Shelia O’Flanagan – Things We Never Say

Abbey Anderson lives in San Francisco, she seems to have happy with ‘her lot’. Friends, a place to live, a job she enjoys and a relationship.

Unexpectedly she is contacted by an Irish lawyer who has some rather important news to impart to her. Everything she has ever known to that point in her life is turned on its head.

Abbey must now travel to Dublin and learn more about herself. The only trouble is she is heading into the Fitzpatrick family.

Fred Fitzpatrick has died. He was successful and everyone around him, his sons Donald and Gareth, his daughter Suzanne, his daughters in law (current and ex), Zoey, Lisette and Deirdre all have an idea of how the late Fred’s estate should be divided.

However it seems Fred had other rather clearer ideas. Secrets are revealed as the will is read. Information is imparted that was a secret, in fact more than one.Things

The Fitzpatrick family will never be the same again.

Abbey Anderson will never be the same again.

Thing’s that were never said in the past are said now, loud and clear for everyone to here.

I enjoyed the dynamics of the Fitzpatrick family in this book. I loathed Donald and his actions, and I secretly wanted a different ending than the one the author gave us.  I thought the partnership of two daughters in law worked well, especially when they had one motive but very different reasons for it. Gareth played a typical younger brother role and was a follower of Donald, if only he was strong enough to voice his own opinions, a different ending again could have been reached. Suzanne had the most to gain and the least to say. Her determination clearly came from her father and she used that asset to her advantage.

Abbey was a mystery, a meek girl who had travelled much during her upbringing and wanted to put some roots down and settle. The events in Dublin, changed that and when she has to admit that she can longer protect her mother or where she is. The truth is about to be revealed.

As I read this book, I thought that in some ways it shows some but not all of the seven deadly sins played out for all to see. Certainly greed when money becomes involved, rage at the injustice of what some see as their right, and envy at trying to keep up with each other in terms of wealth, which cyclically brings us back to greed. What choices would you have made given the situation and your own personal circumstances?

After a rather jumpy start, this book goes along at a pace and I kept reading because I wanted to know what was going to happen. A lot of this book about is about families and especially siblings and the interaction of them all. As an only child this has always fascinated me which is why I enjoyed the book.

I have not read any Shelia O’Flanagan before and I came to this book with no preconceived ideas. I will certainly be reading more of her work.

Thank you to the publisher for providing me a copy of this book to review. I am ashamed to say that I received the book about two years ago and it has languished on the pile for a while. And whilst it ended up being one of my challenge books for 2015, I am slightly perturbed that I did not pick it up sooner to read. 

Raincoats and Retrievers – Cressida McLaughlin

It is now autumn in Primrose Terrace and I am back visiting Cat, Joe, Polly and other residents with of course their delightful dogs.

Pooch Promenade is going well and as the summer heat dies away and the autumn chill starts to come in. It seems Cat is back being a nosey neighbour and trying to help another resident, not just by taking their lovely retrievers out for a walk, but trying to retrieve a marriage as well.

Cat needs to concentrate more on her own love life, whilst her romance with Mark has had a few false starts, it does develop and she is more than content. But it seems that Joe has suddenly started to change his outlook, everything becomes very confusing for Cat.

Of course not everyone likes all this dog walking in the neighbourhood, so it is down to Cat again to try and rally everyone around and prove that dogs have a place to play as well as the adults too.

A real community feel to this novel and of course we go into the final part of the story wanting to know which residents lives Cat is going to tumble into and cause problems with her good intentions. Or will she finally try and sort her own life out?

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book. 

Raincoats and Retrievers is out today on Kindle.

The final part Tinsel and Terriers is out on 22 October. The complete book with all four parts is available from 5 November, titled A Christmas Tail and will also be available in paperback. 

August Roundup

So that is it then, August is done, the last bank holiday (before Christmas) has been and everyone senses a new start as we move into Autumn. A bumper month of reading as always, due to time spent away from work.

Sadly work starts again today, but I am hoping to comfort myself knowing I can come home to a good book or two.

And I read a good book or two in August. Where to start?

A book that has August in the title of course, Angela Thirkell – August Folly. I am starting to enjoy these sojourns into a gentle world and I am hoping to venture there again soon.

I know where I want to go again and that is to Tindledale, I caught up with Alexandra Brown – The Great Village Show and which I was part of such a village, but then that is the beauty fo a book to be able to take you to another place and experience it all and escape.

The sea was a major feature of reading. Veronica Henry – High Tide* is the latest novel from this author and will be published in late september. You will have to pop back and find out what I thought about it.

The best place to pop into on the beach is Fern Britton – The Beach Cabin, a short story from this author that takes us back to Pendruggan where many of her books feature now. The cabin is a place which is going to soothe the problems between Ed and Charlotte as well as their children. You can escape everything at the sea it seems.

Emylia Hall – The Sea Between Us is a book which warranted more than five stars, it is a wonderful read and another book which features Cornwall which has dominated my reading very much in 2015. It is a highly recommended and commended book!

Not Cornwall this time but Wales, in the shape of Malcolm Pryce – Aberystwyth Mon Amour*, a rather if not very quirky private detective story set at the seafront of Aberystwyth. Private detectives and there variants also featured with Rhys Bowen – Royal Blood, Lady Georgiana, 34th in line to the throne is despatched abroad to represent the Royals at a wedding, she walks into a rather odd set up.

Even in Agatha Christie – N or M?* we are staying at a seaside boarding house during the second world war. I am not sure the coast is where I want to be when the invasion could only be days away surely?

When you are wandering along the seafront you often spot a dog or two. Cressida McLaughlin – Raincoats and Retrievers* has to walk the dogs in Primrose Terrace whatever the weather.

Of course you do not want rain if there is going to be a wedding. But then Katie Fforde – Wedding Season* shows you that whatever the money you can anything for a wedding. Flowers being one of the most important things, Ella Griffin – The Flower Arrangement* has it covered for all events. Again whilst Cornwall has been a bit of theme so far in 2015, flowers have also featured as well. This is a wonderful novel and an author I hope to return to.

I do not know what it is that appeals to me about books from Irish Female authors, but like the former I also found myself with Sheila O’Flanagan – Things We Never Say* which had been languishing needlessly on my shelf waiting to be read.

Something I return to all the time is watching TV Gold in the shape of Open All Hours, Porridge and Only Fools and Horses. The main reason apart from them being excellent programmes is David Jason – My Life*. An insight into how this young and cheeky lad got to be one of the most recognisable television icons of my lifetime and maintained such a large amount of privacy that it should be respected.

You cannot go through life without making a few mistakes and you certainly learn from them. In the case of Paula Daly – The Mistake I Made*, I made a mistake and I have learnt from it. But what was the mistake, you will have to read the review to find out.

Holidays are about indulging and I have done plenty of that. Another is t hark back to a time when I read a jolly good saga and I have found these again with Dilly Court – The Beggar Maid it has kept me up late into the night because I was so absorbed by it all.

As the month closed, I was in the lovely position of being able to start a new book…….. so much choice……

How was your August?

*Book review yet to appear on my blog.

August Folly – Angela Thirkell

This is my second foray into an Angela Thirkell novel. If you want a gentle paced story which is reminiscent of days gone by, a specific period setting, where problems such as your daily help not being much good in the kitchen, or what the neighbours son is up to with a visiting female then these are the books for you and in particular this one.

Richard is back from Oxford, a long break awaits him as he decides what to do with his future. Back in his parental home, with his rather quiet father, rather worrying yet clever mother and a sister, Margaret just starting to blossom makes Richard want to seek adventure elsewhere. Especially before he has to decide on what work he is going to have to take.

In the village for the summer is The Dean family, a large family with numerous siblings, all coming and going. They live a very different way to Richard and Margaret and show them what life can be like in the summer in a village. In fact a number of the Deans turn the heads and hearts of Richard and Margaret in some rather humorous and touching ways.

However, in all villages as is a given. There is always someone who is trying to gather everyone into their fold. In this case it is Mrs Palmer, who for previous summers has always made sure a play is staged. This summer is no different and with extra people around with the Deans, it is obviously going to be the best yet. Mrs Palmer has not taken into account, the Deans.

A nice read, if any book can be as such. It starts, it progresses and it finishes. Nothing revelatory or heart stopping. Gentle reading at its best.

I look forward to reading some more Angela Thirkell as my reading journey continues over the years. 

The Sea Between Us – Emylia Hall

The cove has always been there in Cornwall. It will always be there in Cornwall.

The water has always flowed in and out at regular intervals, bringing up new beginnings and new friends, washing away problems and tears as life flows by it.

It has witnessed many things and will continue to do so.

But one summer it witnesses Robyn and Jago.

Robyn has found this secluded cove when she comes home from university, to the new house her parents have bought in Merrin. Trying to wash something away and to ultimately stop her getting bored is why she tries surfing.

Her first attempt brings her to the attention of Jago. A local lad, her parents neighbour. Their only neighbour.

As they are washed up together on the beach of the cove as Jago rescues Robyn from the maiden surf she took, a bond is formed, an understanding. But it is all very confusing for them both.

As time moves on, Robyn and Jago find themselves with feelings that come rushing in and out just like the waves on the shore at that cove where they first met.

As youth turns more to adulthood, circumstances change, perhaps it has always been the way, to know who you are most in love with you have to go away from that person to test that strength.

As Robyn grows stronger as a surfer, she is testing her strength and it takes her away from the cove, from her family, from Jago.

Jago’s strength comes from what he already knows, his home, his father, his carpentry, his horse, his memories. Jago does not realise until it is too late that some if not all of these things can weakened.

Paths cross and when events make decisions inevitable, it all seems too late for Robyn and Jago. But as the waves wash away they can always come back stronger than before.

This is Emylia Hall’s third novel and I am unsure which verb I should use to describe it. This is a novel which made such an impact on me. I was swept along with story between Robyn and Jago, the vivid scenery that seemingly projected itself off the page. I was there on that beach, I could smell the salt from the sea, taste it on my tongue, feel the wind as it went past.

This is a moving and beautiful novel and I did not want it to end. But end it had to, and that is perhaps why it is a wonderful novel, it ended at the right time, at the right moment, because anything else would have been so wrong.

A stunning read.

The Sea Between Us is out now. 

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for allowing the opportunity to read this book. 

I picked this book, because I was familiar with the authors first novel. Her second still sits on my shelf unread. Sometimes that is the way with début authors, you devour and enjoy the first, you get the second and it is there waiting for you and then you become excited by the third. 

The trouble was I was unaware there was a third, I spotted it and knew it would be good. Something about me wanted to read it straight away as I had been so slack I reading the second novel. All I can say is I am so glad I did. I wished I could have read it in actual book form, as opposed to my kindle, I think it would have delivered much more to be, between those pages, imagining them all salt encrusted and damp from the sea and the wind as you read the book in your own personal cove.

I was lucky enough to meet Emylia Hall back in 2012 talking about her first book, which she kindly signed and remembered my tentative tweet to her with a review. Well I hope she forgives me for taking so long to be back in contact. I promise I will read her second novel, A Heart Bent out of Shape. 

Stanley’s Summer Story

It is about eight weeks now since I moved to my new home. I think some of you may have seen me when I first arrived.

Stanley

Well I have to say it has been all go since then and I think I have fitted in really well. My humans seem a nice couple and they play, fuss and feed me very well.

I was allowed outside on my first day and had a bit of a run about, but it was exhausting so I had to have a sit down for a while.

IMG_0778

The very next day I was taken out in a basket and people took my photo and my humans did not know who they were but said I was cute. I visited the V E T and they jabbed, poked, prodded and gave me the once over and said I was cute too. I have been back again and I was a good boy because I did not squeak when I was jabbed. One of my humans is not keen on these things, but she comes with me any way.

Of course I have done a lot of sleeping on people and chairs as humans watch the television.

IMG_0803

When my humans go out, they leave me near my crate and I have a friend for sleeping with.

IMG_0804

When the humans watch the television, I sit in this basket

IMG_0805

The thing is I like to be with them all the time. They are always talking to me, but I get confused as my name is Stanley, but they keep saying Puss and Bandit. I have yet to work out who they are?

When I am in my crate I am not with my humans, so I made a decision to sleep with them.

IMG_0785

I am not sure if they were keen or not but I did not give them much choice. Though I did hear them say, they didn’t mind so long as I went out to the toilet. I am doing that nearly all of the time, but sometimes I forget. It is so exciting to see them sometimes.

Now I have been to the V E T three times, I can go out and about a bit more now and see other things. I have to wear this funny contraption, which doesn’t bother me when it’s on, but it takes so long for my humans to work out how it goes on, I get bored.

IMG_0798

I of course have a big garden to play in and plenty of places to put my face in and investigate. Apparently though I get a bit too messy

IMG_0824

Of course with grass, my feet get wet. So what I say? My humans were not so impressed.

IMG_2705

Apparently when humans are dirty they must have a bath. This applies to me too.

IMG_0841

All these new things are very tiring. But I think I am going to stay where I am because it is rather nice and the humans are good and the visiting human who likes reading and writing visits me too. She went away and I got to see her on this little screen and hear her, but I could not work out why I could not bite her toes? When I saw her again, I checked the toes.

That is all from me now, I will be back soon, but I have some growing to be getting on with and some toes to eat. Apparently the visiting human will be writing about books and not me next time, which I am sure will be interesting but won’t be as cute as me.

IMG_0839

 

A Very Big House in the Country – Claire Sandy

It is always inevitable that if you put in a big house three very different families, with different values and ideas about life and the way to spend a holiday, you are going to garner some sort of story.

And so this is the case with this novel, A Very Big House in the Country.

The big house opens its doors to Evie, her husband Mike, three children and a dog. Shen, third wife to Clive and their small perfectly kept child and her nanny. Plus Clive’s son from a previous marriage erupting into the holiday. Then there is Paula and Joe plus a very quiet child. There were that many people, especially children I lost track of who was with who and related to whom.

This is very much a tale of ‘life’ and how when being away from home suddenly puts everything into perspective that perhaps you had never seen before. There were some funny moments scattered within the pages as you put people not normally cooped up together in a situation. Balanced out with that by the author which I think she has succeeded with was the more poignant ones and life changing episodes, to remind you that “real life is nothing like the brochure”.

Evie and Mike seem to be a solid but dependable couple, but there is something underlying about their relationship and as the book progresses it looks like it might fall apart.

Shen and Clive live in a perfect world, with the perfect amount of money in a perfectly structured world. However it seems that cannot buy stability and love which is what makes Evie and Mike’s marriage work.

Paula and Joe, seem distant and relations are strained. To the point where Paula sees doom at every turn and in every bush, whilst Joe is seeking solace elsewhere.

Coupled with all of these relationships, we see how the children of differing ages react to each other as they see their parents lives almost played out in front of them.

There are some interesting turn of events as the momentum of the story takes hold and whilst I enjoyed it, it was a book that as I put it down, I was not desperate to want to pick up and see what was going to happen next.

Much as I do not like pigeonholing books, this is a holiday read to enjoy but one that will not leave a lasting impact.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

Looking back on this book as I came to review, I was drawn to something I had recently read. How when you read books, what mood you are in, previous experience, current lives affect how you perhaps look at or interpret a book. 

This was the case here, I come from a very small family – we could not raise a crowd in a phone box. We did not go away with other families to share houses on holiday and therefore this experience is alien to me. It is only in recent years that I have been away with a group of girlfriends all very different personalities, that I get the whole concept and I admit to it being rather overwhelming. I am more than happy reading quietly somewhere and dipping in and out of a swimming pool (if there is one) and eating lovely food.

Perhaps that is why I struggled to relate to the book, not having shared these experiences and not having children. It is amazing what affects you when you read a book, most of it I am sure subconsciously.