Posted in Book Review, Cozy Mystery, Crime, Friendship, Murder Mystery, Mystery, New Books

Murder in the Village Lisa Cutts 4* Review #BrendaPenshurstMystery @LisaCuttsAuthor @bookouture #MurderMystery #cosymystery #Village #England #BookReview #MurderintheVillage

Nothing ever happens in Little Challham… until the local pub owner is drowned in his own ale. Belinda Penshurst, owner of Challham Castle, is on the case!

Belinda Penshurst loves her home village Little Challham, with its shady lanes, two pubs and weekly market, and she’s determined to keep it peaceful. She may live in Challham Castle but she knows almost everything that goes on under her nose. So when irritable pub landlord Tipper is found dead in his cellar, she’s perfectly placed to investigate.

Retired detective Harry Powell moved to Little Challham for a quiet life. He didn’t expect to be dragged into a murder investigation. But the police don’t seem half as enthusiastic as Belinda about the case, and there are strange things happening in the village. Particularly the number of dogs that have disappeared lately…

Is there a dognapper snaffling schnauzers and luring away Labradors? Is Belinda barking mad to be worried that her brother Marcus was arguing with Tipper on the day he died? Belinda and Harry track down the suspects: the rival landlord, the outraged barmaid, the mysterious man in the black car following dogwalkers around. But are the dogged detectives running out of time to sniff out the killer, before he starts hounding them?

A charming cozy mystery full of laughs and eccentric characters. 

I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Belinda Penshurst lives in the castle that overlooks the village. An active participant in village life, she uses her finances and influence to rejuvenate local businesses. Naturally, she is perturbed when the landlord of the pub she’s invested in is murdered. Harry is an ex-detective, working as a dog food delivery driver who uncovers a dog knapping plot. The two join forces to investigate. There is an intriguing dynamic between Belinda and Harry. Their dialogue is humorous, and they are both vibrant characters with pasts and secrets. The mystery is well-written, with multiple suspects and twists.

The intricate world-building is relatable. The characters and setting are easy to imagine, and an immersive writing style draws the reader into the village world. It’s an easy and entertaining read.

Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Cozy Mystery, Crime, Murder Mystery, Mystery, New Books

Mystery at the Church (An Eve Mallow Mystery Book 6) Clare Chase 5* #Review @ClareChase_ @bookouture #CozyMystery #MurderMystery #Suffolk #Mystery #Village #Coastal #Location #BookReview #EveMallowMystery #TV #MysteryattheChurch #SaturdayMorning

When a TV drama crew descends on sleepy Saxford St Peter, Eve Mallow joins the excited throng of extras in a funeral scene. But then a real body is found… and Eve gets a starring role as sleuth!

Eve Mallow is looking forward to her fifteen minutes of fame when Saxford St Peter is chosen as the location for a new drama series. A devoted people-watcher, Eve is thrilled to learn that TV stars are just as glamorous – and tempestuous – as she’s always imagined.

But then someone delivers a bouquet of poisonous flowers to the director Rufus Beaumont, making Eve worry that some of the rivalries she’s noticed are deadly serious. And when Rufus’s body is found in the church where the funeral scene took place, it’s clear that someone’s out for the kill in real life.

Eve and dachshund Gus have been on the ground from the start, and now they’re on the case, interrogating the suspects one by one. Is it the devastating diva whose relationship with Rufus was far from professional? The cameraman who caught Rufus doing something he shouldn’t? Or the groupie groundskeeper who’s in the background of every shot? One thing’s for sure – Eve must catch the killer before she stars in their next murderous production… 

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

As a devoted follower of this series, it definitely gets better with each new book. Eve Mallow, the part-time obituary writer and tea shop helper, is a lovely character. The perfect amateur sleuth being courageous, kind, nosy and quirky. Her latest role as a film extra provides lots of opportunities to use her keen observational skills. A dangerous gift and an unexpected death lead to a new commission and the chance to investigate a murder.

I love the methodical way she draws up a timeline to solve the murder. With her useful police contacts and her opportunity to interview potential suspects in her obituary writer role, she soon has lots of clues, motives and suspects, to consider.

The characters are relatable. The potential suspects have secrets that Eve and Robin discover as the story unfolds. It’s a good balance of action, deduction and investigation. The immersive writing style invites the reader to draw their conclusions too.

The perfect read for lovers of classic mystery.

Read my reviews of previous books in the series.

Mystery on Hidden Lane (Book1) – Read my review

Mystery at Apple Cottage(Book2) – Read my review

Mystery at the Old Mill (Book4)Read my review

Mystery at the Abbey Hotel – Read my review

Posted in Book Review, Cozy Mystery, New Books

The Murders at Foxglove Close Rose Temple 4*#Review @Hodder_Studio @HodderBooks A Neighbourhood Watch Mystery @HodderPublicity #cosymystery #rural #Sussex #MurdersatFoxgloveClose

The sleepy village of Little Cote was meant to be a quieter pace of life for ex-Met PC Jemima Cotton. But she soon discovers, here a petty rivalry can erupt into full-blown murder . . .

Police Officer Jemima Cotton expected Little Cote to be a quieter pace of life. But, unlike London, everyone knows everyone, and beyond the cake sales and coffee mornings, tea parties and village fetes, the neighbours aren’t all the best of friends . . .

When Jemima is unpacking her mugs and teabags in her new home on Foxglove Close, she’s called to attend her first murder investigation. She’s excited, until she discovers it’s only a few doors down from her. And she hasn’t even met her new neighbours yet! As she steps out of her house in full uniform, Jemima can feel the eyes on the back of her neck, and she can see the curtains and blinds twitching.

But the crucial question is why did the lonely gentleman at the end of the road get murdered, eating dinner alone at his garden table, tucking into a new bottle of Chablis? As she digs deeper into the murder, Jemima discovers that here in Little Cote, underneath the surface, tensions bubble away . . . and the smallest vendetta can erupt into full blown murder.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Hodder and Stoughton -Hodder Studio via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

An enjoyable cosy mystery set in a Sussex village with a rural police officer as the main protagonist. This is not a traditional police procedural, although the authenticity of the procedures is evident. This is a study of human nature, village dynamics tinged with humour, mystery and romance.

PC Cotton is an engaging protagonist and a resourceful sleuth. The rural police team are convincingly portrayed. The vibrantly created villagers provide Jemima Cotton with many suspects and constant interference in her personal life.

The plot is well thought-out and, this promises to be an entertaining cosy mystery series with noteworthy originality.

Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, Holiday Romance, New Books, Romance, Travel

Summer at the French Olive Grove 5*#Review Sophie Claire @HodderBooks @SClaireWriter #Romance #Family #Friendship #Rural #Village #Provence #grief #BookReview #Holiday #France #SummerAtTheFrenchOliveGrove

Filmmaker Lily’s life is all about work and adventure. So when she suffers an accident on her travels and finds herself recuperating in the quiet French seaside village where she spent her childhood, she can’t wait to escape. Not least because Olivier – Lily’s childhood friend and former crush, who she has spent the last thirteen years avoiding – is staying next door . . .

Strong-minded masterbaker Olivier is happily settled in St Pierre, preparing to marry and put down roots. But Lily’s return to the village risks turning his carefully-laid plans upsidedown, and as the pair rediscover their familiar rivalry and fun, sparks fly.

Is Lily really as fearless and independent as she seems on the surface – or is she just running from the past? And what if Olivier is the only one who can teach her what it really means to be brave?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Hodder and Stoughton via NetGalley.

My Thoughts…

Lily is an intrepid filmmaker with a conscience. Whilst filming at a coffee cooperative run by women in Columbia filming Lily is courageous in protecting the women when they are threatened but doesn’t come out of the incident unscathed. Returning to her grandmother in Provence has bittersweet memories, especially when she is met at the airport by Olivier, her best friend and teenage crush.

The friends to lovers romance between Lily and Olivier is conflicted. It develops realistically with many heartwarming, humorous and heartbreaking moments. Lily’s grandmother is a lovely character who has always positively influenced her life. The story flows well with an absorbing setting and believable cast of supporting characters.

The romantic tension is intense, and the reader realises how important the couple’s friendship is. Lily and Olivier undergo significant character development until they reach a dramatic and satisfying conclusion.

Friendship, family romance and self-realisation make this an engaging summer read.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Guest post, Mystery, New Books, Romance

Summer Secrets at Streamside Cottage Samantha Tonge #GuestPost @SamTongeWriter @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #Family #Friends #Romance #Secrets #mystery #BlogTour #publicationday #SummerSecretsatStreamsideCottage

A new start can come from the most unexpected places…

It’s been years since Lizzie Lockhart spoke to her parents. But she was safe in the knowledge she knew everything about them. Once upon a time, they were as close as could be. Until they weren’t.

After receiving the earth-shattering news of their passing, Lizzie decides it’s time to unearth some family secrets and find out just who her parents really were… starting with Streamside Cottage. A cottage Lizzie never knew existed, in a place she’s never heard of: the beautiful English village of Leafton.

Leaving behind London, and the tattoo parlour she called home, Lizzie finds herself moving to the countryside. Faced with a tight-lipped community, who have secrets of their own, Lizzie is at a loss for what to do, until her rather handsome neighbour, Ben, steps in to help.

As Lizzie finally begins to piece together the puzzle of her family history she realises she has to confront the truth of the past in order to face her future.

Amazon UK Bookshop.org Kobo Google Play

Guest Post – Samantha Tonge – Tattoos

Do you love or hate tattoos? They can attract an extreme reaction and that’s the reason I wanted to write a story featuring a tattoo artist as the main character. Even though tattoos are mainstream these days, stigma still exists around them, along with set ideas about the *type of person* who would get one. It’s only in recent years, for example, that the Met Police have relaxed their policy on officers being banned from having visible ones on their hands or face. I wanted to show that they represent so much more than just a piece of art. It is the reasons behind why people put themselves under the needle that interest me most.

In 2016 I started my mental health recovery. Buddhism was a big part of this and I decided I wanted a tattoo of a lotus flower, on my wrist. It was my first and it’s very small – I now wish I’d had it drawn much bigger! It’s a daily reminder of how far I’ve come, and how I need to keep doing what I did in 2016 to stay well. Whilst she inked me I chatted to the artist, admiring her incredible skill. She talked about the many reasons people want tattoos. As part of her job she hears painful stories, about abuse for example, or bereavement. I chatted about my personal journey as the tracing paper version of my lotus flower became pink and vibrant on my skin.

Of course, you’re always going to get those tattoos that have been done whilst drunk on holiday and are misspelt, and they carry entirely different stories! But reputable artists won’t ink anyone under the influence and you have to be over eighteen. And, like Lizzie in my story, each artist has their own set of ethics, such as refusing to ink on the name of a short-term boyfriend or girlfriend in case the relationship breaks down, or saying no to doing them on a part of the body they’ll rub off easily, such as the fingers.

Tattoos have been around as long as the Ancient Egyptians, and to me are as much a part of human life as haircuts or make-up. Very often they represent a hard time that person has been through, yet some critics still only associate them with people of dubious character. They’d no doubt be surprised to learn that Winston Churchill had one!  I understand why not everyone wants a tattoo – I’m not sure a Mohican haircut would suit me, for example – but that’s the beauty of being human, our individualism.

I thoroughly enjoyed doing  research and each chapter begins with an interesting fact, such as how the Indian Apatani tribe used to tattoo young girls to make them unappealing to rival tribes who might abduct the  most beautiful women.  Or how some people get loved ones’ ashes put into the tattoo ink, as a permanent commemoration.

Lizzie’s job is a big reason she fell out with her parents – or is it? If you read this story I hope you enjoy her emotional journey to the village of Leafton, to find out why they cut her out of their life so completely. It’s a novel about confronting the past in order to face the future.

Samantha Tonge

Samantha Tonge lives in Manchester UK with her husband and children. She studied German and French at university and has worked abroad, including a stint at Disneyland Paris. She has travelled widely. When not writing she passes her days cycling, baking and drinking coffee. Samantha has sold many dozens of short stories to women’s magazines. She is represented by the Darley Anderson literary agency. In 2013, she landed a publishing deal for romantic comedy fiction with HQDigital at HarperCollins and in 2014, her bestselling debut, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award. In 2015 her summer novel, Game of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category. In 2018 Forgive Me Not, heralded a new direction into darker women’s fiction with publisher Canelo. In 2019 she was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association romantic comedy award.

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Read my review of The Winter We Met here

Posted in Book Review, Cozy Mystery, Crime, Murder Mystery, Mystery

Mystery at the Abbey Hotel (An Eve Mallow Mystery Book 5) Clare Chase 4* #Review @ClareChase_ @bookouture #CozyMystery #MurderMystery #Suffolk #Mystery #Village #Coastal #BookReview #EveMallowMystery #MysteryattheAbbeyHotel #MondayBlogs

Eve Mallow’s stay at the luxurious Abbey Hotel takes a turn for the suspicious when the owner is murdered – leaving Eve surrounded by suspects!


Saxford St Peter is Eve Mallow’s beloved home, but she can’t resist the chance to spend a weekend in the nearby Abbey Hotel, famed for its glamorous owner Debra Moran and an array of celebrity guests. For a confirmed people-watcher like Eve, it’s perfect: she can observe the rich and famous while sipping tea in the gardens, her faithful dachshund Gus by her side.


But her relaxing break takes a shocking turn when Debra is found lying dead in the shadowy woods around the hotel. One of Eve’s fellow guests didn’t come to the Abbey for fine food and delightful décor – but to kill.


When the investigation gets underway, Eve finds herself trapped with a wide range of suspects. Could it be Debra’s new friend Harper, who inherits everything? Her ex-husband Chester, still seething over their messy divorce? Or her estranged sister Amelia, who came hoping for reconciliation, only for Debra to shut the door in her face?


As Eve roams the hotel, searching for clues and hunting down alibis, she uncovers a whole host of secrets. But can she find the truth before the killer brings her holiday to a deadly end?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Eve takes a well-earned break at a luxury hotel in a nearby location in this mystery. The change of location is glamorous and promises to be a feast of delicious food and people watching. An unexpected death makes Eve realise, the veiled animosity she sensed between some of the guests and employees may be clues to solving a murder.

This is an addictive cosy mystery with eccentric characters, clever clues and an atmospheric setting. I have read most of this series, and it continues to engage me.

Read my 4*Review of Mystery at the Old Mill (Book4)

I’ve read two of the three previous books in the Eve Mallow Mystery series, and it keeps getting better.
It’s good to return to the picturesque village and its vividly described inhabitants. Eve investigates a death after an arson attack and soon finds the victim has hidden depths and secrets.

The plot is full of twists, and the list of suspects is vast, but Eve’s tenacious investigative techniques and willingness to put herself in danger draw the guilty party into the open in an exciting finale.

Mystery on Hidden Lane (Book1) -Read my review

Mystery at Apple Cottage(Book2) -Read my review

Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, New Books, Novella

Eleven Days in June R P Gibson Colley 4*#Review The Tales of Little Leaf @RupertColley #1985 #Devon #Village #ComingofAge #Relationships #Love #humour #PublicationDay #MondayBlogs

Dan is 20, lives in a sleepy village in Devon and works in a small DIY shop. He likes numbers and hero worships Lord Nelson. But he finds ordinary people difficult to understand and he’s certainly never kissed a girl. His mother mocks him, he misses his father and he pines for Ollie, his only childhood friend who truly understood him.

But, despite it all, Dan thinks he’s happy enough. Until one June day, the beautiful and mysterious Libby walks into his shop – and into his life.

Libby’s sudden appearance turns Dan’s ordered existence upside down. But Dan soon realises that Libby isn’t who she seems. Who exactly is she? What is she hiding, and, more importantly, who’s that threatening man always looking for her?

In trying to help Libby, Dan comes to realise what’s missing in his own life, and, in turn, appreciates what’s really important…

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is a coming of age story, set in a sleepy Devon village in 1985. Dan is 20 but appears younger. Outwardly remote he is affected deeply by others’ perceptions of him. His dysfunctional childhood made him overly dependant on his mother and losing contact with a close childhood friend, also impacted him.

The story is short and simple, but the relationships, emotional angst and development are complex, Dan is likeable, and he has more friends than he realises. The adventure with Libby, the glamorous interloper, make him appreciate that.

This is an introspective story, but it’s an emotional read with heartwarming and poignant moments.

There is a dramatic and satisfying conclusion.

Posted in Book Review, Cozy Mystery, Crime, Murder Mystery, Mystery

Mystery at Apple Tree Cottage (An Eve Mallow Mystery Book 2) Clare Chase 4* #Review @ClareChase_ @bookouture #CozyMystery #MurderMystery #Suffolk #Mystery #Village #Coastal #BookReview #EveMallowMystery

Obituary writer and amateur sleuth Eve Mallow is enjoying life in sleepy Saxford St Peter – until a mysterious murder lands right at her door…

It’s spring in Saxford St Peter – time to get back in the garden, listen to the birds, and take gentle strolls in the woods. But for some, it’s the season for murder.

Eve Mallow is relishing the gentle pace of the village until a new arrival stirs everyone up. Ashton Foley is back: a teenage tearaway turned interior designer to the stars. He’s mad, bad and dangerous to know, but charming too – as Eve herself can testify – and every house in Saxford opens its doors to him.

So when he’s found murdered in the woods near his mother’s home, Apple Tree Cottage, there’s no shortage of suspects. A jealous husband? A spurned lover? Or has someone from his past life caught up with him?

The police soon hit on a simple solution, and arrest his mother’s partner Howard. Ashton always hated him, and he bears all the marks of a recent fight. But Ashton’s mother, miles away in New Zealand, is convinced he’s innocent and enlists Eve’s help to prove it.

There’s just one problem. Eve saw Howard sniffing around Apple Tree Cottage on the morning of the murder, and she’s fairly sure he’s guilty, too…

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Despite living in London for years American Eve fits effortlessly into the little Sussex coastal village she calls home. Working in the village cafe for her friend Viv and writing obituaries she is enjoying the slower pace of life. The downside is she attracts murder and has a unique talent for solving them. It’s lovely to reacquaint, with characters introduced in book one, but this is a complete mystery and reads as a standalone.

When Ashton returns to the village, reformed and rich, there’s something about him that unsettles Eve. The victim has a chequered past and is a player, the possible suspects are many, including the person the police arrest.

Eve asked to help by Ashton’s mother uses her communication and observation skills to good effect. The plot is fast-paced with subtle twists. The characters are complex and suit the cosy mystery ethos.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Holiday Romance, Romantic Comedy

Sunrise Over Sapphire Bay Holly Martin 5*#Review @HollyMAuthor #romcom #uplit #BlogTour #BookReview #SunriseOverSapphireBay #MondayBlogs #MondayMotivation #MondayMorning #mondaythoughts

Fall in love with the beautiful Jewel Island this summer, where the sapphire sea sparkles, the golden sun warms your skin and the islanders melt your heart. From the bestselling author of The Little Village of Happiness comes Holly Martin’s most romantic novel yet.

Aria Philips has lived on Jewel Island all of her life. Even when her sisters Clover and Skye left its stunning shores for bigger and better things, Aria stayed to help her father run their family hotel.

A year after her father’s death Aria’s done everything she can to keep things afloat but the hotel has long been struggling to make a profit. With so few guests Aria risks losing the only home she’s ever had.

Noah Campbell earned his fortune from making hotels a success, and he also just happens to be staying on Jewel Island this summer. Could he be the answer to Aria’s problems? If only he hadn’t kissed her under the willow tree the year before and never called her again. It had been the most incredible kiss of her life, but clearly business and pleasure should never be mixed.

As gorgeous and charming as Noah may be, Aria vows to keep things professional while she seeks his help. But for the past year Noah has been keeping a secret and his return to Jewel Island is about to change Aria’s life forever…

Soak up the sun in Sapphire Bay with this feel-good novel you won’t be able to put down. An unforgettable summer romance

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Gentle romantic comedy set in a picturesque coastal setting. Aria is generous and loving, adopted as a baby, after being abandoned by her birth mother, she always feels the need to fit in. Noah is an astute and rich business developer, but his attraction to Sapphire Bay is personal. Aria and Noah are good people, but with significant trust, and in Aria’s case self-worth, issues. Their relationship is conflicted but full of humour, passion and poignancy.

Authentic characters and a simple plot make this an easy read, filled with heartwarming and uplifting moments, balanced with misunderstanding and sadness. Most of the characters are likeable, but someone has a vindictive agenda. The hotel is a vibrant setting, with lots of scope for future stories?

Enjoyable, escapist reading, perfect.

Holly Martin

I live in a little white cottage overlooking the sea. I studied media at university which led to a very glitzy career as a hotel receptionist followed by an even more glamorous two years working in a bank. The moment that one of my colleagues received the much coveted carriage clock for fifteen years’ service was the moment when I knew I had to escape. I quit my job and returned to university to train to be a teacher. Three years later, I emerged wide eyed and terrified that I now had responsibility for the development of thirty young minds. I taught for four years and then escaped the classroom to teach history workshops, dressing up as a Viking one day and an Egyptian High Priestess the next. But the long journeys around the UK and many hours sat on the M25 gave me a lot of time to plan out my stories and I now write full time, doing what I love.

I have been writing for 6 years. I was shortlisted for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romance 2012. My short story won the Sunlounger competition and was published in the Sunlounger anthology in 2013. I won the Carina Valentine’s competition at the Festival of Romance 2013 with my novel The Guestbook. I was shortlisted for Best Romantic Read, Best eBook and Innovation in Romantic Fiction at the Festival of Romance 2014.

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Posted in Author Guest Post, Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Guest post, Historical Fiction, Mystery

The Lost Girls Jennifer Wells 4*#Review @jenwellswriter @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #HistFic #HistoricalFiction #Secrets #Lies #FamilyDrama #BlogTour #BookReview

The Lost Girls – Jennifer Wells

Everyone remembers the day the girls went missing.

May Day 1912, a day that haunts Missensham. The day two girls disappeared. The day the girls were murdered.
Iris Caldwell and Nell Ryland were never meant to be friends. From two very different backgrounds, one the heir to the Caldwell estate, the other a humble vicar’s daughter. Both have their secrets, both have their pasts, but they each find solace with one another and soon their futures become irrevocably intertwined.
Now, many years later, old footage has emerged which shows that Iris Caldwell may not have died on that spring morning. The village must work out what happened the day the girls went missing…

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus- Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The Lost Girls is a surprisingly poignant story of two girls, from different social classes, who dared to defy society’s norms. An old home movie, showing a girl who went missing, believed abducted and murdered, is the catalyst for a surprising chain of events.

The characters are complex and flawed, and their story is full of dark secrets, and desperate emotion. An absorbing, engaging story, with a uniqueness that keeps you reading.

Guest Post- Jennifer Wells-The Lost Girls

The little moments which bring the past back to life

There is something quite eerie about old films. I don’t mean cinematic classics or even the first Hollywood movies. I’m talking about the old cine films that survive from the early twentieth century. Such films were shot using cumbersome machines, where filming depended on an operator who could doggedly turn a crank handle for minutes on end. These machines produced images that are little more than light and shadow – grainy outlines and stuttering movements – yet there is something about them that is very alluring.

Among these films are some of the very first home movies. They show horse-drawn trams battling through busy shopping streets, exuberant workers spilling from factory gates, football matches, political marches and family events. The women wear shawls or gloves, their skirts swishing around their ankles as they walk. The men strut boldly, their hands thrust into the pockets of their suits. But whether young, old, rich or poor – everyone wears a hat.

The films I am describing are now over a hundred years old. The Edwardian era is a time that has become unfamiliar to us. When you watch such films, the horse-drawn trams and long skirts seem like things that only ever existed in the pages of history books, and the people appear, not as busy shoppers or factory workers, but ghosts.

It is the ghost-like quality of such films that gave me the inspiration for the opening scene of my latest novel, THE LOST GIRLS. The novel opens in 1937 with a public screening of an old film – a lost home movie that had been shot 25 years earlier on May Day 1912. As the audience watch entranced, the image of a girl in a white dress flashes on to the screen. Her face is one that they all recognise – Iris Caldwell, a girl who was thought to be dead by that May Day morning. A girl presumed murdered.

When I first started writing THE LOST GIRLS, Iris Caldwell was little more than a ghost to me. She was no more than one of those old cine film images, her face in shadow and her movements slow and stuttering. But I wanted to give life to a character who might have appeared in one of these old films, and soon the girl in the white dress became flesh and blood to me. Iris Caldwell became a girl who, like many others, loved to read novels and longed for friendships. She also became a girl with terrible secrets and forbidden desires. We live in a time that is very different from 1912. The horse-drawn trams, long skirts and a multitude of hats belong to a world that seems very strange to us. Yet, among the grainy faces that peer out from the past, we can sometimes spot a smile or a wink – something that reminds us that the people who lived back then were not so different to us after all. It is these little moments which bring the past so much closer again.

Jennifer Wells

Jennifer is the author of THE LIAR, THE MURDERESS, THE SECRET and THE LOST GIRLS published by Aria Fiction. Her novels involve the themes of family, betrayal and love and are set in the home counties in the early 20th century. Jennifer lives in Devon with her young family and cats.

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