My Lies, Your Lies by Susan Lewis / Blog Tour

My Lies, Your Lies by Susan Lewis

 

Publisher: Harper Collins 53143373._sx318_sy475_

Publishing Date: 16th April 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 416

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover

| Paperback (out on 06.08.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

His life was destroyed by a lie.

Her life will be ruined by the truth.

Joely tells other people’s secrets for a living. As a ghost writer, she’s used to scandal – but this just might be her strangest assignment yet.

Freda has never told her story to anyone before. But now she’s ready to set the record straight and to right a wrong that’s haunted her for forty years.

Freda’s memoir begins with a 15-year-old girl falling madly in love with her teacher. It ends in a way Joely could never possibly have imagined.

As the story unravels, Joely is spun deeper into a world of secrets and lies. Delving further into Freda’s past, Joely’s sure she can uncover the truth… But does she want to?

Rating: four-stars

 

In 1968, we meet a schoolgirl falling in love with her music teacher, persuading her parents to let her have piano lessons so that she can be alone with him and this is when this passionate and forbidden affair begins – and ends with disastrous consequences.
Fast forward, and Joely can’t come to terms with her husband Callum leaving her for her best friend Martha, and so she’s really glad to be given a writing assignment as a ghost-writer. She leaves London to travel to Devon, not informing her family where she travels to – Callum, their daughter Holly and Joely’s mother Marianne only know that she’s got this job.
Freda Donahue is an established writer, so why did she ask for Joely to help her write her new book? Her memoirs start to feature a very inappropriate relationship between young student and her teacher – the more she tells, the more unsure Joely starts to feel. Is there something more to the memoirs?

Let me mention this right at beginning of my review – the author can beautifully write, almost lyrically. The descriptions of the house and the landscapes were vivid, colourful and very evocative, and I liked them very much. However, the biggest strength lied in the way Ms Lewis has captured the working relationship between Joely and Freda, I think – it was full of challenges, tense and sparkling.

The characters are absolutely not straight – forward, telling lies and half – truths and really, it’s hard to tell who’s telling the truth. But at the end I was absolutely certain who’s lying and who’s not, it was my gut – feeling telling me that. And even though I couldn’t warm to the characters, I think that Susan Lewis has developed them in a great way, bringing them all to life, exploring their emotions.
Freda was such a complicated character, blowing hot and cold, and I truly couldn’t get into her head, and not only when Joely was her guest but also when the other things happened – she sometimes seemed so confused and I was wondering, why? There was so much more to Freda and she really was not telling us half of the facts, leaving us trying to guess what else she’s hiding and why.
However, the best character must have been Holly – I truly loved her and her life approach. She was smart, sharp and opinionated but I had a feeling that she is a character that grew most in this story. I loved her one – liners and how down – to – earth she was, and how she came to terms with all that was happening.

Of course I was invested in the story of the young girl falling so hard for her teacher, and in comparison Joely’s problems felt a little lukewarm. What was also brilliant is the fact that we were reading a book within a book, I found it a great idea and I was impatiently waiting for a new chapter with the young student’s memories. The story featuring this young love itself is complex, heavy and thought – provoking but it’s also not as white and black as you can think. You will feel uncertain and start asking questions, that’s for sure.

However, I had a feeling that I am reading two different books, to be honest. The first half was rather on the slow side and hard going, and let’s be honest, the characters acted a bit weird, and then suddenly I started to feel as if I’m sitting on a roller – coaster, the story was so fast and full of curves. And then it slowed down again. I am a bit conflicted about this book, I can’t gather my thoughts together to be honest. I know that many readers love the end of this story. I, however, am not sure – if this happy end is this what I was expecting? There were so many beautiful and optimistic resolutions wrapped up that, however, didn’t feel too realistic and I really had to suspend my belief over the whole end.

Nevertheless, I was hooked by this story and no, I didn’t guess the outcome – I tell you, me and my detective skills, they don’t exist. It was a book full of mysteries, twists and turns and you really couldn’t be sure what’s going to come and what another great twist is going to hit you hard in your face. It was full of questions and secrets to be revealed. It was full of layers and unpeeling them revealed a complex and complicated story, giving us much more that I was expecting – the unveiled facts were surprising, shocking and sad.
“My Lies, Your Lies” is filled with mind games and the author really plays with your mind. It’s a story about unconditional love, about forgiveness and family dynamics, but also it touches upon deceptions, betrayal, forbidden love and hate. It’s a haunting and heart – breaking story with complex and clever plot that will make you think and wonder who’s telling the truth.

 

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How to Marry Your Husband by Jacqueline Rohen / Blog Tour

How to Marry Your Husband by Jacqueline Rohen

 

Publisher: Arrow cover187300-medium

Publishing Date: 1st May 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 464

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 09.07.2020)

 

 

Synopsis:

He broke her heart. Now it’s her turn.

Rachel has just seen her husband David kissing another woman and she knows her marriage is over.

To make matters worse, she has just discovered that her romantic destination wedding wasn’t exactly legal.

No marriage means no divorce. Heartbroken and angry, she and her friend hatch a foolproof plan:

Step one – Make David fall back in love with her.
Step two – Marry him
Step three – Divorce him and break his heart.

Simple enough.

Rachel just has to be careful that she doesn’t get swept up in the romance and end up falling in love with him…

my-review

 

Rachel and David’s 15th anniversary is approaching quickly and they’re looking towards a weekend full of celebrations. But when Rachel spots her husband, who is supposed to be picking up a cake for the above mentioned celebrations but instead is kissing another woman, much younger than Rachel, she is convinced this is the end of her marriage. Moreover, she then also discovers that they’re not even legally married, as the proper forms have never been filled after they got married in some exotic surroundings. So, how can you divorce your husband who isn’t really your husband? And – does she really want to divorce him? Or is there a second chance for them?

At the beginning the story was told only from Rachel’s point of view, and I liked it, so the chapters told by David were a kind of surprise and I must admit that I, well, I started to think that maybe he really isn’t the perfect choice for Rachel? He somehow sounded a bit spineless, lacking fibre compared to the quirky, full of life Rachel. Actually, all the female characters in this book were brilliant, strong women with distinctive voices, don’t you think? They knew what they want from life and they went for it, and I truly adored this fact – finally strong, likeable and believable group of confident and opinionated, modern women. And I simply couldn’t root for the relationship between Rachel and David, no matter how often they tried to assure me that they can’t live without each other, that they’re each other’s The Ones – so why, oh why, didn’t you communicate? Why didn’t you speak with other? Why? It was so, so annoying!

Now, I’m going to be totally honest with you. The book sounded so promisingly brilliant and I started to read it with huge expectations, hoping for a humorous, witty revenge book, something like Jane Fallon maybe? The more I read, the more hope I had but, sadly, in the end the story didn’t live up to my expectations. It focused much more on the inner thoughts, the characters were talking about the same thing over and over again without actually doing nothing – and I think this is my biggest problem with this story. Except for the few sentences with Rachel’s ideas how to take revenge on David, and except for a few pages when David complained that things are so strange there was nothing more about it, so no getting even, sadly.

The book had it moments, of course it did but too often I had a feeling that the writing is a bit chopped, not as polished as it should be. Nevertheless, it is a light – hearted story that also touches upon some more serious issues, and altogether it is truly a lovely read, and a brilliant debut novel with tons of potential, and I will be more than happy to read the author’s another release. There are secrets aplenty, lies and misunderstandings but also brilliant friendship and true love – love so strong that can blind you completely. The characters were full of flaws and dysfunctional but it only made them more realistic and relatable.

 

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Letters from the Past by Erica James / Blog Tour

Letters from the Past by Erica James

 

Publisher: Orion 50000699._sy475_

Publishing Date: 16th April 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

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

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover

| Paperback (out on 09.06.2020)

 

 

Synopsis:

A sweeping story of family, love and betrayal set in a quintessential Suffolk village, from Sunday Times bestselling author Erica James

With its winding high street lined with a greengrocers, post office, pub and church, Melstead St Mary is the perfect English village. Neighbours look out for neighbours, and few things trouble the serene surface of the community.

But when residents start to receive anonymous letters containing secret information about their pasts – secrets that no one else is meant to know – life in Melstead St Mary is about to change, possibly forever…

Rating: four-stars

 

“Letters from the Past” opens with some of the women living in Melstead St Mead receiving a series of awful poison pen letters. Evelyn’s, who’s just celebrating her 20th marriage anniversary to Kit, brings doubt on her actions from the past. Hope’s, who belongs to the family but feels like an outsider, drives her to the point of despair. Florence’s brings doubt to her marriage and makes her feel horrified by the words. Julia’s, who’s under the command of her husband, sees her letters as a punishment for something wrong that she’s probably has done in the past. And as all of them have secrets they’re not proud of, those letters bring back the fears. It’s up to Romily, the matriarch of the family, to try to work out who is sending those letters and why.

I wasn’t aware that this book is a sequel to “Coming Home to Island House”, and as never, not for a single moment during reading this story did it come to my mind that perhaps there have been something before, my verdict is yes, you can read it as a stand – alone, as the author has truly brilliantly told the characters’ background stories, and I really didn’t have a feeling that I may be missing on something, so imagine my surprise when after finishing this book I’ve discovered there is more! And this is the a bonus – you can as soon as possible read “Coming Home to Island House”, so it’s a win – win, no?

There are many, many characters in the book, and I really mean many. Somewhere around the middle I started to recognise who is who and to whom they belong, but to be absolutely honest with you, there were some characters that I had no idea who they are till the end of the book. Maybe an introduction at the beginning would be an idea? To keep them all under control? This, however, didn’t spoil my joy in reading, yes, I needed a moment to think back to who they are but other than that, it worked.
Because of the number of characters, there are many storylines running through the book and hats off to the author for keeping them all so clear. But the huge cast of characters is actually also a strength of this novel that is told from multiple points of view and it was absolutely gripping to hear the thoughts through different voices. Those are characters that you quickly grow very fond of, that you start to love and hate, trust and distrust, that will surprise you and you’ll be engaged in their lives. The Devereux family is extensive and each member comes with their own background, stories and friends and the author has managed to develop all of them in the most intriguing way, making them breathing, living characters whose stories broke my heart and shocked me.

The poison pen letters are a backbone of the story, as everything started with them this time, and I, probably just like the characters receiving them, was afraid that any moment another one can arrive. I had so many theories about who might have been sending them but – needles to say – I didn’t guess who is sending them, and I must admit the big reveal truly surprised me, but it was also so logical and it explained many things.

As the story jumps between 1942 and 1962, there are also some elements of historical fiction that added so much colour to this book and that I, personally, truly enjoyed. In the end the author has managed to weave all the strands of the story seamlessly together without making them feel too forced or too sentimental.

I think this might be Erica James’s best book yet. I was deeply invested in the characters’ lives and lost myself in everything that was unfolding before my eyes. It is full of secrets, lies, mysteries, intrigues and shocking events that swept me away to Suffolk, London and Palm Springs. Erica James is a wonderful storyteller, her words have magic in them and you’ll be quickly enchanted and transported into the characters’ worlds. “Letters from the Past” is a book exploring the impact of the past, its strength to affect your present life, and it was so beautifully and realistically written that there were moments that I had my heart in my mouth. A truly brilliant read that I highly recommend.

 

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Separation Anxiety by Laura Zigman / Blog Tour + Extract

Separation Anxiety by Laura Zigman

 

Publisher: Transworld Digital 50544187._sy475_

Publishing Date: 16th April 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 288

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

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Have you ever wondered if you love your dog better than your spouse?
Or what happened to the last ten years?

Life hasn’t gone according to Judy’s plan. Her career as a children’s book author has taken an embarrassing nose dive. Her teenage son Teddy treats her with a combination of mortification and indifference. Her best friend is dying. And her husband, Gary, has become a pot-addled ‘snackologist’ who she can’t afford to divorce. On top of it all, she has a painfully ironic job writing articles for a self-help website—a poor fit for someone seemingly incapable of helping herself.

Gleefully irreverant and genuinely touching, Separation Anxiety is a novel that celebrates the ‘squeezed generation’; a book filled with heart and humour for anyone fumbling their way towards happiness.

 

EXTRACT:

It’s six minutes to morning meeting and the tapping of the peace gong, and of course we’re late. I hustle Teddy— almost taller than me, a bedhead of brown curls, and giant sneakers still untied— into the car on this sharply bright October morning, then tear down the street, looking like a Jules Feiffer sketch of modern frantic parenthood with my giant hair and furrowed worry- brow behind the wheel. I’m going to have to explain and apologize to Mr. Noah and his aggressively annoying Montessori man bun that it’s my fault, not Teddy’s,for being tardy on this day, especially on this day. The school seemed perfect for Teddy when he’d started in second grade after a few disastrous years at the nearby public school, but a month into seventh grade— in their newly formed middle school, only in its second year with none of the kinks worked out— it doesn’t seem to be the best place for him now.

Even though we’re late, I can’t help indulging in my daily habit on the drive to school:the Inventory of Other Houses, when I ogle all the well- maintained homes along our route thatbelong to other people. Ours, with its peeling shingles and broken gutters, is becoming the shabbiest on the block.

Five minutes to morning meeting and the tapping of the

peace gong.

When Gary and I first moved to Cambridge, still in our late thirties with Teddy about to be born, full of stupid youthful optimism, fantasies of block parties and progressive dinners and neighbourhood yard sales played in my head. I wanted community, and connection, and a sense of belonging. I wanted to carve pumpkins and drink eggnog and complain about shovelling snow, then extol the virtues of the miraculous New England

spring. Not anymore. That openness is long gone. I’ve moved from outgoing young mother and children’s book writer to invisible middle- aged content- generator and dog- wearer. An irreversible trajectory, I’m sure of it. If only I could have squeezed out another book before writer’s block set in, Gary and I would have enough money to separate like normal couples instead of having to live in the same house and pretend for Teddy’s sake.

Four minutes to morning meeting and the tapping of the

peace gong.

I look at Teddy sitting next to me in the front passenger seat— because he is old enough to sit there now— I can’t remember the last time he sat in the back— and wonder again as I so often have since the transparency of childhood and boyhood gave way to this— this brutal teenage opacity— what he is thinking. I don’t ask anymore and he never tells me. Every day I try to square the fact that I don’t know, can’t know, will never again know everything crossing his mind the minute it crosses it the way I used to because he used to tell me— trains, dinosaurs, baseball, LEGOs, skateboards, chicken,pizza, chips— but doesn’t anymore.

Three minutes to morning meeting and the tapping of the

peace gong.

Steering around parked cars and oncoming traffic, the inventory continues: I compare shingles and shutters and lawns and fences to our disintegrating ones. That morning I’m especially tweaked by an ever- expanding three- story addition going up in the back of an already massive turreted single- familyVictorian. I’m sure that the people moving in, whoever they are, still sleep in the same room, in the same bed; still earn livings and have savings; still plan for the future the way normal people do, though I know that my childish presumptions could be wrong: you never know what people’s lives are really like.

It’s the day I’m scheduled to talk to Teddy’s class about writing, answering some of Mr. Noah’s questions about what it’s like to make books (fun to write and draw them; less fun to publish and promote them): how cool it was to have an animated seriesbased on one of my books (extremely cool).

One minute to morning meeting and the tapping of the

peace gong.

I know Teddy had hoped I’d cancel, that something else would come up at the very last second the way it used to whenhe was small— the calls from my mother when she was outof pain medication; from my father when he mixed up night and day again; when it was time for hospice for both of them. He’d gotten used to plans changing suddenly; from the bottom dropping out; from occasionally being picked up by someone else’s parents and eating at another family’s dinner table. He’d always looked so pained when I’d had to leave him, which wasn’t actually that often, since I took him almost everywhere with me, like I do now with the dog— and since working from

home allowed us to spend a lot of time together. Then at some point he came to like it: being somewhere else. The relief of it. I think of all that he’d seen those years before he was even ten: the hospital beds, the infusion rooms, the home nurses coming and going from my parents’ house while I tried to distract him with bigger and bigger LEGO sets— and I wish againthat we could get a do- over for that whole phase of his life. It hardly

seems fair, so much precious time lost.

One minute past morning meeting and the tapping of the

peace gong.

“I know. You’re dying that I’m coming in today,” I say, elbowing him. I keep my eyes on the road, desperate for the laugh track from the old days of his boyhood, but as always now there is just silence, then a protracted sigh with a word at the end:

Mommmmm.

I push past the awkwardness, even though I know that trying too hard and showing my desperation to stay relevant will only make things worse. “But that’s the deal with your school: parents help out.” His eye- roll doesn’t stop me. “It’s a cooperative independent school”— I say the words slowly, because I can’t take my hands off the wheel to pump my usual air quotes— “so when a teacher asks you to come in and teach their class for them because they’re too lazy to,” I add, unable to stop myself from editorializing, “you’re not supposed to say no.”

“Mr. Noah isn’t too lazy to teach.”

I forget how loyal he is, how kind and generous to othershe’s always been.

“You’re right. It’s not laziness. He just needs extra time to manscape his goatee.”

“Mom. Stop.” He looks at me finally. “You don’t have to come, you know. Jackson’s mom and Gavin’s mom and Robert’s mom couldn’t come. I can just say you’re too busy. It’s no big deal.” He looks out the window again, away from me to somewhere else.

I blink and feel the sudden sting of tears. “But I want to come.” The sentence is a repentant whisper that leaves me confused: Why, when I miss my little boy so much, am I pushing away what’s left of him? “Dude. I was just kidding.” I’m begging now. Like plate tectonics, something inside me is finallycracking and shifting. Melting. “I want to come. I really do.”

 

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My Pear – Shaped Life by Carmel Harrington / Blog Tour

My Pear – Shaped Life by Carmel Harrington

 

Publisher: Harper Collins 45727646._sy475_

Publishing Date: 16th April 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 384

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

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover

| Paperback (out on 07.01.2021)

 

 

Synopsis:

This is a joyful, uplifting book for those of us who sometimes wake up and feel we’re not good enough. Spoiler alert: we are!

Meet Greta.

She’s funny.

She’s flawed.

She’s hiding so much behind her big smile she’s forgotten who she is.

But Greta is about to discover that the key to being happy is…being you.

Greta Gale has played the part of the funny fat one her entire life, hiding her insecurities behind a big smile. But size doesn’t matter when you can laugh at yourself, right?
Until Greta realises she’s the only one not laughing. And deep down, she’s not sure if she’ll ever laugh again.

But with her world feeling like it’s falling down around her, Greta is about to discover she’s stronger than she feels. And that sometimes the best moments in life come when it’s all gone a bit pear-shaped…

my-review

 

Greta Gale is an inspiring actress. She’s a bit overweight, is funny and is always laughing, even at herself. What people don’t know is that Greta is hiding a lot, is dying inside and is addicted to sleeping pills. The sleeping pills are really a problem, though Greta doesn’t want to see it, that is, until one day her life truly spirals out of control and her family forces her to go to rehab centre. Being there, she has time to reflect on her life. Her beloved Uncle Ray surprises her with a road – trip to Las Vegas to meet Greta’s greatest inspiration, her namesake Greta Gale. With Ray, Greta’s family and her friend Dylan’s support nothing can go wrong now, right?

This book touches upon such important issues like accepting yourself, drug addiction, family dynamics and all the ups and downs of life, showing how important the support of family and friends is and that the pear – shaped moments in life can make us stronger!

I loved being able to accompany Greta on her journey to accepting herself, to cheer her on this bumpy, twisty and hard road to happiness – without a guarantee that she’s going to find her happy end. Her character shows perfectly clearly that it is not losing weight or finding the perfect job or partner that changes our lives for better, that it is in fact the self – acceptation and the other things are just nice extras. However, I couldn’t completely warm to Greta but it’s probably my own problem – I, like many, many other women out there don’t like my body, don’t treat it with the due respect, so am like Greta in this matter but I also don’t look at things in such a narrow way like she did. I mean, I am a woman, I look like I look and I don’t spend sleepless nights thinking about it, and in my opinion she shouldn’t as well, she should have realise earlier that she’s worth so much even if she doesn’t look like a sex – goddess. I’ve learnt that it’s not looks that make you special and I think it is because of this fact, that I’ve matured in that matter, that I simply can’t find patience and accept such excuses. But Greta is also me and you: open, friendly and happy with life on the outside and uncertain and full of doubts inside, beating herself up, thinking she’s not good enough – sounds familiar, no?

Somehow, for me, “My Pear – Shaped Life” didn’t feel like a book and as much as I appreciated it, and the super important message the author has managed to smuggle in her wise words, I had a feeling I am floating on the surface, that I can’t reach into the depth, and the whole story seemed unstructured and it dragged a bit sometimes, and the change between the first and second part of the book was so sudden, it truly felt like reading a different story. I am sure that many other readers will find it inspiring, and I am incredibly sad that it didn’t work for me, but I still love Carmel Harrington and her books, no worries 🙂

Nevertheless, it is a book that will make you think when you’re reading it, the whole time. You will reflect on your own body image and start to think and see yourself differently. But the story is so relatable in so many ways, and even if you don’t struggle with your image, you will find things you can relate to, with life knocking you sideways.
It is warm and easily written, the story – telling is flowing, with colourful and vivid descriptions, it feels unique and fresh. Sometimes it’s very poignant and heart – breaking, sometimes it’s light – hearted and funny but on top of this it is important, wise and full of compassion. It shows the importance of loving and accepting yourself, of having support, and it feels very real.

 

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Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins / Blog Tour

Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins

 

Publisher: Quercus 51763423._sy475_

Publishing Date: 2nd April 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 368

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Mystery

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

When the eight-year-old daughter of an Oxford College Master vanishes in the middle of the night, police turn to the Scottish nanny, Dee, for answers.

As Dee looks back over her time in the Master’s Lodging – an eerie and ancient house – a picture of a high achieving but dysfunctional family emerges: Nick, the fiercely intelligent and powerful father; his beautiful Danish wife Mariah, pregnant with their child; and the lost little girl, Felicity, almost mute, seeing ghosts, grieving her dead mother.

But is Dee telling the whole story? Is her growing friendship with the eccentric house historian, Linklater, any cause for concern? And most of all, why was Felicity silent?

Roaming Oxford’s secret passages and hidden graveyards, Magpie Lane explores the true meaning of family – and what it is to be denied one.

Rating: four-stars

 

Dee, a Scottish nanny, is being interviewed by the police about the disappearance of Felicity, an 8 – year – old girl she cares for. What makes the situation even more worse is the fact that Felicity is incredibly shy and selectively mute – she speaks only with her father and, only recently, with Dee. She has stopped speaking after her mother’s death and, bereaved and bullied, she doesn’t speak at school or with her stepmother Mariah, no matter how much Mariah tries.
Then Dr. Linklater comes into their lives – a House Detective, hired to unearth the house’s history. Who lived there before and do they have anything to do with the secret Priest’s Hole in Felicity’s room, a space she’s obsessed with, even though it’s forbidden for her?
And then Felicity disappears. What has happened with the girl? Was it Dee, with her own secrets? Was it Mariah, losing her coolness? Was it Nick?

I really started to wonder if Dee is a reliable narrator, especially after her secrets were slowly being revealed. On the other hand, I liked her, I liked her sense of humour and coolness, and I adored her emotional response to Felicity, for her to immediately understand what it is the girls really needs and giving it to her, while Mariah, much younger and obsessed with her business restoring wallpaper, and Nick, desperate to show the whole world he is the right person to be the Oxford Master, have totally neglected Felicity and her needs.

I’d say that it is rather a slow burner and I must admit that at the beginning I felt a bit annoyed with the pace – it was simply too slow, and there were so many mentions of maths, and gothic and Oxford and I simply wanted to know what has happened. However, then, there comes a moment that I found myself glued to the pages, I was not able to put this book away – I wanted to run through the pages to the end but I didn’t want to miss a single word, so emotionally powerful the writing felt. Yes, there were still moments that I could live without, especially the descriptions of the wallpapers, I really had no idea that this can be a thing, but also the references to the William Morris patterns in comparison to the Law’s artificial life were such a clever move! And altogether it was a brilliant, atmospheric read. In the end I really didn’t know who I can trust, I started to doubt everything though I hoped that the book is going to end the way I wanted it to end.

There are many creepy, unsettling moments in this story that take place at the house or even around Oxford, the way Linklater has told them was brilliant and giving thrills, and they all play a pivotal role in the unfolding events. Despite the somewhat slow tempo, the story is brilliantly written and actually it flows effortlessly. The author has such a way with words, her descriptions are vivid and she not only makes the characters feel alive, she also brings the setting to life. Lucy Atkins presents us with a great range of feelings and emotions that you can’t help but experience for yourself: anger at the neglecting Nick and Mariah, desperation, helplessness, sadness for Felicity – you’re going to immediately fell for this little girl, grieving for her mother and so alone and lonely.

Now, I am not so sure about the end, I think for me it is too ambiguous, I’d love to see it written black and white, I need my answers. Yes, it’s intriguing, yes, it leaves room for imagination and yes, it gives me hope but…I’d rather be told, but that’s just my personal thing. And I also felt there still some questions opened.

Altogether, “Magpie Lane” was gripping, fascinating and enthralling story that kept you guessing. There is sadness and nostalgia in this captivating and compelling psychological thriller. It’s full of family secrets and lies and characters who have all something to hide. It’s haunting and atmospheric and it shows how living in a dysfunctional family may affect all the living but also, hidden deep, deep down, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and there is a strong feeling of friendship and acceptance. Complex, disturbing and clever, I can highly recommend it!

 

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Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell / Blog Tour

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

 

Publisher: Tinder Press 43890641._sy475_

Publishing Date: 31st March 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 3384

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Drawing on Maggie O’Farrell’s long-term fascination with the little-known story behind Shakespeare’s most enigmatic play, HAMNET is a luminous portrait of a marriage, at its heart the loss of a beloved child.

Warwickshire in the 1580s. Agnes is a woman as feared as she is sought after for her unusual gifts. She settles with her husband in Henley street, Stratford, and has three children: a daughter, Susanna, and then twins, Hamnet and Judith. The boy, Hamnet, dies in 1596, aged eleven. Four years or so later, the husband writes a play called Hamlet.

Award-winning author Maggie O’Farrell’s new novel breathes full-blooded life into the story of a loss usually consigned to literary footnotes, and provides an unforgettable vindication of Agnes, a woman intriguingly absent from history.

Rating: four-stars

 

“Hamnet” takes us to Stratford – upon – Avon in 1596, when a young girl Judith is taken to bed with a fever. Her twin brother Hamnet is desperate to find help but their mother is not at home – she’s not far away, in her garden, tending to her medicinal herbs – and their father is working in London. So begins the story – also – behind Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet”.

Reading books like “Hamnet”, where the author writes a story about real characters, always makes me wonder if their lives really looked like this. I think it must be a real challenge for the authors themselves, to re-tell the story that was told so many times and still to make it refreshing and original and not repetitive, and I can tell you that Maggie O’Farrell has done it brilliantly. Moreover, I am so, so glad that it’s not Shakespeare himself, but his wife Agnes that is the star of the story, that she takes the spotlight, as she was such a colourful and interesting character and Ms O’Farrell’s ability to create such a magical tale out of the few facts that we know about Agnes really deserves a standing ovation.

I truly appreciate the background stories, the courtship of Shakespeare and his wife – to – be but it was the present, this what was happening with their children, much more fascinating. The changes in the times were a bit confusing for me, and yes, it took me a few chapters to get used to the writing style, but then I could relax and really enjoy the flowing story. Yes, at times it was rather slow – paced and I simply wanted to go back to Hamnet and what was happening.

It is a book that explores mother’s grief at the loss of her child and there is a whole rainbow of emotions. It is an atmospheric novel capturing the essence of grief in a heart – breaking, beguiling way. The author also touches upon motherhood in the most difficult times, when the mother tries to learn how to survive after her child’s death.

The setting, time and the feeling of place were brought so vividly to the pages and richly described and the language used is evocative, almost lyrical, bringing the times to life. I can’t help but mention one of the sections of the book that will probably stay with me forever, as it is a real masterpiece of writing, where the author describes the way the plague has taken to finally arrive at Judith’s doorstep – amazing! Altogether “Hamnet” was an exceptional read with a difference that I truly enjoyed – highly recommended!

 

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