#Blogtour From Far Around They Saw Us Burn by Alice Jolly

‘The highly anticipated first short story collection from the author of the Folio Prize-shortlisted Mary Ann Sate, Imbecile.’

It’s a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour From Far Around They Saw Us Burn by Alice Jolly.

About the Author

Alice Jolly is a novelist and playwright. She won the 2014 V. S. Pritchett Memorial Prize with one of her short stories, ‘Ray the Rottweiler’, and her memoir Dead Babies and Seaside Towns won the 2016 PEN Ackerley Prize. She has published two novels with Simon & Schuster – What the Eye Doesn’t See and If Only You Knew – and four of her plays have been produced by the professional company of the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham. 

Her novel Mary Ann Sate, Imbecile, published by Unbound in 2018, was longlisted for the RSL Ondaatje Prize and shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize. Her latest novel, Between the Regions of Kindness, was published by Unbound in 2019. In 2021, Jolly was awarded an O. Henry Prize for her short story ‘From Far Around They Saw Us Burn’. She lives in Stroud, Gloucestershire. Follow @jollyalice on Twitter

About the book

This collection contains works such as ‘Ray the Rottweiler’, which won the 2014 V. S. Pritchett Memorial Prize, and ‘From Far Around They Saw Us Burn’, which in 2021 received an O. Henry Prize, the US’s most prestigious short story award. 

From Far Around They Saw Us Burn is the eagerly awaited first short story collection from Alice Jolly, one of the most exciting and accomplished voices in British fiction today. The extraordinary range of work gathered here is united by a fascination with how everyday interactions can transform our lives in unpredictable ways. These are stories of lonely people, outcasts and misfits, and the ghosts that inhabit our intimate spaces. The result is a compelling, arresting and, at times, devastating collection – not least in the title story, which was inspired by the tragic true events of the 1943 Cavan orphanage fire. 

Written with an exemplary eye for detail and an intimate understanding of the complexities of human nature, Jolly’s collection builds up towards the ultimate question: what is revealed of us when we peel away the surfaces, and is it enough?


This is a novella length book of short stories, fifteen stories. Multiple variations on situations where humans are disappointing and flawed, simultaneously brow beaten into submission by societal norms.

I think it’s the clarity the author offers the reader, especially when presented with a certain perspective or rather the preferred perspective. Chipping away at the frivolous, and perhaps often misleading facts to hide the guilt. Although in the last story there is probably not an inch of guilt by hands who feel they are the voice of morality. The story even more tragic and scathing as it’s told from the viewpoint of the victims.

It’s an intriguing combination of short stories, which are like small microcosms of kodak moments in time. They pull you in in such a visceral way that it is hard to believe they are but brief moments to experience. I would definitely buy longer works by this author.

Buy From Far Around They Saw Us Burn at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Published in Hardback by Unbound on 30th March, 2023 for £18.99 and eBook for £9.99. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour In Other Words edited by Mainspring Arts

An anthology of lively and imaginative short fiction by eight autistic writers, with a foreword by David Mitchell and introduction by Joanne Limburg. It’s my turn on the BlogTour  In Other Words edited by Mainspring Arts.

About the Author

Mainspring Arts, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to making the arts inclusive, diverse, and accessible to all, was founded in 2015 by Katya Balen and Miranda Prag. They were frustrated by the lack of diversity in the arts, where neurotypical and non-disabled actors or writers frequently assume the roles or voices of neurodivergent people, or those with disabilities. Katya and Miranda  believe those people should be able to tell their own stories, and Mainspring Arts exists to help them do it. Follow @mainspring_arts on Twitter

About the book

A shift in the nature of light reveals an eighth colour in the visible spectrum. A boy befriends the last tree in the natural world. A single mother finds help at the darkest point of her life. A young man finds himself trapped in a university overrun by crows.

These stories and more form In Other Words, an anthology as diverse as the writers themselves. Some cover trauma, societal issues and stigma; others offer fragments of hope and light. Some reach back in time while others transport us to another dimension altogether. There is heartbreak, wit, humour, poignancy and above all a mastery of the imagination.

What these transcendent stories share is that they were created by autistic writers, people often dismissed as unimaginative or incapable of creativity – a myth that has persisted for generations. This collection hopes to shatter those stereotypes, those misconceptions and misunderstandings, and the perception that one must be neurotypical to be afforded a voice in the arts.


The introduction makes a valid point. The majority of successful books and screen versions of autism are written by non-autistic individual. These stories are written by autistic writers. The difference is vast, the first describing the experience from the outside as an observer and the second writing as a first-hand experiencer.

This contains eight stories: A Conversation of Sparrows Jon Adams, Standard Candles – Damian Sawyer, Light Revolution – J.B. Whiskey, The Crows – Kate Roy, The Last Tree – Sarah, The Clockmaker – Esther Lowery, The Beach House – Luke Matthews and Winona the Angelic Wizard – Richard Baskett.

I think Mainspring are on to something here. It breaks boundaries and threatens to dispel the many myths society has about art and writing as it is visualised and interpreted by society, and especially how its perceived as created by autistic artists and authors.

It’s a fascinating book with equally captivating stories. I think it’s one of those scenarios where you read the stories as you would any other then add on another layer of perception. The speculative element takes on another dimension.

Buy In Other Words at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Unbound pub date 24 Jun. 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Trinity by Patrick Morgan with David Kidger

 It’s my turn on the BlogTour Trinity by Patrick Morgan with David Kidger.

About the Author

Patrick and David’s first collaboration, the ‘Sega Star’ was published, by them, on A4 plain paper, at the tender age of 10. David got though university, worked for the BBC online, before starting his own web design company. Patrick abandoned his pitiful academic endeavours at 19 to work as a support engineer and designer in Indycar and Formula 1.

Years later both were running their respective businesses, David’s in user experience and interface design, Patrick’s in Historic Motorsport or ‘seeing what everyone else did’ as he calls it. Reunited over a long promised pint they talked childhood, Transformers and Starcom. It’s a fact that boys love spaceships and robots, both had stabs at novels in the past so writing together sounded like fun. Patrick worked with Jade Gurss on his highly rated book ‘Beast’ in 2014, among other motorsport and technical books and loved every moment of it.

Patrick does words, illustrations and some ideas. David does ideas, mostly the bigger ones.

About the book

A planet slowly rotates, one side perpetual sunlight the other perpetual darkness. Between these two sides lies the Divide, and the ancient city of Skala, the seat of humanity’s high council. Skala is slipping inexorably west from the divide into the harsh desert of Hellinar and to its death.

Over 1000km east, another city is on the verge of its birth, created with the aid of two ancient artificial intelligence cores. When one of the cores goes missing, a series of revealing events triggers, hinting at something rotten, and deeply linked to the founding of the new city. The loss of the core can’t be kept under wraps forever – soon a plan is put into place – forcing the rapid completion of an advanced exploratory vehicle that may be the only hope of a recovery. 

Trinity is a story of family, forgotten history, advancing technology and a twisting series of events. Follow a collection of rich characters on interconnecting paths to re-discover the truth about their small, isolationist civilisation – and something far bigger than any of them could have imagined…


Nice one. Speculative science fiction fantasy with dare I say it…perhaps even a dollop of a dystopian flair. I have to say sci-fi and/or fantasy often loses out on readers when it comes to demographics that pull the masses, because it often gets too complex, technical and even outlandish in its speculation. When an author/s manages to crack that particular nut by being able to pull those readers into the middle of the vortex of complexity and a good round of grey cell smashing, then by golly they have done their job.

When it comes to reviewing the content this is one of those books where the little details give away a lot – I can imagine other reviewers feeling the same way. It’s perhaps better to experience the story in its entirety without the prior knowledge of a previous reader.

Side-note: I would like a whole Q&A with HEX and ROOT – (forget the authors I just want access to those who have the answers).

I haven’t read anything as innovative since Brown brought us the Red Rising series. I really can’t wait to see where this series goes, although I have to admit I am a wee bit invested in HEX and ROOT. The human element drives the story, but the two enigmas are just a fount of knowledge, intrigue and they are the very core of this book – the first in the series.

The concept is brought alive by the intricate detailed maps, pictures and descriptions. Given how intense and vast the world-building is, this is an added bonus for readers. I am looking forward to the next book.

Buy Trinity at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher : Unbound Digital; pub date 29 April 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Song by Michelle Jana Chan

It’s an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Song by Michelle Jana Chan.

About the Author

Michelle Jana Chan is an award-winning journalist and travel editor of Vanity Fair in the UK, where she presents the magazine’s digital Future Series. Formerly, Michelle was a BBC TV presenter, a news producer at CNN International and a reporter at Newsweek. She was a Morehead-Cain scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Follow @michellejchan on Twitter, on Instagram, Visit michellejanachan.comBuy Song

About the book

Song is just a boy when he sets out from Lishui village in China. Brimming with courage and ambition, he leaves behind his impoverished broken family, hoping he’ll make his fortune and return home. 

Chasing tales of sugarcane, rubber and gold, Song embarks upon a perilous voyage across the oceans to the British colony of Guiana, but once there he discovers riches are not so easy to come by and he is forced into labouring as an indentured plantation worker.

This is only the beginning of Song’s remarkable life, but as he finds himself between places and between peoples, and increasingly aware that the circumstances of birth carry more weight than accomplishments or good deeds, Song fears he may live as an outsider forever.

This beautifully written and evocative story spans nearly half a century and half the globe, and though it is set in another century, Song’s story of emigration and the quest for an opportunity to improve his life is timeless.


This is the story of a young Chinese boy who believes it is his duty to take care of his family after the death of his father. His childhood is swallowed up by this fierce need to fulfill said duty, which at some point is exchanged with a determination to survive and then to take care of his own family.

There is something Song’s mother says in the first few chapters and Song then later admits to himself in the last chapters – it’s an incredibly poignant moment. It’s actually something that connects Song with nearly every person who leaves their entire world behind to find something else or better in life, even those who don’t take their paths willingly.

His mother knows, but it takes Song ages to realise she is right. It takes the threat of loss, the acknowledgement of what is really important, missed opportunities and that those on pedestals tend to stumble off them quite regularly.

It’s a beautifully lyrical at times, despite the more difficult moments. I really liked the last few pages and had to read them again just to make sure. The characters need to be given more depth, let’s see below the surface and not just wander on the periphery of poignant. The pain of his situation as a young migrant child, the trouble and not just the happy. Also to not try and out-intellect your audience, because sometimes it means some of said audience will completely miss the point. Chan clearly has the kind of story in her that readers will not easily forget.

Buy Song at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher : Unbound pub date 18 Mar. 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Note to Boy by Sue Clark

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Note to Boy by Sue Clark.

About the Author

Sue Clark has grilled John Humphreys, quipped with Ronnie Corbett, danced with one James Bond and had a one-sided conversation with another, and penned funny lines for the likes of Lenny Henry, June Whitfield, Roy Hudd and David Jason.

She’s been a BBC radio and TV comedy scriptwriter on such shows such as Alas Smith and Jones, Weekending, The News Huddlines and The Jason Explanation, a copywriter, a PR, a journalist, a magazine editor, a writer of guidebooks, a secretary and was, briefly, paid to read books all day long for a film producer. And now she’s written a novel.

Follow @SueClarkAuthor on Twitteron Goodreadson Amazon, Visit sueclarkauthor.comBuy Note to Boy

About the book

Eloise is an erratic, faded fashionista. Bradley is a glum but wily teenager.

In need of help to write her racy 1960s memoirs, the former ‘shock frock’ fashion guru tolerates his common ways. Unable to remember his name, she calls him Boy. Desperate to escape a brutal home life, he puts up with her bossiness and confusing notes.

Both guard secrets. How did she lose her fame and fortune? What’s he scheming – beyond getting his hands on her bank card? And just what’s hidden in that mysterious locked room?


What could a teenager with an attitude and an elderly woman who is incapable of looking after herself have in common? It doesn’t seem like a lot. Bradley wants the job because he is on a long road to nowhere and helping Eloise could lead to an opportunity. Helping her to write an autobiography of sorts gives him a chance to get to know the woman behind the mood swings, the erratic behaviour and he then sees the eccentric fashion icon with entirely different eyes.

I have to say that I didn’t experience this as a read full of comedic moments, but rather one full of poignant realistic moments. However I can absolutely picture this on the screen, and I hope someone sees the potential in this – The Lady in the Van kind of eccentricity coupled with a young man trying to grip the one possible straw that might take him out of his set-in-stone future of violence and deprivation.

Also the subtle note of white privilege and covert racism that is woven into the tale. It solidifies the the differences between the odd couple. The almost colonialist comments from Eloise and the teenager with a lack of education and nearly no chance of achieving anything other than a life in crime. Moments that can be overcome.

I really enjoyed this story, perhaps because it was easy to picture both main characters so well. Eloise is an excellent example of the loophole of invisibility the elderly vanish into, even when they have made their mark on the world. Even after spending their youth and primary years being successful or in the case of Eloise becoming a part of fashion history.

Clark hits exactly the right notes when it comes to the complex relationship between Bradley and Eloise. The trust issues, the need to protect and simultaneously the more selfish motivation Bradley is driven by. This is an excellent social commentary.

Buy Note to Boy at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Unbound Digital pub date 23 July 2020. Buy at Amazon comBuy at Unbound.

#BlogTour The Unwinding by Jackie Morris

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Unwinding by Jackie Morris.

About the Author

Jackie Morris is an author and illustrator. She studied illustration at Hereford College of Art and Bath Academy and has illustrated many books, and written some. The Lost Words, co-authored with Robert Macfarlane, won the Kate Greenaway Medal 2019.

Follow @JackieMorrisArt on Twitteron Amazon, on Goodreads, Visit jackiemorris.co.uk Buy The Unwinding

About the book

The paintings between these covers were worked in the between times, an unwinding of the soul, when the pressures of work were too much. Dreams and wishes are the inspiration at times like this. Threaded through the curious world of The Unwinding are words, slight and lyrical. Their aim is to set the reader’s mind adrift from the troubles of our times, into peaceful harbours where imagination can stretch, where quiet reflection can bring peace.

The Unwinding is designed to be a companion, a talisman to be turned to again and again and a place of respite from an increasingly frantic and complex world.


When I received this book I oohed and aahed over it. It’s just one of those books that is a thing of beauty. A piece of artwork to be cherished and shared. Okay, you’ve got me – I won’t be sharing it, but I will be buying it for others.

It reminds me of The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse which is also a book that serves more than one purpose. When you look beyond the story you see the beauty of the illustrations. It becomes a melding of colour, shapes, words, pictures and ultimately an experience that conjures up emotions. That emotional connection is what Morris is aiming for, regardless of what kind of connection. I think there is a hope that it will bring peace, joy, happiness and calm. However that depends on each person and their own frame of reference or state of mind whilst interacting with The Unwinding.

For me it was like listening to beautiful music. A joy so pure it can evoke the deepest heartfelt emotions. I see the work, the art and the hand of the artist reaching out to readers through the pages. Connecting in small moments of serenity. The words become a culmination of this vision of storytelling.

The tales themselves are lyrical prose with a grounding in lore, fairytales and myths. Old tales in new formation with the same goal – to enchant the reader with images and words that wander through the mind and indeed in time.

I loved it. It’s a treasure and I wouldn’t hesitate to buy it as a gift for someone else. I can absolutely imagine it becoming a book someone picks up in moments where solace is needed or a moment of vanishing into the page is sought.

Buy The Unwinding at Amazon Uk Publisher: Unbound; pub date 9 July 2020. Buy at Unbound.

#BlogTour What Doesn’t Kill You by Elitsa Dermendzhiyska

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour What Doesn’t Kill You by Elitsa Dermendzhiyska.

About the Author

Elitsa Dermendzhiyska went from stock investing in Washington DC to a technology incubator in south-east Asia, then joined the rat race in London and promptly burned out while building a tax software business. To avoid actually getting therapy, she spent the next two years interviewing therapists, psychiatrists, NHS clinicians, authors, artists and entrepreneurs from South London to Silicon Valley – this book is the result.

Follow @elliethinksnot on Twitteron Goodreadson Amazon, Visit elliethinks.comBuy What Doesn’t Kill You

About the book

An explorer spends a decade preparing for an expedition to the South Pole; what happens when you live for a goal, but once it’s been accomplished, you discover it’s not enough? A successful broadcast journalist ends up broke, drunk and sleeping rough; what makes alcohol so hard to resist despite its

ruinous consequences? A teenage girl tries to disappear by starving herself; what is this force that compels so many women to reduce their size so drastically?

In this essay collection, writers share the struggles that have shaped their lives – loss, depression, addiction, anxiety, trauma, identity and others. But as they take you on a journey to the darkest recesses of their mind, the authors grapple with challenges that haunt us all.


The stories are divided into three chapter headings Struggle, Self and Striving, which in a way captures the essence of survival. That’s what these stories are personal revelations about struggles, demons, having to overcome pain and the hardest moments in life. The authors open doorways into their souls for a brief and yet poignant look. Letting the readers look through windows in the hope that their words will find ears that are searching for words or eyes that are seeking connections.

The book contains the following stories:

Beginning and Self Knowledge by David Whyte, Eight by AJ Ashworth, A Disappearing Act by Kate Leaver, Three Wise Women by Irenosen Okojie, Last Fragments of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink, Not Wasted by Ed Mitchell, My Unremembered Life by Emily Reynolds, The Last Fight by Hazel Gale, The Lily Show by Lily Bailey, ADHD and Me by Rory Bremner, No Cure for Life by Julian Baggini, It Could Have Snowed It Snowed by Alex Christofi, The Pilgrimage by Elitsa Dermendzhiyska and A Very Long Walk in a Very Cold Place by Ben Saunders.

I think what resonated most with me about this book was the truth. Not tales created to entertain for an anthology, but a creation of memories, truths and discoveries given to the reader to interpret and enjoy as they see fit. It’s a powerful way to introduce the person behind the words, perhaps get a sense of their drive, whilst simultaneously enjoying the writing.

I could take a few of the stories I found particularly interesting and focus on them, however to do so would possibly flavour the way the others are perceived, and they all deserve to be read and embraced on an equal standing.

Buy What Doesn’t Kill You at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Unbound; pub date 11 Jun. 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Draca by Geoffrey Gudgion

Today it’s an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Draca by Geoffrey Gudgion.

Please note: Draca was released by Unbound on 14th May. Coronavirus logistics issues may result in Amazon being temporarily out of stock of paperback copies until early June. During this period Unbound will accept orders directly and will ship free of UK postage via https://unbound.com/books/draca/

Author royalties from Draca are shared equally with the veterans’ charity Combat Stress. About the Author

Geoffrey Gudgion served for over 10 years in the armed forces, and made his first attempts at writing fiction during quiet moments on deployment. He later stepped off the corporate ladder, in the midst of a career in marketing and general management, specifically to release time to write. His first novel, Saxon’s Bane, reached #1 in Amazon Kindle’s ‘Ghost’ category, and he now writes full time. When not crafting words he is an enthusiastic amateur equestrian and a very bad pianist.

Follow @geoffreygudgion on Twitteron Goodreadson Amazon, Visit geoffreygudgion.com/, Buy Draca


About the book

Jack’s a war hero, haunted by his past… or is he just haunted?

A war-damaged veteran on a mission to self-destruct…a controlling father pushing him ever closer to the edge…and a yachtswoman who gives all she has to hold him back.

And between them all, there’s an old boat with dark secrets, and perhaps a mind of its own.


Jack is devastated to lose his grandfather, the only father figure he wants to remember, because his own is an abusive small man filled with rage. It was time for Eddie to go though, the pain was made tenfold worse by the nightmares that plagued him. Hallucinations of violent dark malevolent forces trying to seep into his very being and destroy him.

Old Eddie leaves his pride and joy, Draca, to Jack, which is the beginning of his own journey with something he can’t quite explain, and it creates the kind of cracks in his family that don’t heal.

In my head the Draca looks different than on the cover of the book. A dark, rough, wooden structure imposing, majestic and yet threatening at the same time. Very much reflecting the figurehead of the boat and the insidious threat that simmers just below the surface.

It’s a compelling story of a man tortured by his experiences as a soldier, his fractured relationship with his father and the darkness that consumed his grandfather.

Gudgion delivers a gripping and emotional read. His portrayal of a veteran sinking slowly into his own quagmire of nightmares, guilt and feelings of self-loathing are spot on. The scenes where his PTSD rears its ugly head are both heartbreaking and an eye-opener in equal measures. One has to imagine being the observer, as opposed to the person experiencing the flashbacks, and then the scenario becomes something entirely different. Perspective and interpretation are everything in this read. Each character’s own frame of reference determines their reactions and actions.

Kudos to Gudgion for giving readers the kind of ending the majority of us encounter. There is no peace after trauma so deep you can see the wounds in the air around the person – there is either a continuation of hell or a tentatively balanced acceptance.

I could talk about this book for ages. It is so nuanced and poignant – an excellent read.

Buy Draca at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.Publisher: Unbound; pub date 14 May 2020 – Paperback – £9.99.  Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Unbound.

#BlogTour The Story of John Nightly by Tot Taylor

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour The Story of John Nightly by Tot Taylor.

About the Author

Tot Taylor is a writer, composer, art curator and music producer. He has worked in music, film, theatre and the visual arts since being signed by Island Records while still at school. For the past thirteen years, he has been co-curator of the Riflemaker gallery in Beak Street, Soho, which he co-founded with Virginia Damtsa. Their artists have been featured at Tate Modern, MoMA, the Pompidou Center and Frieze Masters, among others. The Story of John Nightly is his first novel.

Follow @tottaylor1 on Twitter, on Goodreads, on Amazon, Visit tottaylor.comBuy The Story of John Nightly

About the book

The Story of John Nightly is a novel about the nature of creativity – at the level of genius. It mixes real and imagined lives in the tale of a young singer-songwriter.

John Nightly (b. 1948) finds his dimension in pop music, the art form of his time. His solo album becomes the third best-selling record of 1970. But success turns out to have side effects.

After a dazzling career, John renounces his gift, denying music and his very being, until he is rediscovered thirty years later by a teenage saviour dude who persuades him to restore his quasi-proto-multi-media eco-mass, the Mink Bungalow Requiem.

Can John Nightly be brought back to life again?


This magnum opus disappoints most certainly in one aspect, and that is the fictional nature of the main character. It would be the cherry on top of the sundae if Nightly had a factual source – a real person behind the pseudonym of John Nightly. Wonders whether Taylor had a specific person or persons in mind whilst writing this book?

At nearly 900 pages this is one heck of a read. There is no real direction or plot per se. Much like life it’s kind of a let’s deal with each day and situation as it arises. Set in an era and to the backdrop that cemented certain music genres in our minds and in history. The attention to detail and the accurate portrayal of pop-culture is what makes the story flow and it draws the reader in.

My musical upbringing was very much defined by my parents music, who both had very different tastes, although they did agree on the 60s and the Beatles. Long car journeys were enriched by a limited number of eight track cassettes before the more commonly known cassette tape made its appearance. The way the music winds in, out and around the story reminded me of how my own life was set to a background of tunes and lyrics.

In essence it’s about the eccentricity of genius and the way the flame of creativity can burn and engulf someone completely then just fizzle out. What happens when life has only just begun and you can no longer reignite the flame of inspiration?

This is speculative fiction, experimental even in a sense that Taylor bends and snaps the boundaries and known norms of the contemporary read.

Buy The Story of John Nightly at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Unbound Publishing; pub date 19 September 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Last Landlady by Laura Thompson

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour The Last Landlady by Laura Thompson. It’s a memoir, a collection of memories, thoughts and impressions of a strong woman in a male dominated world.About the Author

Laura Thompson won the Somerset Maugham award with her first book, The Dogs, and wrote two books about horse racing while living in Newmarket. Her biographical study of Nancy Mitford, Life in a Cold Climate, appeared in 2003 (re-issued 2015) and was followed by a major biography of Agatha Christie. A Different Class of Murder: The Story of Lord Lucan was published in 2014, and 2015’s Take Six Girls: The Lives of the Mitford Sisters was recently sold to television. She lives in Richmond.

Visit Laura’s websiteBuy The Last Landlady

About the book

Laura Thompson’s grandmother Violet was one of the great landladies. Born in a London pub, she became the first woman to be given a publican’s licence in her own name and, just as pubs defined her life, she seemed in many ways to embody their essence.

Laura spent part of her childhood in Violet’s Home Counties establishment, mesmerised by her gift for cultivating the mix of cosiness and glamour that defined the pub’s atmosphere, making it a unique reflection of the national character. Her memories of this time are just as intoxicating: beer and ash on the carpets in the morning, the deepening rhythms of mirth at night, the magical brightness of glass behind the bar…

Through them Laura traces the story of the English pub, asking why it has occupied such a treasured position in our culture. But even Violet, as she grew older, recognised that places like hers were a dying breed, and Laura also considers the precarious future they face.

Part memoir, part social history, part elegy, The Last Landlady pays tribute to an extraordinary woman and the world she epitomised.


This is a very personal story for the author, because it’s the memoir of her grandmother. A grande dame of the English pub. It describes the way Violet fights for her independence in the industry. Not exactly an easy task when you’re a woman trying to succeed and make your mark in a male dominated business.

The book is full of anecdotes and charming stories about Violet and her punters. It’s a little bit like everyone knows Peggy Mitchell (Eastenders) as the epitome of pub landlady. Brash, loud and absolutely in control of everyone in the pub – no matter how drunk or belligerent. It’s as British as it gets.

Thompson veers off quite often into opinions on today’s society and in the era of her grandmother and long before her time. The culture of drink and drunkenness, especially as it pertains to women. How the pub and pub culture as we know it came to be.

It’s not told in a narrative per se or in chronological order, but rather in a series memories, reflections and collection of impressions. Tales of eccentric patrons and amusing situations sometimes make light of how difficult it must have been at times for a woman in Violet’s position.

At times it felt as if the world of Violet was being infused by the thoughts and opinions of Laura, which then made it less of Violet’s memoir and more Laura’s memoir. To be fair the blurb describes it as part memoir, part social history and part elegy.

It’s a memoir, a collection of memories, thoughts and impressions of a strong woman in a male dominated world.

Buy The Last Landlady at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Unbound pub date 5 September 2019. Buy at Amazon com.