Everything Happens for a Reason by Katie Allen

Everything Happens for a Reason by Katie Allen

Summary:

Mum-to-be Rachel did everything right, but it all went wrong. Her son, Luke, was stillborn and she finds herself on maternity leave without a baby, trying to make sense of her loss.

When a misguided well-wisher tells her that ‘everything happens for a reason’, she becomes obsessed with finding that reason, driven by grief and convinced that she is somehow to blame. She remembers that on the day she discovered her pregnancy, she’d stopped a man from jumping in front of a train, and she s now certain that saving his life cost her the life of her son.

Desperate to find him, she enlists an unlikely ally in Lola, an Underground worker, and Lola’s seven-year-old daughter, Josephine, and eventually tracks him down, with completely unexpected results…

Both a heart-wrenchingly poignant portrait of grief and a gloriously uplifting and disarmingly funny story of a young woman’s determination, Everything Happens for a Reason is a bittersweet, life- affirming read and, quite simply, unforgettable.

My Review:

This is an exceedingly difficult review to write, I am not sure that I have the right words to describe just what an outstanding debut novel Everything Happens for a Reason (Orenda Books) by Katie Allen really is. A very poignant story that was inspired by the authors own experience of stillbirth and grief.

The main character in the story is Rachel whose heart is shattered when her son was stillborn. But for Rachel who is on maternity leave without a baby wants to know why her son Luke was born sleeping and now finds herself trying to make sense of everything as well as the pain and grief. But what I will say here, there is humour in the story despite the grief.

Rachel has borrowed her mother’s sausage dog but really believes she herself is to blame for the loss of her son as on the day she found out she was pregnant she managed to stop a man committing suicide by jumping in front of a train.

If there is one statement that I really dislike is that ‘everything happens for a reason’ I have had that said to me just recently and the same happens to Rachel in the story and this is where her quest begins, try, and find the answer to ‘why’. Rachel also decides she needs to find the man she saved that day, and, in some way, it may help her to try and find some answers.

Rachel’s journey to find the man and find answers for the loss of her son will take her on a journey where she will meet some unexpected people, and this could well help her in her journey to find reasons. Then of course there are the emails, and this I will leave there for you to discover. It is a heart-breaking story packed with emotion but let us not forget the humour that is in the storyline as well.

I do not know if I am the right person to write a review about such a painful loss but Katie if you by chance read this review, you have written an incredible debut novel that I will not forget and cannot wait to see what you do next. Highly Recommended.

320 Pages.

My thanks to Orenda Books for the review copy of Everything Happens for a Reason by Katie Allen.

Everything Happens for a Reason by Katie Allen is published by Orenda Books and is published 10th June 2021 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

Books on the Hill – Open Dyslexia Kickstarter Project

Today in place of a book review I want to share with you a project that is being run by Books on the Hill, a bookshop in Clevedon, North Somerset.

Books on the Hill are passionate about helping people with dyslexia and who have difficulty in reading. Dyslexia is a learning difference that primarily affects reading and writing skills. The NHS estimates that up to 1 in every 10 people in the UK have some form of dyslexia, while other dyslexic organizations believe 1 in 5 and more than 2 million people in the UK are severely affected.

Dyslexia does not stop someone from achieving. There are many individuals who are successful and are dyslexic. Famous actors, such as Orlando Bloom; Entrepreneurs like Theo Paphitis, and many, many more, including myself. All of who believe dyslexia has helped them to be where they are now. Dyslexia, though, as I can attest to, does not go away. You don’t grow out of it, and so we are acknowledging that and trying to without being patronising, create a selection of books that will be friendly to people who deal with dyslexia every day.

Since we started the project in 2019, Books on the Hill have had many adults customers with dyslexia come in shop the asking for something accessible to read. For example, one customer asked if we stocked well known novels in a dyslexic friendly format. Unfortunately we had to say no, as they just don’t exist. We explained what we are trying to achieve by printing our own and she replied:

“I have been reading [children dyslexic] books but they are a bit childish so am really happy I have found your company!! Thanks so much again and thank you for making such a helpful and inclusive brand – it means a lot. “

This response is not isolated. We have had many adults come in to the shop with dyslexia, who do not read or struggle to read and they they believe dyslexic friendly books would have real impact on their reading for pleasure.

The Team

Books on the Hill is Alistair Sims. He is the manager and commander-in-chief of the bookshop (though his partner, Chloe and his mother, Joanne, who set up the bookshop with him, may disagree with this description ). Alistair is dyslexic and has a PhD in history and archaeology. Alistair could not read until he was 13 and is passionate about helping anyone who has difficulty reading. He is the driving force behind BOTH Press and has been involved in every step in this project, from finding award winning authors to contribute, the cover design, and the road to publication, including setting up for distribution.

Books on the Hill are collaborating with Chrissey Harrison, who is also an local author and member of North Bristol Writers Group. Chressey and Alistair have designed the book-covers together, with Chrissey creating the finished product we now look on at awe with. Nearly all the design work has been done by Chrissey, and she is also in charge of the printing process, typesetting. We are so proud and appreciative to be working with her.

Special mention must go to Harrison Gates, who runs Nine Worthy, and who has dedicated his time and expertise to produce our print catalogue for us free of cost.

Joanne Hall is an author, editor and formerly the Chair of BristolCon, Bristol’s premier (and only) science fiction and fantasy convention. We must give a huge thank you to Jo for proof reading the stories free of cost.

Who Are We Working With

We have been so fortunate that many great authors have agreed to contribute to this project. All are brilliant authors and are names I am sure you will recognise.

Stan Nicholls, who has been a great support to me particularly with my PhD. He is the author of many novels and short stories but is best known for the internationally acclaimed Orcs: First Blood series.

Steven Savile, the fantasy, horror and thriller writer, now lives in Stockholm whose father is a customer of our bookshop.

The horror duo that is Thana Niveau and John Llewellyn Probert, both well established and engaging authors and also residents of Clevedon.

Adrian Tchaikovsky is an Arthur Clark Award winner and best known for his series Shadows of the Apt, and for his novel Children of Time.

Steven Poore is the highly acclaimed fantasy writer who I first met on my first fantasy convention in Scarborough.

We finish the Magnificent Seven with Joel Cornah, who also has dyslexia, and with whom I participated in a podcast on dyslexia for the Clevedon Literature 2020 ‘Festival in the Clouds’.

How To Get involved

We are launching a Kickstarter beginning in April 2nd 2021 for 30 days, with the focus on paying for the printing of our books and giving us starting capital to continue to print more titles.

There will be many ways you can be involved in this. You can contribute on the Kickstarter website itself. There will be a number of different options of donating money, in which you will receive rewards, such as ebooks of a title or a paperback of one or more of the titles to be published. In addition a unique reward from authors who are contributing to the project.

You can still contribute outside the kickstarter. We are happy to receive your help in the shop, where we will have a donation box available.

https://www.booksonthehill.co.uk/

@booksonthehill (Twitter)

@booksonthehill (Instagram)

@indpendentbooksonthehill (Facebook)

On Hampstead Heath by Marika Cobbold

On Hampstead Heath by Marika Cobbold

Summary:

Thorn Marsh was raised in a house of whispers, of meaningful glances and half-finished sentences. Now she’s a journalist with a passion for truth, more devoted to her work at the London Journal than she ever was to her ex-husband.

When the newspaper is bought by media giant The Goring Group, who value sales figures over fact-checking, Thorn openly questions their methods, and promptly finds herself moved from the news desk to the midweek supplement, reporting heart-warming stories for their new segment, The Bright Side, a job to which she is spectacularly unsuited.

On a final warning and with no heart-warming news in sight, a desperate Thorn fabricates a good-news story of her own. The story, centred on an angelic apparition on Hampstead Heath, goes viral. Caught between her principles and her ambitions, Thorn goes in search of the truth behind her creation, only to find the answers locked away in the unconscious mind of a stranger.

Marika Cobbold returns with her eighth novel, On Hampstead Heath. Sharp, poignant, and infused with dark humour, On Hampstead Heath is an homage to storytelling and to truth; to the tales we tell ourselves, and the stories that save us.

My Review:

I have very fond memories of walking on Hampstead Heath during my time living in London and so when I realised Marika Cobbold was releasing her eighth novel On Hampstead Heath (Arcadia Books) I was more than keen to review before publication. And what a fabulous read it really is. My thanks to Georgina Moore at Midas PR for sending me a review copy.

Thorn Marsh is a journalist for the London based newspaper The New London Journal and she has been at the paper for many years and is dedicated to her role as News Editor. But then the paper is now being bought by the Goring Group. The problem is that Marsh does not really agree with their ways of running a newspaper and this causes conflict which means that she now finds herself being somewhat moved out of the job she has loved to a role within the paper covering feel good stories. That is not really a role for our Thorn Marsh.

As this is basically a story of how much we can really believe in the newspaper business and the digital social media world the story now takes on a real twist as Thorn Marsh as she seeks to find a really good story that will make her bosses sit up and take notice except the story is not actually true but just how did she manage to come up with the story in the first place? I just love how Marika Cobbold has created the character of Thorn Marsh. There were real times I was laughing quite loudly and that is not best in the early hours.

But what of our leading character, now the story she has created has gone crazy and viral. But what does Marsh do now? She has spent the best part of thirteen years living and working as a journalist with a real conscience for the truth. And the truth is out there somewhere!

This is just a brilliant novel that I just knew I was going to love, and it is witty. A real joy. A novel to jump and down about, but not in the early hours please!

248 Pages.

My thanks to Georgina Moore (Midas PR) and Arcadia Books for the review copy of On Hampstead Heath by Marika Cobbold.

On Hampstead Heath by Marika Cobbold is published by Arcadi Books and will be published on 15 April 2020 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

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The Old Enemy by Henry Porter

The Old Enemy by Henry Porter

Summary:

Ex-MI6 officer Paul Samson has been tasked with secretly guarding a gifted young woman, Zoe Freemantle. He is just beginning to tire of the job when he is attacked in the street by a freakish looking knifeman. It’s clear the target is on his back not hers. What he doesn’t know is who put it there.

At that moment, his mentor, the MI6 legend Robert Harland lies dead on a remote stretch of the Baltic coastline. Who needed to end the old spy’s life when he was, in any case, dying from a terminal illness? And what or who is Berlin Blue, the name scratched in the sketchbook beside his body?

A few hours later, Samson watches footage from the US Congress where billionaire philanthropist Denis Hisami is poisoned with a nerve agent while testifying – an attack that is as spectacular as it is lethal, but spares Anastasia Hisami, the love of Samson’s life.

Two things become clear. One, it was a big mistake to lose the mysterious Zoe Freemantle. And two, Robert Harland is making a final play from beyond the grave.

My Review:

Paul Samson is an ex-MI16 officer, but he now finds himself doing private work to pay the bills and now he has been hired to keep safe Zoe Freemantle. But now someone has tried to kill him just because he was keeping an eye on the young woman he was hired to protect. The Old Enemy (Quercus) by Henry Porter is the new gripping espionage thriller that is released today 15 April.

Sometimes it is always best to ask questions, but Samson took the job, and the money was good, but this job is more dangerous than he has realised and when news reaches Samson that his former colleague Robert Harland has been murdered, he soon realises that his own life is now in real danger and at any moment he could be next. All that he knows is that Zoe Freemantle worked for a powerful environmental organisation, but what is the connection?

Over in the States Samson’s friend Denis Hisami is giving evidence in Washington when he is poisoned with a neurotoxin, there is a real concern of something sinister like that of what happened in Salisbury. Now Paul Samson heads to Estonia to try and find the link that will lead his to those responsible for Harland’s murder as well as the poisoning of Hisami as well as the attempts on his own life.

It soon becomes clear that both Harland and Hisami were clearly on to something that involved an ex-Stasi agent. When Sampson is joined by Hisami’s wife they must act quickly and find who is responsible before anyone else is murdered and if they can strike at the heart of Washington then no-one is safe.

This is the first novel I have read by Henry Porter and is a pulsating read, the idea was created by Porter on the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall.

#TheOldEnemy

@HenryCPorter

@quercusbooks

@midaspr

416 Pages.

My thanks to Sophie Ransom (Midas PR) and Quercus for the review copy of The Old Enemy by Henry Porter.

The Old Enemy by Henry Porter is published by Quercus and is published today 15 April 2021 and is available to order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

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The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex

The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex

Summary:

Cornwall, 1972. Three keepers vanish from a remote lighthouse, miles from the shore. The entrance door is locked from the inside. The clocks have stopped. The Principal Keeper’s weather log describes a mighty storm, but the skies have been clear all week.

What happened to those three men, out on the tower? The heavy sea whispers their names. The tide shifts beneath the swell, drowning ghosts. Can their secrets ever be recovered from the waves?

Twenty years later, the women they left behind are still struggling to move on. Helen, Jenny and Michelle should have been united by the tragedy, but instead it drove them apart. And then a writer approaches them. He wants to give them a chance to tell their side of the story. But only in confronting their darkest fears can the truth begin to surface . . .

Inspired by real events, The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex is an intoxicating and suspenseful mystery, an unforgettable story of love and grief that explores the way our fears blur the line between the real and the imagined.

My Review:

Since my childhood days I have had a fascination with lighthouses, I have travelled around the coastline from Cornwall to the Scottish Isles to visit as many as I can so when I heard of The Lamplighters (Picador) by Emma Stonex I knew this was a book I was going to enjoy, and it really is outstanding.

It is New Year’s Eve 1972, and a boat is approaching the Maiden Rock lighthouse off the Cornish coast. This lighthouse is far off the coast and the three men that take turns at manning the lighthouse are isolated and when a storm starts the sea that surrounds them is a boiling sea that lashes the lighthouse.

The boat has come to relive the three men and take them back to shore to be with their families. But something is not quite right. There is no sign of Bill Walker, Arthur Black or Vincent Bourne, they have vanished mysteriously. But how is that possible, as they are miles from anywhere, just the sea for company.

Once inside the Maiden Rock lighthouse nothing seems as it should. That alone is enough to send a shiver down the spine. What has happened to the three men? Was it suicide, or murder or something more ghostly?

It is now 1992 and the mystery remains just that, there are now explanations and for Helen, Jenny, and Michelle, how can they move one when they do not know what happened to their loved ones and the mystery has only driven a wedge between them. But now a writer has come forward and wants to speak to the three women about their memories and now the three women talk their theories, and so we also get to see the days of the three men at the lighthouse.

The Lamplighters is a seriously impressive mystery that I really could not leave alone. Emma Stonex has written a stunning suspense packed novel that hints at a ghost story, a love story, and a mystery story. It is just so riveting and beautifully written. One of the best novels of 2021.

#TheLamplighters

@StonexEmma

@picadorbooks

@MidasPR

368 Pages.

My thanks to Georgina Moore (Midas PR) and Picador for the review copy of The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex

The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex was published by Picador on 4th March 2021 and is available to order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

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My Brother by Karin Smirnoff

My Brother by Karin Smirnoff

Translated by Anna Paterson

Summary:

Jana is returning to see her twin brother Bror, still living in the family farmhouse in the rural north of Sweden. The house is decrepit and crumbling, and Bror is determindly drinking himself into an early grave. The siblings are both damaged by horrific childhood experiences, buried deep in the past, but Jana cannot keep running.

Alive with the brutality and beauty of the landscape, My Brother is a novel steeped in darkness and violence – about abuse, love, complicity, and coming to terms with the past. It’s the story of a homecoming without a home: a story of forgiveness.

My Review:

I must admit that this could be a difficult read for some readers as there are themes running through this novel that are difficult but also there is hope and that was important. My Brother (Pushkin Press) by Karin Smirnoff deals with family abuse and cruelty and it is challenging but I was determined to finish reading.

Set in the North of Sweden, and Jana Kippo is heading home to the family farmhouse where her brother still lives. The farmhouse is now pretty much run down and that goes for Bror her brother. There are grim memories for both here and that explains why Bror is heading towards an early grave. He is drinking a lot and his health is poor.

As children they were abused in the worst way possible while their mother accepted this and both are struggling in their own to way through life, for Bror drinking, maybe it helps him forget but it is a path of self-destruction and for Jana she likes to clean. The wintery landscape is bleak with the freezing conditions and deep snow. But seasons do change and with that there is hope for the future. The storyline is bleak but there are times when we can have a glimpse of what could be for Jana and Bror.

Karin Smirnoff for her debut novel has created a difficult storyline but also an isolated setting. Smirnoff has also written in a unique style with little punctuation but every now and then the author brings something into the storyline which then hits hard into the plot and the reader, but I liked the authors writing style. A word about the translation. This is by Anna Paterson and she has done an excellent job with the translation.

The rights to My Brother have been sold to nine territories and has been optioned for a major international TV production.

320 Pages.

My thanks to Poppy Stimpson (Pushkin Press) for the review copy of My Brother by Karin Smirnoff  

My Brother by Karin Smirnoff was published by Pushkin Press and was published on 4th March 2021 and is available to order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

While Paris Slept by Ruth Druart

While Paris Slept by Ruth Druart

Summary:

Paris 1944
A young woman’s future is torn away in a heartbeat. Herded on to a train bound for Auschwitz, in an act of desperation she entrusts her most precious possession to a stranger. All she has left now is hope.

Santa Cruz 1953
Jean-Luc thought he had left it all behind. The scar on his face a small price to pay for surviving the horrors of Nazi Occupation. Now, he has a new life in California, a family. He never expected the past to come knocking on his door.

On a darkened platform, two destinies become entangled. Their choice will change the future in ways neither could have imagined…

My Review:

A powerful and emotional debut novel set in Paris during 1944 at the height of the occupation by the Nazis and Santa Cruz in 1953. While Paris Slept (Headline) by Ruth Druart is strong on characters and time. It will tug at your heart and leave you breathless.

It has taken me a few weeks to try and find the right words to describe Ruth Druart’s breathtaking debut novel but here goes! Drancy which is a few miles from the centre of Paris was synonymous with the holding and transportation of Jews during the Nazi occupation of France. A railway station was close by and trains would be packed with Jews heading for the concentration camps such as Auschwitz would set off from here as the trains left, the platforms would go eerily quiet just leaving the belongings of those to be transported to the death camps and it is here at this station were the novel really begins.

A young Jewish couple are desperately trying to evade the Nazis by escaping but are discovered and arrested and sent to the transit camp in Drancy along with many other Jewish men, women, and children here they will await transportation to Auschwitz.

It is 1944 and Jean-Luc is working on the railways and with the transport trains leaving in the dead of night so there no witnesses to what is going on. When Jean-Luc is woken and taken to the station. From this moment on his life will never be the same ever again. When the wagons holding those to be transported are taken off a young woman thrusts a bundle into Jean-Lucs arms begging him to look after it and keep it safe.

Jean-Luc met Charlotte by chance that same year and now they are both entrusted with a possession that they must keep safe but means they now face real danger and must escape France if discovered they face certain death.

It is now 1953 and Jean-Luc and Charlotte are now living in Santa Cruz in California and they kept their promise to look after that bundle and he is named Sam. But now yet again they face real uncertainty when there is a knock on the door and their lives are torn apart.

While Paris Slept is a novel packed full of emotion, at times it is raw, but also there is incredible love and courage. Jean-Luc and Charlotte are two incredible brave young people filled with love for each other but also desperate to keep the promise and faced danger at every moment.

Ruth Druart takes the reader back to the dreadful events of occupied Paris in 1944 and then to Santa Cruz in 1953 and is beautifully written and crafted. A novel that will make you hold your breath as you turn every page. In the face of unbelievable terror there is hope for the future. Highly Recommended.

512 Pages.

My thanks to Headline for the review copy of While Paris Slept by Ruth Druart

While Paris Slept by Ruth Druart was published by Headline Review on 4 March 2021 and is available to order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

Notebook by Tom Cox

Notebook by Tom Cox

Summary:

Sure, sex is great, but have you ever cracked open a new notebook and written something on the first page with a really nice pen? The story behind Notebook starts with a minor crime: the theft of Tom Cox’s rucksack from a Bristol pub in 2018. In that rucksack was a journal containing ten months worth of notes, one of the many Tom has used to record his thoughts and observations over the past twelve years. It wasn’t the best he had ever kept – his handwriting was messier than in his previous notebook, his entries more sporadic – but he still grieved for every one of the hundred or so lost pages. This incident made Tom appreciate how much notebook-keeping means to him: the act of putting pen to paper has always led him to write with an unvarnished, spur-of-the-moment honesty that he wouldn’t achieve on-screen. Here, Tom has assembled his favourite stories, fragments, moments and ideas from those notebooks, ranging from memories of his childhood to the revelation that ‘There are two types of people in the world. People who f*cking love maps, and people who don’t.’ The result is a book redolent of the real stuff of life, shot through with Cox’s trademark warmth and wit.

My Review:

Notebooks, I must admit I love them. I have so many of them and I would never get rid of any of them, and I have to use a good quality fountain pen. I would be out of my mind if I ever lost one or had one stolen. But that is exactly what happened to Tom Cox as he explains at the start of his new book that is called appropriately Notebook (Unbound) and it is out now.

Tom Cox loves his notebooks and in these he writes his thoughts and observations on life and the places he visits. Until back in 2018 when he visited a pub in Bristol, and someone walked off with his rucksack that contained his precious notebook while he was strutting his stuff to Michael Jackson. I would be mortified. All Tom’s work had been stolen and this is how Notebook became a book.

I loved Tom’s previous books, and Notebook is just the perfect read, it has moments where you cannot help but laugh. Here are his thoughts from his collection of notebooks that Tom has kept. These are random thoughts on almost anything in life. Trips to various locations and places he has lived, even woodpigeons manage to get into his notebooks as does his love of vinyl records and cats and nature.

Every page is trademark Tom Cox, his warmth and his humour are a real joy to read. Tom’s parents Mick and Jo contribute illustrations throughout the book. At only 144 pages this a tonic to dip in and out of and then there is the stunning cover design by Clare Melinsky. Notebook by Tom Cox is a fabulous read. Be prepared to laugh out loud.

#Notebook

@cox_tom

@unbounders

@RandomTTours

144 Pages.

My thanks to both Unbound and to Anne at Random Things Tours for the review copy of Notebook by Tom Cox.

Notebook by Tom Cox is published by Unbound and was published on 18 March 2021 and is available to order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

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The Night Gate by Peter May

The Night Gate by Peter May

Summary:

In a sleepy French village, the body of a man shot through the head is disinterred by the roots of a fallen tree. A week later a famous art critic is viciously murdered in a nearby house. The deaths occurred more than seventy years apart.
Asked by a colleague to inspect the site of the former, forensics expert Enzo Macleod quickly finds himself embroiled in the investigation of the latter. Two extraordinary narratives are set in train – one historical, unfolding in the treacherous wartime years of Occupied France; the other contemporary, set in the autumn of 2020 as France re-enters Covid lockdown.

And Enzo’s investigations reveal an unexpected link between the murders – the Mona Lisa.

Tasked by the exiled General Charles de Gaulle to keep the world’s most famous painting out of Nazi hands after the fall of France in 1940, 28-year-old Georgette Pignal finds herself swept along by the tide of history. Following in the wake of Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa as it is moved from château to château by the Louvre, she finds herself just one step ahead of two German art experts sent to steal it for rival patrons – Hitler and Göring.

What none of them know is that the Louvre itself has taken exceptional measures to keep the painting safe, unwittingly setting in train a fatal sequence of events extending over seven decades.

My Review:

Hard to believe this really book number 7 in the Enzo Macleod series. But sadly, it is the finale. But what an ending to the series The Night Gate (riverrun) by bestselling author Peter May is released today 18th March and is set between France and Scotland in World War II and present day including covid lockdown France and is Peter May at his absolute best.

Forensic expert Enzo Macleod should be enjoying his retirement with his wife but has been asked by a former colleague to come and look at the remains of a man that has been discovered beneath a tree in a quiet French village, closer inspection reveals the man was shot in the head and has been buried here for about 75 years. But close by an art dealer is murdered. Now Enzo is investigating both cases and there is more than a passing regret at excepting the request. Enzo suspects that both cases could be linked. To do this Enzo must look to the past to solve two murders separated by over 70 years.

Set against a backdrop of different timelines and countries, but at the heart of this brilliant novel is da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. When France fell to the Germans in 1940, it was Hitler who wanted the Mona Lisa to be the centre piece of his super museum at Linz in Austria and has recruited Paul Lange to acquire it but also at the same time Hermann Göring has eyes on the famous painting for his own private collection and he has Karlheinz Wolff determined to get his hands on the painting first.

This is a gripping and compelling thriller that lasts for 500 pages, as Enzo gets to grips with two dead bodies the story goes back in time as de Gaulle now in London asks a young female to make sure that the Mona Lisa is kept out of reach of the Nazis as they plundered art from all over France. Enter 28-year-old Georgette Pignal who heads to the Isle of Lewis for her training before she heads to occupied France. Georgette is young and brave and determined to do everything she can to foil the Nazis of getting their hands on the Mona Lisa (called La Jaconde in France).

The story weaves from wartime France and a France in lockdown of the autumn in 2020 and as Covid-19 has the world in its grip.

I loved how Peter May has weaved a stunning thriller out of history and current day using the pandemic as part of the story. I am not going to give any clues as to what happens in the novel, as if you are a fan of Peter May’s previous thrillers you will want to read The Night Gate. You will not be disappointed.  

#TheNightGate

496 Pages.

My thanks to Sophie Ransom and Midas PR for the review copy of The Night Gate by Peter May.

The Night Gate by Peter May is published by riverrun today 18 March 2021 and is available NOW to order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

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The Field by Robert Seethaler

The Field by Robert Seethaler

Translated by Charlotte Collins

Summary:

From their graves in the field, the oldest part of Paulstadt’s cemetery, the town’s late inhabitants tell stories from their lives. Some recall just a moment, perhaps the one in which they left this world, perhaps the one that they now realize shaped their life forever. Some remember all the people they’ve been with, or the only person they ever loved.

These voices together – young, old, rich poor – build a picture of a community, as viewed from below ground instead of from above. The streets of the small, sleepy provincial town of Paulstadt are given shape and meaning by those who lived, loved, worked, mourned and died there.

From the author of the Booker International-shortlisted A Whole Life, Robert Seethaler’s The Field is about what happens at the end. It is a book of human lives – each one different, yet connected to countless others – that ultimately shows how life, for all its fleetingness, still has meaning.

My Review:

From the author of the 2016 Man Booker Prize shortlisted A Whole Life, Robert Seethaler returns with The Field (Picador) a novel that heads to a fictional small town of Paulstadt and the cemetery. But it is those that are buried here and the stories they tell and the conversations they have. These are their stories.

I loved reading A Whole Life and The Tobacconist and Robert Seeethaler does not disappoint with The Field. With each of his novels there is a real sense of quiet storytelling. In the town of Paulstadt lies a field and this is the oldest part of the cemetery and here lie some of the towns most outspoken residents.

The story begins as an old man sits and contemplates those that are buried here and what if they could talk? What would they say? And so, it begins, those long departed begin the conversations.

Far from resting quietly these are some of the most outspoken of the community, they were the old, the young, poor, or wealthy but now they are recounting their lives, or some recall a moment from their lives as it has just happened or may be happier or sad times. But one that lies here just has one word to say.

I have to say that this is unlike anything I have read before conversations of those departed. Each chapter begins with the name of the departed soul, but that is it, the stories they tell is of different moments in time from early days of the town to how the town grew. Each of the deceased has their own story to tell. Some angry some just quiet reflection from a child’s voice to the oldest of the inhabitants of the field. Not all the conversations are sad, there is some joyful conversations, but this is mixed with great sadness and Seethaler manages to bring not only the conversations to life but the history of the town of Paulstadt and its inhabitants who now lie here. A real mix of characters and their professions.

The Field is Wonderfully crafted by Robert Seethaler and beautifully translated by Charlotte Collins.

#RobertSeethaler #TheField

You can follow Charlotte Collins on Twitter: @cctranslates

240 Pages.

My thanks to Camilla Elworthy for the review copy of The Field by Robert Seethaler.

The Field by Robert Seethaler will be published by Picador on 18th March 2021 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org