#BookReview Perception and Illusion by Catherine Kullmann #historicalfiction #RBRT

I chose this book to read from Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team book list.

An alluring story of a young girl, Lallie, who lost her mother at birth and is kept closeted by her father and stepmother. However, when her father hatches a plan to wed her to a man she dislikes to keep control of her fortune, Lallie plans her escape and finds herself ultimately in a more agreeable match, but can she navigate the world of the gentry and the complexities of her spouse? 

I absolutely loved this historical romance as the characters really came to life and unlike many stories the plot went beyond the happy ever after ending as the author showed, not only her connection with history, but her understanding of people and their actions. 

I found this difficult to put down and impossible to fault. A thoroughly satisfying read. 

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#BookReview The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman #histfic #books

​A historical fiction novel about a couple who live on Janus Island, off the coast of Western Australia, in the early nineteenth century, as the husband Tom, man’s the lighthouse and his wife Isabel helps him around the island. When a boat carrying a body and a baby wash up, the decisions they make will change everything, not just for them but the family of the man and baby miles away. 

A truly moving novel that explores and depicts characters with a huge amount of depth and understanding. The small town setting of the story as well as the isolated life Tom and Isabel live on Janus Island was intriguing and the period aspect of the novel seemed very convincing. 

So engrossed was I in reading about Tom and Isabel, I finished the book within twenty-four hours and found it touching. I am not a huge romance reader, but even I couldn’t be helped but touched by Tom’s devotion to Isabel. A story that will no doubt stay with me for a long time.

Links To Book: 

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#BookReview The Girl in the Photograph by Kate Riordan #histfic #mystery #weekendbloghop

​This historical mystery thriller set in the nineteen thirties is about Alice, a young woman who finds herself pregnant after a short affair. Her mother devises a plan for her to be sent away to the Gloucestershire countryside to a childhood friend to have the baby without scandal, but whilst Alice is at Fiercombe Manor, a stately home with much history, she finds herself intrigued with the Manor’s ill-fated history and in particular with Lady Elizabeth Stanton the wife of the previous owner, whose story set a generation before runs somewhat parallel to Alice’s own.

I loved this imposing gothic mystery that had me enthralled from the start. Alice’s story was very readable and was a pale introduction to what was to follow once she reached Fiercombe Abbey and Elizabeth’s story started to unravel. With the blurring of the line between the supernatural and reality, which was well written. The story does contain a romance I wasn’t expecting and even though I’m not a huge romance reader I found it fitted well into the story and added another dimension to the novel without detracting from the underlying feel of the mystery.

A standout historical read for me from an author I have not read before.

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#BookReview The Girl From The Savoy by Hazel Gaynor #historicalfiction #Fridayreads

​Dolly takes a job at the prestigious Savoy hotel in London but she has experienced so much already with a lost love and painful memories. When she meets Perry and he subsequently offers her an opportunity little did they realise the need they fulfilled in each other, plus with the help of Perry’s sister Dolly has opportunities she never dreamed of. 

I really loved this historical fiction novel set in the early 1920s, richly set in the detail of the era with compelling characters that all had their own baggage and secrets. I loved the story and the way it was told and cannot recommend this book enough. This will appeal to many readers and not just those who read historical fiction of this period. 

A truly wonderful story. 

Links To Book:

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#BookReview At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier

​A story about the fate of the Goodenough family, who move West from Connecticut and settle in Black Swamp, Ohio bringing their family apple seedlings with them that form the foundation of their farming as well the differences between the matriarch and patriarch of the family. Son, Robert continues on West as soon as he’s old enough to leave. He leaves behind the family under mysterious circumstances and pursues a variety of work until he finds work with trees again. However, the past resurfaces and brings joy and pain with its resurgence.

I loved how the story of settlers in this book started out, with the struggle against nature and the complex and destructive relationship between husband and wife James and Sadie Goodenough. However, the book undoubtedly has a lot of technical information about trees in particular and botany in general and although I do not have a specific deep interest in trees and plants, which is unfortunate as a significant part of the story centers around this theme, I was still able to appreciate the story of the Goodenoughs woven through this book. 

In my opinion the technicality of trees was a little overdone and my preference would have been to read more about the character’s or the period. Despite this I persisted with the story and wasn’t disappointed as the last third was spectacular and I could not put it down. 

I have not read any previous books by this author but this book definitely appealed to me and I look forward to picking up some of her well known titles. 

Links To Book:

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#BookReview The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly #Tuesdaybookblog

​Set in the late nineteenth century, this epic saga starts in Whitechapel, East London. Fiona a docker’s daughter works hard to help support her impoverished family. Things are tough but take a turn for the worse when unforeseen circumstances lead to her losing the men she loves the most. Under mortal threat she flees to New York but tragedy there means things do not work out as planned. Heart-broken but determined Fiona uses the exceptional survival instincts to grow and prosper whilst focused on avenging those who caused her to flee her home.

I was expecting a historical thriller but this plot just didn’t know when to stop. The characters although likeable were one dimensional and I think I stopped investing any sense of plausibility in the story after Fiona arrived in New York. This romantic family saga is pure escapism, but in my opinion it needed to pick a theme and focus. There were too many points of view, too many major life events occurring to the same characters. 

It kept me turning pages, but not for reasons I want to be engrossed in the book. I’m not sure what to make of The Tea Rose Series and at this point I’m not sure I want to delve into a sequel. This is an epic saga of a book and I’m curious as to where the series is headed. 

Links To Book: 

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#BookReview A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton #Tuesdaybookblog

​This stunning historical fiction novel set in the early twentieth century spanning the effect of the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki and ending in the eighties tells the story of Amaterasu, a woman who lost her daughter and grandson during pikadon. 

Amaterasu’s own difficult upbringing and history she never acknowledged is brought to mind as she retraces the life and years before pikadon of her daughter and what happened in Nagasaki after pikadon.

Incredibly gripping and compulsive reading the secrets of two women in a family are explored and put into the context of their culture and the current political climate of their times. Haunting to read because this fictional story is set among the real adversaries of the day, this will be a very hard story to forget. 

Links To Book: 

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#Book Review Belgravia by Julian Fellowes

​Pre-dating the well-known and well-loved Downton Abbey, Belgravia is set in the 1800s. The story takes seed in 1815 at the time of the Battle of Waterloo. A well-to-do but socially mediocre Trader’s daughter falls for a man of fortune and title. However, a misconception colours the fortune of her unborn son. 

As intriguing as I found the plot and the politics of high society, this one fell a bit short for me when it came to characterisation. As expected the period is well depicted and I found it entertaining overall but I found Charles Pope quite one dimensional and although he has a major part in the whole novel, we never really know much about him and therefore it is difficult to connect and care so much about the character. 

As usual the servants play an interesting part of voyeurs and manipulators in the whole saga but again they seem limited caricatures rather than personalities I could connect with whilst reading this novel. 

Links To Book: 

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Book Review: The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jefferies

​Set in the 1920s and 1930s, The Tea Planter’s Wife is about the life of Gwen a young bride who has married a man who owns a tea plantation in Ceylon. After her marriage her relocation to Ceylon has its ups and downs but Gwen is thrown into turmoil after the birth of her son. Neither Gwen nor her husband are willing to be upfront about the secrets they keep, which has tragic consequences in the long run. 
A beautifully written book which is very visual as you are placed in the idyllic surroundings in Ceylon. I enjoyed reading the issues Gwen faces as a young woman in a new country and the intriguing unfolding of family secrets.
Although the story was somewhat predictable, it was still ahoy to read for the way the scene was set and how invested I became in the characters particularly Gwen and her cousin Fran. 
Not a fast paced, high octane read but a leisurely beautiful walk through a different country at a very different time. 

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Book Review: Irina’s Eye by HW Freedman

I was kindly provided with a review copy of this book by Booklover Catlady Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

Whilst trying to escape from Czechoslovakia after WW2, Vaclav Bezek is unable to save Irina who is shot by the soldiers. As he holds her she is shot again and her eye falls into his hand. Before this shot she told him to run and Vaclav does, ever since living with the guilt of Irina’s death.

Vaclav eventually finds himself in America and the book tells us the story from his past in Czechoslovakia and his subsequent escape and journey to the States as well as his present story as a thespian. Vaclav has never forgotten about Irina and her memory manifests in an unusual way which he attributes to a link in his spirituality. He becomes obsessed with Faust and experiments with tantric meditation looking to deepen his connection. He has the opportunity to return to Czechoslovakia to see his mother where he receives the most unexpected news.

I found reading about Vaclav’s past more interesting and alluring than his present in mid-60s New York. In his present he isn’t a particularly likeable character with episodes of rage and violence, but also his obsessions are static, in that we don’t seem to learn more about him and he doesn’t seem to evolve at all in his present, which makes for some repetition, which Labour’s the point he is stuck and isn’t particularly exciting reading.

The twist was worth the read though and I was disappointed that a lot of what I read was just a metaphor and for me I don’t believe there was a convincing underlying theme here, just the power of suggestion.

A quick and on the whole interesting read post WW2, from a unique perspective.

Links To Book:
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