Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Historical Fiction

The Garden of Lost and Found – Harriet Evans 4* #Review @headlinepg @HarrietEvans #familydrama #historical #contemporary #fiction #secrets


Nightingale House, 1919. Liddy Horner discovers her husband, the world-famous artist Sir Edward Horner, burning his best-known painting The Garden of Lost and Found days before his sudden death.

Nightingale House was the Horner family’s beloved home – a gem of design created to inspire happiness – and it was here Ned painted TheGarden of Lost and Found, capturing his children on a perfect day, playing in the rambling Eden he and Liddy made for them.

One magical moment. Before it, all came tumbling down…

When Ned and Liddy’s great-granddaughter Juliet is sent the key to Nightingale House, she opens the door onto a forgotten world. The house holds its mysteries close but she is in search of answers. For who would choose to destroy what they love most? Whether Ned’s masterpiece – or, in Juliet’s case, her own children’s happiness.

Something shattered this corner of paradise. But what?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Headline via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Like all saga’s this one has a great deal of scene setting and introduction of the players and their motivations. This makes the first half of the story slow-paced and detailed.

There is an intriguing mystery to solve and complex family dynamics. Told from two timelines, Lydia’s set in the late nineteenth century to the early twentieth century and Juliet’s her Great- Grandaughter in 2014.

The prologue sets the ethos of the story and introduces the painting of the garden, which is rightly a significant character in this story, as it represents an ideal that shrouds secrets, which are ultimately revealed as the story progresses.

Many of the characters are difficult to empathise, they are self-centred and seem uncaring of how their actions affect those around them. Juliet and Lydia are drawn together through the actions of Juliet’s deceased Grandmother Stella when she bequeaths her the house and garden, years after her demise.

Modern themes of social media abuse and dysfunctional families are explored and contrasted against the family in the late nineteenth century. It is notable that censure of certain behaviour and imperfect marriages were just as common in the historical setting, just hidden better.

The depth of research and historical detail gives this story its richness and authenticity. The imperfection of the characters also makes it believable. It is possible to want them to have a hopeful future, despite that lack of likeability and their numerous flaws.

If you enjoy a mystery, like a historical and contemporary timeslip point of view, and want to completely escape, this story is for you.

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Posted in Book Review, New Books

5* Review: A Place for Us – Part 4 – Harriet Evans

  I have finished the first of the books  I featured in yesterday’s post.

Here’s my review of A Place for Us – Part 4- Harriet Evans.

23487063 UntitledThe house has soft, purple wisteria twining around the door. You step inside.

The hall is cool after the hot summer’s day. The welcome is kind, and always warm.

Yet something makes you suspect life here can’t be as perfect as it seems.

After all, the brightest smile can hide the darkest secret.

But wouldn’t you pay any price to have a glorious place like this?

Welcome to Winterfold.

Martha Winter’s family is finally coming home.

Buy Links 1Amazon UK

My Review 2

A Place for Us Part 4
This is the perfect ending, to what has turned out to be a wonderful story, full of pain and joy, lies and deceit, the stuff of most real families, if we are honest. ‘A Place for Us’ part four, is poignant but the sadness of the earlier episodes is replaced by acceptance and hope. Martha and her family come to terms with their loss. Through this acceptance, Martha finds her true self, as she strives to reunite her remaining family.

The characters develop in a pleasing way and the younger family members are set to carry on the legacy, with more transparency than their grandparents. The epilogue is the key to the whole story. It explains why the house was so important to David and why Martha wanted to maintain the illusion of the perfect family.

This is a recommended read, from me. It does work as a serial because the characters are memorable but will also be a compelling novel.

I received a copy of this book from Headline via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My review of A Place for Us Part 1

My review of a Place for Us Part 2

My review of a Place for Us Part 3

A Place for Us Part 4 by Harriet Evans

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A Place for Us Part 4 by Harriet Evans

Harriet Evans

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Posted in Book Review, New Books

5* Review: A Place For Us -Part 3 – Harriet Evans

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The house has soft, purple wisteria twining around the door. You step inside.

The hall is cool after the hot summer’s day. The welcome is kind, and always warm.

Yet something makes you suspect life here can’t be as perfect as it seems.
After all, the brightest smile can hide the darkest secret.

But wouldn’t you pay any price to have a glorious place like this?

Welcome to Winterfold.
Martha Winter’s family is finally coming home 

Buy Links -2Amazon UK

My Review
A Place For Us Part 3I wondered if part 3 of ‘A Place For Us’ would be an anti-climax after the drama of part 2 but it isn’t.
After Martha’s terrible revelation, life returns to fractured normality for those who remain. Another traumatic event for Martha leaves her doubting the validity of her life work, creating a safe haven for her family.
Flash backs to David’s teenage are harrowing and solve the mystery surrounding Florence and why he avoids contact with his earlier life. This part of David’s story is poignant and appalling. Be prepared for tears, such is the reader’s empathy with David at this point in his life. It also illuminates his later behaviour and why Martha condones it.
Florence discovers her own shocking revelation, which estranges her from Martha and Bill. Only Lucy provides the impetus for the family to survive the tsunami of grief that engulfs it. The ethos of this part of the story is dark but at the end thanks to Lucy, Martha sees a more positive way forward.
Part 3 reveals deep secrets with sensitivity and sets the scene for the last act, which I can’t wait to read.
I received a copy of this book from Headline via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My review of A Place for Us Part 1

My review of a Place for Us Part 2

A Place For Us Part 3 by Harriet Evans

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A Place For Us Part 3 by Harriet Evans

Harriet Evans

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Posted in Book Review, New Books

5* Review: A Place for Us – Part 2 – Harriet Evans

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This is the second part of the serialization of A Place for Us … Check out my review of part 1 here

 The house has soft, purple wisteria twining around the door. You step inside.

The hall is cool after the hot summer’s day. The welcome is kind, and always warm.

Yet something makes you suspect life here can’t be as perfect as it seems.
After all, the brightest smile can hide the darkest secret.

But wouldn’t you pay any price to have a glorious place like this?

Welcome to Winterfold.
Martha Winter’s family is finally coming home

My Review

 

A Place For Us Part 2The second part of the serialization of ‘A Place for Us’ starts historically with Daisy the middle child and the crux of the mystery that shrouds the family. It’s clear from the outset that Daisy is different from her other siblings Bill and Flo. She feels everything more acutely and reacts often violently, even if it is only in her mind. The deterioration of Daisy’s mental health in her childhood and teenage is ignored by her parents Martha and David. This leaves Daisy exposed to addiction and manipulation once she leaves the cloistered family home.

Flo’s decision to fight for her career mitigates the melancholy feel of the opening chapter. There is more positivity about Flo in this part of the book. A contrast to the sadness you feel about Daisy. Cat temporarily escapes her unhappy life but will she have the courage to stay? Bill and Karen’s secret becomes public knowledge at Martha’s birthday cocktail party but it is over shadowed by Martha’s terrible secret revealed at her family birthday meal.

This part of the book is poignant and Daisy and Martha’s points of view are particularly heartrending. Cat’s homecoming, the cocktail party and the birthday meal are beautifully realistic and atmospheric. You can hear the silence and feel the discomfort of the family as their matriarch tears the family apart.

The pacing and character development of the first part of the book comes good because you know how the characters feel and react and it makes the reading experience more enjoyable. I am definitely hooked by the characters and setting and looking forward to part 3.

I received a copy of this book from Headline via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

A Place For Us Part 2 by Harriet Evans

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A Place For Us Part 2 by Harriet Evans

Harriet Evans

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My 4* Review of A Place for Us Part 1

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Posted in Book Review, New Books

4* Review: A Place For Us – Harriet Evans

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The day Martha Winter decided to tear apart her family began like any other day.

The house has soft, purple wisteria twining around the door. You step inside.

The hall is cool after the hot summer’s day. The welcome is kind, and always warm.

Yet something makes you suspect life here can’t be as perfect as it seems.

After all, the brightest smile can hide the darkest secret.

But wouldn’t you pay any price to have a glorious place like this?

Welcome to ‘Winterfold’.

Martha Winter’s family is finally coming home.

My Review

A Place For Us  Part 1Although series are very popular, I’m not sure the format is ideal for this story. Women’s fiction serials are not a new concept. They were popular in women’s magazines in the late sixties and seventies. Magazine serials had a week’s gap between instalments. These stories have approximately a month. Many readers will struggle to remember where they are in the story with any clarity especially since it ends before any notable action takes place.

Martha sends her widely scattered family a cryptic invitation to her eightieth birthday party. The multi points of view give the reader important insight into each character’s conflicts and emotions. The disparity between the family’s public persona and the reality of lies and secrets makes interesting reading. Not only do they hide the truth from outsiders they also keep secrets from each other.

The characters are well written; full of flaws, which make them memorable. In most cases the characters have at least one or two redeeming features. The ethos of this story is essentially sad. Most of the characters regret their major life choices and wish they’d chosen differently. Martha wonders if the decision to buy ‘Winterfold’ and all that it entailed was worth the sacrifices.

Slow paced and lacking in action; part 1 introduces the characters, the reason for their reunion and its possible consequences. I am interested to see what happens next.

I received a copy of this book from Headline via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

A Place For Us Part 1 by Harriet Evans

A Place For Us  Part 1 by Harriet Evans

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Posted in Writing Journey

Here’s What I’m Reading – This Week.

 Past Shadows CoverThe Revenge Masquerade Cover  October 26 14Whilst I wait for my final round of edits for The Revenge Masquerade, due later this week. I am pleased to report that I am writing my new story Past Shadows. After last week’s hiatus I have  rediscovered my muse. (who was  probably trapped under my new fridge with me) 🙂  Now I only wish I could type faster.

 When I’m not writing, I’m reading and here’s what I’m reading this week.

 

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Twelve ancient cultures were chosen millennia ago to represent humanity in Endgame, a global game that will decide the fate of humankind. Endgame has always been a possibility, but never a reality…until now. Twelve meteorites have just struck Earth, each meteorite containing a message for a Player who has been trained for this moment. At stake for the Players: saving their bloodline, as well as the fate of the world. And only one can win.

  I’ve read the sample of this book and decided I wanted to read all of it and I’m not disappointed so far.

Click here for my review of the sample of The Endgame – The Calling by James Frey.

23487063The house has soft, purple wisteria twining around the door. You step inside.

The hall is cool after the hot summer’s day. The welcome is kind, and always warm.

Yet something makes you suspect life here can’t be as perfect as it seems.

After all, the brightest smile can hide the darkest secret.

But wouldn’t you pay any price to have a glorious place like this?

Welcome to Winterfold.

Martha Winter’s family is finally coming home.

 This series has really grown on me. It’s not the happiest of stories but  the characters are excellent and the plot intriguing, can’t wait to see how it ends.

Click here if you want to read my reviews of A Place for Us Parts 1-3  by Harriet Evans.

23245066Guilt can eat away at you, but love can cut like a knife…

Lusting after his best friend’s girlfriend is a cliché Billy knows well – it’s the tightrope he’s walked for years.
But now Jason and Lindy have broken up and Billy can’t help but be there for the girl he’s loved from afar for so long. She’s hurting.

Fighting to find a road to the future, Lindy’s heart hurts. She’s trying to escape the truth, but Billy keeps making her face it – and it’s ugly. How can she keep living when everything is made of glass and it keeps shattering?

Her one constant is Billy. Only, rebound isn’t his style and when Lindy starts to see him in a different light, he just can’t trust her. He’s no one’s second best

 I haven’t read any of this one yet but I hope to start it tonight. Jane Lark is such a talented author, I am a major fan of her historical romance and fast becoming one of her young adult novels. I have read the first two in this series and I have high hopes for this one.

 Click here if you want to check out my reviews of Jane Lark’s other books.

 Back to writing for me now. 🙂