#BlogTour The English Wife by Adrienne Chinn

It’s my turn on the BlogTour The English Wife by Adrienne Chinn.

About the Author

Adrienne Chinn was born in Grand Falls, Newfoundland, grew up in Quebec, and eventually made her way to London, England after a career as a journalist. In England she worked as a TV and film researcher before embarking on a career as an interior designer, lecturer, and writer. When not up a ladder or at the computer, she can usually be found rummaging through flea markets or haggling in the Marrakech souk.

Her second novel, The English Wife — a timeslip story set in World War II England and contemporary Newfoundland — is published in June 2020. Her debut novel, The Lost Letter from Morocco, was published by Avon Books UK in 2019. She is currently writing her third novel, The Photographer’s Daughters, the first of a 3-book series, to be published in 2021.

Follow @adriennechinn on Twitteron Facebookon Instagramon Goodreadson AmazonBuy The English Wife

About the book

Two women, a world apart. A secret waiting to be discovered…

VE Day 1945: As victory bells ring out across the country, war bride Ellie Burgess’ happiness is overshadowed by grief. Her charismatic Newfoundlander husband Thomas is still missing in action. Until a letter arrives explaining Thomas is back at home on the other side of the Atlantic recovering from his injuries.

Travelling to a distant country to live with a man she barely knows is the bravest thing Ellie has ever had to do. But nothing can prepare her for the harsh realities of her new home…

September 11th 2001: Sophie Parry is on a plane to New York on the most tragic day in the city’s history. While the world watches the news in horror, Sophie’s flight is rerouted to a tiny town in Newfoundland and she is forced to seek refuge with her estranged aunt Ellie.

Determined to discover what it was that forced her family apart all those years ago, newfound secrets may change her life forever…

Review

Ellie finds herself torn between two men, which is probably an emotional situation enhanced by the turmoil of living through war and in a city being bombed every night. Fear and anxiety are not the right bedmates for sensible decisions, but rather of emotional surges and bonds made during difficult times.

The relationship she has with her sister is one that becomes brittle over the years as Ellie follows her heart. Something she is forced to delve into again when her niece Sophie is forced to seek her out during an emergency.

It’s historical fiction – a family saga that carries destructive secrets through multiple generations.

Chinn accurately captures what happens when sisterhood and sibling rivalry doesn’t adhere to the rules of normal dysfunction and instead wanders into hatred and betrayal.

This was the part of the story that resonated with me the most – the relationship between the sisters. It isn’t always a tale of support, love and protection. Sometimes being the people we are supersedes any genetic or blood connection, which also means the reality can be painful or simply mean the term sisterhood is obsolete because the relationship is non-existent.

It may seem like prime-time drama and fiction, but I found that aspect in particular had an air of authenticity.

Chinn also navigates the waters of family and blood connections quite well, and the essence of feeling at home or as if you belong somewhere. In regards to Ellie’s path as the stranger and ‘foreigner’ who comes to comprehend that home isn’t necessarily where you were raised.

Buy The English Wife at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: One More Chapter; pub date 25 Jun. 2020. Buy at Amazon comBuy at Amazon Ca.

#BloggerDay Summer in Mayfair by Susannah Constantine

Today is Blogger Day for the delectable Summer in Mayfair by Susannah Constantine.

About the Author

Susannah Constantine is a television presenter and journalist. She lives in West Sussex with her husband and three children. She has co-written nine non-fiction books with Trinny Woodall. Summer in Mayfair is her second novel.

Follow @snhconstantine on Twitteron Goodreadson AmazonBuy Summer in Mayfair

About the book

Secrets are hidden around every corner…

Summer, 1979. – Twenty-two-year-old Esme Munroe has finally left the Scottish Highlands for the excitement of London.

Working at a prestigious art gallery in Mayfair, she meets gorgeous, worldly Suki, who takes her to the most exclusive bars and clubs in the city.

But it’s easy to get lost in London’s glamour and chaos, especially when a long-hidden secret looms – will Esme discover it and who she can really trust, before it’s too late?

Review

Esme isn’t a complete nube when it comes to the world of the upper echelon. In fact it’s fair to say her life has been influenced and determined by her mother’s friendship to a member of the gentry and her past of living her best life. Esme and her sister have gotten used to getting the short end of the stick, both in regards to their mother and the way they are treated by her so-called friends.

Esme is off to make her own way in life in London and quickly gets sucked into the glam, glitz and exclusivity. Old emotions about belonging and being unwanted surface as she slowly unravels secrets that have been hidden for a long time and for good reason.

It was quite interesting how well Constantine invoked the atmosphere of a certain era – not the late 70s it is set in per se, although the clothes and surroundings fit. It has a Golden Twenties feel to it. It has a very distinctive cultural edge combined with a certain economic prosperity. The world of landed gentry and those who inhabit their orbit crash into the world of plain old normality – more like being sucked into the Thunderdome also known as London.

In essence it’s a story about coming-of-age and comprehending that family isn’t always made up out of genetic connections, but rather a strong emotional connection.

Constantine delivers a story with depth, and yet also keeps it amusing, interesting and fun at the same time. I’d love to see that knack she has for creating a specific atmosphere create the story that is obviously just waiting to be told.

Buy Summer in Mayfair at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ; pub date 25 Jun. 2020. Buy at Amazon comBuy at Waterstones.

#BlogTour The Woman in the Painting by Kerry Postle

Today it’s my turn and the last stop on the BlogTour The Woman in the Painting by Kerry Postle.

About the Author

Kerry loves art, history and literature. In her debut novel, ‘The Artist’s Muse’, she explores the artist Egon Schiele’s relationship with his model Wally Neuzil and shows that it isn’t only Schiele’s paintings of Wally that shimmer and shock.

Kerry’s second novel, ‘A Forbidden Love’, is set during the Spanish Civil War and tells a rousing and ultimately uplifting story: that when war has taken everything away from us we are still left with our humanity.

With the author’s third novel, ‘The Woman in the Painting’, she returns to the world of art. Set in Rome at the start of the 16th century the author shares with us the heartbreaking story behind the artist Raphael’s portrait of his lover, Margarita Luti. Known as ‘The Baker’s Daughter’, this portrait hides a secret…

For more about Kerry Postle visit http://frockfriday.co.uk/. For links to the paintings and literature that inspired her first novel go to https://theartistsmuseblog.wordpress.com

Follow @kerry_postle on Twitter, on Goodreadson AmazonBuy The Woman in the Painting

About the book

A celebrated artist. A baker’s daughter. A love that will change everything. 1508. In Rome, artists are feted as gods, and women must know their place.

Margarita may be the modest daughter of a baker, but when she falls in love with painter Raphael she finds herself playing a dangerous game.

For Raphael is wanted for greater things than a humble marriage, and there are those who will do anything to keep him and Margarita apart – no matter the consequences…


Review

Pietro is an interesting narrator, perhaps because it is hard to feel any empathy towards him – at least for the majority of the story. He is a target because of his sexual preferences, his family pretends he doesn’t exist and he is usually one step away from complete destitution.

Now all of those things might make the audience feel sympathy towards him now and again. Poor Pietro with the speech impediment, everyone makes fun of him. Poor Pietro indeed. One wonders if he spent time polishing his thirty pieces of silver.

His love and obsession play a pivotal part in the story of Margarita, the lowborn daughter of a baker who refuses to be bought or sold like chattel. She becomes the object of inspiration for some of the most well-known painters of Italian Renaissance. Men creating works of art which still inspire and captivate the world many centuries after creation.

It’s historical fiction inspired by a true story. A tale of art, passion, love, but most of all it is a story of deceit.

I really enjoyed the way Postle never veered from Pietro, his point of view and ultimately his influence over the events. It doesn’t merely become a tragic tryst and battle of passionate endeavours or about navigating the egocentric and narcissistic traits of the most powerful. When you break it down it is about the subtle whispers spoken in rage or jealousy and remaining silent and doing nothing when you should step in to change to the tide of opinion.

It’s an exceptional and well crafted story.

Buy The Woman in the Painting at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ Digital; pub date 22 May 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Tsarina by Ellen Alpsten

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Tsarina by Ellen Alpsten.

About the Author

Ellen Alpsten was born and raised in the Kenyan highlands, before attending L’Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris. Whilst studying for her Msc in PPE she won the Grande École short story competition with her novella Meeting Mr. Gandhi and was encouraged to continue writing. Upon graduating, she worked as a producer and presenter for Bloomberg TV in London. She contributes to international publications such as Vogue, Standpoint and Conde Nast Traveller. Tsarina is her first novel. She lives in London with her husband and three children.

Follow @Ealpsten_author on Twitter, on Goodreadson AmazonBuy Tsarina

About the book

Spring 1699: Illegitimate, destitute and strikingly beautiful, Marta has survived the brutal Russian winter in her remote Baltic village. Sold by her family into household labour at the age of fifteen, Marta survives by committing a crime that will force her to go on the run.

A world away, Russia’s young ruler, Tsar Peter I, passionate and iron-willed, has a vision for transforming the traditionalist Tsardom of Russia into a modern, Western empire. Countless lives will be lost in the process. Falling prey to the Great Northern War, Marta cheats death at every turn, finding work as a washerwoman at a battle camp.

One night at a celebration, she encounters Peter the Great. Relying on her wits and her formidable courage, and fuelled by ambition, desire and the sheer will to live, Marta will become Catherine I of Russia. But her rise to the top is ridden with peril; how long will she survive the machinations of Peter’s court, and more importantly, Peter himself?

Review

Moments away from changing the destiny of his second wife, the tsar of Russia never completes his task to name an heir, and Catherine takes the opportunity to take a firm hold on the power and the country.

The tagline for this book is spot on – The most powerful woman history forgot. Everyone loves a bit of Catherine the Great, but what about Marta, Catherine I of Russia? She paved the way for Catherine the Great and other women who came before and after her. For someone who was a serf and illiterate she added her own touch after the reign of a ruler who changed the political, legal and architectural landscape of Russia. Her reasonable changes enhanced the strides Peter the Great achieved.

Alpsten strips away the myth that has been built over the years, the narrative of the lovely calm woman who ruled alone for a short period of time with patience. Instead she tells the more realistic tale of a woman determined and cunning enough to survive the manipulations of the Russian court. A woman humiliated, tortured and consumed with sorrow, and yet ultimately she was a survivor.

It’s not a pretty tale – some of these Peters were a often a screw short of a plank to be nailed into. If anything this fictional tale explains in part why centuries later the peasants rose up.

The author does take a few historical liberties in the name of creativity, fiction and art, but that’s only to be expected with historical fiction. It’s written in lyrical prose and in a way that takes you back to Russian literature.

Buy Tsarina at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing; pub date 14 May 2020 | Hardback £16.99 | eBook £14.26. Buy at Amazon comBuy at Waterstones.

#BlogTour Camelot by Giles Kristian

Today I am really excited to take part in the BlogTour bring you the second book in The Arthurian Tales series, Camelot by Giles Kristian.

‘Following his acclaimed Sunday Times bestseller, Lancelot, Giles Kristian’s new novel returns us to the realms of Arthurian legend . . .’ Oh yes indeed!

About the Author

Family history (he is half Norwegian) and a passion for the fiction of Bernard Cornwell inspired Giles Kristian to write. Set in the Viking world, his bestselling Raven and The Rise of Sigurd trilogies have been acclaimed by his peers, reviewers and readers alike. In The Bleeding Land and Brothers’ Fury, he tells the story of a family torn apart by the English Civil War. He also co-wrote Wilbur Smith’s No.1 bestseller, Golden Lion.

In his most recent novel, the Sunday Times bestseller Lancelot, Giles plunged into the rich waters of the Arthurian legend. For his next book, he continues his epic reimagining of our greatest island ‘history’. Giles Kristian lives in Leicestershire.

Follow @GilesKristian on Twitter, on Facebookon Instagramon Goodreads, Visit gileskristian.comBuy Camelot

About the book

Britain is a land riven by anarchy, slaughter, famine, filth and darkness. Its armies are destroyed, its heroes dead, or missing. Arthur and Lancelot fell in the last great battle and Merlin has not been seen these past ten years. Now, the Saxons are gathering again, their warbands stalk the land, their king seeks dominion.

As for the lords and kings of Britain, they look only to their own survival and will not unite as they once did under Arthur and his legendary sword Excalibur. But in an isolated monastery in the marshes of Avalon, a novice of the order is preparing to take his vows when the life he has known is suddenly turned upside down in a welter of blood.

Two strangers – the wild-spirited, Saxon-killing Iselle and the ageing warrior Gawain – will pluck the young man from the wreckage of his simple existence. Together, they will seek the last druid and the cauldron of a god. And the young man must come to terms with his legacy and fate as the son of the most celebrated yet most infamous of Arthur’s warriors: Lancelot.

For this is the story of Galahad, Lancelot’s son – the reluctant warrior who dared to keep the dream of Camelot alive . . .

Review

I will have to try and be careful with this one there are just too many juicy plot secrets that would spoil the read for others. Let me try and declare how much I love this book without telling you exactly why.

Let me start by saying that the first in The Arthurian Tales series, Lancelot, is a hard act to follow – even for the author who wrote it. If you haven’t read it yet then please do, you are missing out on a superb read. Camelot is a continuation of the tale of Lancelot, Arthur and Guinevere or rather of the people left behind after the last great battle saw the demise of the destructive trio.

In an isolated monastery in the middle of the mysterious marshes of Avalon lives a young man who lives in the shadow of his father’s past. He is reluctant to part from his path towards the life of a monk until an old warrior and the young woman who saves his life convince him that perhaps his path is something completely different.

Together with the remnants of Arthur’s loyal comrades they set out on an impossible quest, to restore the power and balance to their country, and their friend. Vague enough for you? Good, because I wouldn’t want you to miss out on the surprises packed into this brilliant story.

Kristian writes about the world of King Arthur as if he were a constant companion in their trials and tribulations, that’s how vivid and realistic his storytelling is. He understands how folklore, myth and history need to become one and the same to fuel the depth of the characters and story.

Both Lancelot and Camelot are an homage to ancient legends whispered and carried along the centuries. Tales of loyalty, courage and magic all fiercely ingrained in the spirit of the isles. Kristian is a pleasure to read – his stories are such a completely immersive experience.

Buy Camelot at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Bantam Press – Transworld Digital; pub date 14th May 2020 | Hardback | £12.99. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of Lancelot by Giles Kristian.

#BlogTour Hidden in the Shadows by Imogen Matthews

Today it’s also my turn on the BlogTour Hidden in the Shadows by Imogen Matthews, it’s the sequel to The Hidden Village.

About the Author

Imogen Matthews is English and lives in the beautiful University town of Oxford. Before she wrote The Hidden Village, she published two romantic fiction e-novels under her pen name, Alex Johnson. The Hidden Village is published by Amsterdam Publishers, based in the Netherlands.

Imogen has strong connections with the Netherlands. Born in Rijswijk to a Dutch mother and English father, the family moved to England when Imogen was very young.

Every year since 1990, Imogen has been on family holidays to Nunspeet on the edge of the Veluwe woods. It was here that she discovered the story of the hidden village, and together with her mother’s vivid stories of life in WW2 Holland, she was inspired to write her novel.

Follow @ImogenMatthews3 on Twitter, on Goodreadson Amazon, Visit imogenmatthewsbooks.comBuy Hidden in the Shadows

About the book

Escape from the hidden village is just the beginning

September 1944: The hidden village is in ruins. Stormed by the Nazis. Several are dead and dozens flee for their lives.

Instead of leading survivors to safety, Wouter panics and abandons Laura, the love of his life. He has no choice but to keep running from the enemy who want to hunt him down.

Laura must also stay hidden as she is Jewish. Moving from one safe house to another, she is concealed in attics and cellars. The threat of discovery is always close at hand.

On the run with no end in sight, the two young people despair of ever seeing each other again. As cold sweeps in signaling the start of the Hunger Winter, time is running out. Wouter’s search now becomes a battle for survival. Where can Laura be? Will they ever be reunited?

Review

This is the sequel to The Hidden Village, although both can be read as standalone novels I would recommend reading both to get the gist and entirety of the story.

This book gives readers a conclusion to the story of Wouter and Laura. Young blossoming love is torn apart by German soldiers accidentally stumbling across the hidden village. Panic rears its head and survival becomes more important to some than the pre-arranged plan to help everyone get to safety.

This is historical fiction based on the factual story of a tiny village hidden in the dense forest of Vierhouten in the Netherlands during World War 2. A place where Jews and other fugitives were hidden from the Germans by the Dutch.

There is this moment towards the end between Laura and Sofie – one that implies the need for guilt. It’s so easy to judge when one of them is scarred for life and the other assumes to know better. The stigma of association, which to the majority equalled collaboration regardless of whether consent was involved, became a reason to punish publicly. With that in mind, and the trauma, the choice is quite understandable.

Simultaneously it’s also quite interesting how Wouter is quick to forget his own sins and point a judgy finger at others. How fast we forget our own mistakes and cast stones in the directions of others.

I think the author shows us how fickle and fleeting life can be, and how our reactions to certain situations depend on the position we find ourselves in. Safety breeds complacency and often contempt, whereas survival mode can bring us tighter together or drive us to extreme choices.

The topic of the Second World War and the Holocaust is never an easy one to read about or write about for that matter. I believe it’s important to note that there were moments of great courage, endurance and selflessness. In times when it was safer to look away many chose to help, and they deserve to be noted and remembered alongside the many victims both dead and living.

Buy Hidden in the Shadows at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Amsterdam Publishers; pub date 1 Dec. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Also by Imogen Matthews – Buy Hidden in the Village. An unforgettable WW2 novel , Series: Untold WW2 Stories,. Publisher Amsterdam Publishers pub date Dec 2019. Amsterdampublishers.com

#BlogTour The Forgotten Sister by Nicola Cornick

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour The Forgotten Sister by Nicola Cornick.

About the Author

Nicola Cornick is a historian and author who works as a volunteer researcher and guide for the National Trust in one of the most beautiful 17th century houses in England. She writes dual time novels that illustrate her love of history, mystery and the supernatural. Her books have appeared in over twenty five languages, sold over half a million copies worldwide and been described as “perfect for Outlander fans.” Nicola also works as a consultant for TV and radio.

Her new novel, ‘The Forgotten Sister’ is a re-telling of the Tudor love triangle between Queen Elizabeth I, Robert Dudley and Amy Robsart. It is out in April 2020 and is available for pre- order in paperback and e-book.

Follow @NicolaCornick @HQStories on Twitter, on Amazonon Goodreads, on Instagram, on Facebook, Visit nicolacornick.comBuy The Forgotten Sister

About the book

One woman’s secret will shape another’s destiny…

1560: Amy Robsart is trapped in a loveless marriage to Robert Dudley, a member of the court of Queen Elizabeth I. Surrounded by enemies and with nowhere left to turn, Amy hatches a desperate scheme to escape – one with devastating consequences that will echo through the centuries…

Present Day: When Lizzie Kingdom is forced to withdraw from the public eye in a blaze of scandal, it seems her life is over. But she’s about to encounter a young man, Johnny Robsart, whose fate will interlace with hers in the most unexpected of ways. For Johnny is certain that Lizzie is linked to a terrible secret dating back to Tudor times. If Lizzie is brave enough to go in search of the truth, then what she discovers will change the course of their lives forever.

Review

I think you have to know your history to fully appreciate the way Cornick has melded fact and fiction to create this dual timeline story, although to be fair the majority of readers will have heard, read or seen something about Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Robert Dudley and Amy Robsart.

In 1560 we see Amy embark upon what will be a short-lived marriage with Robert Dudley, which culminates in her untimely death. A suspicious death that becomes a barrier between Elizabeth and Robert. With the suspicion of murder hanging over him he is no longer considered a possible match for her majesty, although I would argue that she would never have forfeited an inch of power by marrying any man.

Elizabeth I was driven by her need to be in control of her own destiny, perhaps because it was so often in uncertainty as a child. After the tyrannical behaviour of her father and his obsession with women and a male heir – it is ironic and poetic justice that the daughter of Anne Boleyn reigned with such determination.

In the present day the tragic past is mirrored in the lives of Lizzie, Dudley and Amelia. It’s more than that though, somewhere along the line Lizzie is connecting to the past, perhaps to someone or something lingering and waiting for justice.

It’s historical fiction – a dual timeline murder mystery with a ghostly vibe. Cornick certainly captures the right elements of both modern mystery and historical fiction to create a compelling read.

From Harry Kingdom, Annie Bowling to Lizzie and Bill aka the advisor formerly known as William Cecil, it’s all incredibly clever and entertaining. Then again maybe I just found it particularly amusing because I enjoy reading about that period in history. This would also be a great way of teaching children history by creating a modern equivalent they can relate to.

It’s a captivating read, a fascinating combination of multiple genres, which I think will draw in quite a lot of readers.

Buy The Forgotten Sister at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ; pub date 30 April 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of The Woman in the Lake by Nicola Cornick.

#BlogTour The Wheelwright’s Daughter by Eleanor Porter

Today it’s an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Wheelwright’s Daughter by Eleanor Porter.About the Author

Eleanor Porter has lectured at Universities in England and Hong Kong, and her poetry and short fiction has been published in magazines. The Wheelwright’s Daughter is her first novel.

Follow @elporterauthor on Twitteron Facebookon GoodreadsBuy The Wheelwright’s Daughter

About the book

Can she save herself from a witch’s fate?

Martha is a feisty and articulate young woman, the daughter of a wheelwright, living in a Herefordshire village in Elizabethan England. With no mother Martha’s life is spent running her father’s meagre household and helping out at the local school whilst longing to escape the confines and small-mindedness of a community driven by religious bigotry and poverty.

As she is able to read and is well-versed in herbal remedies she is suspected of being a witch. When a landslip occurs – opening up a huge chasm in the centre of the village – she is blamed for it and pursued remorselessly by the villagers.

But can her own wits and the love of local stablehand Jacob save her from a witch’s persecution and death…

Review

I’m going to say this right from the get  go – the title of the book may imply a certain kind of read, but it is in fact so much more.

Yes it tells the story of a convoluted romance in Elizabethan times, however it also speaks of scaremongering and profiteering in times of great unrest. Of a young woman who battles daily with the fact that being different makes her a target. Her knowledge, talents for healing, the fact she can read and write does nothing to dispel thoughtless and often dangerous rumours.

It’s historical fiction, an intricately drawn picture of distorted fear and victims of group hysteria.

I really enjoyed the way Porter used the village people and their fears almost like a scythe swinging from one side to the next. Sometimes catching the crop and sometimes not. Martha doesn’t comprehend the danger of gossip and the times she lives in, which when combined with her affinity to use herbs and her refusal to put up with the gossip and slurs –  makes her a prime target. The herd needs someone to blame when nature makes itself known and death comes calling.

Kudos to Porter for the ending. It’s the kind you read, then read again. It’s almost cruel to leave the reader with such uncertainty and yet simultaneously with complete certainty too.

This may be the author’s debut novel, but by George it certainly shouldn’t be her last. Porter is a writer and a storyteller, and not everyone is both.

Buy The Wheelwright’s Daughter at Amazon UK on Kindle  Paperback and Audiobook or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Boldwood Books; pub date 21 April 2020. Buy at Amazon comBuy at Boldwood Books.

#BlogTour Code Name Hélène by Ariel Lawhon

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Code Name Hélène by Ariel Lawhon. The story is inspired by the gripping true story of World War 2 spy Nancy Wake.

About the Author

Ariel Lawhon, author of I Was Anastasia (2018), Flight of Dreams (2016) and The Wife, The Maid And The Mistress (2014), is a critically acclaimed writer of historical fiction. She lives with her family in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee.

Follow @ArielLawhon on Twitter, on Goodreadson Amazon, Visit ariellawhon.comBuy Code Name Hélène

About the book

In 1936, foreign correspondent, Nancy Wake, witnesses first-hand the terror of Hitler’s rise in Europe. No sooner has Nancy met, fallen in love with and agreed to marry French industrialist Henri Fiocca, than the Germans invade France and force her to take on her first code name of many. The Gestapo call her the White Mouse for her remarkable ability to evade capture when smuggling Allied soldiers across borders. She becomes Hélène when she leaves France to train in espionage with an elite special forces group in London. Then, when she returns to France, she is the deadly Madame Andrée. But the closer Frances gets to liberation, the more exposed Nancy – and the people she loves – will become.

Inspired by true wartime events, Code Name Hélène is a gripping and moving story of extraordinary courage, unfaltering resolve, remarkable sacrifice – and enduring love.

Review

This story is inspired by the gripping true story of World War 2 spy Nancy Wake. A nurse and journalist, who became a decorated heroine of the French Resistance and then later during the war a British S.O.E working with the French Resistance.

Her need to intervene and help in some way was driven by the events leading up to the Second World War. Witnessing first-hand the oppression, violence and torture of Jewish men and women in the streets, during the mid to late 30s, by the Brownshirts and their supporters, made her determined to do her part.

She certainly did that, and became infamous for evading those who tried to capture her. In fact she proved that her mission/s were more important than individual loyalties. Personal sacrifice was often necessary to keep many others safe, to be successful in the face of great opposition.

It’s historical war fiction based on a true story. A story about one of many brave men and women who tried to influence the course of history by doing their bit, knowing that capture would mean torture at the very least and almost certainly death.

Lawhon doesn’t bow to preconceived ideas and make Nancy something she wasn’t. She was a strong woman capable of making hard and ruthless decisions for the greater good, which is definitely the kind of woman she comes over as in her interviews. If the torture and death of one is necessary to save the lives of hundreds, thousands – perhaps even more – then that one death is justified. No matter who that person may be.

Buy Code Name Hélène at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Headline Review; pub date 31 Mar. 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Philosopher’s Daughters by Alison Booth

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour The Philosopher’s Daughters by Alison Booth.

About the Author

Bornin Melbourne and brought up in Sydney, Alison spent over two decades studying, living and working in the UK before returning to Australia some fifteen years ago.

Her ancestors came to Australia from England and Scotland at the end of the 1800s, before Federation in 1901. Indeed, in 1891, when the novel starts, 32% of the Australian population were born overseas, mostly in the UK. Alison grew up fascinated by the thought that Australia once comprised small colonies, teetering on the edge of the vast continent, and wanted in this new novel to travel back in time to view it through the eyes of two strong young women. The tales of Alison’s late father, Norman Booth, about his years in the Northern Territory also awakened her interest in the Northern Territory.

Her debut novel, Stillwater Creek, was Highly Commended in the 2011 ACT Book of the Year Award, and afterwards published in Reader’s Digest elect Editions in Asia and in Europe. Alison’s other novels are The Indigo Sky (2011), A Distant Land (2012), and A Perfect Marriage (2018).

Alison is Emeritus Professor of Economics at the Australian National University. In November 2019, Alison was made Fellow of the Econometric Society, a prestigious international society for the advancement of economic theory in its relation to statistics and mathematics.

Follow @booth_alison on Twitter, on Facebookon Goodreads, Visit alisonbooth.netBuy The Philosopher’s Daughters

About the book

A tale of two very different sisters whose 1890s voyage from London into remote outback Australia becomes a journey of self-discovery, set against a landscape of wild beauty and savage dispossession.

London in 1891: Harriet Cameron is a talented young artist whose mother died when she was barely five. She and her beloved sister Sarah were brought up by their father, radical thinker James Cameron. After adventurer Henry Vincent arrives on the scene, the sisters’ lives are changed forever. Sarah, the beauty of the family, marries Henry and embarks on a voyage to Australia. Harriet, intensely missing Sarah, must decide whether to help her father with his life’s work or devote herself to painting.

When James Cameron dies unexpectedly, Harriet is overwhelmed by grief. Seeking distraction, she follows Sarah to Australia, and afterwards into the Northern territory outback, where she is alienated by the casual violence and great injustices of outback life.

Her rejuvenation begins with her friendship with an Aboriginal stockman and her growing love for the landscape. But this fragile happiness is soon threatened by murders at a nearby cattle station and by a menacing station hand seeking revenge.

Review

It’s easy to forget the history of Australia, especially when the narrative is usually one of sunshine, waves and living life with more joy. Spiders the size of dogs and in general many things that can kill you. Oh wait, those aren’t positives.

My point is the history behind the building of the country we know now is often whitewashed and swept under the carpet. More than 270 frontier massacres over the space of 140 years. A state-sanctioned attempt to eradicate Aboriginal people. The conspiracy of police and settlers to keep silent and change the narrative of these awful events and history. That’s not what people think of when Australia is mentioned.

Booth incorporates this conspiracy of silence into her story of two sisters, who try to rebuild their lives in Australia and find themselves confronted with atrocities and hatred. Harriet in particular connects emotionally to the fate of the indigenous people and creates bonds that people frown upon.

It’s historical fiction with factual history at the core.

The strength of this story is the way the author  gives her readers an excellent visual with her descriptions. Really capturing the relentless heat, the difficult geographical conditions, the extreme isolation and harsh living conditions.

Booth also speaks to the inequality between the different genders, women’s rights, violence and the amount of strength settlers needed to live, survive and eventually thrive in their country of choice. It’s a multi-layered story, so as a reader you have to take a breath and let it sink in, and sometimes read between the lines of this ambitious historical novel.

Buy The Philosopher’s Daughters at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Red Door Press; 2 April 2020.