Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Family Drama, Historical Fiction, Relationship Stories

The Garden of Lost and Found by Harriet Evans

This evening I’m thrilled to be a part of the blog tour for the latest novel by Harriet Evans, The Garden of Lost and Found.  From the moment I held it in my hands I knew I was in for a wonderful journey.

I adore a novel that features a house that is almost a character in itself.  They have such presence and there is something there, something that sucks me in, captures my imagination and whisks me away.  I am a homebody and I totally get the way we can become ingrained in a building.  Every memory clinging to bricks and mortar, every inch bringing new life and memories.  Of course the memories can’t always be good and even Nightingale House has had it’s share of tragedy.  This is a wonderful epic tale of love lost and saved, betrayal and trust, all wrapped up in a families history and even it’s future.  The house plays a big part but it is in the garden where memories are forged and generations come together.  The Garden of Lost and Found.

We begin in 1918 with Ned burning a painting, but not just any painting,  his most famous painting.  A painting whose story is ingrained throughout the pages of the book.  Why did he burn it? What madness possessed him.  It was all that remained of them. The children lost to them.  But how, when and where? It was incredibly enticing, I couldn’t stop reading, at times with tears, also anger but also with hope.  What a wonderful tale Harriet has created, almost as artfully as a painter bringing a canvas to life. I could see each character in my minds eye. They whispered their story through her words so I couldn’t turn away until I reached the very end.

Pure, wonderful escapism. Harriet wonderfully merges the difficulties faced by each of the women in this story.   From the 19th century right through to present day we watch the story of this family unfold.  Juliet, our modern day mum is going through a time of great change and upset.  As she tries to cope with all that it thrown at her she returns to the home of her grandmother and a house that holds many secrets; secrets that are now ready to be known. At times I read in horror at what was endured by the characters, and it was heartbreaking yet wonderfully moving.  A tale filled with love, courage, hate and bitterness but more than all of that it is a story of the importance of those who came before us and the hope that love can save the day.

This was a wonderful read that I consumed in a long weekend and thoroughly enjoyed every moment.

Thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour.

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Synopsis

Nightingale House, 1919. Liddy Horner discovers her husband, the world-famous
artist Sir Edward Horner, burning his best-known painting The Garden of Lost and
Found days before his sudden death.

Nightingale House was the Horner family’s beloved home – a gem of design created
to inspire happiness – and it was here Ned painted The Garden of Lost and Found,
capturing his children on a perfect day.
One magical moment. Before it all came tumbling down…

When Ned and Liddy’s great-granddaughter Juliet is sent the key to Nightingale
House, she starts a new life with her three children, and opens the door onto a
forgotten world. The house holds its mysteries close but she is in search of answers.
For who would choose to destroy what they love most? Whether Ned’s masterpiece – or,
in Juliet’s case, her own children’s happiness.
Something shattered this corner of paradise. But what?

About the author

Harriet Evans

Harriet Evans Author PictureHarriet Evans is the author, Going Home, A Hopeless RomanticThe Love of Her Life, I Remember You, Love Always, Happily Ever After and Not Without You. Before becoming a full time writer Harriet was a successful editor for a London publishing house. She lives in London with her family.

You can follow Harriet on Twitter at @HarrietEvans

and on Instagram at @harrietevansauthor

 

The Garden of Lost and Found was published in hardback by Headline Review on April 18th 2019. It is also available in eBook and Audiobook.

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Debut, Family Drama, Relationship Stories

The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie

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Today I am delighted to be hosting the blog tour for The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie. Over 100k eBooks have already been sold to date and the publication in paperback will bring this wonderful family saga to the hands of many more readers.

It is 1911, and Jean is about to join the mass strike at the Singer factory. For her, nothing will be the same again.

Decades later, in Edinburgh, Connie sews coded moments of her life into a notebook, as her mother did before her.

More than 100 years after his grandmother’s sewing machine was made, Fred discovers a treasure trove of documents. His family history is laid out before him in a patchwork of unfamiliar handwriting and colourful seams.

He starts to unpick the secrets of four generations, one stitch at a time.

There is something rather wonderful about a good family saga. It pulls you in, makes you care and you follow through all the ups and downs, the heartache and the happiness because you want to see where it all ends. The Sewing Machine is one such story.

I was initially drawn in by the sewing machine. Using both image and name tempted me to pick up this engaging novel. My Nan used to own a singer sewing machine and so the brand itself holds memories of my own.

The Sewing Machine takes us through a period of time of over a hundred years, through various time points until the threads are all brilliantly brought together. Although at times heartbreaking, it was a comforting read, like a warm, hearty casserole on a winters day.

At the heart of the story is the sewing machine itself and how this item impacted on so many lives. I thought Natalie brought each of the characters together wonderfully. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know each and every one. There was an awful lot of love amongst the pages of this book and it shows us that hope can be found in even the most difficult circumstances. My favourite character was Alf, such a warm, loving and generous human being. I also loved Fred and the issues he faced as he unravelled his past and the past of his family. A beautifully written debut, The Sewing Machine is simply unforgettable. I enjoyed reading this so very much.

Thank you Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour and for arranging my review copy.

About the Author

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Natalie Fergie is a textile enthusiast, and has spent the last ten years running a one-woman dyeing business,
sending parcels of unique yarn and thread all over the world. Before this she had a career in nursing. She lives
near Edinburgh.

www.nataliefergie.com
@NatalieSFergie

Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Family Drama, Literary

Midland by James Flint

Today I am absolutely thrilled to be kicking off the blog tour for this incredible novel. Readers, may I introduce you to Midland by James Flint.

A tale of two families torn apart by the hidden debts of love, from the award-winning novelist James Flint

On his way back from a meeting one day, investment banker Alex Wold finds himself standing up to his waist in the Thames, trying to guide a lost bottlenose whale back out to the sea. Later, as he’s drying out his suit and shoes, the news comes through that Tony Nolan – his mother’s ex-husband – has died of a sudden heart attack. Alex wonders if the universe is urging him to resolve a long-running feud with his environmentalist brother Matthew, and with the Wolds and the Nolans all heading back to Warwickshire for Tony’s funeral he now has an opportunity to do just that. But he finds Matthew as angry as ever, unable to relinquish his obsession with Caitlin, Tony’s troubled daughter, whose actions force both families to take an uncomfortable journey into the past. 

In Midland, the acclaimed novelist James Flint carries out a devastating exploration of what binds families together, and what tears them apart.

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This is absolutely stunning.  It’s a novel to take your time over and immerse yourself in James’ beautiful writing.  From the very first chapter I was entranced.  To me this novel felt like a celebration of language and the power it has.  James has a unique voice, capturing moment, place and circumstance perfectly.  He freezes time; holds it still for us and allows us to look at it from all angles. Here is a tiny snippet from early on in the novel where we are introduced to Alex and the whale he is compelled to help.

It was a perfect January day.  The spokes of the London Eye shone with the glycerine light of the low winter sun.  Big Ben stood cold and proud above the traffic, rendered timeless by the refrigerated air.  News helicopters hovered at the old clock’s shoulders like winged familiars, their spinning rotors patiently processing the sky, almost but not quite achieving thought.  And the river shone beneath the Victorian arches of the bridges, slapping and sucking at the weedy brickwork as the tide went out, grinning and gurgling as it slowly slackened its grip.

In the midst of all this beauty the whale seemed like hope, like a conciliatory messenger sent upstream by the senate of the seas.  Here they were, the people of England, gathering to greet it, to embrace it, to send it back from whence it came with tidings of peace and love.  Festival was in the air.  People were happy and amazed.  People were good, the universe was good.  Today had become one of those rare days on which the laws of combat were suspended and, for a brief period, death was not the truth of things.

It was the image of a man and whale that drew me to the synopsis of this novel. It is an incredibly strong image and sums up the power of the story wonderfully. Secrets, homecomings and the complexities of family are woven in the landscape and James has created a novel that is both bold and memorable. It is one that I keep safe on my bookcase and will no doubt return to, it is so rich in detail that I feel I’ll always find something new amongst the pages.

The blog tour runs through until the end of the month so do check out what others are saying about Midland. I’m so thrilled to have discovered James Flint. I think he is an exciting talent and I look forward to reading more from him. Thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour.

About the author

james flint author pictureBorn in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1968, James Flint is the author of three novels and one book of short stories. In 1998 Time Out magazine called his first book, Habitus, “probably the best British fiction début of the last five years,” and when it was published in France it was judged one of the top five foreign novels of 2002. His second novel, 52 Ways to Magic America, claimed the Amazon.co.uk award for the year 2000, and his third, The Book of Ash, won an Arts Council Writers Award and was described by the Independent’s leading literary critic as “a bold British counterpart to DeLillo’s Underworld.”

In 2002 his short story The Nuclear Train was adapted for Channel 4 television; he has had a long involvement with Port Eliot Festival and curated the film tent there for several years; and his journalism has appeared in The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Observer, Sight & Sound, Time Out, The Times, The Independent, Arena, The Economist, Dazed & Confused and many others. From 2009-2012 he was Editor-in-Chief of the Telegraph Weekly World Edition, and he is currently the co-founder and CEO of the health communications start-up Hospify.

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Adult Fiction, Crime, Family Drama, Literary, Liz Robinson Reviews, Relationship Tales

We Were the Salt of the Sea by Roxanne Bouchard – reviewed by Liz Robinson

We were the salt of the seaWhat a beautifully written, captivating, and soulful read this is. Detective Sergeant Joaquin Morales, newly transferred, begins to investigate the death of a women found in fishing nets out at sea. Catherine Day leaves Montreal for a remote fishing village, looking for answers about her birth mother. The Gaspe Peninsula sits centre stage in the story, remote, set apart, and yet intimately connected to the sea. I immediately fell headlong into the story, the seamless translation encourages the words to join together, creating a vividly stunning picture. Catherine tells her own tale, having such personal access allows a connection, yet she still feels hidden from view. Other peoples thoughts tumble freely over the pages, yet they belong, they anchor the story. I felt that the author Roxanne Bouchard has a profound connection to the sea, she loves it, respects it, yet the immense power simmers, occasionally rages in the background.

I quite simply adored We Were The Salt Of The Sea, refreshingly different, unpredictable, yet deeply rich and touching, it became a part of me.

Genres: Lit, crime, family drama, relationship tale.

We Were The Salt of the Sea will be published by Orenda Books on the 30 March 2018.

 

 

Adult Fiction, Family Drama, Historical Fiction, Liz Robinson Reviews, Relationship Stories

Last Letter from Istanbul by Lucy Foley – a guest review by Liz Robinson

Last Letter from Istanbul is the latest offering from Sunday Times bestselling author, Lucy Foley.

Last letter from IstanbulJust gorgeous, this is a story to shine a light in the darkness, even in moments of despair.

Constantinople in 1921 is a confusing, often frightening place to be, in the first few pages, two reports from 1918, perfectly sum up the two opposing sides, each report almost interchangeable. Nur’s house is in the hands of the British and being used as a hospital, she finds her thoughts on the occupiers altering and conflicted when she takes an orphan in her care to be treated by George Munroe. Five separate yet entwined stories exist side by side, different time frames ensure the past spears the present, while the future whispers to the past. Lucy Foley has developed a beautiful writing style, the vivid colour stamps it’s impression on the pages, conjuring taste, touch, smells and sounds, as well as creating a feast for your eyes.

As the book began to come to a close, it felt as though two trains were on an inevitable collision course. The sweeping horror of war and occupation, both momentous and insidious, is clearly felt, yet it is the intimate, the individual connections, that were the highlight of this read for me. ‘Last Letter from Istanbul’ caresses, sparks and skewers thoughts and feelings, it is a truly penetrating and captivating read – highly recommended.

Synopsis:

Constantinople, 1921

Each day Nur gazes across the waters of the Bosphorus to her childhood home, a grand white house, nestled on the opposite bank. Memories float on the breeze – the fragrance of the fig trees, the saffron sunsets of languid summer evenings. But now those days are dead.

The house has been transformed into an army hospital, it is a prize of war in the hands of the British. And as Nur weaves through the streets carrying the embroideries that have become her livelihood, Constantinople swarms with Allied soldiers – a reminder of how far she and her city have fallen.

The most precious thing in Nur’s new life is the orphan in her care – a boy with a terrible secret. When he falls dangerously ill Nur’s world becomes entwined with the enemy’s. She must return to where she grew up, and plead for help from Medical Officer George Monroe.

As the lines between enemy and friend become fainter, a new danger emerges – something even more threatening than the lingering shadow of war.

Last Letter From Istanbul will be published by HarperCollins on the 5th of April 2018.

 

Adult Fiction, Family Drama, Historical Fiction, Liz Robinson Reviews

The Pharmacist’s Wife by Vanessa Tait – Reviewed by Liz Robinson

Pharma Wife

Oh my, this is a fascinating, darkly powerful novel with biting attitude, set in Victorian Edinburgh. In the laboratory above a newly opened pharmacy, a wonder-drug is created, as the pharmacist experiments, his wife of six months discovers a world she couldn’t have imagined. Kindness and love sit at the very heart of this novel, however light can be so easily doused, and a bleak and twisted shadow menaces the pages. This may be a blistering Victorian drama, yet the characters feel so very real, their thoughts and feelings could easily be exposed today. Vanessa Tait writes with a provocative, combative pen, my mind flinched, my heart ached, and yet hope existed within the very centre of my being. Raw, elemental and disturbing, The Pharmacist’s Wife is an entirely captivating and enthralling read – highly recommended.

The Pharmacist’s Wife will be published by Atlantic Books on the 5th April 2018.

Adult Fiction, Crime, Debut, Family Drama, Liz Robinson Reviews

Sal by Mick Kitson – a guest review by Liz Robinson

There’s nothing quite like discovering a new author.  Here’s Liz’s review for this wonderful debut by Mick Kitson.

SALJust gorgeous… this is an emotional and quite, quite beautiful read. After a particularly traumatic time at home, 13 year old Sal and her younger sister Peppa escape into the wilds of Scotland. Sal has spent a long time preparing, the wilderness beckons them, can they survive on their own? Sal tells their story, the first chapter is so clever, I started to realise what had been happening, and then a few carefully chosen, yet almost casually thrown away words, sent a shockwave running through me. I could clearly hear Sal’s voice, she is so individual and distinctive, her words entered my mind and expanded, filling my heart. Mick Kitson encourages the Scottish countryside to sing with intensity, while you can hear Sal, you can see and feel the clean and natural space she and Peppa find themselves in. Kindness flows from unexpected places, and love is behind every word shared by Sal, even in the darkness. Simple, beautiful, provocative yet touching, this is an outstanding debut, and a read I will return to again and again. Highly recommended.

Synopsis:

This is a story of something like survival.

Sal planned it for almost a year before they ran. She nicked an Ordnance Survey map from the school library. She bought a compass, a Bear Grylls knife, waterproofs and a first aid kit from Amazon using stolen credit cards. She read the SAS Survival Handbook and watched loads of YouTube videos.

And now Sal knows a lot of stuff. Like how to build a shelter and start a fire. How to estimate distances, snare rabbits and shoot an airgun. And how to protect her sister, Peppa. Because Peppa is ten, which is how old Sal was when Robert started on her.

Told in Sal’s distinctive voice, and filled with the silent, dizzying beauty of rural Scotland, Sal is a disturbing, uplifting story of survival, of the kindness of strangers, and the irrepressible power of sisterly love; a love that can lead us to do extraordinary and unimaginable things.

Sal was published by Canongate on the 1st of March 2018