#Blogtour The Invisible by Michelle Dunne

 It’s my turn on the BlogTour – The Invisible by Michelle Dunne.

About the Author

Born and raised in the harbour town of Cobh, Co Cork, Michelle joined the Irish army at the age of 18, where she went from recruit to infantry soldier, to Peacekeeper with the UN, to instructor back home in Ireland.

During her time in Lebanon, she got to experience first-hand the camaraderie between soldiers and the sense of humour that got them all through some frightening situations. She also got to experience how ordinary families tried to live in conflict zones and these experiences have inspired so much of her work to date.

The Invisible is Michelle’s fourth book, but the second in The Lindsey Ryan series, following on from While Nobody is Watching, which is currently in development for television and inspired by her military experiences and the types of relationships that form within army ranks. Follow @NotDunneYet on Twitter, Visit michelledunnebooks.com

About the book

A migrant crisis. A corrupt harbour town. Who will stand for those who have become invisible to the rest of the world?

People have become one of the world’s most valuable commodities. Trafficked on the promise of a new life only to be hidden away as modern-day slaves. When Lena, a raped and badly beaten Syrian woman, literally falls into Lindsey Ryan’s life, she’s left with no choice but to find her part in this new war and play it as best she can.

But before she can work out a safe plan to get Lena away from her very own hell at the hands of Patrick Adebayo, Lindsey hears of an unconscious child being smuggled into Patrick’s building just two doors up. Despite having Patrick’s unwanted attention, she has to help the child and get Lena to safety regardless of the cost. In doing so, she finds herself face to face with the worst of humanity.

Added to her own private battle with PTSD, former soldier Lindsey Ryan is in a race against time and must once again fight for her life. But if she fails to protect those around her, what if anything, will that life be worth?

Review

This is a raw experience. There is no unicorn fluff to pad the brutal truth and soften the blow, which is what makes this a great read.

Lyndsey is followed by flashbacks, day mares linked to past trauma. It’s hard to keep them at bay in order to function, and yet they are also equally responsible for the inner ear that listens to the extra layer of gut instinct. 

Those instincts serve her well when she is tasked with dealing with the bottom-feeders who traffic the vulnerable and desperate. Lives are expendable and worth only what they can used for. The lives of children and young people included – something Lyndsey won’t turn a blind eye to.

Although the thriller and crime story in the midst of this is a good read, the world and character building of the main character is the more poignant element. It cocoons the story in its entirety, which is perhaps a metaphor in itself. When a person is dealing with PTSD it can become a tentacled being that wraps its arms around every interaction and situation, sometimes with disastrous results. Daily life can be a constant adapting of coping mechanisms.

Buy The Invisible at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: ‎ Bad Press Ink pub date 25 April 2022. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour #IWM Mailed Fist by John Foley

It’s my turn on the BlogTour Mailed Fist by John Foley, it’s another novel in the Wartime Classics series by the Imperial War Museum. Mailed Fist will cost £8.99. It is published by IWM and can be pre-ordered at their online shop here: Mailed-Fist-(IWM-Wartime-Classic)

Based on the author’s own experience with the British Army, Mailed Fist is reprinted in a new edition including an introduction from IWM, putting the work into historical context and shining a light on this fascinating experience of the Second World War.

About the Author

Major John Foley (1917–1974) was a British Army officer, author and broadcaster. He served in the British Army from 1936 until 1954 and attended the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, and passed out from officer training in 1943. Subsequently, Foley became a troop commander in the 107th Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps (King’s Own).

He was awarded an MBE for his service with the unit during the North-West Europe campaign. He then became a military reporter and later worked in the Directorate of Public Relations at the War Office.

About the book

In April 1943, newly commissioned John Foley is posted to command Five Troop and their trusty Churchill tanks Avenger, Alert, and Angler – thus begins his initiation into the Royal Armoured Corps. Covering the trials of training, embarkation to France and battle experience through Normandy, the Netherlands, the Ardennes campaign and into Germany, Foley’s intimate and detailed account follows the fate of this group of men in the latter stages of the Second World War: If this book can be said to be a history of anything, it is a history of Five Troop. Not of the squadron, or of the regiment. 

If anybody wants to know what happened in other troops, or in other squadrons, it’s all recorded painstakingly in the War Diaries and lodged in a Records Office somewhere.

Review

To get the real gist of where Foley is coming from in this largely biographical and only lightly fictional story about Five Troop and his experiences with said troop, is the fact he doesn’t present it as an experience of the regiment or squadron. It’s more a band of brothers excerpt – one small moment of many between a few.

I think that in itself is indicative of what Foley wanted to share with his readers. The comprehension and acknowledgement of individuals in the vast numbers of participants. Small moments of brotherhood and bonding, of acceptance and survival.

One of the most poignant and prophetic sentences in the book is the author referencing the finishing touches being made to the atom bomb – ‘starting a chain reaction which hasn’t finished yet.’ He couldn’t have been more correct, we have lived in the shadow of this destructive invention and the consequences of its potential ever since. I think our current situation right now, dealing with a megalomaniacal dictator, who wouldn’t think twice about becoming a continuation of said chain reaction.

It’s a piece of war literature that has faded into the background, like many others of great importance – I can only commend the Imperial War Museum for reprinting and introducing all of these important works to new generations.

Buy Mailed Fist at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏:  Imperial War Museum pub date 21 April 2022. Buy at Imperial War Museum.

#Blogtour #IWM Mr Bunting at War by Robert Greenwood

It’s my turn on the BlogTour Mr Bunting at War by Robert Greenwood, it’s another novel in the Wartime Classics series by the Imperial War Museum. Mr Bunting at War will cost £8.99. It is published by IWM and can be pre-ordered at their online shop here: Mr-Bunting-at-War-(IWM-Wartime-Classic)

Written in 1941, the novel itself is very much of its time and thus extremely patriotic in its depiction of the reaction to the Blitz, as well as showing Mr Bunting’s own fears.

Both the book and the film were propagandist, depicting an ordinary family living on the outskirts of London and ‘sticking it out’ during the Blitz. However they also importantly demonstrate the significance of the home front in the wider narrative of the Second World War; a microcosm of suffering and sacrifice, and an illustration of the resilience it takes to make it through. – Alan Jeffreys, 2022

About the Author

Robert Greenwood ((1897 – 1981) was a novelist and writer. His first novel depicted the family and working life of the eponymous Mr Bunting (1940). His next novel, Mr Bunting at War (1941), continued this story in the first two years of the Second World War.

Mr Bunting at War was subsequently made into a film the following year entitled Salute John Citizen (1942), which proved tremendously popular at the box office. Greenwood’s other novel about the war was The Squad Goes Out (1943), which depicted the work of a voluntary ambulance squad during the London Blitz. 

Greenwood wrote eleven novels in total as well as a number of short stories, including Mr Bunting in the Promised Land (1949) which tells the story of the Bunting family in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War. He died in 1981.

About the book

George Bunting, businessman, husband and father, lives a quiet life at home in Labournam Villa in Essex, reading about the progress of the war in his trusty newspaper and heading to work every day at the same time to the warehouse where he has been employed for his entire adult life.

Viewed with an air of amusement by his children, Mr Bunting’s war efforts subsist mainly of ‘digging for victory’ and erecting a dugout in the garden. But as the Second World War continues into the summer of 1940, the Battle of Britain rages in the skies and the bombs begin to rain down on London, this bumbling ‘everyman’ is forced to confront the true realities if the conflict. He does so with remarkable stoicism, imbuing him with a quiet dignity.

Review

I kinda think this is an interesting one, especially when you read the introduction. Given the timeline of Britain first being in the so-called Phoney War, ergo becoming perhaps a little complacent and thinking that everything would be an easy ride, then entering the Second World War in earnest with the subsequent losses and difficulties – it puts this story into perspective.

Essentially a propaganda piece to keep moral high and present the kind of enduring, strong and fearless family, who live duty to country before all other things – what could be more convincing to the readers. In the first year of engagement the in country fatalities were higher than out of country. The importance of people left at home keeping everything running and support systems in place was paramount to the defense strategy.

Even taking all of the above into consideration, the story of the Bunting family and very much Mr Bunting, is also one about coping mechanisms. Often Mr Bunting reacts with denial to the events happening around him. Living in a bubble of self-deception is a way of keeping the trauma, the fear and the reality of their situation at bay. 

Keeping a stiff upper-lip and a ‘everything for my country’ stance is perhaps also the only way to keep the pain of personal tragedy from breaking an individual.

Buy Mr Bunting at War at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏:  Imperial War Museum pub date 21 April 2022. Buy at Imperial War Museum.

#BlogTour Wartime Blues for the Harper Girls by Rosie Clarke

 It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Wartime Blues for the Harper Girls.

About the Author

Rosie Clarke is a #1 bestselling saga writer whose most recent books include The Mulberry Lane series. She has written over 100 novels under different pseudonyms and is a RNA Award winner. She lives in Cambridgeshire. Rosie’s brand new saga series, Welcome to Harpers Emporium began in December 2019. Click here to sign up to Rosie Clarke’s newsletter

Follow @AnneHerries on Twitteron Bookbubon Amazonon Goodreads, Visit rosieclarke.co.uk,

About the book

London 1917 – As the Americans enter the War, there is renewed energy in the war effort. With husbands and sons fighting for freedom, the women of Harpers are left to tackle the day-to-day affairs at home and work. With Ben Harper away, Sally fears she is being followed by a mysterious woman. Who is she and what does she want?

Maggie Gibbs collapses seriously ill in the frontline hospitals and is brought back to England close to death. Can she be saved and what does the future hold for her and her broken heart? Marion Jackson’s father is on the run from the Police already wanted for murder. She fears he will return to threaten his family once more.

And Beth Burrows is pregnant with her second child, worried and anxious for her husband Jack, who has been many months at sea. As Christmas 1917 approaches what will the future hold for Harpers, its girls and their men at War?

Review

Although this can be read as a standalone novel, I would definitely recommend reading the others in the series, You can follow the entire lives of the characters that way.

All the women find their lives changed drastically by wartime. Relationships are strained by worry, a sense of duty and the need to adapt to the situations arising due to the war. Sally’s worries for Ben are replaced by something akin to fear when she realises she is being followed by a  strange woman.

Maggie, who has proven to be fearless, a role model and she has discovered a real talent for caring for others. Her life is changed abruptly, so it’s a question of finding something just as fulfilling to do when she returns home.

It’s an escapism read, a saga built around female characters who have to persevere through the quickly evolving changes of the 20th century, and in this book they learn to navigate the difficulties of wartime. It’s a book that tackles some difficult topics, but the escapism element means they are touched on and they don’t go into much depth. 

The Harper Girls are worth a follow – strong women facing what seem like insurmountable obstacles, pain and difficult situations – it’s a read that has something for everyone.

Buy Wartime Blues for the Harper Girls at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Boldwood Books 6 July 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour #WartimeClassics Sword of Bone by Anthony Rhodes

It’s my turn on the BlogTour Sword of Bone by Anthony Rhodes, it’s another novel in the Wartime Classics series by the Imperial War Museum. Sword of Bone by Anthony Rhodes will be on sale 20th May 2021; cost £8.99. It is published by IWM and can be pre-ordered at their online shop here: https://shop.iwm.org.uk/wartime-classics

In May 2021, IWM will publish two more novels in their Wartime Classics Series which was launched in September 2019 to great acclaim, bringing the total number of novels in the series to ten. Each has been brought back into print to enable a new generation of readers to hear stories of those who experienced conflict first hand.

IWM Senior Curator, Alan Jeffreys, has written an introduction to each book that provides context and the wider historical background. He says, ‘researching the Wartime Classics has been one of the most enjoyable projects I’ve worked on in my years at IWM. It’s been very exciting rediscovering these fantastic novels and helping to bring them to the wider readership they so deserve’.

About the Author

Anthony Rhodes (1916 – 2004) served with the British Army in France during the so-called ‘Phoney War’ and was evacuated from Dunkirk in May 1940. In the latter part of the war he was sent to Canada as a camouflage officer and was invalided out of the Army in 1947 having served for 12 years.

After the conflict he enjoyed a long academic and literary career and wrote on various subjects, including the 1956 Hungarian Revolution for the Daily Telegraph and well-regarded histories of the Vatican. 

About the book

First published in 1942, Sword of Bone is a lightly fictionalised memoir based on Anthony Rhodes’ own experiences during the Second World War – firstly during the so-called ‘Phoney War’ from 1939 – 40, followed by the terror of the evacuation of Dunkirk. Shortly after war was declared, he was sent to France serving with the British Army where his days were filled with billeting, friendships and administration – the minutiae of Army life. 

Apart from a visit to the Maginot Line, the conflict seems a distant prospect. It is only in the Spring of 1940 that the true situation becomes clear – the Belgian, British armies and some French divisions are ‘now crowded into a small pocket in the North of France’. The men are ordered to retreat to the coast and the beaches of Dunkirk where they face a desperate and frightening wait for evacuation.

The ‘miracle’ of Dunkirk was a brilliantly improvised naval operation that extracted more than 338,000 men from the Dunkirk beaches and brought them safely back to England. Some 850 vessels, including channel steamers and fishing boats, took part in this, Operation ‘Dynamo’. The final pages of the novel outline Rhodes’ experiences of the chaos of the evacuation where the scenes are depicted in vivid and terrifying detail.

Review

I think what Rhodes does really well and in a very subtle way is create the actual comparison between the Phoney war and the complacent attitude, and the horrific reality when the war started in earnest. A day in life gives a Kodak moment of life for men who created bonds, friendships, but were unaware of what was heading their way.

Around 850 vessels took part in Operation Dynamo and managed to extract more than 338000 men. I agree with Alan Jeffreys that the whole idea of the evacuation, and the way civilians and military men came together in such a brave way, was quintessentially British.

Rhodes not only pinpoints the way the men experienced those days, but also how it happened. The strategic importance of the troops being funneled into a small vulnerable area and why the Germans were determined to achieve their objective. He also shines a light on the bravery of those people who would not be deterred by danger, trauma and even military orders. Returning over and over again to save men trapped in a no win and almost certain death situation.

More importantly the silent desperation of the men on the beach being ordered to queue up and wait their turn – very British – and the occasional disruptions. All of this sounds so normal and indeed Rhodes describes it with an almost unnatural calm, which I guess you can when you’re writing it and are no longer in the moment. The truth is they were under constant attack and seeing their fellow comrades be killed.

Rhodes has a writing voice with a certain calmness and factual element to it, which lends itself to understanding and envisaging everything without the emotional layer, however one does wonder whether it’s because he managed to take a step back from the trauma he also must have endured.

Buy Sword of Bone at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Published in Paperback 20th May 2021 – £8.99. Buy at Amazon com.

On the Imperial war Museum – IWM

IWM (Imperial War Museums) tells the story of people who have lived, fought and died in conflicts involving Britain and the Commonwealth since the First World War.

Our unique collections, made up of the everyday and the exceptional, reveal stories of people, places, ideas and events. Using these, we tell vivid personal stories and create powerful physical experiences across our five museums that reflect the realities of war as both a destructive and creative force. We challenge people to look at conflict from different perspectives, enriching their understanding of the causes, course and consequences of war and its impact on people’s lives.

IWM’s five branches which attract over 2.5 million visitors each year are IWM London, which will open extensive new Second World War and The Holocaust Galleries in autumn 2021; IWM North, housed in an iconic award-winning building designed by Daniel Libeskind; IWM Duxford, a world renowned aviation museum and Britain’s best preserved wartime airfield; Churchill War Rooms, housed in Churchill’s secret headquarters below Whitehall; and the Second World War cruiser HMS Belfast.

#BlogTour Rainy Days for the Harpers Girls by Rosie Clarke

Today it’s Publication Day for Rainy Days for the Harpers Girls by Rosie Clarke and also my turn on the BlogTour.About the Author

Rosie Clarke is a #1 bestselling saga writer whose most recent books include The Mulberry Lane series.  She has written over 100 novels under different pseudonyms ( Linda Sole also writes as Cathy Sharp, Anne Herries and Rosie Clarke) and is a RNA Award winner.  She lives in Cambridgeshire. Click here to sign up to Rosie Clarke’s newsletter

Follow @AnneHerries on Twitteron Bookbubon Amazonon Goodreads,Visit rosieclarke.co.ukBuy Rainy Days for the Harpers Girls

About the book

Hard times ahead for the Harpers girls…

It is two years since Harpers opened in Oxford Street and Ben is planning to expand the premises. Life is good for Sally and Ben as they look forward to their first child and hope for a prosperous future. Beth is settling into married life with Jack, gradually recovering from her aunt’s tragic death, though still unable to conceive a child.

New girls have joined Harpers and Marion, Janice and Becky all become a part of the daily life at the busy store. Rachel is undecided whether to marry a man she isn’t sure she can trust, while Minnie meets an old love.

The sun is shining in English streets but on the horizon dark clouds gather over Europe and war looms threatening to bring rainy days for the Harpers girls…

Review

This is the third book in the Welcome to Harpers Emporium series. All of these can be read as standalone books, although I would suggest reading the others so you can get to know the characters and their stories.

Sally and Ben are looking forward to the next step in their lives – welcoming their first child. Sally struggles with her body restricting the way she goes about her usual duties. Not being in charge all the time and hands-on is something she finds hard to come to terms with, perhaps also with the fact she is unable to keep up with the trouble others may be having.

Both the new women and the characters already known to us will soon be facing incredible changes as certain events have repercussions that will inevitably change life for everyone. Women will step into roles hitherto forbidden to them as families and couples are ripped apart in the name of honour and country.

It’s historical fiction – a saga of courageous women trying to overcome their own challenges – sometimes alone, but more often with the help of their friends.

There are plenty of characters, perhaps too many with their own storylines, because it sometimes felt a little disjointed. The main characters are swallowed up a little by all the directions the reader is pulled in.

Aside from that it is a read that combines realism with escapism and relatable characters. It is also very much a story of sisterhood and women supporting each other, which is always a great message – in fiction and real life.

Buy Rainy Days for the Harpers Girls at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Boldwood Books; pub date 2 Jun. 2020. Buy at Amazon comBuy at Boldwood Books.

#BlogTour The Lost Lights of St Kilda by Elisabeth Gifford

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Lost Lights of St Kilda by Elisabeth Gifford.About the Author

Elisabeth Gifford grew up in a vicarage in the industrial Midlands. She studied French literature and world religions at Leeds University. Her bestselling novel, Secrets of the Sea House, was shortlisted for the Historical Writers’ Association’s Debut Crown for Best First Historical Novel in 2014. She is married with three children, and lives in Kingston upon Thames.

Follow @elisabeth04liz on Twitter, on Goodreadson Amazon, Visit elisabethgifford.comBuy The Lost Lights of St Kilda

About the book

A sweeping novel set on the Scottish island of St Kilda, following the last community to live there before it was evacuated in 1930.

When Fred Lawson takes a summer job on St Kilda in 1927, little does he realise that he has joined the last community to ever live on that desolate, isolated island. Only three years later, St Kilda will be evacuated, the islanders near-dead from starvation. But for Fred, that summer is the bedrock of his whole life…

Chrissie Gillies is just nineteen when the researchers come to St Kilda. Hired as their cook, she can’t believe they would ever notice her, sophisticated and educated as they are. But she soon develops a cautious friendship with Fred, a friendship that cannot be allowed to develop into anything more…

Review

The story begins with a prisoner of war called Fred dissociating himself with the torture he is subjected to and the possibility that he will die overseas, by imagining that he is back on the isle where he fell in love and the woman he left behind.

Chrissie is one of the natives of St Kilda, who had to be evacuated to the mainland. She has had to restart her life and adapt to her new circumstances. Her friendship with young Fred is becoming a distant memory, despite that her heart still hopes that she will see him again one day.

What the different storylines and characters have in common is their relationship with St Kilda. A place that leaves its mark on those who experience it. The tragedy of war and the equally tragic fate of an isolated community being thrust into mainstream society is told against the backdrop of the haunting beauty of the place they all yearn for.

I think it’s difficult to pinpoint which element of the book is the most poignant, perhaps because they are all equally so, and to be fair Gifford does them all justice. The history of St Kilda, the beauty of the place itself and the relationship those who have visited or lived there have with St Kilda. Then the tragedy of years and lives lost to the conflict of war.

I can remember a few years ago reading a book about infant mortality and lockjaw on a remote Scottish isle, and the old unhygienic rituals at birth that led to the extremely high death rate – definitely worth reading up on, so kudos to the author for adding that historical tidbit to the story.

It’s a story of kinship, love and loyalty – it’s historical and literary fiction.

Gifford gives her readers heightened emotions, but without gratuitous details. Instead those emotions are delivered via breathtaking descriptive language and seen through the eyes of each character.

Buy The Lost Lights of St Kilda at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Corvus; pub date 5 Mar. 2020. Buy books by Gifford at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Notes from the Lost by Cathie Hartigan

Today it is my turn on the BlogTour Notes from the Lost by Cathie Hartigan.About the Author

Cathie Hartigan lives in the beautiful, historic city of Exeter.

Although her professional training was in music, a decade ago she swapped one keyboard for another in order to take her life-long love of writing more seriously. Since then, she has won several prizes for her short stories and was a finalist in the annual Woman and Home short story competition three times.

Cathie lectured in creative writing for nine years at Exeter College before leaving to found CreativeWritingMatters.co.uk, which offers a range of writing services and administers four international literary competitions a year, including The Exeter Novel Prize and The Trisha Ashley Award.

When not writing, Cathie sings in a small vocal ensemble. The beautiful Devon coastline also provides plenty of distraction but on a rainy day if there’s an opera or theatre screening at the cinema, she’ll be there.

Follow @cathiehartigan on Twitter,  on Amazonon Goodreadson FacebookBuy Notes from the Lost

About the book

In October 1943, when prisoners of war Alfie and Frank escape from a train taking them to Germany, their lives depend on the family of shepherds who shelter them. In constant jeopardy, the young men wait out the winter in the Italian mountains. In 2000, Ros Goudy inherits her music teacher’s home in Exeter and there she finds letters that reveal the soldiers’ fate. Only one made it back, but it wasn’t to a warm welcome and happy ever after. What had happened that turned heads and hearts against him? The trail she follows begins with an charming comic song composed before the war. What she discovers is that everyone, including herself, has something to hide.

Review

This is a story with two timelines, it goes from past to present and eventually the two stories meld into one. In the present a young musician inherits the house of her old music teacher. Inside the house Ros finds letters that shed light on events during the escape of some Allied soldiers during World War 2.

In a way the two stories often feel as if they are a world apart, despite the reader knowing that somewhere along the line both will connect in some way.

What shines through about the story in the past is the way mere mortals caught in the midst of the brutality and unfairness of war are often capable of the most courageous acts. It’s those actions that define us during times of great turmoil. Not the majority who remained silent, but the minority who chose to do the right thing, despite the real danger to themselves.

In the present the story isn’t just about secrets it is also about finding your own truth and strength to follow your dreams. Perhaps in a way it is also about doing what is right in certain situations, as opposed to what is right in the eyes of society.

It’s historical fiction with a strong emphasis on camaraderie and support in the direst of times. A love for music shines through and  a reverence for history. Hartigan draws readers in with bare emotions and keeps them captivated as they wander through two timelines.

Buy Notes from the Lost at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.

The Inheritance of Solomon Farthing by Mary Paulson-Ellis

Review

This book should without a doubt be on some prestigious lists. It is a superbly told story and Paulson-Ellis is a spectacular storyteller. The way she weaves the individual threads through the timelines and the story, is done in such a subtle way you almost don’t realise she is doing it.

The story takes place in the present with the heir hunter Solomon Farthing and in the past with his grandfather in the First World War. Whilst the story bounces back and forth it also takes pit-stops in the years in between. Connections are drawn from the small group of soldiers to the same men in the future and their offspring. The result is a well-plotted narrative about guilt, brotherhood, loyalty and a question of conscience.

There is a parallel between the betting games the soldiers play to pass the time and to fight the fear and anxiety, and the veterans who connect with each other after the war, specifically the items they place as bets. Each one of them brings something, leaves an item and then takes another thing with them. A spool of thread, buttons, walnuts, fruit, cap badges and a pawn ticket. Anything can become one man’s treasure in a setting where every single item can become as precious as a cave full of gold.

At times I had tears in my eyes, it’s emotional and nostalgic, especially because the author brings realism and authenticity to the table. As a reader you can’t help but think about the young boys and men who died under appalling circumstances. Often following the orders that meant they knew they were nothing but bullet fodder for the enemy. Nothing but numbers for their own country.

Would you lead your brothers in arms into death – on a suicide mission? Would you risk death to ensure others cheat death? Of course disregarding an order meant death by firing squad. The crimes of cowardice, pacifism and just pure trauma took far too many victims in the war.

It’s historical war fiction, literary fiction and simultaneously a story filled with unanswered questions and mysteries. It is an excellent read. A book that belongs on best books lists.

Buy The Inheritance of Solomon Farthing at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Mantle; pub date 5 Sept. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Follow @mspaulsonellis on Twitter, Visit marypaulsonellis.co.uk

#BlogTour From the City, From the Plough by Alexander Baron

It’s nothing short of an honour to take part in the BlogTour for From the City, From the Plough by Alexander Baron.

In September 2019, to mark the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, IWM will launch a wonderful new series with four novels from their archives all set during the Second World War – Imperial War Museums Wartime Classics.

Originally published to considerable acclaim, these titles were written either during or just after the Second World War and are currently out of print. Each novel is written directly from the author’s own experience and takes the reader right into the heart of the conflict. They all capture the awful absurdity of war and the trauma and chaos of battle as well as some of the fierce loyalties and black humour that can emerge in extraordinary circumstances.

Living through a time of great upheaval, as we are today, each wartime story brings the reality of war alive in a vivid and profoundly moving way and is a timely reminder of what the previous generations experienced.

The remarkable IWM Library has an outstanding literary collection and was an integral part of Imperial War Museums from its very beginnings. Alan Jeffreys, (Senior Curator, Second World War, Imperial War Museums) searched the library collection to come up with these four launch titles, all of which deserve a new and wider audience. He has written an introduction to each novel that sets them in context and gives the wider historical background and says, ‘Researching the Wartime Classics has been one of the most enjoyable projects I’ve worked on in my years at IWM. It’s been very exciting rediscovering these fantastic novels and helping to bring them to the wider readership they so deserve’.

Each story speaks strongly to IWM’s remit to tell the stories of those who experienced conflict first hand. They cover diverse fronts and topics – preparations for D-Day and the advance into Normandy; the war in Malaya; London during the Blitz and SOE operations in occupied Europe and each author – three men and a woman – all have fascinating back stories. These are Second World War novels about the truth of war written by those who were actually there.

About the Author

Alexander Baron was a widely acclaimed author and screenwriter and his London novels have a wide following. This was his first novel.

During the Second World War he served with the Pioneer Corps in Sicily, Italy and northern France, basing From the City, From the Plough on his experiences of the D-Day Landings and the allied advance into Normandy.

Buy From the City, From the Plough at Amazon Uk

About the book

From the City, From the Plough by Alexander Baron – A vivid and moving account of preparations for – and the advance into Normandy. Published in the 75th anniversary year of the D-Day landings, this is based on the author’s first-hand experience of D-Day and has been described by Antony Beevor as‘undoubtedly one of the very greatest British novels of the Second World War.’

Review

Let me just start off by saying that although these Wartime Classics are being issued to mark the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World, they should be read at any time, not just special anniversaries, in fact they should be part of the school curriculum. Part of a learning experience to teach the younger generations what so many brave men and women fought so hard for and how many of them gave their lives.

Another reason why this literature is so important is the authenticity, especially when it comes to this book. Baron spoke and wrote from experience and not just second-hand emotions, hear-say and experiences. He was there, he lived and breathed the pain, camaraderie and the death.

It’s both bizarre and a great shame that first-hand accounts are read less than those written with no first-hand experience.

We follow the Fifth Battalion, Wessex Regiment as they train and wait for D-Day. Then follow them through the horror of the beach landing and their descent into mayhem, death and battle. Men from every walk of life, who learn that they share one important thing in common. They are indeed a band of brothers. Brothers who support and protect each other, live together and die together.

I held it together until chapter twenty-two and twenty-three just made me cry. I can’t even fathom what it must be like to know you are nothing more than bullet fodder and a distraction ploy to ensure another battalion achieves a victory. These men still adhered to the orders, despite knowing what the outcome would be.

It’s an incredibly moving, authentic and well-written piece of historical war fiction based on factual experiences. It’s powerful and unforgettable. I will be buying all four of these books and also gifting them to others.

Buy From the City, From the Plough at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.Imperial War Museum Wartime Classics will all be on sale Thursday 26 September 2019; cost £8.99 paperback. Buy at Amazon com.

On the Imperial War Museums -IWM

IWM (Imperial War Museums) tells the story of people who have lived, fought and died in conflicts  involving Britain and the Commonwealth since the First World War.

Our unique collections, made up of the everyday and the exceptional, reveal stories of people, places, ideas and events. Using these, we tell vivid personal stories and create powerful physical experiences across our five museums that reflect the realities of war as both a destructive and creative force. We challenge people to look at conflict from different perspectives, enriching their understanding of the causes, course and consequences of war and its impact on people’s lives.

IWM’s five branches which attract over 2.5 million visitors each year are IWM London, IWM’s flagship branch that recently transformed with new, permanent and free First World War Galleries alongside new displays across the iconic Atrium to mark the Centenary of the First World War; IWM North, housed in an iconic award-winning building designed by Daniel Libeskind; IWM Duxford, a world renowned aviation museum and Britain’s best preserved wartime airfield; Churchill War Rooms, housed in Churchill’s secret headquarters below Whitehall; and the Second World War cruiser HMS Belfast.