Autopsy of a Father by Pascale Kramer

AutopsyFather 2I think it is fair to say that Kramer manages to sneak into your head-space and then lets the events unfold in front of you like a slideshow of personal memories.

Family can give you the best experiences in life, but also the worst. Parental relationships can be the foundations of your identity, however the flip-side of the coin can also be a dysfunctional relationship that means there is no foundation of identity at all or a lack of one.

Although the relationship between Ania and Gabriel takes the main stage in this story, it is so much more than a daughter’s autopsy of the relationship with her father.

Kramer rips a plaster off of the pus filled boil of immigration. She has chosen the suburbs of Paris to point a spotlight at this and the underlying racial tensions in France. To be completely fair, to France that is, it is a topic of contention in quite a lot of western countries at the moment. An issue that has swayed elections and given fodder to the right-wing. We are living in an era where we have to be very careful that we don’t repeat mistakes of the past.

Gabriel is a well-known and admired journalist until he decides to publicly support a group of young French men, who ruthlessly murdered an innocent African immigrant. The victim was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Gabriel is vilified for his xenophobic rant. He loses his job, and his neighbours and fellow villagers aren’t afraid to show him how displeased they are by his opinion.

The former left-wing intellectual has suddenly taken on an anti-immigrant stance, which is sort of hypocritical considering that his wife was Iranian. His family structure sort of mirrors that of his home country. His half French and half Iranian daughter embraces her dead mother’s culture and religion. He loved his wife, and yet he rejects his daughter. He used to embrace the diversity in his country and now he rejects anything but the French culture.

Ania is unaware of all of this. The two of them have a fractured relationship. She never lived up to his expectations and he never accepted her shortcomings. The two of them are strangers bound by nothing more than blood. Ania isn’t really bothered by the lack of interest, at least that is what she tells herself. What really gets her goat is when her father treats his grandson, her son, with the same disinterest. I think most readers will be able to comprehend the difference. You get used to the indifference or the negative qualities your parents have and accept them as part of their eccentricities, however we react like protective parents when our children are subjected to the same personality flaws.

There is a moment in the story when Gabriel and Ania are in the same train compartment, and yet he pretends he hasn’t seen them. Almost as if he doesn’t want to associate himself with the two of them in public. Are these the actions of a xenophobe or of a man ashamed of his past actions? Is this realisation the reason he commits suicide?

In a way the story ends without any definitive answers. There is no clarification between Ania and Gabriel, and no resolution in general. Of course that is the reality of life and relationships, sometimes conflicts aren’t resolved.

Aside from the parallels Kramer draws to the political situation in France, which is quite cleverly done in the context of a family setting, I really think she portrayed the relationship between daughter and father well. The dysfunctional side of family, the distances that grow between people, and the hard and hurtful truth that usually remains unspoken.

Buy Autopsy of a Father at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @bellevuepress

The Sunset Gang by Warren Adler

sunset gangWarren Adler is perhaps best known for The War of the Roses. His work is infused with his special brand of dark wit, hard-hitting truths and sense of humour.

The Sunset Gang is a collection of ten stories revolving around the retirement village called Sunset Village. The feature connecting them all, aside from retirement and old-age, is the fact they are all Jews.

It is the cotton which connects and threads through all the stories. Their language, identity, lives and where their stories start and end.

Yiddish is about the way the ancient language helps two people to discover themselves and their love of life again. It felt as if the kinship and brother/sisterhood was the message in this story. Conversing in Yiddish reignites something buried deep inside them. Perhaps something others could and should discover too.

Itch is, as many of the stories are, a testament to how lonely advanced age can be, even after an eventful and full life. Thrust suddenly into the strange schedule of a retirement community many find themselves missing the days of old and friends, who have since passed away.

An Unexpected Visit is an excellent example of how parents and children grow apart when both are adults. Suddenly life is so busy that families grow apart. In this case a visit with his father helps a son to re-evaluate his own life and priorities.

The Detective, this story is painfully true and it happens more often than people might think. It is all about compassion, empathy and more importantly how pride can be a huge obstacle when it comes to survival.

God Made Me That Way, same attracts same in this tale. It is probably karma when these two elderly people cross paths. Their mutual affinity for the opposite gender places them in the strange category of con-people or thieves of the heart.

The Braggart doesn’t just apply to older generations, it is the truth for many people. Successful careers and money may sound great, but they aren’t a replacement for genuine emotions and children who care enough to keep in touch.

The Demonstration is perhaps the most poignant from a political point of view. A man determined to stand up for his people. To not sit by silently and do nothing. It is about anti-Semitism, racism and hatred.

The Angel of Mercy is actually both sad and very mystical. If there is one thing that hovers over a retirement village it is definitely death. Mrs Klugerman seems to not only know when death is hovering over certain people, she also seems to be able to heal. Either way she catches the attention of someone under their own shadow of death.

Poor Herman, they do say that everyone meets twice in their lifetimes. In this case the strong embers of young love have been buried beneath the mediocrity of a more suitable lifestyle and partner. When they meet again after many decades the two of them reconnect as if they were teenagers again.

The Home is a situation many of us will possibly face, although the majority of us won’t want it to happen them. After a lifetime of being in control and being considered the head of the family one is suddenly considered a problem. An inconvenience that is too old to make decisions and unable to take care of themselves. A scary thought.

I enjoyed the humour, the Jewishness of it all and the fact each story spoke to me. Adler excels at describing every day situations and emotions. I liked the way the author managed to make excellent emotional, moral and even strong political points in the midst of such touching stories.

Buy The Sunset Gang at Amazon Uk or go Goodreads for any other retailer.

Connect with @WarrenAdler on Twitter or www.facebook.com/warrenadler or visit www.warrenadler.com

The Missing Matisse by Pierre H. Matisse

matisseThe author comes from what one would call French royalty of the art world. He has literally hobnobbed with some of the most talented artists of the twentieth century.

Aside from the historical content and context I thought the way Pierre suffers after the loss of his identity was the most intriguing aspect of the story. It’s as if the name change sends him into a complete identity crisis.

As the story unfolds we hear about the unusual circumstances of his birth, and why he legally was never considered a Matisse. I think his parents, the Matisse family and some of the Leroy family did him a great injustice. Pierre was stuck in a legal loophole, and despite the fact it remained that way throughout his life because of his legal father, I do think both of his biological parents should have stood up for him. I do take the emotional and violent events of WW2 into consideration, however I do think they owed him a conversation and clarification within his real family.

His whole life is subconsciously steered by this identity crisis and he doesn’t find any kind of inner peace until he turns around and tells the world who he really is.

I’m not sure it would have been the same for a boy from a lesser known family. The name Matisse is synonymous with creativity, passion, colour and the diverse world of art. I think Pierre wants people to acknowledge his own talent and also the long line of creative people he stems from. Most importantly he wants the same acknowledgement from the Matisse family, albeit subconsciously.

It is an interesting read, especially from an historical point of view.

Buy The Missing Matisse at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Blog-Tour: The Cosy Christmas Teashop by Caroline Roberts

Today it is my pleasure to welcome Caroline Roberts and her book The Cosy Christmas Teashop to the blog. I hope you enjoy my review and the fantastic Q&A with Caroline, it gives a lot of insight into her book and the author herself.

About the Author

Caroline Roberts lives in the beautiful Northumberland countryside with her husband, and has two children. The sandy beaches, castles and rolling hills around her inspire her writing. She enjoys writing about relationships; stories of love, loss, friends and family – stories to make you laugh, smile and sometimes shed a tear or two.

A slice of cake, glass of bubbly, and a cup of tea, would make her day – preferably served with friends! She believes in striving for your dreams, which led her to a publishing deal with Harper Collins (yippee!) after many years of writing. The Cosy Christmas Teashop is her third novel.

If you’d like to find out more about Caroline, visit her on Twitter @_caroroberts, Facebook  www.facebook.com/CarolineRobertsAuthor and her blog carolinerobertswriter.blogspot.co.uk -she’d love to hear from you!

Follow @_caroroberts and @HarperImpulse and look out for #CosyTeashop on Twitter.

Before we get down to business (i.e. talking about your book) I would like to ask a set of questions I call ‘Breaking the Ice.’
The last book you read? (Inquisitive bookworms want to know) I’ve just finished The Jacobite’s Daughter by Lorna Windham. It’s a fabulous historical romance set in 18th Century Scotland, with battles, love stories, intrigue, and I loved the beautiful Highland setting. It is the debut novel of a close friend in the Romantic Novelists’ Association. We have supported each other along the way to publication, so it’s wonderful to see her novel now available.

The last movie you watched, which you felt left a mark (in your heart, soul, wallet…you name it)? I haven’t seen a movie in a little while now. But one of my romantic favourites is The Notebook with Ryan Gosling. It’s such a beautiful love story, and I love how the story takes you from the beginning of their relationship right through to old age.

Are you more of a Game of Thrones or Outlander gal? (Combinations are possible) Ooh, I have to admit I don’t really follow either, though I have seen the odd Game of Thrones episode when my son’s back home – it looks pretty dramatic. My favourite tv programmes at the moment are Poldark, and The Fall.

Which famous person (dead, alive, barely kicking) would you most like to meet? I’d really like to meet Emily Bronte. I loved Wuthering Heights when I first read it as a teenager. It is so passionate, and a touch wild, especially with brooding Heathcliff and that rural moorland setting. I’d love to know what Emily was like as a person and to chat to her about what it was like writing as a woman back in the Victorian age.

Something you treat yourself to, now and again? (Cream éclairs totally count) You can’t beat a slice of homemade cake – rich chocolate, carrot, Victoria sponge with cream and strawberries, lemon drizzle. I like a bit of variety. With a good cup of tea – that’s just bliss and a cosy, pick-me-up. It’s excellent fuel for writing!

All of the above questions are actually a pretty elaborate pysch evaluation disguised as random questions. Have no fear here come the real ones. Let’s talk about The Cosy Christmas Tea Shop.

Your Teashop books really are the perfect excuse to just curl up in a corner and spent a few cosy hours nose deep in a book. 

The Cosy Christmas Tea Shop takes place a while after The Cosy Tea Shop in the Castle. Ellie wants to take her life and family to the next level. Unfortunately it isn’t plain sailing for Ellie and her husband.

Was it important to you to mix serious topics with the fun and loving scenario of Ellie’s life? Yes, as a writer I want to make readers smile and get lost in a fabulous new world, but I also want to write about the things that matter, that can affect us all, and show that life isn’t always plain sailing. And real love builds itself around that, it supports you. I think Ellie and Joe’s relationship has grown–up in this novel and it was great exploring their longer–term love; we see them having to cope with some difficult times. Watch out, you may need a hankie here and there, but there’s still lots of humour and sexiness too.

Is it your way of infusing the perfect happy life with a dash of reality? Yes, I think we have to be realistic. My books are a little rom-angst. Life’s like that, happy times, sad times, times to laugh, times to cry, and love and friendship can see you through all that. It’s a journey; after the difficult times you really appreciate the happy times.

One of the aspects of the book I really enjoyed is the way all the employees are like a big patchwork family. Proving that we don’t always have to be blood relatives to be a family. Is that the element you were aiming for? Absolutely, I live a long way from my family, having moved from Cornwall (where my parents still are) hundreds of miles away to Northumberland many years ago. The sense of community and friendship here is wonderful. I think that would be particularly strong in a close-knit community like the castle estate.

I also have to ask whether you have a secret plan to make readers get the munchies whilst reading? I know I definitely had this strange urge to eat cake throughout the book.  It wasn’t a secret plan – I just love food, and cakes and bakes are such a lovely treat, so that probably feeds through into my books!

Of course the last and probably the most important question has to be whether we will be reading more about Ellie and her scrumptious baked goods in the future? The next book is a poignant and beautiful love story set on the stunning Bamburgh Beach in Northumberland with a whole new host of characters. But I am planning to write more “Cosy” style books in the future, so I’m sure we’ll be meeting Ellie and Joe again soon.

Thank you for answering all of my questions, even the odd ones! You’re welcome! Thank you for having me here on your blog, Cheryl!


About the book

From sleigh bells to wedding bells . . .

After a rocky start, Ellie Hall baked her way into everyone’s hearts at Claverham Castle – even the miserly Lord Henry was won over – and the run-down teashop regained its old sparkle.

Now Ellie has upgraded cupcakes for fairytale masterpieces as the proud caterer for an ever-growing list of weddings at the castle. The teashop team love baking to the tune of happy ever afters, but can they pull together when a certain bridezilla pushes them all to boiling point?

Christmas is just around the corner, and a last minute booking threatens to snow the team under. Ellie and her hunky hubby Joe have their own Christmas dreams to chase, but they’re determined to pull through and give this special couple the winter wonderland wedding they deserve.

Will Christmas at the Cosy Teashop be a showstopper to remember?

Review

It’s been a while since The Cosy Teashop in the Castle, and Ellie and Joe have settled comfortably into married life. As far as Ellie is concerned it is time to add to their family and make their unit complete.

Not an easy feat when you’re as busy as Ellie and Joe. Now they are in the business of hosting weddings and dealing with highly emotional brides-to-be, so certain things have to take a back-seat for the time being.

One of the nicest elements of the book is the way all the employees are like one big happy family. From the reluctant unicorn right down to the poor staff run ragged by the occasional bridezilla. They all stick together no matter how difficult the situation or how obscure the request.

Roberts manages to create a happy atmosphere, a cuddle up in a corner cosy read, which she infuses with enough reality to make the story relatable. On top of that she has incorporated her love of all things cake into the book. You might find yourself needing a snack or feel your sweet-tooth calling, then again that might just have been me. I had cake on the brain after this read.

It is an emotional read, and yet at the same time it warms the heart and will make you smile now and again. Roberts is very adept at making the reader feel right at home within the story. The line between fiction and reality is so narrow that it is almost non-existent. Her characters are just like you and me.

Buy The Cosy Christmas Tea Shop at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Today! Blog-Tour: The Last Will and Testament of Daphné Le Marche by Kate Forster

It’s my turn to introduce you to the The Last Will and Testament of Daphné Le Marche by Kate Forster. A glamorous company, a secret recipe and plenty of family secrets will keep you on your toes in this beauty extravaganza of a read.

About the author

Kate lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband, two children and two dogs, and can be found nursing a laptop, surrounded by magazines and watching trash TV or French films.

Connect with Kate Forster at kateforster.com. Follow @Kateforster and @HQStories and look out for #DaphneLeMarche on Twitter.

Buy The Last Will and Testament of Daphné Le Marche

About the book

Paris, 1956. Eighteen year old Daphné may be from a tiny French village, but she knows she’s destined for more. Stepping off a bus into bustling Paris with a suitcase full of her home-made beauty products, she’s ready to do whatever it takes to claim her stake in the world.

London, 2016. Scandalous love affairs and an iconic cosmetics brand have kept Daphné Le Marche in spotlight – but her darkest secrets have never come to light. Now, in her London penthouse, enveloped in her rich signature scent, the Grande Dame of glamour has died.

But not even those closest to her could have been prepared for what came next. The Last Will and Testament of Daphné Le Marche is a sweeping story of heartbreak, scandal and the importance of keeping it in all the family…

Review

This is the equivalent of Dynasty in a modern story of family dynamics, secrets and power struggles. The matriarch of a beauty company is contemplating her entire life as she gets closer to death’s door. Inspired by the thought she might be able to rectify some of the wrongs of the past with one simple gesture, she decides to make some last minute changes to her will. Forcing her family to work together to resolve their differences.

Everything leads back to the choices Daphné made many years ago. A simple country girl looking for an opportunity to make her way in the world. She finds love, disappointment and heartbreak during her rise to fame.

The Le Marche family isn’t really so different from any other family. Everyone has secrets that should stay buried. Some of them more serious than others. Perhaps even the kind that may make someone believe they have no other way out than to die or disappear completely. There is a reason they are buried in the first place.

The story wanders from present to past, so the reader can follow Daphné as a young woman and then again just before her death. The repercussions of her actions ripple through the years and time, like a bomb blast. Perhaps being honest would have been the better policy.

Forster likes to let the reader believe in an achievable happy ending. That despite all of the twisted lies and negative feelings there may just be a way back to normality and happiness.

Buy The Last Will and Testament of Daphné Le Marche at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read Picture Perfect by Kate Forster.

Join us on the Blog-Tour: Love Is by Haley Hill

Come along and have a gander at the tour, and see what I and my fellow bloggers have to say about the life and times of Eleanor Rigby in Love Is by Haley Hill. Follow the links below to read all about it.

Follow @HaleyHillNow and @HQStories on Twitter and look out for #LoveIs

9th Sep at bookaholicconfessions.wordpress.com

10th Sep at sincerelybookangels.blogspot.co.uk

11th Sep at kellysbookcorner.blogspot.co.uk

12th Sep at brizzlelassbooks.wordpress.com

13th Sep at bookishjottings.wordpress.com

14th Sep at cancersuckscouk.ipage.com

15th Sep at manybooksmanylives.com

16th Sep at here and cherylmmbookblog.blogspot.co.uk

17th Sep at bookreferees.org

18th Sep at thewritinggarnet.wordpress.com

Hope to see you here on the 16th for my review of Love Is…!

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

radio silence.pngIt’s the kind of book I think young people should read. Older teens and young adults in the middle of the scholastic academic rat race. The competition for highest grade and places at the best universities.

The build-up towards the decline of Aled is really well done. I think a lot of parents and students underestimate how lonely and vulnerable it can be at university or college.

Up until that point most young people are kept cocooned in the bubble of home and school. Gifted academics are fooled into thinking that because they are the smartest in their school that they are the smartest overall. Of course this particular bubble bursts when they find themselves in lecture rooms full of smarter and equally intelligent students. They go from being rock stars to one of many in the galaxy.

Not everyone is an academic though, and both schools and parents need to be mindful of students with other skills and talents.

In an effort to appear independent and strong Aled doesn’t reach out for help when everything takes a downward spiral. His only cry for help is Radio Silence.

Another important theme in the book is discovering sexuality and preferences or lack of them. Oseman does this without trying to strong-arm the plot or the reader.

Aside from the friendship between Frances and Aled I think the relationship between Carol and her children is one of the most interesting. In a world of Tiger moms, pushy parents and an ever rising number of children being abused, she was a small character, but a pivotal one.

Carol is the type of parent that flies under the radar when it comes to her behaviour. Outside her four walls she is the epitome of the perfect parent. A helpful respected member of society, who has an entirely different persona for those who know her privately.

I really enjoyed the read, perhaps because a lot of the scenarios rang very true for me.

Buy Radio Silence at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.