Category Archives: Uncategorized
The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
“I will live to leave this place. I will walk out a free man. If there is a hell, I will see these murderers burn in it”
Over the years I have read many book on the Holocaust and every book has me asking the same questions about man’s ability to reach the levels of inhumanity. Just recently I have been reading about The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris. The story of one man Lale Sokolov. By the end of this book I was in tears not just at Lale’s story but man’s shocking brutality. My words here will never do justice to such an important subject. All I can do is to just ask you to read it for yourself. Lale’s story will stay with me and those who have read The Tattooist of Auschwitz.
Lale Sokolov’s was a smartly dressed intelligent man in fact a lady’s man. All that was to change in April 1942. Lale was born into a Jewish family and he volunteered himself to save his other family members. Of course at this time Lale had no idea what was coming or where he would go to work for the Germans. They were crammed onto cattle wagons and the train then set off to the Nazi death camp that was Auschwitz. On arrival he was tattooed with the number 32407. No longer would he be known by his name but only by his number.
Like many others he was put to work at Auschwitz in building the blocks that would eventually house the many thousands that would end up at the death camp. Within a short time Lale became very ill and was cared for by a French man called Pepan, this was the very man who tattooed his number on arrival.
After Pepan was taken away and never to be seen again Lale being intelligent and speaking many languages was given the role of ‘Tätowierer’- The Tattooist and would be responsible to tattooing the numbers of the thousands of new arrivals that would be working at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Those not selected were sent to the gas chambers.
It was on one of those days that he was tattooing the women as they arrived that he met one particular young woman and her name was Gita she was given the number 34902. In the hell that was Auschwitz-Birkenau Lale fell in love with Gita. Lale was determined to survive and also that Gita was to survive and they would both one day be free. Over the coming years Lale manged to survive being sent to his death. He was indeed a survivor. Because he was given the role of ‘Tätowierer’ he was seen by many as collaborating with the SS as this role was directly working for the Political Wing of the SS and meant that he was protected to a degree. But others had come to trust Lale and he helped many by giving them food. If caught, he would face certain death. Lale will do things to survive that he would normally never consider. Thousands were being murdered in the gas chambers or just murdered because a guard said so. Death stalked everyone at Auschwitz. From one moment to another you never knew if you were going to die. ‘If you wake up in the morning, it is a good day’
The sheer horror of life at the Nazi death camp that is Auschwitz-Birkenau and the scale of the killing is something no-one can comprehend but survive both Lale and Gita did despite being separated towards the end of the war as Auschwitz was cleared because of advancing of the Russian army. The was near its end and the Nazi’s were in their final death throws. Both Lale and Gita survived and found each other and later married.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz reads like a novel because that is exactly how Lale wanted it to read and is based on the many interviews between Heather Morris and Lale himself. For all these years Lale himself kept his secret, and it was only after the death of his beloved wife Gita in October 2003 did he feel the time was right to finally tell his story that he kept a secret to protect his family and this is when Heather Morris started to spend time with Lale and for Lale to trust her. And so he began to tell the story, his own story a remarkable and life-affirming story of daring to live while in Auschwitz.
Heather Morris has written an incredible story of Lale and Gita’s survival. How she manages to portray the evil that went on inside the death camp on a daily basis. The despair that must have prevailed the pain and hunger. Knowing death was just moments away.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a powerful and deeply moving story of survival and also a remarkable love story. Both Lale and Gita’s story will stay with me forever as these stories must be told for future generations to understand and to learn. Let us remember and let us never forget. Ludwig “Lale” Sokolov died in October 2006. HIGHY RECOMMENDED.
Such has been the demand for this story there have been a number of bookshops that never received stock in time and that a second print run is now underway.
January 27th marks Holocaust Memorial Day. On this day I light a candle to remember the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust. The day marks the anniversary of when Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated by the Russian army in 1945.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris is published by Bonnier Zaffre and was published in the UK on 11th January 2018 and is available to through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
First Love by Gwendoline Riley
Delighted at last to discover the writing of Gwendoline Riley and her latest novel First Love which you may think could well be a love story, actually this is something yet more terrifying in an all-consuming little book that I devoured on a train journey to London at times brutal and visceral we see a couple’s marriage falling apart and every sinew of human emotion exposed on every page.
We are introduced to Neve who is a thirty something writer and she is married to Edwyn who is older and is suffering from an illness which means he is pain a lot of the time and this is something that is constantly there. To understand Neve we have to turn the pages of time back to when she was a child and watched her parent’s marriage fail and then the ensuing divorce. Neve decided that she wanted distance from both parents especially her bullying father yet at the same time she cannot cut the ties with him. By the time she was in her twenties alcohol played a part in her life and bounced through friendships and partners and yet there is a sense of loneliness at the same time even when she spent time France.
Now with Edwyn that sense of loneliness is still present as Edwyn is a controlling character who recognises that he can control Neve by throwing childish tantrums to get attention and can become moody at the toss of a coin, there is obviously something missing from this marriage and that is Love in all its forms. For Neve one senses that she misses any form of affection as there is nothing there even sex is non-existent in the marriage. Is the Neve’s family past being played out in their own marriage or is this just Edwyn covering for his own failures and is he trying to get Neve to just accept that that is the best she is going to get in life? Despite the gloomy scenario there are some amusing parts in the story which Neve as the narrator takes the reader on the journey with her.
There is also a sense that you get when reading First Love is that Neve is not only trying to understand herself but the life around her and how best to cope as their marriage hits the rocks one minute then the next everything is OK.. She must have looked at her life as we look at a snow globe after it has been shaken.
First Love is one of those novels that is raw and human in that it exposes what life is like behind the closed doors of some people’s lives as we are invited into Neve’s world. At times it is shattering yet Riley’s writing is dazzling as she explores human frailties and at the same time incredibly moving.
Thank you to Granta Books for the advanced review copy.
First Love by Gwendoline Riley is published by Granta Books and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
Dark Fragments by Rob Sinclair
From the author of the bestselling Enemy series come a new tense thriller Dark Fragments that has all the same fast paced ingredients to keep the crime loving reader on their toes from the opening page through to the very last.
Dark Fragments is a Psychological thriller of the highest standard and Sinclair introduces us to a new character Ben Stephens. For Ben life is just falling away and he seems to be losing grip of reality. He would describe himself as a hardworking family man father to Chloe and Harry. Some years previously his wife Alice was murdered and justice has never been served on the killer. This is a story as told by Ben himself and is a real page turner. Ben has since remarried to Gemma the very woman who he was having an affair with before Alice was murdered but now this marriage is heading for troubled waters and Ben is looking for answers to the past.
Ben owes money to a local hoodlum and he is now looking for Ben himself and his past is rapidly catching up with him. As the tension becomes palpable Ben’s sister suddenly comes into the story except the two have not really spoken for a number of years and she is a Detective with the Police and she is starting to sniff around and the questions are starting to come.
Just who did kill Alice and why have the police not caught the killer? The characters are well written into the novel and you will make up your own mind about each one and their own motives as you become sucked into the gripping novel. This is another stunning thriller by Rob Sinclair and if you want a good edge of your seat read over Christmas add Dark Fragments to your wish list.
Thank you Rob Sinclair for the advanced review copy.
Dark Fragments by Rob Sinclair is published by Bloodhound Books and is available in paperback.
The Food of Love by Amanda Prowse
Before I give my thoughts on Amanda Prowse’s latest release, I have to admit to having a family member who went through a serious eating disorder and how this affected the entire family. This was always going to be a difficult read for me as it brought it all back. The Food of Love is so well researched and beautifully written. Amanda Prowse has never been afraid of writing about issues that affect many of us. I have a real soft spot for Amanda’s writing and she is back to her very best with her latest offering.
Meet the Braithwaite family, a family just like any other. Freya who is a happy loving wife and mother. Lockie the father that just wants to support and make his family happy Freya and Lockie have been married now for 19 years and two beautiful teenage girls in Charlotte and Lexi. Just a normal family full of normal every day cares and worries of school and work. There is so much love between Lockie and Freya that it radiates throughout the book and from every page which feeds through the family unit.
One of the great skills that Amanda Prowse has as a writer is she creates characters that we can all identify with in our own everyday lives she is one of the best storytellers and the stories themselves are so very real. For Freya’s youngest daughter Lexi life is becoming difficult and when she starts to lose weight it becomes apparent that something is very wrong. Lexi has now been diagnosed with Anorexia. This is devastating news for the family and we watch as Lexi’s condition deteriorates and becomes very serious. Anorexia at its worst can be fatal. I speak from personal experience as to what this can do to family and loved ones. You feel totally helpless and daily life outside of the family just passes you by.
For the Braithwaite family this is exactly what happens at first denial and this does happen in cases like this and when you have given your all to your family it hits you like a brick in your face. Why our family? What have we done wrong? There are no simple answers to any of the questions a family full of love ask of themselves. A family full of love will always stand together and they surround Lexi with love. I must warn the reader there will be tears at times through The Food of Love. It is heart-breaking and poignant. A book that when you start to read you will not want to stop.
It is hard for me after so many years to read this incredible book as it brought back memories and I have tried to banish to the recesses of my mind. But the more we talk about the issues such as Anorexia the more understanding we will all become. Even today it pains me to say this it is still a taboo subject and clearly this should not be this way at all.
Yet again I congratulate Amanda Prowse on such a well thought out and researched novel that is packed full of love and tenderness. The Food of Love is such an important book for anyone who wants to know what life is really like beyond the front door of a home with a family member suffering with dreadful illness.
I know I will not be leaving this book as the story will now linger with me as for me it is real and raw. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
Thank you to both Amanda and Simeon for the advanced review copy.
The Food of Love by Amanda Prowse is published by Lake Union Books and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
The Food of Love Official Blog Tour Continues
Guest Post – J.J. Patrick
Today I am delighted to welcome J.J. Patrick as a guest on my blog talking about his writing and about himself also his book Forever Completely which was published in September by Cynefin Road.
About J.J. Patrick:
James once did a good thing. He now lives a quiet life and is happy with his lot, which is all that really matters. He’s been compelled to write ever since he can remember.
J.J. Patrick — or JP to those who know he’s nothing but trouble — was born in the New Forest and did most of his growing up in Derbyshire.
He served as a police officer for ten years, resigning from New Scotland Yard having acted as a whistle-blower, kicking off a parliamentary inquiry into the manipulation of crime figures by the police. He received open praise at the highest levels for his integrity.
At a bit of a loose end — largely being seen as an unemployable risk to skeletons in closets everywhere — he opened a pub. Wrestling a road closure, along with his own demons and ghosts, he was bankrupted and lost everything in the spring of 2016.
If you knew him, you’d say that the broken pieces fit together much better nowadays.
Should you wish to keep up with his often ludicrous and frenetic antics, you can find him on Twitter as @j_amesp
Forever Completely is an unapologetically unique debut by J.J. Patrick, set in a haphazard world of love, psychopathic primates, hodgepodge witchcraft and the apocalyptic end of mankind.
He doesn’t matter. That’s how he feels, writing a bitter note on a Saturday morning. He’s lost his relationship, gone bankrupt and lives in a drug infested sink estate…until he’s shown a vision of the end of the world by two ancient deities.
Join a lovelorn mess of a man as he is forced to face up to what he deserves and save the Earth, with the help of a nice old dear and her collection of eye-popping tracksuits…
“A brilliantly haphazard, broken glory all of its own. Forever Completely is utterly unashamed of itself…”
“I can’t compare this book to anything because I have never read anything like this before. Witches, the apocalypse, love, hate and redemption. I don’t usually read fantasy fiction, but the author makes an unbelievable world so believable that I didn’t want the book to end”
“This deserves to sell a million and be made into a film, top drawer stuff. Reading it was the literary equivalent of smoking a joint, drinking five pints of scrumpy, listening to early Pink Floyd with Syd Barret while watching Saving Private Ryan.”
Forever Completely is available worldwide now. You can find it listed on all online retailers and distributors in hardcover, and in all ebook formats including Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Kobo, Booktopia…and everywhere else.
About Life and Writing:
J.J. Patrick was serving as a police officer, working as a specialist analyst for Scotland Yard, when he uncovered the mass manipulation of crime figures by the police service, to make it look as if serious offences including rape were reducing. Despite being disciplined and threatened with dismissal for raising concerns he approached Parliament and sparked the Public Administration Select Committee inquiry into crime statistics. As a result, police recorded crime figures were stripped of their status as a trusted national statistic and the Home Secretary and Prime Minister made commitments to improving the protections for whistleblowers. In the final parliamentary report he received the highest possible praise: “We are indebted to PC Patrick for his courage in speaking out, in fulfilment of his duty to the highest standards of public service, despite intense pressures to the contrary”. He retired from policing in May 2014.
After a year of struggling to find work, he managed to privately pull together some money and took on a dilapidated public house in Essex. The building was first constructed in the 1700s had been in steep decline for many years but he took on the renovation work himself, transforming the building inside and out, working gruelling eighteen hour days before opening the doors on the new pub in April 2015. However, all was not to be plain sailing. Due to the years of adverse pressure his marriage collapsed in September 2015 and then, in October, Essex Highways closed the road on which the pub stood for four months and the business simply could not survive. In March 2016 he closed the doors for the last time and was bankrupted on March the 17th. He lost his business and his home in one day. He was left broken and had his heart broken not long after.
With help from his father, he managed to secure a bedsit in Colchester and found work as a gardener. Talking about this period, he says: “It’s a bedsit, and not a good one. I can’t describe the horror of lying in the dark, listening to the sounds of an alcoholic Scot screaming and urinating on the floor directly above, leaving you to wait for his bodily fluids to seep through the plaster and drip into your space. Between the 29th of March and the 28th of May this year I was paid £570, out of which I had to pay my phone bill, so I could talk to my kids, and £380 rent for the room. You can’t even get a payday loan when you’re bankrupt and I’d run out of things to sell so I lived on crackers, despite the job being physical, and eventually had to resort to accepting charitable offers from people as the effects of malnutrition set in. I had no body fat at all by May. There comes a time when you take a look around and realise you are fucked. You reside in a hovel, well below the breadline, and you aren’t living. A useless fucking charity case, you’re just looking for a way to survive. There is no near miss, you are either destitute or you’re not. I was and it’s fucking awful”. He has chosen to donate 10% of the proceeds from Forever Completely to charities supporting people in poverty.
James turned to writing as an escape from his surroundings, each day returning from work and sitting until the early hours writing, bleeding at the typewriter in the best tradition of Hemingway as he desperately tried to survive. “Within a week I was staring at the rough draft of Forever Completely, and those 30,000 words saved me. By the end of May the final draft was done and when I tentatively sent the manuscript out to beta readers I started to believe the magic in that story could do more than take me away from my soul-crushing surroundings. More than provide a waking dream. I saw a way out and played my usual game of Kipling’s pitch and toss, one of the reasons I get affectionately referred to as the walking embodiment of If”. There was a desk in his room but no chair, so the whole book was written with James sat on a scraggy sofa, pulled up close the keyboard with two cushions underneath him.
On writing itself he is no less awkward than he was as a police officer. He has clearly defined problems with rules and embraces his inner anarchist at every given opportunity. “Writing FC wasn’t catharsis, not really. It was just survival, plain and simple, and I wouldn’t still be here but for its grace. I certainly can’t say I used it as a device to create order either, the work itself is chaos because life is chaos. Love is chaos. Redemption is chaos. And I’m not exactly famed for obedience or conformity – the chair of the Public Administration Select Committee once described me as ‘Awkward’. My approach to writing is no different really. The internet is awash with reams of sanctimonious shit about writing. Endless rules about what must be done, how you should behave, what you must show and what you must tell. The fact adverbs will bring about the death of your story and end your writing life, by leaving you open to broad ridicule. Don’t say anything other than said, use everything but said. Don’t use was but also shy away from complicated words, simplify your prose. Cut, slash and burn. Don’t over describe but also see show don’t tell, in the first sentence of this paragraph…Avoid the ellipsis at all costs, stick to the Oxford list, and murder your darlings. The cobblers is almost infinite, in the main self-righteous, and, worst of all, utterly meaningless. So my advice is stop worrying about it, sit down, and write. There aren’t ten rules. There aren’t any at all. Everything is subjective, the whole industry – from writing, to editorial, to publishing. One day a story will be great, then a bus will get missed, a cat will die, or someone will feel grumpy, horny, angry – whatever – and the same tale will be in a slush pile. If you are writing to run from people, good. Hide away and build a world you’re happy in because somebody else will be happy there too. If you are writing because you love people, good. Let everyone know why and share it.”
J.J. Patrick refuses to give up, even though he probably should have, and he is never ashamed to say he came close to the rope once or twice when things were at their worst. But he’s still here because of his two children, whom he loves more than anything else and is determined not to stay down for long. His policing and whistle-blowing memoir, The Rest Is Silence, is being released on the 19th of November 2016 – the third anniversary of the parliamentary inquiry and he’s currently writing two more fiction works, due in the spring and summer of 2017.
The Day I Lost You – Fionnuala Kearney
The Last Word Review
The debut novel by Fionnuala Kearney, You Me and Other People was so well received that I could not resist the chance to review her second novel The Day I Lost You released less than a month ago it is already receiving high praise and now I would like to add mine to the growing list of people who enjoy Fionnuala Kearney’s writing.
Loss and grief are terrible events in anyone’s life and now for Jess she has to contemplate the loss of her daughter Anna who has gone on a skiing trip and is reported missing. The sheer horror that Jess must have gone through at this time. For Jess she has to believe and hope that Anna will be found as Anna’s five-year-old daughter Rose wants her mummy home safe.
So for Jess she must now take responsibility for Rose in the hope Anna will return home soon safe. But soon things take on a twist for Jess and now some of Anna’s past secrets come to the surface. A story of mother/daughter relationships and past secrets. The Day I Lost You is a deeply emotional read from the very start. Kearney’s prose is simply superb as she introduces family characters and those that knew Anna very well into the sad storyline that provide support at a difficult time.
I dare anyone who reads this story not to feel any empathy for Jess as she searches for answers to questions that life itself cannot answer. For Jess her own life ended with Anna’s. The emotion pours out of every page that leaves you bereft and feeling at one with Jess and Rose and even down to Pug. Life’s frailties are all here captured in a story that captures the reader in an incredibly moving family drama.
Sometimes secrets are shared and sometimes secrets are not meant to ever come out, what happens if they do? Here Fionnuala Kearney tries to explore this through her second novel that is a five star read prepare for some unexpected twists and revelations that will shock.
The Day I Lost You is a book crying out to be read and is the perfect autumn weekend read and one I highly recommend.
Thank you to Harper and to Bookbridgr for the advanced review copy.
The Day I Lost You by Fionnuala Kearney is published by Harper and is available now through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
Gone Astray – Michelle Davies
The Last Word Review
I am delighted to be kicking off the Official Blog Tour for the Paperback release of Gone Astray the outstanding debut novel by Michelle Davies.
The story behind Gone Astray is that Lesley Kinnock buys a lottery ticket and to Lesley and her husband Mack shock they win and not just win they actually win the jackpot. Suddenly for them and their daughter Rosie their lives will never be the same again. The impact on the lives of the family are immense and they go public with the win and realise that they have to move and now they have to leave some their friends behind.
On her return from a shopping trip Lesley discovers that her 15-year-old daughter has gone missing. Has Rosie wandered off or has she been taken and does this have anything to do with the family winning a lottery jackpot?
The plot for the story is a believable scenario and the characters just so well written into the script. At 451 pages this is no simple crime thriller. The reader is faced with many twists and turns that you may have trouble putting the book down. That’s a warning from this reviewer. For a debut crime novel it is simply superb. Davies writing is one of an accomplished writer with many books behind her not a debut which makes this something rather special. Look out for sub plots that will keep you guessing as to what really is behind Rosie’s disappearance. As for the ending. Incredible. No clues from me and not even an apology. I want you the reader to discover Gone Astray will and the writer Michelle Davies as I have a feeling that we will be hearing more from her in the future.
There are a number of questions that this book leaves you with and for one after reading Gone Astray would you go public after winning a large amount on a lottery?
I have read many crime novels over the years and many have gone on to become cinema blockbusters I rank Gone Astray up there and would make great TV drama.
Michelle has kindly written a piece (below) for this blog about what she has learnt since Gone Astray was first published.
Five things I’ve learned since being published
I wanted to write a crime novel since the age of 12, after my English teacher in my first year at secondary school set our class the task of writing a story with a mystery theme over three chapters. I loved the task, scored top marks in it, and when Mr OW (his full name was Mr Osborne-Williams, but he preferred the abbreviation, as did we) said I had a talent for writing stories, my ambition was set.
Given it was another 32 years before I actually realised it with my first novel, Gone Astray, you won’t be surprised to learn I had a certain level of expectation about what it would be like to be published. So here are five things I’ve learned so far:
* Holding a finished copy of your book for the first time isn’t as amazing as holding your first child, but it comes close. Especially if the gestation period was quadruple that of your pregnancy and at times the delivery was just as painful. Publishers really should provide gas and air for those final stages.
* You will never tire of seeing your novel on a shelf in an ACTUAL BOOKSHOP. Word of caution though: sniffing the pages, stroking the cover, or sobbing tears of joy as you clasp it to your heaving bosom will earn you strange looks and possible arrest.
* Take any advice offered by published writers – they know what they’re talking about. I’ll always be grateful to Colette McBeth, who advised me to finish writing my second novel before the first was published so I’d have the time and head-space to enjoy the moment. I did (my second novel, Wrong Place, is out on 27 February) – and therefore I did.
* Patience is a virtue. Publishing works to roughly an 18-month calendar and I’m used to working on weekly magazines with daily deadlines, so it took a while to get my head around the fact that while I got my book deal for Gone Astray in 2014 it wouldn’t be published until this year. Now I’m totally in sync with it and have the work temperament of a sloth*.
* The crime reading/writing community is the nicest bunch of people you could ever hope to meet. I’ve been overwhelmed by all the online high fives sent my way over the past few months. So it goes without saying that I’m delighted to be on this blog tour for Gone Astray and thank you for all of your support.
* Well, maybe a sloth on speed. In case my magazine commissioning editors are reading this.
Michelle Davies has been writing for magazines for twenty years, including on the production desk at Elle, and as Features Editor of Heat. Her last staff position before going freelance was Editor-at-Large at Grazia magazine and she currently writes for a number of women’s magazines and newspaper supplements. Michelle has previously reviewed crime fiction for the Sunday Express’s Books section.
Michelle lives in London with her partner and daughter and juggles writing crime fiction with her freelance journalism and motherhood. Gone Astray is her first novel.
For more information on Michelle Davies you can visit her website just use the link here: Michelle Davies
The Official Gone Astray Blog Tour 2016
Bright, Precious Days – Jay McInerney
The Last Word Review
Back in the mid 1980’s I stumbled across Bright Lights, Big City an account the drug fuelled time in New York, a book that has stood the test of time and read many times and still sits on my bookcase. Jay McInerney struggled to find his voice as an author following this incredible book. Then some years later came the first in what was to be a trilogy that follows the lives of Russell and Corrine Calloway.
The first book in the trilogy Brightness Falls (1992) we find the young married couple in October 1987 at the very brink of the stock market crash and the effects it has on their lives. In The Good Life (2006) we see the two characters whose lives have moved on and Corrine now embarking on an affair. This is just at the time of 9/11 and how the people of New York reacted. It makes for compelling reading. Now in Bright, Precious Days the setting is 2008 and the couple are now in their middle age and for Russell he now runs his own publishing house and Corrine works in the food distribution business. New York being the home to many publishing houses large and small it is the place to be if you want to be in publishing. So much in the literary world seems to have happened here So why not. A world away from Brightness Falls and stock markets. Now the couple with 12 year-old twins seem to spend time looking at their friends and how they seem to have prospered while they seem to have stood still. With each of their own indiscretions now more or less forgiven you would think that they would be happily settled together but one has the sense that their marriage just teeters along and creaking under pressure and expectation.
Then out of the blue comes Luke who had an affair with Corrine when this ended Luke ran away to Africa to forget her, but now he is back but with a stunning wife. Luke now sees what he has missed and starts to try and win her affections once again. Russell weighed down with his publishing business is struggling to find that ultimate fiction bestseller. Though there just may be something coming up for Russell but it is not fiction it is non-fiction and this is a gamble.
Bright, Precious Days is exquisite and looks at relationships and tells of New York at a time when a Presidential battle between Clinton and Obama is taking place that will change America. It is about the frailties of people and how we adapt to ever changing lives. Beautiful and at times moving this is a story so brilliantly told and will in years to come be appreciated my many looking back at a time and a place and people.
Please Jay McInerney let there be a fourth instalment.
Both Brightness Falls and The Good Life have just been re-issued by Bloomsbury.
Thank you to Joseph Thomas at Bloomsbury Publishing for the advanced review copy.
Bright, Precious Days is published was published by Bloomsbury Publishing on 8 September and is available through Waterstones and all good bookshops.
Woman of the Hour (StoryWorld) – Jane Lythell
The Last Word Review
Woman of the Hour is the third novel from Jane Lythell and a breakaway from her previous two thriller based novels. As a former TV producer for 15 years, Jane has now turned her attention to writing a fictional account of life at StoryWorld TV and the behind the scenes accounts of the personal dramas being played out.
Liz Lyon is Head of Features at StoryWorld TV and for most of us it must seem like the ultimate job in television but in reality for Liz it is a daily battle of stress and strain and she tries to cope with the dramas being played out behind the camera’s and also life as a single mum.
The story is told from Liz’s point of view from life at the studios based at London Bridge and the home of Liz and Flo her daughter. This is a wonderfully crafted novel from Lythell who has in my view written a real gem. Just imagine trying to cope with the enormous personalities on a daily basis and then trying to put together a TV show that will attract the viewer’s and the ratings. Now imagine then having to deal with the StoryWorld television executives after every show. Not so glamorous after all. The stress levels are extremely high every day with battles erupting it is not long before Liz becomes involved in a behind the scenes struggle. Jane Lythell has used all her previous experience and brought together a story that to anyone working in TV would actually may seem true to life. Some the characters involved are interesting and also fiery in particular one man who is thorn in Liz’s side Julius Jones who is the stations director, though Liz has run ins with Julius she has admiration for him. Some of the characters you will cheer on some you will not like at all. The perfect scenario for writing a behind the scenes look at the lives of people at a TV studio. ‘Real People, Real Life, Real Stories’ The stations motto seems to work for both behind the camera and also in front as the real life dramas are played out daily.
I have read Jane Lythell’s previous novel After the Storm which I really enjoyed but there is something about Woman of the Hour which makes this for me her best book I have read and the god news is that this is book one with a deal just recently made for book two which will be due out next summer.
With so many great summer holiday reads out there at present I would happily recommend Woman of the Hour to be in your hand luggage if you are off on a flight to a sunny destination. Terrific five star read.
My thanks to Head of Zeus for a review copy.
Woman of the Hour by Jane Lythell and published by Head of Zeus. Published on 14 July and is available through Waterstones and all good bookshops.
Being Dad: Short Stories about Fatherhood – edited by Dan Coxon
The Last Word Review
Being Dad published by Tangent Books and edited by Dan Coxon is an anthology of short stories of fatherhood from fifteen contemporary writers. Every single story is presented with such poignancy that any father will read and find themselves lost in the words of being just that a father.
The sheer beauty of this fabulous book is that there are no answers to the many questions posed by fatherhood but more the case of them sharing the everyday moments of everything that being a father is, the joy, the love and along the journey the pain. But these stories also pose the questions that every father will recognise it is a sheer joy to read. Recently Being Dad won the Best Anthology Prize at the Saboteur Awards 2016.
Writers who have written short stories are Toby Litt, Courttia Newland, Dan Powell, Nikesh Shukla and Nicholas Royale with many more adding their own personal take on what a father means to them.
As with each of the stories each one is unique and a personal perspective of being a father and what it means to that writer. The quality of the writing from each is outstanding. I guess the one thing that binds us all is that we all have a father sometimes though the father is missing and this is spoken about in Being Dad words that will resonate with some readers. The one thing that does come through the near 200 pages is Being Dad is that moment from birth the nappies the feeding during the nights the teenage years and tantrums that go along with this and then there is inevitable arguments and rows, there is love and then there is the talk of loss and also of death. Along the way there is great humour as there should be about Being Dad and that is the strength of this beautiful book is the words that shine through are poetry about what it means to be a father.
If you are a short story aficionado you will rejoice at this wonderful book that should hailed as a success by everyone involved and I just hope that one day we will see a book called ‘Being Mum.’ I urge you to read this and not be affected by it. Being Dad is a joy to read.
Thank you to Dan Coxon for a review copy of Being Dad
Being Dad: Short Stories About Fatherhood edited by Dan Coxon and published by Tangent Books is available to but through Amazon and to order through all good bookshops.