On an ordinary Saturday morning in 1996, the residents of Nightingale Point wake up to their normal lives and worries.
Mary has a secret life that no one knows about, not even Malachi and Tristan, the brothers she vowed to look after.
Tristan wishes Malachi would stop pining for Pamela. No wonder he’s falling in with the wrong crowd, without Malachi to keep him straight.
Elvis is trying hard to remember the instructions his care worker gave him, but sometimes he gets confused and forgets things.
Pamela wants to run back to Malachi but her overprotective father has locked her in and there’s no way out.
It’s a day like any other until something extraordinary happens. When the sun sets, Nightingale Point is irrevocably changed and somehow, through the darkness, the residents must find a way back to lightness, and back to each other.
I received a copy of this book from HQ via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Whilst the idea for this story is familiar and contemporary, it is the believable, complex characters that make it worth reading for me. The author’s knowledge of this setting and social ethos makes the reader feel part of the story. The characters easy to empathise, even when they are not always likeable.
The ordinariness of life in the tower block setting makes the tragic event both dramaticand unexpected. There is a careful build-up of characterisation at the beginning so that when the event occurs, you care what happens.
The aftermath is also well written and explores in a sensitive way what happens to our characters afterwards. The ending is poignant but hopeful. emphasising the quality of the community and the individuals who comprise it. They are born into adversity and rise above it, making a story that could be too sad, life-affirming and heartwarming.
Ponden Hall is a centuries-old house on the Yorkshire moors, a magical place full of stories. It’s also where Trudy Heaton grew up. And where she ran away from…
Now, after the devastating loss of her husband, she is returning home with her young son, Will, who refuses to believe his father is dead.
While Trudy tries to do her best for her son, she must also attempt to build bridges with her eccentric mother. And then there is the Hall itself: fallen into disrepair but generations of lives and loves still echo in its shadows, sometimes even reaching out to the present…
I received a copy of this book from Penguin Random House – Ebury Publishing via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Reading this story is rather like opening a Pandora’s box, there are surprises, light and dark. love and hate, purity and evil, all intertwined into an epic story that keeps on giving, as you turn the pages.
I love, the clever fusion of genres, family drama, romance, timeslip, historical fact and fiction, paranormal, gothic fiction, are all part of this novel’s embroidery. Whilst, this will not be for everyone, there are many timelines to negotiate, it is compelling and worth the effort, to move out of the ease of contemporary reading into the more elaborate historical details and subterfuge.
This story works for me because of Trudy’s state of mind, she is heartbroken, without hope, and open to any experience that lessens the pain. Her maternal instinct keeps her on track, making sure Will gets the emotional and practical support he needs, but she needs more than this and discovering hidden secrets that the house gives up is part of this. She is a sensitive woman, a loner, her childhood was full of imagination and literature, and it gave her purpose and solace. Now, in her pain, she seeks the familiar and is prepared to accept whatever the house reveals, even if it sometimes defies explanation and is frightening.
This is an escapist novel, something to enthral and capture your imagination, full of emotion and a clever medley of fact and fiction, it makes you want to visit Ponden Hall, and find out if it’s as magical and troubled as it seems.
Long ago, on a windswept Irish beach, a young
father died saving the life of another man’s child.
Thirty years later, his widow, Julia, decides to
return to this wild corner of Ireland to lay the past to rest. Her journey
sparks others: her daughter Bel, an artist, joins her mother in Ireland, while
son Matt and daughter-in-law Rachel, at home in Liverpool, embark on some
soul-searching of their own.
threads of past and present intertwine, Julia’s family confront long-buried
feelings of guilt, anger, fear and desire.
Only then can they allow the crashing waves of
the beach at Doonshean to bond them together once again.
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A heroic, yet tragic event affects the emotional development of two families connected historically by the tragedy on Doonshean beach.mi
The quality that resonates from this story is the family’s dysfunction. Superficially, Julia’s family seems normal, but dig a little deeper and the cracks appear. The characters are believable because they are flawed, and in some cases unlikable.Ronnie’s family is also divided. Her sons left at the first opportunity, and never fulfilled her hopes for them. Especially, Tom. Despite his lucky escape, he doesn’t seem to be making the most of his life, but maybe things are about to change.
This story has a great deal of charm, its an easy, emotional read. Both families are affected by the past tragedy, now they are together again, will something positive emerge?
A story of coincidence, tragedy and family life.
Guest Post- Penny Feeny
All sorts of factors combine in the construction of a novel, little pieces that you put together bit by bit like a jigsaw. I usually begin with the location, somewhere that will transport me and my characters. My previous three novels were all set in Italy, which is instantly seductive – but other countries can be romantic too! I chose the Dingle peninsula in Ireland for The Beach at Doonshean, because it’s an area I know well and one that I love. No visitor can fail to be beguiled by its special magic: the wild unspoilt scenery, the gentle pace of life and the charm and friendliness of the Irish themselves. However, the starting point for the story was an event I’d heard about many years earlier.
A woman I knew (actually she was my landlady) had been widowed when her husband drowned saving the life of a child – leaving behind three children of his own. The horror of this tragedy made a strong impression on me, but there was curiosity too. What happened to the rescued child? What kind of adult did they become? Does knowing that your life has been saved give you an extra sense of responsibility? Is it a privilege or a burden? And what repercussions does such an act of heroism have on the people who come after? Do they feel they have to measure up? I can’t pretend I know the answers to these questions but I wanted to explore the possibilities and the likely effects on the two families involved. What if they came across each other several years later?
The Beach at Doonshean covers a period of ten days or so in the lives of the Wentworths and the Farrellys. Various members of each clan are already facing a personal turning point when circumstances throw them together again. Bel has had a health scare and is longing to fall in love, Rachael is doubting her ability to be a good mother, and Tom has suddenly acquired a child he didn’t know existed. I wanted to find a catalyst that would reflect the disruption they were all experiencing. The volcanic ash cloud of 2010 was a freak incident at the time and mostly forgotten now (there’ve since been so many other bizarre aircraft delays!) but for those caught up in the chaos, it had a significant impact. Flights were grounded for a week and the knock-on effects lasted for several days as people tried to get back to their homes and their normal lives. For my purposes, this created an ideal scenario in which Julia Wentworth, first widowed, then divorced and now newly retired, could set in motion a chain of events which would lead to much soul-searching in both families.
The action is set between Liverpool, which has undergone a wonderful renaissance since I first came to live here, and the beautiful windswept south-west of Ireland where we go on holiday regularly. County Kerry has a famously spectacular coastline and magnificent Atlantic beaches with endless stretches of golden sand; you can even catch the unforgettable sight of a shoal of dolphins leaping for their dinner. But my story needed a beach with a riptide – and one that was not too remote. It’s not often that you would deliberately seek out a danger spot, but Doonshean, just outside the little town of Dingle, fit the bill perfectly. I should add that there is only one section of the beach subject to the riptide, so there is absolutely no excuse not to visit and enjoy this wonderful corner of the world!
I hope you enjoy the book too!
Penny Feeny has lived and worked in Cambridge, London and Rome. Since settling in Liverpool many years ago she has been an arts administrator, editor, radio presenter, advice worker, and has brought up five children. Her short fiction has been widely published and broadcast and won several awards. Her first novel, That Summer in Ischia, was one of the Summer of 2011’s best selling titles.
Being Someone is a life story, a
love story, a human story.
James has fallen through life, plotting a course of least resistance, taking
each day as it comes and waiting for that indefinable something to turn up, to
give his story meaning. His journey lacks one vital element a fellow traveller.
Then he meets Lainey. Confident. Beautiful. Captivating. And James rewrites
himself to win her heart. Lainey gives James a reason to grow, paints a bright
future, promises the happy ending he has sought so keenly. But when we discover
we can live the greatest story of all, are we able to share the pages with
Being Someone is an emotive tale of love, of self-discovery and adventure a
story of the eternal search for happiness in another, without ultimately losing
I received a copy of this book from Urbane Books in return for an honest review.
A thought-provoking contemporary story, about life choices, and the mystery that is love.
The story begins with a story told to James, one of the protagonists, about an elephant and his mahout. The story is one of love, respect and trust, which is shattered by one careless, almost unconscious action. Leaving the elephant guilty and lonely, seeking solace by honouring his dead mahout, until his own demise. Whilst this is a beautiful, poignant tale, you, like James, question what relevance it may have to his life story until it does.
James is a twenty-first-century man, entitled, and content to let life come to him until he meets the one, Lainey, who unsettles him and makes him want more. She is a vital, passionate woman, and their love story is epic, but then life happens, and the cracks appear.
The story explores their love, the conflicts they face, both internal and external, and the consequences of the life choices they make, for their forever happiness. It is brutal in parts, and honest, and James’ often appears cold and unfeeling, but it is interesting to explore his emotions and motivations.
The settings add to the story by echoing their relationship status, The first story’s relevancebecomes clear as the story progresses.
An engaging contemporary love story, and insight into relationships in the twenty-first-century.
Carla Sullivan’s 50th birthday is fast approaching when her whole world is turned upside down. Discovering her feckless husband is having yet another affair and following her mother’s death, she is in need of an escape. Finding an envelope addressed to her mother’s estranged sister Josette in the South of France gives Carla the perfect plan.
Seizing the moment, she packs her bags and heads to Antibes to seek out the enigma known as Tante Josette. But as the two women begin to forge a tentative relationship, family secrets start to unravel, forcing Carla to question her life as she has always known it.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The author’s knowledge and love of France come through clearly in this story. The setting is vivid, beautiful, and sometimes in sharp contrast to the revelations at the villa.
This is a multi-generational story, a family drama, which unfolds in Tante Josette’s villa in Antibes. Carla’s life has not been easy, an unfaithful husband, looking after her sick mother, and now an empty nest, something needs to change. Finding something in her mother’s possessions gives her the opportunity of a break from her life and uncharacteristically she takes it.
This is a story of love, lies and secrets, new relationships and forgiveness. The chance to see an ending as a new beginning. The issues explored are emotionally draining, but the outcome is hopeful and makes the angst worthwhile.
The characters are flawed, sometimes they lack the courage to take the first step to something better, but they are easy to empathise and believable. The setting is a lovely contrast to the drama and emotions and the story’s ending is heartwarming.
Author Interview – Jennifer Bohnet – Villa of Sun and Secrets
What are the inspirations behind your story?
Villa of Sun and Secrets was inspired by the french word for memories – souvenir. Everyone has memories, some good, some bad, some unforgettable and some pushed into the deepest recess of the mind until something, somehow, draws them to the front. Some souvenirs are shared with other people, others are private to the individual and yet sometimes when other people’s private memories begin to be shared it can affect everything you’ve ever known.
What made you choose France for your setting?
I’ve lived in France for twenty years now – for a lot of the time down on the Cote d’Azur, which is a place I realised people love reading about. I’m probably more familiar with the way things are over here than I am with life in the UK these days.
Your story focuses on older women, do you find older or younger women easier to write? Why is this?
A character is a character and you have to get to know them whatever age they are and sometimes they are easier to understand and write than others. But basically, I have to admit I prefer writing about characters who have had some life experience.
When you write what comes first, the characters, the plot or the setting? Why is this?
It’s usually the setting for me – swiftly followed by the characters I place there, then they help me to work out the storyline and the plot.
Do you draw your characters from real life, your imagination, or are they a mix of both? How do you make your characters realistic?
It’s a mixture of both but probably 85% imagination. And I really don’t know the answer to the last part of the question although I do try and ensure that they have flaws which hopefully makes them realistic in the reader’s eyes.
What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?
There are so many authors out there I enjoy reading, but there are a few whose new books I look forward to and buy without hesitation. Veronica Henry, Erica James, Marcia Willett, Jill Mansell are four writers I admire hugely. They draw you in from the first page, their characters are superbly drawn and their stories just flow.
When did you start writing? What’s the best thing about being a writer and the worst?
It feels as though I’ve never, not written to be honest, but it was coming to France that really gave me the time and the space to start writing short stories, serials and finally novels. Before that, I wrote features and lifestyle pieces for various papers. I love finally being able to write full-time. The worst? Social media to be honest – so much promo has to be done and it takes away from writing time.
What are you currently writing?
My next book which is again set in France, tells the story of 4 women, strangers to each other, on holiday on the Riviera, is currently with my editor and I’m awaiting edits. In the meantime, I’m starting to re-edit my backlist which Boldwood Books will be re-issuing soon.
Jennifer’s bio – Jennifer Bohnet is the bestselling author of over 10 women’s fiction titles, including Rosie’s Little Cafe on the Riviera and The Little Kiosk By The Sea. She is originally from the West Country but now lives in the wilds of rural Brittany, France.
“There’s something I have to explain, my love,” he says, taking your hand in his. “That wasn’t a dream. It was an upload.”
Abbie wakes in a hospital bed with no memory of how she got there. The man by her side explains that he’s her husband. He’s a titan of the tech world, the founder of one of Silicon Valley’s most innovative startups. He tells Abbie she’s a gifted artist, a doting mother to their young son, and the perfect wife.
Five years ago, she suffered a terrible accident. Her return from the abyss is a miracle of science, a breakthrough in artificial intelligence that has taken him half a decade to achieve.
But as Abbie pieces together memories of her marriage, she begins questioning her husband’s motives – and his version of events. Can she trust him when he says he wants them to be together forever? And what really happened to her, half a decade ago?
I received a copy of this book from Quercus via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Even if you don’t look at the book cover, you can always tell when you’re reading this author’s novels, by the original ideas it contains, the creepy, menacing undertone, and the importance of technology to the story. The only negative is that the ending doesn’t necessarily reflect, the careful suspense building of the previous chapters.
‘The Perfect Wife’, is a true mix of genres. A psychological thriller, set in a science-fiction world, with mystery, suspense and family drama. The story is told from different points of view and draws you in from its traumatic beginning.
The protagonists are unreliable, and many of the characters are hard to empathise, but this doesn’t matter. As the story unravels and the disclosures from the past, illuminate the present, you keep reading because you have to know what happens next.
Even though most of the characters lack redeeming features, they are realistic, despite, the setting and ethos of the story being hard to believe. Whilst, I don’t like everything about this story, it is compelling reading.
Breathtaking, disturbing and original, this is a reading experience that shouldn’t be missed.
I received a copy of this book from Penguin Random House- Cornerstone- Century via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Complex, damaged characters, a terrible tragedy, an innocent survivor, and a house full of secrets. Told from three points of view, the dark and suspenseful family drama is painstakingly revealed, through the eyes of the people who were there.
The relentless plot conceals as much as it reveals, evil is an undercurrent of this story, but it’s also about weakness, survival and emotional damage.
The contemporary, urban setting gives the plot its authenticity. In the current culture of child abuse scandals, the terrible events explored, and their outcome, seem credible and are all the more chilling because of this.
The story has a transparency that I didn’t expect. You can unpick what happened through the three narratives, and I did manage to unravel most of it, but you are never sure if the protagonists are reliable. They are emotionally damaged children, victims of abusive treatment.
The characters are well written, you do empathise with them, and dislike those who should have been taking care of them.
‘The Family Upstairs’ is a noir family drama, with a realistic contemporary setting and layers of suspense and emotional angst, that make you believe that it could really happen, in a world where no one looks too deeply into the inhabitants and events of the house next door.