One by Jennifer L Cahill #FridayReads #RBRT

One

 

One” is a light hearted, easy read, set in 2005. The first of a trilogy, this retro contemporary novel will remind you of the simpler life of work, friends and relationships in the “noughties.” Focused on Penelope, a 28-year-old investment banker, we share her search for a significant relationship while maintaining a high-powered job and enjoying time with her friends. In parallel we meet Zara, her young house-mate, newly arrived from the country and struggling with London life.

 

We also encounter Charlie, a musician, who was at University with Penelope and also shares their house; Richard, an annoying ex-Uni friend of conspicuous wealth and Alyx, an irresistible, handsome young lawyer, who travels widely with a successful pop group.  The fact that both Alyx and Richard own castles in Scotland is hard to believe and it is no wonder that Zara feels out of her depth amongst such an affluent group.

 

Each of these young people are looking for good relationships and successful careers but juggling these is not easy and we see the possibility of Penelope being dragged into the life of a stay-at-home wife and mother. It is clear that in the last 14 years women’s roles have moved on.  It is easier to identify with Zara and encouraging to see her increased confidence as she learns to navigate the underground, finds a new job and gains friends.  The books conclusion is dramatic, leaving the reader longing to know how the next few years will pan out for this colourful group.

One is available on Amazon UK

JC

Jennifer Cahill was born in Dublin in Ireland and was educated at University College Dublin. She honed both her ability to write, and her love of writing, in UCD while studying Spanish, which was one half of her International Commerce degree. She went on to Business School in Dublin and moved to London after graduating, and life has never been quite the same for her since. When she is not writing she works with individuals and blue-chip clients to help them navigate and master change. She spent ten lovely years living in Clapham and now lives in Notting Hill in West London.

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Her Secret by Kelly Florentia #FridayReads #BookReview

Her Secret

After 8 years living with Nick, their relationship had broken down, but now, at the age of 42, Audrey is happily married to romantic husband, Daniel, a successful business man with a complicated family.  Surrounded by a close group of friends and pleased with the way her career is progressing, Audrey is content, until she is told a secret which she cannot share with Daniel.  She dare not hurt her loved ones and she fears losing their respect.  Then there are further complications as her first love, Nick returns.  She begins to doubt her sanity, believing she is being followed and even in danger.

 

This fast-moving story, set in north London can easily be read as a standalone but it is even more rewarding if you first read No Way Back.  Audrey is a realistic, modern woman. I love her OCD cleaning and her need to own expensive shoes but also her caring, warm personality.  I didn’t predict the amazing ending as I found myself reading late into the night to discover how Audrey would solve her predicament.

Her Secret can be found on Amazon UK

My review of No Way Back

The American Boy by Andrew Taylor #BookReview #TuesdayBookBlog

American

 

Interweaving real and fictional elements, The American Boy is a literary historical crime novel in the tradition of Possession.

England 1819: Thomas Shield, a new master at a school just outside London, is tutor to a young American boy and the boy’s sensitive best friend, Charles Frant. Drawn to Frant’s beautiful, unhappy mother, Thomas becomes caught up in her family’s twisted intrigues. Then a brutal crime is committed, with consequences that threaten to destroy Thomas and all that he has come to hold dear. Despite his efforts, Shield is caught up in a deadly tangle of sex, money, murder and lies — a tangle that grips him tighter even as he tries to escape from it. And what of the strange American child, at the heart of these macabre events, yet mysterious — what is the secret of the boy named Edgar Allen Poe?

This historical murder mystery shows the extremes of poverty and wealth within a small area of 19th century London. “The American Boy” is well researched and, for me at least, a page-turner. It appears to be heavily influenced by Wilkie Collins writing. I enjoyed following the developing mystery although I found the final denouement a little disappointing.

The reticence Thomas Shield shows to reveal the details of his tête-à-tête with Sophia, do perhaps carry the assumption of 19th century good taste a little too far but the romance certainly kept my interest in the fate of both characters. His earlier confused attraction to two women was harder to believe but perhaps I don’t understand men well enough. It is certainly true that Miss Carswell is a tantalising, enigmatic character, while Sophia seems aloof & unapproachable.

I am not happy with the chosen title and although Andrew Taylor gives his interest in the youth of Edgar Allan Poe as the raison d’être for this book, the boy seems to me to be only an incidental character and if anything is a conceit of the author. Without great knowledge of Poe, I suspect I am missing nuances in the text.

The pictures painted of the three locations, London, Gloucester and Monkshill Park are clearly delineated and atmospheric and the machinations of the plot built up convincingly. Initially the novel adopts a leisurely pace, but this gradually heats up. In contrast to the interactions of the many characters involved in the story, there are also interludes of philosophical observation by Thomas Shield such as,

For the first time in my life, I was about to be a man of substance. The knowledge changed me. Wealth may not bring happiness, but at least it has the power to avert certain causes of sorrow. And it makes a man feel he has a place in the world,

which I particularly enjoyed.

I have read that Taylor initially wrote this story in the third person, but sensibly realised that Thomas Shield was an essential narrator to ensure the reader’s involvement. I found him a very sympathetic character, in spite of his tendency to act like a Dr.Who heroine.

The Betrayal by Anne Allen #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog

Betrayal

The Betrayal is set mostly in Guernsey but in two eras. First, we find ourselves in 1940, where Teresa Bichard is distraught at leaving her husband, Leo, on the island while she flees to her family on the mainland with their baby daughter. The Germans are expected to invade imminently but Leo feels he must look after their home and antique business in Guernsey. Fast forward to 2011 and we meet Nigel and his twin sister Fiona, who have bought that antique shop, but from a different owner.

While decorating, the twins find a hidden trap door concealing some paintings which seem to include a Renoir. As an art historian, Fiona has the contacts to authenticate the painting, so she returns to London, but while she is away, events take a sinister turn. Nigel appears to have committed suicide but Fiona (and the reader) does not believe this so she employs a private detective. Is his death connected to the painting and to the betrayal of Leo Bichard, who was sent to a concentration camp in 1942?

This book is full of detailed descriptions of the beautiful beaches and stunning views on the island and delicious meals served in sumptuous surroundings. All Fiona’s friends are wealthy and live in amazing properties which is delightful to read about, but seems slightly like leafing through a glossy homes magazine.

In some ways a cosy mystery but with thrilling use of tension and a warm budding romance, it is a pleasure to read. The inclusion of events during the occupation made it particularly interesting to me. Although book 6 of Anne Allen’s Guernsey novels, it is a standalone story. I shall be seeking out earlier volumes in the series.

The Betrayal is available at Amazon UK

and at Amazon US

Anne Allen

Anne Allen

Anne was born in Rugby to a Welsh father and an English mother. As a result, she spent many summers with her Welsh grandparents in Anglesey and learnt to love the sea. Now she is based in Devon to be near her daughter and two small grandchildren. Her restless spirit has meant many moves, the longest stay being in Guernsey for nearly fourteen years after falling in love with the island and the people. She contrived to leave one son behind to ensure a valid reason for frequent returns. Her younger son is based in London – ideal for city break.

By profession Anne was a psychotherapist who long had a desire to write and Dangerous Waters, her first novel, was published in 2012. It was awarded Silver(Adult Fiction) in TheWishingShelfAwards 2012.

http://anneallen.co.uk/

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Pleasing Mr Pepys by Deborah Swift #TuesdayBookBlog

Pepys

In a spine-chilling first chapter of this Restoration drama, we encounter Abigail Williams, aging actress, spy and mistress to Lord Brunkner. But on this occasion, she has murderous intent. In contrast the following chapter introduces 17-year-old Deb Willet, setting out for London a year after the Great Fire, to be a Lady’s maid and companion to Elisabeth, wife of Mr. Samuel Pepys. Her Aunt Beth, glad to be rid of her, tells Deb that she must, “Please Mr Pepys,” but she soon finds this applies in more ways than one.

An educated girl, Deborah is determined to work hard to make a future for herself and to finance an education for her sister, Hester. However, Elisabeth Pepys doesn’t seem to warm to her and soon her thoughts wander to her mother who went missing many years ago and may well be in London too. She seeks help from Abigail Williams, who has sought her out, but she soon finds herself entangled in a web of lies and subterfuge from which there seems to be no escape.

This is an era, of which I know little, but Deborah Swift’s knowledge and research have brought the murky streets of London, struggling to recover from the destruction of the fire, to life again. The suffering of the sailors, unpaid by the crown and their inevitable decision to rebel, is realistically described and I could not help liking Jeremiah Wells, the young curate, who wanted the best for everyone while struggling with his conscience. All this against the background of a Dutch spy ring and the incorrigible Samuel Pepys, who cannot resist a pretty face or an attractive ankle.

Although instantly appealing to anyone interested in English history, it is also a book for those who enjoy tension and thrilling scenes, especially as the main characters are women of courage. Highly recommended.

Pleasing Mr Pepys at Amazon UK  or at Amazon US

Wonders and Wickedness (The Victorian Detectives Book 5) by Carol Hedges

Wickedness

Here, you will indeed find Wonders in alchemy, seances, and on stage, but there is also Wickedness; murder, blackmail and deceit. It is 1864 and the railways have already caused a fatal accident. A brand new department store has opened but the window display contains an extra body which shocks everyone. Thankfully Detective Inspector Strife and Sergeant Cully are on hand, but they are diverted by a mysterious package delivered to the arrogant Lord Hugh Wynward and his unhappy wife Lady Meriel.

In a complex, ingenious plot several crimes are gradually solved as we meet a delicious selection of fantastic characters, from Felix Lightowler, who fancies himself as a contemporary alchemist, to Boris Finister, a Dickensian fat boy and Rancid Cretney, who constantly mans a neighbourhood watch irritating the police force considerably. Every detail of the characters’ names, clothing and vocabulary fit their context perfectly.

Within the plotline there is humour, pathos and a picture of the dire social consequences of Victorian values. When Stride goes to interview a builder he finds,
“Serried ranks of terraces of two up two down houses. Absent landlords will subdivide them into as many short-term lets as possible adding them to that surprising feature: the brand new suburban slum.
Mr Bellis struts with the aggressive bantam-cock attitude of all small men who’d like to be big men only nature hasn’t permitted it.”

As a connoisseur of all the previous Victorian Detective Books, I knew that I would enjoy meeting up with old friends at Scotland Yard and independent business women such as Lilith Marks and Josephine King but this book would be equally rewarding as a one off read, although it is bound to tempt you to indulge in other gems from the series. When will a producer take up these books for TV or movie?

Wonders & Wickedness can be found on AmazonUK

My review of Rack and Ruin is here

Everybody’s Somebody by Beryl Kingston #FridayReads #RBRT

Everybody's Some

In Beryl Kingston’s latest novel, we follow the life of Rosie Goodison, from the day she sets out to become a nursemaid at Arundel Castle, at the age of 12.  She is told that she is, “nobody of consequence,” but she is a strong independent girl of the early 20th century and she is determined to take on everything she can attain.  A few years later she finds a temporary job as housekeeper to two young toffs on holiday from Eton and when one of them gives her a reference to take to the RAC club in Pall Mall, she has no idea that his signature, Anthony Eden, will be of significance in the future.

 

On her afternoon off she meets Kitty, a young suffragette, whose brother Joe is a docker.  Soon Rosie meets them regularly, increasing her political understanding as well as enjoying trips to Music Halls.  Romance blossoms as war approaches and both Rosie’s brother, Tommy, and her sweetheart, Joe, become soldiers.  There is tragedy and there are life-changing consequences.

 

But we first meet Rosie in a painting in an art gallery many years later, so how did that happen?  While working at the RAC club, Rosie had made the acquaintance of a young artist who wished her to model for him and when she finds herself unemployed at a difficult time in her life, Rosie agrees.

 

This novel is a superb description of southern England from the turn of the century until 1939.  Through the lives of poor families in the countryside and in London, the struggle to succeed and even to survive, despite war, unemployment and hardship, is shown clearly.  Rosie’s warm, vibrant character makes each event human and I identified strongly with her hopes and wishes for her family.  She embodies the title, “Everybody’s Somebody.”

Everybody’s Somebody can be found on Amazon UK

beryl2

Beryl Kingston

 Rosie's Book Review team 1