The Separation by Dinah Jefferies #Bookreview #TuesdayBookBlog

Separation

This is a story about the separation of mothers and daughters told from opposite sides of the world by Lydia, a young mother abandoned in Malaya in 1955 and her daughter Emma lonely and unloved in England. Initially the main story is of Lydia’s journey during the Malayan Emergency through the dangers of jungle roads where insurgents may kill or kidnap locals or colonials alike. With little money, she searches for her missing husband and daughters gaining help from a mysterious stranger. Her story includes love and tragedy against the background of the steaming heat and lush growth of the countryside.

Lydia’s story is told in the third person, but we have no doubt about her feelings and emotions. Emma describes events in her own words. She is an independent eleven year old, traumatised by the sudden move to cold, drab England after her happy childhood in the tropics. No-one will tell her where her mother is and she misses her terribly. In addition she has to deal with an abusive adult and a harsh boarding school.

I identified strongly with this story, remembering 1950s England and having spent some of my teenage years in Malaya and Singapore. The authenticity of the settings is striking, but what captivates the reader is the passion and drama of the plot. There are mysteries to solve, scores to settle and happiness to hope for.

Dinah Jefferies is a talented writer who is able to give context and characterisation to a moving, thrilling plot. This was a book I read late into the night, not wanting to put it down. Highly recommended.

The Separation is available on Amazon here

D Jefferies

Dinah was born in Malaya in 1948 and moved to England at the age of nine. In 1985, the sudden death of her fourteen year old son changed the course of her life, and deeply influenced her writing. Dinah drew on that experience, and on her own childhood spent in Malaya during the 1950s to write her debut novel, The Separation.

Now living in Gloucestershire with her husband and their Norfolk terrier, she spends her days writing, with time off with her grandchildren.

Exposure by Rose Edmunds

exposure

The return of Crazy Amy in this nail-biting story, opens with drama and amusement. You have no need to have read Rose Edmunds’ previous book, Concealment as you will soon know a great deal about Amy and her devilish alter ego, Little Amy, within the first few pages. But Amy is a highly intelligent, talented lady who has discovered a conscience and after the loss of her well-paid, city career in London, she needs a project.

Returning to her life is old-flame Toby Marchpole, an investigative financial journalist. While prying into possible fraud at IPT plc, a distributer and retailer of plumbing components, he is shocked to see the firm’s finance director, Venner collapse in front of him, spluttering, “Tell Amy….” He soon discovers that Venner was a former colleague of Amy Robinson and realises that it’s time to renew their friendship.

I know nothing of city finance, but then I also know nothing about spies or murder, so what is important is that the thrilling events keep me reading and the complexities of the fraudulent actions are clearly explained. This is a story which is a worthwhile read for two reasons; Amy’s adventures keep you on a knife edge and at the same time you warm to her flawed personality, longing for her to find happiness.

Adopting a new identity, Amy is unsure whether to trust Toby and she is sometimes unwise in those she does choose as trustworthy. Once again, she encounters DCI Carmody, with whom she had hoped for a relationship, but he is chilly and judgemental, knowing her failings and trying to deny his own feelings.

This book stands alone as an enjoyable, exciting page-turner but I would also recommend Concealment either before or after reading Exposure, and you never know, Amy may return for another adventure after the exciting final twist in this story.

Exposure  will be published on March 24th 2017
I reviewed this book as a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.

You can read my review of Concealment here

Rosie's Book Review team 1

The Belle of Mayfair brings Romeo to the #Edwardian stage #ArchiveDay

Romeo and Juliet

“These violent delights have violent ends
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder
Which, as they kiss, consume”
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

R&J FMaddoxbrown

Romeo and Juliet by Ford Maddox Brown

Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet has been a popular choice for artists.  It has also been transposed into other settings such as the film West Side Story showing the New York street gangs of the late 1950s.

In April 1906 a musical called The Belle of Mayfair opened at the Vaudeville Theatre in London.  This was also based on Romeo and Juliet in the current time, Romeo being played by the renowned actor Farren Souter.  On opening Edna May took the role of Juliet but after a few months she stormed out of the production.

Edna

16 year old Phyllis Dare, studying in Brussels, was summoned to London to take over the role.

Phyllis

With much trepidation she returned to the stage and was greatly supported by her fellow actors and the audiences.  In December she moved to pantomime and the role of Juliet was assumed by actress Billie Burke until it closed in April 1907.

Mayfair

It would seem that the play was as turbulent as the tragedy.

When Doves Fly by Lauren Gregory

Doves

Here is a book which takes us back to the Wild West we used to see in old movies, where men are tough and uncouth and women are there for their pleasure.  Into this setting comes Lily Wright, running away from abuse and tragedy, looking for a new life in a boomtown during the gold rush in Colorado.  Intending to open a dry goods store, her plans are in disarray after she loses her money and belongings.  Without any assistance she struggles to make a living despite the fates being against her.

 

Lily is an insecure but brave and determined woman, with whom the reader becomes intimately involved.  She learns a valuable lesson from Alice Durand, a wizened old woman whose life story could make another book!  We experience Lily’s suffering in intense detail and cannot help wishing that her knight in shining armour will appear.  However, Lily must make her own destiny.

 

The hypocritical residents of the ironically named Clear Springs include evil villains, honourable citizens and a hoard of dysfunctional individuals trying to make a fortune.  It’s the perfect setting for life-changing drama.  This could have made the story too predictable but this is far from the case. Lauren Gregory’s characters are real and vibrant.  They come with back stories which give them substance and their actions make for a dramatic plot.  There are the seeds of a saga in this novel.

Rosie's Book Review team 1