Once Upon a Time in England by Helen Walsh

once upon a time in englandThis novel is set in the 70’s and 80’s in the Northern town of Warrington and folllows the lives of a mixed race family: The Fitzgeralds.

My initial thoughts were what a beautiful writing style and straight away I wondered where this story would lead for Robbie and Susheela. Reading further on I was surprised the direction the book took and about 100 pages in I wasn’t sure where the story was heading at all, but oh my goodness 200 pages in and I was totally hooked – I began to feel it was like car crash reading though. It feels like one of the most miserable but enchanting tales I’ve ever read.

Half way in I was finding this quite a depressing read and I was waiting for something positive to happen to lighten it up. I didn’t really like She or Robbie as characters and most stories that I really enjoy I find I connect with the characters and so I feel this book is unusual for me.

Moving, harrowing, disturbing, depressing and thrilling are the words I would use to describe this book. Utterly compelling reading through each time period. Well worth reading. Also the ending was not completely a negative experience. I would definitely read more by this author.

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Aberrations by Penelope Przekop

Narcoleptic Angel Duet struggles with her disability. It means she can fall asleep at no notice and she also suffers with cataplexy which can leave her body asleep, but the mind still awake. The book shows how difficult life can be for Angel as she has to rely on others so much, but she meets 2 new friends: Tim & Kimmy and she tries to overcome her narcolepsy by using a drug of the non prescription type. Throughout the novel Angel is on a mission to find out about her mother who apparently died whilst giving birth and her father is unable to discuss this with her as the pain appears too much for him. He has a new relationship with Carla, who is a down to earth lawyer and try’s in her way to help Angel, but Angel is not ready to accept her help.

A great novel; I loved this book. It was an amazing emotional journey with true depth and I felt it gave a real understanding of the characters. We see people in their true colours; warts and all, including Mac who is married, but at the same time is having an affair. One can’t but help warm to his character, but it left me uneasy at times as I felt by liking him I was almost condoning his adultery. Even though we did not know his wife to any great degree in the novel, she was still a valid person and did she deserve this? However this is what happens in life and it’s not all pretty colours and this novel shows the dilemmas in life very well; people are fallible, but this doesn’t make them totally bad. I also began to question if the illicit drug that Angel took for improving her narcolepsy would actually help and if it did I wondered if there was any clinical testing being done with regards to this; leaving me with research to do.

This novel was great for getting me to think; it had a wonderful flowing story, was written in a very effective way and also had me connecting emotionally to the characters. I couldn’t ask for more.

I highly recommend this book.

Aberrations Book Trailer

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Losing You by Patricia Debney

Losing You by Patricia Debney

A book that gives us a glimpse of the lives of two women: Marilyn and Hillary over the space of a few days. In the first half of the book we hear the voice of Marilyn and the second half we hear the voice of Hilary. Marilyn a counsellor loses her father and is in the process of grieving and re-evaluating her life and even though she guides many of her clients through their various problems, she feels a bit at a loss about her own existence with husband Doug and son Lewis. Her new friend Hilary has a son Aaron, who is the same age as Lewis and her other half is Adam who also appears to have a soft spot for Marilyn.

This was a very compelling read and these two women seem to be trying to find their place in the world and it really does make you think and wonder about the lives of others and how complex they may actually be. I really enjoyed reading it and wondering what did happen to Marilyn as the book has undertones that something macabre may have happened, or at least that’s the way it made me feel, as I thought it had an eerie feel most of the way through.

I thought this was a great read that is asking me to read again shortly and I strongly recommend it.

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After You’d Gone by Maggie O’Farrell

After You’d Gone by Maggie O’Farrell

At the beginning of this novel we find Alice in a coma and then we are filled in on some of her background and we meet her mother and grandmother and also John, who could possibly be considered her soul mate. We follow their relationship and the difficulties that they have to contend with. It’s a mystery and a love story rolled into one.

Half way through this book I was still trying to relate and connect to the characters; they all seemed a bit remote. I found it quite torturous in places and felt that my brain was doing somersaults to try and keep up, having read that so many people had enjoyed the book and the rave reviews on the back cover I came to the conclusion there’s something wrong with me – lol – Just joking!- it’s just not written in a way that I find easy to follow with all the time changes and quick jumps to different characters, but at the half way stage I still found myself wanting to read it, although occasionally I had the urge to throw it out of the window. I was curious to know what I’d think by the end of the book.

I actually enjoyed the second half of the book much more, although I still didn’t connect with the characters and emotions as some other reviewers seem to, but nevertheless in the end I was glad that I read the book, but didn’t really know what to think at the end of the novel as I felt there was more to say.

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The Birds The Bees and Other Secrets by Frances Garrood

The Birds The Bees and Other Secrets by Frances Garrood

The novel begins with Cass visiting her mother in hospital and then looks back over the journey of Cassandra, then age thirteen, through her life in the sixties with her unconventional mother, who enjoys inviting many strange characters (including “Call me Bill”) to live in her home as she is very much a people person and loves to be surrounded by them. An unfortunate event at home encourages Cassandra’s mum to choose to send her to boarding school, which is the last place Cass wants to be. We follow their relationship into Cassandra’s adulthood when Cassandra chooses to become a nurse and follow the very sad and the funny happenings along the way.

This was a beautifully written book and I delighted at the relationship between mother and daughter and in places the novel was extremely amusing, but in others it was so very sad. I found the first half of the book very absorbing and didn’t want to leave it. I enjoyed the second half of the book too, although felt it was a little stretched out in places, but certainly not enough to deter. I was sad to leave the characters at the end of the book, including all the dogs. All in all I loved the book and would recommend it to those that love an emotional story surrounding relationships and some of the difficulties experienced by differing personalities, especially between mothers and daughters.

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The Richest Season by Maryann McFadden

The Richest Season by Maryann McFadden

Joanna leaves her husband Paul and escapes to a life on Pawleys Island and finds herself living with an elderly lady, Grace, who has terminal cancer. Joanna and Grace find themselves becoming closer to each other as one tries to find a new life and the other comes to terms with the end of hers. We also follow Paul who after living his life “working for the family” suddenly loses his job and starts to see his life through fresh eyes and realises there is more to life than work. He realises how much he has left Joanne alone through her life and that she needs more. He also begins to reconnect with his grown-up children whose childhood he was so often absent from. Joanna finds herself writing for a newspaper and realises this is something that she can do for herself and she also finds herself close to nature whilst waiting for loggerhead turtles to hatch on the beach.

I felt wave after wave of emotion whilst reading this book. I can certainly relate to the feelings that Joanna had and caused her to run away from what some may see as an ‘ideal’ life. Sometimes we need to get away from what we know and escape to somewhere new and actually get to know ourselves. The author captured for me the spirit of living; with laughter, sadness and grief of life all thrown in. How so much of life today is lived through materialism and people can be forgotten is really brought to the fore in this novel. It’s really rewarding to see people finding that their relationships with people are what have real meaning in this life. I truly believe that some people do have this enlightenment through their lives although I realise it will pass others by. I was sad to finish this novel as I felt I had come to know the characters and would miss them. Overall this was a thoroughly enjoyable read and I would highly recommend it.

1/2

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The Birds, The Bees and Other Secrets by Frances Garrood has arrived

I’ve received a review copy of The Birds, The Bees and Other Secrets (synopsis here) by Frances Garrood. It sounds as if it’s going to be a really interesting read and I will be reviewing at my earliest opportunity as it’s out on the 1st August 2008.

The book has a lovely feel to it; I don’t know if that means I’m getting a sense of the feeling that has gone into writing it. I hope it’s as good as I feel it will be.

Come back soon for the review!