Teaser Tuesday #TuesdayBookBlogs

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme.  Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two or three “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

gilded-lily

This is the first historical novel by Deborah Swift which I have chosen to read.  I was introduced to her books by Terry Tyler and I have already enjoyed Deborah’s 20th century novel written under her other nom de plume, Davina Blake.  The Gilded Lily is the story of two sisters on the run, searching for a better life on the streets of Restoration London.

“Do you think the dead can see us?

His wife cursed me. If it weren’t for her..” She took a shuddering breath. “She hexed me – I saw her give me the cold eye when she was in the dock. She saw to it we’d have no peace. We would have been happy, snug and safe in our warm little house….he loved me. He would have done anything for me. Even though I were just a maidservant. …Why did he have to die?”

The Little French Guest House by Helen Pollard #TuesdayBookBlog

 

little-french

The Little French Guesthouse is recommended as a perfect feel good summer holiday read and I am sure it would be, but it is also a warming ray of sunshine to read on dull winter days. Starting dramatically when the heroine Emmy finds her partner, Nathan, in flagrante with the wife of the guest house owner, we are plunged into her dilemma as she deals with the fall out. As Nathan runs off with Gloria, Emmy decides to stay on at the guest house helping Rupert, the owner, to deal with new guests.

The hard work and beautiful sunshine help Emmy to come to terms with her predicament and she soon makes friends with locals and ex-pats in the area. Surprisingly, her love life also improves as she encounters muscular, handsome Ryan, the gardener and Alain, a slightly annoying but intriguing accountant. She dreads returning to England where she will have to sort out the mess of working and owning a flat with love-rat, Nathan.

In many ways, this is an ideal read in January as we share Emmy’s experience of deciding where her life should go now. She is 31, her relationship has broken down and she has been in a rut. But she can’t stay on holiday for ever. Decisions about her career and future must be made. Inevitably I will soon be dipping into the follow up book Return to the Little French Guesthouse.

The Little French Guest House is available at Amazon UK  and Amazon US

Ghost Variations by Jessica Duchen #Bookreview

ghost-variations

Set in 1930s Britain and strongly based on real events, Ghost Variations is resonant with attitudes and feelings relevant to us now. Jessica Ducheny tells the story of renowned violinist Jelly d’Aranyl towards the end of her career. At 42, she feels the need for a new purpose which is partly fulfilled by a series of free concerts, open to everyone, in the finest cathedrals in the land.

Jelly and her sister had been brought to England from Hungary, when she was in her teens and Jelly’s considerable talent had already been acknowledged. She had been the muse of Bartok and Ravel and was in great demand for concert venues. But while her sister, Adila chose marriage to a prominent diplomat, Jelly decided that the demands of her art meant total devotion, excluding marriage. But this decision may have been finalised by the tragic death of Sep Kelly, her one true, but unconsummated love, during the First World War.

One cannot help feeling empathy for Jelly, who shows great affection for her erstwhile assistant and companion, Anna and kindness to strangers such as a Jewish pianist who has fled from Germany. Her life is taken over by the desire to obtain and perform the long hidden violin concerto of Robert Schumann, a close friend of her great-uncle, violinist Joseph Joquem. The manuscript is traced to Berlin but Jelly’s partially Jewish ancestry makes it impossible for her to follow up, so against her inclinations she enlists the help of her sister’s close friend Erik Palmstierna, the Swedish ambassador to England.

The novel recreates the glamorous environment of the London cognoscenti, where Jelly and Adila socialise with pianist, Myra Hess, Sir Adrian Boult and all the fashionable people of culture. In contrast we glimpse through a window into Hitler’s pre-war Germany, seeing the manipulation of values made by Goebbels. The increasingly anti-foreign atmosphere in England and the corrosive effect of newspaper articles, build up the tension as the story moves towards 1938.

This novel provokes thought on so many topics; the problems for a female artist in her mature years, the sad waste of lives in both wars and in Hitler’s Germany and observations of the philosophies of spiritualism and eugenics. But it is also the story of the fascinating Jelly d’Aranyl, her friends and her passions, at perhaps one of the most interesting times in history.

j-duchen

Jessica Duchen

Ghost Variations can be found on Amazon UK or Amazon US

I read this book as a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Past Encounters by Davina Blake #TuesdayBookBlog

past-encounters

Past Encounters is a book you can’t put down and yet you don’t want it to finish. With echoes of “Atonement,” we read of the horrors, sadness and wasted lives of World War Two. It describes boredom and hardship and deep passion. I loved it.

Davina Blake expresses the tortured life of Rhoda during the war and her marriage up till 1955. Like her husband, Peter, she is concealing a secret which is keeping them apart. The reader experiences her wartime romance, a delightful parallel to the film, “Brief Encounters” and the terrible experiences of a group of British soldiers captured early in the war and kept imprisoned for over 5 years. She also records the effects of the First World War on the marriage of Rhoda’s parents.  The common humanity and suffering throughout Europe is clearly shown as Peter and Archie try to escape and travel home.

Having grown up in the 1950s and heard my mother’s wartime stories, this story feels right. The details of getting a coal fire to light and shivering in inadequate clothing ring true. The drabness of post war Britain and the difficulties that returning soldiers had in adjusting to civilian life, must have made married life stressful in this era, when feelings were rarely expressed, but in this novel we see through both Rhoda and Peter’s eyes and hope that they will be able make a future together.

deborahswift

Davina Blake is better known as Deborah Swift, historical novelist and I am sure I will soon be catching up with the books she has written under that name.

www.davinablake.com

www.deborahswift.com

Past Encounters can be found on Amazon UK  and Amazon US