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
Amazon Vine arc
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 #BookReview The Wartime Midwives by Daisy Styles #ww2Fiction #HistoricalFiction #Mystery #ww2 #Saga

TWM
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 Those Who Are Loved by @VicHislop Victoria Hislop 4* #NewRelease #Historical #ww2Fiction #ww2 #Athens #Greece #GreekHistory @headlinepg

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Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop
Review Copy

Synopsis ~

The gripping new novel by Sunday Times Number One bestseller Victoria Hislop is set against the backdrop of the German occupation of Greece, the subsequent civil war and a military dictatorship, all of which left deep scars.

Athens 1941. After decades of political uncertainty, Greece is polarised between Right- and Left-wing views when the Germans invade.
Fifteen-year-old Themis comes from a family divided by these political differences. The Nazi occupation deepens the fault-lines between those she loves just as it reduces Greece to destitution. She watches friends die in the ensuing famine and is moved to commit acts of resistance.

In the civil war that follows the end of the occupation, Themis joins the Communist army, where she experiences the extremes of love and hatred and the paradoxes presented by a war in which Greek fights Greek.

Eventually imprisoned on the infamous islands of exile, Makronisos and then Trikeri, Themis encounters another prisoner whose life will entwine with her own in ways neither can foresee.
And finds she must weigh her principles against her desire to escape and live.

As she looks back on her life, Themis realises how tightly the personal and political can become entangled. While some wounds heal, others deepen.

This powerful new novel from Number One bestseller Victoria Hislop sheds light on the complexity and trauma of Greece’s past and weaves it into the epic tale of an ordinary woman compelled to live an extraordinary life.

My Review ~

Those Who Are Loved is an incredibly deep and emotive novel. It is quite lengthy at 496 pages and you do become immersed in the story of Themis Stavridus. We follow her from a young girl full of hope and optimism, to a young woman forced to make and stand by difficult choices. Eventually we return to Themis as an elderly lady reflecting to on her life and the repercussions of the war on their lives as a family.
Whilst I do see this as a ‘holiday read’ I would urge readers to prepare themselves for deep research, ww2 history and the fight between the far-left & far-right in 1940s Greece.

The novel opens in Athens 2016 as the family of four generations, gather for the birthday of Themis Stavridis. As Themis reflects on the current political climate in Greece. Of Homelessness/poverty, the rise of fascism and the anti-immigrant rhetoric. She is consumed with her own past, that she has never previously spoken of…
‘Her life story was not an heirloom, but it was all she had’

‘Once they were seated, Themis began to talk’

We are then rapidly transported to 1930’s Athens and the home of Themis’s childhood. Here we are introduced to her mother Eleftheria and her three siblings Thanasis, Panos and Margarita. Their father Pavlos is a merchant shipping worker and spends large periods away from the family home. They live in a simple and yet modest home on Antigoris Street. But for Themis and her siblings, this will also prove to be a time of great change as they end up being raised by their grandmother Kyria Koralis.
Kyria does her best to raise the children, but she is fighting a tough battle due to the economic depression hitting Greece. The children however, grow up surrounded by maternal love from her.

The novel jumps ahead 10yrs to Oct 1940. Greece is now vulnerable to the German and Italian army’s and potential invasion. The political and wartime climate is explained within the novel. It is done through the characters experiences, and therefore I did not feel like I was sat in a history lesson. Despite taking on a through amount of historical information. When it comes to far-left and far-right sympathies, the siblings are very divided. With Thanasis and Margarita able to accept the far-rights values. Whilst brother Panos sympathises with the far-left of the Soviets.
Themis is unsure to which side she feels a political alliance. That is until she meets school friend and refugee Fotini. Who has been raised in a different way of life, with a different set of politics.

‘Hitler doesn’t respect this country anymore than Mussolini does’

9th April 1941 – Greece becomes an occupied territory of the German Reich. The Nazi top brass blame the British Whilst Thanasis and Margarita are willing to accept this. It is not them who will truly pay the price for Nazi ideology. For Fotini’s mother loses her job, the family begin to starve and before long Fotini is wasting away.

‘Germany was a friend of Greece, not a foe’

Themis’s coming of age in occupied Greece, see her deal with a wide-range of emotional problems. Panos joins the resistance and before long it is Greek vs Greek, occupier vs communist. There are protests and violence. A  resulting massacre at the village of Kalavryta, showing the full horror of the Nazi regime.

The novel continues to tell the story of Themis’s family through the Nazi occupation, to the arrival of the British and eventually to the new government, bringing new hope.
It was easy to put yourself in the teenage siblings situations and walk in their shoes. Destruction of their home town, uncertainty and political divisions between the citizens.
When Themis vows to join the communists. her membership opens her eyes to the full extent of life in the far-left.

‘This is the harmony I want to restore to our country’

we continue on our journey with Themis, through her imprisonment at the most brutal island prison. We also see 1954, 1967, 1976, 1985 and ultimately back to the present day of 2016. With the long drawn out story told, Themis’s family is now fully aware of her past. When I finished the title, I suddenly felt bereft without the attachment to the novel and Themis’s story. I felt as though I had been with the family through their ups and downs. Their hardships and rare moments they had known  peace. It is funny sometimes how you can finish a near 500 page book and still want more.

This my first title read by the author and will definitely not be my last! 4*

VH
Victoria Hislop
Website
Twitter

Anne Bonny Top 5 #ww2Fiction #Historical picks from the TBR pile @VirginiaBaily @swlittlefield @CescaWrites @jingwrites Katie Quinn @ThatSadieJones @FleetReads @WmMorrowBooks @CorvusBooks @OneworldNews @vintagebooks

***Here are some books from my ww2 fiction TBR pile, that I am DYING to read. In no particular order***

the fourth shore
The Fourth Shore by Virginia Baily
Available in HB/Ebook/Audible – PB March 2020
Synopsis ~

The Fourth Shore: the sliver of fertile land along the Tripoli coast, the ‘lost’ territory Mussolini promised to reclaim for Italy. Which is how, in 1929, seventeen-year-old Liliana Cattaneo arrives there from Rome on a ship filled with eager colonists to join her brother and his new wife.

Liliana is sure she was on the brink of a great adventure, but what awaits her is not the Mediterranean idyll of cocktail parties, smart dances, dashing officers and romantic intrigues she had imagined. Instead she finds a world of persecution, violence, repression, corruption and deceptions both great and small.

A child of fascist Italy, blown about by the winds of fascism and Catholicism, Liliana becomes enmeshed in a dark liaison which has terrible consequences both for her and those she loves most.

The Fourth Shore is the engrossing and intensely poignant story of Liliana’s journey from Rome to Tripoli to a north London suburb where, as plain Lily Jones, she begins to uncover a secret she has buried so deeply that even she is far from certain what it is.

The daisy children
The Daisy Children by Sofia Grant
Available in PB/Ebook/Audible
Synopsis ~

Inspired by true events, in Sofia Grant’s powerfully moving new novel a young woman peels back the layers of her family’s history, discovering a tragedy in the past that explains so much of the present. This unforgettable story is one of hope, healing, and the discovery of truth.

Sometimes the untold stories of the past are the ones we need to hear…
When Katie Garrett gets the unexpected news that she’s received an inheritance from the grandmother she hardly knew, it couldn’t have come at a better time. She flees Boston—and her increasingly estranged husband—and travels to rural Texas.
There, she’s greeted by her distant cousin Scarlett. Friendly, flamboyant, eternally optimistic, Scarlett couldn’t be more different from sensible Katie. And as they begin the task of sorting through their grandmother’s possessions, they discover letters and photographs that uncover the hidden truths about their shared history, and the long-forgotten tragedy of the New London school explosion of 1937 that binds them.

the silent hours
The Silent Hours by Cesca Major
Available in PB/Ebook/Audible
Synopsis ~

An epic, sweeping tale set in wartime France, The Silent Hours follows three people whose lives are bound together, before war tears them apart:

Adeline, a mute who takes refuge in a convent, haunted by memories of her past;

Sebastian, a young Jewish banker whose love for the beautiful Isabelle will change the course of his life dramatically;

Tristin, a nine-year-old boy, whose family moves from Paris to settle in a village that is seemingly untouched by war.

Beautifully wrought, utterly compelling and with a shocking true story at its core, The Silent Hours is an unforgettable portrayal of love and loss.

how we disappeared
How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee
Available in HB/Ebook/Audible – PB April 2020
Synopsis ~

The heart-rending story of survival and endurance in Japanese-occupied Singapore

Singapore, 1942.
As Japanese troops sweep down Malaysia and into Singapore, a village is ransacked, leaving only three survivors, one of them a tiny child.

In a neighbouring village, seventeen-year-old Wang Di is bundled into the back of a troop carrier and shipped off to a Japanese military brothel. After sixty years of silence, what she saw and experienced there still haunts her.

And in the year 2000, twelve-year-old Kevin is sitting beside his ailing grandmother when he overhears a mumbled confession. He sets out to discover the truth, wherever it might lead, setting in motion a chain of events he could never have foreseen.

Weaving together two timelines and two very big secrets, this evocative, profoundly moving and utterly dazzling debut opens a window on a little-known period of history, and heralds the arrival of a thrilling new literary star.

the alice network
The Alice Network by Katie Quinn
Available in HB/Ebook/Audible/PB
Synopsis ~

In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the “Queen of Spies”, who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.
Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth…no matter where it leads.

**EXTRA PICK**
Not ww2 fiction, but set post-ww2 in Cyprus. I also CANNOT resist this epic cover!
small wars
Small Wars by Sadie Jones
Available in PB/Ebook
Synopsis ~

Hal Treherne is a soldier on the brink of a brilliant career. Impatient to see action, his other commitment in life is to his beloved wife, Clara, and when Hal is transferred to Cyprus she and their twin daughters join him. But the island is in the heat of the emergency; the British are defending the colony against Cypriots – schoolboys and armed guerillas alike – battling for union with Greece.

Clara shares Hal’s sense of duty and honour; she knows she must settle down, make the best of things, smile. But action changes Hal, and the atrocities he is drawn into take him not only further from Clara but himself, too; a betrayal that is only the first step down a dark path.

Anne Bonny #BookReview Stasi 77 By @djy_writer David Young 5* #Historical #Thriller #ww2Fiction #KarinMuller #Stasi #Series @ZaffreBooks

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Stasi 77 by David Young ~ Karin Muller #4
Review Copy

Synopsis ~

A secret State. A dark conspiracy. A terrible crime.

Karin Müller of the German Democratic Republic’s People’s Police is called to a factory in the east of the country. A man has been murdered – bound and trapped as a fire burned nearby, slowly suffocating him. But who is he? Why was he targeted? Could his murderer simply be someone with a grudge against the factory’s nationalisation, as Müller’s Stasi colleagues insist? Why too is her deputy Werner Tilsner behaving so strangely?

As more victims surface, it becomes clear that there is a cold-blooded killer out there taking their revenge. Soon Müller begins to realise that in order to solve these terrible crimes, she will need to delve into the region’s dark past. But are the Stasi really working with her on this case? Or against her?

For those who really run this Republic have secrets they would rather remain uncovered. And they will stop at nothing to keep them that way . . .

A gripping and evocative crime thriller, moving between the devastating closing weeks of the Second World War and the Stasi-controlled 1970s, STASI 77 is David Young’s most compelling and powerful novel yet

My Review ~

Stasi 77 Is #4 in the Karin Muller series. Each title offering up a unique historical theme. Stasi 77 is set between 1977 and 1943. The chapters alternate, which makes the reading feel so very intense. I found the 1943 scenes from the ww2 concentration camps particularly harrowing. But then they are historically accurate and superbly researched. The history of the ww2 concentration camps is supposed to be uncomfortable reading. If the author is doing their job correctly and bringing the horror of the camps alive on the page.

1977 – Schonefeld Airport – East Berlin
Major Karin Muller and Deputy Werner Tilsner from the serious crimes department arrive to find a victim dead from smoke inhalation. The victim is a leading local party official and is found in an abandoned old cotton mill (state owned). Who is the man? And why would somebody want to kill him?
As Karin investigates she uncovers the murder is not only deliberate but methodically planned. The victims fingernail marks leaving a sign of the sheer terror they knew before death brought salvation.

1943 – Oct – Scene from the camps
Three brothers Gregoire, Marcellin and (narrator) Philippe are transported from Buchenwald, in dire and bleak conditions…
‘I’m not a religious man. But if I was – and if I’d done some of the things that have been done to me and my compatriots and fellow prisoners – then I might imagine, one day entering hell. Today, I no longer need to imagine for I have arrived’ – Philippe
We come to learn the back story of the three brothers, who they are , why they are at the camps and the brutality of camp life they must endure.

Karin must navigate a secretive world. Where access to information depends on who you are and what position you hold. Karin comes to realise she doesn’t hold the relevant title or access to information on leading political figures and that continuing such leads, may put her own life in danger.

‘I never knew their names. But I will never, ever forget those faces’ – Philippe

When the ending finally approached and my time with Major Karin of the Kriminalpolizei was drawing to an end. I desperately wanted to read on…

‘My life is over, but I have memories to cherish, and they flicker like a well-worn newsreel’ – Philippe

5*

DY
David Young
Website
Twitter
My Review of A Darker State
An Extract of Stasi 77
My Review of Stasi Wolf and Q&A with David Young