The Lavender Keeper is a wonderfully entertaining book. Having had the pleasure of hearing Fiona Mcintosh speak recently, I will repeat her words, thaThe Lavender Keeper is a wonderfully entertaining book. Having had the pleasure of hearing Fiona Mcintosh speak recently, I will repeat her words, that it is ‘a romantic story but not a romance’ and this is true. It is so much more than a romance, it is a chronicle of the lives of the three main characters during the second World War, with most of the action taking place in France during the Nazi occupation. It tells the story of Luc Bonet, a young man who grows up believing himself to be French, adopted and brought up by a loving Jewish family who own a lavender farm in rural France. When the family is threatened by Nazi sympathisers, Luc is given his birth certificate, proving he is actually of German parentage, which will help to give him safety. Shocked by the news, he nevertheless escapes when his family is taken away by Nazi sympathisers,and the farm is confiscated. Grieving terribly for his family and vowing vengeance he joins the Maquis, the French resistance and spends the rest of the war sabotaging the German war effort in any way he can.
Lisette Forestier is a young French woman living in England after losing bother parents in an accident. Speaking fluent German, she is recruited, with much reluctance, by the Home Office as a spy to attempt a secret mission – to become close to a specific German officer and relay any information she can glean back to England. Her genuine French background gives her a perfect cover and after intensive training she is dropped into France.
Luc is her escort on the way to Paris and, almost immediately, the attraction between the two is strong. But it is war time, and both have missions to accomplish, and they are kept apart for long periods.
When Lisette meets Markus, the German officer who is her target, she finds he is much different to her preconceived ideas of him. She must reconcile her duty with her personal feelings, and always the memory of Luc is with her.
A little of the savagery of the war is shown, of the confusion of Hitler’s wild orders in the last days, and of how the civilians in Paris coped with the deprivations of wartime, in their different ways. It is a story of intrigue, love and adventure. But mainly it is about relationships, about personal integrity, and the tug of duty beyond personal desire.
I loved this book, and am looking forward to the sequel. I can only hope it will be as good as this one,which I am giving five stars.
Sex Lies and Bonsai is the story of Edie, who is unceremoniously dumped by a text message. Taking only a bonsai as a memento, she returns to her small
Sex Lies and Bonsai is the story of Edie, who is unceremoniously dumped by a text message. Taking only a bonsai as a memento, she returns to her small home town, where she lives with her father, a surfing champion, and her stepmother. Pining for her lost love, she starts work as a sketcher of crab larvae, working for a sexy professor with hidden depths, and it is through this that she finds she has a talent for erotic writing. Her life-long friend Sally, now a life-coach, offers her questionable advice and her life is further complicated by the arrival of Jay, her stepmother’s brother, a sexy, withdrawn and brooding musician. Throughout her complicated and, at times, hilarious trials of trying to move on with her life, Edie has entertaining conversations with the now wilting bonsai.
I must say that at first I felt little patience with Edie, feeling like telling her to get a life and get on with it, but as the story progressed I was drawn to her, recognising in her so many common human peculiarities, and by the end of the book I was totally on her side. This is a quirky and highly entertaining book, well written, with unusual but somehow realistic characters, and with plenty of insights into life.
This book drew me in. Peter Yeldham's characters are alive and the story held me to the end. Set in both WW1 and the present, it is the story of StephThis book drew me in. Peter Yeldham's characters are alive and the story held me to the end. Set in both WW1 and the present, it is the story of Stephen, a young man who joins up full of fervour and excitement at being part of an adventure that everyone thinks will be 'over by Christmas'. He marries and leaves behind his wife of three days and goes to fight in Europe. The book describes the bloody carnage of the trenches and his slow disillusionment with how the war is handled, which he records in his precious diary, and finally in a notebook. His family are advised that he has been killed, but no-one knows how.
His grandson Patrick decides to try and trace Stephen's last days and solve the mystery of his death, with the aid of the diary, which comes into his possession. As he is about to visit England for an interview, he takes extra time to go to France and visit the old battle grounds. What he slowly pieces together is an intriguing and totally absorbing tale of the facts of Stephen's life, which is not without its joy - and death. Along the way Patrick discovers many similarities between his grandfather and himself, and discovers more about himself.
The notes say this book is based on a true story and I can well believe it. I thoroughly recommend this book. ...more
I have mixed feelings about this book. It is a very long and involved story and I almost gave it away a couple of times but I persevered because I wanI have mixed feelings about this book. It is a very long and involved story and I almost gave it away a couple of times but I persevered because I wanted to see how the author, who is very talented, would draw all the pieces together in the end. It is a tale of two women, alike but different, and how their lives intertwine. Angela is a pop singer and Ellie is a soprano with a passionate love of opera.When Angela suffers an accident with a blow to the head and loses her memory, she disappears and George, her manager, frantic at losing her, persuades Ellie to take her place. What is intended as a short, temporary measure, becomes longer as George is unable to find Angela. What ensues is a deception fuelled by greed on both Ellie's and George's side, and a desire by Angela to remain unaware of her past, flashes of which tell her that it is best left unknown. Of the two women, Angela is the most likeable character, but I felt sorry for Ellie too, as she finds fame but happiness seems to elude her. I'm afraid I found the ending was based on just too many coincidences to be totally plausible. I wavered between giving this three or four stars, I would like to be able to use three and a half, but as I rated Wildflower Hill by the same author, which I thoroughly enjoyed, as four, I am giving this three stars. ...more
This award winning short story is so funny, it had me laughing at all the way through at the antics of three senior citizens. When Doug, Gerry and DoriThis award winning short story is so funny, it had me laughing at all the way through at the antics of three senior citizens. When Doug, Gerry and Doris discover the local branch of their bank has been closed they decide something must be done about it, and decide to fight back. With Gerry being hard of hearing and Doris managing to mangle her words, Doug has a hard time of it but sticks to his plans and enlists help from other like-minded senior cits to cause havoc to the bank. Grey power wins the day!
I wonder if we will hear more of the crusades of these dauntless reformers from Ms Winn? I hope so! ...more
Set in the 1920’s Fields of Gold is a story of two British men, Ned and Jack, who meet in India as young men. Drawn together because of a dark secret,Set in the 1920’s Fields of Gold is a story of two British men, Ned and Jack, who meet in India as young men. Drawn together because of a dark secret, they become close friends. The description of life in India at that time is fascinating. The characters are well drawn and the story of the loves, betrayals and dangers the two friends and the women in their lives experience make for compelling reading.
I found the ending less than ideal, with several of the characters changing their personality traits in a manner that I found not totally plausible. However, up until this rather unsatisfying ending I thoroughly enjoyed the story ....more
This is the first book I have read by this author and I intend to look for anything else she has written. Wildflower Hill is the name of a property i This is the first book I have read by this author and I intend to look for anything else she has written. Wildflower Hill is the name of a property in Tasmania that has a big impact on two women from the same family, Beattie Blaxland and her grand-daughter Emma.
Emma is a famous ballerina who is devastated when an injury prevents her from dancing. When she finds that she has been left Wildflower Hill in her grand-mother's will she decides to leave London and go to Tasmania to put the property in order and then sell it, giving herself three weeks to do so, hoping the injury will heal and she can return to her previous life.
The story is told in both first person (Emma) and third person (Beattie) which adds another dimension to the book. Emma had only known Beattie as a successful designer and business woman, but at Wildflower Hill she finds heaps of boxes, and as she begins to go through them she finds links and references to Beattie's life, beginning back in the 1930's, when she found herself pregnant to a married man at the age of nineteen. As Beattie's story unfolds so does Emma become reluctantly drawn into life in Lewinford, the small country town nearby.
The characters are so real that I was drawn right into the story, particularly the poignant tale of Beattie as she tries to battle the prejudices and intolerance of the era. I loved this book!
‘The Light Between Oceans’ is a superb read. I couldn’t put it down – I read it while on holiday and instead of joining other activities I was reading ‘The Light Between Oceans’ is a superb read. I couldn’t put it down – I read it while on holiday and instead of joining other activities I was reading this book. It is set in the 1920’s and tells the story of Tom Sherbourne, a solid, dependable young man with high moral values who is back from the war and wanting a simple life. He goes to Western Australia and takes a position as lighthouse keeper on remote Janus Rock, 100 miles offshore, and welcomes the solitude. Bit on a visit to the mainland he meets and marries Isabel and she returns with him to Janus, where their only contact for the next two years will be only the three month supply ship.
They are happy except for the tragedy of Isabel’s three miscarriages – the last one when she had carried the baby for seven months. It is while she is traumatised by this that a boat washes ashore containing a dead man and a tiny infant.
Then the two must work through the dilemma of what is right and wrong, and their decision will change their lives and torment them, and others, forever. This is an emotional read, and one that will stay with you long after you finish it. ...more
Another very readable book from liz Byrski, who explores the problems and issues that can arrive in life as people reach mature age. This is well writAnother very readable book from liz Byrski, who explores the problems and issues that can arrive in life as people reach mature age. This is well written with an intersting story line and characters that are very real. My only criticism is that the ending seemed a little contrived, and in the last chapter I felt the author was espousing her own(very laudble)views, perhaps at the expense of the story. For all that I enjoyed it very much. ...more
Jacinta Dell, a journalist who is about to lose her job, attempts to unravel the mystery of the murder of a woman that happened several years ago, co Jacinta Dell, a journalist who is about to lose her job, attempts to unravel the mystery of the murder of a woman that happened several years ago, complicated because the body was never found.The tension mounts as she becomes personally involved with the people concerned, including the husband of the victim, who has been tried for the murder, not found guilty, and is now married to the victim's sister. This is an intriguing mystery, with a surprise twist at the end. ...more
When an old house in Norwich is being demolished to make way for a new housing complex work stops when the skeleton of a child is found buried beneathWhen an old house in Norwich is being demolished to make way for a new housing complex work stops when the skeleton of a child is found buried beneath a doorway. As the head is missing there is the suggestion of a possible ritual burial.
DCI Harry Nelson is called in, as well as forensic archaeologist and academic, Ruth Galloway who is, unknown to Nelson, pregnant with his child after a single night’s intimacy, which occurred in the previous book. They must solve the mystery of the skeleton as well as protect Ruth from an escalating threat as the story progresses.
Unlike many central characters, Ruth is neither young, slim, beautiful or self assured, but I found her quite endearing and cared what happened to her and her unborn baby. The cast of supporting characters was interesting, including Father Hennessy, who had run the children’s home that had previously been on the site; Max Grey who had a secret that drew him to the site; and Cathbad with his love of the Druids and his purple cloak
Not only does Elly Griffiths create excellent dialogue, but the touches of humour in her writing had me chuckling. In spite several coincidences it is a good plot, and a sense of menace escalates the tension and suspense, with a very satisfying conclusion.
This is the first Ruth Galloway book I have read, and I will certainly look for the previous one, which was the first in the series.