Wednesday, May 27, 2015

May's Grand Tour - A Regency Romance by Pamela Warren

This was a free download from the  My Love for Jane Austen FB page.

I need a little light hearted romance, relaxation and fun amidst he more somber reads and this fitted the bill.

May Weston, an artist from Boston has come to visit her cousin Bingley and from there go on a tour of Europe notably Venice and Rome. Whilst in London she meets with several poets nota
Bly the notorious Lord Byron whose rather dubious reputation as a gambler and a seducer has tarnished his allure. Banned from several places, dunned by his creditors, yet May finds herself very much attracted to Byron to the dismay of her chaperones both Bingley and Darcy. They hope that whilst enjoying her stay in London, her innate good sense will prevail to not fall for the wiles of Byron.

The story continues to Venice (where Byron has holed up to escape his creditors) and while she still sees Byron, May does realize that a future with him is not to be. He is  unreliable and not trustworthy. She still feels for him unfortunately though her eyes are open to his true character. Throughout Darcy remains a strong, silent support for May and this is when the romance between May and Darcy begins.

With a wealth of detail of London and Venice at the time the story moved to Boston and then back to
Pemberley. The rich historical detail added a great interest to the story. The lives and tragedies of Shelley, Keats and Byron also added depth to the book and another dimension to the love story and life of May and Darcy.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Henrietta Who? By Catherine Aird

This started as a quiet, well behaved murder mystery reminiscent of an Agatha Christie. The setting was rural, quiet, with the usual mix of characters which seem to make up an English village - from the requisite vicar, to the postmistress who sees and knows it all to the ladies of the village who gossip, to the "big house" and so on.

Henrietta's mother is found dead on the road by the postman. Apparently the victim of a hit and run. The post mortem however indicates that this is no straightforward hit and run driver. In this case there are post death injuries which show that the driver reversed over the victim to ensure her death. This is the beginning of the unravelling of the life of Grace Jerkins. A very quiet, retiring lady. What is unravelled is a mystery starting with her daughter.

An intricate who dun it which also includes the intricacy of a family's secrets and skeletons in the cupboard which are gradually unearthed, much to the dismay of those who hoped it would be hidden forever. Henrietta turning twenty one which was going to set events in motion and Grace Jenkins had to be silenced before that.

A very nice mystery thriller which I received from  Netgalley  courtesy of  Open Road Integrated Media.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Pretender's Lady by Alan Gold

The story was absolutely new to me. I knew of the reputation of Bonnie Prince Charlie but I did not know of the almost "behind the scenes" affair of Flora Macdonald scandalous at the time, especially as she was a country bred girl from whom no one could ever imagine an affair of any kind.

Flora a staunch supporter of the Prince even against the wishes of her family embarks on what would even today be called a huge adventure but after this affair ends in obscurity on an American farm. She becomes a faithful wife and mother, hiding the heritage of her eldest son till the time comes for her to lobby for peace.

Input by Benjamin Franklin and fictionalized history meticulously researched by the author made this story a fascinating one. Detailed in its description of Flora's early life in the crofts on the island of Skye, then extending to the cities and then to the big adventure of founding a farm in America this was a story very well told.

A download from Edelweiss, I was very glad I got to this book.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Five Towns by Leslie Tonner

The Five Towns is a novel which encompasses all that we hope we are not. Set in WW II period in America it is a scene that could have been set anywhere in the world. The story of bigotry, racism overt and covert, a segregation on the grounds of race, envy, the feeling of being above it all are unfortunately characteristics in society not just then but even more so today.

However much wealth one has acquired as John Dodge has, or however poor and downtrodden you may be like Lulu the maid who is African American, and the Jews who want to be like their WASP neighbors but will throw up their hands in horror if their daughter should even consider marrying one of the "white" boys, this is a story very well told of what is hypocritical and wrong in society.

Interwoven amongst three different families - all who have similar dreams for their children. But please within the strict guidelines set out by their parents the stories are sad and bitter both from the perspective of both the younger and older generations. Change is coming but it's not welcome.

Though for me the story was negative emotion from beginning to end it was also hurt fully truthful. I doubt situations have changed much but it was a very well written coming of age story for the young characters in the story and an acceptance of life and the future on the part of the older folk.

Thank you to Netgalley and to Open Road Integrated Media for sending me the book for an honest review.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

two mini reviews - DOWNTON and FOOD!

Doing two reviews here.


I was expecting something on the Downton lines, but what I got was a concise, nicely crafted piece on great houses in Britain in the "Downton" manner. Details of its history, the present owners, website details, photographs of the houses and a potted history of each house.

For fans of manors, country houses, beautiful walks, scenery that is out if this world, this book is for you.

Needless to say I am a fan!

This book was a free download from My Love For Jane Austen FB page.

THREE MANY COOKS by Pam Anderson, Maggie Keet and Sharon Damelio

I didn't know there was a blog by this name but the book was such a joyful recital of the history of cooking in this family - I would say not just three women but the menfolk were involved and supportive as well as being good cooks in their own right.

Each chapter dealing with a part of their lives, ends with a family receipe, each one better than the last.

Made for a very mouth watering read.

This was sent to me by Edelweiss.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mrs Dashwood Returns. A Continuation of Jane Austen's Sense & Sensibility

Normally romances are all about women in their 20s and 30s - so it is refreshing to read a story of a a 50 year old widow with three grown up children.

It is ten long years since Mrs Dashwood was literally thrown out of her home with her three daughters not allowed to take any personal belongings. A cousin of hers offered her Barton Cottage and she has been very grateful for the comfort and protection it offered. Her husband died believing his son will honor his step mother and step sisters but John and Fanny his wife did just the opposite.

Now disturbing news comes Mrs Dashwood way that her stepson John has in a drunken state taken a bet with Norland House as the prize. Perturbed that the house would go out of the family to an outsider, she decides to pay a visit hoping she could influence John into changing his mind. Arriving at. Norland House and meeting a long lost cousin from America sets off the romance.

With twists and turns, doing full justice to Jane Austen's style the story ends happily leaving the reader also happy!

This book was a free download from the My love for Jane Austen Facebook page. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Artisan's Star by Gabrielle Contestabile

The story of a man who loves his craft (perfume making) and gives his love whole heartedly to everyone who comes within his purview is the crux of the book. Elle loves his job, he also loves the women who are/were in his life. Right now the focus is on his daughter.

The balance between the "old ways" and modernity, the transition that eventually has to take place when something is passed on between generations is a delicate one. Here we have a father whose entire life is dedicated to his craft and then the daughter who has to take on this mantle. Not easy for either party especially when both are strong willed passionate artists, each with distinctive traits and characteristics.

The story was very good. I like family stories - they somehow seem more at grips with actual life and then this book made you fall in love with Florence itself. I think the detail may have taken a bit of shine off the actual story, but Florence, Grasse and Italy were integral to the story and so it formed not just a backdrop but became part of the story.

Informative about the perfume industry and the environs and artists of Florence, this was a very good read.

I am a bit late in posting this. My apologies to the convenor of the tour.  Thanks to the author and Laura Fabiani of Italy Book Tours for enabling me to participate in the tour.