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.
I received a copy of this book from HQ via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This story may not appeal to everyone. You have to be willing to accept the concept of parallel lives that exist but only come to your notice, if you act in a certain way. Lauren Paling as a young girl, sees snapshots of her other possible lives, she learns not to share these insights with others who don’t understand, but then she dies and the emotional rollercoaster journey begins.
In each life she is different, and although surrounded by those who love her, they may relate to her, in different ways. The stories explore, love friendship, relationships loss and grief in a poignant way.
Lauren is searching for a mystery man in each life, without knowing his significance to her, if any. This is a story that can be read more than once, and perhaps needs to be, to fully grasp everything it is about, but that might just be me?
The historical scene-setting is well done, I grew up in this time frame, and I enjoyed the mid to late 20th Century references. Each life has subtle differences to authenticate it to Lauren, as part of her struggles to accept her new present and forget what has gone before.
The plot is detailed and the characters are likeable and believable, despite the extraordinariness of the storyline. This has a uniqueness, because of its emotional content and characterisation, even though the parallel lives concept is often used in science- fiction literature.
If you enjoy variety in your reading and enjoy a lovely, out worldly story this is for you.
I received a copy of this book from Penguin Books UK – Michael Joseph via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Reading the prologue of this novel, I imagined two ladies from the between the wars era, travelling to a glamorous, if slightly contentious, house party. In reality, this story has a contemporary setting, but with all the atmosphere, secrets and intrigue of a more romantic era.
Flora, an artist, mother and daughter, grew up in Cornwall, she still loves her husband, to the extent she has put her romantic life on hold, but he has been married to another woman for over fifteen years. This story is about ‘ A Cornish Summer’, where the past meets the present, and secrets kept for years, change the family dynamic, and give Flora a chance of love and happiness.
This is the perfect book to be read when you have a few hours to yourself. It is absorbing, enlightening, and switches between humour and poignancy, against a lovely, vividly described Cornish coastal setting. The characters are authentic, believable, but not necessarily always likeable. Flora is a frustrating, woman, kind, loving, but only living half a life. More than anything else, this story is about her self-discovery, and you enjoy and empathise, as she finally comes out fo her self-imposed shell.
Family dynamics, social expectations, secrets, manipulation and unrequited love are the ingredients that make this story something you just have to finish but are sad when you do. Perfect holiday escapism.
It’s been seven years since Holly Kennedy’s husband died – six since she read his final letter, urging Holly to find the courage to forge a new life.
She’s proud of all the ways in which she has grown and evolved. But when a group inspired by Gerry’s letters, calling themselves the PS, I Love You Club, approaches Holly asking for help, she finds herself drawn back into a world that she worked so hard to leave behind.
Reluctantly, Holly beings a relationship with the club, even as their friendship threatens to destroy the peace she believes she has achieved. As each of these people calls upon Holly to help them leave something meaningful behind for their loved ones, Holly will embark on a remarkable journey – one that will challenge her to ask whether embracing the future means betraying the past, and what it means to love someone forever…
I received an ARC Sample of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The arc sample for Postscript draws you back into Holly’s world as if you never left. It is now seven years after Gerry’s death and Holly is feeling more confident that life can go on as Holly, and maybe even Holly and Gerald. It is in this mindset that she agrees to her sister’s request, to take part in a podcast sharing her grief experience, and particularly Gerry’s letters, and what they meant for her.
Facing her grief again, even seven years on is difficult and you feel her pain and the real fear that she may slip back into the dark abyss if she examines her grief journey too closely. Nevertheless, she delivers and the response is positive, but someone seems too involved and Holly’s reaction is avoidance, and this has consequences, but I need the rest of the book to find out what they are.
Rome is where the heart is… The heartwarming read of the summer
Jo has had enough of handsome men. After a painful break-up, she’s decided she doesn’t believe in love.
Then, while on a professional trip to the magical city of Rome, she meets Corrado, a scientist and her brother-in-law to be, who doesn’t believe in love either. To him, it’s just a biochemical reaction. So what’s the problem?
Well, he’s gorgeous for a start, as well as charming, generous, intelligent and attentive, and she feels herself immediately falling for him, despite her new outlook.
The majesty of the Eternal City brings them ever closer together. But is their relationship doomed, or will love, conquer all?
I received a copy of this book from Canelo via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Like all T.A. Williams books, this story is atmospheric, authentic and absorbing. You quickly become immersed in the sights and sounds of Rome, the excitement of new possibilities and romance and the chance to escape for a little while.
The theme of this story is contemporary, climate change and both the main protagonists are scientists. both attribute their undeniable attraction to hormones and neural impulses, Jo, because she has been damaged by a previous relationship, ending badly and Corrado because he believes love is merely an illusion.
The reader experiences Rome with the protagonist and that alone makes it a wonderful read, but add in complex characters, a lovely balance of heartbreak and humour and it is the perfect beach read.
I’ve read lots or romantic comedy, many are set in far-flung places, but this series stands out and is always a pleasure to read. If you’re looking for a romantic, escapist read, this series is for you.
Author Interview – T. A. Williams – Dreaming of Rome
What inspired you to write this story? Are all your stories set in holiday destinations?
What I’m trying to offer
in my books is escapism; the chance for the reader to forget everyday worries
and lose herself (or himself) in a magical world of luxury, beauty and
happiness. I make no excuses for writing easy-reading, feel-good books with a
happy ending. We all need a bit of happiness from time to time, not least with
the world in the mess it’s in at present (please don’t mention Brexit). In
consequence, I try to set all my books in gorgeous locations. Not least as I
insist upon doing a “research trip” to each in advance of starting to write (J).
The inspiration for “Dreaming of Rome” was to revisit a city I have loved all my life. After university, I lived in Italy for 8 years and the head office of my employers was in central Rome. I love it. As for the main thrust of the story – what happens when a girl who’s lost her belief in love meets a scientist who believes he can prove it doesn’t exist apart from as a biochemical reaction – who knows? It just came to me one day when I was out for a walk.
There are lots of similar stories in this genre, currently, what makes yours different?
I don’t really know. I have to confess that I hardly read any romance. I write it, but I don’t read it, so I don’t really know what else is out there. I suppose one thing maybe that makes me stand out from the crowd a little is the fact that I’m a man. Most romance these days is written by women, so maybe I can give a slightly different perspective. Of course, it wasn’t always so – take “Romeo and Juliet” for example.
When you write, what comes first, the characters, the plot or the setting? Why do you think this is?
Probably the setting, but
this is as much down to the title as anything. So far I have written “Dreaming
of…” books set in Venice, Florence, St-Tropez, the Austrian Alps, Tuscany and
now Rome. Each time we are looking for a name on the cover that will appeal to a
prospective reader. I’m afraid that “Dreaming of Huddersfield” (apologies to
Huddersfield – no doubt a charming city) is unlikely to appear. After that it’s
the main character. This tends to be a bright, competent woman, and readers
have commented on how they like my girls because they are decisive and
organised and know their own minds. If that is so, that probably comes from me
– I’m a fairly well-organised character when I get going.
Do you draw your characters from real life, your imagination, or are they a mix of both? How do you make your characters realistic?
I’ve never consciously
set out to draw upon somebody I know. Inevitably there will be elements of real
people in my characters, but they are pretty much an amalgam. As for making
them realistic, I always make sure they aren’t perfect. At the moment I’m
writing “Dreaming of Verona” and my heroine wears glasses and is chronically
shy. Even the obligatory Labrador I slip into all my books isn’t ever perfect.
They fart, they disobey and they insist upon shaking themselves dry right
beside the main characters.
What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?
I don’t read enough.
Also, I almost never read romance. Normally I tend to go for historical novels
or non-fiction. My all time favourite is probably “Wolf Hall” for fiction and
“Saints and Sinners – A History of the Papacy” for non-fiction. By the way, if
you want sex, violence and intrigue, you can’t beat the history of the popes.
When did you start writing? What’s the best thing about being a writer and the worst?
I still have a 44 page (handwritten in pencil) story that I wrote when I was 14. I wrote my first full-length novel at 25 (never published) and then carried on ever since. It’s a drug. I can’t seem to be able to stop. The best thing about being a writer is that you are your own boss (unless you are unlucky enough to have a bossy editor – I have a wonderful editor) and you get to visit and write about places that most people can only dream of. The worst thing: sitting at the computer for hours on end had caused me all kinds of back problems. I have now invested in a sitting/standing desk that makes things easier. Mind you, this might just be because I’m very, very old.
What are you currently writing?
“Dreaming of Verona”. A Shakespeare
scholar visits the city that was the setting of “Romeo and Juliet” and falls in
love, but the course of true love is anything but easy for her.
I hope these answers are of interest to you. Thanks a lot for your support.
T.A. Williams lives in Devon with his Italian wife. He was born in England of a Scottish mother and Welsh father. After a degree in modern languages at Nottingham University, he lived and worked in Switzerland, France and Italy, before returning to run one of the best-known language schools in the UK. He’s taught Arab princes, Brazilian beauty queens and Italian billionaires. He speaks a number of languages and has travelled extensively. He has eaten snake, still-alive fish, and alligator. A Spanish dog, a Russian bug and a Korean parasite have done their best to eat him in return. His hobby is long-distance cycling, but his passion is writing.Twitter: @TAWilliamsBooks
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A charming story of culture, family, forgiveness and love, written with wonderful vivid imagery, and an insightful balance of humour and poignancy.
Rilla is in trouble, something that has plagued her throughout her young life. It’s as if she doesn’t believe she has a right to be happy, loved and successful. Her wedding day is the perfect example of this. She hides her insecurity and vulnerability behind a rebellious mask, always making fun of herself and her family. Failing at life, she finally confronts the root cause, her sister Rose, or rather her absence.
Rilla is a lovely character, complex, flawed and challenged by her family who always wants to know everything, constantly interfere and comment on her life. Well meant, or not she is frustrated by it and is forced on a journey of self-discovery to salvage her sanity. To stop being the one in the family, everyone has an opinion about.Rilla discovers a web of secrets and lies. but when she finds the truth, can she live with it?
The family are an intrinsic part of this book. their characters are believable, and so vividly written, you can see and hear them in your mind. They bring this story to life and make it such an enjoyable read. Easy to empathise you follow Rilla’s emotional journey with interest, wanting her to find the answers, but hoping she is strong enough to accept them.
The ending is satisfying, it brings resolution, love and hope for the future.
A forbidden love affair. A long-buried secret. A journey that will change everything.
Morocco, 1984. High in the Atlas Mountains, Hanane’s love for Irishman Gus is forbidden. Forced to flee her home with the man she loves, Hanane is certain she’s running towards her destiny. But she has made a decision that will haunt her family for years to come.
London, 2009. When Addy discovers a mysterious letter in her late father’s belongings, she journeys to Morocco in search of answers. But instead, she finds secrets – and is quickly pulled into a world that she doesn’t understand.
And when history starts to repeat itself, it seems her journey might just change the person she is forever
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Addy has survived illness and when her estranged father dies, she finds old photographs, one of which contains a happy image of her father Gus, and a woman she doesn’t know, The back of the photo is dated 1984 Morocco.
She sets off on a journey of discovery, hoping to get to know her father better. She falls in love with Morocco but finds more questions than answers and risks repeating history.
The setting for this story is beautifully described. The vivid images immerse the reader, in the culture and ethos of Morocco. I like the timeslip story best, but unfortunately, the plot doesn’t allow this to be explored to its full potential. Whilst this faithfully represents what Addy discovers, from a reader’s point of view it would have been preferable to spend more time in 1984.
The characters whilst complex and interesting are hard to empathise in most cases. The pacing is a little slow and there is perhaps too much emphasis on the setting rather than the characterisation and plot.
An interesting read of forbidden love in a different culture.