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Dear Jane by Allie Cresswell: Jane Austen would have approved!

Synopsis
The final instalment of the Highbury trilogy, Dear Jane recounts events hinted at but never actually described in Jane Austen’s Emma; the formative childhood years of Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill, their meeting in Weymouth and the agony of their secret engagement.

Orphaned Jane seems likely to be brought up in parochial Highbury until adoption by her papa’s old friend Colonel Campbell opens to her all the excitement and opportunities of London. Frank Weston is also transplanted from Highbury, adopted as heir to the wealthy Churchills and taken to their drear and inhospitable Yorkshire estate. Readers of Emma will be familiar with the conclusion of Jane and Frank’s story, but Dear Jane pulls back the veil which Jane Austen drew over its remainder.

My review
I hadn’t read the previous books in this series, but that didn’t stop me enjoying this book immensely.

It’s a bold step to take on some of Jane Austen’s characters and write new stories for them, but this author does it very successfully. She captures the atmosphere and time of Jane Austen’s novels with her use of language, social interactions and imagery, but clearly marks her own stamp too. I definitely prefer her Jane Fairfax to the rather remote one who appears in ‘Emma’, but then she’s intended to be somewhat mysterious in that novel. It’s intriguing to discover the possible events that might have accompanied these well-known literary personages, and I’m sure that Jane Austen would have approved!

The author must have done a tremendous amount of research into the Georgian era and captures it for us so convincingly.

Clever, imaginative and respectful of the original novels from which this springboards, Dear Jane is great fun and very entertaining to read.

Purchase Links:
UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dear-Jane-Highbury-Trilogy-inspired-ebook/dp/B07PXGL93S
US – https://www.amazon.com/Dear-Jane-Highbury-Trilogy-inspired-ebook/dp/B07PXGL93S

About the author
Allie Cresswell was born in Stockport, UK and began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil.
She did a BA in English Literature at Birmingham University and an MA at Queen Mary College, London.
She has been a print-buyer, a pub landlady, a book-keeper, run a B & B and a group of boutique holiday cottages. Nowadays Allie writes full time having retired from teaching literature to lifelong learners.
She has two grown-up children, two granddaughters, two grandsons and two cockapoos but just one husband – Tim. They live in Cumbria, NW England.
Dear Jane is her ninth novel.

Social Media Links

www.allie-cresswell.com
https://www.facebook.com/alliescribbler/
@alliescribbler

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Green Gold by Gabriel Hemery

Green Gold by Gabriel Hemery

  • Publisher:Unbound Digital (18 April 2019)
  • Language:English
  • ISBN-10:1789650232
  • ISBN-13:978-1789650235

 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Green-Gold-Victorian-Hunter-Jeffrey/dp/1789650232/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_3?keywords=green+gold+by+gabriel+hemery&qid=1554145936&s=gateway&sr=8-3-fkmrnull

BLURB

In 1850, young Scottish plant hunter John Jeffrey was despatched by an elite group of Victorian subscribers to seek highly prized exotic trees in North America. An early letter home told of a 1,200-mile transcontinental journey by small boat and on foot.  Later, tantalising collections of seeds and plants arrived from British Columbia, Oregon and California, yet early promise soon withered. Four years after setting out, John Jeffrey, and his journals, disappeared without a trace.  Was he lost to love, violence or the Gold Rush? Green Gold combines meticulous research with the fictional narrative of Jeffrey’s lost journals, revealing an extraordinary adventure. 

 

MY REVIW

There are two timelines in this fascination novel: the modern-day, when an intern researcher at the Arnold Arboretum, Helen, is given the job of sorting through a large chest of papers and journals, and the 1850s when we either travel with John Jeffrey through the pages of his journal or read correspondence to or from him, or concerning him. This novel thus encompasses three literary styles – first person narrative, third person narrative and epistolary – all of which the author handles very skilfully and convincingly.

Essentially, author Gabriel Hemery has provided us with his version of the missing journals of the young Botanist John Jeffrey. He has used extant factual historical documents on which to base his creation. He has totally succeeded in conjuring up for us a convincing human being, with flaws as well as many strengths. We see John’s emotional and personal side as well as his crisp, efficient, academic one.

The author excellently captures both time periods that he portrays. Small details and sharp observations make the settings very real, as does the language used. The novel is thus very atmospheric.

If you have any interest at all in botany or the Victorian era – but quite frankly even if you don’t, since it’s such an enjoyable read! – you will thoroughly this intriguing and elucidating novel.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Gabriel Hemery is an author, tree photographer and forest scientist.
Books by Gabriel Hemery:

GREEN GOLD: THE EPIC TRUE STORY OF VICTORIAN PLANT HUNTER JOHN JEFFREY,
is a fictional biography, combining meticulous research with the fictional narrative of Jeffrey’s lost journals. Publishing with Unbound in spring 2019.

–*–

THE NEW SYLVA: A DISCOURSE OF FOREST & ORCHARD TREES FOR THE TWENTY FIRST CENTURY, was published to wide acclaim by Bloomsbury in 2014. Its 400 pages feature more than 100 tree species, accompanied by 200 specially commissioned pen and ink drawings made by Sarah Simblet. Its publication coincided with the 350th anniversary of John Evelyn’s Sylva (1664).

Excellently Produced Masterpiece – Beautiful book and very well produced. A worthy successor to the original work that inspired this volume. *****

Five Stars – Beautiful! I brought this as a gift for someone who works in the tree industry and they absolutely love it! *****

–*–

DON’T LOOK BACK featured as a short story in the woodland anthology, ARBOREAL, published by Little Toller Books in 2016.

–*–

Gabriel Hemery co-founded Sylva Foundation, an environmental charity, and writes a popular tree and forestry blog. He lives near Oxford in England.

http://www.gabrielhemery.com/

Twitter : @GabrielHemery

 

 

 

 

 

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The Peacock Bottle by Angela Rigley: enchanting and atmospheric

Synopsis

In this Victorian dual timeline novel, Amelia Wise feels a jolt when she finds a blue perfume bottle in the overgrown garden of the house she has inherited. Several events in her life mirrors those from the past and, with the help of her newfound cousin, Olivia, the bottle’s secret is uncovered.

 

My review

This is an enchanting, gentle mystery, but not without some powerful emotions surfacing here and there.

The dual-timeline action takes places half a century apart in 1840 and 1893 and follows the story of the Wise family who lived at Alice Howe. The setting is comfortable middle-class Cumbria, but both branches of the family in the various time periods encounter certain hardships that are daunting but also seem to bring out the best in them.

Our protagonist is Amelia, who is a strong, likeable character, very much of her restrictive time but with rebellion bubbling beneath the surface that portends the coming twentieth century. She’s interesting and draws our interest from the first meeting with her. Some of her relatives are less appealing but nonetheless very rounded and convincing.

The novel revolves around a relatively simple device – the perfume bottle found in the garden that links the time periods – but it is so brilliantly handled by this author that it has great impact. Simplicity really can be the key to a cracking good story! That said, the plot is intelligent and intriguing, and keeps the reader riveted.

This is a very atmospheric and absorbing novel, with a strong family theme, that’s a pleasure to read.

 

Purchase Links:

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Peacock-Bottle-Angela-Rigley-ebook/dp/B073NT79W2

US – https://www.amazon.com/Peacock-Bottle-Angela-Rigley-ebook/dp/B073NT79W2

 

About the author

Married to Don, I have 5 children and 9 grandchildren, I live in Derbyshire, England, and enjoy researching my family tree (having found ancestors as far back as 1465), reading, gardening, playing Scrabble, meals out and family gatherings. I am the treasurer of my writing club, Eastwood Writers’ Group, and I also write and record Thoughts for the Day for Radio Nottingham. At church I sing in the choir and am an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, a reader, a flower arranger and a member of the fundraising team for Cafod, my favourite charity. I have written hymns, although I cannot read music.

Social Media Links –

https://www.instagram.com/angelarigleyauthor/

https://www.facebook.com/angierigley/

https://twitter.com/angierigley

www.nunkynoo.yolasite.com

https://wordpress.com/view/authoryantics.wordpress.com

https://www.linkedin.com/in/angela-rigley-b0322741/

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/angelarigley/pins/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14367596.Angela_Rigley

 

Giveaway to Win 2 x Paperback copes of The Peacock Bottle (UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494209/

Follow the rest of the tour!

 

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The Saxon Wolves by Penny Ingham: refreshing and enlightening

The Saxon Wolves

Britain 455AD. The Roman Empire has fallen. As the daughter of a king and a priestess of the sacred grove, Anya’s life in Germania is one of wealth and privilege – until she dares to speak out against the high priest’s barbaric human sacrifices. Her punishment is exile. Forced to leave her homeland, she sails to Britannia, to an island that is sliding into chaos and war, as rival kingdoms vie for power. Alone and far from home, Anya must learn to survive amidst the bloodshed, treachery and intrigue of fifth century Britain. Can she find a place to belong – a home, a hearth, a welcome?

 

My review

The fifth century was a time of migration and political unrest in Eurasia, and that is all very apparent in this story.  Anya migrates, unwilling, to Britain, and much of the rest of the book reflects the petty and more major political upheavals going on. It’s a period often neglected in historical fiction, but it certainly makes for exciting and interesting reading.

It’s fascinating to see Britain in that era – what settlements were like, what people wore, what they ate, how they treated each other, what sort of names they had. These all emerge in the novel and leave us informed as well as entertained. The author has obviously done a lot of research and she really throws some late on what’s often considered to be the mysterious Dark Ages. Since it’s fiction then the author has used her creativity and imagination too, and fact and fiction fuse well.

Anya is a very robust young lady. She goes through some pretty awful ordeals but she finds the courage to continue and overcome. She bumps into rather a lot of unpleasant people, most of whom are vying for some kind of power. Life was brutal then, and that certainly comes through.

This work of historical fiction is refreshing in that it chooses a period that’s often passed over and presents it to us with an intriguing story line and a very likeable heroine. Very enjoyable.

Purchase links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Saxon-Wolves-Exile-just-beginning-ebook/dp/B01L5NCDGE

US https://www.amazon.com/Saxon-Wolves-Exile-just-beginning-ebook/dp/B01L5NCDGE

Author Bio

Penny’s father, a journalist, instilled her with a love of history from an early age. Family holidays invariably included an invigorating walk up an Iron Age hill-fort whilst listening to his stirring stories of the Roman attack and the valiant defence by the Britons. Consequently, Penny has a degree in Classics and a passion for history and archaeology. She has enjoyed a varied career, including BBC production assistant, theatre PR and journalism, but her ambition was always to write historical fiction. Her first novel, The King’s Daughter, was awarded Editor’s Choice by the Historical Novel Society. Penny has worked on many archaeological excavations, and these ‘digs’ and their evocative finds often provide the inspiration for her books. Penny’s research also takes her to the many spectacular historical sites featured in this novel, including Hadrian’s Wall and Tintagel.”

 

Twitter     – @pennyingham

Facebook    – https://www.facebook.com/TheSaxonWolves/

Instagram  – https://www.instagram.com/pennyinghamthesaxonwolves/

Website    –  pennyingham.wordpress.com

 

This is the last day of the tour for this super book, but do check out what other book bloggers have to say about it.

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An Abiding Fire by M J Logue: historical fiction at its absolute best

Synopsis

How do you solve a murder when you are one of the suspects…

1664, London

Life should be good for Major Thankful Russell and his new bride, Thomazine. Russell, middle-aged and battle-scarred, isn’t everyone’s idea of the perfect husband for an eligible young woman but the moment Thomazine set eyes on her childhood hero, she knew they were destined for one another.

But Russell, a former Roundhead, now working for the King’s intelligence service, was never going to have a simple life in Restoration London.

Unable to shake suspicions of his Parliamentarian past, someone seems hell-bent on ruining his reputation — and his life.

 

My review

Now that the blurb has sent the scene, I can tell you that this unusual but ideally suited couple act together as seventeenth-century private detectives to clear Russell’s name.

The book is cleverly divided into four sections – Tinder, Spark, Fire and Ash – which fittingly describe and accompany the action. Fire is quite crucial to this book, not just physical fire but metaphorically in the determination and spirit we encounter in the pages.

In fact, everything about this book is clever and accomplished. It reminded me with an energetic shake why, not that I’m ever like to forget, I love historical fiction so much – it brings a period to life far more than even the best text book. Getting into our characters’ heads, following them around as they get soaked and cold on horseback, seeing them chisel off chunks of stale bread for breakfast, well, it really gives you a feel for what life was actually like.

We have some fabulous characters. Our hero is the introverted Thankful Russell, quiet but brave, and his bouncy new bride Thomazine, who made it clear to him that he was hers twenty years ago and she was still a toddler. Theirs is a happy, relaxed relationship. Thomazine isn’t a woman who’s going to disappear into the background, as is apparent from this, my favourite line from the whole book is when she says to her husband: “I have a brain in my head, husband, which I have not been permitted to use these three months and more, in case it scares the horses.”

The plot is intriguing and exciting, and the book races along. Almost too quickly, since I was enjoying it so much. But there’s more to come from this resolute and resourceful duo, thank goodness.

As well as a superb story and a whole host of fascinating rascals and rogues of various types, with a good assortment of honourable sorts too, there’s some easy-to-read and entertaining historical notes that are interesting and informative. The novel itself presents some major events of the period. You come away from this book with a much better idea of late seventeenth century history than when you went into it.

Definitely one to read if you’re a historical fiction fan, and even if you’re not! Trust me, it’s excellent.

 

About the author

M. J. Logue (as in cataLOGUE and epiLOGUE and not, ever, loge, which is apparently a kind of private box in a theatre) wrote her first short novel on a manual typewriter aged seven. It wasn’t very good, being about talking horses, but she made her parents sit through endless readings of it anyway.

Thirty-something years later she is still writing, although horses only come into it occasionally these days. Born and brought up in Lancashire, she moved to Cornwall at the turn of the century (and has always wanted to write that) and now lives in a granite cottage with her husband, and son, five cats, and various itinerant wildlife.

After periods of employment as a tarot reader, complaints call handler, executive PA, copywriter and civil servant, she decided to start writing historical fiction about the period of British history that fascinates her – the 17th century.

Her first series, covering the less than stellar career of a disreputable troop of Parliamentarian cavalry during the civil wars, was acclaimed by reviewers as “historical fiction written with elegance, wit and black humour” – but so many readers wanted to know whether fierce young lieutenant Thankful Russell ever did get his Happy Ever After, that the upcoming series of romantic thrillers for Sapere Books began.

Get in touch with MJ        

She can be found on Twitter @Hollie_Babbitt, lurking on the web at asweetdisorder.com, and posting photos of cake, cats and extreme embroidery on Instagram as asweetdisorder.

Follow the rest of the tour:

 

 

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Sadie’s Wars by Rosemary Noble: bittersweet, and beautifully written

Synopsis

An astonishing tale, spanning continents, where truth is stranger than fiction. This historical saga of an extraordinary Australian pioneer family continues into a new generation.

Sadie is brought-up amongst the vineyards of the Yarra Valley while her work-obsessed father reaps riches from the boom years before the Great War.

With post-war depression looming, Sadie’s only option is to flee from her disastrous marriage, seeking refuge in Cleethorpes, a small seaside town in northern England.

Years later, when her sons are in RAF Bomber Command, she receives a letter from her long-lost brother which forces her to confront the past and her part in her family’s downfall.

Can old wounds be healed?
Will she find new love?
Will this second war destroy everyone she saved?

 

My review

This is a truly bittersweet novel. Sadie, our heroine, is the mother of three sons, all of whom are fighting in the Second World War. With her heart in tatters with worry about them, she still finds the strength to make her own contribution to the war effort, and to find some love for herself.

The author created the tense atmosphere beautifully. I can only imagine how truly dreadful it must have been for the women of that generation to be constantly wondering if their children were still alive as the war dragged on and on. Grabbing every precious second with them when they’re on leave becomes Sadie’s prime concern.

We travel in time here and there back to relevant moments of Sadie’s childhood and early adulthood. This is nicely done and isn’t intrusive. Instead, we have two beautifully told storylines to enjoy.

We don’t want to see Sadie suffer, but given the war setting it’s inevitable she will. Yet she finds new strength to deal with the aftermath of the war, and even has the chance to try and rebuild her life and enjoy some happiness.

This is very touching wartime novel that recounts, without sensationalism or detraction, the turbid, tragic nature of this period. By sharing the experiences of just one mother we actually get an incredibly broad insight into the true impact of human conflict.

I hadn’t realised this was the last book in a trilogy when I read Sadie’s War, which shows that it stands alone perfectly. I shall now be reading the first two novels in the series to find out more about the fascinating family on whom the books are based.

 

Purchase Link

mybook.to/SadieW 

UK link: https://amzn.to/2UrNif1

 

Author bio

I worked as a  librarian, mostly with young people, so books have been my life, ever since I first stepped into a library and found a magical treasure trove. My other love is social history. Retirement gave me the opportunity to travel to Australia where I discovered stories that deserved to be written. I found a new career as an author which gives me immense pleasure. I write for myself but am delighted that others enjoy my books.

 

Social Media Links 

https://twitter.com/chirosie

 rosemarynoble.wordpress.com

https://www.facebook.com/RosemaryJaneNoble/