Posts Tagged ‘Romance’

The Bonbon Girl is another captivating romantic historical saga from West Country author Linda Finlay. An evocative romp through Cornish coast and countryside in the Victorian era that captures the world of mine workers, bustling county towns and travelling fair people. We follow the love story between Colenso and Kitto – two teenagers deeply in love and about to face the hardship of life in the outside world.

From the dramatic opening with Colenso tied to a rock with waves crashing around her, through her journey of survival to escape a life she doesn’t want, to a surprising resolution. From the first page The Bonbon Girl is a compelling page turner as you read on to find out if true love will conquer all or if Colenso’s perilous circumstances will prevail.
With its well drawn characters and finely tuned research The Bonbon Girl is a satisfying story of friendship, betrayal, tragedy and love which is highly recommended.

A great read if you are planning a Cornish holiday or just want to go back in time.

‘Old friends, sat on their park bench like book ends.’
Simon & Garfunkel – ‘Bookends’ Album 1968.

 

The Woman in Blue:
An old friend, now a woman priest, contacts Ruth regarding some threatening letters she has received. She is coming to Walsingham to attend a conference and take part in some of the religious events. Meanwhile, Cathbod is in Walsingham too, house-sitting for a friend when he sees a vision of a woman wearing blue in the graveyard who is soon found dead. This is just the start to a string of murders, as Ruth tries to balance her work lecturing in archaeology, helping the police and taking her daughter to endless play rehearsals while Nelson tries to get over his wife’s affair and the new ‘super-boss’ bent on reform. The crowds are gathering for the local Mystery Play, religious fanaticism rears its head and the scene is set for a fascinating romp through personal relationships and murders.

The Chalk Pit:
Ruth’s archaeological skills are needed again as boiled bones are found in an underground tunnel below Norwich. DCI Nelson and his team are kept busy tracking down a serial killer preying on the homeless. Then a middle class mother of two disappears and Nelson’s boss wants results fast.

In this 9th Ruth Galloway story, where old bones meet modern murder, Ruth and Nelson’s not quite a relationship features as much as the crime. Both have family difficulties to focus on, and however much the reader wants them to get together things always get in the way.

This is Norfolk Noir at its best – misty, gloomy, dangerous, mystical, pagan, set within bleak salt marshes and ancient buildings. The stories turn at a comfortable pace with great twists to reveal hard to guess satisfying endings.

 

A Captivating West Country Family Saga

The Flower Seller is a fascinating story of a young woman’s descent from luxury to rural poverty after her beloved papa’s death. The openness and honesty of Isabella draws the reader in as they share her struggles to adjust to an alien lifestyle and family who at first she seems to have no common connection. Then the pace quickens and the pages turn as we want to know if she succeeds in turning her misfortunes around.

The story features another of Linda Finlay’s signature themes of old Devon crafts and wares – this time violet growing around Dawlish. As usual, the author’s talent for research is in evidence as her words, characters and dialect, bringing the world of Devonshire violet growers in the late nineteenth century to life. Light hearted moments between Isabelle and her cousin Dotty or the attractive business rival Felix are in sharp contrast with scenes of darkness and despair, snobbery and corruption.

This is a satisfying novel about a young woman’s rise to fulfillment and is just right for this year of celebration of one hundred years of woman’s suffrage.

Highly recommended.

Another satisfying read by my author friend Linda Finlay with a local setting in Torquay.
Linda Finlay’s extensive research of life in the periods of history she writes about ensure a compelling novel that takes you back in time, this time to 1901 the time of Ragged Schools and the rise of the suffragette movement. ‘Orphans and Angels’ is the author’s second book about the Red Cliffs Ragged School. In it we meet the owner Sarah Sullivan who is still struggling to keep the children safe and the school open, helped in her endeavours by dishy school master Harry Higgins. The inimitable Mrs Daws is still in the kitchen making sure that whatever else befalls them the children have a good meal inside them, and the school has a new teacher in the form of the lyrical Sheena O’Reilly whose delightful presence and skills at story telling sets the scene for conflict and catastrophe.

As in all of Linda Finlay’s writing the characters come to life on the page. I especially enjoyed reading how the children are developing, from new arrival the grieving and surly Soloman to independent Edith, as well as sharing in Sarah’s struggles to stick to her feminist beliefs and retain her friends and overcome her lack of money.

‘Orphans and Angels’ is a wonderfully satisfying read that will keep you engaged until the last page.

513n3hd4btlMonday’s Child by Linda Finlay (ref blog review – 23/11/16)
My first pick is a historical saga. The first of the ‘Ragged School’ series, ‘Monday’s Child is set in Torquay on the Torbay coast an area I often visit. Now, thanks to Linda Finlay’s descriptions and lively characters I can image what life would have been like for those children at the Red Cliffs Ragged School and their sassy teacher Sarah. Number two of the series is out in May 2017.

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Owl Song at Dawn by Emma Claire Sweeney – (ref blog review – 25/6/16)
From a story about children to one of old age. I was sent this book to review by publisher Legend Press and was so glad they had as otherwise I might not have come across it. Short-listed for Amazon’s Rising Star Award of 2016, this lyrical, poignant and funny story about guest house landlady Maeve coming to terms with getting older and opportunities lost takes you back the 1950’s through Maeve’s memories of when she was young. With beautiful descriptions of an era that failed to understand disability or being different, this lovely book makes you realise life in the twenty first century isn’t as bad as we sometimes think.

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Off the Rails by Karen Taylor – (ref blog review – 3/2/16)
I really enjoyed this edgy young adult thriller from my publisher Endeavour Press. With beautifully drawn characters surviving in a London where affluent ‘suits’ collide with and exploit disaffected homeless young people in the subterranean world of London’s disused underground passages.

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Before the Poison – Peter Robinson (ref blog review – 21/4/16)
I’m grateful to Sidmouth Crime Fiction Book Group for suggesting we devote one of our meetings last year to the crime novels of Peter Robinson. Before that I’d only watched DCI Banks on the television. I particularly liked this stand alone mystery novel about a retired musician who becomes obsessed with proving the previous owner of his house was innocent of the crime she was hanged for. The rambling old home on the North Yorkshire Moors becomes a character in its own right.

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The Outcast Dead by Ellie Griffiths – (ref blog review – 28/1/16)
This was the Sidmouth Crime Fiction Book Group’s first book of the year and a welcome return to Dr Ruth Galloway’s adventures. We love her every day struggle with single parenting, controlling her weight, trying not to be jealous of her glamorous friends and her passion for Radio 4’s Archers. Number eight in the series is out on Kindle on the 23rd of February and if you can’t wait there is a lovely free short story ‘Ruth’s First Christmas Tree’ to get you in the mood.

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Monday’s Child is the first of Linda Finlay’s new Ragged School series. This time the story takes place in a turn of the century Torquay already attracting its share of wealthy tourists.

 

All the ingredients of Linda Finlay’s deft storytelling are there: an atmospheric sense of history, a setting that jumps off the page and fully formed characters that develop during the story to keep you turning the page to find out how they fare through all that life throws their way. The Red Cliffs Ragged School comes to life on the page as new owner Sarah and school master Harry strive to keep it open and the children in their care safe.

With plenty of references to social change, especially with regard to womens’ role in society, the girls in the Ragged School are treated as well as the boys and given prospects, whilst adult characters support the sufferage movement. I loved the gentle sense of humour pervading the narrative either through the minor characters like Mrs Snooper and Miss Middle or the amusing dialogue between the Ragged School children or Sarah and Harry.

Monday’s Child is great read for the winter days leading up to Christmas. And I am delighted this novel is the first in a series because I can’t wait to find out what will happen to Sarah, Harry and the lovely Mrs Dawes and the children of Red Cliffs Ragged School next.

As a fan of the DCI Banks TV series, I thought it was about time I read one of his creator Peter Robinson’s novels. However, the one I grabbed from the bookshelf in a hurry turned out not to be about DCI Banks.

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Nevertheless, I have found ‘Before the Poison’ a riveting read. Unlike the DCI Banks books it’s not a police procedural, more a mystery story with aspects of supernatural. It’s about a successful musician who buys a secluded and rambling manor house on the North Yorkshire moors. His wife has just died and he becomes obsessed with proving that the woman who owned the house before him should not have been hanged for murdering her husband. Metaphorical ghosts and real ones abound, the later in the form of the hanged woman Grace’s diary.

I don’t know how this compares to the DCI Banks books but I loved Peter Robinson’s style of writing. He uses a range of devices along with the journal to imply Grace’s story, including dreams and talking to his own dead wife. But he uses them with great skill and believability. For classical music and cinema lovers there are continuous references from the protagonist’s experience of writing film music which add to the enjoyment.

‘Before the Poison’ is an interesting and satisfying read. Well recommended. And now I shall look forward to reading something from the DCI Banks series.