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THE DOLL FUNERAL: A Novel ~Kate Hamer

Monday, August 21st, 2017

After reviewing THE GIRL IN THE RED COAT, I was a bit hesitant about this book.  I was so in empathy with the young mother who’s daughter had been adducted and I had to keep turning the pages to find the outcome and release.  THE DOLL FUNERAL is also a well-written book and very captivating, but certainly not of the intensity of the first book I read.  It was actually a relief that it was more of a fantasy story- the imagination providing survival.

A couple that has lost their own baby has adopted Ruby.  The new mother is not a strong person and the new father is very abusive to Ruby.  As this child becomes a teenager she is searching for answers about her birth family, which, she believes will find her or come to her if she just believes this to be true.  Ruby is acting out and often using fire to make her point perfectly clear.  With grandmother’s death she does not feel that she has a comrade or any answers, but she continues to recite ideas that this kind person shared from her cottage deep in the forest.  We are treated to little tidbits of ALICE IN WONDERLAND.

“[Hamer’s] fascination with the thresholds between childhood and adulthood, sanity and insanity, chosen and blood families, and her subtle understanding of the clean, often disturbing logic of childhood morality, evoke both Jeanette Winterson and Ian McEwan . . . This is an elegiac and uplifting novel about the indissoluble bonds between mothers and daughters and a reminder of how the imagination can set you free.” —Melanie McGrath, The Guardian

There is quite a substantial amount of presence by a shadow figure, which it is a long way into the read before one realizes, like Ruby, that she is able to see the dead.  In essence her mother does come to her in a vision of a car hitting a tree and a woman in a yellow dress.  When Ruby has been badly beaten by her father and put on a train to an aunt’s house, she finds a way to run away and it is in the forest that she encounters a huge old house and children who have been abandoned by their parents on an old commune.  Tom and Elizabeth are doing the best that they are able and they invite Ruby to stay with them in their huge house.  This arrangement works okay until the wandering parents stop sending funds and a fox kills all the chickens in their coop – the cold winter is upon the reader and the story.

We are treated to Ruby’s parent’s story as part of the backstory and we learn about her beginnings as Ruby does and this makes for quite unique story telling.  The love of the forest is quite a dominant theme and all the changes the locals have to make as mining ends and there is no work in the woods.

A very unique coming of age story with lots of little confusing moments that make the reader work a bit to figure them out and guess what will happen next, while still developing an intensity in the story.  I think Hamer is  quite the writer and I am very happy that her work is making it’s way onto our local scene.   Another 5 star read for sure – I can highly recommend THE DOLL FUNERAL.

The title did not excite me and I thought it was a weak part of the story line and not as well prepared, or as subtly worked into the story, or well resolved in the conclusion.

About the Author:

KATE HAMER is the author of The Girl in the Red Coat, which was a Costa First Novel Award finalist, a Dagger Award finalist, an Amazon Best Book of the Year 2016, and a winner of the ELLE Lettres Readers’ Prize. She lives in Cardiff, Wales, with her husband and two children. TLC Book Tours Book

Related:
The Girl in the Red Coat
The Godforsaken Daughter
Coincidence

THE WORTHINGTON WIFE: A Romance with a Decades Old Mystery ~Sharon Page

Monday, February 13th, 2017

We have all the splendor of Downton Abbey and the long sweeping estates of the old families of England in the 1920s, we also have a decades old murder mystery amidst all the glamor and confusions of finding a new Earl for Worthington Estates. Oh and the Roaring Twenties are truly the “rage”.  We find it all in THE WORTHINGTON WIFE.

Lady Julia Hazelton is attempting to make a difference in the lives of War Widows who have been abandoned to their own fates and some have taken up prostitution in order to survive and care for their children.  She is wanting to use some of her trust money to make loans and find employment for these widows, but her Brother, The Duke of Langford, says “no” although he agrees with her assessment that the country has deserted these families.

Lady Julia was the intended bride of the new Earl of Worthington, but her Anthony was killed in the War.  She has been trained to be a great lady in an estate and her mother and grandmother are pushing her to marry one of the men of money available to her from other estates.  Lady Julia wishes to marry for love or to not marry at all.  She is quite beautiful and quite outspoken, though her vision of the world is quite limited.

Along comes a discovered heir to the Worthington Estate, he is a painter in Paris, an American, a bootlegger, and of course he is handsome and muscular and was a pilot in the War.  He hates what his English relatives did to his family in New York City and that they refused to send funds and his father and mother were killed struggling to raise their boys and were killed because of their poverty.  He has a score to settle.

There is the matter of the disappearance of several young women in the area, who have never been found.  There is the matter of the sporty red roadster, which was seen in the area a number of times.

The story is well written and the bodice ripping, lusty sex does not happen until after marriage and there is no lack of descriptive drooling and lust from afar and very restrained.  The story about the abuse of war widows, disappearances, and financial woes of the estates are very sharp and point out the changes in the country making arranged marriages important and passé.  The Americans to the rescue is kind of a boring theme but vital to keeping interest going.  The Roaring Twenties are just getting started and truly messing with the rules!

It is a long book, one of those great escape reads that are signs of excellent story telling and a worthy romance   Thank you TCL Book Tours for sharing THE WORTHINGTON WIFE with this reader.

“New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Sharon Page is author of more than 20 books. Sharon has won two RT Bookreviews Reviewers’ Choice Awards, two National Readers’ Choice Awards, the Colorado Award of Romance, and the Golden Quill.

The mother of two children and wife of a terrifically supportive husband, Sharon has a degree in Industrial Design and worked in structural engineering before fulfilling her dream of becoming an author”(TLC)

Be Seduced….

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Sharon Page Website

Related:
Mistress of the Court
Autumn in Oxford
Ryder  

AUTUMN IN OXFORD: A Novel ~Alex Rosenberg

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

Lake Union Publishing is certainly sharing some mighty fine reads with me this year.  AUTUMN IN OXFORD is a finely crafted murder, espionage, love story which is about reading every word and storing the details so you will be able to fit the twists and changes into perspective and solve the “who done it” part.  Even though the murder takes place in the first few chapters of the story in 1959, the why and who take pages of history and connection to piece it all together; lots of McCarthyism to uncover.

TLC Book Tours shared a winner with this read.  The writing is top notch and has the wonderful British pacing of the well-ordered sleuth with the push of the American prejudice exposed and revealed – made plain and arrogant.

Tom is a Finish boy who was reared in New York by his dedicated parents, he has married well a wealthy socialite and his writing has won him a Pulitzer Prize.  In his youth, he briefly joined the Communist Party and met the Rosenberg’s and other big names in college.  He left the Party and studied History and is now doing a teaching Fellowship at Oxford.   He meets his neighbor Liz, and realizes he has met the love of his life.  Liz is from Toronto, has 2 children and an unemployed husband who avoided the war by moving to Canada and lives life for appearances.

Tom’s wife insists that he return to New York with her, but Tom does not want to go because of his affair with Liz, also because he is having serious trouble with his passport – some department of government is pestering and threatening his because of his past connections – blacklisting.  Liz’s husband is murdered and now Tom has been arrested and a clever lawyer is now tracking the case and Tom’s backstory is outlined in detail.  One needs to read with care to find all the pieces that will fit together and complete the story’s truth.  I found it very difficult to put the story down, even with the deliberate pacing.

Alex Rosenberg is the author of the novel THE GIRL FROM KRAKOW.  He has lived in Britain and has taught at Oxford, where he made the acquaintance of some of the historical figures that play roles in AUTUMN IN OXFORD.  Rosenberg is the R. Taylor Cole Professor of Philosophy at Duke University in North Carolina.

Alex Rosenberg Wikipedia

Related:
Gone To Soldiers
Cuckoos Calling
The Boys In The Boat

THE SKELETON GARDEN: A Potting Shed Mystery ~Marty Wingate

Monday, March 28th, 2016

Net Galley sent me a copy of Marty Wingate’s newest book for review and I was so pleased as I have read all of her Potting Shed Mystery Stories and find them delightful.

Pru Parke is busy in the garden with her brother Simon getting the Greenoak Gardens in perfect order for a magazine spread coming up in a prestigious English Gardening magazine.  Pru’s husband Christopher transferred from the London Police Department to a small local command in Ratley. The Gardeners remove a tree that has failed to thrive and discover as they dig down the reason why – too much gravel and a WWII air plane with skeleton.  The Mystery begins amidst the new hedges and dividing the bulbs for winter and being prepared for the reporters visit.

The town is also getting ready for the Christmas Fete and decide their theme is WWII in light of the garden situation and nearly everyone is involved in the discoveries and attractions of figuring out who was buried with the airplane.  Lots of stories emerge and papers and speculation, as the town looks at history and the present.

I have found each of Marty Wingate’s books to be a delightful read and I certainly enjoy the tours of garden plants and the family interactions.  A great weekend read and I feel renewed when I have finished.

I need to say that I follow Marty Wingate on Facebook and she has identified a plant or two in my new garden space as things are emerging this spring.  Thank you so much – I too love the name “Pigs Squeak”

Here are the books I have reviewed from Marty Wingate and she has another series about Birds of a Feather also in England.  More Gardening books and articles also to discover.

The Garden Plot
The Red Book of Primrose House
The Rhyme of the Magpie
Between a Rock and Hard Place

Several More are listed on Amazon

From the book:

“In addition to the Potting shed Mysteries, Marty Wingate is also the author of The Rhyme of the Magpie, A Birds of a Feather Mystery.  A well-known speaker on gardens and travel, she has written numerous non-fiction books on gardening, including Landscaping for Privacy.  Marty’s garden articles have appeared in a variety of publications, including The American Gardener, and Country Gardens.  She is hard at work on her next novel.  She lives in Seattle, Washington and travels often to England”

www.martiwingate.com
Marty Wingate Facebook