The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane by Ellen Berry

The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane by Ellen Berry

 

33939393Publisher: Avon

Publishing Date: 7th September 2017

Series: Rosemary Lane #2 (read my review of Book 1 here)

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 368

Genre:  Women’s Fiction, General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

If you want to move forward, sometimes you have to go back …
Prepare to fall in love with beautiful village of Burley Bridge.

Growing up in a quiet Yorkshire village, Roxanne couldn’t wait to escape and find her place in the world in London. As a high-powered fashion editor she lives a glamorous life of perennial singlehood – or so it seems to her sister Della. But when Roxanne gets her heart broken by a fashion photographer, she runs away, back to Della’s welcoming home above her bookshop in Burley Bridge.

But Burley Bridge, Roxanne discovers, is even quieter than she remembered. There’s nothing to do, so Roxanne agrees to walk Della’s dog Stanley. It’s on these walks that Roxanne makes a startling discovery: the people who live in Burley Bridge are, well, just people – different from the fashion set she’s used to, but kind and even interesting. Michael, a widower trying to make a go of a small bakery, particularly so. Little by little, cupcake by cupcake, Roxanne and Michael fall into a comforting friendship.

Could there be a life for Roxanne after all, in the place she’s spent 46 years trying to escape?

Rating: three-stars

 

“The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane” is the second book in the Rosemary Lane by Ellen Berry series but it can easily be read as a stand – alone. The book mentions some of the characters from the previous novel but it entirely focuses on a new character, Roxanne. She has left Yorkshire as a teenager, and now she’s in her late forties and loves her work as a fashion editor. She’s passionate about her job, and she’s also successful, she has great ideas and she knows what it is the readers of the magazine want to see. However, there are some changes to come in the magazine and it’s a little unsettling – as well as her relationship she’s in starts to shake the foundations. So Roxanne decides to go back to Yorkshire where her sister Della still lives – Della, the one who owns the cookbook shop from the previous book.

This story started so, so well! I was doing the virtual high – fives because it was feeling like reading the good, old Fiona Gibson again – the writing was so warm and engaging, the story was flowing and I was incredibly caught up in the story. However, the more I got into the book, the slower and flatter it felt. There was not much happening and I had a feeling it is very repetitive and in the end I found myself skipping some of the passages and even a chapter or two – I am very sorry for this but it just didn’t keep my attention. Then there is the same thing as with the first book in the series, “The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane” – the bookshop is in the title, as is the bakery in this book, but they are not the huge part of the story, the bakery hardly features in this story and it’s just misleading.

I did like Roxanne. She was a great leading character. She was very passionate about her job, you could really feel she loves what she does and that she feels comfortable in her own skin. She was creative, and I always love this in characters. However, she finds herself at the crossroads right now, what with big changes at work and some troubles in love paradise, and we accompany her on her journey to find out what she really wants.
I really liked how Roxanne started to see that she really likes the countryside and that there is much more to living there as she thought, even though she sometimes learn to like it in the hard way, like going for a walk with the dog totally unprepared and dressed in very unsuitable clothes. It was nice to see her changing, making new friends, helping at the shop and feeling well in her own skin.

The London part of the book was really good, fast – paced and I totally enjoyed it. However, the Yorkshire part, while really important, as it was the time that Roxanne – of course! – started to change and see what she wants, was for me a little too flat, too slow, too meh. It was a tad predictable and some things, such like the later changes at Roxanne’s magazine, felt much too rushed and much too clichéd and obvious.

Altogether, “The Little Bakery on the Rosemary Lane” was a warm, lovely story. It felt modern and up – to – date and it lovely mixed the world of fashion with cookbooks and fresh, tasty bread. It was about making your own choices, about not letting others to influence you, seeing you can really take the risk. It was an easy, pleasant read with a low – key romance and even though I maybe didn’t love it as much as I initially thought, it was still pleasant enough and I am looking forward the third book in the series.

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Guest Post by Angus Donald

Hi guys! Today is the say when the new historical fiction series novel Blood’s Game by thebloods-game-by-angus-donald bestselling author, Angus Donald, is published.  What makes this novel particularly interesting is that Angus Donald is a distant relative of the protagonist, Col. Thomas Blood who famously stole the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London in 1671 – brilliant, no? I am incredibly looking towards reading the book but in the meantime I have a guest post from the author!

 

The court of Charles II: mistresses, mischief and merry-making

By Angus Donald
I’ve always enjoyed a little debauchery – I don’t get to indulge so much these days, now that I’m middle-aged and married with two young kids, but I’ve done more than my fair share of wild partying over the years. And I must admit that it was partly this deplorable character failing that drew me to write about the Restoration period and the “Merry Monarch” Charles II – it sounded like a hell of a lot of fun!

My new novel Blood’s Game, a tale about the attempt by Colonel Thomas Blood to steal the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London, opens in 1670, ten years after Charles was restored to his thrones in the Three Kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland. Once back in power after a long penniless exile, the King was determined to have a really good time. He travelled back to London from the Kentish coast in a glittering procession, dressed in a silver tunic, his path strewn with fragrant herbs by beautiful maidens, the public fountains in the capital all running with wine. He continued this display of largesse throughout his reign; he spent money he didn’t have on fabulous masked balls, parties and banquets for his friends, he bought rare jewels and thoroughbred race horses, he gave extravagant gifts and grants of lands to his many mistresses and their offspring – by 1670 he owned eleven royal yachts and was about to buy another for his unhappy Portuguese wife Catherine.

His ministers tried to rein in his spending but, even though he received more than a million pounds a year from Parliament, his expenditure always far outstripped his income. But, as Charles says in Blood’s Game: “A certain carelessness with his finances befits a monarch. I refuse to scrimp and snivel like some damned pauper.”

The King was deliberate about this policy of having fun: the Three Kingdoms had just come out of a long dark period when the bloody civil wars were followed by the Puritan rule of the Commonwealth and Oliver Cromwell. During the austere interregnum period, most sports were banned, drunkenness and even swearing was punished with a fine, non-religious expressions of Christmas were stopped, many inns were closed, as were all the theatres, women caught working on Sundays were put in the stocks, bright clothes were banned and make-up was scrubbed off girls’ faces by soldiers who caught them wearing it, right there and then. Armed men humiliating women in the streets in the name of religious purity does not only happen in other parts of the world. We had our own approximation of the Taliban once.

So, when Charles returned to the throne, he wanted to show his subjects that it was now perfectly all right for people to enjoy themselves. Hip hip hooray! The theatres were reopened, and there was a resurgence of bawdy, satirical plays. Public drunkenness, particularly among the aristocracy, was so commonplace as to be almost a badge of rank. Pranks and japes abounded – a pair of well-born young men, friends of the King and members of the notorious Merry Gang, scandalised London by appearing on a balcony and pretending to sodomise each other. Poets and playwrights could openly criticise the King, his court, his morals and his mistresses. And did so enthusiastically. The drunken poet John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, leader of the Merry Gang, wrote of the King in one satire: “Restless he rolls from whore to whore/ A merry monarch, scandalous and poor”

Because Charles took his sexual pleasures seriously, too. He had many lovers as a young bachelor, including his nanny Mrs Wyndham, who took his virginity when he was fifteen. And after he married Catherine of Braganza, in 1662, he had at least seven mistresses, and possible as many as thirteen, who bore him a dozen children.

The role of mistress was semi-official – a whore or courtesan, or woman with whom the King had a casual encounter, would not counted among their number – and a man who kept one was obliged to pay for her food, drink, accommodation and servants, as well as making her generous presents from time to time, perhaps when he paid them a visit. Many of the mistresses and their illegitimate children, whose paternity the King acknowledged, received earldoms and dukedoms from the King – and many of British aristocrats alive today trace their ancestry back to Charles II.

Two of the the most famous of Charles’s mistresses – the formidable beauty Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland, and the famous actress Nell Gywn – make appearances in Blood’s Game. In the period when the book is set, Barbara was about thirty and was being replaced in the royal affections by the feisty and outrageous Nell, who was ten years younger. Gwyn was an actress, and before that an “orange-seller” in the theatres, a profession which some historians take as a euphemism for prostitute. Perhaps because of her lowly origins and dubious trade, she was never ennobled by her royal lover, although her two children were.

Barbara, on the other hand, came from the noble Villiers family. She gave Charles five children and, as a long-time and fecund mistress, she wielded more power at court than childless Catherine. In fact, she was known as the Uncrowned Queen and she used her position ruthlessly to enrich herself and her friends. She persuaded the King to grant her lavish titles and lands and properties – she was given  Nonsuch Palace, built by Henry VIII, and the title Baroness Nonsuch, and promptly dismantled the palace and sold off the building materials to pay her gambling debts. She “borrowed” tens of thousands of pounds from the Privy Purse, and when this was discovered, the debt was immediately forgiven by her indulgent lover Charles.

When Charles’s interest in her began to wane, she was not above finding other gentlemen friends to amuse her. She became the lover of Jack Churchill, the future Duke of Marlborough, when he was a handsome and penniless young officer at court. She bore Churchill a daughter and tried, unsuccessfully, to claim she was the King’s.

Charles was not exactly delighted that his long-time lover, a woman he had given so much to, had taken a younger man to her bed – Barbara had given Churchill a gift of £5,000, money she had received from the King, which infuriated Charles – but he was perfectly gentlemanly about the situation. He was, after all, beginning his relationship with Nell Gwyn at the time. There is a (probably apocryphal) tale, which I have included in Blood’s Game, that a servant was paid £100 by the Duke of Buckingham to inform His Grace when Churchill and Villiers would next be enjoying a lovers’ tryst. The mischief-making Duke then persuaded the King to visit Barbara at the same time. The story goes that when the King arrived unexpectedly, the naked Churchill had to hide in a cupboard, and was discovered there by the Merry Monarch.

Apparently, the King saw the funny side, and forgave his love rival. He said: “You are a rascal, sir, but I forgive you because you do it to get your [daily] bread.”

A stinging insult – basically calling Churchill a man-whore – then forgiveness. And never losing your sense of humour. That’s pure class in my book. And the lusty King even hung around to pleasure his old mistress after young Churchill had gone.

How could writing about a monarch like that, and chronicling his court of drunken, debauched and promiscuous hangers-on, not be the most tremendous fun?

I hope you find reading Blood’s Game just as enjoyable.

99 Red Balloons by Elisabeth Carpenter / #BlogTour + Extract

Hi guys, and happy Friday! It’s weekend, hurray! I don’t know about you but for me this week felt as if it had 14 days, instead of 7. But whatever. Today I am thrilled to welcome you to another blog tour to celebrate publishing of “99 Red Balloons” by Elisabeth Carpenter. To be honest, it was first the title that made so intrigued about this book and I am looking forward to read this book so much! Today I have an extract from the novel for you – enjoy!

 

Chapter 14 p.71-72

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The only words I’ve said to George since the ferry are yes, no and thank you. And we’ve been driving for over a hundred hours or whatever it is. I’m usually a chatterbox in the car – Mummy would have told me to keep it zipped at least twenty times if she were driving me. My bum is burning I’ve been sitting on it for that long.

‘Come on, kid.’ He keeps trying to talk to me. ‘I’m getting bored driving, listening to bloody French radio stations. You’re not still mad at me, are you?’

He was mad at me, but I can’t say that. He’d tell me off again. He can just turn. I’ve seen grown-ups do that. I keep trying to guess to myself how old he is. He’s older than Daddy, but not as old as Gran. His hair is black, but it has loads of streaks of grey, and he’s either got a lot of hair gel in it, or it needs washing. That’s what Mummy says about Daddy’s, though he doesn’t wear hair gel much these days.

Tears come to my eyes when I think of Mummy and Daddy. They’ll be missing me by now. Are they really waiting for me in Belgium? George won’t let me talk to them on the phone. It would be good to hear their voices, then I won’t miss them as much.

I have to blink really fast to stop the tears. I daren’t ask George about Mummy any more. Every time I do, he shouts at me. For the fiftieth fucking time, stop talking about Mummy and Daddy. I’ll leave you in a field if you’re not careful. It was dark when he said that.

Out of the window, the land is flat. It’s like I can see for miles, but I can’t see England. We’re nowhere near the sea.

‘When are we stopping for food?’ It’s my tummy that told my mouth to talk. My brain didn’t want it to.

‘Ah, so it does speak.’ He reaches over to the passenger seat and puts a cap on his head. It’s not a nice cap like Abigail from school got from Disneyland, but a beige one – like a grandad would wear. ‘Once we cross the border, we’ll stop off some­where. Promise. We just have to get past these bastards.’

He’s the only man I’ve ever met that would do swearing in front of a kid. My gran would have a coronary if she heard him.

In front of us, cars are lined up in rows. There are little houses in the middle of the road that everyone is stopping beside. George turns round.

‘Listen, kid. They might call you by a different name, but it’s just a game. We’re playing at pretend. If you win, and they don’t guess your real name, then I’ll buy you some sweets after your dinner. Deal?’

 

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The Law of Attraction by Roxie Cooper / #BlogTour + #Giveaway

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The Law of Attraction by Roxie Cooper

 

34927591Publisher: HQ Digital

Publishing Date: 23rd June 2017

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review!

Number of pages: 384

Genre:  Romance,  Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

“Well, it’s fair to say your background isn’t conventional in terms of the average barrister…” Dolus points out. “Well that depends on your definition of conventional and who wants to be average anyway?”

Northern girl Amanda Bentley isn’t your average lawyer.

She spent her teenage years in the Working Men’s club and hanging out in the park to avoid going home. Fresh out of law school she lands pupillage at a top set of Chambers and is catapulted into a world completely alien to her own, fighting prejudice and snobbery at every turn.

Piling on the pressure, this year it is announced two candidates have been accepted but there’s only one job at the end of it. And her competition? Marty, her smarmy law school nemesis.

Throw into the mix an ill-advised romance with the staggeringly sexy Sid Ryder and Amanda quickly realises winning pupillage isn’t just about how good a lawyer you are.

But even if she does come out on top, all of it could be for nothing if her colleagues ever discover who she really is and one very dark secret.

Rating: three-stars

I don’t know much about barristers, so I really liked all the descriptions in “The Law of Attraction” by Roxie Cooper, a fresh and already distinguished voice in the women’s literature, starting with the interview, the pupillage and accompanying our main character Amanda on her way to become a real barrister. It was great to get an insight into all the “traditions”, the dinners, the initiations – those were the most hilarious parts of the story probably.

But you know, I don’t know about this book. Sure, yes, I got the message but on the other hand I am not sure why did Amanda tried so hard to prove she can be a barrister with a long and blonde hair. I mean, I have long blonde hair myself and I really never felt such a need to prove that I can do something. I don’t know, I can’t put my finger on what it was, but this story just didn’t feel so real for me and too predictable. It just didn’t wow me as much as I think it’s going to, judging on so many other raving reviews. So probably the problem might be me. For sure it was not a story about a “girl powers”, as Amanda wasn’t afraid to go to wars with her female colleagues from work – yes, I did spotted they were all bitches from hell, no worries, and it’s a pity that there was not one single girl being sympathetic to Amanda. Oh no, sorry. I forgot Heidi.

There were plenty of characters and while mostly they were really well portrayed, there was a thing that bothered me, and it was the fact that they were so very much stereotyped. The “bad” guy was odious, laughable and everything came to him so easily because of his rich father. Of course then Amanda was a witness to all of his shenanigans. I don’t mean I liked him or something, oh god, no, Marty was very annoying but also not to believable. The main character was the poor, smart as hell girl from the wrong class, proving that yes she can and pulling out of her old life. However, as much as she herself hated those that were stereotyping, I had a feeling that this is what she does all the time, starting with looking at herself through a prism of stereotype. What now, Amanda? All the characters, they were all made so that from the beginning we either like them and keep our fingers for them or dislike them.

The romance aspect… was there. For my liking also too predictable, and I thought Amanda is a little more cautious, especially knowing what’s at stake, but no, she trusted him so easily. I really wasn’t sure what I think about this whole affair, is it appropriate? And if not, then actually why not?

What I really liked were the parts that focused on Amanda at work. She did really feel like a kid in a candy store in the courtroom and she had a great passion for her job. Also, as the story progressed, we got to know more about Amanda’s past, about her childhood and probably it was created for us to understand Amanda better, her and her life choices. It was nice she got a conclusion and eventually learnt that the past can’t bring her down. But let’s be honest, when she revealed what has really happened in her past, well… it left me lukewarm, it didn’t feel worth the fuss – my opinion only. However, Amanda was this kind of character that learnt from her own mistakes. She didn’t stay in one place but she grew as a person. So I think it’s a thing that we should really appreciate, that she was like a real person who more often followed her heart than her head when making decisions as it only made her feel like a real, breathing person. And even though all of my reservations, I still admired her determination and I truly wanted her to succeed in everything she set her eyes on.

Altogether, it was a little different story about following your dream and not letting other people to patronize you and your choices, showing that hard work wins at the end. It touched upon the struggle that women still need to face in some environments. It was light and funny, if a tad predictable, but still I think there was so much potential to the writing and I would love to see more from Roxie Cooper – she can for sure create feisty, quirky heroines that have a lot to show to the world.

GIVEAWAY:

It’s UK only.

Prise: a copy of the book, a legally blonde DVD and a £10 MAC gift card

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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The Lemon Tree Cafe by Cathy Bramley / #BlogTour

Hi guys, and happy Wednesday, hope you are all enjoying your summer!

I am so thrilled today to ba again a part of Cathy Bramley’s blog tour – I love this author and her uplifting novels! No matter what, her books will for sure make you feel better and you won’t want them to end. There is everything I am looking for in a great read – joy, romance, immediately likeable characters and enough twists and turns to keep you on your tenterhooks. Yes, I probably could read Ms Bramley’s novels on daily basis 🙂

 

The Lemon Tree Cafe by Cathy Bramley

51dddl5xnvl-_sx319_bo1204203200_Publisher: Corgi

Publishing Date: 24th August 2017

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review!

Number of pages: 464

Genre:  General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The Lemon Tree Cafe was originally published as a four-part serial. This is the complete story in one package.

When Rosie Featherstone finds herself unexpectedly jobless, the offer to help her beloved Italian grandmother out at the Lemon Tree Cafe – a little slice of Italy nestled in the rolling hills of Derbyshire – feels like the perfect way to keep busy.

Surrounded by the rich scent of espresso, delicious biscotti and juicy village gossip, Rosie soon finds herself falling for her new way of life. But she is haunted by a terrible secret, one that even the appearance of a handsome new face can’t quite help her move on from.

Then disaster looms and the cafe’s fortunes are threatened . . . and Rosie discovers that her nonna has been hiding a dark past of her own. With surprises, betrayal and more than one secret brewing, can she find a way to save the Lemon Tree Cafe and help both herself and Nonna achieve the happy endings they deserve?

Rating: five-stars

Guys, “The Lemon Tree Cafe” is Cathy Bramley at her best! Which delights me terribly as I had some issues with her last novel and to be absolutely honest I was afraid how I’m going to like this book. But no worries guys, no worries, reading “The Lemon Tree Cafe” was really a great joy. Of course initially this book was published as a four – part – series but I am incredibly happy to have waited for the whole story being published as one gorgeous novel. I just can’t have enough of Cathy Bramley’s writing, her storytelling, quirky characters and beautiful settings, and with this book she has fulfilled all of my expectations. You know, it is really hard to explain why I love Cathy Bramley’s books so much without repeating over and over again that they are full of warmth, honesty, genuine characters and this so hard to capture feel – good factor – and “The Lemon Tree Cafe” had it all!

I absolutely adored the fact that some of the characters were already introduced to us earlier in “The Plumberry School of Comfort Food”. It felt like coming back home, to some friends of yours. I warmed to the book and the characters right at the beginning – even to the all – knowing nonna (you know I have huge problems with wiser than wise older aunts, grandmas, cousins in the stories. However, Cathy Bramley has managed to write Maria in the best possible way, without her being patronizing but also showing her weakest points, showing that she is a real woman, with dark past). Rosie was my hero from the start – the way she stood for her beliefs was absolutely inspiring. She was not afraid to gave up her job only to prove her point – that was SO right, btw! To not go too crazy without a job she offers to work for a month in her nonna’s cafe, and perhaps bring it back to its glory days, even though Maria doesn’t think it’s necessary, make it a little bit better – but does the nonna need Rosie’s help? Or perhaps does she keep some secrets that she doesn’t want to see the daylight?
Now Gabe. I know I’ve said once that Gabe is not my favourite character – because Gabe was already introduced to us in “The Plumberry School of Comfort Food” and well… OK, yes, I started to warm to him but it took me some time. You know, in the previous book he had a moment that he tried to persuade Verity they should be together, even though he didn’t love her, and in “The Lemon Tree Cafe” he entered the scenes, took a look at Rosie and tried to convince her they should be together – again. And I just couldn’t stop thinking, Gabe, really, get a grip. Are you so desperate? But yes, I admit – he turned out to be a really nice guy and showed where his priorities are, and yes, there were moments that I pitied him so much when he wanted to explain to Rosie some things and she didn’t let him, jumping to conclusions – just like real life, no? However, the romance element in this book was rather absent, and it felt forced on us. I mean, I want my hero to appear on the pages more than Gabe appeared, so the end felt so pushed and rushed and I wondered, when did they really have time to fell in love? This relationship was more off than on, and it’s a shame because Cathy Bramley can write brilliant romance! (This was my one and only problem with this book. No more whining, promise. And really, even with this I adored this story.)

The book was full of twists, turns and surprises. There were some secrets kept and while I guessed the one kept by Maria, this of Rosie’s broke me. It explained a lot, why she was so cautious about relationships and why she wanted to focus on her career, and it really was breaking my heart because she deserved so much more after what she has experienced.
And of course, as this book is about an Italian cafe, there are plenty of deliciously sounding descriptions of food, as well as some great recipes at the end of the story.

It was so warmly written that I didn’t want to put it away, even for a moment, and cursed life getting in the way. The story only got better and better, guys, there are no flat moments in it, the pacing is just right and I loved how well balanced were the humorous and poignant moments. There is also this lovely, brilliantly captured community spirit when the people support each other, and the cafe was in the heart of all things happening. This story is full of fun and of little dramas that can be life – changing for some of the characters, and I think this is one of the factors that make this novel so lovely to read, so relatable and just so down to earth. The characters hit rock bottom, just like it happens with us, they sometimes lose all their hopes but they never lose their spirits, and this is why I admire and adore them so much. They always come up with a plan, they support each other and this is always so lovely to see.

Cathy Bramley smuggles so many important issues and messages into her books. It is the same with “The Lemon Tree Cafe” – it is a story of finding yourself, finding what brings you happiness, it’s about daily struggles of new mothers, about learning to appreciate yourself again, about family, secrets and letting the old demons go, about being proud of who you are and your roots – this all in this lovely, heart – warming, light – hearted and gorgeously delicious story. I can only salute the author for writing another unforgettable story. This book was for me like a huge mug of hot chocolate with marshmallow topping, so welcoming, comforting and tasty. Highly recommended!

 

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Another Woman’s Husband by Gill Paul / #BlogTour + Guest Post

Having read – or rather, having devoured – Gill Paul’s “No Place for a Lady” two years ago – this author has jumped to the top of my favourite authors’ list. Not everybody can write good historical fiction but Gill Paul can, that’s certain! I’ll be honest with you – I haven’t read synopsis for “Another Woman’s Husband” because I knew that whatever the author writes is going to be a cracker – so I didn’t know it features real people, like Diana Spencer or Wallis Simpson, so it was a surprise for me, but not a bad one. I am so sure that all of us knows where they’ve been when the news about Diana’s dead came across, right?

Today I am thrilled to welcome Gill Paul to the blog – she has written a brilliant guest post for my stop on her blog tour! Enjoy!

What would Diana be doing now?

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In the moving tribute Diana: Our Mother, shown on ITV, Prince William said he thought Diana would have been a very naughty grandma, the type who popped in at bathtime, got the kids all wound up with lots of bubble bath everywhere, then left the parents to calm them for bed. This sounds like a good guess for the woman who used to sneak forbidden sweets to her boys at prep school, hidden inside their socks, and it set me thinking about what else Diana would be doing had she lived.

Her love life would have remained complicated, for sure. The carnage of her upbringing, with a bitter divorce between her parents in which her mother lost custody of the kids, clearly left scars she was still trying to deal with. Lots of people make a mistake in their first marriage, especially when they marry young – and Diana had just turned twenty when the carriage rolled up to St Paul’s and she stepped out onto the world stage – but her relationship choices after her marriage broke down were not particularly clever. There were at least a couple of married men, a few more who sold their stories to the media, and a practising Muslim whose family were never going to approve. Her last boyfriend, Dodi, was a renowned playboy who unceremoniously dumped the American model he’d been dating when he began his affair with Diana, which didn’t make me warm to him at the time. But, having said that, I made disastrous relationship choices myself in the 1990s and only settled down in the 21st century, so perhaps Diana would have done the same (we were similar ages).

There’s no question she would have gone on to make a real difference through her charitable and campaigning work. I’m sure she would have continued to choose difficult, unfashionable issues, as she did with AIDS. I can see her helping ebola orphans in Africa, turning up at refugee camps in Sicily and the Greek Islands and Calais, and she would probably have been at Grenfell Tower long before the politicians. Perhaps she would have been a UN ambassador, visiting war zones, as Angelina Jolie does today. Like Jolie, Diana had the ear of top politicians and knew how to use her influence. It was in no small part due to her campaigning that a month after her death the Land Mine Ban Treaty was signed in Oslo, and ratified by 122 states. You get the sense that even Putin would have been putty in her hands.

I wonder how Diana would have got on with her daughter-in-law, Catherine? There would have been an element of competition for William’s attention, as with all mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationships, but I’m sure they would have bonded over shopping trips and playing with grandkids. And I think that as the years went on, Diana would have become good friends with her boys’ grandmother, the Queen. Elizabeth II is a canny monarch and she must have appreciated that despite all the tantrums, Diana was the best thing that ever happened to the House of Windsor.

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The Wardrobe Mistress by Natalie Meg Evans / #BlogTour

Hi guys, and happy Friday! Yesterday I came back from my (well deserved, even if I say so myself) holidays and today I am already back to blogging with my stop on Matalie Meg Evans’s blog tour. I love good historical fiction and this author is really at the top of my favourite authors list, and really, I can only recommend her novels! Here is my review of her newest release, “The Wardrobe Mistress”.

The Wardrobe Mistress by Natalie Meg Evans

 

35652772Publisher: Quercus

Publishing Date: 10th August 2017

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review!

Number of pages: 448

Genre:   Historical Fiction, Literature/Fiction (Adult)

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Synopsis:

From the award-winning author of The Dress Thief comes a love story set in the glittering world of London theatre. Perfect for fans of Lucinda Riley and Kathleen Tessaro.

War has been over more than a year but rationing and shortages persist. The worst winter in two-hundred years is just around the corner. London desperately needs an injection of cheer and colour, and the glamorous Farren Theatre Company intends to provide it.

Young war widow, Vanessa Kingcourt, has just been hired as wardrobe mistress at the notorious old theatre the Farren in London. Working backstage at the Farren is a lifelong ambition, and she’s looking to re-find the sense of purpose that war work gave her. But when Vanessa becomes romantically entangled with the Farren’s married owner – the enigmatic Alistair Redenhall – Vanessa’s career, and her very happiness, are put on the line.

Rating: three-stars

Natalie Meg Evans is on the top list of my favourite historical fiction authors, so I was incredibly excited to see she’s about to publish her fourth novel, “The Wardrobe Mistress”. The book went with me on my holidays and I was incredibly excited to start reading it – I adored Ms Evans’s books in the past, and this one was also sounding very promising.

The author sticks with her favourite historical period as the story takes us to the post – war London. The book consists of four parts and follows the story of Vanessa Kingcourt. It also ventures to a world of theatre, and as I love stories about theatres, I truly had high expectations here. So Vanessa – she was a wireless operator during the war, and now she wants to reconnect with her family, and especially her father who has left the family on his daughter’s sixth birthday. But life, as usual, has other ideas and there is no reconnection to be. However, there is the other meeting, with a captain Alastair Redenhall, that takes Vanessa on a very different, adventurous journey. Alastair has inherited a theatre from his godfather, and he truly never has expected such inheritance – well, he was a captain, and taking on a theatre was a totally new role for him.

But oh boy. This book gave me a headache. There was a mystery, but it was tangled in many other events and characters and it just felt very slow and I sometimes had a feeling that very little is happening and it took my whole willpower to continue reading – fortunately, as then, later on, the pace gained some tempo. There were twists and turns that I would never have expected to come but somehow, and it annoys me very, very much as I can’t put my finger on why, I just couldn’t connect with the story and it didn’t wow me as much as I hoped it would. I also couldn’t warm to the characters – maybe because there were so many of them, and really, I had a feeling that the plot jumps between them and situations and I just couldn’t find myself captured, just couldn’t get into the depth of the book. The characters felt too one – dimensional to me and I think that Fern was one of the most outstanding in this novel – she was clever and even though she was playing games, those were intelligent games. Alistair was blowing hot and cold and yes, I get it, he was a sea man thrown suddenly and unexpectedly into totally different entourage and eventually, in the end, I started to warm to him. Vanessa was a great leading character and here I had no problems to like her from the very beginning. She had a mind of her own and, as it usually happens, she was way ahead of her times in the way she was thinking. She has never gave up, and I really appreciated her for this. But altogether, for me, I couldn’t start to trust them completely, there was something holding me back, and I was asking myself if their motivations are honest.

As I have already mentioned, there were some twists and turns in this story, but it was all happening so very slowly, to finally come to a dramatic end. But somehow all the good things just happened too late and couldn’t save the book for me. However, the author, as always, has perfectly chosen the setting and the descriptions of the theatre, of how the costumes, the plays were prepared, were brilliant, full of details and very, very vivid.

Altogether, I am very sad to say that “The Wardrobe Mistress” was not my favourite read by Natalie Meg Evans, I think that her previous books are better, faster and more captivating, however I am not saying that this novel is bad! Oh no, it has its moments, and the writing style is beautiful, full of vividness and I am sure that it’s going to steal pieces of the author’s fans’ hearts. I am already looking forward to Ms Evans next book.

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