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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Review - The Long Shadow by Cynthia Harrod Eagles

I am back with one of my favourite series - the Morland Dynasty - and this proved delightful as usual.
It also proved educative. I have quite a few more which are up for review.

The time is 1670 and the era is Charles I.  The religious strife brought about by Henry VIII has never completely healed and under the accession of the Catholic James II conflict resumes. Alongside this Ralph has undertaken the stewardship of Morland place and under him things have flourished. Annunciata has taken the Court by storm - her beauty and intelligence are unchallenged. She has also not forgotton her family and they all benefit by her presence at the Court.

However things do not work out smoothly and Annunciata herself is charged and imprisoned. She gets by the merest chance but her passion for life can take her down a rather treacherous road this time around. Annunciata in all the books comes across as a self centred, selfish woman but she is very conscious of her position in the family and will not deliberately harm the Morland  name.

The chief protagonist in this particular book is Annunciata with several other strong characters as well. What makes the series so good is that history is dealt with in periods of fifty to seventy years and each section of history is extremely interesting in itself. This is apart from the Morland clan which is intriguing to say the least. Once you start reading even a little bit about the Morland dynasty you get hooked and the marriages and inter marriages keep you going as you do want to know what is going to happen next.

This particular book deals with British history but I must say that the next couple of books dealing with the Crimean war and Sebastopol are equally interesting for history fans.

I will be again away from the blog till Sunday. Seen below are some photos of a kovil (Hindu temple) in Matale. The carvings are exquisite.

I really must improve my photographic skills as these do not do justice to those carvings.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Review - The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

The story begins with a letter. A letter that should have reached its destination in 1941 and which may have altered several lives but which eventually reached its destination inadvertently only in 1992.

Edie and her mother have a strained relationship. It seems always that Meredith her mother holds off without wanting to get close to her only child. Edie is hurt and nonplussed as well because there does not seem to be a valid reason for this behaviour. The discovery of this letter shakes Meredith up a great deal which has got Edie curious as to what the reason could be.

Subsequently Edie finds Mildehurst Castle and through a series of events which seem almost predestined, she comes into contact with its inhabitants and tries to unravel the secrets so well hidden within this castle and its three spinster sisters.

What she discovers - about her mother, about the sisters, about the stormy night long ago and its disastrous consequences which led to Juniper's slow mental disintegration into madness disrupts all their lives.

This book has many different characteristics which are intriguing - its layered, it goes back and forth between two different time frames, the contrasts between the modern Edie and the stiff upper lip attitude of the Blythes and traditions must be upheld at any cost, the castle itself mouldering and at the same time almost alive (walls speaking??? and whispering) combine to make it a classic Gothic novel. What we would now say is batty and eccentric was the sisters policy of protection of the family at all costs against outsiders. They were the big house and standards had to be maintained.  At one stage of the book, my mind was made up that there had been abuse of the girls as well by their father but this was not an abuse that we are familiar with.  This was a burden of duty and closing ranks so that personal emotional well being and love were not taken into account. Sad.

I think this is Kate Morton's best book (so far).

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mailbox Monday/It's Monday - What are you Reading?

Mailbox Monday hosted by Metroreader for February.

It's Monday What are you Reading? hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

This week my mailbox is overflowing courtesy of a friend who was clearing out her own books! This is only part of the loot.

A tightly written thriller - described as "action is depicted with satisfying breathlessness"

Winner of the 1997 Pulitzer Prize and highly recommended by the person who gave me the books!
Dealing with a particular race in Indian society - the Parsis. This is one book I am just waiting to read.

Sorry I cant get rid of this double photograph!  Set in Sri Lanka, a Sri Lankan author.

Witty, eloquent, outrageous and entertaining. My second foray into Khuswant Singh's world.

A teenager has been raped and her father needs to protect her. Sounds a tense usually nerve wracking Jodi Picoult read.

The Burghers are the descendants of Portuguese, Dutch and British colonists now intermarried with the Singhalese and Tamils of Sri Lanka. They were always a community held in high esteem specially after the British left the country because of their knowledge of British ways and more importantly the English language. Decimated by emmigration today their community numbering a few thousands has nevertheless been a very important part of Sri Lankan history and culture. This is going to be an interesting read for me.

I have had a very good reading week with reviews piling up daily. My stay in Rozella is equivalent to what other bloggers say when they describe a very cold winter evening with indoor fires blazing and curling up with a book.

Rozella is cool, quiet - no sounds at all. It is also very green and it is an idyllic place to read. I finished several Cynthia Harrod Eagles books which somehow suited the general atmosphere. Right now reading

Set in 1851 it encompasses the mid Victorian age, the Crimean War and the Great Exhibition in London. The other books by the same author which I finished are

Beginning in 1820, the setting is George IV, the factory age, the fascination with the Liverpool and Manchester railway.

Set in 1788 the French revolution and the Industrial revolution together!

Set in 1670 the period of Charles II and James II

It is 1659 and Cromwell's Protectorate is drawing to a close. Civil war has left Morland Place in a bad way and it is upto the present Master to see to its reconstruction.

As you can see a good week ahead for me. I am again off the internet starting Thursday to Sunday so all posts are only Mondays to Wednesdays. Reading going full speed ahead though.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Review - Mary Moody's LAST TANGO IN TOULOUSE

This was the only book I actually bought from Melbourne when I was there on my last visit. I like memoirs of most kinds and this one combined the continent of Australia with that of France. It was also written by someone more or less the same age as me and I could empathize with her throughout the book!

Mary Moody decides to run away (even temporarily) from husband, home and family to make an independent life for herself in rural France.  I loved the fact that she was able to turn her life around (true everyone else was not happy!) but she did what she wanted to do. Everyone cannot/neither do they have the courage to do what Mary Moody did. She gave up her original career in TV and began to write. She persuaded her husband to sell the family home and move state, she went to live in this small idyllic village and ended up buying an idyllic house where she lived for six months of the year.

I think lots of women feel that they would just love to break free and make a niche for oneself somewhere else - free from the responsibilities and ties that bind. Of course not everyone but some! It seems also a dream to be able to do what Mary did - but she definitely did and how!

On top of it all Mary had an affair and the repercussions of this spoken of very frankly - on her husband and her family were beautifully told.

I understand that this is not Mary's only book and it will be on my list for my next visit to Melbourne.
On another note after four days of no internet have just returned home to books in the mail (book wins) an ecstatic dog and the unbearable heat of Colombo.

Rozella was cool, calm and relaxed - we finished our harvest of chillies. These are really, really hot ones and even handling them is tricky!

The beans are all over and we have gone back to the yellow zucchini which was very popular. Lots of traders had not seen this before but once they tried it, they liked it very much. I do hope it will work out well.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Review - Half aCrown - Jo Walton

Another read towards this challenge!

I heard a new version for describing this book which suits it perfectly An alternate history! the final book of the Farthing triology I would say it has been my best reads for 2012 - true we are just two months in but it was very good reading simply because it was so quite fantastic that it could also have been very true. Something like a Margaret Atwood where you think about it and think yes that is quite possible or the last P D James I read (so unlike the normal ones!!!) that you start out being skeptical and end up thinking yes that could happen.

1960 and Inspector Carmichael is now head of the Watch - the purpose seemingly to keep a control on all trouble makers, but mainly the idea is to get rid of, suppress and eliminate Jews in England. Carmichael is an unusual policeman, but the authorities have got him over a barrel on account of his homosexuality which they have no compunction in using when they want him to do exactly as they wish. They have done this before and will have no hesitation in using this again.

The other character in this story is Elvira - she may be innocent and straight forward but she is smart and she knows exactly what she is looking at. Though at the beginning Elvira is just fascinated by the politics and the excitement of rallies, she begins to see the slow slide into a totalitarian dictatorship and how easily one can turn from the victor into the vanquished. Elvira may have started out shallow in this book but her inner decency and moral courage stands out in the end.

This was a book which kept me up reading to the end. You had to know what actually happened to Elvira to Carmichael and to the others who were part of the story. Not a particularly happy tale of course - nothing so violent could ever be but it certainly opens ones eyes to what if...........

On a non blogging note I am off for four days to Rozella (plans still a bit shaky but there is no internet so no posts!). The dogs are alone and I have said I will dog sit.

For two such big dogs and they are big, they are rather timid. It is only their size that intimidates strangers but  two milder dogs you couldn't find.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Review - A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

I had this book with me for sometime now - it was the size that put me off. It was rather uncomfortable reading it in bed because it was big. Really big. 600 odd pages.

Set in 1975 it brought home to me particularly the problems of caste that is peculiar to India. In Sri Lanka you would think being so close to the Indian sub continent we would think on similar lines, and be influenced by India,  but though caste has been of importance to some families even now specially at the time of marriage, it is nowhere all pervasive the way it appears to be in India, specially as recent as 1975 and this I am very grateful for.

The book starts with India in turmoil and four people brought together by circumstance - a Parsi boy, a Parsi widow and two tailors from a village in India of an untouchable caste,  forcing them to live together in a time of dire "Emergency" brought on by a dictatorial, cruel government ruled entirely by thugs and corrupt politicians.

The four are forced to face untold problems - for Dina a young widow the matter of survival and keeping her independence is important, rather than being an unpaid domestic in her arrogant brothers household. Maneck the young Parsi boy sent to study in the big city by his parents whose business has failed and the two young tailors who by the sheer spirit of one of their fathers was taught  the business of tailoring in direct opposition to centuries old tradition of father following son in a predetermined occupation - in this case tanners a job almost at the bottom of the caste conscious India of the time. In this story the hardships endured by people of this caste are unimaginable - the hideous punishment meted out to those who even try to better themselves in the tiniest way possible is heart breaking to read.

The draconian laws of the time protecting the rich and famous and planning to keep the poor downtrodden are well depicted in the story. Reading between the lines you can see the Indira Gandhi regime with its enforced sterilization policy and the manner in which it was done - so cruel and inhumane - just maintaining the quotas for each area was the aim. How and who was effected by this was not the concern of government officials.

The obvious sympathy for the poor and the downtrodden in India comes very much to the fore of this book. You know that with the sympathy that pours out for the characters is also the feeling of outrage and anger that actually one can do nothing to improve or help any of them.

This was not an easy book to read - I had to keep it aside several times and come back to it later as the descriptiveness of the violence and hatred and man's cruelty to man was immense. At the same time the spirit of friendship, even in times of great personal danger and the need to survive is also strong.  The story also depicts that it is not always that justice and goodwill that triumph. In this the darker side of life is definitely triumphant even at the end and thus the book is sad. I would have liked for a happier ending but life is not always so and in this book it definitely is not.

I had not read this author before but I am definitely looking out for books by him. I only hope the next one will not be so heavy on my spirit.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Mailbox Monday/It's Monday - What are you Reading?

Mailbox Monday is being hosted for February by Metroreader.

It's Monday What are you reading is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

I had just two books come in - one of my very favourite authors. Cynthia Harrod Eagles.

Beginning in 1670 involving the period of Charles II and James II the religious rift started after Henry VIII has never completely healed. The Morland story set in this background is very very good.

Set in 1898 very late Victorian beginning of the Edwardian period, the end of Queen Victoria's reign. Also the disastrous Boer war. The division socially begins and the suffragette movement comes of age.

I have finished several books this week

The Distant Hours - Kate Morton
Saturday - Ian McEwan
The Long Shadow - Cynthia Harrod Eagles

Presently reading The Question - Cynthia Harrod Eagles

Today is a  holiday in Sri Lanka celebrating the festival of Maha Sivarathri. Today is a day that women pray for protection for their husbands and sons. Unmarried women pray for a husband like Shiva who is considered an ideal man. We do have a lot of holidays in Sri Lanka because it seems like you have to accommodate all. So if you do allow Christmas and Vesak it is only fair to allow Ramazan and Maha Sivarathri. Everyone enjoys the day off!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I hadn't heard of this Booker Prize winner neither did I know that it had been made into a movie before I picked this up. It has been on my bedside pile for quite a long time now and I am trying to keep this manageable by regularly delving into this lot rather than going for the newer books that come in.

Set in 1986 in the London library a scholar Roland Mitchell who is studying the work of Randolph Henry Ash discovers two letters written to a woman who is not named. Mitchell despite believing himself to be a straight forward, decent man pockets the two letters because he knows he may be on the path of some hitherto undiscovered literary fact.

Going about it in a sort of detective fashion he discovers the letters are written to Christabel LaMotte The plot becomes thicker now. Ash is unhappily married. Christabel is involved in a lesbian relationship with Blanche but Christabel is bisexual. Mitchell realizes that there is definitely more to this relationship than just a couple of letters and seeks what would be for him literary stardom if he can unravel the mystery of this woman and her relationship to Ash.

At this stage add an unlikely romance between Maud who is the leading authority on Christabel LaMotte and Mitchell. Christabel is incidentally an ancestor of Maud as well. To further complicate matters Mitchell is in a dull, dying relationship with Val and their relationship goes plodding along only because neither of them is energetic enough to end it.

The tragic story of Christabel and Ash has many hidden undertones and it is not only Mitchell and Maud who are anxiously following the leads. There are heavyweights involved - those who have much more money and authority to throw around and at one stage it seems as if the original Mitchell and Maud are not going to have much luck. It all ends well enough though I think everyone would have guessed at its ending long before it actually surfaced.

I liked the book but like so many others found the inclusion of the poetry, the diaries and the letters tedious. I know it adds to the "flavour" of the writing as it were but I also found it slow going. The story in itself - a tragi-romance was delicately handled and the characters were very much alive, even the deadly dull ones were really dull!! The ones that were robust were robust enough for all. I must also add that lots of reviews also found the inclusion of the poetry absolutely marvellous.

My first read of this author and I will be certainly looking for other books as well.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Review - The Children of Men by P D James

What was startling is that the book is set in 2021 not at all far away - I usually visualise scenarios like this either in the very distant past or in the very distant future. Never that it seems like next year almost and this un-nerved me whilst reading that this kind of thing can actually happen in my lifetime.

The year 2021 and all men are infertile. No child has been born for 30 odd years and the UK is governed by one council of people - autocratic in the extreme and by a single leader whose decisions seem final. He keeps things running on an even keel, sees to relocation of people when things are not viable for an aging population - think townships being closed up and abandoned because everyone is getting old and there is no one there to enjoy things like schools so things are becoming superfluous. Whole townships have been abandoned this way.  Pets and dolls are treated like babies with people actually believing that they are their children now.

There seems to be no anarchy, no unsettled elements around but strangely enough a group seeks an insiders help to reach the leader and amend matters. Told by Theo the brother of the Warden who feels that his life is a failure on its own, but who only seeks to live quietly but is not allowed to do so by the group he befriends or rather the group who befriends him, and then there is the Five Fishes the group who believes that change can come for the better. The story is told by both parties one almost complementing the other.

A surprising ending, a chilling story which can very well come true, how P D James conjures such is beyond me! My first read of her work of this genre - beautifully scripted and keeping you on the edge like her other mystery books!

Mailbox Monday/It's Monday - What are you reading?

Mailbox Monday is hosted for February by Metroreader.

It's Monday What are you Reading is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

I had a bit of a sparse week. Just two books.

A mouldering castle, three elderly spinsters, a backdrop of WWII and a book that has to be discovered - I couldn't have asked for more magic because it was magical. A gorgeous book.

Set within a single day in 2003 in London amidst widespread demonstrations against the invasion of Iraq this is the book I am reading right now.

We are having a countrywide crisis with all private buses on strike due to sudden increases in the price of diesel and petrol. We have hardly anyone turning up for work and being a Monday it has been a bit chaotic!
I have been on the roads from morning and traffic strangely enough is huge - motorbikes and auto rickshaws mainly.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


My third read for the Historical Fiction challenge 2012.

This was an intriguing book - it was also quite a slow read for me as I felt I had to assimilate everything I read rather than rushing through it and not getting the actual meaning of the story.

Set in the 14th century with its background of the monasteries Eco himself is a scholar, a critic and what I later learnt (a new word for me) a semiotician. From the blog The Reading Life I understand that this means someone who studies a process to understand its signs for meaning.

The monks in the monastery in which the book is set are very involved in reading and literary matters. The Monastery is famous the world over for its erudition, for its books and they have a very handsome living copying out books for various libraries of the world. The library was not restricted to religious books but seemed to have a very wide range  of topics to offer their monks. However there were very strict rules to be followed and the librarian and his assistant were the sole arbiters of who read what and if it was considered suitable reading material for whoever requested the book. There was an element of hidden animosity for this however which was not apparent at the very start of the story.

Apart from the actual story the book throws a lot of light on how harsh and cruel life was at this time - that many monks did not seem to have a religious calling but became monks out of family wishes or to escape deprivation, poverty and the cruelties of a harsh world. There would have been no way for these monks to be educated or to inculcate their love of learning and books other than joining a monastery.

Our main focus is however on the fact that a monk has been found murdered and the chief monk seeks his help to solve the murder, find out who the murderer is and in its turn hopefully will quiet the rumblings which the chief abbot is well aware of but which he ignores hoping it will go away.  The murders do not stop and one becomes two to three to four to six and we are no closer to finding out who our murderer is.Everyone is suspect an the monastery becomes divided as each monk seems to suspect the other. On top of that the dangerous inquisitors arrive bringing with them their infamous methods of "extracting" guilt. Politics with all its machinations also surface in the monastery and it is not cynical to say that this was as bad if not worse than what exists today. The balance of power and the need to hang on to power was very strong then, as it is today. No difference whatsoever between a dictator of now with the monasteries of old!

Such a lot encapsulated into one book - murder, mayhem, intrigue, sex, politics, power so that the appeal is so widespread. One thing which had me puzzled (as it did another blogger) what on earth has the name of the book got to do with this story????

I found this to be a very slow but not a tedious read. I had to read it twenty five to thirty pages at a time but it gave me an insight into the 14th century - not a period I would have liked to have lived in though!

Friday, February 10, 2012


A follow up to Farthing which I read and reviewed earlier. This is even better. Following a fragile peace between Germany and England mainly to avoid a full blow out of war, this is a book which is so beautifully written - more or less created because it is imaginative and creative and so much of what could or may have been that until you see it on paper you as just a reader cannot imagine it to be so and once you see it in black and white it seems so much more real and probable.

Like the earlier book this follows a plot of two separate but interlinked lines. Viola Larkin a debutante and an actress gets involved inexplicably with a plot to assassinate Hitler during a play where she takes a leading role. That is complicated enough. The other story is Inspector Carmichael a man who just wants to be left alone but has his homosexuality being used as the blackmail by the powers that be to prevent just such an assassination bid when the plot becomes known when two so called terrorists accidentally blow themselves up.

Set in WWII London the book combines fact and fiction wonderously. Like the earlier book you are drawn in so very much into the life stories of all the characters - and each character has so much hidden story behind the facade of what they present to the world.  I would recommend going in the order of reading first Farthing and then Ha'Penny and then going on to Half a Crown. 

If you are a fan of this era as well as historical fiction in general this is one author you do not want to miss.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Review - Skipping a Beat by Sarah Pekkanen

What would you do if your husband whom you think you know quite well changes from the hard bitten, social businessman you know him to be into a charismatic, philanthrophic man who wants to give away all what he has earned including the house you live in and start life all over again with nothing.

Julia and Michael live two compartmentalized lives. They are not unhappy but they do not communicate and the warmth has gone out of the relationship. Julia is involved in her own career which is doing pretty well and Michael is firmly entrenched in his. Money is no problem and the couple live what seems to be an idyllic life.

Fast forward to Michael having a seizure, actually dying for a few minutes and then recovering well. Recovering physically that is. Mentally the person that Julia knows as Michael is gone. In its place is a stranger who is softer, seems to love her blindly and who is intent on giving away everything that he built up over the years. Julia is not just puzzled and floored she is devastated by the loss of her life as she knows it and she wonders how she is going to cope.

While Julia began to become more focussed on her material wealth Michael seems to yearn for a more spiritual, closer life with Julia.   Julia is fazed by this - she cannot understand the new Michael and this becomes the focus of this story with its surprising ending.

Like the Opposite of Me this book was intriguing and made for good reading. You never knew what the book was going to throw up at you and you did not know which way the story was going to turn. Nice reading this one.

On a non book note, we are right now drilling for water in our property. The drought has made us realize that we have to look at long term solutions and not depend on the streams which surround the property and are very picturesque but which unfortunately dry up! The geologist is very optimistic so we are hoping for good news today.

This is the house and surroundings which in the picture look so green - a bit frayed around the edges right now so hopefully the rains will come soon!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


This was a win from Holly which took a circuitous route to get to me. Sent to my daughter's Australian address it reached me last month when I visited Melbourne! Thank you Holly for a delightful book. This will also be a read for the Historical Fiction Challenge 2012.

Anne Boleyn has been a subject much discussed, written about, raged over and torn to bits. There is still much more that a good author can do with it and this is one such book. You have historical fiction at its best - a reason why one should read this genre and if you generally don't I can recommend you start with this one. You have a rich colorful history, plenty of fact, a good dollop of fiction, rivalries, jealousies, back stabbing, a ruler who can justify every act of his however  blatantly vile it could be  - what more could one want.

The story is not just of Anne but also of Meg. Two childhood friends - separated when young, one to go to the French Court and one married to an elderly man - a pawn of her family who only look at family advancement and no personal happiness at all. Brought together at the court of Henry VIII Meg proves to be a stable friend to Anne who tends to alienate those around her. Fast forward to Anne's marriage to the King, her inability to provide the very important son and her subsequent fall from grace. Henry's eyes start wandering (as is very usual for him) and Anne is sent to the Tower on charges fabricated to suit the King so that he can conveniently move on to the next wife.

Fortunately for Meg with Anne's disastrous end things turn out better for Meg. A different way of the same story told but interesting nevertheless. I was glad I had an opportunity of reading this book.  I understand that this is the first in a series by this author and I would be happy to see her next book.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Mailbox Monday/It's Monday - What are you Reading?

Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Metroreader. Coming to this meme rather late as I just returned home from Rozella.

Just this one book which I bought with me from a Melbourne op shop. All I can say is that everyone over 50 should read this one!!

Last Tango in Toulouse by Mary Moody!

This meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

The books I read this week are

A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
(why I haven't got to Mistry's books before is another question to ponder)

East of Eden - Mrs. Henry Wood
(Loved the first half of the book but the last one hundred or so pages was me too much to be even remotely possible. I liked the writing style though. Old fashioned but nice)

The Third Rail - Michael Harvey. This was a book win from ages ago. A nice mystery/murder/detective read.

I finished reading Last Tango in Toulouse just before I got off the vehicle. I can fortunately read whilst travelling very easily. I find that lots of people cannot.

Reading next - Jean Plaidy's The Sixth Wife. Losing track of who was who this handles another aspect of the infamous Henry VIII saga.

Have a good week everyone!

Thursday, February 2, 2012


I first heard of this author on Cornflower Books - I very much like the recommendations on this blog and though I could not get to The Black House which was the reviewed book I found this one.

A famous 3 Michelin starred chef is about to make a momentous announcement to the press. Rumours abound that he is about to lose one of his stars. What greets them however on those bleak mountains is that the chef is murdered. Seven years on the case is still unsolved with lots of loose ends.

Enter Enzo McLeod who finds the world of haute cuisine not exactly the way he thought it would be. Apart from undercurrents within the family, there seems to be a streak of gambling which would have brought the restaurant and everything the chef built up tumbling down.

This is the fifth in a series of seven cold cases which the detective has sworn he will solve. The odds of solving a case which is seven years old and all but forgotton is tough. Apart from the mystery and the murder there is a personal element from the detective's side which also adds a bit of romantic interest to the story. I do hope I will be able to get to the other books in the series .

Combing the elements of a bitter jealous wife, a discarded lover, the lover's embittered husband, an estranged brother put together very volcanic stuff which could erupt but which have really being simmering for seven years. The solving of the case was the eruption and it was worth it!

On another note I will be away from the Internet till Tuesday as I will be in Rozella as it is a long weekend in Sri Lanka. It is also extremely hot in Colombo with no rain and no signs of any rain. Rozella has had some rain and I am really looking forward to cooler weather there.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


I had just missed out seeing a film on Daphne du Maurier being shown on TV and it seemed such a coincidence that the next morning this was on librarian's picks! The blurb said fiction based on a true story with a lot of help from the family. That was good enough recommendation for me.

The book seems to work simultaneously in two  or rather three sections. Daphne working on the Brontes particularly Branwell Bronte - her research into his life and work and finding hidden information on him. The second story shows her very low - depressed and haunted by her husband's infidelity and his love affair with another woman, his subsequent breakdown and her own mental state getting more fragile by the day.  The third shows a student trying to do her P.hd  set in more modern London.

There is a lot of fact in the story. So much information not just on the Du Maurier's but also on Alex Symmington from whom she tried to get information for her book on Bramwell. She was also related to the Lleweyn Davies boys who inspired Peter Pan. The factual was wonderful reading and more than adequate for the whole book though some degree of fiction was also present which was superfluous to the story.
Daphne's story in itself was so informative and so full of a story in itself it would have been more than enough.

Though the story of Branwell is well known the author builds up the story that I felt till the end that something was going to be discovered - a hitherto unknown piece of literature that I had not heard about and that was going to be on par with his sister's writing. That was not to be..

A well written book with a lot to give the Du Maurier lovers!