Portrait of the Spy as a Young Man by Edward Wilson

Portrait of the Spy as a Young Man by Edward Wilson

Summary:

1941: a teenage William Catesby decides to leave Cambridge to join the army and support the war effort. Parachuted into Occupied France as an SOE officer, he witnesses tragedies and remarkable feats of bravery during the French Resistance.

2014: now in his nineties, Catesby recounts his life to his granddaughter for the first time. Their interviews weave together the historical, the personal and the emotional, skipping across different decades and continents to reveal a complex and conflicted man.

Catesby’s incredible story recounts a life of spying and the trauma of war, but also lost love, yearning, and hope for the future.

My Review:

Delighted on publication day to share my review of Portrait of the Spy as a Young Man (Arcadia Books) by Edward Wilson. This is a gripping wartime spy novel set in two time zones set in 1941 and 2014.

The career of spy William Catesby has been set out across seven previous novels and what a remarkable career. In Portrait of the Spy as a Young Man we find our hero recounting his wartime role to his granddaughter.
Catesby was only a teenager when he walked away from Cambridge University and join the fight against Nazis that had defeated mainland Europe. But for Catesby his role because of his unique background he joined the Special Operations Executive and following his training was parachuted into the highland region of Southern France, Catesby was there following the massacre of Oradour-sur-Glane as well as supplying weapons to the French underground forces fighting the Nazis and creating mayhem and chaos with the tactics of a highly trained SOE operative.


Now as the years have passed and it is 2014 and Catesby is in his nighties and the memories of his years as a spy are still there like time capsules in his memory and he is spending time with his granddaughter recounting his remarkable life.


I found this to be fantastic read and also one that was also moving as Catesby was a human that cared for the future of the human race. Many will ask about the previous spy novels but you need not worry as this can happily be read as a standalone novel. But like me you may want to seek out the previous seven books involving William Catesby. Highly Recommended.

350 Pages.

Thank you Sophie Ransom (Midas PR) for the review copy of Portrait of the Spy as a Young Man by Edward Wilson

Portrait of the Spy as a Young Man by Edward Wilsonwas published by Arcadia Books and was published on 15th October 2020 and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

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Green Hands by Barbara Whitton #WartimeClassics

Green Hands by Barbara Whitton

Summary:

It is 1943, and a month into their service as Land Girls, Bee, Anne and Pauline are dispatched to a remote farm in rural Scotland. Here they are introduced to the realities of ‘lending a hand on the land’, as back-breaking work and inhospitable weather mean they struggle to keep their spirits high. Soon one of the girls falters, and Bee and Pauline receive a new posting to a Northumberland dairy farm. Detailing their friendship, daily struggles and romantic intrigues with a lightness of touch, Barbara Whitton’s autobiographical novel paints a sometimes funny, sometimes bleak picture of time spent in the Women’s Land Army during the Second World War.

My Review:

The very latest release from the Imperial War Museum as part of their Wartime Classics series is set in 1943 and the men are away fighting and so the women recruited as part of the Women’s Land Army (WLA) in Green Hands (IWM) Barbara Whitton (pseudonym for Margaret Hazel Watson) tells the of the experiences of three young women working the land.

The story is told by Bee and her two friends Anne and Pauline are sent to chilly windswept farm in a remote part of Scotland in Winter, with no training they are expected to learn quickly how to work a farm. It is hard-going, cold and tough for the young women who are expected to work 6 days a week and long hours. The novel is based on the authors own experiences in the WLA.

It is physically hard and soon one of the women gives up and goes home leaving both Bee and Pauline to be relocated to a dairy farm in Northumberland and from the story tells of how they coped during the war years.

It is funny and insightful and the author writes in such a way that she paints a picture of life working on a farm doing the job the men would be normally be doing but with not a hint of a thank you. At a time when the country had to pull together or go hungry, Green Hands tells of a time during the war years when it was the women who worked the land to keep the country fed and important part of our history.

#wartimeclassics     @I_W_M

@angelamarymar     @RandomTTours

224 Pages.

Thank you to Imperial War Museum and Anne Cater (Random Things Tours) for a copy of Green Hands by Barbara Whitton

Green Hands by Barbara Whitton was published by Imperial War Museum and was published on 10th September 2020 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

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Independent Publishers Showcase #1

# 1. Neem Tree Press

Delighted today to begin my journey in showcasing the UK’s Independent Publishers, it has been a project that I have been really looking forward in putting together. Across the country I will aim to bring highlight the books being published by an important part of the publishing industry.

The UK’s independent publishers have a vital role in book publishing, they will bring to our attention some fresh new writers from all forms of genres. As you will see over the weeks and months as I journey the length of the country just how vibrant these small publishers really are, and each with their own unique voice.

For my first stop I would like to introduce Neem Tree Press based in London, they are a young publisher with the sole aim of producing books that will broaden and change perspectives.

It was while I was researching the name of the publisher that I discovered the name: The Neem is a hardy and drought resistant tree that thrives in poor conditions. It has many uses such as medicinal. The United Nations declared it a ‘tree for the 21st Century’

Neem Tree Press have become a global when it comes to securing writers, not just here in the UK but contracts from as far as Germany to the Middle East, Spain and Turkey.

Under the umbrella of Seven Seas they release both MG & YA titles, all their fiction and non-fiction titles will be released through Neem Tree Press.

A selection of the fiction titles currently released through Neem Tree Press:

Children of War: A Novel by Ahmet Yorulmaz

Translated from Turkish by Paula Darwish

Released 26 March 2020

Summary:

Hassanakis is a young Muslim boy of Turkish descent growing up on Crete during WWI. Fifteen generations of his family have lived on the island and until now he has never had any reason not to think he is a Cretan. But with the Great Powers tussling over the collapsing Ottoman Empire and the island’s Christians in rebellion, an outbreak of ethnic violence forces his family to flee to the Cretan City of Chania. He begins to lay down roots and his snappy dress earns him the nickname of Hassan ‘the mirror’. As WWI draws to a close and the Turkish War of Independence rages, he begins a heady romance with the elegant Hüsniye. There are rumors that the Cretan Muslims will be sent to Turkey but Hassanakis can’t believe he will be sent to a country whose language he barely knows and where he knows no-one. This powerful novel drawn from the diary of a refugee family evokes the beauty, complexity and trauma of Crete’s past and weaves it into a moving tale of an ordinary man living through extraordinary times.

About the Author:

Ahmet Yorulmaz  (1932- 31March 2014)

Ahmet Yorulmaz was a Turkish a journalist, author and translator. He was born in Ayvalik to a family of Cretan Turks deported to mainland Turkey as part of the Greek/Turkish population exchange decreed in the Treaty of Lausanne. He was fluent in modern Greek and translated novels and poems from contemporary Greek literature to Turkish. Most of his original works were written with the aim of making people learn about Ayvalık, the city where he grew up. He dedicated himself to Greek-Turkish friendship and rapprochement.

The Umbrella Man by Keith Carter

Released: 3 October 2019

Summary:

A witty and acerbic novel for our times about corporate greed, the hubris of bankers, contradictions of the clean energy economy and their unintended consequences on everyday people.

Finance, environmentalism, rare-earth mining and human frailties collide in a complex of flawed motives. We follow Peter Mount, the self-made Chief Executive of a London-based rare-earth mining company as he and his business are buffeted by crisis-torn Royal Bank of Scotland and by his own actions, real and imagined. Meanwhile in Oregon, Amy Tate and her group of local environmental activists do their contradictory part to undermine a component of the green economy, unwittingly super-charged by the Chinese state. The repercussions of events in pristine Oregon are felt in the corporate and financial corridors of New York and London with drastic consequences. This is a deeply involving novel about the current workings of capitalism, miscommunication, causes and unexpected effects, love and survival.

About the Author:

Keith Carter

Born in Scotland, he read Economics at Cambridge, taking a First in 1981 when he was elected a Scholar. He worked as an investment banker before going straight and running a small pharmaceutical company. Now a writer and business consultant he enjoys travel, politics and economics, reading and writing, languages, music and meals with family and friends. Keith suffered a spinal cord injury in March 2018 and since rides a wheelchair.

Distant Signs by Anne Richter

Released: 7 November 2019

Summary:

Distant Signs the debut novel by Anne Richter is an intimate portrait of two families spanning three generations amidst turbulent political change, behind and beyond the Berlin Wall.

In 1960s East Germany, Margret, a professor’s daughter from the city, meets and marries Hans, from a small village in the Thuringian forest. The couple struggle to contend with their different backgrounds, and the emotional scars they bear from childhood in the aftermath of war. As East German history gradually unravels, with collision of the personal and political, their two families’ hidden truths are quietly revealed. An exquisitely written novel with strongly etched characters that stay with you long after the book is finished and an authentic portrayal of family life behind the iron curtain based on personal experience of the author who is East German and was 16 years old at the fall of the Berlin Wall.

About the Author:

Anne Richter

Anne Richter was born in 1973 in Jena, in the former German Democratic Republic. Her degree in Romance languages and English included study periods in England, Italy and France. In 2011, Anne was nominated for the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize, a highly regarded German-language literary award. Her debut novel, Distant Signs, was published in Germany in 2013. Anne is currently writing her second novel.

Non-Fiction Title:

Modesty: A Fashion Paradox by Hafsa Lodi

Released: 19 March 2020

Summary:

Modest fashion has been gaining momentum in the mainstream global fashion industry over the past half-decade and is now a multi-billion-dollar retail sector. Its growing and now consistent appearance on high-profile fashion runways, on celebrities and in the headlines of fashion publications and news outlets, has shown that the modest fashion movement is hugely relevant to consumers. This is particularly true for millennials who are attracted to the feminist influences behind concealing your body, follow faith-based dress codes, or are attuned to social media, where more and more modest fashion bloggers are using imagery to inspire their followers. While the movement can credit European high fashion houses, like Gucci, for making conservative dresses and layering “in style” and “on trend,” and subsequent Western labels like DKNY, H&M and Mango for dabbling in the realm of modest wear, it is the newly emerging group of faith-influenced fashion brands who are driving the revolution, along with a new crop of Muslim fashion bloggers. These have helped catapult demure dressing trends globally. This book speaks to the various personalities and companies who have helped shape the modest fashion industry into such a significant retail sector, while also exploring the controversies that lie at the heart of the movement, such as one pressing question: even if it covers the skin but is flamboyant, modeled with the purpose of attracting attention, and publicly promoted on social media, can fashion truly be modest?

About the Author:

Hafsa Lodi

Hafsa Lodi is an American journalist who has been covering fashion in the Middle East for the past decade. She was born in New York City, and at the age of 14 relocated to the United Arab Emirates with her family, where she attended Dubai American Academy while interning after school with one of the region’s leading publishing houses, ITP.

After completing her undergraduate studies at the Ryerson School of Journalism in Toronto, Hafsa moved to London for a year, where she earned her master’s degree in Islamic Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies. The relationships between religion, culture and modernity have always fascinated Hafsa, who covered topics like honour killings in Canada’s South Asian communities, the use of DNA evidence in rape cases in Pakistan and the industrialization of the Holy city of Makkah, before turning to the fashion journalism beat. While living in Dubai, Hafsa has written for The National newspaper, Luxury Magazine, Mojeh Magazine, Velvet Magazine, Savoir Flair and Vogue India, in addition to working as an online fashion editor for one of the Middle East’s largest luxury retailers, Boutique 1. She is a freelance stylist, and also has a part-time clothing line, creating whimsical maxi-cardigans and kaftans during Ramadan, and statement hand-embellished sweatshirts for the winter seasons. You can find Hafsa on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hafsalodi/

My grateful thanks to Dr Archna Sharma for review copies of copies of their recent releases.

Visit the Neem Tree Website for information on all their books and you can also find a manuscript submission page: Neem Tree Press

You can also find them on Twitter: @NeemTreePress

Look out for my next Independent Publishers Showcase next week. If you are an indie publisher and would like to add your name to the showcase, you can contact me via Twitter: @TheLastWord1962

Love Orange by Natasha Randall

Love Orange by Natasha Randall

Summary:

While Hank struggles with his lack of professional success, his wife Jenny, feeling stuck and beset by an urge to do good, becomes ensnared in a dangerous correspondence with a prison inmate called John. Letter by letter, John pinches Jenny awake from the “marshmallow numbness” of her life. The children, meanwhile, unwittingly disturb the foundations of their home life with forays into the dark net and strange geological experiments.

Jenny’s bid for freedom takes a sour turn when she becomes the go-between for John and his wife, and develops an unnatural obsession for the orange glue that seals his letters…

My Review:

Take one American family, by all accounts your normal average family on the outside but then turn the story into a story about a dysfunctional family and you have an extraordinary debut novel in Love Orange (riverrun) by Natasha Randall.

This American family live in a ‘smart’ home but while Hank is the all -consuming techno husband/father that insisted that the family must have a ‘smart’ home, his wife Jenny is left to wonder what on earth her life actually really means. With one child an all hours of the day gamer and the other not knowing what his family are coming to.

Add in that Jenny has started to write pen pal letters to a prison inmate and this is where the orange comes in. (you have to read the book to find this out). But there is much more to the Tinkley’s and it is that the secrets and a family that just have lost the art of communicating with each other on a personal level and everything that entails make this a really riveting fly on the wall type of novel that you cringe on one hand but cannot take your eyes off on the other add in the various addictions and this is a family who have lost touch with the reality and with each other.

The real beauty of Love Orange is that Natasha Randall has crafted a novel with so much going on with a computer controlled house at its very heart. Everything is ultra-modern apart from Jenny’s letters.

A genius of a novel and very different from anything I have read before, I love the way Natasha writes and there is some humour in her writing.

368 Pages.

#NetGalley

@NatashaRandall @riverrunbooks

Thank you to riverrun for the Netgalley review copy of Love Orange by Natasha Randall.

Love Orange by Natasha Randallwas published by riverrun on 3rd September 2020 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

V2 by Robert Harris

V2 by Robert Harris

Summary:

Rudi Graf has dreamt since childhood of sending a rocket to the moon. Instead, along with his friend Werner von Braun, he has helped create the world’s most sophisticated weapon – the V2 ballistic missile, capable of delivering a one-ton warhead that travels at three times the speed of sound.

In a desperate gamble to avoid defeat, Hitler orders 10,000 to be built.

Now, in the winter of 1944, Graf finds himself in a bleak seaside town in Occupied Holland. Haunted and disillusioned, he’s tasked with firing the V2s at London. Nobody understands the volatile, deadly machine better than he does.

Kay Caton-Walsh is an officer in the WAAF. She has experienced at first-hand the horror of a V2 strike. As the rockets rain down, she joins a unit of WAAFs on a mission to newly-liberated Belgium. Armed with little more than a slide rule and a few equations, the hope is that Kay and her colleagues can locate and destroy the launch sites.

But at this stage in the war it’s hard to know who, if anyone, you can trust.

For every action on one side, there is an equal and opposite reaction on the other. As the death toll soars, the separate stories of Graf and Kay ricochet off one another, until in a final explosion of violence their destinies are forced together.

My Review:

Historical fact and fiction blended together in the latest blockbuster by bestselling author Robert Harris. V2 (Hutchinson) tells the story of Hitler’s last desperate attempt to turn the tide of WWII. Hitler so desperate he ordered 10,000 to be built of the most advanced rockets the world had seen. Mostly written during the pandemic lockdown, V2 is an enthralling read.

The story is set in the winter of 1944 in London, Holland and Belgium, for Rudy Graf who used to look up at the moon and thought about designing a rocket to land a man there, life during this stage of the war took a sinister turn along with his friend Werner von Braun designed the ballistic Vengeance weapons to strike terror and death and destroy London and also Antwerp and win the war. It takes just 5 minutes from launch in Holland to hit London and there are no warnings.

In London intelligence officer with photographic reconnaissance, 24-year-old Kay Caton-Walsh has had a lucky escape when a V2 hits close to where she has been staying with a married senior officer in the RAF, now Kay wants to get more directly involved in the war effort before the war ends. Locating the launch sites for the V2 rockets has been a massive problem and now efforts are being stepped up to find them and Kay together with a team of women and officers are sent to Mechelen in Belgium to work on calculations based of the trajectory of the V2’s when they are launched and then the RAF is scrambled to the target and destroy the launch sites.

The death toll in the construction of the rockets is huge around 20,000 slave labourers were killed in the production of the V2 weapons. The rockets were never accurate but carried a one-ton warhead that caused death and devastation, the need to seek and destroy the rockets sites was now a priority.

In Holland Graf was becoming more and more disillusioned, some of the rockets were failing and malfunctioned. But now the SS officers running the sites believe Graf is involved in deliberate sabotage. Tension is running high as the high command insist on more and more rockets are launched.

Meanwhile in Mechelen it is pencil and paper and calculations that a pin pointing the launch sites. But the correct calculation has to be made in no more than six minutes to prevent another launch.

V2 by Robert Harris is a gripping and enthralling account of life during the latter stages of WWII and what it takes to try and stop the V2 rockets destroying London. It is also fascinating to read what happened at the end of the war.  

320 Pages.

#NetGalley

Thank you to Hutchinson for the NetGalley review copy of V2 by Robert Harris.

V2 by Robert Harris will be published by Hutchinson on 17th September 2020 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.