#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 present 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.

#Review By Lou of One Moonlit Night By Rachel Hore @Rachelhore @simonschusterUK @TeamBATC @BookMinxSJV #OneMoonlitNight #BlogTour #WW2 #BookRecommendation #BookTwitter #Blogger

One Moonlit Night
By Rachel Hore

Rating: 5 out of 5.

one moonlit night, rachel hore

One Moonlit Night is a rich, beautiful novel set during the war that is easy to get immersed in with its romance, secrets and war… Follow down to the blurb and my full review below.
Firstly, thanks to publisher Simon and Schuster for inviting me to review on the blog tour.

one moonlit night, rachel hore

Blurb

One Moonlit NightThe unmissable new novel from the million-copy Sunday Times bestselling author of A Beautiful Spy

Loyalty and betrayal, hope and despair, One Moonlit Night tells the captivating story of a husband and wife separated by secrets as well as by war.

Accept it, he is dead.
No, it’s not true.
It is. Everyone thinks so except you.

Forced to leave their family home in London after it is bombed, Maddie and her two young daughters take refuge at Knyghton, the beautiful country house in Norfolk where Maddie’s husband Philip spent the summers of his childhood.

But Philip is gone, believed to have been killed in action in northern France. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Maddie refuses to give up hope that she and Philip will some day be reunited.

Arriving at Knyghton, Maddie feels closer to her missing husband, but she soon realises that there’s a reason Philip has never spoken to her about his past. Something happened at Knyghton one summer years before. Something that involved Philip, his cousin Lyle and a mysterious young woman named Flora.

Maddie’s curiosity turns to desperation as she tries to discover the truth, but no one will speak about what happened all those years ago, and no one will reassure her that Philip will ever return to Knyghton.
The extraordinarily powerful new novel from bestselling author Rachel Hore. 

Review

Having enjoyed A Beautiful Spy, it now gives me great pleasure in telling you how good and compelling One Moonlit Night is. It is an eloquently written book, set in the second world war, that has a whirlwind romance to get caught up in before war breaks out and the lovers, now man and wife – Maddie and Phillip are then separated because he has to fight. They built up a family with two daughters, whom he has no choice but to leave behind, as they then seek refuge. It is like that ultimate emotional romance that plays out as glee that two lovers are together in such a romantic fashion, and scenic areas are painted in the minds eye throughout, which all turns to sorrow and into page-turner.

As the war rages on there is tides of emotion as Phillip may or may not be alive. Everyone except from Maddie thinks he is dead. You really feel for Maddie in this situation. It also turns out that she didn’t really know her husband as well as she perhaps thought as there are so many secrets to be uncovered about events that happened years ago that he never talked about.  The complex mystery about the man whom she married starts when a folder belonging to Phillip is handed to her and realises there are certain things that she had no idea about. It means she has to go to Knyghton, in Norfolk, a place where Phillip spent summer-times in. As well as meeting members of his family and the Land Girls, there is also a photograpgh, that poses many questions and further deepens the mystery of secrets that swirls round and compounds in the book, along with love, loyalty and betrayal. There is much intrigue to be sought and many questions to be answered right up until a well thought out ending.

One Moonlit Night blog tour

#BookReview By Lou -The Language of Food By Annabel Abbs @AnnabelAbbs @simonschusterUK #TheLanguageOfFood @BookMinxSJV

The Language of Food
By Annabel Abbs

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Language of Food is fiction based on fact. It takes reader into the life of a little known woman, by many, called Eliza Acton. She changed the course of cookery forever and when today’s cooks come across her, they are inspired by her story and style. Annabel Abbs has now opened her life up so that everyone can know the achievements and hardships and good times of her. Discover more in the blurb and my review. I also thank Simon and Schuster for gifting me a copy of the book.

The Language of Food pic

Blurb

The Language of Food picEngland 1835. Eliza Acton is a poet who dreams of seeing her words in print. But when she takes her new manuscript to a publisher, she’s told that ‘poetry is not the business of a lady’. Instead, they want her to write a cookery book. That’s what readers really want from women. England is awash with exciting new ingredients, from spices to exotic fruits. But no one knows how to use them

Eliza leaves the offices appalled. But when her father is forced to flee the country for bankruptcy, she has no choice but to consider the proposal. Never having cooked before, she is determined to learn and to discover, if she can, the poetry in recipe writing. To assist her, she hires seventeen-year-old Ann Kirby, the impoverished daughter of a war-crippled father and a mother with dementia. 

Over the course of ten years, Eliza and Ann developed an unusual friendship – one that crossed social classes and divides – and, together, they broke the mould of traditional cookbooks and changed the course of cookery writing forever. 

Eliza Acton, despite having never before boiled an egg, became one of the world’s most successful cookery writers, revolutionizing cooking and cookbooks around the world. Her story is fascinating, uplifting and truly inspiring.

The Language of Food pic

                                              The Language of Food pic

Review

The Language of Food may make you hungry, it may make you feel warm and cosy and it may show you something you perhaps did not know before.

This is a fictional book, but features a real person from history – Eliza Acton. She was a cookery writer who lived between 1799-1859 and got a blue plaque. I love and appreciate food and cookery, but I had never heard of her before, perhaps because, as the book says, so little was known about her, but this book weaves into her life, what was known about her. More well-known cooks of this more modern era, such as Delia Smith and others, have been influenced by her. Eliza’s books were bestsellers, selling vast amounts of copies at the time.

Each chapter is nicely designed in the way they are written and titled – using food related terms or actual food. The book also goes between Ann and Eliza to tell their life stories. It begins with Ann and Mr Whitmarsh, who has given her a present. Immediately, Mr Whitmarsh brings energy that runs through the opening chapter, but also one of intrigue at a certain reaction to the more well-known – Mrs Beaton…

The book then goes to Eliza, on her way to a publisher, hoping to publish some more poetry. The publisher then sees an opportunity for a cookery book. The book shows how things were at a certain time in people’s views and at the same time, therefore also shows how things have moved on as time has passed and views have differed and what is realised about women’s talents, that were overlooked and not taken seriously before, as she argues the point of how poetry was good enough for great male stalwarts of this type of writing, but perhaps not women. There is also a level of perspective within Ann’s world, where she isn’t pleased at this finding, but Mr Whitmarsh soon shows a bit of reality within his cooking world.

The book has a sense of movement in time and is, in some respects, the writing is poetic, something perhaps Eliza Acton may have appreciated…. perhaps… It also shows her determination, ambition and almost fearlessness to do things how she wants to, which then drove a change in the way cookery books were and are written.

It isn’t as simple as that. Eliza has to think about food in a more focussed way to give her publishers a cookery book, but with one tiny problem… she has never even boiled an egg before, which makes you wonder how on earth she can write a cookery book and the sort that her publishers would want to show the world and sell. So, she learns and gets inspired by food and what Jack has told her. Eliza, against the odds, begins to add unexpected ingredients for Britain at that time.

The food and how it was cooked, all blended into the story, unfolds in a way that educates in how food was prepared and also feeds the senses terribly well and absorbs into the mind, wanting to soak up and consume every word. Given that there, as readers are informed at the beginning, that there is little known about Eliza Acton, I can’t help but think that this book is respectfully done. There’s a certain sense, especially as it captures the times and then hones in on the food and brings a believability to it and shows how cuisine was then and how Eliza started to change it, and also learnt from other cooks. The book demonstrates a whole foody web of connections and sparks of inspiration gained from others, even if not always in-person, but in their cookery books.

As well as all the food that leaps from the page, there, intertwined is also other parts of her life, because people have more than one interest and more than one thing going on in their lives. There are the friendships forged, even when some may seem unlikely, but showing that sometimes, they can be great friendships. There are also health challenges and how they were seen at the time.

There is also great insight into the characters lives, and the places featured, lots that are real, including a mental health asylum. Those that feature a lot in the book have a very interesting note at the end of the book, which gives even greater context and interest and attention to detail.

As a book as a whole, it’s a good introduction to Eliza Acton, who will, I am sure be a bit better known than she perhaps used to be, and is interesting as well as being humorous with lots of food within it and snippets of her and Ann’s lives throughout, creating a believable story, that then picques interest to do a small amount of looking around for Eliza Acton, something I often find myself doing after a biopic or a fictional story based on a real person’s life, if it interests me enough.

About the Author

Annabel Abbs is the new rising star of biographical historical novels. She grew up in Bristol, Sussex and Wales before studying English Literature at the University of East Anglia and Marketing at the University of Kingston. Her debut novel The Joyce Girl was a Guardian Reader’s Pick and her second novel Frieda: The Original Lady Chatterley earned critical acclaim including Times 2018 Book of the Year. She regularly appears on national and regional media, with recent appearances on Radio 4 Woman’s Hour and Sky News, and is popular on the literary festival circuit. She was longlisted for the Bath Novel Award, the Caledonia Novel Award and the Waverton GoodRead Award. Annabel lives in London with her husband and four children.

 

#BookReview By Lou – The Collector’s Daughter By Gill Paul @GillPaulAUTHOR @AvonBooks #HistoricalFiction #Egyptologists #Tutankhamun #5thEarlOfCanarvon #Fiction

The Collector’s Daughter
By Gill Paul

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Collector’s Daughter has a lot I didn’t expect and was better for it and oh so interesting as well as being a book I sailed through. I am absolutely delighted to finally have time from a busy period of time, to show you my review… Thanks to Avon Books for gifting this lovely book. Find more in the blurb and my review…

The Collector's Daughter

Blurb

From the internationally bestselling author comes a tale of long-buried secrets and a discovery that will change everything, perfect for fans of Dinah Jefferies and Lucinda Riley.

The Collector’s Daughter: A gripping and sweeping tale of unforgettable discoveries and unforgiveable secrets for 2021An unforgettable discovery
In 1922, Lady Evelyn Herbert’s dreams are realised when she is the first to set foot inside the lost tomb of Tutankhamun for over 3,000 years.
A cursed life
But the months after the discovery are marred by tragedy, when Eve’s father dies suddenly and her family is torn in two. Desperate to put the past behind her, Eve retreats into a private life with her new husband.
A deadly choice
But she is harbouring a dark secret about what really happened in Egypt. And when a young woman comes asking questions years later, the happiness Eve has finally found is threatened once more…

Review

The Collector’s Daughter takes readers to Egypt to follow in the footsteps of Lady Evelyn Herbert, as she takes the first steps into the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun. It is absolutely fascinating to read about Eve and her discoveries and when she is older and how Dr. Ana Mansor takes up the mantle and how their path’s cross.

Luxor, 1919. Eve comes from a privileged family at Highclere. She is a daughter of Lord Carnarvon (George Herbert – 5th Earl of Carnarvon, who becomes an Egyptologist and funds the exploration of Tutankhamun’s tomb. 

Her mother has other plans. She wants Eve to get married and has to be a man of similar social standing. This isn’t Eve’s idea. For Eve there has to be more than this. She desires a man who will share a passion for travel and who will approve of her being an archeologist. It has been a passion of hers, after being inspired by her father, who encouraged her, to be part of digs. At 18 she arrives in Luxor, Valley of the Kings. There are some strange events as Tutenkhamun’s Tomb is discovered. 

London, 1972. Eve is in her early seventies and has had yet another stroke and is trying to regain her speech at a rehabilitation centre. The story of Egypt doesn’t stop here though. Dr. Ana Mansor is working on a research project and finding something odd about the archives with information about Tutankhamun’s tomb. Dr. Ana Mansor decides to visit Eve. It piques curiosity as to what this may be. It also gives a new energy and determination to Eve to improve her speech, but something feels odd. She has a secret that she is reluctant to reveal… It is so dark about what happened in Egypt…

This has depth and some of the characters are real, but are fictionalised. The book however piques interest to find out more about the exhibitions of Lord Canarvon. There’s a great plot, history, dark secrets to uncover; it’s an enthralling read. The research done with imagination is great and makes this better than I ever expected!

 

#BookReview By Lou Z-Rod – Chosen Wanderers – A Celtic Saga Of Warriors and Saints By Martin C. Haworth #MartinCHaworth @malcolmdownpub #HistoricalFiction #ScottishFiction #Fiction #ChristianFiction #Celts #Picts #Saga

Z-Rod – Chosen Wanderers
By Martin C. Haworth

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Z-Rod – The Chosen Wanderers is book 1 of a compelling epic saga series set in Scotland during the times of the Picts and Celts.
Find out more in the blurb and the rest of my thoughts in my review. Then discover even more in the links to the websites and Facebook page, where you can find out more about the book and other activities such as hillwalks and retreats and more…
Thanks to the author – Martin C. Haworth for gifting me the book, published by publishing company – Malcolm Down.

ZRod Chosen Wanderers cover

Blurb

Chosen Wanderers is the first book in the Z-Rod series: a gripping saga set in the upheavals of Pictish Scotland in the 6th century. At the initiation of two princes preparing one to rule the tribe, a mysterious power symbol, the Z-Rod, is tattooed on one, unleashing uncontrollable consequences.

Tribal power struggles are further intensified when two Irish saints arrive whose vibrant faith and daring spirit, preserving them through the Scottish wilds, demonstrates to capricious warlords and their powerful druids, an alternative worldview of reconciliation and hope.

Straddling these two worlds is a mysterious bard with prophetic abilities. His revelation has little relevance initially, but later becomes the lifeline to recover a seemingly lost destiny. What significance does the Z-Rod and ‘bearing fire to the north’ have on an exile, and how will anything be achieved amidst poverty and obscurity?

By turns epic and homely, spiritually searching and thoroughly adventurous, this story of great undoing and remaking propels us through multiple scenes and characters in a setting which is utterly convincing in its detail.

ZRod Chosen Wanderers dbl cover

Review

Z-Rod is set in Pictish Scotland in the 6th Century, as well as at the time of the Celts. The author describes Scotland (before it became Scotland as we know it today) in interesting detail in a short introduction. The fact it is set in Pictish times provides something different to historical fiction, the Picts (indigenous people north of the Forth-Clyde divide) and the Christians. The book moves at surprising pace. It sounds more heavy than it really is. It’s pretty succinct and the intrigue surrounding the Z-Rod itself adds to the compelling nature.

There are noblemen and lords within the book and the Z-rod tattooed on one, a symbol of power and authority. The story itself starts with the initiation and readers meet Taran, Oengus, Alpia and Talorgen, then later, Kessog. There’s an air of it being a great occassion with ritual and complexity, as, especially Taran discovers in the wilds of the Pictish north, where the south are a bit more tame and are also starting to dabble in Christianity.

There’s adventure into new lands by boat and faith of reaching destinations safely, there’s also the questioning of the different faiths that are presented within the Picts and the Christian stories as they learn a bit about each other, but not exactly accepting as there are percieved curses, which adds a bit of tension between the factions.

The book takes readers to different Lochs and the River Dee, where there is tribal action, raids and murder. Along the watery adventure, there is also a spot of romance and all isn’t as easy to attract a woman as it first seems… This adds to another dimension to the story and perhaps widens its appeal a bit further, but still with the depth of history by way of the people living in the 6th century, philosophical thought by way of a dream and theology by way of the religious aspects.

There appears to have been a lot of thorough research done right down to the detailing of the different names of places, lochs and the types of people that lived in this time, such as wise old women or witches. There’s a glossary at the back to translate the older words used within this otherwise fictional tale that is also about courage, attitudes, destinys, life.

There is also an excerpt of book 2 of Z-Rod to lure you into more of Taran’s life…

About The Author

Martin Haworth worked in community and church development with an Iron-age Filipino tribe, providing an in depth understanding of pagan belief practices. Under his own business, www.roamingscotland.com, he now helps others connect with Scotland’s landscapes and ancient history, and leads Celtic Christian retreats. This book has arisen from the fusion of these experiences and interests.

Social Media

Website: https://www.roamingscotland.com/blog   There is also a buy link within there that means 10% will go to support a relief project among the Mangyan tribes of the Philippines.  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Z-Rod-Trilogy-101184882165861

Publisher Website: https://www.malcolmdown.co.uk/

#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.