Death Comes to Marlow – RobertThorogood

Following the success of the Marlow Murder Club, Judith, Susie and Becks and unlikely trio are back and this time they are right in the thick of the action.

Judith receives a phone call to attend a party to celebrate the forthcoming wedding of Sir Peter Bailey to his nurse Jenny Page. A marriage that has upset many. Judith cannot understand why she has been invited, but can only assume it is her notoriety. Perhaps something is going to happen, Judith with Susie and Becks all attend, if anything to just be nosy.

A loud crash is heard from inside the house and the three women all rushing to find the prospective groom, crushed to death under a large cabinet.

There cannot be anything suspicious about this death, as the room was locked and the key was in the pocket of the deceased. The only key.

But for Judith she knows something is not quite right, there is too many mysteries. All the potential killers have strong alibis, in fact the three women were alibis for the most obvious of the killer – Peter’s son, Tristan who had been arguing with his father and step mother to be on more than one occasion.

Add to this; daughters hidden in wardrobes, gardeners with a long family feud, a bitter ex wife, a glass jar not smashed and the plot thickens.

Of course amongst all of this intrigue, Judith is busy trying to work out the mystery clues she has picked up in the cryptic crossword. She discovers something that she wasn’t really meant to but at the same time, the author uses this as a vehicle to explain the structure and logic of all things cryptic. It is one of my greatest wishes that I could solve cryptic crosswords. I have yet to reach one clue correct.

Susie, the local dog walker is now hiring dog walkers to look after her own clients as she has found fame on the local radio station. In fact it proves a useful tool in solving some questions for the murder club. However fame comes at a price for Susie and it seems she will need to go back to what she is good at if she wants any chance of solving her financial woes.

Becks, the devoted wife of Colin the local priest seems to be up to something which is intriguing both Susie and Judith. Surely they can’t think someone like Becks would commit that sin. Sometimes all the detecting in the world and you can jump to the wrong conclusions.

But when it comes to the death of Sir Peter and catching the killer the Marlow Murder Club will not be fooled.

The book builds on the characters and setting of the first book and is fast paced and plotted, with plenty of clues and red herrings. Smugly I want to say I had worked out the perpetrator but actually it was a guess and I certainly could not work out how they did it. A great example of crime fiction in a bucolic setting with some characters who you can adore. Perfect for all fans of that cosy crime fiction that has boomed in recent years.

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

Death Comes to Marlow is out now.


Godmersham Park – Gill Hornby

Having read the previous novel by Gill Hornby, Miss Austen where I was transported into the world of Jane Austen, the Georgian Period and the gentile life that was being led by them all.

This theme continues in this novel and is told through the eyes of Anne Sharp, governess to Fanny, who was niece to Jane Austen. Jane is not a prominent character in this novel, that falls to Anne but her presence is keenly felt and her friendship with Anne is seen as interesting.

Anne is lucky to find this work as a governess, as now almost passed marriageable age and with no mother and a father who pays an allowance no more, she is permanently in a state of flux where she thinks her background and origins will see her being asked to leave Godmersham. The role of governess is stuck between the servants and the family and can be a lonely one.

But there is something about Anne, which spark interests in many of the Austen family and she becomes embraced into their life and their hearts.

If I said that is all there is to the book, a snapshot of this governess life with the Austen’s you would be forgiven of thinking why bother to read. Well you are transported back to Austen, both in time and writing, the book resonates as if you are reading an Austen, I am sure a skill which isn’t the most easiest when we have such a rich modern language that can be used. The vignettes of life in this house and its inhabitants is quite, peaceful with very little excitement to jump off the pages. That is the beauty of the book, all of it is interesting and not with equal measure.

Of course we know very little about Anne Sharp and her life before this time and Hornby has chosen to fictionalise Anne’s past. There is much to be gleaned from correspondence between differing Austen’s, dairies left and even a rare copy of Emma given by the author to this governess who clearly made some sort of impact on her short life. However what we know and that has been clearly researched by the author is formed into this novel giving insight into a small part of the literary world.

For fans of all things Austen without a doubt, but if you want a peak at society, class from another time it works as an interesting piece of historical fiction. I look forward to seeing what might be next from this author.

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

Godmersham Park is out now.


The Paying Guests – Sarah Waters

I have dipped in and out of Sarah Waters oeuvre over the years and I haven’t read them all, this is the last book written by Waters and has been languishing around on the shelf for a long time.

London, 1922, The Great War still resonated around the streets, around the families who have lost people. A large house in Camberwell now holds a mother and her daughter, their father now dead leaving behind debts. The only answer other than to sell is to take in lodgers. The Paying Guests if you will.

The mother Mrs Wray and daughter Frances, have a structured ordered quiet life until these guests arrive. Newly married Len and Lilian Barber, settle in. They are more modern than Frances and her mother and their presence is going to enliven things, that money simply won’t do.

Passions run deep in the house, some are more understated others are more clear but as these four people try and find a new path in life together in this house, it seems that the whole house and it’s inhabitants are going to change forever.

The book starts slowly as domesticity, life after the war, accepting strangers into your house is played out in minute detail. We start to develop thoughts, opinions and feelings for the four main characters. However as the story progress, as time moves on something fundamentally changes for two members of the household that leads to a pivotal moment for the third.

I inevitably recognised where we going to go and was compelled to watch as it all played out. But it was the fallout which intrigued me most. I felt I was holding my breath that everything was going to come tumbling out and the whole world was going to shift on the axis for two of the characters. Of course the beauty of Waters writing is that it already had shifted it was more subtle than recognised.

A book that takes time to read, to absorb all the details, to understand the actions and to think about the consequences. A book that stays with you long after you have finished reading.

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

The Paying Guests has been out for a number of years, and only recently did I feel the need to read it.

Books · Witterings

February Roundup

And within a blink of an eye, February has gone. I seemed to have picked up a bit of the reading, but no where near on target. Carol commented when I mentioned this last time, “Every year has it’s own pace” and do you know what she is so right and I have felt I have embraced a pace in all sort of different parts of my life. Sometimes it is a simple sentence that can resonate every day. Thank you Carol.

So the pace of books this month has taken me everywhere and do you know what I have enjoyed every one of them.

If you need sunshine in your life then you can do no wrong with the latest Libby Page – The Vintage Shop of Second Chances, a beautiful yellow cover, a beautiful yellow dress, oh how I wish I was good at dressmaking. A lovely book which reminds me of so many of my own generational freindships.

More blue skies could be found in Jane Coverdale – Under a Cerulean Sky a new author to me and one who I would like to go back to and read more. It also played into my love of historical fiction and I learnt so much about a part of the world not normally covered in books I have read previously.

Sticking with history was by picking up Sarah Waters – The Paying Guests which is set in London in the 1920s and has also shamefully been on my netgalley shelf for nearly 9 years which I am sure makes it history as well. It just seemed the right time to pick up this book and I have to say perhaps I am glad I read it when I did. Maybe I might read more Sarah Waters this year as I know there is a book on my shelf.

So far, all kindle so I picked up an actual book with Richard Osman – The Bullet that Missed so delightfully British, so funny and an absolute delight to burrow under the covers on a dank day and read away to my hearts content. He has really hit upon something and I can see that these books could run and run if the writing stays as on point as it currently is.

Travelling again from my bookshelf with Veronica Henry – Thirty Days in Paris. A go to author without a doubt and her writing and storytelling gets richer. This book positively oozed the gloriousness of Paris, the food, the scenery, the love in every page. I was there at every moment of the character’s life.

A month where I have devoured and appreciated every word and enjoyed every page. As Spring starts to appear and March gets going, I think, in fact I know the books I read going into the month are as wonderful as these.

How was your February? What is your reading pace this year?


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.

Books · Jottings · Witterings

Books in 2022

Again, I seem to have waited for 2023 to start and settle before I got round to looking at what I read in 2023. This must be the last roundup post to be published.

So first off, I did not reach that magic number 100: 2 short. Who knows why but do you know what I haven’t let it stress me out, I think I have read a decent amount of books and learnt not to read books just to keep the numbers up if I am not enjoying them.

The Shortest Book was Holly Hepburn – The Little Shop of Hidden Treasures at 100 pages

The Longest Book was Robert Galbraith – Troubled Blood at 944 pages

Of the 98 books read that is the equivalent of 30,476 pages! Of course this is all dependent on which version I save to my Goodreads list and I am not particularly fussed about ensuring it is the correct one, as I read quite a lot of advanced review copies.

As for the kindle it was 79 books and these would have been thanks to the wonder that is netgalley which is also a curse as it means I am not reading books from my shelves as much as I should.

To stick with common themes in my look back of the year we will start with:

Multiple Books by the same Author

Top spot for 2022 was Helena Dixon with 4 books. 2020 was the last year with 4 books.

3 books: Merryn Allingham, Christie Barlow, Cathy Bramley, Holly Martin, Cressida McLaughlin, Jo Thomas. Authors in bold featured in this category in 2021.

2 books: Phillipa Ashley, Vicki Beeby, Sarah Bennett, Liz Eeles, Sharon Gosling, Molly Green, Stacey Halls, Tracy Rees, Helen Rolfe, Jennifer Ryan, Heidi Swain, Tilly Tennant. Authors in bold featured in this category in 2021.

As you can see I go back to the authors I know and love, who will give me a great read and also comfort as well. Of course as tastes change and books are written and discovered, there are more authors added into the mix.

No Agatha Christie (well not really) in this list but there is one reread. P.G.Wodehouse – Carry on Jeeves, I really wish I had not given away my Wodehouse books I had collected years ago. These are such a great joy. For 2023, I want more rereads, I want more Agatha Christie.

What about my favourite, I really can’t say I have one. There have been some cracking good reads and I am pleased to have delved a bit back into the historical fiction/saga area which has always been of great interest to me. So here is a snapshot of those books that stand out in 2022, a mix of many genres.

I think it is good that I haven’t got a stand out book of the year and haven’t had for many. I always think that leaves a lot to live up to with all the other books out there waiting to be read. So as for 2023, expect to see more of the same I think and more of reading what I want at a gentle leisurely pace or fast and furious depending on the book and the timing.

Finally thanks must go to my readers, book blogging has changed a lot of the years and a lot more is done on social media rather than specific blogs and also with a lot more visual content, especially videos. I am grateful to everyone who pops by and reads my wittering, for the time being I will continue to read and post.