A mother who disappeared… When Beth was 10 years old, her beautiful, wild mother Alice walked out and never came back. Beth’s life since hasn’t always been smooth sailing, but now she is happy and settled, with a successful career, a loving family and a beautiful home.
An unexpected visitor… Then one day there’s a knock at the door. Alice has returned. Overjoyed to have the chance to rebuild their relationship, Beth invites her mother to move in.
A life that comes crashing down… At first, everything seems wonderful. But then Beth’s friends begin to drift away, strange things start to happen at home, and rumours begin to circle about her past. As the mysterious events around Beth become darker and more dangerous, she is forced to question everything. Is somebody in her life trying to destroy her happiness? And how far will they go?
Phoebe’s adventure is waiting. Sam has to deal with his past so he can move on with his future. But will love wait, while life happens?
Phoebe and Sam meet by chance at St Pancras station. Heading in opposite directions, both seeking their own adventures, meeting the love of their lives wasn’t in the schedule. So they make a promise: to meet by the statue of Sir John Betjeman in twelve months’ time if they still want to be together.
But is life ever as simple as that?
This is a story of what-ifs and maybes – and how one decision can change your life forever…
I received a copy of this book from HQ Stories in return for an honest review.
A chance meeting at Sir John Betjeman’s statue in St Pancras station seems serendipitous, but Sam is on his way to the Scottish Isles and Phoebe is off to France for the trip of a lifetime. Both are searching for something, their journeys more emotional than geographic, but something happens at the station, but will it have a happy ending?
The two main characters are lovely, but also frustrating, they both have emotional damage, and anxiety, which in some ways increases as the story progresses. The setting and cast of characters for their travelogue is wonderful and gives the story authenticity and depth, as they start to realise the true purpose of their year away from their everyday lives.
The twist stops this story from being predictable. The last part of the book shows how the couple have developed emotionally but is it enough for them to live fulfilled lives?
A story of self-discovery, friendship and love, with just a hint of magic.
Two women from two very different generations are brought together through dramatic circumstances and help each other to forge new paths.
Twenty-six-year-old Erin has everything she’s ever wanted – a good job, a gorgeous fiancé and a best friend who’s always there for her. But suddenly her life comes crashing down around her. Unable to return home to her parents, she takes a room in a house nearby and her life starts over in the most unexpected of ways…
Seventy-six-year old Lydia, who, shocked by the sudden death of her husband, is devastated to discover that he has left her in crippling debt. With no choice but to take in a lodger, Erin comes into her life. When they find a letter hidden in the attic old secrets come to light and, with Erin by her side, Lydia finds herself going on a trip of a lifetime.
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A delightful multi-generational story of love, loss, friendship and new beginnings.
Erin’s life implodes, when she is betrayed by those she loves, she needs to escape, to rebuild her life. Lydia still in shock from her sudden bereavement, finds that loss isn’t the only emotion she has to contend with. Her financial security is compromised, and taking in lodger seems the only way to make ends meet. The unlikely pair, find that material security isn’t the only benefit of living together, and they forge a friendship that opens up a new lease of life for both.
A chance discovery, reveals more family secrets, and a chance to experience something special for both women.
This is a story full of emotion and poignancy, but there are plenty of humorous moments too. Lydia is a witty woman, and Erin soon realises that age is no barrier to a true friend.
A lighthearted, emotional read, with characters who you can empathise and a heartwarming ethos.
Naked Saunas – The Inspiration behind The Time Of Our Lives– Abby Williams
I’ve always enjoyed running. Not only is it a great
stress reliever, it’s great for allowing you to eat lots of cake, and also
great for me, as I usually find all my best novel ideas come to me when I’m
pounding the pavement.
The idea for The Time Of Our Lives was no different.
One summer’s evening, I was out with my running club, when Nella, my lovely
Finnish friend started telling us all about the naked saunas she and her fellow
Finns all enjoyed back home! Cue much hilarity amongst us British girls who
were positively squeamish at the thought of showing off our bits and pieces to all
and sundry. Not so for Nella. She said she thought it was a good thing – young
and old came together to enjoy simple pleasures. Inhibitions and modesty were left
at the door she said, and real, lasting connections were formed, regardless of
She was right. It was us Brits that were repressed. After that conversation, I couldn’t get the idea of these generations coming together and although I didn’t really want to write about naked saunas, (Sorry Nella, it was a step too far), what did strike a chord was the idea of age being no barrier to friendship. It was then I knew that what I wanted to write about next was the power of friendship.
And so I found millennial Erin and
almost-octogenarian, Lydia. Two women who come to need each other more than
they can ever realise after their lives implode in very unexpected ways.
The moment I hit upon the idea I found I couldn’t wait to spend time with my characters. Lydia and Erin became as real to me as any of my friends and family, and I found their friendship as charming and inviting as any relationship I’ve experienced in real life. It was funny because even though I never wrote about naked saunas the image Nella created for me that day was so strong, I only had to shut my eyes and I could see young and old coming together, laughing, sharing, joking and confiding about all manner of things to bond Lydia and Erin.
And so no, there are no naked saunas in this book, but
there’s still lots of running for me. The last time I ran with the girls we
started talking about the best places to go to the loo on a long run…someone
mentioned the bushes and Paula Radcliffe. Safe to say, that hasn’t inspired
anything in me quite yet.
Abby Williams is the pseudonym for Fiona Ford,
writer of romantic up-lit and historical fiction. Fiona started out as a
freelance journalist for titles such as Grazia, Sunday Mirror and Stylist
before realising her passion lay in novels. Now she spends her days immersed in
made-up worlds and reckons she has the very best job in the world. When she’s
not writing, Fiona is a gym nut, but only so it means she can eat lots of cake
and drink lots of wine – not necessarily in that order. She lives in Berkshire with
her husband and two cats who she sometimes thinks she might love just a little
bit more than all the humans she knows. The
Time of Our Lives is her first romantic novel and she is now busy
scribbling away her second.
Everyone knows that being a single mother means having no time to yourself. But for CallieBrown, it’s more exhausting than most. She’s juggling the needs of three teenage children, two live-in parents, a raffish ex-husband, and a dog who never stops eating.
The last thing Callie needs is anything more on her plate. So when she bumps (quite literally) into a handsome, age-appropriate cyclist, she’s quick to dismiss him from her life. After all, if she doesn’t have time to brush her hair in the morning, she certainly doesn’t have time to fall in love…
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
I love the easy to read writing style of this novel. The themes are familiar to everyone who parents or has parented teenagers or looked after elderly parents. There’s a glossary of teenage vocabulary at the end of the story for the uninitiated. It is the story that most of us have thought of writing at some time, but this author has actually done it and with great results.
Callie is a single mum, with twin girls and a son from her previous relationship who she has been a mother to for eight years, her ex is frankly abysmal, and her ageing parents are a further emotional and physical drain on her already depleted resources. Getting run over by a takeaway delivery bike, is the final straw, she’s invisible and surely something has to change?
Modern family stories are particularly popular and relevant at this moment. This story has many laugh-out-loud moments mixed in with strong emotional poignant scenes, especially concerning Wilf. It is a story of family, friends, self- worth and love, in all its forms.
An absorbing, yet quick read, I read it today in a couple of hours. Its charm is in its relatability and believable characters. A lovely, emotional humorous read.
Guest Post: All about time for you… Fiona Perrin
HOW TO MAKE TIME FOR ME was inspired by all the women I know who (in the words of the old ad campaign) juggle their lives. I was particularly interested in writing about those who find themselves part of the ‘sandwich generation’ – looking after children as well as ageing parents, mostly while holding down a job (but probably also still making the sandwiches).
It struck me that ‘having it all’ as we say, frequently
means having no time to yourself. We have children to bring up, extended
families to support and it can be just at the time that careers develop and
grow difficult. Callie, the heroine of my novel, is also a single mother with a
complicated, modern and messy family, full of happiness but also pretty
challenging. How does she get any time for herself let alone the opportunity to
fall in love?
I’m not a single mother now, but I was for a few years and I
remember the chaos fondly, but also a constant feeling of exhaustion. Luckily,
I found time to meet Alan and fall in love and now, we have just about waved
all four of our kids off to Uni and careers.
But with them as teenagers, our house was hectic – demanding
but also, fun. HOW TO MAKE TIME FOR ME heavily features teenagers and shows the
pressures they are up against – as well as taking the mickey out them. It has
footnotes to explain teenager-speak for example – they have a whole lingo of
their own. While it’s great to have time to ourselves, I really miss the
madness of those teenage years, and the kids and their friends all hanging
around the house, doing not much. But they all seem to come home quite often
too, mostly with huge bags of washing and to eat their way through the fridge.
I’m really lucky in that my Mum is about the most active,
healthy, supportive parent you can imagine. However, she is also a carer for my
older stepfather, while in her seventies – he can no longer walk – so I have
some understanding of being responsible for the older generation too. HOW TO
MAKE TIME FOR ME features two loopy parents that Callie adores but also add to
the demands on her day. I have dedicated this book to my Mum just so she knows
they were in no way based on her.
I would love it if readers took a little time out for
themselves to read my novel. They might also enjoy Callie’s struggle to stop
feeling ‘invisible’ just as she is knocked off her feet quite literally by a
rather attractive neighbour. She immediately feels that there is no way she
will have time to fall in love with him, but sometimes life has other ideas.
Thanks so much for this opportunity to appear on your brilliant blog.
Fiona Perrin was a journalist
and copywriter before building a career as a sales and marketing director in
industry. Having always written, she completed the Curtis Brown Creative
Writing course before writing The Story After Us. Fiona grew up in Cornwall,
hung out for a long time in London and then Hertfordshire, and now writes as
often as possible from her study overlooking the sea at the end of The Lizard
I received a copy of this book from Penguin Book UK – Michael Joseph Publishing in return for an honest review.
A complex and insightful exploration of the modern family.
Grace, Patrick, Lilly and Mia are on the surface an ideal, nuclear family. As the story progresses, the layers are peeled away, and the controlling behaviour, emotional damage, lies and secrets are revealed, and the family implodes.
This stories most poignant message is that children need protection, sometimes even from their parents, to ensure negative behaviours, unrequited ambitions and hopes, are not instilled into them.
Mia’s chance discovery during a family barbeque has a devastating effect. Not, only the revelation, but the chain of events it catalyses, and the secrets it forces to the surface.
The characters are multi-layered and realistic, Mia is the antithesis of Lilly, the ‘golden child’. They are both intelligent but influenced by their mother’s attitude towards them.
The story is suspenseful, with an underlying layer of menace. You are constantly waiting for something bad to happen, and this makes it riveting and unnerving to read. The authenticity of the setting, and characters adds to this.
I like the ending, it brings together everything that has gone before, through nail-biting action scenes and a poignant, yet hopeful final end.
One charming bookshop, two unlikely friends, and a summer in Paris that will change their lives forever…
Grace can’t believe it when her husband of twenty-five years announces he doesn’t want to join her on their anniversary trip to Paris – instead, he wants a divorce. Reeling from the shock, Grace makes the bold decision to go on this holiday of a lifetime alone.
Audrey leaves behind heartache of her own when she arrives in Paris. A job in a bookshop is her ticket to freedom, but with no knowledge of the French language, her summer adventure seems doomed to fail. Until she meets Grace and everything changes…
Living in neighbouring apartments above the bookshop, Grace and Audrey form an unlikely friendship. They came to Paris to find themselves, but finding each other might be the best thing that’s ever happened to them.
I received a copy of this book from HQ via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
My Thoughts So Far…
So, I thought I’d share what I’m currently reading this weekend. Sarah Morgan has always been a favourite author, and her new book released by HQ on April 4th 2019, is full of good things.
I have only read about 16 %, so far, we haven’t even reached Paris yet, and I can’t put it down. The two main characters Grace and Audrey are so likeable, despite the emotional wasteland they find themselves in. They are realistic and easy to empathise and I can’t wait to find out what happens in Paris.
There is also a collection of subsidiary characters that resonate, but not always in a good way, but that’s a true reflection of life, isn’t it?
I will post my review of this story in early April, but in the meantime, if you are looking for a great holiday read, with angst, romance, family drama and friendship, this is a contender.