In Case You Missed It by Lindsey Kelk

I’m pleased to share my review for the latest book by bestselling author Lindsey Kelk today. Thank you to Harper Collins for allowing me to read the book early via NetGalley – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the free copy.

My thoughts:

One missed chance in life…one second chance in love

When Ros steps off a plane after three years away, she’s in need of a new job, a new flat and a new start. But her friends have moved on, her parents only have eyes for each other, and her bedroom has been moved into the garden shed. Suddenly, Ros has a bad case of nostalgia for the way things were.

Then her phone begins to ping with messages from her old life. Including one number she thought she’d erased forever: the man who broke her heart.

Sometimes we’d all like the chance to see what we’ve been missing…

My thoughts:

I’ve read and enjoyed many of the books by Lindsey Kelk over the years, and personally I think this is the best.

It is a ‘fun’ book, full of larger than life characters, perfect for enjoying on a summer day. Ros has returned home from the job of a lifetime in the USA (but was it?) and ends up reconnecting with her ex boyfriend by accident when her new phone connects to the cloud after 3 years abroad. Will Patrick make her happy? Will her parents make her live in the shed for the rest of her life? Will her podcast be successful? Will life with the her friends continue just as they did before she left, and who is their new friend?

This book should be enjoyed sat in a sunny garden or park, with a cocktail or a mocktail. Lots of humour, romance, and life changes wrapped up and delivered in this story.

Lindsey Kelk:

Bestselling British author based in Los Angeles. Lover of books, watcher of wrestling, wearer of lipstick. Karaoke enthusiast and cat wrangler. Lindsey is the author of twelve novels, including the bestselling I Heart series, About a Girl, The Single Girl’s To-Do List and Always the Bridesmaid.

OLIVE by Emma Gannon

I’m pleased to share my review for Olive by Emily Gannon on my blog today. Thank you to Harper Collins for a digital review copy via NetGalley – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

Independent.
Adrift.
Anxious.
Loyal.
Kind.
Knows her own mind.

OLIVE is many things, and it’s ok that she’s still figuring it all out, navigating her world without a compass. But life comes with expectations, there are choices to be made, boxes to tick and – sometimes – stereotypes to fulfil. And when her best friends’ lives start to branch away towards marriage and motherhood, leaving the path they’ve always followed together, Olive starts to question her choices – because life according to Olive looks a little bit different.

Moving, memorable and a mirror for every woman at a crossroads, OLIVE has a little bit of all of us. Told with great warmth and nostalgia, this is a modern tale about the obstacle course of adulthood, milestone decisions and the ‘taboo’ about choosing not to have children.

My thoughts:

As a mum of two in her forties, I found this debut novel to be well written and thought provoking. This was the first time I had read a book where the difference between being childless and childfree was discussed in such an honest way.

Olive and her three friends are all on different pathways at the start of the book, can their longtime friendship survive motherhood, IVF and choosing to be childfree? Emma Gannon shows how each friend is facing challenges that their other friends haven’t noticed, and actually need their friends more than ever before.

An impressive debut novel about friendship needing to evolve and making choices. I look forward to reading more by Emma Gannon in the future.

Emma Gannon:

Emma Gannon is an award-winning writer, speaker, Sunday Times columnist and podcaster. Her writing has been published everywhere from The Guardian to Glamour. She is the bestselling author of memoir Ctrl Alt Delete and The Multi-Hyphen Method, which became a Sunday Times bestseller. She is also the host of hit podcast series ‘Ctrl Alt Delete’, the No.1 careers podcast in the UK which has reached almost 6 million downloads, featuring guests such as Ellen Page, Greta Gerwig and Elizabeth Gilbert, plus the first podcast episode recorded inside Buckingham Palace.

Emma is currently working with the Princes Trust and Media Trust charities which helps young people develop their voices in the media. She’s recently been involved with other charities including Women For Women International and Plan International’s ‘Girls Get Equal’.

Emma lives in East London with her partner. Olive is her debut novel

The Shore House by Heidi Hostetter

Today I’m sharing my review for The Shore House which will be published in the UK on July 20th. Thank you to Bookouture for the digital review copy of this book. This is the first book I’ve read by Heidi Hostetter.

Synopsis:

When the Bennett family arrive at the shore house to spend the summer together, they bring more baggage than just suitcases…

When Kaye Bennett, matriarch of the Bennett family, summons her adult children to the shore house, she anticipates a vacation full of nostalgia. It’s a chance to relive the carefree joy of summers past: basking in the hot sun, cooling off in the surf and enjoying long, relaxing evenings watching fireflies on the deck. But when Kaye’s son and daughter arrive, late and uncooperative, it becomes clear the family desperately need to reconnect.

Kaye and her daughter Stacy have been quietly at odds for years and resentment has grown around words unsaid. Faced with spending the summer months in such close quarters, Kaye is determined to remind Stacy of happier times and why she once loved their beautiful beachside home.

But both Kaye and Stacy are holding something back… and only when a heart-stopping moment on the beach puts what Stacy most loves at risk are the two women finally able to set free the secrets in their shared past.

My thoughts:

I enjoyed visiting The Shore House at Dewberry Beach in New Jersey. Heidi Hostetter set the scene beautifully with her descriptions of the area and the food, which left me wishing I could travel there.

This book is about a family who need to take time to deal with events from the past and make plans for the future. All 5 adults have issues to deal with, ranging from recovering from a near death experience to finding a job that makes them happy. This is a family that need to start to communicate with each other again.

I enjoyed reading the book and will look out for the next book in the series (about a different family).

Heidi Hostetter:

Heidi Hostetter grew up in New Jersey and spent summers at her grandparents’ house on the shore. Every magical thing was there, from sparklers and fireflies at night to whole days spent swimming in the ocean and exploring tide pools. She moved to South Carolina for college where Southern culture inspired the Lowcountry novels. Her first job brought her to the Pacific Northwest, where she lived long enough to appreciate the rain and the mountains and to write the Inlet Beach novels. She and her family have recently moved back across the country to the DC-area and live in a one hundred-year-old house that’s definitely haunted.

When she’s not writing – or reading, you can probably find her digging in her garden, ripping back a knitting project, or burning dinner. She’s recently learned to kayak on the Potomac and is always up for a trip to a bookstore, no matter how far away.

Heidi is currently at work on the second book in the New Jersey Shore series. Her writing partner, a labradoodle named Emmett shares her office, keeping a careful watch for errant squirrels and neighborhood shenanigans.

She loves to hear from readers and answers all her own mail. You can find her here:

Facebook Author Page: facebook.com/AuthorHeidiHostetter/
Facebook Reading Group: facebook.com/groups/636728933179573
Goodreads: Goodreads.com/HeidiHostetter
Website: http://www.HeidiHostetter.com
Twitter: @HeidiHostetter

A Ration Book Wedding by Jean Fullerton

I’m pleased to share my review for this historical fiction novel by Jean Fullerton published in May 2020 in the UK by Corvus Books. I enjoyed book three of the series, A Ration Book Childhood, earlier this year (see my review at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/02/19/a-ration-book-childhood-by-jean-fullerton/) and I was keen to continue reading about the Brogan family.

Synopsis:

It’s February 1942 and the Americans have finally joined Britain and its allies. Meanwhile, twenty-three-year-old Francesca Fabrino, like thousands of other women, is doing her bit for the war effort in a factory in East London. But her thoughts are constantly occupied by her unrequited love for Charlie Brogan, who has recently married a woman of questionable reputation, before being shipped out to North Africa with the Eighth Army.

When Francesca starts a new job as an Italian translator for the BBC Overseas Department, she meets handsome Count Leonardo D’Angelo. Just as Francesca has begun to put her hopeless love for Charlie to one side and embrace the affections of this charming and impressive man, Charlie returns from the front, his marriage in ruins and his heart burning for Francesca at last. Could she, a good Catholic girl, countenance an illicit affair with the man she has always longed for? Or should she choose a different, less dangerous path?

My thoughts:

Having read and enjoyed A Ration Book Childhood back in February 2020, it was great to catch up with the Brogan family as they prepared for the wedding of Jo and Tommy. I was able to read book three without having read the previous books, and I’m sure the same could be said about book four if you haven’t read the previous books. However I do recommend reading the earlier books if you can.

Although the book has wedding in the title, a great deal of the story looks at how Charlie’s marriage is falling apart and how the Brogan family are coping with the repeated bombings in London and the lack of food. I love the small details in the story used to bring wartime London to life – the food, the clothes, the sounds during the bombing etc.

I’m assuming that this is the last in the series, but personally I would love to know more about the Brogan family. If you enjoy historical fiction set during World War 2, then I recommend treating yourself to a copy – hopefully you will enjoy it as much as I did.

Jean Fullerton:

I was born into a large, East End family and grew up in the overcrowded streets clustered around the Tower of London. I still live in East London, just five miles from where I was born. I feel that it is that my background that gives my historical East London stories their distinctive authenticity.

I first fell in love with history at school when I read Anya Seton’s book Katherine. Since then I have read everything I can about English history but I am particularly fascinated by the 18th and 19th century and my books are set in this period. I just love my native city and the East End in particular which is why I write stories to bring that vibrant area of London alive.

I am also passionate about historical accuracy and I enjoy researching the details almost as much as weaving the story. If one of my characters walks down a street you can be assured that that street actually existed. Take a look at Jean’s East End and see the actual location where my characters played out their stories.

Homeward Bound by Richard Smith

I’m pleased to share my review for Homeward Bound as part of the blog tour organised by Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources. Thank you to Matador Books for a copy of this book – my thoughts about the book are my own. This is a debut novel and one I’m happy to recommend.

Synopsis:

Homeward Bound features 79-year-old grandfather George, who didn’t quite make it as a rock star in the ‘60s. He’s expected to be in retirement but in truth he’s not ready to close the lid on his dreams and will do anything for a last chance. When he finds himself on a tour of retirement homes instead of a cream tea at the seaside his family has promised, it seems his story might prematurely be over. 

He finds the answer by inviting Tara, his 18-year-old granddaughter, to share his house, along with his memories and vast collection of records. She is an aspiring musician as well, although her idea of music is not George’s. What unfolds are clashes and unlikely parallels between the generations – neither knows nor cares how to use a dishwasher – as they both chase their ambitions. 

My thoughts:

Having read the blurb on the back of the book, I was keen to find out more. This is the third book I’ve read this year with an elderly protagonist – the other books being Saving Missy and Away with the Penguins.

The story looks at George and his family after the recent loss of his wife. His son-in-law, the obnoxious Toby, is desperate to put his father-in-law into a retirement home. George finds a compromise by inviting his granddaughter Tara to share his house near her new University so she can keep an eye on him and report back to her mum, Bridget.

During the story, we find out more about how George’s dreams and ambitions in the music world were derailed, how Tara needs to find her own path in life (and not be railroaded by her boyfriend) and how Bridget needs to find some happiness. Tara and George develop a new relationship, based on their enjoyment of music.

There are lots of funny moments to make you laugh out loud but also heartbreaking moments too. As readers of my reviews know, I always appreciate a dog being included in the story and George has Hunter, his ageing Labrador. I also thoroughly enjoyed the music references and found myself watching Homeward Bound by Paul Simon on You Tube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHI2nWdRdXw

This is a book I’m happy to recommend as a feel good but thought provoking read. Ideal for all ages.

Purchase Links 

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/homeward-bound-richard-smith/1136313433?ean=2940163088645

https://www.waterstones.com/book/homeward-bound/richard-smith/9781838591595

https://www.ink84bookshop.co.uk/product-page/homeward-bound-by-richard-smith

The author – Richard Smith:

Richard Smith is a writer and storyteller for sponsored films and commercials, with subjects as varied as caring for the elderly, teenage pregnancies, communities in the Niger delta, anti- drug campaigns and fighting organised crime. Their aim has been to make a positive difference, but, worryingly, two commercials he worked on featured in a British Library exhibition, ‘Propaganda’.

@RichardWrites2    

richardsmithwrites.com





View all my reviews

The Village Shop for Lonely Hearts by Alison Sherlock #blogtour

I’m thrilled to share my review for this uplifting new book by Alison Sherlock on my book review blog today. Thank you to Boldwood Books and Rachel’s Random Resources for the digital proof copy – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

After losing her job in New York, Amber Green isn’t looking forward to visiting her godmother in the sleepy village of Cranbridge. With its empty lanes and rundown shops, it’s hardly a place to mend her lonely heart.

But when Amber discovers that Cranbridge Stores, owned by her godmother Cathy and son Josh, is under threat of financial ruin, she realises that her skills as a window dresser might just be able to help save the struggling shop.

When disaster strikes, Amber and Josh must unite to save both the shop and the village from flooding.

Can Cranbridge Stores become the heart of the village once more?

And as the village begins to come back to life, perhaps Amber will discover a reason to stay…

My thoughts:

This is the first book I’ve read by Alison Sherlock and it won’t be the last. This is a book about finding the right place to be, which may not be the one you originally planned.

I live near to the Cotswolds, where the book is set and this book was a lovely escape from the current anxious world that we live in. Amber and Josh are both looking at their lives to see why their intended career paths have changed so much. As they work together to modernise the shop and to help out the local community during a flood, they start to discover that they may have more in common than they expected.

This was an uplifting read during the global pandemic – a book to curl up with for a ‘virtual hug’. I enjoyed the community spirit of the book and the gentle humour of the characters. I hope we will be able to visit Cranbridge again in future books.

Alison Sherlock:

Alison Sherlock is the author of the bestselling Willow Tree Hall books. Alison enjoyed reading and writing stories from an early age and gave up office life to follow her dream. Her new series for Boldwood is set in a fictional Cotswold Village and the first title will be published in July 2020.

Social Media Links – 

Twitter https://twitter.com/AlisonSherlock

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/alison.sherlock.73

Bookbub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/alison-sherlock

Purchase Links – https://amzn.to/2VPGfzh

The curious case of maggie macbeth by Stacey Murray

I’m bursting with excitement to share my review as part of the blog tour for this debut novel by Stacey Murray today. Thanks to Lizzie Lewis at RedDoor Press for a copy of the book, my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the free gift or by the fact there is a dog on the book cover.

Synopsis:

Sometimes you have to take the law into your own hands…


After unexpectedly losing her high-powered job in Hong Kong, forty-something widow, Maggie Macbeth, turns up on the doorstep of her old sidekick, Cath, in the sleepy Peak District village of Archdale.

A fish out of water, Maggie comes into conflict with everyone and everything — especially Cath’s awful friend Tiggy – and rock bottom is just around the corner. But it turns out Maggie isn’t the only one in trouble, and when a crisis hits the local community, Maggie has a choice: to give up on life, or to go back to her legal roots and fight for justice. But can she save the day as well as herself?

My thoughts:

Having grown up in South Yorkshire and visited the Peak District on many occasions, I enjoyed my virtual visit to the virtual village of Archdale during the early summer of 2020 to meet Maggie, Cath and so many more wonderful characters created by Stacey Murray.

As the blurb on the back of the book points out, Maggie has left her high powered job in Hong Kong and is now staying with an old friend in a sleepy village in England. Initially it was difficult to warm to Maggie, who seemed to be overstaying her welcome at Cath’s and was reluctant to be helpful.

However as the story progressed, we discovered more about Maggie, the heartbreak she had suffered and how she needed time to rediscover herself. Then it was time for Maggie to help her friend Cath, plus many of the new people she had met in Archdale.

The book covers a lot of topics, some of them heartbreaking, as we discover what has happened in the past for Maggie, Cath and Rob. However, the book looks at how they all move forward with help of the local community.

I loved the humour, especially when Maggie spends time with Tiggy. Another excellent addition to the story is Jazz – all the best books include at least one dog. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story about friendship and love, and will be recommending it to friends and family.

Stacey Murray:

A native of Glasgow, Stacey Murray was an international commercial lawyer for many years – in the City of London and in Hong Kong. In 2005, she changed career to become an independent film producer. Her first film, A Boy Called Dad, was acquired by the BBC and nominated for the Michael Powell Award for Best British Film at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. She lives in hope – literally, in the village of Hope in the Derbyshire Peak District – with her husband and two rescue dogs. Twitter is her social media drug of choice: her handle is @TheStacemeister.

Here and Now by Santa Montefiore

I’m pleased to share my review for the latest book by Santa Montefiore on my book blog today. Thank you to Simon and Schuster for a digital review copy – my thoughts are my own and and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

Marigold has spent her life taking care of those around her, juggling family life with the running of the local shop, and being an all-round leader in her quiet yet welcoming community. When she finds herself forgetting things, everyone quickly puts it down to her age. But something about Marigold isn’t quite right, and it’s becoming harder for people to ignore.

As Marigold’s condition worsens, for the first time in their lives her family must find ways to care for the woman who has always cared for them. Desperate to show their support, the local community come together to celebrate Marigold, and to show her that losing your memories doesn’t matter, when there are people who will remember them for you . . .

Evocative, emotional and full of life, Here and Now is the most moving book you’ll read this year – from Sunday Times bestselling author Santa Montefiore.

My thoughts:

Occasionally I become so involved in an emotional story that I find myself crying. The last book to do that was The Sight of You by Holly Miller (reviewed at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/06/08/the-sight-of-you-by-holly-miller/ ) until I read the last few pages of Here and Now and found myself properly crying – this was not just moist eyes, but proper tears. So my first suggestion is when you buy the book (because you should), is to stock up on tissues too.

This is the first book I’ve read by Santa Montefiore and before you ask, I’m not sure why either. I requested the review copy via NetGalley back in March as the UK headed into lockdown and Simon and Schuster kindly approved it.

Marigold is a wonderful character, much loved by her family and neighbours and community. The way the story is written to show how her little episodes of forgetfulness become more serious is a heartbreaking tale uplifted by how her family and friends help her to stay happy. Marigold has been looking after her mum, her husband and daughters for many years, now they need to work together to help her.

The book is beautifully written, full of wonderful characters, some happy and some grumpy (Nan), humour (moles, christmas puddings etc), love (pink roses) and romance. At the time of reading this in July 2020, many of us are currently anxious about the global pandemic, a virus we cannot see whilst we also have an unseen condition which steals the memory of people that we currently cannot protect ourselves from. However, as the title suggests, we need to live in the here and now, to enjoy the small things – the birds singing, the food we eat, time with family and friends.

Thank you to Santa Montefiore for this wonderful story, I look forward to reading more of your books in the future.

Santa Montefiore (taken from Amazon):

Hi, I’m Santa Montefiore and I’ve been writing a novel a year for nineteen years now, which is quite astonishing as I didn’t really think beyond the first book, which took me five years to write. I didn’t think I had another in me, but here I am, celebrating my eighteenth and polishing my nineteenth for publication next year! Most of my novels are set partly in England and partly in a beautiful location, like Argentina, Italy or France. I write primarily for myself so I figure, as I’m going to be living in my imagination for the best part of six months, I might as well choose somewhere lovely. I adore nature, so I tend to plant my characters in rural settlings – by the sea or in the countryside – and most of them are stand alone, except Last Voyage of the Valentina and The Italian Matchmaker, and my recent trilogy, The Deverill Chronicles, which is set in Ireland from 1910 to the sixties. I love writing. I’ve always enjoyed stories, both reading them and writing them. I can’t imagine life without them. Not only are they entertaining, but they teach us so much about life – and enable us to live vicariously through characters who experience more drama than we do! I’m emotional. I love to be moved. There’s nothing better than sinking into a novel and empathising with the characters as they journey through the novel, experiencing both ups and downs…I love to laugh and cry and I want the book to stay with me after I’ve turned the last page. I don’t need a happy ending, but I need a satisfactory one. I hope I deliver satisfactory endings in my own novels.

I also write children’s books with my husband, Simon Sebag-Montefiore. The series is The Royal Rabbits of London, about a secret society of MI5 style rabbits who live beneath Buckingham Palace and protect the Royal Family from evil. Our son came up with the idea when he was six years old and it’s now being made into a movie by 20th Century Fox, which is beyond exciting. To see our characters in animation will be magical.

I live in London but rent a cottage in Hampshire, which is where I bolt to when I can no longer take the pace of the city and need to spend time in nature to find peace. We have two children, our daughter Lily and our son Sasha. We also have a Labrador called Simba who is definitely the most spoiled member of the family. My husband Simon is a historian, novelist and broadcaster. We manage to live and work in the same house without killing each other. My favourite place to write is at the kitchen table because it’s near the kettle and the fridge. If I start a packet of biscuits I can’t stop so I try not to start… but marmite toast is another matter, and a very serious one; nothing can separate me from that.


Visit me at http://www.santamontefiore.co.uk and sign up for my newsletter which I try to write every month, but sometimes struggle, so please forgive me if I miss one or two!

Queen Bee by Jane Fallon


I’m pleased to share my review of the latest book by Jane Fallon today. Thank you to Penguin UK -Michael Joseph for a digital review copy via NetGalley, my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. The book was published in the UK on 9th July 2020.

Synopsis:

Welcome to The Close – a beautiful street of mansions, where gorgeous Stella is the indisputable Queen Bee . . .

It is here that Laura, seeking peace and privacy after her marriage falls apart, rents a tiny studio. Unfortunately, her arrival upsets suspicious Stella – who fears Laura has designs on her fiancé, Al.

When Laura stumbles on the big secret Al is hiding, suddenly Stella’s perfectly controlled world, not to mention Laura’s future, are threatened.

Taking a chance on beating Al at his own twisted game, these two former strangers are fast becoming best friends.

But has Laura forgotten that revenge never comes without a sting in the tail?

My thoughts:


I’ve read a few Jane Fallon novels over the years and enjoyed them, so I was pleased to receive a digital review copy back in January 2020. As lockdown hit the UK in March, the publication date was moved to July 2020 and I only read the book in June. Sadly, this was my loss as this is an enjoyable book.

This is a no spoiler review so I will be careful not to spoil any of the surprises in store for the characters. Laura has moved into The Close, a ‘posh’ area after splitting up with her husband and needing somewhere to rent – she is in the ‘servants flat’ owned by Gail and Ben. Laura is an entrepreneur – running her own cleaning company and employing a number of staff. The people she meets in The Close lead very different lifestyles and probably wouldn’t know what a vacuum cleaner was.

One of the residents is Stella, who with her two mini me daughters, aren’t nice to Laura and her daughter. However due to a series of events, Laura and Stella suddenly find that they have more in common than they ever expected.

I really enjoyed the book and likened it to a modern day Downton Abbey – where the ‘rich’ people have no idea how the majority of people live – everything is done for them. I laughed out loud at the ‘pizza in the oven’ story.

The Close is full of secrets and I enjoyed how Jane Fallon shared them one by one, changing your opinion about some of the characters as the story unfolded. There is so much more that I would love to share about the book but I don’t want to give any spoilers. I recommend this for your staycation 2020 summer read.

Jane Fallon:

Jane Fallon is an English producer and novelist, most famous for her work on popular series Teachers, 20 Things To Do Before You’re 30, Eastenders and This Life. She has also written many successful novels.

Fallon has been in a relationship with popular comedian Ricky Gervais since 1982, after they met while studying together at the University College London. The couple has lived together since 1984 and are based in North London.


View all my reviews

The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor

Today I’m absolutely thrilled to share my review for this stunning debut novel on my book blog today. Thank you to Jess Barratt at Scribner, a Simon and Schuster UK imprint, for this gorgeous proof copy – my thoughts about the book are all my own and not influenced by the gift. I will be treating myself to a hardback copy of the book, which will now include a sticker to confirm that this has been picked as a Radio 2 Book Club book.

Synopsis:

July, 1962
 
Sixteen year-old Evie Epworth stands on the cusp of womanhood. But what kind of a woman will she become?
 
The fastest milk bottle-delivery girl in East Yorkshire, Evie is tall as a tree and hot as the desert sand. She dreams of an independent life lived under the bright lights of London (or Leeds). The two posters of Adam Faith on her bedroom wall (‘brooding Adam’ and ‘sophisticated Adam’) offer wise counsel about a future beyond rural East Yorkshire. Her role models are Charlotte Bronte, Shirley MacLaine and the Queen. But, before she can decide on a career, she must first deal with the malign presence of her future step-mother, the manipulative and money-grubbing Christine.
 
If Evie can rescue her bereaved father, Arthur, from Christine’s pink and over-perfumed clutches, and save the farmhouse from being sold off then maybe she can move on with her own life and finally work out exactly who it is she is meant to be.  
 
Moving, inventive and richly comic, The Miseducation of Evie Epworth is the most joyful debut novel of the year and the best thing to have come out of Yorkshire since Wensleydale cheese.  

My thoughts:

As a Yorkshire lass, who was born in Sheffield, grew up in Rotherham, and attended University in Huddersfield and Leeds, I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to read this book early – described as the ‘best thing to come out of Yorkshire since Wensleydale cheese’. So did it live up to the claim?

The book starts with an introduction to Evie, who has just finished her last ‘O’ level exam (GCSE equivalent to those of you younger than 40) and is driving her dad’s MG. By page 5, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry as Evie saw old Mr Hughes – this has to be the most unusual start to a book I’ve ever read – please don’t eat or drink whilst reading the first chapter.

I’m not going to give a round up of what happens in the story – I am going to tell you is why you should buy it. I loved the way the characters developed, how Evie deals with the prospect of having Christine as a step mum and helps her neighbours reconnect. This is a book that also made me realise how much life has changed for the young people of today in terms of career opportunities and life choices.

This year has been a challenging year for many of us with the anxiety of a global pandemic, and this book was a chance to escape and to laugh out loud. My mum would have been slightly older than Evie and I’m much younger than Evie, but lots of the Yorkshire phrases and characters seemed so familiar from my own experiences and stories from my mum. I read the Adrian Mole books back in the day (and watched the TV series) and this is so much funnier.

In addition to the humour, the attention to detail was superb – the descriptions of rooms, clothes, music and food etc. My favourite chapters included a visit to the Royal Beverly hotel (chapter 5), the village fete (chapter 12), a trip to Leeds with Caroline (chapter 14) and starting work at the hairdressers (chapter 16), all building up nicely to the finale.

This is a stunning debut novel and I’m pleased to hear that another novel is underway. After reading the novel, I’ve enjoyed discovering the Betty’s website and the music of Adam Faith (he was an actor in my day). I’m happy to confirm that this book is better than Wensleydale cheese (and I do love a good piece of Wensleydale with cranberries). My recommendation is to order the book and some Fat Rascals from Betty’s, find a comfortable chair, turn off your phone and enjoy revisiting the summer of 1962 with Evie. This is currently my favourite book of 2020.

Matson Taylor:

Matson Taylor grew up in Yorkshire (the flat part not the Brontë part). He comes from farming stock and spent an idyllic childhood surrounded by horses, cows, bicycles, and cheap ice-cream. His father, a York City and Halifax Town footballer, has never forgiven him for getting on the school rugby team but not getting anywhere near the school football team.

Matson now lives in London, where he is a design historian and academic writing tutor at the V&A, Imperial College and the Royal College of Art. Previously, he talked his way into various jobs at universities and museums around the world; he has also worked on Camden Market, appeared in an Italian TV commercial and been a pronunciation coach for Catalan opera singers. He gets back to Yorkshire as much as possible, mainly to see family and friends but also to get a reasonably-priced haircut.

He has always loved telling stories and, after writing academically about beaded flapper dresses and World War 2 glow-in-the-dark fascinators, he decided to enrol on the Faber Academy ‘Writing A Novel’ course. The Miseducation of Evie Epworth is his first novel. 

Matson has also put a playlist together for the book – to be found at https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4LzC95vqQAuZMKJ2WZtF5i?si=Vu9Tl88DT9yMx5kt0UBDWQ