Under A Cerulean Sky – Jane Coverdale

Edwardian Society, 1911. Two women Isobel and younger sister Violet are pretty much down on their luck. Their father has dies and left them with nothing, their other having died some years prior. They have sold everything there is to keep a roof over their heads but time is fast running out

All Violet wants is to marry, but for that she needs a dowry.

All Isobel wants is to leave a free life without the obvious constraints put in her way because she is a woman.

Until an unexpected inheritance means that the two young women may get what the want. But they have to travel to India and then on to Goa to find the answer. With only a Aunt to guide them it seems that they have little choice but to make this journey.

Along the way they experience a different life, a different culture and meet different people. All the time Violet is looking to return to England to marry, Isobel though is trying to find her place in the world and at the same time make her sister happy. It seems that for neither of them this journey is going to be easy.

However it is full of rich descriptive landscapes, friendly and unfriendly locals, flora and fauna and wildlife right on your doorstep along with some romance if the sisters and even the Aunt open their hearts to it all.

This was a wonderful novel which sweeps you away to another place, and puts the struggles that women face forefront of the story. Packed full of history as well as aspects from different cultures it reminded me why I love reading historical fiction so much.

Rich storytelling for anyone that wants to be whisked away to another land and another time.

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

Under a Cerulean Sky is out now.


The Vintage Shop of Second Chances – Libby Page

Lou, having returned to Frome to nurse her mother through her final days is embarking on a new adventure a second chance to have the life she really wants. With her passionate love of all things vintage, especially clothing Lou opens a vintage clothing shop. Inspired by the yellow dress of her mothers which she proudly displays in her new shop.

Donna, thought she knew her whole life until some news reveals that what she knew was a lie. With only a photo of a woman in a yellow dress, she finds herself crossing the Atlantic to a vintage clothing shop in Frome.

Maggy, newly divorced, over seventy and treated as a commodity by her children, mainly when it comes to looking after the grandchildren, needs some colour in her life. Having been left the house in the divorce she is simply rattling around in a grey world. Drawn into the new vintage clothes shop by a bright yellow dress which reminds her of some boots from a time gone by, Maggy discovers colour in her world again.

These three women, across the generations form a friendship and they come into each others lives at just the right time. Lou learns more about the yellow dress, Donna learns more about her past and Maggy learns more about herself.

This wonderful gentle novel from Libby Page shows emotions and depth to the characters as well as the plot. It is great to see friendships across generations, something that I myself wholeheartedly embrace. There is much to learn from all your friends whether they be old or new and this book reflects that in abundance. Added in is the wonder and joy that clothing can bring people, how colour can bring much into your life and cheer even the most greyest of situations.

The Vintage Shop of Second Chances will bring anyone who reads it much joy and colour into their life and I am glad to have read it as it warmed my soul.

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

The Vintage Shop of Second Chances is out now.


The Garnett Girls – Georgina Moore

Who exactly are The Garnett Girls, do they know themselves and will we ever find out by the end of this mesmerising debut novel from Georgina Moore.

Margot, mother to Rachel, Imogen and Sasha takes her to her bed when her husband and the girl’s father, Richard leaves. Their whole world is turned upside down and when Margot emerges from this pause in her life, that man is never to be spoken of again and it is simply these four women against the world.

Trouble is everything that happened in them formative years and the life their mother has led since has had a lasting impact on the siblings.

Rachel the eldest daughter and the one who suddenly has to grow up and look after her younger siblings, is still the most level headed and practical of them all into adulthood. With husband Gabe, and two young daughters, Rachel lives in the family home Sandcove.

Imogen the middle sister feel very much that, stuck in the middle and her engagement to Williams seems only to give everyone else joy apart from her. A discovery about herself sets her on a different path and one that won’t fit in with her mother’s perception of a life well led.

Sasha, the youngest perhaps always missing that male influence whilst growing up now has Phil. But she is trapped and cannot see a way out. Will anyone notice what is going n.

All these women are tied up with their own lives, their personal struggles of the present as well as the influences of the past. All of them it seems tied up with the larger than life mother of Margot. A character I grew to dislike and like in equal measure, her actions leave a lot to be desired in both the present day and the past. Her self centeredness made we want to scream in frustration as she seems to be really only interested in her own happiness, forgetting that her three daughters all needed their mother at some point throughout their lives. Margot is simply a wonderful character who was created by this debut author with so many layers, you continued to find out more, I changed my mind about her and I don’t think I really have settled on what I think once I had finished the book.

The same can be said of all the main characters and to a degree the secondary ones as well. They were all there in the story for a reason, they drove the plot, they ensured that we really got to understand this family dynamic.

As a reader I didn’t know where this book was going to take me. It successfully took me to the Isle of Wight, which was the main setting for the overall book and a place I am familiar with as a trip down the road for me, can see me looking out across it. Beautifully described and brought to life in the height of summer on those beaches that I have walked on as well as the grey miserable weather of the winter which can isolate a place so well.

I knew the setting, I got to know these characters and this book took me on an examination of a family that had been stripped back, to see what structure it had, to see what malignancy still lingered after events and years had passed.

A fantastic debut novel which was something a step above being simply women’s fiction it is on a much deeper level than that. For anyone who wants to peep into family life and be completely absorbed.

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

The Garnett Girls is published 16th February 2023.


The Dazzle of the Light – Georgina Clarke

When the light catches a diamond what women can resist. Well none of the Forty Thieves it seems, and especially of them – Ruby Mills. Beautiful and an eye for beautiful things, Ruby is one of the best thieves, but she wants to break out on her own and not be beholden. When you are in deep with the forty Thieves, there is it seems no way out.

Harriet Littlemore, from the right side of London, her marriage prospects are good but she still wants to forge her own path in life. Which is why she is dabbling in journalism, she writes pieces that the editor thinks women want to read about. Harriet desires to read pieces about the gritier side of life.

She gets her chance when she witnesses a robbery, and goes on to publisher her piece about it, with a rather good drawing of one of the perpetrators – Ruby Mills.

Two sides of London, two sides of society and two sides of the law. Harriet and Ruby gravitate towards each other, Ruby shows Harriet another side of life whilst Harriet shows Ruby that with money you can have freedom and not be restricted. What neither of these wonderfully drawn characters realise is that both lives and both their worlds have their own restrictions. The main one they share is they are other female.

It’s the 1920s, the decade is about to start ‘roaring’ and the scars of the war are being eradicated through frippery and finery and the muscle of the men that did come home, used to get what they want now that the whole world has shifted.

This is a great piece of historical fiction and I it had me drawn in form the beginning, as the story unfolded of these women. The supporting characters were rich in description and quite frankly despicable in some cases. The plotting, the deviousness could not be forgiven with some but when these desparate women were turning to all sorts to simply survive, you did suddenly realise how unfair class, society and gender can be and in some cases still is an issue.

This books is one to be read along Kate Atkinson’s latest, the two complement each other so well and the richness of the storytelling is excellent. It has brought a period of history that I was slightly aware more to the forefront and I hope to read more about these fascinating people that seem to be forever missing in history.

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

The Dazzle of the Light is out now.

Books · Jottings · Witterings

January Roundup

I think this is possibly going to be the shortest roundup post I have ever written as it seems that longest month of the year with around 864 days means I have only read 4 books!

I have simply stuck to reading one book at a time, I generally have two on the go, but found that with the brain filling up with work I had not the capacity for this. As the month draws to a close, I am back to the two book scenario. One actual book, one from my ever growing netgalley list. It is that which needs tackling and I am trying not to be so frenzied in requesting books that take my fancy. I am being a bit more select and sticking authors who I know will deliver.

Perhaps 2023 is the year of slowing the pace. Slowing the pace was definitely the way I felt reading Diane Setterfield – Once Upon a River a book that has been on my shelf, having been donated from a friend a while back. The meandering tale was fascinating and reminded me of Diane Setterfield’s debut novel all those years ago which I thoroughly enjoyed and was before I took to book blogging.

Going back to author I haven’t read for a while, took me to this author’s latest Jill Mansell – Promise Me. It has been around seven years since I have ready anything by her, I have no idea why as she hasn’t stopped writing and I follow her on twitter. If she ever reads this blog, I can only apologise and perhaps will look to rectify it in 2023.

Ironically the last two books of the month feature the strong relationships and friendships of girls and both written by a Georgina. First up is Georgina Clarke – The Dazzle of the Light a fascinating historical fiction novel that took me to the Forty Thieves, to the lure of the diamond and the beginnings of women making their own way in life. I do love the rich detail in this novel and this would be an excellent companion book to Kate Atkinson’s latest Shrines of Gaiety.

Then I moved more modern to the debut novel Georgina Moore – The Garnett Girls. I have followed Georgina on twitter for a long time and she has enabled me to read some fantastic novels. And now she has written a fantastic novel of her own. What makes it that little bit more special for me is that it is set on the Isle of Wight, somewhere I can see from where I live. Do look out for my review nearer the publication date of this novel.

So a simple January you could say, a simple start to the year, at this rate I will not hit 100 books but who knows what tomorrow will bring let alone the next 11 months. So on with more reading.