Thursday, 27 March 2014

The Painted Bridge - Wendy Wallace

I am more sane than I have ever been in my life. And yet, I look like a madwomen. 

Product Details
Behind a high stone wall on the outskirts of London lies Lake house, a private asylum for women. Tricked by her husband Anna Palmer becomes its newest patient just weeks into her marriage.

Ravaged by the cruel treatments of the time. Anna struggles to prove her sanity, despite some surprising allies: Tabitha Batt, a longtime inhabitant who seems to be as sane as she is; Lucas St Clair, a visiting physician who believes that photography may reveal the state of a patient's mind; and Catherine Abse, the proprietor's highly--strung daughter. Yet the longer Anna remains at Lake House, the more she realises that no one and nothing is quite as it appears. Not her fellow patients, her husband, her family - not even herself. 

Will Anna discover the freedom she seeks, or plunge so far into the recesses of her mind that she might never escape?

Published By: Simon & Schuster UK - Fiction
Year: 2013 - Paperback
Pages: 386
ISBN: 978-0-85720-829-0

Poor Anna Palmer is newly married to a Vincent Palmer a man of the cloth.  She may not have loved him when she married him but at least she felt she could trust him. That is until he tricks her into visiting Lake House, a private asylum for women,  where he has her committed as an inpatient.  Not even her own sister is willing to help her escape her nightmare.  Anna soon discovers that her husband is not all that he seems and realises that he had married her out of convenience to please the church, when she discovers his secret that he already has a wife and child  Her only allies are a fellow inmate, a visiting physician and the proprietor's daughter.  

The Painted Bridge' is number nine from my book shelf challenge.  It is the first novel of Wendy Wallace and is absolutely brilliant. It will send chills down your spine and does make you wonder just what would your husband do in order to cover a secret

Happy reading one and all.


Friday, 21 March 2014

Chocolat - Joanne Harris

Front Cover
When an exotic stranger, Vianne Rocher, arrives in the French village Lansquenet and opens a chocolate boutique directly opposite the church, Father Reynauld denounces her as a serious moral danger to his flock - especially as it is the beginning of Lent, the traditional season of self-denial.

As passions flare and the conflict escalates, the whole community takes sides. Can the solemnity of the Church compare with the sinful pleasure of a chocolate truffle?

Publisher: Black Swan - Paperback
Year: 1999
Pages: 320
ISBN: 9780552998482 

This was a book swap with my book swap buddy.  The story is of a young single mother and her daughter who settle in the small village of Lansquenet. Vianne and her mother had always traveled never staying in one place for very long. So when Vianne had her own daughter she decided that she wanted a more settled lifestyle for her little girl.  They settle in Lansquenet and open their little chocolate shop, soon Vianne has made many friends as well as one or two enemies.  

It's not necessarily a book that I would of picked off the shelf for myself in the bookshop but, it was a nice easy read, the story line was easy to follow and you could relate to each of the characters. 

A very good holiday read.


Monday, 17 March 2014

Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck

Streetwise George and his big, childlike friend Lennie are drifters searching for work in the fields and valleys of California. They have nothing except the clothes on their back, and a hope that one day they'll find a place of their own and love the American dream. But dreams come at a price. Gentle giant Lennie doesn't know his own strength and why they find work at a ranch he gets into trouble with the boss's daughter-in-law. Trouble so bad that even his protector George may not be able to save him.

Published by: Penguin Books - Fiction
Year: 1957
Pages: 122
ISBN: 978-0-141-02357-1

I had never read Of Mice and Men' but many of you commented about reading this one for O'level or like me you have had teenagers who have recently read this one for their GCSE that I thought I should make this my next school reads revisited book. It is a relatively short book  but there is a lot contained within the 122 pages you really get to know each of the characters.

Of Mice & Men  portrayed what true friendship really is that no matter what George was always there to protect his friend Lennie.  They had been firm friends since they were children and George promised Lennie's aunt that he would always look after him. Lennie is not the brightest chap and without George would be taken advantage of.  

The two have traveled finding work where they can. Lennie is a giant of a man  but does not realise his own strength. Whilst working on a ranch Lennie gets into the worst possible trouble with the boss's daughter-in-law and this time George cannot protect him and therefore takes the only course of action he feels left open to him loosing his friend in the process. 

Whilst enjoying the sunshine of this weekend  did enjoy John Steinbecks novel and wished this had been one I had read in school I can see why my own children and so many of you recommended it. 

Happy reading one & all


Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Stranger in the House - Julie Summers

My husband is coming home after four years in a German prison; I lost my head two years ago and had a baby. I made up my mind that I would keep it whatever happened, but now I have read about the sufferings of prisoners, I feel I cannot face my husband and let him know I was disloyal. He may forgive me in time but how can I greet him, ill and crippled, with this child?

Published by: Pocket Books - Memoir
Year: 2009 - Hardback
Pages: 332
ISBN: 978-0-74329-552-9

Ok so now I am really on a roll with the books yet to be read on the bookshelf challenge.  I am now over halfway with Stranger in the house being number 8.  

Barbara Cartland 
Stranger in the house is the true accounts from wives and family members whose loved ones came back from the war, some of which had been prisoners of war and had been starved, beaten and tortured.   For some it would seem that they had never been away and fitted right back in with the family, but for many they returned a complete stranger to both their wives and their children. 

It was a fascinating book,  what I hadn't realised was how involved Barbara Cartland was as a Welfare Officer.  I only knew of Barbara Cartland as the romantic novelist who wore flamboyant coloured dresses and bright blue eye shadow.   She was instrumental in making sure that the men returning from the war could integrate back within their families. She was one of a few who supported the men and would discuss any topic including how to rekindle marital relations with a man you hadn't seen for five years.   I certainly was left with a very different view of this lady than the one I had had growing up. 

Nella Last with her youngest son
And of course after the tv drama Housewife 49, most of us are familiar with the diaries of Nella Last, who I believe continued to write about her experiences during and after the war right up until her death. 

For anyone with an interest in the war and how families coped with the return of their loved ones. Or if you have a family member who was that wife or mother this is a book they would definitely be able to relate too.   Julie Summers has also written a book entitled 'When the children came home' and Jambusters: The story of the Womens Institute in the second world war.   May be your patents were evacuated during the war I know my dad certainly was.

Happy reading one and all.


Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Life, Death and Vanilla Slices - Jenny Eclair

Product DetailsJean Collins had two daughters. But she only loved one of them. She knew it was wrong, but she just couldn't help herself. Jess was a little sweetheart - everyone said so. Anne was awkward and serious and not much fun, to be frank.

But now the years have passed. Jess is missing - run off long ago, no one knows where or why. So when Jean is left in a coma after a road accident, it's Anne who travels back up north to sit with her mother. And she wonders - why did Jean dash out into the road without looking? And why was she carrying a box of Vanilla Slices, the cream cakes she only ever bought for extra special occasions?

Meanwhile there are secrets waiting for Anne and  Jean, back at the old family home. Secrets that were buried along time ago....

Published by: Sphere - Fiction
Year: 2013 - Paperback
Pages: 343
ISBN: 978-0-7515-4755-9

So here we are with number seven off the book shelf.  I hadn't realised that this Jenny Eclair is the same Jenny Eclair Comedienne, sometimes it can take a while for the penny to drop. This I believe is Ms. Eclair's third novel.  

As stated above Jean Collins has two daughters but when she has a serious accident it is only her daughter Anne who comes to be by her side.  Daughter Jessica has not been seen or heard of in years.  When growing up Anne was always the academic bookworm where as Jessica was the girlie girl much more sedate than her older sister and was always the center of attention.  Jean had never been able to hide the fact that her younger daughter was her favourite and poor Anne was always left trying to please her mother and Jim, Jeans husband was always having to remind his wife they had two daughters both of which were unique.   Whenever there was an extra special occasion to celebrate Jean would buy Vanilla Slices and it was this that got Anne to wondering. What was the special occasion that had made her mother A. go out and buy Vanilla Slices and B. walk straight out in front of an oncoming vehicle.  

The book is very well written as you would imagine it would be. Each chapter is about Anne or Jean.  Jeans chapters are written whilst she is in a coma. She cannot understand why she cannot wake up or in fact move, but her mind however is firmly switched on and whilst she is waiting for her body to behave she reflects on her life and those of her daughter's childhoods. Anne of course is now a grown women with family of her own and her chapters are about the here and now with some reflection to days gone by.

Of course as there is with all good family tales there are hidden secrets that will be revealed within these pages one of which may provide the answer as to why Jean was buying those Vanilla Slices. 


Saturday, 1 March 2014

Book of the Month - February

My February reads have been 

               Product Details

Things We Never Say - Sheila O'Flanagan - Fiction

Lord of the Flies - William Golding - Fiction

The Ten Pound Ticket - Amanda Prowse - Fiction

When it Happens to You - Molly Ringwald - Fiction

Reconstructing Amelia  - Kimberley McCreight - Fiction

But I'm sure you will know which of these I am going to have to pick as my book of the month!!!

No you're all wrong it is not William Golding's Lord of the Flies' I know you will all be shocked at this news but for me it has to be................

Reconstructing Amelia  - Kimberley McCreight - Fiction
Book of the Month - February 2014