The Hourglass Factory – Lucy Ribchester

Frankie George is trying to break into the world ‘proper’ journalism. Not just writing a lot of the fluff and nonsense that some newspapers want for their society columns. She is not interested about who was seen with who, what the latest garment everyone should be wearing or the latest delicacy to grace the tables of the rich.

She wants to be a hardcore journalist, but she is very much in a mans world and it is proving more difficult.

Ebony Diamond has a reputation to maintain. She is an acrobat and a trapeze artist who is known throughout London. She is just as famous for her corsets as he is for her act.

It is her corset which will lead Frankie into a world of secrets, terrorism and mystery.

Frankie meets Ebony and then Ebony disappears and Frankie is left wondering why? What is the connection between a trapeze artist, a snake charmer and a suffragette? It will take a lot for Frankie to find out and the date of the 5th November is looming fast.

In contrast to this rather vivid world of Edwardian Society, is the world of the Metropolitan Police. DI Primrose is a plodder and in many senses and you can see why policeman were referred to as plods. He has a sense of apathy about his job and the time he is spending away from his wife and the time he is spending within the suffragette squad. Unfortunately his superiors had other ideas about how policeman should work within the suffragette squad. Will DI Primrose gain any sort of result from working his methods?

This debut novel does require some concentration, it is rather complex and it did take me a while to really get into the story. It does pick up pace once the scene has been set and clearly plenty of research has been done. I just wonder whether too much has been fitted into the book and the story would have worked just as well without some of the plot lines or characters. They could have had a novel all to themselves.

A debut novel bookended by the death of many in April 1912 and of one in June 1913. (Testing you on your knowledge!) Major events in British history but so much more was going on in these months.

I love the cover of this novel, which is what I was attracted to. An interesting concept for a story and I have read very few novels with the suffragette story as a backdrop. As a lover of history it is something I must seek to rectify.


Christmas in October

Don’t worry it may seem like someone has moved Christmas earlier this year but I can assure you they have not. I did see the large tins of sweets in the supermarkets in August and work has already begun to take a Christmas theme with preparations for raffles, lunches and parties. Time certainly does not stand still and to be honest I cannot wait for a rest. I may not have bought any christmas presents yet or even thought about what I am going to buy. I have decided I am going to have a day of pure reading, whether that be snuggled under the covers in bed or under a blanket on the sofa. There will be books, cups of tea and naughty goodies to indulge in.

The thing is Christmas has been hanging round for a while in the shape of a jigsaw.

I like jigsaw, my Nan was a great jigsaw lover and sadly when we were cleaning out her spare room after, she had moved into a home under the bed we found quite a few. Mum thought I was joking as I laid flat-out on the floor, half under the spare bed handing out jigsaw after jigsaw after jigsaw. I think the final count was around 30. Most went to the charity shop some we kept.

When she was in the home for what ended up to be her last weeks, I told her I had started a jigsaw that she had bought me a couple of christmas ago. It was one that came with a very large bar of Cadbury chocolate. The chocolate got eaten, the jigsaw remained untouched. I started it, remembered how much I enjoyed it and decided once complete I would tackle one of the rescued ones from under the bed.

And so I did and I could take pictures via my iPad so my Nan could see it progressing, however she never saw it finished and I suddenly didn’t want to finish it. So for nearly three years, I moved the jigsaw board and box every week to get into my blanket box where my bedding was. I dusted the box when I thought about it and just kept thinking I should finish that.

The time felt right suddenly earlier this year and so I thought I should finish it. Talking about Christmas in October is bad enough, finished a Christmas Jigsaw in June is positively perverse. But I did.


Trouble is when you finish something you then want to start another one…….at least this one is not Christmas themed.


The Confectioner’s Tale – Laura Madeleine

In this book you are whisked away to the first ten years of the twentieth century, to France and to Paris.

A young man sees into another world. A world full of creation, full of cream, chocolate,pastry, air, caramel, sugar, precision and skill.

A world which he will never belong with his calloused hands and skin from working the railways.

But then this man meets someone and it looks like his life will change and he can inhabit another world.

The world of Patisserie Clermont.

Eighty years later, a PhD student, Petra discovers a photo of the Patisserie Clermont amongst her grandfathers items. She does not recognise the place or the other people in the photo and the words “Forgive me” written on the back spark an interest. Putting her own studies at risk,  she begins to try and find the truth about this photo and the man she knew as her grandfather.

However at every turn she always seems to be too late and why would anyone else be interested in a story about her grandfather….. unless what she believed to be true about him was not..

This dual narrative tale does I admit take a while to get going, it has a very slow spun pace to it, in some ways like the creations being made in the Patisserie. However reflecting back I can see this is all about spinning the story building the moment when we find out the truth. But will it be the truth that we were expecting?

I was slightly disappointed with the end result as I felt it could have been so much more. That is just a personal preference though. The descriptions of the Patisserie will have your mouth-watering, and the way you are taken back to Paris was beautifully described and clearly plenty of research had gone into the areas that you could find yourself in at that time and it was all brought vividly to life.

A promising start for this debut novelist. I look forward with interest what else she writes.

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

The Confectioner’s Tale is out now. 

Crafts · Knitting

Hog in my Hedge

At the end of September I posted about how it has been perhaps a bit slow round here and that not much was being posted about. Despite how much I wanted to share with you all.

I might (it is a small might) have found a bit more of a mojo (and time) in terms of posting, so I went back to the list I made then and pared it down a bit. And I can now cross something out as you can see.

  • I have finished a piece of cross stitch, a book related one too, that has been on the go for a while.
  • I have started and finished a knitted hedgehog.
  • I have started another piece of cross stitch…..
  • I am busy trying to finish a pair of socks…..
  • I have completed a jigsaw which had been hanging around for over 2 years and is now complete, so I started another one…..
  • I am now starting to think about Christmas Presents, and ones that I could possible make……
  • I have been away to somewhere new and would love to tell you all about it….
  • I have watched the latest adaptation of An Inspector Calls on the television and I want to share my thoughts about it and the play which I reread before it started…..
  • Stanley is still delighting everyone and is now 17 weeks old, with teeth as sharp as razors and a personality to match!
  • I want to share some of my baking virtually of course……

This was a free kit with a knitting magazine that mum bought. I do not normally make such things, but I thought it would be a relative quick and easy make.

Then I remembered how I hate knitting with that hairy yarn especially when it is not straightforward knitting and you have to decrease.


Of course the yarn provided is never enough and it is always cheap. It really is not nice to knit with and something that should have started off as a simple quick project hung around a bit too long. But I cracked on as I am trying to finish things off before I start even more and so after some debate about feet and how many I should sew on bearing in mind the wool only gave me enough for 3 of them I finished it.


And as for those feet – well you would never seen them at the back under all that hairy yarn. That is my story and I am sticking to it!


Appleby Farm – Cathy Bramley

If you have read Ivy Lane, then you may be familiar with a couple of the characters which feature in Appleby Farm. If you haven’t then well, you will have to go and read Ivy Lane when you have finished this one.

Freya Moorcroft is rather nomadic, flitting around from job to job and place to place, never staying anywhere for more than a year. Whilst she is content in Ivy Lane, she knows there always one place she can call home.

That place is Appleby Farm, where her aunt and uncle. Many a happy childhood school holiday and weekends was spent here and it is someone where Freya feels she is at her best even when feeling her worst.

A phone call leads Freya back to Appleby Farm and when she gets there it seems she needs to help her aunt and uncle just as they helped her when she was small.

With financial disaster looming ever closer, Freya has to use all she knows to try and turn round the farm and hold on to the past whilst surviving in the future.

She meets an old childhood friend, who is in a similar predicament but has somehow made a success. She meets new friends who show her what can be achieved and old friends from Ivy Lane become just as important as the race seems to be on to make Appleby Farm a working success.

Add to the mix as any good women’s fiction will do, there is a love interest, the problems of long distance relationships, previous children and family disharmony as well. This book has all you could want and more.

This is a book to lose yourself in. Cathy Bramley has a skill in making you feel for all the characters even the ones who you might not be so keen on! added to this is the setting and the prospect of sweeping dales, cold crisp days and nights in front of the fire means that this book is perfect for all fans of this particular type of fiction.

Cathy Bramley is up there with Trisha Ashley, Katie Fforde, Carole Matthews.

Appleby Farm was originally published in four parts but I waited until it was out as a whole novel to devour. Patience when the story is so good is sometimes difficult. 

Her latest novel, Wickham Hall is out now in the same part format, but I will wait until I can devour it as a whole. 



The Tea Planter’s Wife – Dinah Jefferies

Dinah Jefferies in her first novel, took me all the way to Malaysia. In this novel her second, she has taken me away to Ceylon.

I feel like I am going on a journey not just across to another continent but also backwards in time to another era.

It is the 1920s, Gwen Hooper, newly married has made the long journey to Ceylon to be with her new husband, Lawrence. However the man she gets to in Ceylon is so far from the loving man she married and has dreamt about on her passage.

Everything is very different, Lawrence is not so loving and attentive and it seems being a Tea Planter’s wife is a role that Gwen was not expecting. She is very much isolated. Even with the servants, she never feels quite right taking control of the house. The arrival of Verity, Lawrence’s sister could be the friendship she needs, but it seems that there are other forces at work.

Suddenly with all this responsiblity for someone so young she struggles, but she knows right from wrong and senses when there is something untoward going on. As the book progresses we are taken on Gwen’s journey and how events transpire in a culture and society that does not sit comfortably with her.

With a strong plot line, I was unsure of where the book was going to go. There are wonderful light moments for Gwen, but so much is made darker by the tragic actions of not just Gwen but a number of the characters. Secrets can destroy many and guilt can keep you consumed forever.

The book is made even richer by the descriptions of the scenery, from the first few pages as Gwen arrives, to the monsoons that envelop the villages, the way the natives live and work, to even the simplest walk. It is all richly described and jumps off the page to create wonderful imagery that I do not think any screen adaptation would do justice so.

There is much to this book and plenty I could say but to do so will give away the strength that this book has in holding your attention and making you feel for the characters with some warmth and equal coldness where applicable.

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

The Tea Planter’s Wife is out now and is also an Autumn Choice for the Richard and Judy Book Club, which I hope will bring many others to Dinah Jefferies work. 


Ten Little Niggers – Agatha Christie

First of all, it is not my intention to offend anyone with the title of this book. However I have chosen to start from the beginning of the book and this in fact is the original title when it was first published in November 1939 in the UK. In the US the title was changed to the one we are now more familiar with – due to the fact that nigger was racially offensive in the US. Ironically, it also meant that subsequent publications went to Ten Little Indians in the UK, to the one that the novel is known by now –  And Then There Were None.

The title although seemingly insignificant plays a part in the overall story. For those who do not know the rhyme, Christie does show it again in the book – I have taken this version from Wikipedia and it uses Indian instead of Nigger.

Ten little Indian Boys went out to dine;
One choked his little self and then there were nine.

Nine little Indian Boys sat up very late;
One overslept himself and then there were eight.

Eight little Indian Boys travelling in Devon;
One said he’d stay there and then there were seven.

Seven little Indian Boys chopping up sticks;
One chopped himself in halves and then there were six.

Six little Indian Boys playing with a hive;
A bumblebee stung one and then there were five.

Five little Indian Boys going in for law;
One got in Chancery and then there were four.

Four little Indian Boys going out to sea;
A red herring swallowed one and then there were three.

Three little Indian Boys walking in the zoo;
A big bear hugged one and then there were two.

Two little Indian Boys sitting in the sun;
One got frizzled up and then there was one.

One little Indian Boy left all alone;
He went out and hanged himself and then there were none.

And yet I have not even touched upon the novel itself, which is said to be one of Christie’s masterpieces and without a doubt is, now I have finally got round to reading it. Remembering that it does not feature any of her well-known detectives, Poirot, Miss Marple or Tommy and Tuppence.

So what of the book, well actually how can you write a review for a book which will basically give away the whole plot and for me the simple answer is you cannot. It has twists and turns, you think you know the answer but then you don’t. Then you know the answer but you are not sure if it is the right one or not. I was left feeling bewildered but in a satisfied way. A book which Christie said herself “It was so difficult to do,” she writes, “that the idea had fascinated me.” 

All you need to know is this:

Ten strangers, apparently with little in common, are lured to an island mansion off the coast of Devon by the mysterious U.N.Owen. Over dinner, a record begins to play, and the voice of an unseen host accuses each person of hiding a guilty secret.

And Then There Were None was voted the World’s Favourite Christie in a recent online poll to mark 125 years since the birth of the author.

It is also in  the process of being adapted into a 3 part, BBC television drama, which is destined to hit our screens according to IMDB on the 27 December 2015.

So now I have read it, I am all ready to watch the programme and pick holes where necessary and see if they change anything of significance.


Under a Cornish Sky – Liz Fenwick

Demi has come to seek solace in Cornwall with her grandfather as she tries to understand the actions of her now ex boyfriend. Her grandfather the only person she has left in her life now, her mother recently deceased and her father never known.

Victoria is content, she has everything she ever wanted apart from one aching desire. She is back living at Boscawen her families estate for previous generations, there is nothing to take it away from Victoria now. She may not have fulfilled on ambition, but countless affairs seem to keep these thoughts at bay.

However the death of one man, Charles is going to change Demi and Victoria’s lives forever.

Two very different female characters that the author has created at a times, you wonder who you should feel the most for. Despite all that happened to her I am not sure I really warmed to Victoria at all. Her actions even at her lowest point, I could not reconcile.

I was firmly in the Demi camp, cheering her on as she blossomed and grew in a place that she thought was both familiar and unknown.

As in the previous Liz Fenwick novel I have read, the rich description of the landscape in Cornwall in all its glory adds to the scenery and is a wonderful backdrop to the story that unfolds.

I was captured so quickly by what was going on in this novel, that I had to keep reading and if you want to escape to Cornwall on a small break and get a glimpse of what is happening to someone else, then this is the ideal book for you.

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

Under a Cornish Sky is out now. 

Again another book under my belt in 2015 which is based in Cornwall. I am going to have to go back through all the books read so far without a doubt and mark all those which have featured Cornwall. 

I really enjoyed this book and have now got all Liz Fenwick’s books on kindle for me to read and catch up on. 






My Life – David Jason

David Jason has been apart of my life forever. I adored watching him as Granville in Open All Hours, I remember being encouraged to pick up H.E. Bates Darling Buds of May, after watching him on the television. Del Boy in Only Fools and Horses keeps me laughing to this day, despite having seen them countless times and his DI Frost is always the stark contrast in which one man can play two so differing roles.

And I was fascinated as a child that he played Blanco in Porridge. A fact which I have clung onto and many times has been a godsend in quizzes and trivia. I have caught many people out with this one!

This was a book I was going to enjoy reading and so I did. I savoured everything in it. We start from the very beginning of his life, born during the Second World War and are taken on how he has made it to the man we know today.

But do we really know the man? This is a book which concentrates on his career, how he worked hard, slogged in fact to make it in various productions long before he graced our television screens. If you want a book purely about his personal life then you will be disappointed. However there is enough ‘domestic’ anecdotes to keep the book very real. Names are dropped in where they are relevant but Jason keeps it all professional. That made it a much better read in my opinion, no mud-slinging and his deep honesty when dealing with some very private problems, such as nursing his partner, gave me more respect for what he had chosen to write about and share.

Of course there are some wonderful anecdotes of a number of prodcutions and programmes he has featured in and some he has not and of course plenty about the legend that is Ronnie Barker, ‘The Guvnor’ and the poem that he sent Jason on the announcement of his knighthood is how the book ends and how I will end this review

Congratulations, Little Feed,

Her Gracious Majesty decreed

That Granville, little errand lad,

And Del Boy, Frost and others had

All served their nation passing well,

So here’s to Granville, Frost and Del!

The old ex-Guvnor’s proud to see

His comrade reach such high degree,

Knight of the Realm, and TV star

Who never thought he’d get this far.

‘Arise, Sir David,’ she will say,

The sword upon your shoulder lay.

I raise a glass filled to the brim

And truly say, ‘Good Knight from him.’


Aberystwyth Mon Amour – Malcolm Pryce

I came to this book through curiosity and seeing it on another blog. Apologies but I cannot remember whose. Please comment if it was yours.

A schoolboy has gone missing and a nightclub singer appears in the only private investigators office in town, Louis Knight. How on earth is this all going to link up and will whatever is going on be solved.

This a rather original storyline, as Aberystwyth seems to have taken on another life form and become a parallel seaside town that maybe we would imagine it to be.

The local area seems to be run by druids. The police are clearly surplus to requirements. Re-enactments of a bygone age seems to be prevalent around the town, harking back to a previous campaign. If you want some sage advice then go and visit the ice cream parlour. All of this is on a background of a wet, seedy seaside town which I have to confess the author did with great skill and it leapt off the page.

However, all this aside I did not really enjoy the book. I am not one for ‘noir’  or ‘fantasy’ when it comes to writing. I think much of the book passed me by. There was some humourous parts, but I could not quite suspend my belief and reality and become absorbed into the story, to the point where I did not ‘get it’. Now why did I not just give up on the book? I am not really sure, probably the writing I cannot fault it and also the interest in something I knew nothing about – The Welsh Colony in Patagonia and the history around it. I then had to do a bit of googling to see if it was all true – it was. So whatever I take from this book, I have learnt something.

But you have to read outside of your comfort zone on occasions and sometimes you discover something new and wonderful, other times you realise it is not quite for you.