Giacomo is stuck in a funk he can’t shake – and a translation he can’t finish. When he’s summoned home to Sardinia, to say a final goodbye to his dying grandmother, he’s offered the perfect opportunity to escape.
On the noisy, sun-drenched island, Giacomo reconnects with long-lost friends and overbearing relatives, relives the childhood he once couldn’t wait to leave behind, and rediscovers new joie-de-vivre within him. Never mind that he’s making no progress on his translation. . .
When the time comes to leave once more, Giacomo wonders: has he fallen back in love with his home-island? Or has he been hiding from something which he needs the courage to return and confront?
But most importantly – is his grandma really as ill as she’s claiming to be?
I received a copy of this book from Hodder and Stoughton via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This story has an autobiographical quality about it. Giacomo is a translator returning to his home village in Sardinia when his grandmother falls ill. The remote village setting and the quirky characters that live there, give this story its humour, intrinsic interest and poignancy.
Giacomo is at a crossroads in his life. He uses his time in the village, to come to terms with this and make sense of his existence. There are memories revisited and acquaintances renewed, which create a web of anecdotes and experiences rather than a linear plotted story.
There are literary references and insight into the life of translator which Giacomo equates with his status, the ‘nearly’ man. It’s not a commercial book. It is an insight into an ordinary man’s life in a unique place, fascinating but not always relatable.
Sometimes in Bath is a captivating story-tour through the city’s history conducted by Charles Nevin, the award-winning journalist, national newspaper columnist, author and humorist.
Beau Nash, Old King Bladud, young Horatio Nelson, Jane Austen’s Mr Bennet, the Emperor Haile Selassie and many more spring to life in episodes shimmering with the curious magic of Britain’s oldest resort and premier purveyor of good health, happiness and romance for the last 2000 years.
Each story has an afterword distinguishing the fiction from fact, adding enthralling historical detail – and giving visitors useful links to Bath’s many sights and fascinations Sometimes in Bath is warm, witty, wistful and will be loved by all who come to and from this most enchanting and enchanted of cities.
How do you like your historical fiction? Romantic, an exciting escape into the consolations of the beguiling past? Realistic and instructive as well as entertaining? Or all of that?
I’m all for the all-in approach. And I have a great weakness for a touch of humour being thrown into the mix. Which is why one of my very favourite pieces of historical fiction is the marvellous ‘No Bed For Bacon,’ by Caryl Brahms and S J Simon, a wonderfully entertaining re-telling of Shakespeare and his life which clearly inspired the Oscar-winning Shakespeare In Love of Gwyneth Paltrow and Judi Dench fame.
So when I moved to Somerset and fell under that old Bath magic of healing waters, mythic origins, Roman bathing, Georgian larks and the finest cast list ever encountered of charmers, chancers, characters and charlatans, I didn’t need much encouragement to set them down in a series of stories set throughout this richest of histories. Step forward, to name but a few, Bladud, mythical founder and wannabe aviator; a Roman governor with gout; Alfred the Great; Sir John Harington, Elizabethan inventor of the water closet; Beau Nash, Georgian master of its revels; Dr Johnson; Horatio Nelson; Charles Dickens; the Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, in Bath in exile; and, oh, yes, Jane Austen’s Mr Bennet from Pride and Prejudice.
Thus, Sometimes In Bath; which was tremendous fun, and is, I hope tremendous fun, a happy canter through the city’s history, with some balancing poignancy and wistfulness mixed in.
But possibly not that realistic, which presented me with a problem. A career as a journalist entails many things: and one of them (believe it or not) is a compulsion to establish fact and differentiate it from the speculative and the unfounded. I’m one of those sad people who cannot watch any drama ‘based on’ historical events and characters without afterwards rushing to Wiki to find out how based and how true.
So how to combine this with my flights of Bath fantasy? Just expect readers to do their own research? That seemed a little unmannerly, a touch unfriendly, somehow ungenerous, mean.
The solution I hit upon was to follow each story with an afterword explaining what was fact and what was my invention. And, further, to set the story in its historical context.
This has the added benefit of building up a history of the great city chapter by chapter, with an interesting further dash of fascinating fact and anecdote. So you will learn of the theories of Bath’s great architect, John Wood, on magic and druids, and the significance of the layout of his crescent, circus and square, of the mysterious symbols decorating his buildings; of the origin of the Bath Bun and the end of the noted Bath dandy highwayman, Sixteen String Jack Rann; of how the great Roman bath was rediscovered in Victorian times; of John Betjeman and his fight to save fine Bath buildings, and the truth behind his famous poem, “In A Bath Teashop”; of how Haile Selassie regained his Ethiopian throne in a remarkable campaign of the Second World War; and of the city’s great goddess, Sul, begged in writing on little lead tablets by many a citizen in the time of Rome to curse thieves and vagabonds.
You will learn, too, where to see those tablets and find other places and features mentioned in the book: a veritable cornucopia of Bath, compiled with love and fascination and imagination, and written, as I say in the dedication, for all those come to and from the city. And why not you?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Bath holds a fascination for so many people, even those who have only passed through it. There is a wealth of history, coupled with colourful historical and literary characters embodied in this city. This book, captures many of them, in a humorous, knowledgeable way.
The characters, real or imaginary, are brought to life with astute observation and wit. The engagingly visual descriptions make imagining the characters and settings effortless. Each story completes with a narrative on the fact and fiction and where further historical knowledge is available.
This book is a delightfully different literary adventure to the ancient city of Bath.
Charles Nevin has written for, among others, the Guardian, the Independent on Sunday, the Daily Telegraph, The Times and Sunday Times, and the New York Times. Sometimes in Bath is his second book of fiction following Lost in the Wash with Other Things, a collection of short stories. He has also published three books of non-fiction – Lancashire, Where Women Die of Love, a paean to the neglected romance of his native county; The Book of Jacks, a history and lexicon of the name, and So Long Our Home, a history of Knowsley Road, the famous old ground of St Helens Rugby Football Club. Charles lives in an old watermill near Bath, which is ideally placed for his forays into the enchanting city.
Written in his own words, and guided by a man who collects glasses in a local pub, this is the story of Herod ‘Rod’ Pinkney’s search for Daisy Lamprich, a young woman he first sees on a decade-old episode of the Judge Judy Show, and who he now intends to marry.
When Daisy is located in the coastal city of Huntington Beach, California, he travels there with his good friend and next-door neighbour, Donald, a man who once fought in the tunnels of Cu Chi during the Vietnam War and who now spends most of his time in Herod’s basement.
Herod is confident that the outcome will be favourable, but there’s a problem… Will the course of true love ever run smoothly for this unlikely hero?
A funny and touching story of an improbable and heart-warming quest to find true love
I received a copy of this book from no exit press in return for an honest review.
If you like character-driven literary humour, with personable characters and a quirky, lighthearted yet sometimes poignant and satirical plot Daisy will please you. Herod or Rod is an enigma. After being a disappointment to those who should care for him, he is now happy with his life and content to just live. His two friends are equally quirky. Setting out on a quest for true love is out of Herod’s comfort zone. Seeing Daisy on TV changes everything for him and his story is funny, romantic and a little sad.
This story has many tangents, not all of them relevant to the quest, but all pertinent to Herod. This story has an immersive quality, told from Herod’s point of view. Something different, engaging and humorous, with a character who resonates.
J P HENDERSON is the author of three previous novels including Last Bus to Coffeeville, which was selected for World Book Night and longlisted for the Dublin Literary Award. By nature an internationalist, he lives in a cul-de-sac in West Yorkshire for practical reasons.
A truly feel-good novel to warm the heart, tickle the taste buds and take you on the journey of a lifetime
Addy Mayford has always struggled with her identity. Brought up in a household of stories, food and faith by her Irish mother and Pakistani Nana, she feels constantly torn between the two sides of her upbringing. Since the death of her father, she’s found contentment cooking delicious recipes from his home city of Lahore, despite the protestations of her mother that being a chef is no career for a young woman. It’s only with the love of her gorgeous husband, Gabe, that she’s truly found happiness.
When Addy stumbles across a secret that shatters her entire world, she desperately needs to escape and is drawn to the sights of Lahore and the family she’s never known. Waiting for her there is Addy’s final acceptance of who she is, and a long-buried family secret that will change her life for ever.
I received a copy of this book from Headline in return for an honest review.
I love to learn, and this story presents plenty of opportunities to explore a different culture. I also love to cook, and as each chapter begins with a recipe, this makes delightful reading for anyone who loves cooking. The power of food and its therapeutic qualities are a theme of this story. Each recipe has a section called, the artistry, which describes what the food achieves, and why. The story follows Addy’s young life, before and after, a traumatic event occurs. She has a multicultural upbringing, all-female, the men in her life distant memories until Gabe.
The trip to Lahore is life-affirming in the company of her only friend Jen, and her beloved Nana. There is so much of interest in this story, written with clever visual imagery that invigorates all the reader’s senses. Addy is lovely, down to earth, with a wicked sense of humour, which balances the story’s poignant moments.
The writing style is eloquent, informed and insightful. A thought-provoking way to taste life, through the power of ancestry, culture and food, as Addy takes a life journey she will never forget.
HINA BELITZ is an author and renowned equal rights lawyer. Born in Pakistan to an Indian father and a mother of Iranian, Afghan and Indian descent, Belitz was brought up in Hampshire – a place starkly different to her parent’s home city of Lahore, and where she was the only Asian person in her school. Her debut novel, SET ME FREE, was critically acclaimed and led to her being interviewed by Morgan Freeman and starring in a National Geographic documentary about love. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications including the Guardian and the BBC.
A lot of the narrative in TO LAHORE, WITH LOVEhas its roots in Hina’s own life experience.
If she could speak to them, she would say they have exploded her heart, released firecrackers through her senses. She wishes she could call the police, the ambulance, the fire brigade, to arrest and anaesthetise and waterboard the bastards.
So what happens when your husband runs off with your best friend? When you discover the dead body of an old man halfway through your delivery round? When your house is burgled and you get beaten up? Doris, Andy and Colleen are about to find out. They’re also about to discover that you can find friendship and support in the oddest of places…
Heart-rending, humorous and above all authentic,Distorted Days is an exquisitely written account of the ways in which life can knock you off our feet – and how you can pick yourself up again. If you’ve experienced the fickleness of fortune, this is a book that you’ll never forget.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
The book cover depicts the darkness, and tragic events in the story, perfectly. Original and poignant, the story reflects on the darker side of human life. How bad things happen to good people, without any apparent reason. Individual characters’ eccentricities, give them an authentic relatable voice. Depressing events fail to dominate, the book’s positive ethos. Friends are found in unlikely places. Courage emerges to move forward, even though every forward step is accompanied by several backward ones, in the beginning.
Good, evil, and everything in between is explored through the characters’ misfortunes. Human resilience and tenacity are celebrated. Multilayered, realistic characters draw you into their lives. You want them to find happiness. Claustrophobic feelings are balanced with often satirical humour.
An observant, poignant and witty story, full of complex characters, realistic events and believable responses.
Louise is the author of ‘Distorted Days’ and ‘Rachel’s Garden of Rooms.’ ‘The Entrepreneur’ will be available later in 2020. ‘The Thief’, a short story published by Park Publications, is available to download Louise Worthington’s website.
Before writing full time, Louise worked mainly as an English teacher after getting a degree in Literature and later, studying business and psychology at Masters level.
Louise grew up in Cheshire and now resides in Shropshire.
“Louise’s characters, without exception, are skillfully wrought which make the reader genuinely care for them.”
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.
I love a book that defies genre labelling, and ‘The Weighing Of The Heart’, is a perfect example. Told in the first person from Nick’s perspective. He is an ‘Englishman in New York’ and totally captivated by everything he experiences and sees, at least in the beginning. His descriptions and emotions, as he lives in the city, evoke rich visual imagery in the reader’s mind, whether they have experienced New York , or not.
It is almost memoir like in quality, as he tells his story to his eager audience. An artist, he is drawn to one of his landladies works of art from Ancient Egypt. Given the mystic and legend that surrounds ancient Egyptian relics, it is not surprising that he covets it obsessionally, and here the story takes on a more sinister theme.
Romance with another beautiful artist , also dominates his thinking, what starts off as attraction, darkens and deepens .Here the story explores the power of attraction, and how it too can be an obsession.
Mystery and criminal intent fuse with hope and passion to provide a gripping and surprising tale set in a city everyone wants to love.
Excerpt From The Weighing OF the Heart – Chapter one – Paul Tudor Owen
Paul Tudor Owen was born in Manchester in 1978, and was educated at the University of Sheffield, the University of Pittsburgh, and the London School of Economics.
He began his career as a local newspaper reporter in north-west London, and currently works at the Guardian, where he spent three years as deputy head of US news at the paper’s New York office.
We’re spies,’ said Lamb. ‘All kinds of outlandish shit goes on.’
Like the ringing of a dead man’s phone, or an unwelcome guest at a funeral . . .
In Slough House memories are stirring, all of them bad. Catherine Standish is buying booze again, Louisa Guy is raking over the ashes of lost love, and new recruit Lech Wicinski, whose sins make him outcast even among the slow horses, is determined to discover who destroyed his career, even if he tears his life apart in the process.
And with winter taking its grip Jackson Lamb would sooner be left brooding in peace, but even he can’t ignore the dried blood on his carpets. So when the man responsible breaks cover, at last, Lamb sends the slow horses out to even the score.
I received a copy of this book from John Murray via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
‘Joe Country’, is book six, of the ‘Jackson Lamb’ series, and the first that I’ve read. The character relationships are complex, and clearly, they have a lot of history. The thriller is standalone, and after a few chapters, it is easy to understand what the occupants of ‘Slough House’, are. Then relax, and enjoy a well written, political thriller, with satirical humour, flawed, quirky characters and an exciting twisty plot.
‘Slough House’, is the stable for the ‘Slow Horses’, disgraced intelligent operatives that have been put out to grass. Whether their misdemeanours are contrived or real, is not always apparent, but they are remarkably active in the field. Often preventing more incidents, and solving more crimes, than their ‘Regent’s Park’ officially sanctioned counterparts (Joes’)
The prologue to this story intrigues and is described in a particularly evocative, graphic way. The incident in Wales is significant as the plot progresses, and the seemingly disparate threads are melded together.
A new promotion at ‘Regent’s Park, the death of an old spy, a new recruit at ‘Slough House’, and the mysterious disappearance of a deceased ‘Slow Horse’s’ son, are all elements of this complex mystery. Each story is interspersed with the others, although it is not until the book has progressed that the dots to join up in Wales, of course, and the excitement begins.
‘Jackson Lamb’, whose name graces the series, is ‘old school’, politically incorrect, offensive to everyone he encounters, but also canny and clever, and an eminently efficient spymaster, despite his appearance and demeanour.
Action-packed adventures, believable, characters, clever plotting, dark, politically astute humour all make this an addictive, enjoyable book to escape with for an hour or two.
If you can read the series from the beginning to fully appreciate the political astuteness, relationships and setting of this quintessentially, British espionage thriller series.
A Walk in Wildflower Park was originally published as a four-part serial. This is the complete story in one package. Life’s not always a walk in the park…
Anna thought she’d found The One – until he broke off their engagement exactly a year before their wedding day. Hoping new surroundings will do her the world of good, she moves into a place of her own on the edge of gorgeous Wildflower Park.
With the help and friendship of her neighbour Sophie (a stressed-out mum whose children a regular source of newly-invented swear words and unidentifiable sticky surfaces), Anna quickly settles in and pledges to focus on her career, but a handsome new colleague seems determined to thwart her attempts at every turn. And when she receives a text from a mystery man, it looks as though an unlikely romance is on the horizon…
Is Anna about to be swept off her feet by someone she really shouldn’t be falling for? Or could this be the new start she needs and deserves?
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Anna’s engagement is over, and she decides life without men is the way forward. Moving into a new flat with its own private park is a step in the right direction. There, she plans and schemes with her best friend Sophie, mother of two and pregnant with a third, whose life is not what she imagined.
A difficult male colleague who threatens Anna’s career provides the initial conflict and humour. There’s also a mystery texter who makes her wonder if she’s really sworn off men, and her ex refusing to stay out of her life. The wildflower park is a source of solace as Anna faces her past and tries to forge a future she can live with.
Ambition, angst, conflict, humour and romance are major themes in this story
As the story progresses, Anna’s relationship problems continue. Liam her ex, seems to be regretting his decision, but does she really want to go there again? Hudson is an enigma and proves a supportive friend, and the face behind the text is revealed.
There are some interesting twists in this book, which alter Anna’s perception of certain people in her life. There are many laugh-out-loud moments, especially for those who have looked after young children.
The characters develop in a pleasing way. The plot deepens but still keeps its secrets the end.
Heavily pregnant Sophie’s life implodes. Her story has the perfect mix of emotion and humour, especially when, Sophie and Anna discuss the state of her marriage. There are some touching scenes with Bill, humour with Maurice(the cat) and Anna wonders if she really is cut out for the single life.
Anna undergoes significant character development in this story. Illustrated by scenes with her ex Liam, Hudson, her attractive work colleague, and Connor, the man she met by mistake. She’s in a quandary, should she hold out for her soulmate, settle for what’s available, or go it alone?
A new opportunity forces her to face her past fears. Then, the story takes a darker turn. Even though like me, you may have suspected this development, the clues are there, the final events are suspenseful and menacing, and give this story another unexpected dimension. adding depth and interest.
Anna’s character develops further as the actions of others and changes in her career make her face her demons. I love this character and it’s good to see her discovering her true self. Sophie’s story is also resolved in a satisfying way, and she provides her share of angst and laughter as the story draws to a close.
Romance isn’t neglected, Anna finally realises where her heart lies but she faces significant conflict before she finds her true soulmate and her happy-ever-after.
This is a lovely, contemporary story about family, friends and career, with romance, humour and mystery, a very enjoyable read.
Full of warmth and laugh-out-loud funny, the new novel from the author of Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows
British-born Punjabi sisters Rajni, Jezmeen and Shirina have never been close but when their mother died, she had only one request: that they take a pilgrimage across India to carry out her final rites. While an extended family holiday is the last thing they want, each sister has her own reasons to run away from her life.
Rajni is the archetypal know-it-all eldest but her son dropped a devastating bombshell before she left and for the first time she doesn’t know what the future holds.
Middle sister Jezmeen was always a loudmouth, translating her need for attention into life as a struggling actress. But her career is on the skids after an incident went viral and now she’s desperate to find her voice again.
Shirina has always been the golden child, who confounded expectations by having an arranged marriage and moving to the other side of the world. But her perfect life isn’t what it seems and time is running out to make the right choice.
As the miles rack up on their jaunt across India, the secrets of the past and present are sure to spill out…
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A charming, humorous, poignant journey for three sisters; Rajni, Jezmeen and Shirina, who travel to India, to honour their mother’s memory. A duty trip turns out to be a cultural, emotional and ultimately enlightening adventure, even if things didn’t happen quite how their mother Sita envisaged them.
Sita is dying and in pain on a terminal care ward, her family life has not been easy, and she despairs of the lack of connectivity between her daughters. Writing a letter with her last wishes means she can die in peace in the hope her three daughters can find each other and live their lives in a positive way.
Each sister has secrets, revealed as their journey unfolds, the sisters are believable, flawed characters, easy to empathise, even if they exasperate you sometimes. The setting is vividly described and an important character in this story. It’s India in all its contrasting forms that makes the sisters need each other and reflect on their lives and relationships. For someone who has never visited, it is an interesting travelogue, which complements the sisters’ journey of self -realisation perfectly,
Past and present events woven into the well-paced plot, illuminate the reader. The humour is sometimes dark, but this makes the story authentic. Social issues affecting women everywhere and more particularly in India are highlighted, they fit seamlessly into the plot but still resonate.
The ending is heartwarming and you are hopeful the sisters’ lives will be everything Sita would wish for them.