Category Archives: Bloomsbury Circus
Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames by Lara Maiklem
Mudlark (/’mAdla;k/) noun A person who scavenges for usable debris in the mud of a river or harbour
Lara Maiklem has scoured the banks of the Thames for over fifteen years, in pursuit of the objects that the river unearths: from Neolithic flints to Roman hair pins, medieval buckles to Tudor buttons, Georgian clay pipes to Victorian toys. These objects tell her about London and its lost ways of life.
Moving from the river’s tidal origins in the west of the city to the point where it meets the sea in the east, Mudlarking is a search for urban solitude and history on the River Thames, which Lara calls the longest archaeological site in England.
As she has discovered, it is often the tiniest objects that tell the greatest stories.
Before I settled down to write this review I Googled ‘What is a mudlark’ and it say they are people who scavenge along river beds for items of value. But there is so much more to Mudlarking than just looking for items of value. The River Thames is tidal and is really an archaeological site all of its own. Just stop and think about the history of the Thames. Now Lara Maiklem in Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames (Bloomsbury) gives us an insight to the items she has found and that each one has a story.
As the tide recedes then history is just waiting to be discovered. the Thames is the main artery of London. Would London even exist if the Thames was not there? Where there is a main river then towns and cities are built and with it comes items that are discarded into the river all just waiting to be discovered by Lara Maiklem. For Maiklem she has been walking the Thames now for about fifteen years and every item she finds is of historical value. Each has a story back in years gone by. From the many clay pipes that are discovered daily to items of incredible value and even ordnance dropped by German aircraft in WWII as London went through the blitz.
Of course you just cannot turn up at the banks of the Thames and start searching for items, being a Mudlark is not that simple. You have to apply for a permit and you have to be a member of the Society of Mudlarks and even then you have then needed to have held a standard permit for over two years and then it is still not that simple. This is a society surrounded in mystery. There is so much history to the Thames. I lived in London for over thirteen years and was fascinated by the river.
There are those of course who see the river as a bit of a goldmine just waiting to discover the next item of value with their metal detectors, but not for Lara. Each item she finds is carefully examined and cleaned and then researched. From early man to the Romans through to the period of the Great Fire of London when people hurled their belongings into the river rather than seeing them being consumed by the fire that spread along the river bank.
There is so much history just beneath the mud on the banks of the Thames and each time Lara makes a visit as the tide drops she looks and finds. Just turn over that rock and there is another piece of history just waiting to be found.
What I loved about Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames was that it read so easily and Lara’s care and also interest in the items she has found. Lost items are just waiting to be found it may take a few hundred years but someone else will be find our lost items. Some years ago I tossed an engagement ring into the Thames from London Bridge after a relationship ended. I would like to think that in a few hundred years-time a Mudlark scouring the riverbank will find that very ring. That in itself is a romantic thought. A wonderful read and highly recommended.
Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames by Lara Maiklem was published by Bloomsbury and was published on 18th August 2019 and is available to through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
Keep You Close by Lucie Whitehouse
The Last Word Review
A tense gripping psychological thriller. Accident or intentional? Prepare to be sleep deprived.
You know you have an outstanding thriller in your hands when the book starts and you just cannot leave it alone and that you want to keep going deep into the night. Lucie Whitehouse’s latest Keep You Close does just that. It is gripping and a true psychological thriller.
Marianne Glass has been found dead in the garden of her home and at first it does appear that she took her own life by jumping from the roof and her close friend Rowan Winter receives the telephone call. Despite being close friends while growing up it has been some years since they last spoke. Question is, was Marianne’s death a tragic accident or is there something more sinister behind her death. The news has hit Rowan pretty hard despite the time that has gone since they last saw each other. Their lives went in separate ways since their younger days with Marianne going on to be a very successful artist.
What Rowan cannot believe is that Marianne took her own life, why would she, it does not make any sense. Marianne had everything to live for plus a critical point that Rowan knew from their younger days is that Marianne suffered badly from vertigo. There is detail of episodes of depression that her close friend suffered has suffered in the past with.
The following day Rowan receives a written message in the post from Marianne that sparks Rowan into thinking that there is someone else responsible for her friend’s death.
As Rowan starts to look deeper into her friends past she starts to uncover a past, and the more she looks the darker Marianne’s past looks, just who does Rowan trust, what really happened to Rowan and Marianne’s friendship that caused it to fracture ten-years previous, they were so close growing up.
Some of the characters we meet in Keep You Close are the sort of people you would think twice about but here you want to get to know them as they are all part of the storyline and make for real intrigue. With the story moving back and forth we also get a real insight to the two friends and just how close they really were, cleverly weaved into the story as flashbacks.
The story also looks at various themes including deep friendships the trust and the bond that goes with it also the secrets that close friends tell to each other. Rowan is a really intriguing character and I became fascinated by her. The surprises keep coming in this haunting and psychological thriller. Just a warning this latest from Lucie Whitehouse will deprive of your sleep. You have been warned.
My thanks to Ellen Williams from Bloomsbury Publishing for a review copy.
Keep You Close by Lucie Whitehouse was released on 10 March by Bloomsbury Circus and is available in all good bookshops as well as download for Kindle.
Beside Myself by Ann Morgan
The Last Word Review
A dark story that creeps under your skin. Brilliantly written. Chilling, the stuff of nightmares
Rarely does a book get under my skin the way that Beside Myself by Ann Morgan does. Very quickly you realise that this is a story that you cannot leave alone if you try you just end up going back to it. It is dark very dark and it does creep under your skin.
The story is basically about Helen and Ellie they are identical twins. At the age of six both are very different. Helen being the popular of the twin’s lots of friends and always doing well at School whereas Ellie is completely the opposite some may say rebellious not many friends, you could say a loner compared to Helen and always having to face some sort of punishment for her bad behaviour.
I am sure we have all thought what would happen if identical twins swapped places or mistaken one for another. Well here is that story. One day the twins decide to play a game of just that except there is a catch that will have profound consequences for both of them. Ellie refuses to go back to themselves. Things go dramatically wrong and the consequences for Helen are life changing.
Fast forward twenty-five years and the bright and bubbly Helen is destroyed by her twin her life is in ruins now suffering from mental health problems she has cut all ties with her family and hears voices in her head. She asks herself about the switch did it actually happen? Rarely seen out in public. Ellie on the other hand is now the famous actress.
The story switches back and forth from the time the twins were young to the present day and the hellish life that the bright and bubbly Helen now has a complete and real nightmare that has no end. She has hit the rocks and alcohol seems to be her only real friend. The story of how mental illness takes its toll on the individual is hard going. Having a friend who suffers from Bi-Polar I know how at first hand the devastating effects this has on everyone around them and how the world treats the subject.
The one person she does not want to in her life is Ellie. What if something were to happen and that the twins were re-united with all that the past holds?
Beside Myself is brilliantly written, it is chilling and so dark it made the hair on the back of my neck to stand up. As every new chapter started it brought to life new issues that just knocked you off your feet. I must credit Ann Morgan for the characters, each and every one left me cold in some way, they all have their own issues.
My thanks to Philippa Cotton at Bloomsbury Books for a review copy.
Beside Myself written by Ann Morgan is published by Bloomsbury Books and is now available in all good bookshops.