Sometimes you discover an author and there is an instant connection. You soak up their words and disappear into their worlds. Whenever you hear there is a new offering on the horizon your ears prick up, damn it your whole damn head up – somewhat like a meerkat – and wait eagerly for it to arrive. It’s a truly wonderful feeling. One such author that holds that magic over me is Louise Beech. Her writing never fails to leave me entranced. Her novels are all so different and yet all so wonderful. I can’t tell you how happy I was to receive a proof copy of her latest novel, Call Me Star Girl.
There were three things that sold this novel to me.
The author. The publisher. The synopsis.
Although the fact that it was quoted as being ‘reminiscent of Play Misty For Me, surely one of Clint Eastwood finest and most chilling of films, did catch my attention too. I watched the film again not too long ago and there is still so much I love about it, not least the 70’s music, style and cinematography, but it gives you the feeling that you’re watching a series of events spiralling helplessly out of control. All these factors put together had me feeling this novel was going to be GOOOOD. And Oh my, I wasn’t wrong.
Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech
Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show.
The theme is secrets. You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers. Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after fourteen years. She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father…
What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station, who says he knows who killed the pregnant Victoria Valbon, found brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago.
Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything.
In her writing Louise delves deep into the mind. She looks at cause and effect, how events and trauma shape our personalities and actions. We can never really know what goes on in another’s mind and she shows the dark maze winding deep within each of us; holding endlessfears, desires, doubts and secrets. It is truly powerful. Call Me Star Girl also looks at the darker side of love. The all-consuming love that can rarely end well. The story is dark, creepy and utterly engrossing as Stella’s past and present collide with shattering consequences.
Louise’s characters have this wonderful ability to get inside your head, leading you on with the story, sharing their story, so you are standing right beside them in that dark, god forsaken alley. Atmospheric to say the least, the setting of a radio station through the night provides the perfect backdrop for events to unfold.
Her plotting is superb, the twists and turns leaving you fearful for the outcome but unable to tear yourself away. This is one story that will stay with you; like a whisper it will creep into your thoughts long after you turn the final page.
Absolutely brilliant and thoroughly recommended.
Here is a wee snippet taken from the first few pages…
‘The lights buzzed and flickered. I held my breath. Exhaled when they settled. I would not be spooked by a trickster.
Stella, this will tell you everything.
How did they know what I wanted to know?
What was everything?
I opened the main door, book held tight to my hammering chest. The car park was empty, a weed-logged expanse edged with dying trees. It’s always quiet at this hour of the night. I waited, not sure what I expected to happen – maybe some stranger loitering, hunched over and menacing. They would not scare me.
“I’m not afraid,’ I said it aloud.
Who was I trying to convince?
I set off for home. I usually walk, enjoying the night air after a stuffy studio. I’m not sure why – though now it seems profound – but I paused at the alley that separates the allotment from the Fortune Bingo hall. Bramble bushes tangle there like sweet barbed wire. It’s a long but narrow cut-through that kids ride their bikes too fast along and drunks stagger down when the pub shuts. I rarely walk down there, even though it would make my journey home quicker. The place disturbs me, so I always hurry past, take the long way around, without glancing into the shadows.
I did that night too.
But I looked back. Just once, the strange book pressed against my chest.
It was two weeks before they found the girl there.
Two weeks before I started getting phone calls.
I didn’t know any of that then. If I had, I might have walked a little faster.’
About the Author
Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. the follow-up, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed and critically acclaimed. All four have been #1 kindle bestsellers. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetics Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.
You can follow Louise on Twitter: @LouiseWriter and visit her website here.
Call Me Star Girl is published by Orenda Books on April 18th 2019 which still gives you plenty of time to discover Louise’s previous work if you haven’t yet done so.
Thank you so much to the lovely team at Orenda Books for sending me the proof copy to read and review for an honest opinion.
If you’ve visited my site recently you may well have guessed I’m rather fond of an Agatha Christie story. Growing up I enjoyed watching Hercule Poirot on television (both Peter Ustinov and David Suchet) and I still watch them to this day – I recently enjoyed a very lazy, relaxing afternoon watching back to back Death on the Nile and Evil Under The Sun. I also thoroughly enjoyed the recent BBC adaptation of The ABC Murders. I read my first actual Agatha Christie book about this time eleven years ago. I remember it vividly as I was newly pregnant and suffering from a heavy cold. I was ill enough to need a few days in bed and although my head pounded I just couldn’t stop reading until the book literally fell from my hands.
My delight and enjoyment of her stories has never ceased and although I have seen many adaptations on the screen I haven’t read as many as I would have liked. So I am going to rectify that by signing up for the Read Christie 2019 challenge on the official Agatha Christie website. I thoroughly look forward to discovering some old favourites along with some new tales from the Queen of murder mystery herself.
We begin with The ABC Murders. I know the BBC adaptation has received a mixed bag of responses but personally I really don’t mind how faithful an adaptation is to the original book – I like to see a story from a different perspective. I am intrigued to see the differences though and can’t wait to read the story as Agatha intended it. Already I’m thrilled to find Japp very much alive and Hastings providing the narration.
So my reading pile grows ever larger with new and now classic fiction. I look forward to sharing them with you. Have you read any Agatha Christie before? If so which would you recommend? Do answer in the comments and do let me know if you’re also taking part in the reading challenge.
Poppy Denby is intrigued when she is invited to attend the auction for the Death Mask of Nefertiti. Held on the country estate of Sir James Maddox, a famous explorer, the auction promises to be a controversial and newsworthy affair.
Representatives from the world’s leading museums are gathering to bid on the mask, which was discovered in Egypt. Poppy quickly sniffs out that the mask was not the only thing found that night: the underground chamber also contained a dead body.
Poppy and her colleagues from The Daily Globe, who are trying to stay one step ahead of their rivals from The London Courier, dismiss rumours about the mask’s ancient curse. But when one of the auction party is murdered, and someone starts stalking Poppy, the race is on to find the killer before “the curse” can strike again…
The Cairo Briefis the fourth in the POPPY DENBY INVESTIGATES series but it is the first that I have read. Although some references are made to previous storylines I in no way felt that I was missing vital information so please don’t worry if you’re starting here too. Of course like me, once you’ve read The Cairo Brief, you’ll probably be itching to read the previous three novels too!
I’ve always been a fan of an Agatha Christie type of thriller. I love the gentle (yet deadly), old fashioned mystery that has a host of characters and circumstances expertly woven into the story with many motives and possibilities. I adore trying to work out who the guilty party is and this novel by Fiona Veitch Smith ticks all the boxes for me.
So what’s right about it? Firstly, the time and setting. It has that brilliant 1920’s atmosphere and style. Secondly I love the historical element of the story. Based around antiquities theft, Fiona has drawn on this interesting, controversial and emotive subject to create an intriguing storyline. Do check out her guest article below about Poppy Denby and the murky world of antiquities theft. It makes fascinating reading.
Another important element of this story is how Fiona combines a mixture of fictional and real characters into the story. Bringing authenticity and a sense of the time in which is set. Of course the main protagonist is Poppy herself, our amateur sleuth/journalist who has ‘a nose for murder’. Just like Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple, you know the killer is in trouble if she is around. She’s feisty, courageous and smart, and definitely a woman who knows her own mind. The police are also well written and though we see their own investigation from afar, they aren’t made out to be bumbling fools and but part of a collaboration between journalists and law enforcement to get to the bottom of the crime. I love the way the plot gradually unfolds, with the mystery thickening throughout the novel until it finally reaches it’s climax. Can you work out who did it? If you’re anything like me you may well change your mind several times before the end.
For me this is the perfect novel to curl up on a winters afternoon/evening, perhaps with a glass of mulled wine (or like Poppy, a glass of Sherry) by your side and lose yourself in a little escapism and mystery.
Now read on for some an insight into antiquities theft from author, Fiona Veitch Smith…
Guest Article by Fiona Veitch Smith
Poppy Denby and the Murky World of Antiquities Theft
Think back to the last time you were in the British Museum. Or any national museum in a European or North American country. Did you stand in awe of ancient artefacts from Africa, Asia or South America? Did you wonder how they managed to travel so far from their native lands? Most of these artefacts were collected by European adventurers and archaelogists during the 19th and early 20th centuries, but not all of them were legally acquired.
This is the backdrop to my new Poppy Denby Investigates book: The Cairo Brief.An ancient death mask of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti is up for auction in London. Representatives from some of the world’s leading museums are there to bid for the mask, but so are two people from the Cairo Museum, claiming the mask was stolen and should not be up for sale at all. When one of the auction party is murdered, our intrepid sleuth sets about finding out not only who dunnit, but also how the mask came to be in London in the first place.
As part of my research for writing the book I did a short online course in art and antiquities theft, with the University of Glasgow (Future Learn). I learned about subsistence looting where local people consider ancient artefacts fair game to earn a living. I also learned about some of the convoluted routes that were taken to ‘launder’ artefacts so that when they got to the West they appeared to have come through legitimate channels.
I then went on to do further reading into some of the more controversial antiquities held in Western museums. One of these is the Bust of Nefertiti at the Egyptian Museum of Berlin. This was found by a German archaeologist called Ludwig Borchardt in 1912 and was the springboard for my story in The Cairo Brief. The mask in my story is fictional, but the Borchardt bust of Nefertiti is the real thing. However, up until this day, it is said that the bust was stolen by the Germans and the Egyptians want it back.
Just last year there was a high profile case in America of a Christian arts and crafts chain called Hobby Lobby that was found to have illegally acquired Iraqi artefacts (over 5,000 of them!). They were fined $3million and had to return all the artefacts. The company claimed they were unaware of all the regulations and procedures, but the US Department of Justice said that they had gone ahead with the purchase despite being warned that it may not all be above board.
And then today, just as I was preparing to write this article, I read that a delegation from Easter Island have come to London to beg the British Museum to return one of their statues that was stolen in 1868. It’s a heartrending tale in which the leader of the delegation tearfully told the director of the British Museum: ‘you have our soul’. They have offered to make a replica of the statue, free of charge, in return for the original that is not to the people of the island simply a piece of art, but a part of their national psyche. I will watch this case with interest.
“Twenty thousand pounds! Is that the final offer from New York? Dr Mortimer? Herr Stein? No? All right then, for twenty thousand pounds the death mask of Nefertiti is going… going… gone!” Albert Carnaby, auctioneer in The Cairo Brief.
Fiona Veitch Smith is a writer and university lecturer, based in Newcastle upon Tyne. Her 1920s mystery novel The Jazz Files, the first in the Poppy Denby Investigates Series (Lion Fiction), was shortlisted for the CWA Historical Dagger award in 2016. The second book, The Kill Fee, was a finalist for the Foreword Review mystery novel of the year 2016/17. Book four in the series, The Cairo Brief, has been shortlisted for the People’s Book Prize. For more on the series visit www.poppydenby.com
Many thanks to Fiona for such an interesting article and some great links.
Thank you so much also to Rhoda Hardie for inviting me to take part in this blog tour. I can’t wait to catch up on the previous three Poppy Denby mysteries.
This was my view for the evening on Thursday June 14th 2018. The photograph, taken on my phone, certainly doesn’t do it justice but it gives you an idea. Add to this a constant flow of delicious canapés, Prosecco and a room full of authors all keen to talk about their soon to be published novels and you have a pretty wonderful Thursday evening.
This was of course the Fiction Summer Showcase for HarperCollins imprint, HQ. It is a relatively new imprint within the powerhouse that is HarperCollins and this was their first Showcase. It was wonderful. Not only did everyone have a name badge (saving many an awkward moment) but the room was full of warm, friendly people who were all there because of one common interest – a love of books.
The whole team was lovely and made you feel instantly welcome and at home. It really was a wonderful evening and I returned home not only with a lovely big bag FULL of books but with an unbreakable, Cheshire Cat grin on my face.
HQ – One Place, Many Stories
HQ really do have a wealth of stories coming over the coming months. Something for everyone.
As I walked out of London Bridge Railway Station I was momentarily blown away by my surroundings. This is the first time I had been to this part of London and The Shard looked absolutely stunning reaching up towards the blue, June skies. It actually made me feel dizzy to look up.
After entering The News Building I was whisked up in the lift and emerged onto a floor dedicated to the celebration I was attending this evening. Coats were hung and drinks given. A super start to the evening.
The authors were scattered around the room, along with their books and a themed table that in some way reflected the tale they were telling. A majority had finished copies or proofs whilst others gave just a tantalising glimpse into what is coming later this/early next year.
The House We Called Home by Jenny Oliver
The House where Stella and her sister Amy grew up never changes – the red front door, the breath-taking view over the Cornish coast, her parents in their usual spots on the sofa. Except this summer, things feel a little different…
Stella’s father is nowhere to be seen, yet her mother – in suspiciously new Per Una jeans – is curiously unfazed by his absence, and eager to talk about her mysterious dog-wlaking buddy Mitch.
Amy has returned home with a new boyfriend she can’t stand and a secret to hide, and Stella’s husband Jack has something he wants to get off his chest too. Even Frank Sinatra, the dog, has a guilty air about him. This summer, change is in the air for the Whitethorns….
Warm, funny and gloriously feel-good, this is the perfect summer read for fans of Lucy Diamond and Milly Johnson.
I have to say I was a little star truck upon meeting Wray (the pen name of Sally Gardener – award winning children’s novelist). She has created some wonderful novels/stories for children and so I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to receive a (signed:) proof of her latest novel The Beauty and the Wolf – A timely retelling of Beauty and the Beast, reversing the gender roles of the original fairytale. The proof itself has a stunning purple and gold foil cover and is certainly eye-catching.
In the age of the Faerie Queene, Elizabeth I, a period of ruffles and lace, of wrought velvet and blanched satins, two newborn babies are cursed, one with unimaginable beauty and the other, in its mirror image, a beast. But how could beauty ever be a curse?
Not only will all be blind to Beau’s true self, for all will lust after him but none will have the power to see past such an enchanted face – but the curse shall cause his own father’s death.
Meanwhile the beast, Randa, is locked away in her father’s cellar – lonely and hidden away. She longs for love, but how could anyone ever see past her wings and beak and fierce talons?
Is it possible that these two cursed creatures could be one another’s salvation when all hope is lost?
The Beauty of the Wolf is due to be published on the 21st of February 2019.
After the Snow by Susannah Constantine
Susannah Constantine is a well know TV personality and fashion journalist so it was a treat to meet her in the flesh and hear her chatting about her debut novel, After the Snow. The paperback is due to be published in November but it is available in Hardback if you can’t wait that long. I’m really looking forward to this one AND I know there is another on it’s way from Susannah so I’m doubly excited. She was incredibly warm and friendly and it was an absolute pleasure to meet her, Oh and I discovered she doesn’t live too far away from me. 🙂
All eleven-year-old Esme Munroe wants for Christmas is for her mother to be on one of her ‘good’ days – and, secretly, for a velvet riding hat. So when she finds an assortment of wet towels and dirty plates in her stocking, she’s just relieved Father Christmas remembered to stop at The Lodge this year.
But later that day Esme’s mother disappears in the heavy snow. Even more mysteriously, only the Earl of Culcairn seems to know where she might have gone. Torn between protecting her mother and uncovering the secrets tumbling out of Culcairn Castle’s ornate closets, Esme realises that life will never be the same again after the snow…
Susannah Constantine provides a rare glimpse into the secret lives of the scandalous upper classes. Perfect for fans of ‘Downton Abbey’ and ‘The Crown’.
Now, before I move on I just have to share this from the back cover of the book.
And there was Princess Margaret,
soaking in the bath.
A cigarette dangled in one hand and she clutched her
whisky in the other, her face fully made-up, the rest of
her body hidden beneath the surface.
The soft humming of a popular tune could just be
heard floating up out of a side-window.
‘Lexi and Esme,’ called a velvety voice from below,
‘I know you’re up there. I can see the reflection of your
grubby faces in the mirror.’
The Princess took a sip from her crystal tumbler
and stubbed her cigarette out in the soup dish…
After the Snow will be published in paperback on 15th November 2018 but is out now in hardback
Mr Doubler Begins Again by Seni Glaister
Now thesis one title that I was keen to see/hear more of and the table display made me even more intrigued. I absolutely love the sound of this novel. The synopsis made me think of A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman and the Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick. I don’t mean to compare but it gave me the same warm, lovely feeling. Seni was so lovely to chat to and I really can’t wait to get reading.
Mr Doubler lives alone at Mirth Farm, on top of a hill.
Back when she was around, Doubler’s wife was always surrounded by friends. But Doubler is different. The only company he needs are his potato plants and his housekeeper, Mrs Millwood, who visits every day.
So when Mrs Millwood is taken ill, it suits everything – and Doubler begins to worry that he might have lost his way. But could the kindness of strangers be enough to bring him down from the hill?
Mr Doubler Begins Again will be published on the 24th January 2019 (but I have a feeling this will definitely be worth the wait.)
I Invited Her In by Adele Parks
We are going to have to wait until the 20th of September for I Invited Her In but the good news is that Adele has a wonderful backlist of titles to read first if you haven’t discovered her yet. I’m really excited about this one. It sounds like a super thriller and one that will have me on the edge of my seat. Adele was an absolute pleasure to meet.
‘I invited her in… and she took everything.’
When Mel hears from a long-lost friend in need of help, she doesn’t hesitate to invite her to stay. Mel and Abi were best friends back in the day, sharing the highs and lows of student life, until Mel’s unplanned pregnancy made her drop out of her studies.
Now, seventeen years later, Mel and Abi’s lives couldn’t be more different. Mel is happily married, having raised her son on her own before meeting her husband, Ben. Now they share gorgeous girls and have a chaotic but happy family home, with three children.
Abi, meanwhile, followed her lover to LA for a glamorous life of parties, celebrity and indulgence. Everything was perfect, until she discovered her partner had been cheating on her. Seventeen years wasted, and nothing to show for it. So what Abi needs now is a true friend to lean on, to share her grief over a glass of wine, and to have some time to heal. And what better place than Mel’s house, with her lovely kids, and supportive husband…
This dark, unsettling tale of the reunion of long-lost friends is a thoroughly gripping exploration of wanting what you can’t have, jealousy and revenge.
I Invited Her In by Adele Parks will be published on the 20th of September 2018.
The Path To The Sea by Liz Fenwick
Oh my, it was such a pleasure to meet and chat with Liz. We talked about Cornwall and the joys of research and glorious houses full of stories waiting to be told. And she had the most delicious fudge too. We still have to wait a while for this one as it’s not published until April 2019 but it is definitely one for my reading pile.
The Trewin women all had their secrets but Joan, the matriarch, is keeping hers until her deathbed.
On a summer’s night in 1965, at a party in her glorious cliff-top home in Cornwall, she made a choice…her country or love. The morning after, a body was found at the foot of the cliff path.
But a little girl saw what happened that night. Not only did she witness the awful events played out on the cliff path, she lied and made it worse. And now, decades later, the past is catching up with the Trewin women, as a deathbed confession puts Nicola on the trail of a mystery which has remained undisturbed for fifty year, offering a chance to unpick the past…
No cover for this one as of yet I’m afraid as it’s THAT new.
The Path To The Sea by Liz Fenwick
The Plus One by Sophia Money-Coutts
This looks great fun, light and pure escapism. Perfect for a summer read. I can imagine myself relaxing on a warm, summers day and escaping into this one.
Sophie was incredibly warm and friendly. I think she had fun with this and is looking to make her readers smile. When she signed my copy she said ‘I so hope this makes you laugh!’ and oh my goodness do we need books that do that these days. :). Can’t wait!
The Plus One [n] informal ‘a person who accompanies an invited person to a social function or a reminder of being single, alone and absolutely plus none.’
Polly Spencer is fine. She’s single, turning thirty and only managed to have sex twice last year (both times with a Swedish banker called Fred). but seriously, she’s fine. Even if she’s still stuck at ‘Posh!’ magazine writing about royal babies and the chances of finding a plus one to her best friend’s summer wedding are looking worryingly slim.
But it’s a New Year, a new leaf and all that. Polly’s determined that over the next 365 days she’ll remember to shave her legs, drink less wine and generally get her s**t together. Her latest piece is on the infamous Jasper, Marquess of Milton, undoubtedly neither a plus one nor ‘the one’. She’s heard the stories, there’s no way she’ll succumb to his charms…
The Plus One by Sophia Money-Coutts will be published on the 9th of August 2018.
How to Keep a Secret by Sarah Morgan
This one was just published on the 14th of June. The table was wonderfully decorated with a miniature beach scene – a perfect holiday read and with more to come from Sarah later this year with The Christmas Sisters in November and One Summer in Paris in April 2019. Lots to look forward to from Sarah.
Matriarch Nancy knows she hasn’t been the best mother but how can she ever tell her daughters the reason why? Lauren and Jenna are as close as two sisters can be and they made a pact years ago to keep a devastating secret from their mother – but is it time to come clean?
Lauren’s teenage daughter Mackenzie masks her own pain by keeping her mother at a distance. Her mother, aunt and grandmother keep trying to reach her but will it take a stranger to show her the true meaning of family?
When life changes in an instant, the Stewart women are thrown together for a simmer and suddenly they must relearn how to be a family. And while unravelling their secrets might be their biggest challenge, it could also be their finest moment.
A story about family, being brave and opening up to new love, ‘How to Keep a Secret’ is a feel-good and emotional novel that will keep you hooked until the final page.
How to Keep a Secret by Sarah Morgan was published on the 14th of June 2018.
This was the first Showcase from the HQ team and it was a wonderful evening. The setting and location was perfect and the team warm and welcoming. It can be quite daunting walking into a room full of people but I never felt out of place and always felt welcome. I had met some wonderful people on this sunny evening in London and I came home with a bag full of books. It has created one problem though – I really don’t know what to read first. What I can say is that I’m looking forward to reading each and every one. I look forward to sharing my thoughts on them with you too.
That you HQ for inviting me to your Summer Showcase. I had a fabulous time.
I’m so thrilled to be hosting today’s stop on the blog tour for The Cliff House by Amanda Jennings.
Some friendships are made to be broken
Cornwall, summer of 1986.
The Davenports, with their fast cars and glamorous clothes, living the dream in a breathtaking house overlooking the sea.
If only… thinks sixteen-year-old Tamsyn, her binoculars trained on the perfect family in their perfect home.
If only her life was as perfect as theirs.
If only Edie Davenport would be her friend.
If only she lived at The Cliff House…
Amanda Jennings weaves a haunting tale of obsession, loss and longing, set against the brooding North Cornish coastline, destined to stay with readers long after the final page is turned.
You sit and watch them from the same place you always do.
With my little eye.
The opening lines to this thrilling novel are sinister and full of meaning. The prologue setting the tone of the book from the get go. I read this in two days straight. I loved it. It held my interest and sparked a need in me to find out what happened and who indeed would become the victim in the end. I could feel it coming. The sense of foreboding that ran through the novel like a stream rushing towards the ultimate deluge when all was revealed.
The characterisation was fantastic. The different view points gave an interesting perspective on proceedings never quite allowing me to work out who I should feel sorry for, who was the victim and who was really injecting the posion that threaded its way through the story. I have my theory now but not wishing to spoil the story for you I’ll keep my thoughts to myself. Do message me though if you’d like to know.
The characters are complex, all damaged in their own way. This novel has so many layers. It looks deeply at how past experiences can taint our actions and lives forever but it also looks at how memories are never quite true but heavily influenced by who owns it. The same experience is never equally remembered by two different people and time has the power to change and alter events so that the reality can become grotesque and unbelievable in our self editing minds. We remember what we chose to remember from our own view point.
So what is the story about? The central character for me, is the house itself. Echoing faintly of Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca, The Cliff House not only takes the title but also takes centre stage. It seems to have a life of it’s own and possesses people in an unnatural way that makes them either love or hate it. Jennings has done a wonderful job of creating the atmosphere, providing the contrast of a hot summer in 1986 and the cold, sinister evil that seems to catch hold of both the occupants and visitors of The Cliff House.
As you read you know that things are going to go horribly wrong but you can’t quite work out what or who it will happen to. It was a thrilling read and one that lingers in my mind. I can almost hear the soft lapping of the water as Tamsyn swims through the still, dark water or the ‘caw’ of the raven.
Tamsyn has never recovered from the death of her father six years ago. The whole family have been suspended in their grief, doing all they can do to survive but never quite living. She takes solace in stolen visits to the house she and her father adored from afar when he was alive. The house they crept into to swim in the pool on the day he died. For Tamsyn there was always a part of her father still at the house and there wasn’t anywhere in the world she’d rather be. One day she sneaks back into the house only to be surprised by the early return of the owner and she soon becomes a part of the lives she has spent so long watching and idolising. And so begins a story of obsession and jealousy that can only lead to catastropy.
Amanda Jennings has a beautiful way with words. Her descriptive prose is stunning as she gets to the heart of the way her characters are feeling and sets each scene perfectly.
I turned my attention back to them all as they danced and screeched and smoked and drank. I was mesmerised by it all and relieved I’d stayed and not run back to St Just. This world was Wonderland and I was Alice. The characters around me were as weird and wonderful as the Queen of Hearts and the smoking Caterpillar and the Cheshire Cat’s floating smile. I thought of my father, hear the voices he used when he read me that story. Saw his face twisted into the manic grin of the Mad Hatter as he poured tea on the Dormouse. As I watched them they seemed to grow more fantastical. Their clothes brighter and more outlandish. I watched them pop whole eggs into their mouths, the eggs so tiny it gave the illusion they were giants.
Tamsyn longs to be part of the life at The Cliff House. She longs to run away from the pain and frustration of her family, a family left splintered by the death of her father.
He drags his feet up the stairs. He can never be the man he knows he should be. A man his father would be proud to call his son. While his mother worries about red-topped bills and food in their bellies, what does he do? Kicks around feeling sorry for himself. Moans about unemployment and the government and Tory wankers who live up their own arses. He smokes weed he can’t afford. Apathy is his constant companion, his Peter Pan shadow, sewn to his heels so he can never escape. It’s like he’s slipped into a waking coma. He is numb.
Just wonderful. I especially loved the line ‘Apathy is his constant companion, his Peter Pan shadow, sewn to his heels so he can never escape’
This was a thrilling, exciting read and one that I would thoroughly recommend.
The Cliff Houseis published by HQ, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd in Hardback on the 17th of May 2018.
You can find out more about author Amanda Jennings here.
What 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.