North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell is one of my all-time favourite classics. I also love the BBC period drama from a while ago starring the dreamy Richard Armitage. I don’t think I have told you before how much I love these BBC adaptations of classics. Anyway… Set around 1851, North and South has often been referred to as Pride and Prejudice with a social conscience. It is a love story at its core but also explores the differences between the agricultural South of England and the industrialised North and the lives of factory workers.
North and South tells the story of Margaret Hale, the daughter of a parson, who enjoyed a genteel upbringing in the southern England countryside. When her father leaves the Church over a crisis of conscience, the family moves to the northern mill town of Milton in the north. A place far different from the rural South. Milton is a town in the throes of the industrial revolution.
At first Margaret hates the ugliness and dirtiness of Milton. But over time she sees Continue reading →
I’ve been a big fan of author Jojo Moyes ever since stumbling across Me Before You years ago. This was before the movie and before a lot of the huge hype. Me Before You first introduces the loveable Louisa Clark, wearer of quirky vintage clothes and bumblebee yellow and black striped stockings. In this first book she becomes a carer to Will Traynor, a complicated man not coping very well with life as a quadriplegic and they both change each other’s lives. If you haven’t read this first book, definitely give it a go. I don’t want to give anything away if you haven’t read it.
I loved Me Before You, even though it smashed my heart to pieces, and was quite happy for it to be a stand-alone book. But then Jojo Moyes released a sequel called After You. Although I devoured this book it didn’t have quite the same feel as book one. Louisa was far from the happy, positive young woman and with a major character missing in this book, it was a bit of an adjustment. But I liked it well enough in the end.
Which brings me to the newly released third book in the series, Still Me. I rushed out to get this because Continue reading →
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell is a heart-jerker of a book. It’s a book so poignant and enjoyable that I had to invent a word for it. Right from the beginning, I fell in love with this book and I read it like my life depended on it.
Set in the 80s, it tells the story of two teenagers Eleanor and Park who sit together on the school bus each day and go from not acknowledging each other to bonding over comics and music and then something deeper.
But life is complicated for Eleanor as the new kid in school. She battles with a poor body image and her red hair, terrible clothes and weight makes her a target for bullies at school. Life at home is just as bad as she has an abusive stepfather and is living in poverty.
Park has a great family but battles with his identity and what it means to be half Korean. He is also the son of a Vietnam vet and struggles to measure up to his dad’s expectations.
If you are looking for a great historical fiction series packed with intrigue, family issues and a little bit of romance, then I have the series for you. I first discovered the Wintercombe series by Pamela Belle about fifteen years ago. I picked up Wintercombe in a second-hand book store and then later its sequel Herald of Joy. I lost both books in a house move and then spent years trying to find them again. To my delight, I discovered that both books were available as ebooks this year and I bought them immediately. And I also discovered book three A Falling Star and book four Treason’s Gift.
Wintercombe is set during the English civil war in the 17th century and tells the story of its namesake, Wintercombe, a beautiful manor house in Somerset where Puritan Lady Silence St Barbe lives with her two step-children Rachael and Nathaniel and three children Tabitha, Deb and William. Her Parliamentarian husband is off fighting in the war. Silence is the perfect Puritan wife to her much older husband and lives a quiet, godly existence.
The English Civil war has been raging for two years when a detachment of Cavaliers is sent to garrison at this country house. Not having anywhere to take her children, and not wishing to let her house and beloved gardens be destroyed by the enemy in her absence, Silence elects to stay for the occupation.
Captain Nick Hellier is the second-in-command of the enemy Royalist soldiers and is, at first, not someone Silence is willing to trust. But compared to the brutish Lieutenant-Colonel Ridgeley who is evil incarnate, Captain Hellier is mild mannered. He soon becomes someone Silence can go to for help, despite being an enemy, as he does his best to protect her and the children from Ridgeley’s wrath. Amidst all the turmoil of war, Silence begins to break free from the constraints around her and allow music, laughter and love into her life in the form of Nick. Continue reading →
This is a quickie review for a satisfying and entertaining historical romance ebook I read in under 24 hours. The Duchess Deal is the latest release from Tessa Dare, an author who I happily stumbled upon a couple of years ago. Since then I have read all her books. Yes, there are steamy sex scenes in The Duchess Deal as per this genre and there is also a feisty heroine and a physically and mentally scarred Duke, but there are also laughs, drama and romance which is what always keeps me coming back to this genre when I just want a fun read.
Set in London sometime after the Battle of Waterloo, The Duchess Deal tells the story of a brooding, scarred from battle, Duke of Ashbury (a kind of beast-like figure) who was cruelly abandoned by his fiancée due to his disfigurement and has become a recluse. He is not the nicest of men as a result and drives his servants crazy by being demanding, rude and never leaving the house. But Ashbury decides it is time he does his duty to the title and find a wife to impregnate and then send off to a house in the country once she is with child. Afterall, who could love a hideous beast like him? Continue reading →
The Greatest Gift is the latest fiction release from Rachael Johns, an Australian author with a lot of fans in both the rural romance and women’s fiction (a phrase that bugs me, shouldn’t it just be fiction?) category. This book fits into the latter category. I picked this up because I was curious to see if I would like a new author and because the subject matter intrigued me.
The Greatest Gift is set in Sydney and the Hunter Valley in NSW and tells the story of two very different couples. Harper and Samuel Drummond are a career-driven married couple who don’t want children. Harper works as a successful radio host and Samuel is a lawyer who works long hours. Claire and Jasper Lombard are a married couple who run a hot air balloon business and would love a baby but a bout of cancer as a child has left Claire infertile.
Harper begins to feel like something is missing in her life and when she interviews another couple who got pregnant after years of trying, thanks to an egg donor, she believes she’s found her purpose. She will give someone the greatest gift of all. Continue reading →
Reading a Marian Keyes novel is like having a cosy chat over a bottle of wine with a girlfriend you only see every few years. There are laughs, the occasional tear, secrets shared, milestones celebrated and losses commiserated. I’ve read every one of Marian’s novels over the years. They have taken me through my twenties and into my thirties and have never disappointed.
The Break is Marian Keyes’s latest novel. Set in Dublin and London, it tells the story of Amy O’Connell, a 44 year old mother of two girls (and carer of a niece) who works in PR and is married to the dependable Hugh. She is part of a large, nosey family, has a ‘portfolio of friends’, and is on her second marriage. Suddenly Hugh decides he needs to take a break by himself in the form of a six month trip to South East Asia. But he doesn’t just want a break from Ireland. He wants a break from his marriage. What follows is the before, during and after effects of this decision on their marriage and family.
Recently I had a couple of long weekends off in a row and went away to see family. This involved a lot of hours in the car. Luckily, my partner did the driving which allowed me to sit back and read. I read The One Plus One by Jojo Meyes over one long weekend and I have to say it was the perfect travel book.
I discovered Jojo Moyes a while back when I read Me Before You – a powerful read about the relationship between a quadriplegic man and his carer. It was one of those rare times when you stumble upon a book that you know nothing about and then it turns out to be an absolute gem. Continue reading →