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THE AUSTEN ESCAPE: A Novel Novel ~Katherine Reay

Monday, November 20th, 2017

Falling into their past will change their futures forever

Do you love reading Jane Austen?   Then I cannot encourage you enough to read THE AUSTEN ESCAPE.  A wonderful book and a most enjoyable read.   I have now read it 2 times and I am taking it on a small vacation with me.   Reay has captured Austen’s conversation style and the format of the book deals with conventions, economics, and circumstance that are abundant in our current times. The story builds and flows as though Austen is writing it herself.  Wonderful read.

About the author:
Katherine Reay has enjoyed a life-long affair with the works of Jane Austen and her contemporaries—who provide constant inspiration both for writing and for life. She is the author of three previous novels, and her debut, Dear Mr. Knightley, was a 2014 Christy Award Finalist, winner of the 2014 INSPY Award for Best Debut, and winner of two Carol Awards for Best Debut and Best Contemporary. Katherine holds a BA and MS from Northwestern University and is a wife, mother, runner, and tae kwon do black belt. After living all across the country and a few stops in Europe, Katherine and her family recently moved back to Chicago. Visit her on line at katherinereay.com.

Mary Davis is a design engineer working at her “perfect” job although she has a new supervisor who is critical and negative about her work.  She likes control and her set patterns in life while doing everything herself.  It is proving hard to go into work and her love interest is a consultant who is moving onward and does not seem to know that she is interested.

Isobel, Mary’s best friend since second grade, is working on her Doctorate on Jane Austen and her books.  Isobel’s mother left when she was young and her father never had time for her so Isobel adopted Mary’s family as her own.  Isobel is going to a two week retreat to Bath, England to live out a complete experience of being in Austen’s time period and she is insisting that Mary take some time off from her work frustrations and come to the retreat with her.  The trip is all paid for and Mary’s father insists that it is a good idea; she has not taken a break since her mother’s death.  Mary decides to attend and starts re-reading the Austen books.

The English Manor House where the retreat is held is stunning and the other guests on the retreat very interesting indeed.  The reproduced clothing is elegant and refined and they all pick an Austen character to enact for their stay.  Isobel’s father chooses this moment to overwhelm her with awful news and causes Isobel a small mental breakdown and truly believes she is in Bath and that she has become Emma.  Mary is left to guide her back to herself and in the process makes some terrible discoveries about their relationship, which entails some major working through – including working out her “perfect” job problems and making changes.

The book is most interesting and carries through the story line well and with great Austen-like aplomb.  I am sure my daughters would enjoy this book to the max.   I can highly recommend it and I am so happy that THE AUSTEN EXPERIENCE was sent to me for review.

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Related:
The Forbidden Garden
The Fifth Petal

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

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Gone To Soldiers
Cuckoos Calling
The Boys In The Boat