begins to fade and the signs of Spring are gathering pace Edward Thomas wanted to see the end of winter and find the signs of Spring but to do this he would need to travel from his home in South London. It is March 1913 as much as the darkness of winter is receding there are much darker clouds on the horizon. This was the year before the start of The Great War. In Pursuit of Spring (Little Toller) by Edward Thomas tells his story of his journey to seek signs of Spring.

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As Edward Thomas began his journey on his bicycle from the suburbs of South London to Somerset this was just not going to be a journey of finding Spring but also a journey that would make Edward Thomas the poet that we would come to love. This land was very different in March 1913 in many ways but the leisurely journey he took I have known for many years. This was not going to be a journey rushed it was leisurely as he not just cycles he also walked for parts of the journey and armed with just the very basics but the most important was a notebook and pencil and a camera for the photos in this book are the very ones he took.

As a Welshman Thomas loved his homeland but loved this country and the typical English countryside. He wanted to fields and churches and typical sleepy English villages, writing and taking photographs as he went. Each county is unique in many ways and reading In Pursuit of Spring you get a sense of the poetic and yet hypnotic sense of Thomas’s writing and what was to come.

Many of the photographs in this beautiful book are of empty lanes and roads through villages, a snapshot of a moment from history. But as I read his words my heart ached for what was to come for Edward Thomas in coming years as war approached. But Thomas wanted to seek the end of Winter and welcome Spring like a long lost friend and to feel the wind and rain on his face. Stopping at various locations and reciting poetry that can be found on the pages of this book.

As he reached Somerset he found Spring and the dark clouds of Winter have departed. It was as he travelled through the village of Nether Stowey, the home of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge and a place in Somerset where not just my heart lies, a place I have come to love. Anyone with a passion for poetry and prose and the countryside will love In Pursuit of Spring.

In 1915 Edward Thomas enlisted in the Artist’s Rifles and was killed in 1917 in the Battle of Arras. In Pursuit of Spring was first published in 1914.

 228 Pages.

Thank you to Little Toller for the review copy of In Pursuit of Spring by Edward Thomas

In Pursuit of Spring by Edward Thomas was published by Little Toller and was published on 3rd March 2016 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

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The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Summary:

Alicia Berenson lived a seemingly perfect life until one day six years ago.

When she shot her husband in the head five times.

Since then she hasn’t spoken a single word.

It’s time to find out why.

 My Review:

I am rather late to the party with this terrific psychological thriller that has now sold over a million copies worldwide. The Silent Patient (Orion Books) by Alex Michaelides can be placed into a number of genres and is a real page turner of a debut novel.

AUTHOR

If like me, you have allowed The Silent Patient to pass you by I will attempt to tease you with my review. An absorbing thriller with some more than interesting characters and what an ending Alex Michaelides has written into the storyline.

Alicia Berenson is an artist and seems to have the most perfect life with her husband Gabriel who is a successful fashion photographer. But then one day Alicia shot her husband in the head five times. For a seemingly happy and settled wife to commit this gruesome murder something must have happened. Alicia was arrested and convicted of Gabriel’s murder and sent to a secure psychiatric unit called The Grove throughout her trial she remained silent, never speaking a solitary word.

It is now six years later and Theo Faber arrives at The Grove to start work and he want to try and get Alicia to start to talk. Theo who is a psychotherapist believes he can get Alicia to finally open up and tell the story of Gabriel’s murder. Now the story begins to really get going and you will not want to put this gripping thriller down. The further you get into the plot the more you begin to think that there is more to what really is going on. Theo has his own issues away from work with his relationship with his wife on the verge of breaking down but he is obsessed with Alicia and her story.

Does Alicia finally find her voice and tell the story of what happened and why she killed the husband she loved or does she remain silent. Be prepared for the ending. I never saw that coming at all. The Silent Patient is a really compelling read. Alex Miichaelides has delivered the perfect thriller.

 352 Pages. (Paperback)

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides was published by Orion Publishers and was published in paperback on 12th December 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

2019 Costa Book of the Year. The Volunteer: The True Story of the resistance hero who infiltrated Auschwitz by Jack Fairweather

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The Volunteer: The True Story of the resistance hero who infiltrated Auschwitz by Jack Fairweather

Summary:

Would you sacrifice yourself to save thousands of others?

In the Summer of 1940, after the Nazi occupation of Poland, an underground operative called Witold Pilecki accepted a mission to uncover the fate of thousands of people being interned at a new concentration camp on the border of the Reich.

His mission was to report on Nazi crimes and raise a secret army to stage an uprising. The name of the detention centre — Auschwitz.

It was only after arriving at the camp that he started to discover the Nazi’s terrifying plans. Over the next two and half years, Witold forged an underground army that smuggled evidence of Nazi atrocities out of Auschwitz. His reports from the camp were to shape the Allies response to the Holocaust – yet his story was all but forgotten for decades.

This is the first major account to draw on unpublished family papers, newly released archival documents and exclusive interviews with surviving resistance fighters to show how he brought the fight to the Nazis at the heart of their evil designs.

The result is an enthralling story of resistance and heroism against the most horrific circumstances, and one man’s attempt to change the course of history.

 WINNER OF THE 2019 COSTA BOOK OF THE YEAR

My Review:

I have read so much about the Holocaust and then I come across the incredible story of Witold Pilecki who volunteered to enter Auschwitz Concentration Camp to organise an escape and also obtain as much information about what was really going on at Auschwitz. Volunteer: The True Story of the Resistance Hero Who Infiltrated Auschwitz by Jack Fairweather recently won the 2019 Costa Book of the Year award.

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Poland has been defeated by the Nazis and now they rounding the Jewish men, woman and children, sent them to the ghettos before they were sent in cattle trucks to Auschwitz Concentration Camp.

Witold Pilecki was one of the bravest men of WWII. What we know now about Auschwitz, the world did not know during the war. Did anyone believe the German’s could be capable of creating death camps that killed millions? Back then no-one knew. During the Summer of 1940 Witold Pilecki a former cavalry officer in the Polish army was a member of the Polish resistance agreed to captured and sent to Auschwitz to gain as much information about what was really happening there. It was the autumn of 1940. On entering the prisoners witnessed one of the men being beaten to death by the guards. Straight away the message was given to the prisoners.

This remarkable true account of how Pilecki began work in Auschwitz on getting as much evidence on crimes being committed there as well as starting work on starting an underground network inside of Auschwitz. But the conditions were a lot worse than even Pilecki had feared. Even thinking about starting an underground network was dangerous. If caught it would have meant certain death for him and many others. This was very dangerous and courageous.

Very quickly prisoners in Auschwitz were dying at an alarming rate every day. Starvation and daily beatings were the norm by the guards but Witold Pilecki had managed to smuggle out details of what was going on there. Pilecki witnessed the first gassings by the Nazis using Zyklon B and the murders on industrial scale.

With reports passed to the Warsaw resistance who then passed to the Polish Government, they hoped at last the Allies would act, despite repeated calls for the British and American air force to bomb Auschwitz no help was forthcoming.

In April 1943 Witold Pilecki managed to escape Auschwitz in April 1943 and found his way back to Warsaw. It was not until after D-Day when the allies landed in France that the allies began to discuss Auschwitz. Pilecki had believed he had failed those he left behind in Auschwitz.

Following the war Pilecki was arrested by Poland’s the secret police and was accused of treason and then was interrogated over 150 times and was executed in May 1948.

Witold Pilecki’s brave story was lost to history but now thanks to the incredible research by Jack Fairweather Pilecki’s courageous story has finally been told. A deserved winner of the 2019 Costa Book of the Year. Highly Recommended.

528 Pages. (Paperback)

The Volunteer: The True Story of the resistance hero who infiltrated Auschwitz by Jack Fairweather was published by WH Allen and was published in Paperback on 9th January 2020 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

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