Books

Hearts of Oak – Beryl Kingston

This is a reissue of a book which was previously published as Girl on the Orlop Deck.

I had not heard of the book but the author I have read before, many many years ago before I started recording what I read. What caught my eye about this book was the title – a song I am familiar with through work. Interestingly despite experiencing 18 years worth of Trafalgar Nights, I did not realise the words were by David Garrick who coincidentally featured a book I had read a few weeks previous.

I digress, this is the story of Marianne and Jem. Newly married Jem a trained carpenter behave abominably on his wedding night and goes to seek solace in the bottom of a jug of ale. Whilst a a low point he make friends with two gentlemen and finds himself the very next day onboard ship, having taken the king’s shilling and having no recollection of the event.

Marianne furious that her husband has already abandoned her, learns that he has joined the navy and decides to follow him. Being female is not going to stop her and so with her brothers breeches, Marianne becomes Matt Morris.

Will Marianne find Jem?

Or will being in Nelson’s Navy away from home for two years plus having traversed the oceans mean that Marianne and Jem will always be lost to each other?

This book gives you life onboard a Nelson ship even if you had never thought about how they all coexisted together – and of course women went to sea even in them days. Marianne in fact encounters others across her journey, but she also encounters tragedy, heartache, love and war and is at the heart of the battle of Trafalgar and sees the great man, Nelson fall.

The plot moves at a fast pace for an event which took a long time building to the battle we know as the fleets chased each other around the seas.

Whilst I have always known Beryl Kingston for writing sagas this was certainly a step up maybe because I had a lot of prior knowledge, living in Portsmouth where Nelson set sail from and also recognising the names of Collingwood and what actually did happen at the battle. That said even if you do not have this prior knowledge the book goes into great detail without it being dry and scholarly and it is all given a sense of place and time.

I was somewhat disappointed quite near the end when the journey of Victory towards Plymouth went slightly wrong in its geography, you do not reach Torquay before Weymouth unless you have some serious navigating problems. I am hoping as I read this from a ARC that the mistake will have been amended.

For fans of historical fiction and seeing one our greatest Naval battles brought to life through someone else’s eyes.

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

Hearts of Oak is out now.

Books

The Corpse Played Dead – Georgina Clarke

We last saw Lizzie Hardwicke in the role of prostitute – a role she chose not one she playing but now in this second novel of the series, Lizzie is to take on another role, in fact more than one.

A role that is going to put her right in the middle of the action.

Asked to go undercover by a Bow Street Magistrate – this is the days before a recognisable police force – Lizzie goes to Drury Lane, to a theatre to work as a seamstress.

The theatre owned by David Garrick (yes the very same) has had some strange accidents and events going on.

Lizzie is there to observe not the performance on the stage but that of what is going on behind the scenes – much more intriguing.

As rich men are paid court in a not so dissimilar way to Lizzies occupation, actors and actress, playwrights and stage hands all witness the way money is gained to help the theatre survive.

That is until one of these rich men ends up on stage himself……

Upside down……

With his throat cut……

Enter the magistrate Mr Fielding and one of the inspectors Will Davenport who we met in the first novel and who has developed a fondness for Lizzie despite her chosen path in life.

Lizzie knows that she cannot leave this role until she has found out the truth about the dead man and whilst it seems the perpetrator has been caught and the case solved there are too many loose ends and unwoven threads to the story like the dresses and cuffs that Lizzie has been mending when she has been inconspicuously listening and observing.

Who would pay attention to a grubby, second seamstress in a room full of egos and money?

If I did not know this was fiction I would believe I was reading an account of the time and that this was a piece of historical nonfiction of the Georgian time in the depths of some of the rather seedier parts of London.

The fact that it is before a police force and our main protagonist is female and a prostitute adds to the depth of the plot and makes is a page turner. I learnt from this book as I did from her debut and the dedicated and detailed research by the author is clearly evident.

It is that which means I wait with anticipation as to where Lizzie Hardwicke is going to turn up next and who she is going to encounter and also perhaps in time she will have enough money saved to stop her current profession and find true happiness with Will Davenport….. then again the author might have another idea. How exciting!

 

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

The Corpse Played Dead is published on 19th August. 

What to know more about Georgina Clarke and of course Lizzie Hardwicke?

Read an excerpt from her debut novel Death and the Harlot here.  My review of the book can be found here if you are still not sure. If you are a fan of crime and history you will thoroughly enjoy this new series of books. 

 

 

 

 

Books

The Cornish Cream Tea Bus – Cressida McLauglin

Preferring to read these serialised novels as a whole, I have patiently waited for this one to be published.

Charlie Quilter loved spending time with her Uncle Hal on his Cotswold Tour Bus, an Old Routemaster which he used to meander through the Cotswolds with, giving tourists funny and interesting tours.

When he dies and leaves the bus to Charlie, she knows she has to keep his memory alive and use the bus to its full advantage. Drawing on her experience as a baker at the local café, Charlie thinks she can bring the cafe to the bus and then take it on tour.

After a false start in the Cotswolds, her friend Juliette invites her down to Cornwall, to rest, grieve for her Uncle and also heal from her recent breakup.

Charlie packs up the bus and with her little dog Marmite she heads to Cornwall. Not one to rest on her laurels, she throws herself into the start of serving cream teas upon the bus. Being an outside in Cornwall and “emmet” if you will, she has an uphill battle to fight and not just the ones she drives on.

A big red bus, parked up outside a posh spa hotel isn’t what the owner Daniel Harper wants his residents to see.  Clashing with Charlie over the coming days about her ideas for the local seaside village, myths about mermaids, crumbling cliffs and plenty of local gossip makes for an interesting times ahead.

I loved the way that the bus was brought to life and I had my heart in my mouth when Charlie was making her journey around some of the twisting lanes of the countryside as well as the wonderful coastal positions. Full of warmth and romance and a sense of community coming together to give other people a great time. A selfless way of joining in with society.

This book left me wanting a sequel – there has to be more to this story… what is going to happen at Christmas there??? Mince Pies on the Cornish Cream Tea Bus?

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

The Cornish Cream Tea Bus is out now.

Books

Death comes to Dartmoor – Vivian Conroy

This is the second in the Merriweather and Royston mystery series.

Merriweather is in fact Merula Merriweather, who saved her Uncle from falsely being hanged for murder in the first book. A trip to Dartmoor is prescribed to blow away the cobwebs and soothe the nerves.

Royston is in fact Lord Rayven Royston a zoologist who is using natural history as his last vestige of respectability after some dubious events. Royston helped Merriweather with the exoneration of her uncle. He agrees to accompany her on her trip.

To maintain the air of respectability there is also Lamb, Merriweather’s maid and Bowspirit, Royston’s valet.

Surely Victorian Devon is going to be less dangerous than Victorian London….

But when they get to the house they are meant to be staying at, after being diverted by the wreckmaster high up on the moor, all is not as it seems. Oaks, their host seems to be in some sort of delirium, his maid has disappeared, the natural history specimens he collects seem to be coming to life and the local villagers are baying for his blood.

Then the maid’s body turns up and it looks like Oaks is responsible.

This is not the quiet respite that Merriweather and Royston were after. And it looks like their unlikely detective partnership is going to have to be used again to solve the mystery.

I think to understand in more depth the relationship between the two main characters you needed to have read the first book, I am sure that would have made the second book, this one, more enjoyable for me. An interesting concept as a series of novels and I thoroughly enjoyed the setting and the landscape descriptions. I think the series can develop but there was something just missing from the storytelling which just didn’t grab me and make me want to read more. I really wish I knew what it was.

An acceptable book to while away a few hours in front of the fire and escape from the present day.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this book in return for an honest review. 

Death comes to Dartmoor is published on 13 August.

 

Books · Crafts · Jottings

Parish Notices

Hello all – I hope you are all safe and well and the rather extreme weather we have had in the last few weeks has not affected many of you. Extremely windy and with some torrential rain in my parish and I must count myself very lucky as my thoughts went out to all those people who lived in Whalley Bridge and the surrounding areas.

Three weeks of holiday begin and I can finally switch my brain off for awhile and rest and recuperate – I can understand people who burn out. I was nowhere near that state, but there have been some very trying days.

But on with the things I need to tell you about:

 

I hope you have all had chance to pop across to the round up post for this year’s Six in Six. I think we had the best year yet.

In a change from some reading – I thought I would introduce you to Ernest the Canary. 2019 seems to have been the year of crochet for me and this was my first Toft bird.

Of course there still has been some reading and no doubt more now I am off work but I wanted to bring your attention to some great books……

Of course this book is full of romance, but this is steeped in tragedy from difficult pasts that need laying to rest until new futures can be created. Emma Davies does it so subtly that you are so invested in these characters it is almost heartbreaking to stop reading about them and their lives.

An excellent summer read, full of warmth and the sweet taste of honey. Highly recommended and I would love to revisit these characters at some point.

The Beekeeper’s Cottage is out now.

I have waxed lyrical about Sarah Bennett many a time on this blog but do check out all of her books but of course her most recent one Sunshine over Bluebell Castle is out now. I do not get anything for all this promotion – I am simply telling you all about wonderful books and the author is more than happy to chat on twitter as you can see

 

In a change to what might seem like a plethora of women’s fiction, I do branch into some other genres. Which is why I was delighted to learn more about Laetitia Rodd and her latest mystery.

So what do you need to know about Laetitia Rodd? A fifty something widow of an archdeacon who is kind of down on her luck financially. She lives with her landlady Mrs Benton, one time landlady of the well known poet John Keats and also Laetitia’s friend and confidante.

A refreshing historical crime novel with a independent female detective and not afraid to delve perhaps into what was seen as the most deviant parts of Victorian society,

The Case of the Wandering Scholar is out now.

So back off to more reading – I have my first Christmas book of 2019 to read. I might take that one away with me but in the meantime…………

 

Books

The Beekeeper’s Cottage – Emma Davies

Emma Davies has done it again with a book which captures you from the start, where you can hear the hum of the bees working in their hives, you can feel the tension that emanates from the cottage and you can feel the love that is clearly everywhere to be had.

Grace, who we meet first in The House at Hope Corner as Flora’s closest neighbour is the main protagonist in this story. You do not need to have read this book to enjoy the story but I knew from prior reading that Grace’s life was a difficult one and she had been in the shadow of her husband for a very long time. Her beekeeping was her life.

Grace decided that her life needed to change and getting rid of her philandering husband, a local TV celebrity whilst being one of the toughest decisions and hardest to make – it is in fact the aftermath which is going to prove even more of a challenge.

Grace’s husband, is not going to go quietly and therefore to make the most noise he wants to take the cottage that has been grace’s home and sanctuary for many years.

Grace has a battle on her hands and she is prepared to fight.

But she is not prepared for the appearance of a wandering stranger who pitches up at the Flower Farm next door to help Flora and who suddenly develops an interest in beekeeping.

Amos, handsome, in curious bright red Doc Martens and an air of Mary Poppins about him – there when needed and gone when not, has a past which he is clearly running away from. But Grace has done something to him and it looks like perhaps Amos has finally found to a place to stay.

Of course this book is full of romance, but this is steeped in tragedy from difficult pasts that need laying to rest until new futures can be created. Emma Davies does it so subtly that you are so invested in these characters it is almost heartbreaking to stop reading about them and their lives.

An excellent summer read, full of warmth and the sweet taste of honey. Highly recommended and I would love to revisit these characters at some point.

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

The Beekeeper’s Cottage is published on 6th August. 

 

 

 

Books

Laetitia Rodd and the Case of the Wandering Scholar – Kate Saunders

It is nigh on 3 years since I was last with Laetitia Rodd when I discovered the first novel and then hoped for more so I was more than delighted when I got the chance to read and the review the second one. I hope there will be more.

So what do you need to know about Laetitia Rodd? A fifty something widow of an archdeacon who is kind of down on her luck financially. She lives with her landlady Mrs Benton, one time landlady of the well known poet John Keats and also Laetitia’s friend and confidante.

To earn some sort of existence, Laetitia takes on private investigations normally with the advice and help of her brother, Frederick a criminal barrister who spends a lot of time avoiding his hom, wife and eleven children!

Laetitia is called to see Jacob Welland who make a last dying request to find his brother, Joshua so they can be reconciled after 15 years of not speaking.

But who has seen Joshua Welland and are all the sightings true?

To help her find out, Laetitia seeks out a couple from her and her husbands past and goes to stay with them. However she arrives into another problem and it seems that when bodies start turning up and deathbed confessions are bandied about it brings in Scotland Yard and Inspector Beard, who doesn’t not necessarily hold with Laetitia’s gut feelings and emotions.

Only the truth will do and surely a place of worship and contemplation will be the place to find it? Or is it all just a facade?

I was entranced by the plot and worked out part of the problem but was most distracted by the red herrings to do with the Welland brothers such was the strength of the writing.

A refreshing historical crime novel with a independent female detective and not afraid to delve perhaps into what was seen as the most deviant parts of Victorian society,

I hope I don’t have to wait another three years for another book.

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

The Case of the Wandering Scholar is published on 8 August but you can start at the beginning with The Secrets of Wishtide.