Anne Bonny #BookReview The Photographer Of The Lost by Caroline Scott @CScottBooks 4* #NewRelease #Historical #Fiction #Literary @simonschusterUK @WmMorrowBooks

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The Photographer Of The Lost by Caroline Scott
Review Copy
Synopsis ~

1921. The Great War is over and families are desperately trying to piece together the fragments of their broken lives. While many survivors have been reunited with their loved ones, Edie’s husband Francis has not come home. He was declared ‘missing, believed killed’ during the war, but when Edie receives a mysterious photograph in the post, taken by Francis, hope flares. And so she begins to search.

Francis’s brother, Harry, is also searching. Hired by grieving families to photograph gravesites, he has returned to the Western Front. As Harry travels through battle-scarred France, gathering news for British wives and mothers, he longs for Francis to be alive, so they can forgive each other for the last conversation they ever had.

And as Harry and Edie’s paths converge, they begin to get closer to a startling truth.

An incredibly moving account of an often-forgotten moment in history, The Photographer of the Lost tells the story of the thousands of soldiers who were lost amid the chaos and ruins, and the even greater number of men and women desperate to find them again.

Caroline Scott is a freelance writer and historian specializing in WWI and women’s history. The Photographer of the Lost is partially inspired by her family history.

My Review ~

As Previously stated on my blog, I am a huge fan of ww2 fiction and fiction around The Great War. My husband is a military veteran of 15yrs service (airborne Para) and I have various family members that have served. My great-grandfather committed suicide after The Great War and it is only know at 36yrs old I fully understand the horror of that conflict. There is also a monument in Belgium to my Great-Uncle my grandmother’s favourite uncle. Which I nor anyone in my family has visited (unfortunately).
So the moment I read the synopsis for this title, it grabbed my interest.

‘A small matter of a war rather got I n the way’ 

The prologue opens in Lancashire (my home town shire) May 1921 when Edie receives a letter from France. a photo of her husband Francis. Bu how can this be? Francis has been missing presumed dead for 4 yrs.

The novel then details Harry (Francis’s brother) in the years 1921 and the past since 1915. You have to pay attention to not muddle the timelines and brothers up.
Harry’s job is to visit the various special hospitals and locate the graves of the perished. It is his hope that providing the family members with images of the burial site or monuments it may bring them some peace/closure or heal there grief.

The novel also covers the spiritualists and psychics that are out to make a fast buck. spinning stories of the ‘souls of lost men’. I found this quite disturbing. But on the other hand you really feel for Edie and her sense of emptiness, mourning and emotional pain as she searches for her lost love. Are these scammers taking advantage or are they attempting to offer comfort to the grieving?

The relationship of the brother’s and the potential love triangle that it causes is first and foremost the running mystery. Does Harry want Edie for himself? Will Edie now turn to Harry, now all hope is lost with Francis? Is all hope lost with Francis? or is he alive?

The novel details the tortured minds of the soldiers of The Great War. It is a beautiful novel, with a stunning cover and exceptional writing. Slightly reminiscent of the writing of Patrick Gale in A Place Called Winter.
I highly recommend this title, it would make the perfect Christmas gift, also for book groups and simply to treat yourself. I only wish I had got round to writing this review earlier because it would have made a poignant gift to mark remembrance day. 4* 🌟🌟🌟🌟

CS
Caroline Scott
Twitter
*At time of posting the Hardback book was available at just £7 on Amazon*

Anne Bonny #BookReview The Lost Child by Emily Gunnis 4* #DualTimeline #Historical #NewRelease @headlinepg @EmilyGunnis

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The Lost Child by Emily Gunnis
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Synopsis ~

A tragic death. A missing baby. A long-kept secret…

1960. Thirteen-year-old Rebecca lives in fear of her father’s temper. As a storm batters Seaview Cottage one night, she hears a visitor at the door and a violent argument ensues. By the time the police arrive, Rebecca’s parents are dead and the visitor has fled. No one believes Rebecca heard a stranger downstairs…

2014. Iris, a journalist, is sent to cover the story of a new mother on the run with her desperately ill baby. But fatefully the trail leads to the childhood home of Iris’s own mother, Rebecca…Seaview Cottage.
As Iris races to unravel what happened the night Rebecca’s parents were killed, it’s time for Seaview Cottage to give up its secrets.

My Review ~

*The kindle version of this title is currently just 99p in the UK and you can add the audible (narrated by Emilia Fox) for just £4.99.*

The Lost Child is a complex novel set between 1960 and 2014. The characters are detailed and all have individual depth and background stories. The title open in November 1960 with Rebecca Waterhouse (a young child) in an interview room with unsympathetic police officer DI Gibbs. Rebecca is a witness to her paranoid fathers regular violent beatings of her mother. Rebecca feels alone in the world, if it wasn’t for her close friend Harvey Roberts.
Rebecca’s father’s story is explored and although he can be a violent and ruthless man. His decent into paranoia via battle neurosis is eye-opening.

The novel then jumps forward to November 2014 and Harvey’s daughter Jessie has recently given birth. Jessie is estranged from her birth mother and is struggling with the recent grief of the loss of her step-mother 2yrs ago. The deep grief resulted in Jessie being diagnosed depressed and medicated. When she gives birth, the hormones and emotional trauma will result in panic and irrational fear taking control…

‘Why doesn’t she like me? why isn’t she feeding?

When Jessie flees the hospital with new-born baby in tow. This results in an emergency situation. For unbeknown to Jessie, the baby has an untreated infection, without medication the child may not survive.

In the flashbacks to the past we learn of Harriet and Jacob Waterhouse, their married life together and Jacob’s return from war. The novel really explores the theme of returning military personnel from the battlefield to home and hopefully relative safety. The ease at which a person can develop an alcohol problem and excuse short tempered/violent or jealous behaviours is laid bare.

‘The old Jacob had died on the beaches of Normandy and was never coming home to her’

Alternatively Jessie’s plight becomes a major news story. And Iris as a journalist begins digging into her past. Will what Iris uncovers bring peace to them all? Can Iris track down Jessie’s whereabouts in time to save the baby?
Past and present entwine to reveal a captivating story. 4*

EG
Emily Gunnis
Twitter

Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Extract The Stationmaster’s Daughter by @KathMcGurl #NewRelease #Historical #Coastal #Dorset #Saga

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The Stationmaster’s Daughter by Kathleen McGurl
Review To Follow
Synopsis ~

Dorset, 1935. Stationmaster Ted has never cared much for romance. Occupied with ensuring England’s most beautiful railway runs on time, love has always felt like a comparatively trivial matter. Yet when he meets Annie Galbraith on the 8.42 train to Lynford, he can’t help but instantly fall for her.

But when the railway is forced to close and a terrible accident occurs within the station grounds, Ted finds his job and any hope of a relationship with Annie hanging in the balance…

Present day. Recovering from heartbreak after a disastrous marriage, Tilly decides to escape from the bustling capital and move to Dorset to stay with her dad, Ken.
When Ken convinces Tilly to help with the restoration of the old railway, she discovers a diary hidden in the old ticket office. Tilly is soon swept up in Ted’s story, and the fateful accident that changed his life forever.

But an encounter with an enigmatic stranger takes Tilly by surprise, and she can’t help but feel a connection with Ted’s story in the past…

Don’t miss this haunting and evocative timeslip novel from Kathleen McGurl.

Extract ~

Prologue

For a moment he was frozen, unable to move, unable to react to what had just happened. Time stood still, and he stood with it, not seeing, not hearing, doing nothing.
And then as his senses returned he registered screams of horror, followed by the sight of that broken and twisted body lying at the foot of the stairs. How had it happened? Annie was screaming, lung-bursting screams of pain and terror. His instinct was to rush to her, gather her up and hold her, but would that make things worse? There was no going back now. No returning to how things used to be, before… before today, before all the horrible, life-changing events of the day. It was all over now.
The screams continued, and he knew that the next minutes would alter his life forever. He knew too that even without the broken body, the screams, the fall, his life had already changed irrevocably. The door to a future he had only dared dream of had been slammed shut in his face.
He allowed himself a moment’s grief for what had been and for what might have yet been, and then he shook himself into action, hurrying down the stairs to deal with it all. Not to put it right – that wasn’t possible – but to do his best. For Annie.

KM
Kathleen McGurl
Website
Twitter

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Anne Bonny #BookReview The Wartime Midwives by Daisy Styles #ww2Fiction #HistoricalFiction #Mystery #ww2 #Saga

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The Wartime Midwives by Daisy Styles
Review Copy ~ Paperback

Synopsis ~

In the dark days of war a new hope is born . . .
1939.

Mary Vale, a grand and imposing Mother & Baby Home, sits on the edge of the Lake District. Its doors are open to unmarried women who come to hide their condition and find sanctuary.

Women from all walks of life pass through Mary Vale, from beautiful waitress Emily, whose boyfriend has vanished without trace, to young Isla, cast out by her wealthy family after her first year at university goes horribly wrong.

Awaiting them is Nurse Ada and Sister Anne who work tirelessly to aid the mothers and safely deliver the babies. But the unforgiving Matron and Head of Governors, Captain Percival, have other, more sinister, ideas.

As war looms the women at Mary Vale must pull together for the sake of themselves and their babies and Ada and Anne must help protect their patients, no matter what the cost.

My Review ~

‘The place regularly echoes with the cries of heartbroken mothers unable to keep their babies’

With The Wartime Midwives, we are introduced to the wartime unwed mother’s homes and the truly awful way women were treated in the era. There are a wealth of characters within the story. From the girls themselves, to the women on staff and the dark forces at work behind the scenes. As a reader you also begin to understand that the reasons for unwanted pregnancy is not always down to the loose morals of the female but complex issues such as lack of education/access to contraception or in the worst cases… rape.

‘It seemed ridiculous that in 1939 a young woman could be ignorant of the facts of life’

There are various social/economical/financial issues that impact the women’s ability to care for or raise their children. Which class tier you identified with, usually indicated the amount of options available to you…

‘Working class I may be, but I certainly know how to love and nurture a baby’

The sheer emotional power of shame is laid bear for all to see. I really felt for each of the women and wanted to reach through the pages (and the years) to offer some support.
A perfect title for modern day women to read, to gain some insight into the lives of 1940s women. Perfect for fans of Call The Midwife. 4* 

Anne Bonny #BookReview The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead 4.5* #Historical #LiteraryReads #NickelBoys

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The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
My Own Copy ~ Hardback

Synopsis ~

Elwood Curtis has taken the words of Dr Martin Luther King to heart: he is as good as anyone. Abandoned by his parents, brought up by his loving, strict and clearsighted grandmother, Elwood is about to enroll in the local black college. But given the time and the place, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy his future, and so Elwood arrives at The Nickel Academy, which claims to provide ‘physical, intellectual and moral training’ which will equip its inmates to become ‘honorable and honest men’.

In reality, the Nickel Academy is a chamber of horrors, where physical, emotional and sexual abuse is rife, where corrupt officials and tradesmen do a brisk trade in supplies intended for the school, and where any boy who resists is likely to disappear ‘out back’. Stunned to find himself in this vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold on to Dr King’s ringing assertion, ‘Throw us in jail, and we will still love you.’ But Elwood’s fellow inmate and new friend Turner thinks Elwood is naive and worse; the world is crooked, and the only way to survive is to emulate the cruelty and cynicism of their oppressors.

The tension between Elwood’s idealism and Turner’s skepticism leads to a decision which will have decades-long repercussions.

Based on the history of a real reform school in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped and destroyed the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative by a great American novelist whose work is essential to understanding the current reality of the United States.

My Review ~

Publication day for the long awaited new Colson Whitehead novel, finally arrived!
The Nickel Boys is an emotive and thought provoking title. The novel is loosely based around a real life true case of systemic abuse at a borstal type facility in 1960s America. Whilst the novel deals with themes of physical/emotional/sexual abuse, it does so in a sensitive manner. Only using scenes of violence to portray the fear within the boys and the complete and utter control their abusers have over them.

The novel is set in 1960s America the fight for civil rights is a backstory within the boys lives. But unfortunately equal rights will not come quick enough for Elwood and Turner. The boys come from very differing backgrounds, although both have known the emotional pain of abandonment and loss. Despite their different out looks on life, they instantly bond at the Nickel Academy. Their friendship will be the only saving grace during their time of detainment.

How do you follow-up a title as powerful as The Underground Railroad? How do you ever emulate a title that has had such global appeal and massive success?
Colson Whitehead has picked a real life part of history and used it to display how institutional racism gives way to abuse and even murder.
Life at the Nickel Academy is one of brutalisation, humiliation and loss of power for the boys detained there. How anyone can ever conceive that this environment would enable young men to make the changes they need, one can never truly know.
What the boys need is love, acceptance and a chance to learn. But there is NONE of that at the Nickel Academy.

I haven’t included any quotes in this review, as the title is only 208 pages. I raced through them at breakneck speed. leaving no time for note taking. Colson Whitehead has an exceptional way with words and there were many opportunities to quote moving passages.

The Nickel Boys is a hard-hitting title which is perfect for book groups, debate and discussion. I have a feeling it will stay with readers for a long time after the closing pages are finally turned!

Literary food for the soul, heart and the brain. 4.5*

CW
Colson Whitehead
Website
Twitter
Check out the authors website for news on the TV adaption of The Underground railroad and also for links to the real-life case behind The Nickel Boys.

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