Category Archives: The Borough Press
The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg
Meet Doris, a 96-year-old woman living alone in her Stockholm apartment. She has few visitors, but her weekly Skype calls with Jenny―her American grandniece, and her only relative―give her great joy and remind her of her own youth.
When Doris was a girl, she was given an address book by her father, and ever since she has carefully documented everyone she met and loved throughout the years. Looking through the little book now, Doris sees the many crossed-out names of people long gone and is struck by the urge to put pen to paper. In writing down the stories of her colourful past―working as a maid in Sweden, modelling in Paris during the 30s, fleeing to Manhattan at the dawn of the Second World War―can she help Jenny, haunted by a difficult childhood, to unlock the secrets of their family and finally look to the future? And whatever became of Allan, the love of Doris’s life?
Doris is 96 years-old and lives in Stockholm, when she was young her father gave her a red address book. Throughout her life Doris added names and addresses of all the people she had met into her red address book. Now she is housebound and living alone. She admits death is waiting for her.
Each week she looks forward to her weekly Skype with Jenny who is her American great-niece and at the same time Doris is writing her memoir which is based on her red address book and the names contained within it.
Sadly, the one thing that we all have to expect in life is losing those who come into our life whether that is family, friends or those that come into our lives for whatever reason and in Doris’s red address book there are names that are crossed out and the word ‘dead’ written against them. But each name means something, a friend, a lover or not so nice. The address book is not just a book of names it is a key to memories of times gone by, each name unlocks a part of a memory of happier times or sad times.
Doris has lived a life, she has made choices as we all do but for Doris she has lived through the good times and the worst of times, but she has learned to accept her decisions that have not gone well, she has also survived being torpedoed in WWII lived. The story moves between the past and the present. She never likes to listen to the carers who visit her and then one day she breaks a hip and Jenny then arrives at the hospital. It is Doris who ended up being a mother to Jenny after her own died when she was very young. This is deeply poignant story that left a mark on me. You know when Doris is lying in hospital not listening to the nurses or doctors because the end is coming. This is a woman who has lived. Now at her last she issues some wise words to Jenny “Don’t be afraid of life, Jenny. Live” As you read and especially towards the end you the reader will start to think about your own life and the people who have come into it for whatever reason. Love is a theme that pours out of the pages of The Red Address book. We all own an address book with names that are crossed out. Next time just take time to read those names and remember who they were. Beautifully written and uplifting a book to savour on a quiet Sunday sat in the garden. Keep hold of those old address books after reading this you will know why. “In the end all that matters is love”.
Thank you to The Borough Press for the review copy of The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg
The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg was published by The Borough Press and was published on 24th January 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon
First Review of 2018.
I have to admit to being a bit of a fan of Joanna Cannon’s writing and loved her debut novel The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, one of those books that left an indelible mark on me. I lost count of how many copies I ended giving away to family, friends and also prize giveaways on my blog.
Joanna Cannon returns with her second novel Three Things About Elsie which is officially released into bookshops on the 11th January (The Borough Press). The first thing that will strike you when you go and buy a copy is the fabulous Battenberg themed cover. It is one of the most striking of covers. A cake themed cover. This could really catch on.
I am deeply humbled to have been mentioned in the Acknowledgements. I never thought that when I started talking about books that one day I would end up seeing my name in print. Thank you Joanna.
There are books that come into your life and move you in a way that makes you look at life in a new way some books make you appreciate not only yourself but others around you. I felt this in Joanna’s debut novel but in Three Things About Elsie this is much more evident. Joanna Cannon has a way with words that when she writes she writes from the heart and is telling YOU the reader a story with a message contained within that she would like you to connect with. This story is tender, warm and humane. I personally think it is better than The Trouble with Goats and Sheep and I never thought I would say that.
The story opens with Florence Claybourne lying on the floor after a fall at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly. There Florence lies waiting to be found. Imagine for a moment an elderly person falling and lying just waiting and hoping to be found. What goes through their minds during this time? Scared and frightened and alone. For Florence as she lies on the floor of her flat she is thinking of recent days and trying to make sense of her memories. How has the past returned is it at all possible?
Florence has a best friend and her name is Elsie and it is Elsie who helps Florence remember things. They have known each other for sixty years. But Flo has a secret from the past. Literally a ghost has appeared at Cherry Tree in the form of a man who died all those years ago. What is going on? So now it is down to Florence and her best Friend Elsie to solve the mystery. How I really enjoyed reading how they go about proving something they believe is not right. At times I laughed at what they got up to. Thanks to Joanna’s wonderful vivid writing you are there with them.
There is a problem though for Florence the manager at the home thinks that Florence is causing problems at the home and is threatening to move Florence to Greenbank. This she believes is where you go to die and she does not want to be sent there. ‘You can’t make me’ she exclaims early into the book.
Elsie is always there for Florence as she always has been through the last sixty years. Now more than ever and this is the true meaning of friendship. There are so many wonderful characters there is Handy Simon and Miss Bissell and of course Miss Ambrose. Characters make novels and the people you meet here in Three Things About Elsie are real and they help make this such a wonderful humane book and really enjoyed meeting them.
Over recent weeks I have spoken a lot about hope and here Joanna Cannon gives us all hope. The real hope of friendship, tolerance and understanding of the things we hold dear and of course love. This is a book of sheer tenderness and an understanding of age and how memory can play tricks with us as the years move on. There are books that are like a warm duvet on a cold winters night. Three Things About Elsie is that duvet. As we enter a New Year full of hope this is a novel that acts as a beacon of humanity and so many facets of this book that I just loved. Heart-warming and sympathetic.
When I first left School I worked in care home for the elderly I was the Handyman (John) and shared some moments that were funny but also those that are tender and humane. Let us not forget the people who live there are real people with lives and still are living.
Grab some Battenberg and settle down with a book that you will read and then read again. A book to be loved and shared. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
My thanks to Ann Bissell (Harper Collins) for the Advanced Review Copy of Three Things About Elsie.
Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon is published by The Borough Press and is published on 11th January 2018 and is available to Pre-order through Waterstones, also Amazon and all good bookshops.
Ordinary Joe by Jon Teckman
Review Date: 7 November 2015
Author: Jon Teckman
Release Date: 16 July 2015
Publishers: The Borough Press
ISBN –10: 0008118779
ISBN – 13: 978-0008118778
Available in Paperback, Kindle and audio
The Last Word Review
A moral dilemma, what would you do if you were Joe? A humorous story of a man and a beautiful Hollywood actress
Allow me to introduce you to Joe West, he is just at first glance an ordinary guy, a receding hairline, a little overweight Jewish accountant. Nothing wrong with that I hear you say! Joe works in the film industry. Ah I now hear you say.
So how many of us of dreamed of what it would be like to wake up one morning alongside a Hollywood film star. Be honest? In Ordinary Joe author Jon Teckman takes that dream and turns into a rip roaring comedy that takes off from the very first sentence.
Joe West did wake up with a Hollywood actress the very beautiful Olivia Finch, Far too much to drink the previous evening and one thing led to another, remember Joe is happily married with a young family, the thing is Olivia is rather taken with our ‘Ordinary Joe’ and will not give up on him. So it begins. Now we meet Joseph Bennett Jo’s boss and Jo does not exactly ‘get on’ with Joseph, the problem now is that Joseph has been unwittingly drawn into the affair, from here chaos takes over and the story really moves along at a steady pace allowing the reader to make up their own mind about our Joe, you will either love him or want to slap his face real hard, oh this seems to happen to Joe a number of times to the point that he loses a few teeth.
This so reminds me of some of the great British comedies of recent years and Ordinary Joe would make for another. To witness the leading character running around like the Keystone Cops trying to cover up Jo and Olivia’s illicit night of passion does read like a classic farce. Through this I really felt for Joe’s wife Natasha, though she knows Joe better than he knows himself, Joe always seemed to manage to blame Joseph for the ‘night of passion’
Sometimes the grass is not as green on the other side as it seems at first and poor Joe is doing everything he can to hide his drunken night of passion from everyone especially Natasha. Does he manage to succeed, now throw in a dead body oh and lets not forget that socks do play an important role, This is a hilarious read, and it is over all too quick. Does Joe pay for his adultery with Olivia Finch? A wonderful debut novel from Jon Teckman that is pure escapism. One thing I should mention for other guys reading this. Just think about the socks you wear. Why? You need to read Ordinary Joe.
I have an appointment with my sock drawer I must keep.
Meet the Author
Jon Teckman was born in Northampton in 1963. He served as an advisor on film policy to both Conservative and Labour governments before becoming Chief Executive of the British Film Institute in 1999. He now lives in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire with his wife Anne and sons Joseph and Matthew. Ordinary Joe is his first novel.