Category Archives: Fiction

Eight Hours from England by Anthony Quayle

Eight Hours From England Cover Image

Eight Hours from England by Anthony Quayle

 

Summary:

Autumn 1943. Realising that his feelings for his sweetheart are not reciprocated, Major John Overton accepts a posting behind enemy lines in Nazi-Occupied Albania. Arriving to find the situation in disarray, he attempts to overcome geographical challenges and political intrigues to set up a new camp in the mountains overlooking the Adriatic.

As he struggles to complete his mission amidst a chaotic backdrop, Overton is left to ruminate on loyalty, comradeship and his own future.

Based on Anthony Quayle s own wartime experience with the Special Operations Executive (SOE), this new edition of a 1945 classic includes a contextual introduction from IWM which sheds new light on the fascinating true events that inspired its author.

My Review:

Many will know of Anthony Quayle the actor nominated for many awards for his roles in Lawrence of Arabia, Ice Cold in Alex and The Guns of Navarone to name just a few. But I had no idea of Anthony Quayle the author. In WWII Quayle was a British Army Officer and later served in the Special Operations Executive (SOE) and served in Albania. The experiences so affected him that he found it hard to talk about. In Eight Hours from England first published in 1945 the story became a fictionalised account of his time in the SOE.

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The story follows Major John Overton who is putting his personal life behind him and now has agreed to go behind enemy lines in Albania which is under the thumb of Nazi occupation.

When Overton arrives he is confronted by the task ahead of him, he has to organise the resistance and fight the German forces but there is plenty of in-fighting within Albania and too much focus on their own civil war. What our man Overton has to overcome is the terrain and the weather conditions and despite the promise of supplies these do not arrive.

What I found from Quayle’s words was that he was relieved to get out as he did in early April 1944. The situation was deteriorating with too many factions within the country and Partisans fearing not only certain death but total destruction of their villages. For Overton the need to get out of this situation and also Albania at the same time was real.

This is a compelling account of real life SOE agent although fictionalised it really becomes clear to the reader just what agents had to face when they were sent to the Balkans.

Anthony Quayle went on to continue to serve with the armed forces until the war ended and then went on to star in many films and also many stage productions and was Knighted in the New Year’s Honours in 1985. Sir Anthony Quayle died at his home in October 1989.

212 Pages

Thank you to the Imperial War Museum and also Anne Cater (Random Things Tours) for the review copy of Eight Hours from England by Anthony Quayle.

Eight Hours from England by Anthony Quayle was published by Imperial War Museum and was published on 5th September 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

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Plenty Under the Counter by Kathleen Hewitt

Plenty Under The Counter Cover Image

Plenty Under the Counter by Kathleen Hewitt

 

Summary:

London, 1942. Flight-Lieutenant David Heron, home on convalescent leave, awakes to the news that a murder victim has been discovered in the garden of his boarding house. With a week until his service resumes, David sets out to solve the murder. Drawn into a world of mystery and double-dealing, he soon realises that there is more to the inhabitants of the boarding house than meets the eye, and that wartime London is a place where opportunism and the black market are able to thrive. Can he solve the mystery before his return to the skies?

Inspired by Kathleen Hewitt s own experience of wartime London, this new edition of a 1943 classic includes a contextual introduction from IWM which sheds light on the fascinating true events that so influenced its author

 My Review:

There is something about an old wartime classic murder mystery unlike any other similar murder mystery of any other time period. Plenty Under the Counter by Kathleen Hewitt was originally written at the height of WWII and is now re-released by The Imperial War Museum for a new generation to discover.

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London during the blitz and FL David Heron is resting at one of the many boarding houses after rescued from the channel. A body has been discovered in the back garden of a man and it is murder.

What does David Heron do, does he let the police investigate or does focus on his health and get back to fighting the Germans in the skies above London. The city is in the mist of the blitz and London at night is a dark and sinister place. Ideal for criminals and crime is rife especially in the black market. So now David decides to take on the investigation for himself and the owner of the boarding house Mrs Meake is convinced the house was all locked up and secure and David slept through. There are a few red herrings in the story to keep you guessing as well as a host of great characters who each play their part in this crime caper. This is wonderful crime story of the time and our intrepid investigator really does play the part very well.

The storyline keeps the reader entertained all the way through. Kathleen Hewitt (1893 – 1980) wrote 23 books and many were of the crime genre. With the release of four Wartime Classics by the Imperial War Museum to commemorate the outbreak of World War Two. A chance for a new generation of readers to read novels from writers who came through the war years either in the forces or living through the blitz.

#wartimeclassics

240 Pages.

Thank you to the Imperial War Museum and also Anne Cater (Random Things Tours) for the review copy of Plenty Under the Counter by Kathleen Hewitt.

Plenty Under the Counter by Kathleen Hewitt was published by Imperial War Museum and was published on 5th September 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

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The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott

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The Secrets We Kept – Lara Prescott

Summary:

  1. A celebrated Russian author is writing a book, Doctor Zhivago, which could spark dissent in the Soviet Union. The Soviets, afraid of its subversive power, ban it.But in the rest of the world it’s fast becoming a sensation.

    In Washington DC, the CIA is planning to use the book to tip the Cold War in its favour.

    Their agents are not the usual spies, however. Two typists – the charming, experienced Sally and the talented novice Irina – are charged with the mission of a lifetime: to smuggle Doctor Zhivagoback into Russia by any means necessary.

    It will not be easy. There are people prepared to die for this book – and agents willing to kill for it. But they cannot fail – as this book has the power to change history.

My Review:

One of my all-time favourite films has to be Dr Zhivago, so what an absolute thrill to have received a review copy of The Secrets We Kept (Hutchinson) by Lara Prescott. This is the secrets about how Boris Pasternak’s masterpiece was eventually smuggled out of the old Soviet Union.

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This is a historical fictional account of how Dr Zhivago came to the West and to think it could have never seen the light of day. We head back to the time of the Cold War during the 1950’s when the West and the Soviet Union had a real mistrust of each other that could have spilt over to WWIII at any moment.

The story switches between Olga who is Boris Pasternak’s mistress who is picked up and sent to the Gulag and two typists from the CIA who assisted the smuggling of the book out of the USSR. The extraordinary lengths many went to get Pasternak’s masterpiece out of the country before the Communist authorities got hold of it. This is a compelling novel and a story that will have you reading long into the night.

With the story moving from East to West you get a real perspective of how each side was desperate to get the book out or find the spies and stop the book from leaving the country. You have to feel for Olga and the appalling way she was treated in the Gulag despite her condition at the time. But Olga was strong a lot stronger than many of the other woman there.

It is an incredible story behind Dr Zhivago that I had no idea even existed. The sheer impact of the novel both here in the West and then when the book was published and later sent back to the USSR and read by many. The impact this must have had on its citizens. Boris Pasternak went on to receive the Nobel Prize in October 1958 and was warned by the Soviet’s that if he travelled to collect his award he would never be allowed back into the country.

For anyone who loves the story of Dr Zhivago I can only highly recommend The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott. This is a real eye opener. I will not reveal any details of the end of the book. This you will have to discover for yourself. When I next watch the film I will be thinking back to the story of how it was smuggled out and the people involved.

#TheSecretsWeKept

Thank you to Hutchinson Books and also to Anne Cater (Random things Tours) for the review copy of The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott.

The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott was published by Hutchinson and was published on 5th September 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

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From the City, From the Plough by Alexander Baron

From The City Cover Image

From the City, From the Plough Alexander Baron

 

Summary:

Spring 1944, the south coast of England. The Fifth Battalion, Wessex Regiment, wait patiently and nervously for the order to embark. There is boredom and fear, comedy and pathos as the men all drawn from different walks of life await the order to move.

With an economy of language that belies its emotional impact, From the City, From the Plough is a vivid and moving account of the fate of these men as they embark for the beaches of Normandy and advance into France, where the battalion suffers devastating casualties.

Based on Alexander Baron s own wartime experience, From the City, From the Plough was originally published to wide acclaim and reportedly sold over one million copies. This new edition of the 1948 classic includes a contextual introduction from IWM which sheds new light on the dramatic true events that so inspired its author.

My Review:

The Imperial War Museum has just released four wartime classics as part of the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of Second Wold War and I delighted to be reviewing all four of these classic wartime stories. The first is From the City, From the Plough (IWM Wartime Classics) by Alexander Baron.

Alexander Baron Author Picture

First released in 1948 and went on to sell over a million copies. War stories tell of bravery but also the shock and horror of war. And here Alexander Baron tells the story of the Fifth Battalion, Wessex Regiment as they prepared in the run-up to D-Day and the storming of the beaches.

Like any wartime story or film we come to know the leading characters and you know instantly some are not going to make it. This is the horror of war. A generation of young men ready to take on the Nazi war machine on the coast of Normandy. This is a powerful story told in under 200 pages. You come to know each of the men and how they interact with each other. These are ordinary men who were leading a normal working class life now they have left their families and their homes to fight. This novel is based on Baron’s own experiences of the battle for Normandy so he not only writes with incredible prose but from experience. Some of the storyline is meant to shock, but tells the story as it should be told. It is no surprise that Baron went on to be a successful writer and screenwriter. The men become a band of brothers as they stand side by side and storm the beaches and the horrors that wait as the beach comes closer.

Make no mistake this is no ordinary war story but one that is told as it was. A country at a time when it was still rebuilding and lives rebuilding now they could read a novel based on what it was really like. What must it have been like as they started to board the landing craft seeing the beaches ahead and shells exploding on the beaches. It is here in the story.

I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity of reviewing all four of these wartime classics that the Imperial War Museum have now released to a new generation of readers in a year when we have commemorated the 75th anniversary of D-Day back in June. Over the next few weeks look out the three other titles in the IWM Wartime Classics Series. Highly Recommended.

192 Pages.

Thank you to the Imperial War Museum and also Anne Cater (Random Things Tours) for the review copy of From the City, From the Plough by Alexander Baron.

From the City, From the Plough by Alexander Baron was published by Imperial War Museum and was published on 5th September 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

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Ellie and the Harp Maker by Hazel Prior

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Ellie and the Harp Maker by Hazel Prior

Summary:

Meet Ellie. She’s perfectly happy living her quiet life with her husband, Clive. Happy to wander the Exmoor countryside and write the occasional poem that nobody will read; happy to dream of all the things she hasn’t yet managed to do. Or is she?

Meet Dan. He thinks all he needs is the time and space to make harps in his isolated barn on Exmoor. He enjoys being on his own, far away from other people and – crucially – far away from any risk of surprises.

What Ellie and Dan don’t know yet, is that a chance encounter is about to change all of this.

My Review:

It was such a real pleasure to have read Ellie and the Harp Maker by Hazel Prior (Bantam Press) a beautiful novel set on Exmoor. And yes there is a Pheasant that does appear in the storyline. I have always held a fascination for the Harp and have come to appreciate the music.

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Ellie is happily married to Clive and is almost content with the life they live, until one day when she is out waking she comes across a barn in the middle of nowhere and when she enters Ellie is immediately captivated. Here she meets Dan and the handmade harps he crafts from wood. The thing about Dan is that he is not making a business out of what he does as this is purely for love from the woods around the workshop.

It becomes apparent almost immediately that there is something special between Ellie and Dan. Their love of the countryside, poetry, nature and music. Ellie is just delightful. Often wandering the country lanes reciting poetry she has written. She comes across as someone who is a bit of a loner and so when she meets Dan and is beguiled by his craftsmanship. It is then that Ellie tells Dan that she wants to play the harp.

The story is told by both Ellie and Dan and you begin to read each other’s thoughts and when Dan gives Ellie one of his beautiful Harps this causes problems at home for Ellie. Hazel Prior has crafted such a warm and charming story that you just wanted to spend time with both Ellie and Dan who is just a little different from most people and sees the world through different eyes.

Wonderful characters and the setting of Exmoor is very descriptive. And yes Phineas the Pheasant does a play and integral part in the story of Ellie and Dan but I am not going to spoil the story for you. A novel to make you smile and lift your heart.

 288 Pages.

Ellie and the Harp Maker by Hazel Prior was published by Bantam Press and was published on 2nd May 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

Leonard and Hungry Paul by Rónán Hession

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Leonard and Hungry Paul by Rónán Hession

Summary:

Leonard and Hungry Paul are two quiet friends who see the world differently. They use humour, board games and silence to steer their way through the maelstrom that is the 21st Century.

‘The figure in Munch’s painting isn’t actually screaming!’ Hungry Paul said. ‘Really, are you sure?’ replied Leonard. ‘Absolutely. That’s the whole thing. The figure is actually closing his ears to block out a scream. Isn’t that amazing? A painting can be so misunderstood and still become so famous.’

LEONARD AND HUNGRY PAUL is the story of two friends trying to find their place in the world. It is about those uncelebrated people who have the ability to change their world, not by effort or force, but through their appreciation of all that is special and overlooked in life.

 

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My Review:

Every now and then a book comes along and just completely blows away. Leonard and Hungry Paul by Rónán Hession (Bluemoose Books) is just one of those books. I have to admit falling completely head over heels for Hession’s astonishing debut novel.

You might well ask why? There is no crime being committed or even a fast paced storyline. This is a story of two friends Leonard and Hungry Paul, just two ordinary lives. Yet their lives could be anyone of us who has read Hession’s novel.

Leonard is now alone following the death of his mother and trying to cope with the grief and that is so much worse when you are alone. Hungry Paul is still living with his parents and only works on occasions, leaving him dependent on his retired parents much to the chagrin of his sister Grace who is much more independent and successful and also about to be married.

The best friends who are in their 30’s get together and regularly play board games and without question discuss their lives and that of the world and how best to deal with the everyday questions. Both in their own way are different whereas Leonard is desperate to find a relationship and that he quite fancies the girl in the office but does not have the social confidence to ask and that Hungry Paul is happy with his own life living at home and the daily order of things. These two friends are quite open with each other but never judge.

This is a beautiful story of love and of friendship that defies boundaries, two friends who are happy just being who they are despite those around them that may judge. Hession’s style is engaging and thoughtful and joyous of what friends and of love and of life. I just hope we get to see more of Rónán Hession’s wonderful writing. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

245 Pages.

Leonard and Hungry Paul by Rónán Hession was published by Bluemoose Books Ltd and was published on 14th February 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival 2019

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The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

4 – 13 October 2019

It is that time of year again when the full line-up for The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival line-up is announced and with 2019 being its 70th anniversary year the full line-up is just breath-taking.

With thanks from Phoebe Swinburn and the Midas PR team who have kindly let me have a copy of the full scheduled line-up. There are so many highlights for this year’s programme that you would need to book the two weeks off and move to Cheltenham. I was lucky enough to attend two years ago to interview and American writer while at the festival.

I am not sure where to start as there is so much for everyone whether you are attending on your own or as a family. There is a pop-up bookshop and plenty of places to eat and drink and just relax and enjoy the festival.

This is just a small selection of the highlights of the 70th anniversary festival.

COLM TÓIBÍN | CELESTE NG | DAVID CAMERON | TAN FRANCE | NADIYA HUSSAIN | IAN MCEWAN

BERNARDINE EVARISTO | CANDICE CARTY-WILLIAMS | DAVID LAMMY | TOM KERRIDGE | ESTHER FREUD

HELENA BONHAM CARTER | ALI SMITH | ROB BRYDON | CHIMENE SULEYMAN | ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER DAVID BADDIEL | BELLA MACKIE | JORDAN STEPHENS | SCARLETT CURTIS | SEBASTIAN FAULKS

SAM WARBUTON | TAI SHANI | RICHARD DAWKINS | TOM HOLLAND | DOM JOLY | STEVE BACKSHALL

CRESSIDA COWELL | MALORIE BLACKMAN | KONNIE HUQ | PAUL WHITEHOUSE | BOB MORTIMER

ANDREW RIDGELEY | LOUIS THEROUX | DAVID SUCHET | ALASTAIR COOK | ALEXANDER MCCALL SMITH

KATY BRAND | PAUL MERTON | KERRY HUDSON | TRACY CHEVALIER | ROBERT HARRIS | MARY BEARD

HERMAN KOCH | HOWARD JACOBSON | JACKIE KAY | ROB AUTON | PAUL MULDOON | THERESA LOLA

EMILY MAITLIS | GINA MARTIN | JOHN HUMPHRYS | SIMON SCHAMA | RORY STEWART | JESS PHILLIPS

SOPHIA JANSSON | CARRIE GRACIE | CAROLINE CRIADO PEREZ | VALENTINE WARNER | YASMIN KHAN LEVISON WOOD | HANNAH WITTON | CANDY GOURLAY | DOUGIE POYNTER | DANNY WALLACE

KES GRAY & JIM FIELD | JUNO DAWSON | HOLLY BOURNE | MICHAEL ROSEN | DERMOT O’LEARY

With Guest Curators: MAX PORTER, YOMI ADEGOKE & ELIZABETH UVIEBINENÉ | DOMINIC SANDBROOK

TESSA HADLEY | ANTHONY ANAXAGOROU | LESLIE VINJAMURI | ROBIN STEVENS

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The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival is delighted to announce the unmissable line up for 2019, marking the 70th anniversary of the world’s oldest literature festival, which is leading the way in engendering a love of reading in young people.

The Festival will bring more than 900 of the best writers, thinkers and performers of our time to the vibrant Regency town, setting the scene for once-in-a-lifetime conversations to take place over ten extraordinary days of unique experiences, critical debate and literary revelry.

From 4 – 13 October, the Festival Village will host an unparalleled literary line-up including this year’s recipient of The Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence, Colm Tóibín, the new Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Cressida Cowell, the highly anticipated Booker shortlist, as well as the most exciting emerging talent on the scene. Dynamic debut novelists include Candice Carty-Williams, Ronan Hession, Elizabeth Macneal, Jessica Andrews and Season Butler as well as the Festival’s showcases of the best new writing in Fiction at 7, Debuts and Cocktails and Proof Parties.

As part of the ‘Seven at Seventy’ anniversary celebrations the Festival welcomes Chris Tse, Kanako Nishi and a raft of international authors to the Cheltenham stage, as well as showcasing unearthed archive audio content, introducing a literary audio trail of Cheltenham, and street art courtesy of Cheltenham Paint Festival on the theme ‘Hurrah for Books’.

There will be up-to-the-minute political analysis fresh from the party conference season courtesy of David Cameron and David Lammy, with The Times debate – joined by Jess Phillips and Rory Stewart – questioning the future of our political parties, and The Sunday Times considering White House contenders with Adam Boulton and Sarah Baxter.

From current affairs to food, history to fashion, sport to art, science to travel, the Festival guarantees something for everyone with the fun extending long after dark with the eclectic Off The Page series of curated events, including a Game of Thrones quiz night, US story-telling sensation The Moth, jazz and poetry fusion group Tongue Fu, an evening celebrating the music of Joni Mitchell and a vibrant spoken word strand. And for one night only the irreverent Lit Crawl returns to take over the streets, pubs and bars of Cheltenham.

The perfect family day out, this year’s Festival includes a packed programme of world class authors and illustrators to inspire toddlers to teens, with The Woodland Trust Wild Wood filled with beloved characters, storytellers and activities, plus a Secret Seven Mystery Trail celebrating 70 years of the world’s favourite detective club. The Festival’s year-round education programmes, inspiring a love of reading and creative writing, also culminates in October with 9,000 school children on site taking part in Literature for Schools.

New partner Sky Arts will broadcast across the final week with live coverage, interviews and events from a bespoke Sky Arts Studio on site. The venue will be a free pop-in space where festival attendees can be part of the filming and take part in other creative activities. Elsewhere on site there will be free events for all ages around the Festival village, The Huddle, hosting an array of talks and brains teasers, including Daily Crossword, Cheltenham Writes and Very Short Introductions, and The Chatterbox, where guests can become secret agents by decoding mysterious messages around the Festival.

Booking for the Literature Festival opens to Cheltenham Festivals Members at 10am on Wednesday 28 August and general booking opens at 10am on Wednesday 4 September.

On a personal basis if you are thinking of attending then one book talk to attend is Joanna Cannon Breaking and Mending (Profile Books) who will be giving a talk on Monday 7th October on stage with Molly Case and Leah Hazard as part of Life on the NHS Frontline. They will share some hilarious stories but also some of the heartbreaking stories from the NHS.

Many of us remember the late 1970’s and Debbie Harry and Blondie, I was a huge fan then years later I got to interview Debbie Harry and imagine how nervous I was. Debbie Harry will be coming to the festival this year to talk about her memoir Face It (Harper Collins) on Sunday 13th October.

On Friday 4th October there is a discussion: The Holocaust: Tales of Survival. The Costa Book of the Year winner Bart van Es author of The Cut Out Girl (Penguin) along with Jeremy Dronfield author of The Boy Who Followed his Father into Auschwitz (Michael Joseph) who will be joined as part of the panel by surviving sibling Kurt Kleinmann.

Then for fans of Paul Whitehouse and Bob Mortimer and the hit BBC series Gone Fishing now in its second series will be on stage talking life, health and all things fishing, this event will be a must attend and they will be on stage on Sunday 6th October at 6.45pm.

Fans of poetry and current affairs as well as lifestyle and cooking will be dlighted with the line-up this year and then there is the fiction line-up. Just a few names that I am looking forward to are: Elif Shafak, Louise Candlish, Louise Doughty, Patricia Cornwell, Tracy Chevalier, Elizabeth Macneal, Damian Barr just to name a few.

For further information visit the official website:

Cheltenham Literature Festival

Twitter: @CheltLitFest

Festival Brochure:

COLLECTION HIGHLIGHTS

70th ANNNIVERSARY
This year marks 70 years since Cheltenham Town Hall hosted the world’s first literature festival and started a global, cultural phenomenon. As part of ‘Seven at Seventy’ celebrations, the Festival welcomes Guest Curators Max Porter, Yomi Adegoke & Elizabeth Uviebinené, Dominic Sandbrook, Tessa Hadley, Anthony Anaxagorou, Leslie Vinjamuri; and Robin Stevens. Lending their unique voices and wealth of expertise to the programme, events include Sandbrook’s selection of the seven most influential British novels of the last 70 years, Anaxagorou’s rising stars in poetry and spoken word, a series of mystery events by Stevens, and a curated acoustic portrait of our complex and troubled country today from Max Porter.

Seven high profile authors will be reflecting on their breakout book in a special series of Cheltenham trademark ‘Celebrate With…’ events: Howard Jacobson on The Finkler Question; Robert Harris on Fatherland; Jessie Burton on The Miniaturist; Herman Koch on The Dinner; Tracy Chevalier on The Girl With a Pearl Earring; Alexander McCall Smith on The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency; and Jung Chang on Wild Swans. There will also be seven showcases celebrating new writing talent, including Jessica Andrews and Ronan Hession, as well as looking ahead to the breakout names for 2020 such as Deepa Anappara and Evie Wyld.

Literature festivals around the world have joined the celebration bringing their leading authors to Cheltenham including Chris Tse, Wana Udobang, Kanako Nishi, Esme Wang, Nicole Flattery, Sarah Henstra and Hernán Ronsino. The celebration of international literature continues with 70 global book festivals recommending one title they would like Cheltenham audiences to add to their bookshelves to form a ‘Reading the World’ reading list.

Building on last year’s inaugural ‘Podcast in Residence’ role, Literary Friction take on the 2019 residency and there will be seven unique podcasts featuring archive audio content from the past seventy years, as well as partnerships with seven further bookish podcasts.

FICTION
Fiction fans will be spoilt for choice with a stellar line-up of literary superstars including Colm Tóibín, Ian McEwan, David Nicholls, Jung Chang, Ali Smith, Elif Shafak, Jojo Moyes, and Bernardine Evaristo. The Cheltenham audience will enjoy a celebration of the biggest books of the year such as Candice Carty-Williams (Queenie), Elizabeth Macneal (The Doll Factory), Bridget Collins (The Binding) and Damian Barr (You Will Be Safe Here) as well as new reads from Howard Jacobson, Victoria Hislop, Kevin Barry, Jessie Burton. George Alagiah, Tom Bradby and Peter Hanington will draw upon their frontline experience to share fiction as thrilling as their day jobs, Richard Roper and Beth O’Leary celebrate feel-good fiction, Deborah Moggach and Jenny Éclair examine the baggage of inheritance and family ties, Chris Power and Sarah Hall will reveal the art of the short story, plus last year’s Guest Curator Sebastian Faulks becomes our latest literary castaway as he returns with ‘Desert Island Reads’. There will also be the opportunity to hear from The Times and The Sunday Times Literary Editors, Robbie Millen and Andrew Holgate.

The Festival welcomes a host of killer women at the top of the crime and thriller genre including Patricia Cornwell, Louise Doughty, Oyinkan Braithwaite, Denise Mina and Erin Kelly, with Jessica Fellowes and Kate Weinberg discussing the secrets to plot a thrilling mystery. For further suspense, Alex North and CJ Tudor explore the dark side of human nature; Herman Koch and Louise Candlish discuss the appeal of writing toxic characters; the husband and wife writing duos behind pseudonyms Nicci French and Ambrose Parry will be revealed, and masters of the genre Mark Billingham, Christopher Brookmyre, Doug Johnstone, Stewart Neville and Luca Veste discuss the future of the crime writing.

There is also plenty for historical fiction fans, including Philippa Gregory on her period page-turner Tidelands, Tracy Chevalier on her beautifully orchestrated new book, A Single Thread, set between the two Great Wars; as well as Robert Harris (The Second Sleep), Stacey Halls (The Familiars) and Diane Setterfield (The Thirteenth Tale).

CLASSIC LITERATURE
From George Eliot to Orwell, Chaucer to the Moomins, we are celebrating some of our most-loved classics as well as revealing the answers to burning questions such as: who are literature’s worst parents, which dystopian thrillers are most relevant now, and can words still pack a punch in the age of Twitter with Simon Schama. BBC Radio 2’s Book Club with Mariella Frostrup and guests will be exploring how novels have always been a revolutionary agent of social change ahead of the 300th anniversary of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, and Tessa Hadley, Colm Tóibín and Bernardine Evaristo are explaining the pleasures and motivations of re-reading.

Acclaimed actors Christopher Eccleston and Sheila Hancock will be joining Allie Esiri to celebrate Shakespeare’s dazzling body of work, actress Maureen Lipman remembers the inimitable Joyce Grenfell and her Hurrah for Books performance at the first ever Cheltenham Literature Festival in 1949, Kathy O’Shaughnessy, Juliette Atkinson and Rebecca Mead mark George Eliot’s bicentenary by delving into her fascinating life and work, plus Tove Jansson’s niece Sophia Jansson will share readings from the intimate letters of the beloved Moomins creator. Lara Prescott is joined by Boris Pasternak’s great niece Anna Pasternak to discuss the startling true story behind one of literature’s most memorable love stories Doctor Zhivago, and the Festival celebrates the life and writing of the much-loved literary figure Patrick O’Brian with his step-son Nikolai Tolstoy.

STAGE & SCREEN
The Festival is thrilled to welcome a multitude of music superstars including the masterful Andrew Lloyd Webber, Blondie legend Debbie Harry, Status Quo front-man and founder Francis Rossi and WHAM’s Andrew Ridgeley who will reflect on his life-long friendship with George Michael. Mark Radcliffe shares how music can transform our lives, Glastonbury’s Emily Eavis reveals the untold stories from the festival and there will be an evening of musical magic to celebrate Joni Mitchell.

Screen icon Helena Bonham Carter will discuss her exceptional and singular career, and there will be secrets from behind the scenes with Richard Curtis discussing his love of The Beatles, Oscar-winning Dustin Lance Black on his deeply personal story of coming out to his Mormon mother, plus screenwriter Julian Fellowes and producer Gareth Neame on the much-loved Downton Abbey. Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, creators of beloved comedies Porridge and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet will look back on their long careers, Daisy May and Charlie Cooper will discuss the BAFTA winning success of This Country, David Suchet will reflect on a career spent behind the camera, and beloved documentary maker Louis Theroux will share his strangest times in television. Comic Relief co-founder Lenny Henry will be leading the laughs, with more to come from the likes of David Mitchell, Richard Ayoade, Katy Brand and Paul Merton.

POETRY, SPOKEN WORK & OFF THE PAGE
In an exclusive Festival commission, Guest Curator Max Porter brings together Kerry Hudson, Niven Govinden, Momtaza Mehri and Rachael Allen with musicians Alula Down to create an acoustic portrait of our complex and troubled country today. Guest Curator, poet and Out-Spoken founder Anthony Anaxagorou presents his Dream Team of Mona Arshi, Jack Underwood, Caroline Bird, Wayne Holloway-Smith and Kei Miller. The Cheltenham audience will hear from further vibrant voices in the poetry and spoken work scene including Rob Auton, Matt Abbott, Ben Norris, Rachel Nwokoro, Young People’s Laureate for London Theresa Lola, alongside Chris Tse, Paul Muldoon, Brian Bilston, Pam Ayres, Julia Copus, Joe Dunthorne, new Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, and Scottish Makar Jackie Kay will be selecting her top ten of the most exciting BAME writers working in the UK today. The literary revelry continues after dark with a Game of Thrones Quiz Night, music from the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, some wonderfully and wildly misinformed insight from character comedian Christopher Bliss, and more from the much-lauded Bang Said The Gun, Tongue Fu and The Moth.

CURRENT AFFAIRS
David Cameron will appear in the first event for his memoir For the Record, discussing his life, career and perspectives on the EU referendum and the future of Britain’s place in the light of Brexit. Joining Cameron on the exceptional Current Affairs line-up is David Lammy, Jess Phillips, Caroline Criado-Perez, James O’Brien, Gina Martin, Laura Bates, Nimko Ali, The Times editor John Witherow, The Times and The Sunday Times journalists Daniel Finkelstein, Rachel Sylvester, Matt Chorley, Sarah Baxter and Phillip Collins, with a glimpse behind the broadcast scenes from Emily Maitlis, John Humphrys, Nick Robinson and Ed Stourton.

The Festival looks outwards to Erdogan’s Turkey with Hannah Lucinda Smith and novelist Elif Shafak, to Trump’s America and his approach to global affairs with Chatham House’s Leslie Vinjamuri, to China and opportunities for women with Carrie Grace, the challenges India faces with Robin Niblett and Champa Patel; and to Putin’s Russia with Mark Galeotti, Peter Pomeranstev, and BBC Newsnight International Editor Gabriel Gatehouse.

Mostly Lit podcast host Derek Owusu and Jeffrey Boakye consider the experience of black men in Britain today, and Guest Curators Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené explore how it feels to be a black woman in a predominantly white space. Anthony Anaxagorou is joined by Mariam Khan and Chimene Suleyman to discuss how art and activism can be best combined to create positive social change, Jérôme Tubiana, David Constantine and Hashi Mohamed explore astounding accounts of human endurance and faith against overwhelming odds and terrible injustice, and Aeham Ahmad will be playing the piano on stage as he shares memories of performing in the streets of war-torn Syria.

HISTORY & ANCIENT WORLD
Moving individual stories of the Windrush generation will be shared from Colin Grant and Amelia Gentleman, literary critic Bart Van Es and biographer and historian Jeremy Dronfield will chronicle how the trauma of the holocaust gave rise to astonishing stories of courage and survival, plus there will be further historical insight from Guest Curator Dominic Sandbrook, William Dalrymple, Giles Milton with Anthony Seldon and polling expert Deborah Mattinson asking who was the most disastrous prime minister in British history. Virginia Nicholson considers the experience of women in the 60s, The Favourite author Ophelia Field and Anne Somerset explore Queen Anne’s life, and the relationship between Mary Queen of Scots and Queen Elizabeth II is given a fresh take by author, historian and television presenter Kate Williams, plus novelist Katie Hickman will reveal the extraordinary lives of the British women who made their way to India and changed history. For ancient history aficionados, Mary Beard and Llewellyn Morgan will join author and classicist Peter Stothard to celebrate the power of Roman poetry on lifestyle and philosophy, whilst Lucy Hughes-Hallett, Daisy Johnson and Natalie Haynes will explore how we relate to myths in the modern life.

FOOD & DRINK
Cheltenham’s famous Art Deco restaurant The Daffodil will be transformed into a mecca of global foodie delights. Audiences will be transported around the world with mouth-watering Middle Eastern recipes from Yasmin Khan, sumptuous Moorish cooking courtesy of Ben Tish, Dishoom chef Naved Nasir and co-founder Shamil Thakrar cooking up a feast of Indian delight, and native Russian flavours from Alissa Timoshkina. Festival favourite Tom Kerridge will be sharing his foodie tips for a happier lifestyle and Valentine Warner records his journey through grief told in recipes of love and memories. There will be flavour mash-ups from Bake Off’s Liam Charles, Rukmini Iyer (The Quick Roasting Tin) will demonstrate the art of hassle-free cooking, Pam Corbin shares her pioneering jams, pickles and preserves and there will vegan delights from Rachel Ama (Rachel Ama’s Vegan Eats) plus Henry Firth and Ian Theasby Johnson (BOSH). Plus, Jancis Robinson (The World Atlas of Wine) will be revealing the art of pairing a delicious three-course meal with matched wines.

LIFESTYLE
Queer Eye will meet Bake Off with Tan France and Nadiya Hussain discussing their upbringings and new memoirs and Paul Whitehouse and Bob Mortimer will talk life, friendship and the joys of fishing. Comedian Jen Brister (The Other Mother), Christine Armstrong (The Mother of All Jobs) and Matt Coyne (Man Vs Toddler) will share hilarious anecdotes and chart the ups and downs of sharing life with tiny humans.

Emily Dean and confirmed cat lover David Baddiel will be discussing tales of grief and recovery, The Yorkshire Shepherdess Amanda Owen will share tales from the farm, and Jordan Stephens, Clementine Inti Chavez Perez and Capser Walsh will discuss what it means to be a man in society today Tom Bradby, Marina Benjamin and sleep scientist Nicola Barclay will anatomise the cause, consequence and potential cures for insomnia, plus Guest Curators and authors Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené (Slay in Your Lane), vegan chef Rachel Ama, pilates and wellness coach Isa-Welly and Amy Thomson will help the audience strike the perfect balance in our busy lives, ranging from our approaches to digital health, to what we eat.

There will be gardening tips galore from Anne Chambers, Vanessa Berridge, Clare Foster, Rowan Blossom and Caroline Donald, and the doyenne of English interior design, Nina Campbell, will impart her wisdom. Lovers of classic fashion will be taken on a beautifully illustrated tour through the V+A’s blockbuster DIOR exhibition by curator Oriole Cullen and Condé Nast chairman Nicholas Coleridge will reflect upon his thirty-year career. There will be an exploration of feminist art and fashion from V&A curator Jenny Lister and drag queen Crystal Rasmussen and drag king Daisy Hale will explain how the art of pushing gender boundaries has taken hold of pop culture. The Times Fashion Editor Anna Murphy advises on how not to wear black and three of the country’s top names in beauty – facialist Alexandra Soveral, make-up artist Hannah Martin and hair stylist Kiki Koh – will be on hand.

SPORT
A host of sporting legends will grace the stages of Cheltenham this year kicking off with Welsh rugby titan Sam Warburton, and for cricket fans there will be England’s greatest batsman Alastair Cook, plus Prashant Kidambi and Philip Collins. The Festival will celebrate inspirational women who have pushed themselves to the limits of their endurance, including record-breaking ultra-running phenomenon Mimi Anderson, the first woman to complete the infamous Transcontinental Race, Emily Chappell and Lara Prior-Palmer, the youngest-ever champion and the first woman to win The Mongol Derby.

ART & DESIGN
This year’s Art & Design series explores everything from the architecture to illustration, including a very special discussion about Lucian Freud with his daughter Esther Freud, revered British illustrator Charlie Mackesy on his favourite pieces, Turner Prize-nominated artist Tai Shani celebrates rebel female muses, and ‘Cold War Steve’ Chris Spencer explains why we need satirical art now more than ever. Grant Wilson and Naomi Wood will examine the Bauhaus movement’s cast of characters in its centenary year, Andrew Hill and Emilie Taylor take a look at Ruskin’s contemporary legacy, and Jason Webster and Claudia Hopkins show how Spanish art is inescapably intertwined with the country’s turbulent history. Kate Bryan shares the dazzling and explosive stories behind some of art’s most influential romantic relationships, Ossian Ward illuminates the Old Masters as well as the dramatic vibrancy of contemporary art, Marit Paasche and Clare Hunter recognise the political and protest power of sewing, Jackie Bennett studies the intimate relationship between artist and garden, plus Angela Summerfield and Christiana Payne look at the role of trees in inspiring some of our greatest artworks.

FAITH & PHILOSOPHY
The Cheltenham audience will find enlightenment and fascination in all schools of philosophical thought, with Richard Dawkins expanding further on atheism in Outgrowing God, Peter Stanford exploring the reasons behind why so many of us still believe in angels, and historian Tom Holland describes Christianity’s transformative legacy on Western thought. Author Karen Armstrong will argue the importance of rediscovering global scriptures, and A.C Grayling will take the audience through the epic journey’s and traditions of Western and Eastern philosophy – from Buddha, Confucius and Socrates to Mill, Nietzsche and Sartre.

SCIENCE
In this year’s Science line-up, Martin Rees offers a provocative and inspiring look at the future of humanity, and Arthur I. Miller contemplates on what it means to have original thought, creativity and consciousness in the age of machines. Rick Edwards and Michael Brooks will explore the science of death and mass destruction through some of our best-loved Hollywood blockbusters, and Angela Gallop, one of the world’s most eminent forensic scientists, will discuss her ability to reconstruct violent events and how she solved so many intractable cases. David Nott shares his extraordinary experience as a trauma surgeon in the world’s most dangerous war zones, Christie Watson reflects on twenty years in nursing, and Nicci Gerrard alongside Wendy Mitchell ask important questions about how we love, care for and value those who suffering from dementia.

NATURE, TRAVEL & ADVENTURE
An inspirational list of speakers will share their unique journeys including Sue Perkins on the Mekong, Adam Weymouth on his solo canoe odyssey along the Yukon River, Raynor Winn will revisit her 630-mile walk on the South West Coastal path, comedian Dom Joly will trace his hike across Lebanon, and Monisha Rajesh will recount her 45,000-mile adventure on the world’s most remarkable railways. Great historical adventures will be retraced by travel writer Alastair Humphreys who reflects on Laurie Lee’s iconic journey from the Cotswolds through Spain, and author and filmmaker Jacki Hill-Murphy recounts the achievements of early female explorers including Victorian nurse Kate Marsden’s epic trip across Siberia.

BAFTA winning naturalist, writer and television presenter Steve Backshall will share his exploration of undiscovered worlds and former British Army Officer and explorer Levison Wood will whisk the audience through the heart of Middle East. Writer Luke Turner and journalist Emma Mitchell will demonstrate the healing power of nature, editor Clare Gogerty and explorer Erling Kagge will show us how to travel in a way that enhances your connection to the world, adventurers Mark Boyle and Ben Fogle will explore the joys without modern technology, plus writers Philip Marsden and Dan Richards will discuss fulfilling life-long travel ambitions and why we remain drawn to the wild, and The Sunday Times travel team, including Susan D’Arcy, will be sharing their expert knowledge.

PSYCHOLOGY
Activist, journalist and curator Scarlett Curtis will be joined by an exciting line-up of inspirational contributors from her new anthology It’s Not OK to Feel Blue (and other lies) to discuss what their mental health means to them; Chief Survival Instructor to the British Military, John Hudson, gives lessons for everyday life taken from the first-hand accounts of near disaster experiences; Matthew Syed shares his radical blueprint for creative problem-solving; Ella Risbridger and Bella Mackie share how alternative therapies of cooking and jogging helped them in their mental health recoveries; and YouTubers Hannah Witton, Khalaf and Instagram star Megan Jayne Crabbe encourage discussions about body image, imperfections and being confident in your own skin.

FAMILY
The packed Family programme has more selection on offer than ever including the new Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Cressida Cowell, with a world of mythical creatures and a special event with festival friends revealing what lies inside their notebook pages. The incredible programme also welcomes the legendary Malorie Blackman and her highly anticipated new Noughts & Crosses novel, presenter Dermot O’Leary and illustrator Nick East with the latest escapades of Toto the Ninja Cat, and some horrendously horrid fun with Francesca Simon. There will be crime capers with Guest Curator Robin Stevens, adventures galore with Helen Skelton, Abi Elphinstone and Candy Gourlay, plus much more from the likes of Danny Wallace, Dougie Poynter and Konnie Huq.

For littles ones there will be family fun with multi-award winning Oi Puppies! duo Kes Gray and Jim Field, and the Festival will be marking the birthdays of some famous characters including Kipper, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Elmer, as well as the 30th anniversary of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt with the great Michael Rosen There will be family shows I Believe in Unicorns, The Rainbow Fish, The Greatest Comic-Making Show On Earth and Maisy Mouse, for spoken word and music lovers the Tongue Fu for Kids band will be performing, while Mark Llewelyn Evans introduces the thrilling story of opera.

Budding young creatives can take top tips from the best in the business with workshops on everything from fairy-tale animation to writing adventures and detective move making. Plus the Festival is hosting its first ever ‘Big Family Book Quiz’ to challenge book knowledge, creativity and nonsense know-how! And if that’s not enough for YA fans Juno Dawson, Holly Bourne, Matt Abbott, Jenny Downham and Dean Atta will be taking to the Cheltenham stage.

EDUCATION & YEAR-ROUND OUTREACH
This year’s extraordinary ‘Literature for Schools’ programme includes Cressida Cowell, Francesca Simon, Chris Riddell, Hilary McKay, Kit De Waal, Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Anthony Anaxagorou amongst many others, including Guest Curator Robin Stevens leading a series of mystery events. Spoken word artist Sophia Thakur will be performing with students from the Festivals’ year-round outreach programmes – Beyond Words, Write Now and Amnesty’s Words that Burn – in the Young Writers’ Showcase, and authors taking part in Reading Teachers = Reading Pupils – the Festival’s flagship education project supporting teachers with a national network of free reading groups – will be igniting creativity with workshops from Vashti Hardy, Joe Todd-Stanton and Emma Carroll. Plus the first of the new books selected for the 2019/20 programme will be revealed during the Festival!

FESTIVAL PARTNERS
Title Partners: The Times and The Sunday Times
Principal Partners: Baillie Gifford; Cunard; Sky Arts; Thirty Percy, University of Gloucestershire; Waterstones. Woodland Trust.

 

The Closer I Get by Paul Burston

COVER.jpg

The Closer I Get by Paul Burston

Summary:

Tom is a successful author, but he’s struggling to finish his novel. His main distraction is an online admirer, Evie, who simply won’t leave him alone.

Evie is smart, well read and unstable; she lives with her father and her social-media friendships are not only her escape, but everything she has.

When she’s hit with a restraining order, her world is turned upside down, and Tom is free to live his life again, to concentrate on writing.

But things aren’t really adding up. For Tom is distracted but also addicted to his online relationships, and when they take a darker, more menacing turn, he feels powerless to change things. Because maybe he needs Evie more than he’s letting on.

A compulsive, disturbingly relevant, twisty and powerful psychological thriller, The Closer I Get is also a searing commentary on the fragility and insincerity of online relationships, and the danger that can lurk just one ‘like’ away…

AUTHOR

My Review:

My goodness how I loved reading The Closer I Get (Orenda Books) by Paul Burston. The idea of writing about the dangers of Social Media and stalking really had my thinking about how we all interact with other. Many will know and follow me via Twitter and there were times when I switched off Twitter while I was reading Paul Burston’s brilliant taught thriller.

Novels are not just about the storyline they are nothing without characters and Paul has created and crafted some wonderful characters with Tom and Evie. Let’s start with Evie. She is totally off her head in fact dangerously and worryingly psychotic. The story opens with what seems like a letter from Evie to Tom and from this moment the reader is inside Evie’s head. Then the story from Tom’s point of view moves back eight months.

Tom is a writer and his first novel was a huge success and became a big screen film starring a major Hollywood actor. But Tom is struggling to find the form of his successful debut as his second failed and now so does his next. He needs to up his game or his agent will not need an excuse to offload him. Tom is side-tracked by Evie who it seems is stalking him on Social Media.

The story is told by both Evie and Tom but who is telling the truth about what really is going on here? Evie clearly has a real interest in Tom and will not leave him alone. It is very clear Evie has some serious issues. As I became part of the storyline to try and understand both Evie and Tom I just became a little uneasy about what Tom was really up to. Was there something he was doing to get Evie to play along. This was beginning to freak me out a little. Were they both as bad as each other. This was brilliant writing from Burston and a very clever storyline. Together with other characters that make up The Closer I get this was a truly chilling and an unsettling read. I needed a cool shower after finishing reading, you will see why when you read it and you will want to. Reading this riveting thriller made me question what really does go via Social Media.

@PaulBurston  #TheCloserIGet

@OrendaBooks

276 Pages.

Thank you to Karen Sullivan (Orenda Books) for the review copy of The Closer I Get by Paul Burston.

The Closer I Get by Paul Burston was published by Orenda Books and was published on 11th July 2019 and is available now through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

The Thunder Girls by Melanie Blake

9781529017434 high res jacket The Thunder Girls

The Thunder Girls – Melanie Blake

Summary:

THE

Chrissie, Roxanne, Carly and Anita, an eighties pop sensation outselling and out-classing their competition. Until it all comes to an abrupt end and three of their careers are over, and so is their friendship.

THUNDER

Thirty years later, their old record label wants the band back together for a huge money-making concert. But the wounds are deep and some need this gig more than others.

In those decades apart life was far from the dream they were living as members of The Thunder Girls. Breakdowns, bankruptcy, addiction and divorce have been a constant part of their lives. They’ve been to hell and back, and some are still there.

GIRLS

Can the past be laid to rest for a price, or is there more to this reunion than any of them could possibly know? Whilst they all hunger for a taste of success a second time around, someone is plotting their downfall in the deadliest way possible . . .

 

Melanie Blake - cropped

My Review:

Being completely honest I was not sure what I was going to think of The Thunder Girls (Pan Macmillan) by Melanie Blake but I need not have worried. This was a real page turner. If like me, you loved the music of the 1980’s you will love this.

When I think of the 1980’s I think of the music and I was close to the music business back then and I could tell you a few hair-raising stories. It was THE decade, colourful and exciting. The same could be said of the very successful The Thunder Girls. Four women who had the pop in the palm of their hands. Chrissie, Roxanne, Carly and Anita had it all. They were living the dream and loving it all. And then it came to a crashing end along with the friendships that went with the success.

We have heard it all before about pop bands being successful and then it all ends very suddenly. Now fast forward three decades and would you believe it their old label is trying to get the girls back together again but are the wounds still deep or can they be healed by heading back into the studio to record more songs and rekindle the good old days.

Superb fast paced drama being played out and Melanie Blake takes you on a breath-taking rollercoaster of a ride through the lives of the four women, it has it all, success and break-up, to jealousy and much more. There is a list of characters that reads like a Hollywood blockbuster. Don’t get me wrong this is not just a glitzy look at showbiz but also some rather serious themes run through this book, and if you think of showbiz and success and fame just think of the temptations that can be there and then you will see how deep this novel will go.

There is humour as you would expect in this story and you will judge some of the characters as well as you will like some of the girls but not others. People change over thirty years but sometimes the wounds do not heal as you would expect.

Over 400 pages but you will not want to put this one down in a hurry. The Thunder Girls packs a punch.

416 Pages.

Thank you to Megan Denholm (ed Public Relations) for the review copy of The Thunder Girls by Melanie Blake

The Thunder Girls by Melanie Blake was published by Pan Macmillan and was published on 11th July 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

 

The Carer by Deborah Moggach

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The Carer by Deborah Moggach

Summary:

James is getting on a bit and needs full-time help. So Phoebe and Robert, his middle-aged offspring, employ Mandy, who seems willing to take him off their hands. But as James regales his family with tales of Mandy’s virtues, their shopping trips, and the shared pleasure of their journeys to garden centres, Phoebe and Robert sense something is amiss. Is this really their father, the distant figure who never once turned up for a sports day, now happily chortling over cuckoo clocks and television soaps?

Then something happens that throws everything into new relief, and Phoebe and Robert discover that life most definitely does not stop for the elderly. It just moves onto a very different plane – changing all the stories they thought they knew so well.

My Review:

This was one book I knew in advance of the London Book Fair earlier this year and was so delighted when a copy of the proof arrived but missed out on an interview with Deborah Moggach at the London Book Fair due to work commitments. This would have been one of the highlights of the year. Just a few days after publication The Carer by Deborah Moggach is selling fast.

The story follows a number of characters in James who is now elderly and is having to look after himself after his wife passed away and also son and daughter Robert and Phoebe both independent people and living lives as their parents hoped they would but they both know their father needs some help as they cannot be their all the time.

Along comes Mandy who is employed to look after their dad on a full-time basis. Mandy at first is really liked by both Robert and Phoebe and even their father but them something does not seem right and they see their father becoming a little more different than the father they thought they knew. Mandy seems to have worked some magic. Now the man who always seemed a little far off and not one for jokes seems to have found a new lease of life. He is laughing and with Mandy they go off exploring. What has changed and how and why? I am not giving away any spoilers here. This I want you to experience for yourself.

Now it is both Robert and Phoebe who are looking at themselves and asking many questions not only about their father and each other but now they are asking who really is Mandy? What has she done to the distant father they always knew. There is some doubt between them both to Mandy. The tended to go in a way I was not really expecting. Which I really liked. At the very beginning of the book is a ‘Meet the Characters’ which I actually thought was a great idea so you go to know the leading players before you start the novel.

I love this tender and funny novel and the wit that only Deborah Moggach can bring to her novels. If you are a fan, then you are going to fall in love with The Carer. Sensitive and well-structured and one book I am delighted to Highly Recommend.

272 Pages.

Thank you to Georgina Moore for the review copy of The Carer by Deborah Moggach

The Carer by Deborah Moggach was published by Tinder Press and was published on 9th July 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

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