I received a copy of this book from HQ Digital UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A historical family drama set in Northern Ireland in 1968. It focuses on Jenny’s ambition to have a career in teaching, despite being married. She faces well-meaning and intrusive advice on how she should live her life. From those she trusts, and people in the wider community. The community is divided, sometimes families are divided because of the political climate, and maintaining old values assumes a disproportionate importance in this community.
The expectation that married woman should stay home and not pursue a career is the norm at this time, and Jenny is seen as a misfit, someone who wants to destroy the fabric of the community. Jenny is ambitious, brave and committed to her career, but will she sacrifice her friends, family and even her marriage to pursue her dream?
An emotional journey pathed with angst and prejudice, the characters are authentic and complex, and the plot is slow-paced and relentless. You empathise with Jenny and rile at her accusers, but the ending is hopeful.
A gritty and poignant story, which reflects the setting and time well, and demonstrates what it is like for a working wife in the 1960s, and the battles they endure to live life as they choose.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is a difficult book for me to review.
I like the beginning, where Julia, obviously at a crossroads in her life decides to use long- service leave and savings, to attend a three-month spiritual retreat. I did smile that she thought to leave a sixteen and eighteen-year-old with just their father wouldn’t cause any problems, but that aside the beginning is good and full of promise for a literary adventure.
When she arrives, I wondered what I was letting myself in for. The prose was steeped in Christian church language, and I couldn’t see how this would be an enjoyable book for me, but I was in for a surprise, and I’m glad I persevered.
The characters are wonderful, believable, complex and flawed. They bring the story to life, as they find that a spiritual retreat is not what they imagined. This is especially true for Julia.Her reawakening is more physical, initially than spiritual, but the consequences of her actions, change her whole life.
The plot moves away from Christain doctrine and concentrates on Julia and her fellow retreaters quest for faith. The issues raised are complex and interesting, and the plot twists reveal more of the characters’ personalities and the true reasons they are there.
The last part of the story concentrates on Julia’s arrival at home, and what follows. It is engaging to read, and the final scenes are poignant.
So, if like me you enjoy to read something different, this is worthy of your time. Literary fiction with a message about faith, family and prejudice.
Originally from England, Sue
worked in university libraries until taking early retirement in 2008 to
concentrate on creative writing. Since then she has written short stories,
articles, poetry, a short TV drama script and six novels:
Sannah and the Pilgrim, first in a trilogy of a future dystopian
Australia focusing on climate change and the harsh treatment of refugees from
drowned Pacific islands. Odyssey Books, 2014. Commended in the FAW Christina
Stead Award, 2014.
Pia and the Skyman, Odyssey Books, 2016. Commended in the FAW
Christina Stead Award, 2016.
The Sky-Lines Alliance, Odyssey Books, 2016.
Chrysalis, the story of a perceptive girl growing up in a Quaker
family in swinging sixties’ Britain. Morning Star Press, 2017
Re-Navigation recounts a life turned upside down when forty-year-old Julia journeys from the sanctuary of middle-class Australian suburbia to undertake a retreat at a college located on an isolated Welsh island. Creativia Publishing, 2019.
Feed Thy Enemy, based on
her father’s experiences, is an account of courage and compassion in the face
of trauma as a British airman embarks on a plan that risks all to feed a
starving, war-stricken family. Creativia Publishing, 2019.
Sue’s current project, A Question of Country, is a novel exploring the migrant experience through the protagonist’s lifelong search for meaningful identity.
Passionate about peace and social justice issues, Sue’s goal as a fiction writer is to continue writing novels that address topics such as climate change, the effects of war, the treatment of refugees, feminism and racism. Sue intends to keep on writing for as long as possible, believing the extensive life experiences of older writers can be employed to engage readers of all ages.
What if you couldn’t get away from the one who got away?
Unlucky in love Jess is following her dream and moving to London. It’s December, and she’s taking a room in a crumbling Notting Hill house‐share with four strangers. On her first night, Jess meets Alex, the guy sharing her floor. They don’t kiss under the mistletoe, but as far as Jess is concerned, the connection is instant. She lets herself imagine how their relationship will grow over the following year.
But when Jess returns from a Christmas holiday, she finds Alex has started dating someone else – beautiful Emma, who lives on the floor above them. Now Jess faces a year of bumping into (hell, sharing a bathroom with) the man of her dreams… and the woman of his.
Jess is determined to move on and survive the next twelve months… but love has a way of hampering even the best-laid plans…
Set over the course of one life‐changing year, this is the most uplifting and moving love story of 2019.
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
So, my first festive book this year is ‘We Met In December’, to be strictly accurate, although Christmas features in this story at the beginning and at the end, it follows Jess and Alex’s emotional journey, month by month, after their initial meeting in December. Both are emotionally scarred from failed relationships, and childhoods, that were less than ideal, and so a serious romantic relationship is not what either is looking for.
When they meet in December, as new housemates in a household where a firm house rule is no couples, they ignore their initial attraction, both believing it is one-sided. Jess focuses on her new career and her two best friends. Alex focuses on his new vocation as a nurse, but he can’t resist a non-relationship with another housemate Emma.
The friendship that develops between Alex and Jess is gentle and lovely, they explore London together and find out what makes each other tick, but romance is denied by both of them. The travelogue through London is vividly portrayed and adds extra depth to the story.
Told from two points of view, there is a sense of dramatic irony. The reader knows what each character is feeling, but they are both in ignorance of the other’s regard. Most of the conflict to the romance is internal, from their past emotional baggage, but other well-meaning people provide external conflict, and you do wonder if they will be able to see, and more importantly act on what is right in front of them.
This is a lighthearted relationship story with a festive ambience. The ending is so romantic and leaves you with a heartwarming feeling.