#Review By Lou of The Echoes of Love By Jenny Ashcroft @Jenny_Ashcroft @HQstories #HistoricalFiction #WartimeFiction #WW2 #1970s #1930s #1940s #RomanticFiction

The Echoes of Love
By Jenny Ashcroft 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Echoes of Love is a historical fiction novel that transports readers between the mid to late  1930’s to the 1940’s and then to 1970’s. It takes readers into the depths of love and war and how it reverberates years later. It’s a book I highly recommend. Find out more in the blurb and my thoughts in my review below. I also thank HQ Stories for the book and extra gifts of delicious Baklava.

Blurb

Under the Cretan sun, in the summer of 1936, two young people fall in love…

Eleni has been coming to Crete her entire life, swapping her English home for cherished sun-baked summers with her grandfather in his idyllic shoreside villa. When she arrives in 1936, she believes the long, hot weeks ahead will be no different to so many that have gone before.

But someone else is visiting the island that year too: a young German man called Otto. And so begins a summer of innocence lost, and love discovered; one that is finite, but not the end.

When, in 1941, the island falls to a Nazi invasion, Eleni and Otto meet there once more. But this time Eleni has returned to fight for her home, and Otto to occupy it. They are enemies, and their love is not only treacherous, but also dangerous. But will it destroy them, or prove strong enough to overcome the ravages of war?

An epic tale of secrets, love, loyalty, family and how far you’d go to keep those you love safe, The Echoes of Love is an exquisite and deeply moving love letter to Crete – one that will move every reader to tears.

Review

Beginning with a transcript in 1974 about Eleni Adams at Broadcasting House. It is an interesting way to start and leads back to the events in 1936, Crete, with the transcript intercepting the main story, giving extra insights. A dangerous time and not far off the cusp of war as Hitler is on the march and the likes of Punch Magazine depicting the road to war in satirical cartoons and trips through Italy with Mussolini in charge have to be made. The book is set between Portsmouth in the UK and Crete, a Greek island. There’s almost an innocence of how this time must have been, against the ensuing darkness that looms, with Hitler being more in the news reels and then an innocent kitten being around and the emotion surrounding that. The characters do enter war times and everything changes as he begins his invasions and what he thinks of the Jews and of Jazz and Swing music.
It, however, never loses sight of it being a war-time story of love and how things change and how it is remembered. Not everything where love is concerned is simple as the book slips through the three very different time eras with great fluidity.

The book is poignant with the reverberations of love and atrocities of war and what the German Nazis had created can be felt deeply and yet it has beautiful writing that has a truth, and yet a softness and not a coarseness surrounding all the events of the day and the people affected in so many different ways.

At the end is an author’s note about how the book was, in part inspired by her own family and about Crete and more… This is a book I highly recommend you lose yourself in.

 

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#BookReview By Lou of The Good Servant By Fern Britton @Fern_Britton @LizDawsonPR @fictionpubteam @HarperCollinsUK #HistoricalFiction #BookRecommendation #BookTwt #TheGoodServant

The Good Servant
By Fern Britton

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Good Servant, a book that is fiction based on fact about an ordinary woman in Dunfermline, Scotland, whose life turned into the extraordinary, in this fascinating and engrossing book.
Thanks to Harper Collins for a review copy.
Find out more in the blurb and rest of my review below.

The Good Servant cover

Blurb

From the no.1 Sunday Times bestselling author comes the story of Marion Crawford, governess to the Queen – an ordinary woman living in an extraordinary time in 1932. Dunfermline, Scotland.

Marion Crawford, a bright, ambitious young teacher, is ready to make her mark on the world. Until a twist of fate changes the course of her life forever…

1936. Windsor Castle.

At first this ordinary woman is in a new world, working as the governess to two young princesses, in a household she calls home but where everyone is at a distance. As the course of history changes, she finds herself companion to the future Queen, and indispensable to the Crown. And slowly their needs become her needs. Their lives become hers.

It’s then she meets George, and falls in love for the first time. Now Marion faces an impossible choice: her sense of duty or the love of her life.

Review

The Good Servant is fiction based on fact. It’s a fictionalised account of Marion Crawford’s life from before, during and after she an employee for the monarchy.
Marion is a young Scottish woman who becomes a governess to two princesses – Princess Margaret and the princess who became our queen – Queen Elizabeth II. They were devoted to Marion Crawford and affectionately called her Crawfie. She was ambitious, but hadn’t planned to take her ability to teach to that end of the population; her original plan was to educate and be a child psychologist at  the other end of the scale – the underprivieged, until fate drew its hand and changed them quite unexpectedly and dramatically. She took them on a journey of what people who aren’t royalty, call normality.

It’s a fascinating story that is revealed and makes me want to look into Marion’s life more as I am sure many readers will after reading this rivetting book.

The book has an air of authenticity to it and Fern Britton has cleverly woven through the facts of an ordinary woman who suddenly has her life changed to the extraordinary and has to weigh up choices she hadn’t thought she had to face, with the consequences to choose which path she will go along and some of the mistakes made along the way.

There are twists as readers see what mistakes are made and motives uncovered, involving a certain man in her life.

This is a book I recommend as it is very interesting, about a woman I certainly was barely aware of and the writing coupled with the research makes it a very good read.

#BookReview by Lou of A Beautiful Spy By Rachel Hore @Rachelhore @simonschusterUK @rararesources #SpyFiction #CrimeFiction #HistoricalFiction

A Beautiful Spy
By Rachel Hore

Rating: 4 out of 5.

It gives me pleasure to announce that I am closing the blog tour for A Beautiful Spy By Rachel Hore. It shows the perilous and dark corners of the world in a mysterious and intense fashion. Thanks to Simon and Schuster for providing a print copy of the book and for Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to the blog tour. Find out more about the author and her book, as well as the rest of my thoughts in the review…

A Beautiful Spy

About the Author

Rachel Hore author photoRachel Hore worked in London publishing for many years before moving with her family to Norwich, where she taught publishing and creative writing at the University of East Anglia until deciding to become a full-time writer. She is the Sunday Times (London) bestselling author of ten novels, including The Love Child. She is married to the writer D.J. Taylor and they have three sons. 

Blurb

A Beautiful SpyMinnie Gray is an ordinary young woman. She is also a spy for the British government.

It all began in the summer of 1928…

Minnie is supposed to find a nice man, get married and have children. The problem is it doesn’t appeal to her at all. She is working as a secretary, but longs to make a difference.

Then, one day, she gets her chance. She is recruited by the British government as a spy. Under strict instructions not to tell anyone, not even her family, she moves to London and begins her mission – to infiltrate the Communist movement.

Review

Minnie Gray is the main protagonist, with the book predominantely sweeping through the 1930’s, but also hitting on more modern times every so often. In 1928, Minnie wants more for her life and she certainly isn’t into meeting the Chamberlains, even though they were increasingly making their mark in the House of Commons. Life moves swiftly on from that time and readers learn about Minnie and her upbringing. What she hadn’t initially realised was that her connections then were to change the course of her life. Through her connections, she certainly becomes far removed from being a dutiful and stay at home wife. She has the opportunity to be a government spy, with the remit to spy on Communist Russia and to delve deeper into UK supporters of the regime.

There’s a bit of glamour that’s in the backdrop of a deeper, darker world and has her eyes opened wide to what the propaganda really means and where meetings take place in places where no one would normally suspect anything untoward could possibly happen.

The book shows how dangerous some politics are, especially by those with no alliegence to a country. It also sets out how people are taken in by clever propaganda. There are comparison’s that can be made into the book that can be made today and not only just with Russia, but with anywhere that has a more nationalist party. Although the book is set in the past and is about the dark, dangerous, yet exciting world for a fictional protagonist, there are some lines here and there that can be linked to certain aspects of today’s world and also the world of so-called unlikely leaders being voted into power. The book doesn’t delve too much into the roads of Communism, as Communism, as readers will know, doesn’t start there, there are other books that demonstrate this, this shows more when Communism has already got its grip.

The book is a slow suspense, but none-the-less gripping, especially for those readers who find the life of a spy and keeping identities hidden, fascinating. This book is a bit different from some spy fiction in that it doesn’t totally glamourise it and can show what an anxiety inducing life it can be and how challenging it can be, and yet change a person a bit, as demonstrated in the tastes of books Minnie used to like, compared to her tastes since becoming a spy as her worldly view has changed. The book isn’t all blazing guns and gadgets either. There is however, intelligence and a life of characters that seems plausible, and there is the wrangling of Minnie and a glimmer of desire to be set free by MI5 to lead a life outside spying, but she has proven herself well and to be valuable and stays, but things get ever more dangerous…. until a point when, finally, readers will be able to breath again, as can the woman, who led a double life.

Time moves forwards to the 1940’s and Minnie’s life has changed again, as does the pace and tone, but some histories in life can’t totally be erased and nor can the residue, certain parts of life leave behind…

This is, overall, a fascinating and intense book that leaves you wondering what next for this “Beautiful Spy”, at each turn…

Social Media Links

Visit her at RachelHore.co.uk and connect with her on Twitter @RachelHore.