The Lamplighters – Emma Stonex

A mystery we will never know the answer to.

Three lighthouse keepers vanish from their lighthouse in Cornwall.

…the door is locked from the inside…..

…the table is set for dinner….for two…..

…the clocks have stopped at the same time…

…the log books says there was a dreadful storm…the weather has been clear and calm all week…

It is 1972 some twenty plus years before automation in lighthouses. The story of the missing men captured the news. It changed the lives of a number of people as well as the nearest village to the lighthouse. But only those three men know the story, Arthur; Principal Keeper, Bill; Assistant Keeper and Vince; Supernumerary Keeper. Each with their own story, their own experience of lighthouse work, solitude and the life they live away from the one thing that keeps drawing them back – the lighthouse.

1992, three women who should have remained close are very much estranged. Helen, Jenny and Michelle.  When a novelist decides to step away from his normal oeuvre and write about the mystery then the women are forced to confront some home truths and secrets that should have been said twenty years previous.

Is the truth the real story here? Or is there another one.

This books is very much in the vain on a locked room mystery that many readers can relate to. What makes this book stand out from the rest of them is the use of a real life mystery (1900 Flannan Isles, Outer Hebrides). The location and time has been moved, but the premise is the same. What happened and can you create a novel based on not knowing the answer?

Yes you can and you can build so much suspense into it, through the slow turn of events which mirror the slow way of life on the lighthouse. The isolation not just on the lighthouse but ashore as well. The isolation of the those left behind, the women holding everything together at home.

Told from everyone’s point of view, across both timelines gave you such a view of everything and everyone that you can see all the evidence to make your own conclusion. I loved the way each chapter was set differently, the way we read the women’s dialogue to the author as a stream of consciousness without the interruption of the possible questions. To what felt like encroaching on the lighthouse keepers that seemed to be talking to themselves when working as we learnt their stories.

Well constructed and atmospheric that the power of the sea, the weather almost overtakes the power of the storytelling.

Will keep you reading long past lights out.


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

The Lamplighters is published on 4th March.  


Secrets at the Last House Before the Sea – Liz Eeles

Imagine growing up and looking out of your bedroom window, in fact any window in your house and seeing nothing but ocean, rugged landscape surrounding you as nature does what nature does best, carries on around you with no thought of what you might be going through.

This is how I feel Rosie Merchant our main protagonist in the story feels. She has returned to Driftwood House, the house of the title, to deal with her mother’s unexpected death. She just wants to move on, return to her life in Spain and forget that this was the place she felt she never belonged.

But the house and the village of Heaven’s Cove which the house looks down on, seems to be drawing her in piece by piece and it isn’t going to let go.

Rosie comes across old school friends and acquaintances that have not left the village but have made it their home. Nessa, now a single mum reconnects with Rosie and reminds her of all the good that is around, no matter what happens to you. Liam, a former schoolgirl crush of Rosie’s is now a rugged farmer and dealing with his father’s slow decline whilst still trying to turn a profit on the farm, difficult when you rent land from the local landed gentry the Eppings, a family not well liked in the village.

Rosie makes the biggest discovery of all when she finds out her childhood home does not belong to her, but the Eppings as well. Then a photograph of her as a child seems to open up a Pandora’s box of secrets that can no longer be contained.

If Rosie has to face the truth of the past she needs to decided what her future is going to be, where it is going to be and with whom.

This is a great start to the Heaven’s Cove series and has all the right mix of likeable and disagreeable characters for you to fall in love with, laugh with and strangle in some cases! I look forward to returning because I think there are plenty of other stories to discover about some of the residents and the stunning backdrop of the setting is a winning feature for me.

A warm comforting read to get completely lost in. Perfect.


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

Secrets at the Last House Before the Sea is out now. 


A Wedding in the Country – Katie Fforde

I am a fan of Katie’s books and have read a number of them and whilst some naysayers might say that you always get the same story (I disagree) you do have a certainty with them. This book too me out of that certainty and rather than being set in the present day I was whisked back to 1963. I wasn’t sure it would work – but it did, in abundance!

Lizzie has arrived in London to complete a course at a cookery school, not for a career in a kitchen, but for a career as a wife. There is not just cooking, by flower arranging, sewing skills and general skills on how to look after your husband to make sure he has the best in life.

Lizzie has arrived in London in the Swinging Sixties which comes as rather a shock to her and her parents as it seems that this influence on this naïve middle class girl is going to change her life forever.

When Lizzie teams up with Alexandra and Meg who live in a run down house in Belgravia with David, who has a rather avuncular role in their lives, she starts to see that life could be a lot better if she does not go along with her mother’s plans.

Enter Hugo, titled, a career in the law and rather handsome, he would be the ideal man to bring home for mother to approve of. Just one problem, Hugo also has his life planned out for him by his father.

Will Lizzie and Hugo follow their hearts, or will they conform?

I was transported back to the London of the Sixties, but what I was also transported back to were the emotions and roles of women then. As a woman in her mid forties, this makes for uncomfortable reading, to think that my life would have been mapped out as such – marriage, cooking good dinners, flower arranging and dressmaking. Thank goodness for women like Lizzie who stepped out of this role and made it possible for me to not follow that path – though there is nothing wrong with my cooking but my dressmaking could probably do with some work!

That said it was a great world that Katie Fforde has created and I wanted to sit at the kitchen table in Belgravia as much as I wanted to escape to the little cottage in the country or be waited on at the big house! This was all part of the warmth of the story as much as the characters exploits.

An excellent book and should be read by all young girls, in fact read by all women because in such a short time the world has changed beyond the one portrayed in this novel. A great look at the past as much as it is a reflection of women’s roles in the world.


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

A Wedding in the Country is published on 18 February 2021. 



The Sanatorium – Sarah Pearse

Elin and her boyfriend Will travel to a hotel in Switzerland. It is luxury but imposing and is situated far up the Alps and once was a sanatorium.

They are there to celebrate Isaac and Laure’s engagement. Isaac is Elin’s brother and Laure was once a friend of Elin and is now the manager of the hotel.

But everything is not as it seems.

Elin is on edge, she is on extended leave from her job. Her relationship with Will is perhaps at a turning point. And she still has some unanswered questions about the past and her brother, Isaac.

The hotel though has secrets to give up and as the weather takes a turn and there is no escape from that or each other.

Laure goes missing.

A body is found.

No one can leave.

What is going on?

I found this book rather difficult to get into that I had thoughts of abandoning it early on, but the setting, the idea of a sanatorium repurposed as a hotel fascinated me and it was that along with the stunning scenery that kept me reading.

The rest of the plot for me was rather staged and felt like it was almost trying too hard. The interaction between the characters was almost always aggressive and whilst it may have added to the tension of the book for some readers, for me it was off putting.

I got to the end, I lurched from one theory to another along with Elin and I found the conclusion rather disappointing and slightly coming out of nowhere, with no reason I could see throughout the book for the choices made.

This book had much going for it but for me did not deliver. For some it will hit the spot and you will thoroughly enjoy no doubt.


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

The Sanatorium is published on 18 Feb 2021



The Shipyard Girls on the Home Front – Nancy Revell

What more can there be to write about a book and a series when I have been with it from the beginning – apart from the obvious: you need to read it and start from the beginning because you will now have ten glorious books to catch up on.

It is 1944 and the year you could stay that the tide turned for the Second World War, but it is also the year that tide turns for many of our Shipyard Girls as well. All those we have grown to know and love are featured, of course as you would expect some more predominantly than others.

Gloria has had some of her dreams come true, when the man she loves returns. Her only wish now is for her to see her sons, both in the Navy and serving the country. The only trouble is whilst, Gloria might have told them about her change of address and work in the local shipyard, she might have forgotten to mention their baby sister, Hope and her father Jack.

Dorothy seems to be smitten with her love Toby, but when a new face arrives in Sunderland, Dorothy’s emotions are all of a flutter and she really doesn’t know what to do anymore. As we see this new relationship develop we can see what is most obvious, but for Dorothy it takes a bit more time.

Rosie is still living on the snippets of information she gets about her husband, Peter. With the demand for the landing craft for the proposed push in the summer to open up another front and move the war to a conclusion, Rosie thinks the quicker they build these vessels the quicker her husband can come home.

But war has a funny way of playing out and when bad news comes for one of the women, it seems that the best they can do is pull together and support each other. You need copious tissues at this point, it was so well written and because I have been invested in this series from the outset I felt I was unable to give comfort to a friend, my heart almost broke with the sadness of it all.

In an ongoing series there are highs and lows and that is certainly the case in this book, luckily the highs are just important as the lows and we get to celebrate marriages and declarations of love. Of course not everything is as it seems, there are still some secrets which are being kept and there are still some who are seeking revenge.

All of that though will need to wait for book eleven.


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

The Shipyard Girls on the Home Front is published ion 18 February. 


Murder in the Belltower – Helena Dixon

Kitty Underhay is spending Christmas at her relatives home Enderley Hall, hopefully without the dead bodies that littered the place the last time she was there for a visit.

Alongside Kitty is her dependable maid Alice, taken from the Dolphin Hotel that Kitty runs alongside her grandmother in Dartmouth.

Now that Kitty is officially stepping out with Captain Matthew Bryant, she is delighted that an invitation has been extended to him as well. To make up the eclectic house party along with Kitty’s Aunt, Uncle and cousin; there is Hattie, a distant relation of Kitty’s Uncle, Lord Medford. Simon Frobisher; a botanist, The Cornwells; two Americans wanting to experience an English Christmas and Victor and Juliet Vanderstrafen who it turns out know Matthew Bryant from his previous work.

It seems this mix of people and the transudations in the house are going to make for an interesting Christmas.

When some village disputes make there way to a cocktail party given at Enderley Hall it isn’t long before a dead body turns up.

Enter Inspector Greville, it seems there is much to this death and when rooms are mysteriously searched and it appears someone might be watching Kitty, it only seems inevitable that another body is going to be found.

But this time it looks like suicide and it seems that Kitty cannot resist all the intrigue and questions she has and when she thinks Matthew is keeping something from her, she turns to sleuthing, ably assisted by Alice who innocently with her downstairs gossip possibly hits on a clue or two herself.

This really is a wonderful example of a murder mystery set in a country house. Who are all these people thrown together? What secrets are they holding? And is their behaviour a true reflection of who they really are?

Helena Dixon carefully weaves the tale and the mystery to it’s denouement in true Christie style and you could briefly imagine that Poirot was sitting in a corner nodding sagely at Kitty. All the characters are there to be liked and loathed in equal measure and you get a real sense of setting and place as the story progresses.

Whilst each of these books can be read as standalone, there is a common thread running through them all, of course there is the burgeoning relationship between Kitty and Matthew but also the disappearance of Kitty’s mother. I implore you to start at the beginning they are an absolute joy to read.

I cannot wait to see what Kitty gets up to next.


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

Murder in the Belltower is published on 1 February 2021.



January Roundup

Well they say January is a hundred million days long but a January in lockdown has a hundred million more – but we have it behind us now and whilst lockdown continues across the globe in many forms we can still seek solace in books and reading.

A month where last year I was struggling and luckily I got a change of medication and a reset before the pandemic set in, I think I would be a much darker space if I had not sought help a year ago. So I continue to manage and monitor and when it comes to reading choose books that help lift the soul and spirit and bring great joy and entertainment. And they all did.

No one new to my reading; all authors I have read before and know I can rely on for a cracking good story. Christie Barlow – The Lake House was first one off the shelf this year and it was a delight and joy to be back in Heartcross as the little Scottish has really been taken to my heart and I enjoy going there.

Criss-crossing across the country means I was transported to the west country with Helena Dixon – Murder in the Belltower, delightful Kitty and handsome Matt are trying to have a quiet time away, but it seems that intrigue and bodies follow them wherever they go.

Kate Forster – Finding Love at Mermaid Terrace takes me to the Cornish coastline and delightful cottages and a community full of spirit and secrets. And there are more secrets to be discovered in Liz Eeles – Secrets at the Last House Before the Sea, the start of her new series. Sometimes we have to ask the difficult questions and the answers can sometimes surprise us!

Still on the coast to a magical place is Holly Martin – Ice Creams at Emerald Cove where I caught up with the friends I had made there, and gladden to hear that I get to return for another visit.

A place I would love to go is Switzerland, for the snow and clean air not the skiing and I got to there vicariously through Julie Caplin – The Little Swiss Ski Chalet which is one my favourite books in this series, these really are little travelogues and such a joy to read. The desire for a Toblerone though was quite strong!

Then I travelled a bit further afield across land and sea to New York and Kenya, Geneva and England with the sixth story of The Seven Sisters – Lucinda Riley – The Sun Sister. I had been holding onto reading this for so long because you get lost in the story so much that nothing else matters – and yet again I was.

I enjoy books set with an historical twist and it was with intrigue that I picked up the latest Katie Fforde – A Wedding in the Country. This is a bit of a departure for the author and took me back to the swinging sixties and amongst the short skirts, the radical hair and the breakdown of some class barriers I got a beautiful story as you would expect from Katie.

I think eight books is a jolly good start to the year, I have to confess I have a number waiting to be read, a number of them out in the coming months and I hope to balance all of that with reading books from my shelves which have been looking forlornly at me for a while.

What have you been reading lately? Anything new I should know about?