You Will Not Have My Hate by Antoine Leiris

my-hateI remember reading Antoine’s Facebook status and thinking how right he was, and how poignant his words were in the aftermath of the Paris attacks on the 13th of November 2015.

More so than those of any politician, religious leader, bystander or any other person personally affected by the atrocities.

I knew I would find it an emotional read. Antoine Leiris writes as he feels and experiences. His words and descriptions are focused solely on his son and himself.

In the aftermath, and during such attacks, the focus tends to be on the who, the why and the how. How many are dead? How exactly did they die? Who took their lives and why? Leiris doesn’t do that at all. Instead we get the reality of loved ones learning to deal with the absence the death has created. The normality of having to cook, go to sleep, return to work and of having to live without the person they loved.


Antoine & Melvil

The read was accompanied by tears, which wasn’t a surprise, as said I knew it would be an emotional read. I was surprised by what made me cry though. It wasn’t when Antoine was finally reunited with his wife after two days or the funeral. It was the baby food pots.

The compassion of the parents in the nursery school, and the way he accepts their need to help. Their need supersedes his own and that of his child.

It’s a strange thing grief, especially in the case of mass tragedy. It often becomes about the bystanders and those on the periphery, as opposed to those who are actually involved in the incidents. It’s almost as if you and I need to feel and work through the emotional distress,because the stark reality of the event is so frightening. Subconsciously we are glad it wasn’t us, but simultaneously we feel ashamed and guilty for those thoughts. The guilt is appeased via compassionate words, gestures and actions.

Hence the cards, letters, the baby pots, food and messages he receives. Antoine describes this process really well without actually coming out and saying it. Even within these pages he is still careful of taking away from others. He isn’t necessarily braver than anyone else, he perhaps just has better insight into what everyone else needs in this awful situation. Hopefully he can learn to put his own needs and those of Melvil first.

The book is a lovely testament to his wife Hélène, his son Melvil and himself. A fresh breath of humanity embedded in a whirlwind of grief and loss. A short yet very poignant read.


Helene &  Melvil

Buy You Will Not Have My Hate at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.


The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

charmsThe style of the story is reminiscent of The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy and the subsequent Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce.

Arthur is grieving for his wife. His story is about processing the grief and coming to terms with the woman she was with him and the woman she was before he come into her life.

Isn’t that true for all of us or at least the majority of us? There is always an element of ourselves and our lives we keep hidden from our spouses and/or life partners. The life, friends, adventures and experiences before you settle down, and sometimes even after you’ve settled down. Secret lives and the unknown facets of the person you love.

This is exactly what happens to Arthur. He finds an expensive charm bracelet in a small box hidden in a shoe in his wife’s cupboard. A trinket he has never seen before and knows nothing about.

The charms end up leading him on a lifetime of adventures. He discovers so many new things about Miriam, things he couldn’t have imagined her ever doing. Ex-lovers, trips to exotic places and even living in India for a while. It makes him doubt the life they had together and the love they had for each other.

In the end this is a story of how Arthur emerges from the darkness and the depths of his grief. How he reconnects with life and in a way with the Miriam he used to know and most importantly the Miriam he knows now.

It’s a lovely tale of sorrow, loneliness and despair, which is replaced by curiosity, happiness and a zest for life.

Buy The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Suddenly Last Summer by Sarah Morgan


I think I have begun creating my own tiny legion of Sarah Morgan readers. She is one of the first I recommend for romance genre readers.
This book is part of the Snow Crystal series (Sleigh Bells in the Snow Bk 1), featuring the heartbreak, romancing and escapades of the O’ Neil brothers. Sean and Élise feature in this second book in the trilogy.

Morgan has added a slightly darker element to the story this time. Everyone has a past, some of us have parts of our lives we would like to forget and never quite get over. That is exactly what it is like for Élise. Part of her past is stopping her from moving forward and enjoying her life to the fullest.

When you experience abuse in a relationship a part of your soul dies. It can and often does subconsciously determine your future relationships, especially romantic ones. Walls are built, boundaries are drawn and perimeters are not allowed to be breached.

Élise is quite clear on her boundaries and the fact Sean feels the same way makes any interaction very simple. No complications, no strings attached and no extras. Or so they both think.

Life has a strange way of throwing people together even if they clearly do not want to be thrown together at all. What do you do if that happens? Go with it? No, not Élise, she decides to go into full panic and defensive mode.

One other element of the story I would like to mention is what often happens in large families. The dynamics of a large family is such that everyone knows the ins and outs of everything about each person in that particular family.

No secret kept silent, no wishes kept hidden and everyone has an opinion of each of those things. Not an easy situation to deal with and sometimes not all members of big families like the lack of privacy.

The O’Neil family members seem to thrive on being in the middle of each others business, regardless of whether it is private, romantic or hot and heavy secrets.

This tale of tempestuous and passionate emotions combined with the short temper of Élise and the cool-headed Sean makes for an explosive roller coaster ride of a read.

Buy Suddenly Last Summer at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

You can connect with Sarah online at her website: on Facebook at or on Twitter @SarahMorgan_

Read The Christmas Sisters, Moonlight over Manhattan (From Manhattan with Love #6), Holiday in the Hamptons (From Manhattan with Love #5)New York Actually (From Manhattan with Love #4)Miracle on 5th Avenue (From Manhattan With Love #3)Sunset in Central Park (From Manhattan with Love #2)Sleepless in Manhattan (From Manhattan with Love #1)Christmas Ever AfterFirst Time in ForeverMaybe This Christmas, Sleighbells in the Snow or The Notting Hill Diaries, all by Sarah Morgan.

Follow @SarahMorgan_@HQStories and @HarperCollinsUK