Books

The Mistress of Pennington’s – Rachel Brimble

As 2018 is the year we celebrate 100 years of (some) women getting the vote this book shows the battles and strength that women go to find a place in a man’s world.

We are taken to Bath in this tale, think Royal Crescent and Jane Austen bonnets – but it is 1910 and times are moving forward.

Elizabeth Pennington is the sole heir to her father’s department store. However she is immediately at a disadvantage – she is a women and unmarried.

Her ideas are seen as fanciful and have no place in a store that is for the upper echelons of society. You could not possible have working middle class folk selecting items to wear breathing the same air as those who have nothing to do all day apart from shop and take tea.

But of course times were changing and Elizabeth has a vision.

So does Joseph Carter. He wants to get his gloves into the most famous shop in Bath and get them bought by everyone. Joseph is trying to do good for everyone after the loss of his wife. He can see his future could well lie at Pennington’s but Elizabeth’s father has other ideas.

As two families come together, secrets that were once hidden are exposed.

This saga takes you right through the doors of the department stores of history and how such places began and made their name in the world. Think Harrods, Fortnum and Mason and John Lewis. But it also gives you the more personal side of the work that they did to keep their place within an ever-changing market.

I enjoyed the glimpse of life but I got somewhat bored of the tedium of Elizabeth and Joseph’s potential relationship as it ambled along much to slowly for my liking. It was if the author couldn’t decide what was the more important part of the storyline – the development of the store or their relationship which meant neither got the proper attention.

It was an enjoyable book and if you are looking for a historical saga with a strong determined female lead then this book will suffice, but I think you might be left disappointed at the end.

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

The Mistress of Pennington’s is out now.

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Books

Summer at Lavender Bay – Sarah Bennett

It is always great to not just find an author but an author who writes series of books featured in one pace. You can go back and visit the characters that become friends and see how they are all getting on.

We first met Eliza in the first of the Lavender Bay series when she was about to go away and not be back to visit her friends Libby and Beth for a while.

Faced with her future at the airport – Eliza makes a life changing decision and heads back to Lavender Bay to stay with her parents in the local pub.

Wanting to find something for herself and establish her self-worth she decides to pursue her dream of making organic soaps and wonders whether the local lavender farm will be able to help.

However her first meeting with Jack, the farmer is not exactly friendly but there is something about him that sparks her interest. And surprisingly Jack starts to think about something other than collecting the lavender crop and being responsible for Noah, his nephew.

The course of true love never does run smooth and there are a few bumps along the way, especially when Noah gets injured and Eliza’s husband turns up.

Yet again Sarah Bennett delivers a story which has you falling in love not just with the gorgeous Jack but the setting as well. I wanted to walk along the promenade at the bay as well as delight in the smell of the lavender that I am convinced was seeping off the pages.

Whilst of course this is a romance, there were some reality moments to keep you in check. The behaviour of Eliza’s husband made me wanted to scream – a mere minor character can get under your skin, that’s how good the writing was for me. Then the subject of death and the ripple effect it has on everyone left behind, made my heart-break as time inevitably moves on.

I look forward to the third book in this trilogy when I can of course catch up with Eliza and Jack, Beth and Sam but also get to the bottom of Libby and the supposed irritation of Owen which was scattered through this book in a real taster of things to come. I hope I have guessed right.

A great read whether it is Summer or Winter.

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

Summer at Lavender Bay is out now.

Books

The Housekeeper’s Daughter – Rosie Meddon

War is coming.

It is going to bring changes to Kate Bratton whose life is already planned for her, to be a maid, marry the gardener and have children for the cycle to start all over again, just like her own mother.

When the Russell family arrive at Woodicombe House, Kate is surprisingly elevated to position of ladies maid to Naomi Russell and whilst it is not her ideal job, it means she is exposed to thoughts and ideals of others and the handsome Ned, Naomi’s twin brother.

A friendship deepens between Kate and Naomi as they are both trying to avoid the paths that have been laid out for them.

War might be coming but it is secrets which is going to be the undoing of the Russell family and it seems that Kate is going to suffer as well.

Which is the safer option to follow the path or break out on your own?

I found this book slow in parts and I admit to skim reading quite a bit until the plot got going in the last third of the book. There was too much made of nothing I felt to pad the book out and the characters other than probably Kate and her family were rather too flat.  I have read better saga’s.

If you like historical fiction and don’t mind being taken on a slow stroll through a story then this book is ideal for you. I would be intrigued a to how the saga continues, I am assumed by the marketing that their will be more than one book but I am not sure if I would want to read it.

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

The Housekeeper’s Daughter is out now. 

Books

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Society – Mary Ann Shaffer

One from the archives – I wrote this review, long before I had this blog and reread the book this year (2018) in preparation of seeing the film adaptation.

There is so much to say about this book, and I am sure a lot of it has been said already. This was an impulse buy after being intrigued by the title and the cover and I was not disappointed.

The main character Juliet Ashton is an author who after having her daily column (from Spectator) of observations from the Second World War is made into a book and taken on its promotional tour, she seeks another topic to write about. Her biography of Anne Bronte not being quite as successful as she would like to have hoped.

Juliet receives a letter from Dawsey Adams, a resident of Guernsey, the only place that the Germans occupied during WW2. What then starts is series of correspondence backwards and forwards as you discover what happened to Dawsey and the members of the very quickly started `Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ who used it as something much bigger during the occupation. Their books helped them escape many of the hardships that had to endure, lack of food, lack of fuel and lack of freedom. Books they saw as their way of escapism into another world, a world where they learnt something and shared it with others. What books and reading to me is all about, sharing and enjoying.

We are introduced by Juliet to her publisher Sidney Stark, a childhood friend of Juliet’s and also his sister, Sophie who has kept in contact with her. Juliet shares her fondness and subsequent love of the people of Guernsey and we begin to discover what really happened on the small island. The islanders tell us their story and fill in all the gaps in between of other characters stories. Isola, Amelia and Eben all take Juliet to their hearts and welcome her on her visit to Guernsey.

The idea of the book for Juliet to write is obvious to all but Juliet – the biography of Elizabeth, the quick thinking founder member of the society, who was punished for committing something some saw as wrong, falling in love with a German. Elizabeth was sent away leaving her child behind to be looked after by the Society in a communal sort of way. This is the person all the members of the society mention, this is the lady whose daughter Kit, Juliet befriends and eventually falls in love as only a mother can. Can Juliet bring some stability to this child’s life?

As mentioned by previous reviewers this book is written as forms of correspondence, letters and telegrams and I somewhat approached this element of the book cautiously, however I embraced it entirely and thought it was a beautiful way to actual construct a book and I was completely hooked by letter 2. Don’t ask me how but it works.

You can curl up with this book and join the society and the residents of Guernsey very easily in my opinion, and this is a beautiful book where you learn what really happens. Something that inspires you to read more about the occupation but also about how wonderful books can be to everyone whoever they are.

As for the film:

I was interested in how you get a book made up of correspondence onto screen. It did work, of course there are changes to make it cinematic but I felt it captured the essence of the book which was the main thing. Sadly none of the filming was done in Guernsey and it had a few false starts, leads and directors but it is a joyous film to watch.

Books

A Summer Scandal – Kat French

When Violet inherits a flat in the seaside town of Swallow Beach it has been left just as it was when her grandfather left some 40 years previous. That is enough for Violet to be dealing with but she also finds she has inherited the local pier, that her grandfather bought as it was her grandmother’s favourite place.

The pier has not been in use for 40 years and the local mayor wants a compulsory purchase order on it and to bring it back to the way it used to be.

Violet is inspired for another use for her pier, which will give her space for her workshops where she designs costumes for stage and screen. As well as new friends and neighbours who all have interesting occupations and require space to sell their wares.

We are not talking sticks of rock and kiss me quick hats but with more adult theme which is going to play right into the hands of the local mayor.

Whilst this is all going on Violet starts to discover more about her grandparents past and why it is her mother has never been back to Swallow Beach since the day she left and why she will not ever visit again.

Meeting new neighbour Calvin sets pulses ratings for Violet and readers alike but of course nothing is ever as it seems and Calvin has some secrets of his own which threaten the future of the pier and Violet staying in Swallow Beach permanently.

Kat French’s novels are always a joy to read , perfect escapism with a big dollop of romance and seduction which will keep you hooked.

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

A Summer Scandal is out now. 

 

 

Jottings · Witterings

June Roundup

So there went June in a blaze of heat and potential glory for football depending on your outlook – mine being a non football one!

I am rather chuffed with the reading I have done in the last month, even six months that of course means July is the time to post our Six in Six – I do hope you can join me and please spread the word so we can get a few more this year!

So let me get on with what I have read……. Lily Graham – The Island Villa was a different read from her previous novels but it was really good and took me away, abroad without having to set foot on a plane! A proper summer read.

Talking of Summer you can’t beat a bit of gossip so why not indulge in Kat French – A Summer Scandal about an abandoned pier which is brought back to life by its new owner – but it will not be all kiss me quick hats and candy floss!

Catching up on authors previous work and not wanting to read parts of stories – led be to hold on and read the whole of Cathy Bramley – The Lemon Tree Cafe she is fast becoming a favourite author and I think now is the time to publish her stories as a whole from the start!

I caught up with the lovely saga of Nancy Revell – Shipyard Girls in Love and I am thrilled to learn that there is more to come in this series of books.

Yet again the kindle was used considerably in June – damn that netgalley I say but I make a concerted effort to read actual books, because I do love holding them – which is why I went to Jenny Colgan – The Summer Seaside Kitchen bought on a whim because I had actually bought the second in this series – I hate to read things out-of-order. Which led me to discover Jenny Colgan – A Very Distant Shore a QuickReads novel with the characters I had grown to love in the first book – which led me to immediately picking up the second and reading it as June finishes and then to be delighted to hear that there will be a Christmas one too! I love to be able to consume books like this and get lost in another place.

A.J. Pearce – Dear Mrs Bird had been in the press and across social media and not wanting to miss out, I purchased the hardcover copy of this. What a wonderful gem of a book which will take a place on my shelf and without a doubt be reread. There is something so gentle about this book which is caught up in the middle of the bombing in London during the Second World War.

I went back to the First World War with Rosie Meddon – The Housekeeper’s Daughter. An author I do not know and whilst the book was not particularly strong it did hold some intrigue and picked up but I am not sure if I would read the next book. There are a lot of books I have waiting to be read.

One that had been sitting around for a while was Hazel Gaynor – The Cottingley Secret. I had read a previous novel by this author and was enchanted. I was bound to be with this one – it contains fairies of course. I knew of the story but this fictionalised it and perhaps makes you think.

That was June, over my target in terms of books read for my 2018 goal – and enjoying the football because that means more reading as nothing on the TV! It also means less knitting – too hot!

Books

The Bakery at Seashell Cove – Karen Clarke

It is only a mere few days since I was in Seashell Cove and was getting to know Cassie and how she was trying to make her mark on her parents cafe.

This time back in Seashell Cove we are with one of Cassie’s friends who we were introduced to previously, Meg. Meg is a baker and bakes the cakes for the cafe and very popular they are too.

Trouble is the bakery where Meg works is being sold so she is feeling a little vulnerable especially as her fiance Sam is more interested in bikes and racing than he is in Meg. But childhood sweethearts can overcome anything if they are meant to be together.

Whilst Sam is away riding, Meg receives some rather shocking news about her family’s past and what is exactly going on with her mother in the present. Turning to Sam seems the obvious answer but he is not being very forthcoming. Meg is starting to worry. To add to the worry of who will buy the bakery.

Nathan comes across Meg in the bakery when he is there to sell the place and show round potential buyers. Meg is not keen on it being sold and not remaining a bakery but vows to silently bake until she can’t anymore. Nathan seems quite keen for the bakery to remain and when a secret buyer is found and Meg finally gets her dream she suddenly can see what life might be like if you perhaps choose different ingredients.

This is another great read from Karen Clarke. I was transported to the warmth of the ovens in the bakery, the dusting of flour over everything made the relationships sparkle. And I positively wanted to scream at Sam. Somehow it all works but it gives you enough to care about the characters and loathe them in equal measure as well as superb settings and great plot lines.

I am wondering where we are going to go next with Karen Clarke.

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

The Bakery at Seashell Cove is published on the 8th June.