The story opens as England declares itself at war with Germany. The WWII setting is what initially appealed to me, England, France, Poland but Scent oThe story opens as England declares itself at war with Germany. The WWII setting is what initially appealed to me, England, France, Poland but Scent of Triumph is actually more sweeping family drama and one woman's determination to provide and care for her remaining family after facing great tragedy.
Danielle is a fiercely determined, clever, hard-working, resilient woman and I admired that about her but I didn't always feel an emotional connection with her. I'm not sure how to explain it, it might be that I wasn't quite so enamored once Danielle was living in Los Angeles. Despite tragic losses she seemed so cool and removed and focused, I actually felt the distance but when Danielle was immersed in creating a perfume she came alive to me.
I thought parts of the story were a little predictable and I'll also be honest and say I found the ending disingenuous. Despite these points there was much to love.
I loved Danielle's mother-in-law Sophia and her small but significant, and lasting part, her courage really touched me. I liked Jon, and Jon and Danielle together, it was so frustratingly obvious they were meant for each other and I wanted to shake both of them for the misunderstandings.
I loved the artistry, history and tradition of perfumery, I felt Danielle's love for the creative process, the trial and error composition and design of a new perfume. I loved Moran's descriptions of the Bretancourt family perfumery gardens in Grasse, so beautiful I want to visit. I loved how Moran's writing appealed to my senses, I could smell what she was describing, my mouth actually watered at the "sweet, buttery scent of the boulangerie in Grasse where they bought croissants ..." and the perfume aspect gave the book a very sensual feel.
"She waved blotter strips of paper under her nose, then made notes in her journal. Too much bergamot in this one, too tart; no depth in this one; bring forward the orange blossom in another."
"She inhaled again, going farther, detecting the bouquet of jasmine and rose, rich and silky, entwined with a spicy note of carnation, adding verve and vitality, robust brilliance. It needs a splash of complexity here, a sprig of basil there, an accent of clove."
Overall, Scent of Triumph was a little different from what I was expecting but a lovely, entertaining read.
Cover: cover fairy worked on this one ... it's beautiful! ...more
It's not often I say a book is superb let alone the entire trilogy but Nancy Bilyeau ticks all the boxes with The Tapestry and its predecesso4.5 stars
It's not often I say a book is superb let alone the entire trilogy but Nancy Bilyeau ticks all the boxes with The Tapestry and its predecessors. Maintaining historical integrity while blessing the reader with a pacy entertaining read is no mean feat.
I'm a glutton for all things Tudor. Being well read in that particular historical period I confess I've become quite picky discerning and really appreciate a fresh approach which is exactly what Nancy Bilyeau gives readers with her Joanna Stafford trilogy. Viewing the oft-covered Tudor era and Henry VIII's court, roiling with religious instability, political treachery, conspiracies and betrayals from the perspective of former Dominican novice Joanna Stafford has been an exciting reading experience.
I loved the direction Bilyeau took in this final installment. Despite best intentions Joanna is drawn back into service to King Henry, intrigue and danger follow her doggedly. King Henry is working on ridding himself of wife number 4, Anne of Cleves and has Catherine Howard in his sights for wife number 5 spot, much to Joanna's horror, being a long-time friend of Catherine's.
Once again I loved the mix of notable historical figures and fictional characters, I enjoyed learning about German painter Hans Holbein the younger and I was especially happy to spend time with many (King Henry VIII, Thomas Cromwell, Bishop Gardiner, Thomas Howard, Jane Boleyn, Thomas Culpepper and Catherine Howard) from the safety of a book's pages.
A compulsive read that has you turning the pages for ... just one more chapter.
I fell in love with Posie Graeme-Evans' writing almost 10 years ago after reading her War of the Roses trilogy. The cover of Wild Wood called4.5 stars
I fell in love with Posie Graeme-Evans' writing almost 10 years ago after reading her War of the Roses trilogy. The cover of Wild Wood called my name, blessed by the cover fairies with what looks to me like Eilean Donan Castle. Then of course I noticed the author's name and when I finally read the synopsis, I was sold. And not disappointed ... this Australian author's writing has evolved over the years and Wild Wood is a beautifully refined story, compelling and evocative.
"The past bleeds into the present."
A dual narrative, separated by centuries, distinct but slowly merging as the threads of past and present unlock long-held secrets ...
1321 in the borderlands, the story unfolds at the Norman stronghold Hundredfield, held by Godefroi, eldest of the three Dieudonné brothers. The story is narrated by the youngest, Bayard. I loved his character; battle-hardened knight, his strength, compassion and sensitivity endearing traits.
1981 Jesse Mayard's world is rocked when she learns she is adopted and leaves her home in Sydney, Australia determined to discover the truth, and herself. Heading for Jedburgh in Scotland, fate intervenes bringing Jesse and Alicia and her neurologist friend Rory Brandon together, setting Jesse on the path to Hundredfield.
In a dual time line story I normally find one story appeals more than the other but with Wild Wood I was equally intrigued by both. I was immediately hooked on Bayard's narration, page-turning, breath-holding reading, the setting and times, violent, harsh and unforgiving. Jesse's narration was a quieter pulling, until Hundredfield exerted its influence.
Wild Wood has its faults but maybe visiting Scotland gave the story and Hundredfield a whole lot more 'feel' ... history literally seeps from the walls of these ancient castles and ruins, it can be quite emotionally overwhelming. It was lovely to revisit that feeling with Wild Wood.
History, dark secrets, legend and superstition create a haunting tale. And now I look forward to the author's new writing venture ... The Outer Sea. Write faster Posie :)
I really enjoyed Sandra Byrd's Ladies in Waiting series and jumped at the chance to read the first in her new Daughters of Hampshire series, set in ViI really enjoyed Sandra Byrd's Ladies in Waiting series and jumped at the chance to read the first in her new Daughters of Hampshire series, set in Victorian England.
Mist of Midnight is wonderfully atmospheric with Headbourne House, the family graveyard and chapel shrouded in mystery and mist. The gothic feel with that delicious sense of foreboding was one of my favourite parts of the novel.
Rebecca Ravenshaw returns to her family home in England after her parents are killed in the Indian Mutiny, expecting safety and financial security. What she gets instead is the onerous task of proving her own identity and the 'other' Rebecca Ravenshaw an imposter.
I liked Rebecca's forthright character and I loved her flirty interactions with Luke and naughty sense of humour, all within the bounds of propriety of course. Luke was really likable but for a 'Gothic' hero I expected a little more brooding intensity so whilst the author gave us reason to be suspicious of him, I actually didn't mistrust him.
Mist of Midnight is marketed as Christian fiction, which I don't read much of but I found it very subtle and completely in keeping with Rebecca's missionary family. I loved the contrast in cultures and Rebecca's effort to 'fit' in her native England while embracing what she loved of both countries.
I left a piece of my heart on the pages of The Nightingale. I could quite honestly leave it at that as I'm not sure I have the words to convey how mucI left a piece of my heart on the pages of The Nightingale. I could quite honestly leave it at that as I'm not sure I have the words to convey how much this book affected me.
I read quite a bit of WWII fiction and nonfiction but at the risk of sounding cliched The Nightingale was different. I was incapable of putting it down, sleep paled into insignificance as Vianne and Isabelle's story took hold and I finished it at 3am, emotionally wrung out.
Kristin Hannah captures the horror, the hunger, the heart, the biting contrast between humanity and inhumanity with an eloquence that left me breathless and ugly crying. Alongside the atrocities there are moments of great tenderness, love and always hope. This story is one big 'feel' and that's what makes it unforgettable.
Andrée de Jongh, the young Belgium woman who established an escape network over the Pyrenees which later became known as the Comet Line was Hannah's inspiration for Isabelle. It doesn't seem to matter how much I read of the holocaust the unimaginable horror never lessens in intensity. But The Nightingale recognises the quiet courage, strength and determination of women, those who protected friends, saved Jewish children, sacrificed and survived, made gut wrenching choices, worked in the Resistance, risked their lives for strangers, endured the unthinkable, died fighting evil. Those like Isabelle and Vianne ...
I've read many of Kristin Hannah's books, I love her writing. Winter Garden is a favourite but The Nightingale is exceptional. I'll go out on a limb and say it's one of the best books I've read ... the kind of best that lands a novel on my books-to-be-buried-with list. I can't stop thinking about it, my heart hurts ... ...more
Most of you know I'm a huge Tudor fan and having just walked many of the places I've been reading about in historical fiction for years it gives a newMost of you know I'm a huge Tudor fan and having just walked many of the places I've been reading about in historical fiction for years it gives a new level of 'feeling' to my reading. I found The Light in the Labyrinth to be a well written blending of historical fact and imagination and I think the author's notes clarify that Wendy Dunn's imaginings are indeed plausible.
We follow Catherine (Kate) Carey, daughter of Mary Boleyn and niece of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII's 2nd wife as she joins her Aunt Nan at court. Whilst the painting of Anne Boleyn may not be as many of us view her, I found it quite sweet to see her through Kate's adoring and naive eyes.
Kate quickly matures as she's confronted with not only the reality of her birth but her Aunt's fall from favour, as powerful men like Thomas Cromwell conspire to bring about the Queen's downfall. I love and crave more detail but remembering the target audience, there's enough political intrigue and court treachery to satisfy a Tudor enthusiast without overwhelming someone new to the period.
The Light in the Labyrinth only covers the last few months of Anne Boleyn's life and not a lot happens as such but I found it a quick, enjoyable read. What surprised me, given how much Tudor fiction I've read, was the emotion of the Queen's final days in the tower, accompanied by loyal Kate and the 'care' of Anne Boleyn following her execution. ...more
Absolutely mesmerising, Kate Forsyth takes the magic of storytelling to a realm above and beyond.
From the frivolity and excesses of the 17th centuryAbsolutely mesmerising, Kate Forsyth takes the magic of storytelling to a realm above and beyond.
From the frivolity and excesses of the 17th century Court of Versailles to austere French cloisters and 16th century Renaissance Venice. I'm fascinated by this period in history, Kate's research and superb imagery give a perceptible sense of time and place and her breathtaking imagination brings the Rapunzel fairytale to life. I loved the vivid descriptions of affairs, betrayals, politics, fashion, entertainments, the horror of the plague, persecution of Heugenots, (Protestants) recantings and executions, the Affair of the Poisons where many were sentenced by the Chambre Ardente under charges of witchcraft and poisonings. I probably sound like a bit of a freak but I love it all, the history both fascinates and terrifies me.
Bitter Greens unfolds from the perspective of three extraordinary characters; the wonderful Charlotte-Rose de La Force, confined to the Abbey of Gercy-en-Brie after displeasing the Sun King, Louis XIV, the young girl Margherita, nicknamed Persinette (little Parsley) imprisoned in a tower (her story told by nun, Soeur Seraphina on befriending Charlotte-Rose) and the beautiful courtesan Selena Leonelli, 'La Strega Bella' ... her story both heartbreaking and horrifying.
Bitter Greens is a dark tale; love, desire, power and vengeance pulling at each other. So much sorrow, heartache and cruelty but hope and love the constants that eventually offer redemption.
Bitter Greens holds a world you slip into effortlessly, disappearing for hours, binding you, haunting and bittersweet ... I was alternately desperate to know and longing to savour. It's a must-read.
Kate Forsyth truly does weave magic!
I also loved Kate's The Wild Girl ... (a 5 star favourite) but oh my, Bitter Greens is my favourite of favourites!
Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de La Force was a French noblewoman, novelist and poet. Her fairytale collection written during her banishment included 'Persinette' eventually renamed Rapunzel.
After falling in love with Sherryl Caulfield's exquisite writing and Seldom Come By earlier this year, I've been a wee bit excited waiting f4.5 stars
After falling in love with Sherryl Caulfield's exquisite writing and Seldom Come By earlier this year, I've been a wee bit excited waiting for Come What May. Beginning Come What May, my friend Karen (who guest reviews on The Eclectic Reader) was angst-texting me as she read Seldom Come By ... all the emotion of that epic love story came rushing back.
Sherryl writes from the heart, her affinity with nature and the love and care she takes with her characters is evident. Come What May is such a sensory feast, lyrical writing, whether the simplest of phrases or vividly descriptive, it played like a movie in my mind.
I didn't have the same connection with Gene as I did with her mother Rebecca in Seldom Come By but what I loved was the emotion that Sherryl Caulfield pulled from me ... dislike, guilt, admiration, horror, sadness, so much sadness, but joy too. I love it when an author's writing encourages you to consider more and judge less, I like being encouraged to think about a person's character, their motivations. For me it means an author has done her job brilliantly, whether I ultimately like a character or not.
Having finished Come What May, I'm still torn about Gene; she's complex, there's a lot going on with her, some of it confronting, which had me constantly swinging between compassion and dislike but then there were times when the sun shone through and I saw 'her'.
Auld Lang Syne was one of those moments ... without fail Auld Lang Syne brings me to tears, so much emotion and so many memories in those simple words.
I loved the scenes describing the Canadian wilderness, Cree culture, the running of the huskies, I love Gene's brothers; for their good hearts, for all they have been through. And Sonny, my hero ... I love you.
There's so much more I want to say about Come What May, it's a difficult one to review without spoilers, so let me finish with ... I'm emotionally wrung out, but oh my heart, I loved it.
Come Full Circle can't come soon enough ......more
Fascinating, horrifying, evocative; Karen Brooks' meticulous research and eloquent writing took me to medieval England in the 1400's ... from the fictFascinating, horrifying, evocative; Karen Brooks' meticulous research and eloquent writing took me to medieval England in the 1400's ... from the fictional town of Elmham Lenn to Southwark, London and Gloucester and the world of ale-making.
Anneke Sheldrake is such an interesting character, what she endures while establishing herself as a brewster, plagued by prejudice, sabotage and tragedy made for harrowing reading. I found the entire brewing process surprisingly fascinating ... ale, hops, beer, the ale crones, ale-conners, taxes, laws, fines, bizarre punishments and corruption.
And what a wonderful cast of characters ... Betje, Adam, Captain Stoyan, Leander, Alyson; their fierce loyalty and unwavering friendship providing a beautiful sense of family and a lightness to balance out this story. I fell in love with them, especially Alyson, the feisty owner of the Swanne bathhouse, that woman had a heart of gold.
To keep it spoiler free I won't mention the antagonist by name, I'll just say it's been a while since I've hated a character with such passion. ...would the evil bastard ever die?? Maybe it was simply a case of 50 pages too many ...
The author's historical notes were a great bonus, I didn't pick up that Alyson was Geoffrey Chaucer's Wife of Bath and this is Karen Brooks' take on her life beyond The Canterbury Tales.
All up The Brewer's Tale was a page turner, rich with historical detail and characters to love and hate. ...more
Anna Romer earned herself a fan with her debut Thornwood House and with Lyrebird Hill she cements her position as a voice to be reckoned with in AustrAnna Romer earned herself a fan with her debut Thornwood House and with Lyrebird Hill she cements her position as a voice to be reckoned with in Australian fiction ... an exceptionally talented writer.
I adored every minute of Lyrebird Hill. For me Anna Romer is synonymous with lyrical, atmospheric writing; of such haunting and addictive quality you savour every word. Once again it's a seamless blending of contemporary and historical narrative, Ruby 2013 and Brenna 1898 ... past and present intertwine with dark secrets and pain.
Ruby Cardel returns to her childhood home Lyrebird Hill to unlock memories and the mystery of her sister's death. With the discovery of Brenna's diary and letters, Romer weaves the mesmerising story of two women seeking truth, generations and 115 years apart.
Lyrebird Hill never feels like a story being told. Some of our shameful history and treatment of aborigines made me cry with sorrow and outrage. The Australian landscape is so lushly described, I was immersed, my senses evoked ... eucalypts, camp fires, the scent of bush flowers, birdsong, Brenna's connection with the land and the aboriginal people tangible.
I rarely read books again. For its exquisite beauty Lyrebird Hill is one I will....more