Until We’re Fish by Susannah R Drissi

Today I’m pleased to be sharing my thoughts about Until We’re Fish by Susannah R Drissi as part of the blog tour organised by Anne Cater of Random Things Tours and Propertius Press. Thank you to Susannah for a signed copy of the book, sent from California. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

A man can be destroyed but never defeated.

Stunning and elegiac, Susannah Rodríguez Drissi’s debut novel Until We’re Fish juxtaposes vivid landscapes, brilliant, playful meditations on life, and penetrating insights into the human heart, to richly bring to life the story of rapscallion dreamer Elio, a Cuban teen whose unbridled confidence is severely tested after a near-fatal shark attack.

Elio longs for freedom from the dreary home he shares with his mother. He spends his days and nights fantasizing about an American bike and Maria, his vivacious next-door neighbor. Two obstacles stand in his way: the 1959 Cuban Revolution and Maria’s dream of moving to Chicago. Yet Elio is steadfast in believing that somehow, some way he will get both the girl and the Schwinn. When an injury leaves him terrified of the sea, he’s faced with an impossible choice: to overcome his fear and do whatever it takes to realize his vision, or to stay safe, and risk losing everything he’s been living for. 

An unforgettable coming-of-age story, Until We’re Fish blends the romance, violence, mood, and ethos of the Cuban Revolution with a young man’s hopeless and heroic first love. With the truth of experience and the lyricism of poetry, Rodríguez Drissi constructs an exquisite, gossamer tale of revolution and hearts set adrift. A Don Quixote for our times, Until We’re Fish is an intimate exploration into the souls of people willing to sacrifice everything to be free.  

My thoughts:

This beautifully written book starts in 1959, as young Elio deals with being being abandoned by his father, who has travelled to the USA to find fame and fortune. Elio suffers an injury at the beach and loses his nerve for swimming in the sea.

The book follows Elio, Pepe and Maria, as they grow up and start work in Cuba as the revolution changes the lives of the Cubans. Maria dreams of moving to Chicago but Elio doesn’t want to leave. The book is a blend of a coming of age story and a historical fiction novel. Would they stay or would they try to flee to the USA, to be able to live the consumer dream (Maria was obsessed with the Sears catalogue as a teenager).

This is a complex story, with Elio, Pepe and Maria on a variety of life journeys through over 30 years. I was engrossed by the story and enjoyed my virtual visit to Cuba, a world very different to England, especially during this time period. A book for both history and travel fans.

Author Bio:

Susannah Rodríguez Drissi, PhD is an award-winning Cuban-born poet, writer, playwright, translator, director, producer, and scholar. She is Faculty in Writing Programs
at UCLA, Affiliate Scholar in UC-Cuba Program Initiative, and Associate Literary Editor for Cuba Counterpoints,Cuban and Caribbean Research Studies Institute. As a 1.5-generation writer (born in Cuba in the 1970s, but coming of age in the US), Rodríguez Drissi writes about Cuba through a double lens—from the vantage point of the native and also from the benefit of a temporal and geographical distance.

Her poems, short stories, creative nonfiction, and reviews have appeared in anthologies such as In Season—Stories of Discovery, Loss, Home, and Places in Between (2018 Florida Book Award Winner); and journals such as the Los Angeles Review of Books, Saw Palm, Literal Magazine, Diario de Cuba (Madrid), SX Salon, Raising Mothers, Acentos Review, Cuba Counterpoints, among other journals. Following readings at the University of California, Irvine and the University of
California, Los Angeles, her award-winning play, Houses Without Walls, premiered at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in 2018. More recently, her short plays, The Fruit Flies and Rey y Atenea were selected to the 2019 Short+Sweet Theatre Festival and premiered at the Lee Strasberg Film & Theatre Institute, in Los Angeles. Rey y Atenea received an Audience Choice Award and was Finalist for the 2019 NBC Universal Talent Infusion Programs Award.

She is the author of the poetry collection The Latin Poet’s Guide to the Cosmos (Floricanto Press, 2019) and Rey y Atenea / Rey and Atenea, a Bilingual Edition (Cassandra Press, 2019). Her musical, Radio Nocturno, El Musical, wasscheduled to premiere at Miami Dade College’s Koubek Center, on August 6th, 2020, directed by Victoria Collado (John Leguizamo’s Latin History for Morons), musical direction by Jesse Sanchez (Hamilton, national tour), and produced by George Cabrera (Broadway Factor). The production was postponed due to COVID-19 and is now planned for August 2021.

Learn more at susannahrodriguezdrissi.com

The German Girl by Lily Graham

Today I’m pleased to be sharing my thoughts about the The German Girl by Lily Graham, published in ebook today by Bookouture. Thanks to Sarah Hardy for the invite to join the blog tour and for the free digital copy. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

‘Our parents were taken. And if we go home, the Nazis will take us too…’

Hamburg 1938. Fifteen-year-old Asta is hurrying home from school with her twin brother Jurgen. The mood in the city is tense – synagogues have been smashed with sledgehammers, and Asta is too frightened to laugh as she used to.

But when she and Jurgen are stopped in the street by a friend, her world implodes further. Her Jewish parents have been dragged into the streets by German soldiers and if she and Jurgen return to their house, they will be taken too.

Heartbroken at the loss of her parents, Asta knows they must flee. With her beloved brother, she must make the perilous journey across Germany and into Denmark to reach their only surviving relative, her aunt Trine, a woman they barely know.

Jammed into a truck with other refugees, Asta prays for a miracle to save herself and Jurgen. Crossing the border is a crime punishable by death, and what she and Jurgen must embark on a dangerous crossing on foot, through the snowy forest dividing Germany and Denmark. And when barking dogs and armed soldiers find Jurgen and Asta escapes, she must hold on to hope no matter what. One day she will find her twin, the other half of herself. Whatever the price she has to pay…

A gripping and poignant read that will break your heart and give you hope. Fans of Fiona Valpy, Kristin Hannah and Catherine Hokin will be gripped by the story of a brave brother and sister seeking safety during one of the darkest times in our history.  

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this book, my first historical fiction read of 2021 and a new author discovered. Lily Graham has set a high bar for the other historical fiction authors to reach, with great characters and emotive writing in this book.

The story starts in Sweden in 1995, when Ingrid is making changes to her life, including checking on her grandfather Jürgen. However she discovers that Jürgen is not who she has always thought he was. We travel back in time to Hamburg in the 1930’s to find out what happened to Asta, Jürgen and their family as the Nazi party tried to remove all the Jewish people in Western Europe.

I flew through the story, and found myself unable to put my Kindle down, wanting to find out what happened next. As usual in historical fiction novels set during this time period, there is a lot of tragedy and heartbreak, but there are also some lighter moments too. I’m happy to recommend the book to readers of my book blog and I will be looking to read more books by Lily Graham in the future.

Author Bio:

Lily has been telling stories since she was a child, starting with her imaginary rabbit, Stephanus, and their adventures in the enchanted peach tree in her garden, which she envisioned as a magical portal to Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree. She’s never really got out of the habit of making things up, and still thinks of Stephanus rather fondly.

She lives with her husband and her English bulldog, Fudge, and brings her love for the sea and country-living to her fiction.

https://twitter.com/lilygrahambooks

https://www.facebook.com/LilyRoseGrahamAuthor/

Buy Links:
Amazon: http://bit.ly/3b2aGdL

The Photographer of the Lost by Caroline Scott

Today I’m sharing my thoughts about Caroline Scott’s debut novel, which was published by Simon and Schuster UK in hardback in 2019 and in paperback in June 2020.

Synopsis:

If someone you loved when missing, would you ever stop searching for them?

1921. The Great War is over and while many survivors have been reunited with their loved ones, Edie’s husband Francis has not come home. He was declared ‘missing, believed killed’, but when Edie receives a mysterious photograph in the post, taken by Francis, hope flares. And so she begins to search. 

Francis’ brother, Harry, is also searching. Hired by grieving families to photograph gravesites, he has returned to the Western Front. He too longs for Francis to be alive, so they can forgive each other for the last conversation they ever had. 

As Harry and Edith’s path converge, they begin to get closer to a startling truth.

My thoughts:

I purchased this book back in June 2020 from Bert’s Books but only started reading it during the first weekend of Lockdown 2 which was also Remembrance weekend. As readers of my book review blog may remember, I recently read and reviewed Caroline’s latest book, When I Come Home Again (https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/10/31/when-i-come-home-again-by-caroline-scott/)

The photographer from the title of the book is Harry, who went to war with both his brothers but was the only one to return to England. As the story develops, we discover more about Harry’s relationships with his family and what happened in France and Belgium. Harry takes photos for other families who are looking for their loved ones who have been declared as Missing In Action or who have died.

The book is heartbreaking in places but is beautifully written by Caroline Scott, who conveys the horrors of World War 1 and the aftermath with care. Was a Missing In Action telegram more cruel than a Died in Service telegram, due to the continued hope of seeing a loved one alive again?

A five star read for me.

The Forgotten Sister by Nicola Cornick

Today I’m sharing another one of my 5 star reviews from earlier this year.

One woman’s secret will shape another’s destiny…

1560: Amy Robsart is trapped in a loveless marriage to Robert Dudley, a member of the court of Queen Elizabeth I. Surrounded by enemies and with nowhere left to turn, Amy hatches a desperate scheme to escape – one with devastating consequences that will echo through the centuries…

Present Day: When Lizzie Kingdom is forced to withdraw from the public eye in a blaze of scandal, it seems her life is over. But she’s about to encounter a young man, Johnny Robsart, whose fate will interlace with hers in the most unexpected of ways. For Johnny is certain that Lizzie is linked to a terrible secret dating back to Tudor times. If Lizzie is brave enough to go in search of the truth, then what she discovers will change the course of their lives forever.

Moving between the Tudor era and the present day,The Forgotten Sister draws on one of history’s most compelling mysteries.

My thoughts:

Thank you to Nicola Cornick for a copy of the proof of this beautiful book from a Twitter competition – my thoughts are my own. This is the first book I’ve read by Nicola and it won’t be the last (I have some more sat on my Kindle ready to read).

Tudor England is an interesting historical time – so many changes in who has the Crown and which religion to support in a relatively short space of time. Despite having studied Tudor England at school over 30 years ago, I must admit that I knew nothing about Robert Dudley and Amy Robert before reading this book.

I loved visiting both time periods in this story. Amy was trapped in a life where she loved a man but her love wasn’t reciprocated. Lizzie is trapped in a celebrity lifestyle where she is told what to do and who to see. Both Amy and Lizzie aren’t sure who they can trust and are looking for ways to escape their current situations.

Nicola Cornick has interwoven the two stories beautifully. Both are full of secrets, scandal, family issues and a desire to escape to a simpler life. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and will be recommending it to family and friends.


Nicola Cornick:

International bestselling author Nicola Cornick writes dual-time historical mysteries that draw on her love for genealogy and local history. She studied History at London and Oxford and worked in academia for a number of years before becoming a full time author. Nicola acts as a guide and researcher at the stunning 17th century hunting lodge, Ashdown House and is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Friends of Lydiard Park in Swindon. She gives talks and tours on a variety of historical topics.

Nicola lives near Oxford and loves reading, writing, history, music, wildlife, travel and walking her dog. She also loves hearing from her readers and chatting to them. She can also be found on Facebook, Twitter @NicolaCornick and Instagram.




View all my reviews

War in the Valleys by Francesca Capaldi

I’m pleased to be sharing my review for the second book set in Dorcalon in Rhymney Valley, Wales by Frances Capaldi. Thank you to Sarah Hardy from Book on the Bright Side Publicity for inviting me to join the blog tour and to Hera Books for a digital copy via NetGalley. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

WW1 marches on, but Violet faces her own battle at home

July 1916. Young mother, Violet Jones, lives a tough life in the Rhymney Valley, caring for 4-year-old Clarice and baby Benjy on her own while soldier husband Charlie fights on the Front Line. But when tragedy strikes, Violet’s life becomes even harder.

While they may be far from the battlefields, the effects of WW1 take their toll on the small mining community of Dorcalon, with food becoming scarce and more and more of their young men losing their lives.

With very little money coming in, and two babies to care for, Violet takes in a relative to help make ends meet. But far from easing her burden, it might turn out to be the worst decision she’s made.

As the Great War takes its toll on the nation, Violet faces her own battle. All alone in the world, can she protect her children, and herself? And will she ever find joy out of the depths of despair?

A captivating, emotional saga set in WW1 – will tug on your heart-strings and bring a tear to your eye. If you like Nadine Dorries, Rosie Goodwin or Sheila Newbury you will adore this beautiful Welsh saga.

Please check out the other reviews and Q&A sessions provided by the fabulous bloggers listed below.

My thoughts:

Back in June 2020, I shared my review for the debut novel by Francesca Capaldi, Heartbreak in the Valley (https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/06/13/blog-tour-for-heartbreak-in-the-valley-by-frances-capaldi/). War in the Valleys takes us back to Dorcalon in Rhymney Valley, starting a couple of months later.

I enjoyed returning to meet the characters, to find out what had happened after the explosion in the mine and the police investigation into racketeering. The primary focus of the first book was Anwen, in this book we find out more about Violet, one of her best friends.

Violet has to deal with loss and a lack of money. Sadly, someone who claims to be ready to help her, is actually trying to undermine her and is making her life more difficult. Violet needs her friends more than ever, but they are also busy dealing with an unexpected addition to the family and working long shifts in a munitions factory.

The losses of local men on the battlefields and down the mine, the lack of food and the poverty could make this a depressing read, but the story is full of community spirit and some humorous moments. I must admit that this is my favourite book of the series, possibly because I knew the characters better this time.

As the granddaughter of a miner, I’m enjoying the series. Thank you Francesca for another well written journey back in time.

Author Bio:

Several years ago, Francesca Capaldi pursued a childhood dream and joined a creative writing class. Lots of published short stories, a serial, and four pocket novels later, she’s now explored her mother’s ancestral history for a series of novels set in a Welsh colliery village. A history graduate and former teacher, she hails from the Sussex coast but now lives in Kent with her family and a cat called Lando Calrissian. 


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FrancescaCapaldiAuthor/

Blog: www.writemindswriteplace.wordpress.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/FCapaldiBurgess

The Last Days of Ellis Island by Gaëlle Josse (Translated by Natasha Lehrer)

Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to join the blog tour for this book. Thank you to World Editions for a copy of the book, my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

Winner of the European Union Prize for Literature

New York, November 3, 1954. In a few days, the immigration inspection station on Ellis Island will close its doors forever. John Mitchell, an officer of the Bureau of Immigration, is the guardian and last resident of the island. As Mitchell looks back over forty-five years as gatekeeper to America and its promise of a better life, he recalls his brief marriage to beloved wife Liz, and is haunted by memories of a transgression involving Nella, an immigrant from Sardinia. Told in a series of poignant diary entries, this is a story of responsibility, love, fidelity, and remorse.

My thoughts:

This is a book of highs and lows, both for Ellis Island and for John Mitchell, who is packing up his personal possessions and leaving the island for the last time. This books blends fiction and nonfiction seamlessly.

In many books, I’ve read about how ships full of immigrants would arrive at Ellis Island, hoping to be allowed to proceed into America to make new, brighter lives and to escape poverty, war and persecution back in Europe.

This book brings this to life from the other side of the story, how the United States processed the applications. The section of the book detailing how the immigrants are first observed, then sorted and questioned was written in a way that really brought the images to life. Alongside the general memories of Ellis Island, John Mitchell tells how he fell in love with his wife and why he feels guilty about how he dealt with Nella and her brother, who were fleeing Sardinia to seek safety.

This is a relatively short book for a historical fiction novel with over 45 years of events crammed into the story, as New York and the rest of the world undergo major changes. Some parts are lovely, such as when John falls in love with Liz, but there are many more sad moments than happy memories. I enjoyed reading this book and would love to visit Ellis Island one day, as my teenage boy did last year with his sixth form. A thought provoking story about a gateway to new beginnings.

Author Bio:

Gaëlle Josse holds degrees in law, journalism, and clinical psychology. Formerly a poet, she published her first novel, Les Heures silencieuses (‘The Quiet Hours’), in 2011. Josse went on to win several awards, including the Alain Fournier Award in 2013 for Nos vies désaccordées (‘Our Out-Of-Tune Lives’). After spending a few years in New Caledonia, she returned to Paris, where she now works and lives. Josse received the European Union Prize for Literature for The Last Days of Ellis Island, along with the Grand Livre du Mois Literary Prize.

Natasha Lehrer won a Rockower Award for Journalism in 2016, and in 2017 was awarded the Scott Moncrieff Translation Prize for her translation of Suite for Barbara Loden by Nathalie Léger.

“Combining real and fictional events, Gaëlle Josse has written a text as visceral as it is melancholy and vibrant.” ―Livres Hebdo

The Girl Without A Name by Suzanne Goldring

Thanks to Bookouture for inviting me to join the blog tour and providing a digital review copy. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

She left home, with the man she loved, and was never seen again…

August 2004. Billie has rushed to her father Dick’s hospital bedside. A terrible stroke has robbed him of his speech, and she is devastated to see her strong, invincible dad a shell of the man he was before. But when Billie finds a crumpled black and white photo in his wallet of a smiling, dark-haired girl she doesn’t recognise, Dick frantically tries to talk. Billie knows that he is trying to tell her something important, and she must ask the questions her father cannot. All she has to go on is the name he is just able to mumble. Ruby.

September 1940. As the bombs of the Blitz fall on London, childhood sweethearts Ruby and Stevie are falling in love. United by a shocking experience when they were evacuees, Ruby believes that she understands Stevie like nobody else can. But then Stevie is sent abroad, to a dusty and dangerous place…

As Ruby waits, desperately, for letters with foreign stamps that never come, she begins to fear that the man she fell in love with is lost forever. And when Stevie does return, he is changed, and Ruby must make a difficult choice.

As Billie uncovers Ruby’s tragic story she is determined to find out what happened to the girl who went away for a weekend with the man she loved and never came home. Why did nobody miss her? And how is she connected to Billie’s beloved father? Can Billie lay the ghosts of the past to rest, even if it means revealing the darkest secrets of her father’s life?

A completely compelling and heartbreaking read, this is the story of the bravery and courage of a young woman in wartime and another woman’s quest to put things right. Fans of The Letter and The Nightingale will be hooked on The Girl Without a Name.

My thoughts:

Thank you to Sarah Hardy for inviting me to read this book. I was trying to reduce my blog tour commitments ready for returning to work, but the synopsis of the book hooked me and I quickly said yes.

Three characters tell this story, Nick (aka Stevie), his daughter Billie and Ruby. Billie is trying to find out who the girl is from the photo in her Dad’s wallet.

We are taken back in time, initially to 1939 as the children of London are evacuated to the countryside. This was my favourite part of the story, as told by Ruby. Mrs Honey, who hosted Ruby and Joan sounded lovely, but sadly this wasn’t the case for all evacuees. As the story moves forward, we find out more about how Ruby ended up back in London and what happened when Stevie went to Palestine with the British Army.

This is a no spoiler review, so I don’t want to give any hints about what happens. I enjoyed the story, as we travelled through the different era with Stevie and Ruby. We also keep returning to Billie, who loves her dad and wants to find out what happened to his first sweetheart. I hadn’t correctly predicted the end, but once I read it, I was pleased that I had it incorrect. If you enjoy historical fiction, then I recommend reading this.

Author Bio:

Following an eventful career as a public relations consultant, specialising in business and travel, Suzanne Goldring turned to writing the kind of novels she likes to read, about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people. Whether she is working in her thatched cottage in Hampshire or her seaside home in North Cornwall, Suzanne finds inspiration in the secrets hidden by everyday life.  
https://suzannegoldring.wordpress.com/
https://twitter.com/suzannegoldring

Buy Links:


Amazon: https://bit.ly/3kGjTKJ

Apple: https://apple.co/2ZE3rCo

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2WxpvwS

Google: https://bit.ly/32sA5cg

When the Music Stops by Joe Heap

I’m pleased to be sharing my review as part of the blog tour organised by Anne at Random Things Tours. Thank you to Anne and Harper Fiction for a digital review copy, my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

This is the story of Ella.
And Robert.
And of all the things they should have said, but never did.

‘What have you been up to?’
I shrug, ‘Just existing, I guess.’
‘Looks like more than just existing.’
Robert gestures at the baby, the lifeboat, the ocean.
‘All right, not existing. Surviving.’
He laughs, not unkindly. ‘Sounds grim.’
‘It wasn’t so bad, really. But I wish you’d been there.’

Ella has known Robert all her life. Through seven key moments and seven key people their journey intertwines.
 
From the streets of Glasgow during WW2 to the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll of London in the 60s and beyond, this is a story of love and near misses. Of those who come in to our lives and leave it too soon. And of those who stay with you forever…

My thoughts:

I was hooked by the blurb for this book but still wasn’t prepared for how the story started and how we meet Ella. The story starts with a storm which leaves Ella holding her baby grandson on a damaged boat, trying to keep him alive until rescuers find them.

During the time stranded on the boat, Ella revisits seven key moments in each decade of her life and meets seven people who she had lost during her lifetime. Each meeting is also linked to a piece of music, from the book of music Ella chose with her dad in Glasgow. The audio book version will include the songs played in full.

Ella’s journey takes her from Glasgow to London. Joe’s writing brings each of the seven periods in time to life, from the school days in Glasgow to the first flat in London to being in a maternity ward as a geriatric mother. I’ve read many books this year whilst furloughed, and this is one of the most poignant. This book is full of emotion and I was caught up in each story, shedding a few tears along the way.

This is a no spoiler review, so you will need to read the book to find out if Ella saved her grandson. A five star book in my humble opinion, a lifetime of experiences captured in one stunning story. It will also make you think about who you would like to meet again, to maybe have a different conversation with. I’ve had Joe’s debut novel, The Rules of Seeing, on my Kindle for months and I look forward to reading it soon.

Book launch event:

On Thursday 28th October I attended Joe’s online book launch event organised by his publisher. It was fascinating to hear about Joe’s inspiration for the book, from how his grandparents met to becoming a father himself, to linking The Seven Ages of Man by Shakespeare to the life of a woman linked by music. The Jack Shapiro who wrote the music in the book is a work of fiction based on Jack Sands, his grandfather.

Author bio:

Joe Heap was born in 1986 and grew up in Bradford, the son of two teachers. His debut novel The Rules of Seeing won Best Debut at the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards in 2019 and was shortlisted for the Books Are My Bag Reader Awards. Joe lives in London with his girlfriend, their two sons and a cat who wishes they would get out of the house more often.

For more information, please contact felicity.denham@harpercollins.co.uk | 0208 307 4203

Book Blitz – A Painter in Penang by Clare Flynn @clarefly @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours

Today I’m taking part in the book blitz for A Painter in Penang by Clare Flynn with the Love Books Group

Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Jasmine Barrington hates everything about living in Kenya and longs to return to the island of Penang in British colonial Malaya where she was born. Expulsion from her Nairobi convent school offers a welcome escape – the chance to stay with her parents’ friends, Mary and Reggie Hyde-Underwood on their Penang rubber estate.

But this is 1948 and communist insurgents are embarking on a reign of terror in what becomes the Malayan Emergency. Jasmine unearths a shocking secret as her own life is put in danger. Throughout the turmoil, her one constant is her passion for painting.

From the international best-selling and award-winning author of The Pearl of Penang, this is a dramatic coming of age story, set against the backdrop of a tropical paradise torn apart by civil war.

Buy Link 

https://amzn.to/3iyTFYD

Author Bio:

Historical novelist Clare Flynn is a former global marketing director and business owner. She now lives in Eastbourne on the south coast of England and most of her time these days is spent writing her novels – when she’s not gazing out of her windows at the sea.

Clare is the author of eleven novels and a short story collection. Her books deal with displacement – her characters are wrenched away from their comfortable existences and forced to face new challenges – often in outposts of an empire which largely disappeared after WW2.

Her latest novel, Prisoner From Penang, was published on 17th April 2020. It is set in South East Asia during the Japanese occupation in World War Two.

Clare’s novels often feature places she knows well and she does extensive research to build the period and geographic flavour of her books. A Greater World – 1920s Australia; Kurinji Flowers – pre-Independence India; Letters from a Patchwork Quilt – nineteenth century industrial England and the USA; The Green Ribbons – the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth century in rural England, The Chalky Sea – World War II England (and Canada) and its sequels The Alien Corn and The Frozen River – post WW2 Canada. She has also published a collection of short stories – both historical and contemporary, A Fine Pair of Shoes and Other Stories.

Fluent in Italian, she loves spending time in Italy. In her spare time she likes to quilt, paint and travel as often and as widely as possible. She is an active member of the Historical Novel Society, the Romantic Novelists Association, The Society of Authors, NINC and the Alliance of Independent Authors.

Get a free copy of Clare’s exclusive short story collection, A Fine Pair of Shoes, at www.clareflynn.co.uk.

Girl Out of Place by Syl van Duyn and translated by Ernestine Hoegen @AuroraMetro @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours

I’m pleased to be sharing my review for this historical fiction novel today as part of the blog tour organised by the Love Books Group. Thank you to the publisher (Aurora Metro Books) for a copy of the book – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

At the end of the war, Nell is released from a Japanese internment camp in Java. While searching for her father in the chaos, she meets Tim, a young man who is looking for his family too. Nell’s journey takes her first to Singapore then to a new life and new friends in Sydney, Australia. But although Tim may well be the love of her life, her father puts her on a passenger liner bound for the Netherlands. Will Nell really be able to settle in a country she’s never known – and will she ever see Tim again?

Based on the true story of Nora Valk, this is an exciting tale of courage and friendship, hope and determination, about the search for love and a place to finally call home.

My thoughts:

This was a book I devoured in a day. 15 year old Nell has experienced more in her short lifetime than many people would have in a full lifetime. As a young child she travelled to the USA, only to return to Indonesia to be imprisoned in a Japanese internment camp where her mother died. With her aunt, she flees the civil unrest in Indonesia, heading to Singapore to look for her dad who she hasn’t seen for over three years and hoping to meet Tim again, a young man who helped her on the day she left the internment camp.

This book looks at how people dealt with being imprisoned, losing their loved ones, struggling to reconnect with loved ones after a long time apart, first love and finding happiness. A thought provoking read that I’m happy to recommend.

Author Bio:

Syl van Duyn is author of four Dutch language children’s books: ‘Hallo Aarde, Hier Maan’ (2001), ‘Mijn Zus is een Flussemus’ (2002), ‘Angels’ (2008) and ‘Op zoek naar jou’ (2015), as well as an adult non-fiction book based on the columns she wrote for the Dutch magazine Margriet (‘Een kwetsbaar bestaan’ (2001). She works for the Dutch broadcasting network VPRO, selecting and purchasing documentaries, and lives in Amsterdam.

Ernestine Hoegen has translated Girl out of Place by Syl van Duyn from Dutch into English. She has also written a biography of Dutchwoman Mieke Bouman (Unieboek | Spectrum) 2020. She worked as a public prosecutor before turning to writing, translating and editing full-time in 2017. She lives near Arnhem.