Because of YOU by Dawn French

Thank you to Sophie Shaw at Michael Joseph, Penguin Random House for granting my wish for a sneak preview of this new book, being published later this week.

Synopsis:

Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock . . . midnight.

The old millennium turns into the new.

In the same hospital, two very different women give birth to two very similar daughters.

Hope leaves with a beautiful baby girl.

Anna leaves with empty arms.

Seventeen years later, the gods who keep watch over broken-hearted mothers wreak mighty revenge, and the truth starts rolling, terrible and deep, toward them all.

The power of mother-love will be tested to its limits.

Perhaps beyond . . .

Because Of You is Dawn French’s stunning new novel, told with her signature humour, warmth and so much love.

My thoughts:

This is the first book I’ve read by Dawn French (although I do have a couple of her previous books on my shelves waiting to be read). I was intrigued to see how this would compare to her comedy writing.

I must admit that I enjoyed reading this story – there is a mixture of tragedy and humour, and the female characters are very strong, especially Hope, Minnie and Anna. We do have to suspend belief slightly with the story – this is a piece of fiction, and not based on a true story. I must admit that I struggled a little with the ending, but that was due to the nature of one of the events, rather than the writing of the actual story.

Anna’s husband, Julius and DI Thripshaw, are both portrayed as having character defects, one narcissistic and one mixing his metaphors. Thankfully, Lee is revealed to be a kind and caring male, as is Isaac.

A solid four star rating from me for this. Thank you again to Michael Joseph for the chance to read this before publication, my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Author Bio:

Dawn Roma French is a British actress, writer and comedian. In her career spanning three decades, she has been nominated for six BAFTA Awards and also won a Fellowship BAFTA along with her best friend Jennifer Saunders. She is best-known for starring in and writing her comedy sketch show, French and Saunders, alongside her comedy partner Jennifer Saunders, and for playing the lead role of Geraldine Granger in the sitcom The Vicar of Dibley

Expectation by Anna Hope

I’m happy to be sharing my review for Expectation by Anna Hope today on my blog. Thank you to Alison Barrow of Penguin Random House UK for a copy of the paperback book. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

Hannah, Cate and Lissa are young, vibrant and inseparable. Living on the edge of a common in East London, their shared world is ablaze with art and activism, romance and revelry – and the promise of everything to come. They are electric. They are the best of friends.

Ten years on, they are not where they hoped to be. Amidst flailing careers and faltering marriages, each hungers for what the others have. And each wrestles with the same question: what does it take to lead a meaningful life?

EXPECTATION is a novel of the highs and lows of friendship – how it can dip, dive and rise again. It is also about finding your way: as a mother, a daughter, a wife, a rebel. Most of all, it explores that liminal space between expectation and reality, the place – full of dreams, desires and pain – in which we all live our lives. 

My thoughts:

As a woman, a mother, a daughter and a wife this book certainly did resonate with me. The dreams and aspirations we have as we finish our school exams, leave University, start our first jobs, fall in love, agree to marry someone, and/or conceive a child all change over time – sometimes we achieve our original dream but often we take subtle diversions, which may or may not lead back to the original dream.

In this day of social media, we often see the high points in other peoples lives – we don’t see that the singleton out partying is actually lonely, that the new mother is struggling with sleep deprivation and that the career woman would give it up at the drop of a hat to be a mother. As the saying goes “the grass isn’t always greener on the other side” but still so many of us dream of changing something without realising how lucky we are to have what we already have.

Anna Hope has captured the modern life of many women in the UK perfectly. Her writing brings the characters of Hannah, Cate and Lissa to life. All three have flaws and face challenges, especially as their friendship is challenged by some major challenges and betrayals.

At times the book made me feel uncomfortable, would friends really betray each other in this way. However, the writing made it all too believable. My daughter is almost 15 and developing into a young woman. I will be putting my copy of the book aside for her to read when she becomes a woman and heads out into the world, full of her own hopes and dreams.

Anna Hope:

ANNA HOPE studied at Oxford University and RADA. She is the internationally prizewinning and bestselling author of Wake and The Ballroom. Her contemporary fiction debut, Expectation, explores themes of love, lust, motherhood, and feminism, while asking the greater question of what defines a generation. She lives in Sussex with her husband and young daughter.

The Glass House by Eve Chase #bookreview

Outside a remote manor house in an idyllic wood, a baby girl is found.

The Harrington family takes her in and disbelief quickly turns to joy. They’re grieving a terrible tragedy of their own and the beautiful baby fills them with hope, lighting up the house’s dark, dusty corners. Desperate not to lose her to the authorities, they keep her secret, suspended in a blissful summer world where normal rules of behaviour – and the law – don’t seem to apply.

But within days a body will lie dead in the grounds. And their dreams of a perfect family will shatter like glass.
Years later, the truth will need to be put back together again, piece by piece . . .

My thoughts:

Thank you to Gaby Young at Micheal Joseph, Penguin Random House for a digital review copy of this book – my thoughts are my own. I’m looking forward to joining the blog tour – thank you for inviting me.

Initially I was drawn to the cover design – which fits the book title perfectly. This is a book with a dual timeline – a feature of many historical fiction books at the moment, and this is an excellent example of it being used well.

The 1971 timeline looks at the Harrington family as they leave London to stay at Foxcote Manor in the Forest of Dean. The detailed descriptions of the darkness of the forest by Ruth, leave the reader in no doubt that this not going to be a light hearted and happy summer. Ruth has had a tragic past but had been enjoying her job looking after the Harrington children. However after a tragedy, the family are spending the summer away from home, a summer full of secrets, lies, a foundling and a sudden death.
This is told by Ruth and the elder Harrington sibling.

Running alongside, we have the current day story of Sylvie, her mum who is rushed into hospital and her daughter Annie, all of whom have secrets from each other, some of which link back to the summer of 1971.

This is a book to curl up with and enjoy the magic of the storytelling. The darkness of events in 1971 is interspersed with the love Ruth feels for the young children in her care. Ruth has taken her own glass house, a terrarium to Foxcote Manor and this follows through both timelines.

I don’t want to spoil the story by giving any of the details away – this is a story that needs to be read and enjoyed in the order it is written in. As each new secret is revealed, a new mystery is created.

The author, Eve Chase:

Website http://www.evechase.com/


Twitter EvePollyChase

Eve Chase is the author of Black Rabbit Hall and The Wildling Sisters, and the pseudonym of journalist and novelist Polly Williams. She lives in Oxford, England with her husband and three children.