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A HUNDRED SMALL LESSONS: A Novel ~Ashley Hay

Monday, December 4th, 2017

A HUNDRED SMALL LESSONS is set in Brisbane, Australia and it is a combination of words that are at once poetic, descriptive, psychological and commanding and they draw the reader into a wonderful story, which holds the mind and demands attention – softly.  The main character truly is a house and it tells the tale of the two women who have lived there and their lives.

Elsie Gormley was the first resident of the little house with the huge backyard that touched a swamp and a park.  She was newly married and was delighted with her house and her husband.  She was the mother of Don and Elaine, twins.  Elsie loved her role as a mother and took it very seriously not without some worry and stress but she felt called and safe in that task.  She also had quite a relationship with the birds that came to her feeder and felt they were omens of good.  Her partner was a good man and took care of the yard, the house, and wallpapered every room with a different paper.

Lucy Kiss, her toddler Tom and her husband Ben have just purchased their first house after travelling for years.  For Ben it is coming home and he remembers being with his single mother in Brisbane and how hard it must have been for her and how terrific she was as a “mum”.  As he travels he worries about Lucy and her beautiful parenting and then her irritations.  Lucy is new here and has no friends yet and is isolated in her new house.  She is comfortable with being a mother and yet she is trying to hold on to her “self” in this new circumstance and situation.  She has mother worries and sometimes does not feel safe.  She thinks about Elsie a great deal.

Elsie has had a stroke and is confused so her children pack her up and move her to an apartment in assisted living.  Her story is the most complete as it weaves through Lucy’s in the house.   Lucy and Ben are busy planting trees in her backyard, lots of trees; Clem would not have liked this at all.

Birds and water play the game of connective tissue in this well written story.  If you have the opportunity to curl up and just savor and enjoy this read, I would put it very high up on your reading list.  A HUNDRED SMALL LESSONS is a top of the line read.

Ashley Hay uses her “lyrical prose, poetic dialogue, and stunning imagery” (RT magazine) to weave an intricate, bighearted story of what it is to be human. (TLC Book Tours)

About Ashley Hay

Ashley Hay is the internationally acclaimed author of the novels The Body in the Clouds and The Railwayman’s Wife, which was honored with the Colin Roderick Award by the Foundation for Australian Literary Studies and longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award, the most prestigious literary prize in Australia, among numerous other accolades. She has also written four nonfiction books. She lives in Brisbane, Australia.

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MISTRESS OF THE COURT: Historic Fiction ~Laura Purcell

Monday, October 5th, 2015

TLC Book Tours sent me a copy of  MISTRESS OF THE COURT for review. It is quite an interesting historic study and the author has done a great deal of research before adding her fictional parts.  I quite enjoyed this good read.

“The second in Laura Purcell’s captivating and acclaimed series of novels chronicling the lives and loves of the consorts and mistresses of Britain’s rash, reckless and ebullient Hanoverian kings.

Her first novel, Queen of Bedlam, was published by Myrmidon in the summer of 2014.” (TLC Book Tours page)

About the Author from the TLC Book Tours site:

“Laura Purcell is a former Waterstones bookseller who lives in Colchester. She is a member of the Society for Court Studies and Historic Royal Palaces and featured on a recent PBS documentary, talking about Queen Caroline’s life at Hampton Court. She maintains a history blog at laurapurcell.com.”

Henrietta is an orphan who marries very young to a man who is extremely abusive.  His blows of anger deafen her and she is forced to flee his rages in order to feed her son.  She heads off to the House of Hanover in hopes of finding employment for herself and her husband as Princess Caroline and Prince George wait their turn as the royal family in England.  George’s father, George Ludwig becomes the first King and he handles the court with an iron hand and unbounded cruelty towards his family.

Henrietta becomes an attendant to Caroline and they develop a friendship; well one of tentative trust and power inequality.  They both loose their sons to fathers and control issues.  Caroline offers some protection to Henrietta and some relief from her husband and the abuse.

There is a considerable amount of true story to this book and the story weaves in conversations, which could truly have happened.  Purcell is an accomplished storyteller and historian of this royal family tree.   She has studied the family and is now working on a series of stories about the Hanover Court.  I have always enjoyed reading these historic fiction pieces and have been a great fan of Philippa Gregory’s work over the years.   My mother in her childhood had to memorize the English Kings and Queens and study them in school and I read a number of these stories to her in her later years.  She much more enjoyed US historic fiction and thought it was wise to only have President’s for eight years not so many royals.

I had some confusion at the beginning of the book and needed pencil and paper to keep things straight and then I found a rhythm that made the book more enjoyable.  I put aside an hour to wander the Internet to read more about this Court and their times as a general history lesson and to bring me more in line with what I was reading.   I do like this genre and think I would have devoured this story when I was in high school.  This read did not dwell so much on beheadings and torture, it was more about the family experience and the role of waiting for your turn.

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