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.
Charlie Maddison loves being an architect in London, but when she finds out her boyfriend, Dominic, is actually married, she runs back to the beautiful countryside of Westenbury and her parents.
Charlie’s sister Daisy, a landscape gardener, is
also back home in desperate need of company and some fun. Their
great-grandmother, Madge – now in her early nineties – reveals she has a house,
Holly Close Farm, mysteriously abandoned over sixty years ago, and persuades
the girls to project manage its renovation.
As work gets underway, the sisters start
uncovering their family’s history, and the dark secrets that are hidden at the
A heart-breaking tale of wartime romance, jealousy and betrayal slowly emerge, but with a moral at its end: true love can withstand any obstacle, and, before long, Charlie dares to believe in love again too…
I received a copy of this book from Aria Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Romantic love is often considered something you can only have when you’re young. Can you imagine your grandmother or great-grandmother falling in love, or do you just see the wrinkles, hear the repetitive stories and remember her forgetfulness?
Charlie reeling from a romantic betrayal finds that her great-grandmother Madge has kept so many secrets in her long life, including finding her true love, and the web of betrayal, deceit and secrets that this event spun.
Madge offers Charlie and her sister Daisy a chance to shine when they seem to be failing at life. Accepting the challenge takes the sisters on a journey of self -discovery and the revelation of Madge’s colourful past.
Told in dual timelines, which makes the story doubly interesting, you see parallels and differences between the two generations of women. There is a lovely balance of humour and poignancy. The romance is sweet and the story inspiring.
Literary agents – do writers today need one? – Guest Post-Julie Houston
When I started out on the long – and often winding – road to becoming a published writer, I’d no idea what the role of a literary agent actually was, never mind about how to go about getting one. I just knew that, according to all the self-help handbooks that I bought and loaned from the public library, I had to have one. This was about seven years ago when it was drummed into all new writers that agents were akin to St Peter at the gates of heaven. They held the key to whether you were going to be allowed in to get anywhere near the God-like publisher.
not going to go into how one should go about achieving that status of being an
‘agented writer’ – countless detailed words of advice and articles have been
written on the subject – but I thought I would share with you my own particular
I’d written a book. It started off with the title ‘Harriet Westmoreland does it with class’ (Harriet is a teacher)
became ‘Living La Dolce Vite’ (her
husband spends a lot of time in Italy) then became ‘Compulsive Granite Disorder’ (Harriet, like me, has a bit of a
compulsion for cleaning her granite when stressed) and eventually ended up as ‘Goodness Grace and Me.’ The manuscript
went off to a string of agents. And came back. In those days, agents would
often write little notes as to what they thought, and why it wasn’t for them,
along with the rejection slip. I may be wrong, but these days, when online
submissions to agents are de rigueur, I’m not sure that happens any more. And
then came the glorious, magical week when, like a number 9 bus, three agents,
all interested in my book, came along at once.
based in London, was originally from Yorkshire and was up for the weekend to
see her mum. Could we meet? We most certainly could! And we did, the following
Saturday, for coffee and a chat at Salts Mill near Bingley. By the time I left,
floating back to the carpark on air, I had signed on the dotted line with Anne
Williams of KHLA Literary Agency based in Bristol and London. I had an agent, a literary agent.
She did warn me that my particular genre – we both disliked and eschewed the handle Chick lit, preferring the more grown-up Romantic Comedy/Women’s Fiction – was not faring too well at that point in time, being overshadowed by the rush for psychological thrillers, and had even printed out an article from The Guardian to that effect.
beauty of having Anne has an agent has been that she was formerly a
commissioning editor for one of the big publishing houses. She had, in effect,
been on the other side as it were and, as such, very much knew what editors
were looking for and the pitfalls involved in getting there. Within a few
weeks, my baby had come back to me tracked in red and, once I’d worked out how
tracking actually worked (terrifying to begin with when you’re convinced you’re
going to lose all that red work and have to admit it to this new agent) and taken
my first tentative steps to adding my own tracking in a garish purple alongside
hers, we were on our way.
My agent worked tirelessly to get Goodness, Grace and Me a place with a major publishing house. I was astonished at how few there actually were – this was at the time when even Penguin was amalgamating with Random House – and eventually we made the decision to go it alone. It was a good decision: the book went to #1 in Humour and #64 overall. With the follow-up novels, The One Saving Grace, Looking For Lucy and An Off-Piste Christmas we signed up with White Glove, a publishing division of Amazon for agented-only authors, which would not have been available to me without her. This was a great move: White Glove promoted my books, particularly in Australia, where the first two achieved #1 Humour, and Looking For Lucy went to the top of the charts going to #1 overall.
then came the offer from Aria. I wrote A
Village Affair and Anne brokered a three-book deal with Sarah, one of the
lovely commissioning editors at Aria, to include Coming Home to HollyClose
Farm and, my work in progress, Sing
Me a Secret. While Aria do take un-agented submissions, having my agent at
my side along the way has been wonderful. She’s a professional, knows all about
contracts and the like and still works with me, tirelessly, with that damned
red tracking, telling me off if I’ve written something that might come back to
bite me, but also giving praise if something particularly meets with her
the best thing about my agent is that, after seven years, I consider her a
friend. She’ll meet up with me for coffee or lunch when I’m down in London, has
been over for supper at my house when she’s been back in Yorkshire and always
gets back to me straight away if I email with some thorny question about
publication or needing advice about where my work in progress is heading.
many, successful, published authors go it alone without an agent What I would
say is, if you do find an agent interested in working with you and offer to take
you on to their books, go for it.
road to publication is so much more comfortable with that agent by your side to
hold your hand and share in your success.
peered closely at the woman, scrutinising her features for clues as to who she
Harriet,’ the woman smiled a little nervously. ‘Lydia’s granddaughter.’
Lydia? My sister, Lydia?’ Madge seemed puzzled.
Mum said. ‘You’re Keturah’s daughter?’ She turned to Madge. ‘It’s one of
Keturah’s daughters, Granny. You know. Gosh, Harriet, I’ve not seen you for
years.’ She paused. ‘It must have been at Aunt Lydia’s funeral, what, ten years
and I exchanged looks. Blimey, how many more grannies and aunties were there?
They seemed to be coming out of the woodwork at an amazing rate. I was totally
lost as to who they all were.
been dead twelve years now,’ Harriet said, reaching for the bundle of baby from
the younger woman as it began to make snuffling noises.
great-aunt Lydia was your Granny Madge’s older sister,’ Mum explained, pulling
up a chair for Harriet and the baby. ‘She was quite a bit older than you wasn’t
yes, much older. There were five of us: Lydia was the eldest and I was the
youngest. There was a good twelve years between us. By the time I was eight or
nine, Lydia was newly married and living over towards Colnefirth.’
trying to work out how we’re all related,’ I said, smiling at the younger
woman, who was looking as perplexed as I felt.
sorry, how rude of me.’ Harriet laughed. ‘This is my daughter, Liberty… Libby.’
you girls and Liberty must be eighth cousins loads of times removed then.
Sorry, can’t work it all out,’ Mum smiled. ‘I was never very good at maths.’
vaguely related. Probably best if we leave it at that.’ Liberty grinned at
Daisy and Me. ‘Oh, and this is Lysander.’ She took the baby back from her
mother and pointed him proudly in our direction.
Golly, that’s a good strong noble name,’ I said. ‘What’s that song we used to
sing at school? Some talk of Alexander, and some of Hercules; Of Hector and Lysander
diddle um tum diddle iddle um…Sorry, can’t remember the
old chap who, up until then, had been nodding peacefully in his armchair in the
far corner of the residents’ lounge, suddenly shot out of his chair, saluted
Granny, shouted, ‘Damn good soldiers. Bless ’em all,’ and then, just as
suddenly, sat back down and began to snore loudly.
old fool,’ Granny Madge tutted again. ‘I tell you, they’re all mad in here. I
need to get out before I become as crackers as they are. I’m sure it must be
Julie Houston is the author of THE ONE SAVING GRACE, GOODNESS, GRACE AND ME and LOOKING FOR LUCY, a Kindle top 100 general bestsellers and a Kindle #1 bestseller. She is married, with two teenage children and a mad cockerpoo and, like her heroine, lives in a West Yorkshire village. She is also a teacher and a magistrate. TwitterFacebook
Fixie Farr can’t help herself. Straightening a crooked object, removing a barely-there stain, helping out a friend . . . she just has to put things right. It’s how she got her nickname, after all.
So when a handsome stranger in a coffee shop asks her to watch his laptop for a moment, Fixie not only agrees, she ends up saving it from certain disaster. To thank her, the computer’s owner, Sebastian, scribbles her an IOU – but of course, Fixie never intends to call in the favour.
That is, until her teenage crush, Ryan, comes back into her life and needs her help – and Fixie turns to Seb. But things don’t go according to plan, and now Fixie owes Seb: big time.
Soon the pair are caught up in a series of IOUs – from small favours to life-changing debts – and Fixie is torn between the past she’s used to and the future she deserves.
Does she have the courage to fix things for herself and fight for the life, and love, she really wants?
I received a copy of this book from Random House UK- Transworld Publishing – Bantam Press via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is my first Sophie Kinsella novel and what a treat it is. I was smiling as soon as I met Fixie. The characters are vividly depicted, they jump off the page.
The story’s a curious mix of family drama and serendipitous romance. Fixie’s siblings are so irritating, but maybe all the fault doesn’t lie with them. Fixie’s obsessively helpful nature makes it easier for them to let her do everything.
The plot is easy to follow, not too many surprises here for the reader, but many for Fixie, as she embarks on a journey of self-realisation.
The romance is gentle and riddled with conflict, but there’s a satisfying ending. If you like to see ordinary people and situations made extraordinarily, this book will be a perfect read.