Welcome to my blog where I share my book reviews
and life along the winding road

Friday, February 22, 2019

In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen

I'm a big fan of Rhys Bowen and In Farleigh Field is another hit for me.  As another big plus, it's setting is taken from one of my favorite Kentish towns, Penshurst. We were both born in the lovely county of Kent.

During WWII many stately homes were requisitioned for military use and Lord Westerham's ancestral home was now being used by the army. One morning, his daughter comes across a dead soldier who appears to have fallen to his death when his parachute failed to open. But there are many questions surrounding the dead soldier with no identity and only a photograph tucked away.
The story continues to unfold through once childhood friends, the five daughters of Lord Westerham, their neighbor Jeremy and the vicar's son, Ben. Many of the friends are involved in top secret jobs whether in the military, the code breaking facility of Bletchly Park or MI5.

My thoughts:
Rhys Bowen has done in depth research for the novel. There were lots of things I'd forgotten about living in England in the 40s and 50s - one is that trains had separate carriages for ladies who preferred to be segregated from the male population. She weaves a good story using childhood pals who know a little about the secret societies of nazi sympathizers in England at the time. Although they each stated they had signed The Official Secrets Act they didn't seem particularly concerned with discussing secrets among themselves but was necessary for the story to develop.
This would make an excellent book club read.

A few bits of interesting info:
Dolphin Square was once the largest block of flats in Europe and Ian Fleming was recruited there by MI5
Many of the English aristocrats during WWII (including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor) were Nazi sympathizers and part of the reason why the English government did not want Edward to remain their king.
Girls born in Kent are referred to as either Kentish Maids or Maids of Kent depending on which side of the River Medway they are born. (Or for men - Kentish men or men of Kent).

Friday, February 15, 2019

The Winters by Lisa Gabriele

The Winters is another take on the Daphne du Maurier novel, Rebecca. But unlike the rugged Cornish coast in Rebecca, The Winters by Lisa Gabriele, is set on Long Island and the housekeeper character, Dani has been replaced with a spoiled teenager.

Some of the novel made use of secrets and mysteries to add to the suspense in the novel, but although the narrator of the novel is a young woman whose parents had died and she had worked and supported herself in the Cayman Islands, dealing with men (as she put it) on boat excursions, she seemed very naive after meeting Max Winter. The ending was quite a twist, but sadly I didn't really feel a connection to any of the characters.

Monday, February 11, 2019

The Fallen Man by Tony Hillerman

The Fallen Man is part of a Tony Hillerman series set in New Mexico and following Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee - Navajo tribal policemen.

In The Fallen Man, retired officer Joe Leaphorn, and Jim Chee embark on a quest to find out how a man fell to his death on Ship Rock mountain eleven years ago. Complicating their interviews of witnesses is a sniper on the Navajo reservation and brazen cattle thefts. Tony Hillerman weaves a complicated story in the midst of tribal  traditions. Many of his novels have been adapted into movies.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Grandmother's Flower Garden by Ann Summerville

Grandmother's Flower Garden (the first in the Pecan Valley mystery series) is currently 99c on Smashwords.com. At checkout, use coupon No. CW26E (expires March 3 2019)

If you haven't tried Smashwords, hop on over and check it out. It has options for many different viewing platforms other than Kindle.

When Bea first arrives in Pecan Valley she’s accompanied by thunder and lightning, and she tells herself the storm will pass. She also tries to convince herself that she’s taking an early retirement, looking for a quiet place to work on her quilts, putter around in her new garden. But returning to the place where the event happened thirty years ago sparks a longing to find out what took place after Bea left Pecan Valley. Although the clouds have now dissipated, another storm is hovering over her new home and when someone is murdered, she has second thoughts about moving to a small Texas town.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult is a master at showing two sides of a story and Small Great Things was a great choice for our book club read.
Ruth Jefferson, an African American labor and delivery nurse with twenty years experience, is asked not to attend to a newborn whose parents are white supremacists. Unfortunately, she is put in a position where she is in attendance when the child dies and the parents immediately want justice because they believe she must have been at fault.
Race conflicts are not only between races but among the races themselves. Jodi Picoult points out through her story that there are entitled white people, white supremacists and neo-nazis who follow Adolf Hitler and in the black community there are people who embrace the black culture and those, like Ruth, who are lighter in color and try to fit in with the professional white community.
Turk, the father of the baby who died, has learned to hate, first with his father and then his father-in-law who leads men into violently accosting anyone who is different. 
Tying it all together is Kennedy McQuarrie a white public defender who learns that even though her client works hard, dresses well and has had a good education, she is still followed around a department store by employees with a view that because she is black she may be a thief. Ruth herself has had a complicated life with an unlikely friendship with a rich family because her mother was their maid for over 50 years and she often played with their child.
Ruth and Kennedy develop a friendship through the trial proceedings and each learn about each other and the struggles they have on both sides of the fence.
It's an emotional story and my thoughts after reading the book is that we should be kinder and have more empathy for each other - whether we are alike or different shouldn't matter.

Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as though who are. Benjamin Franklin.

Friday, January 25, 2019

The Weaver's Daughter by Sarah E. Ladd

I found the novel The Weaver's Daughter by Sarah E. Ladd at a Friends of the Library book sale (books were all 25c!).

Sarah Ladd writes historical novels and this one has a little of everything. During the 1800s The English Industrial Revolution was in full swing and many small cottage industries were put out of business by the industrial machines brought into local factories. In particular the north of England suffered as skilled weavers were replaced by mechanical equipment. But rather than looking for other types of work, many banded together and destroyed mills, factories and equipment forging a battle between the mill owners and the villagers.

In The Weaver's Daughter, Kate tended to the dying of wool and helped her father, a weaver. In the big house, Henry Stockton was also helping his family who owned the local wool mill. Both families clashed while Henry tried to improve working conditions in his mill (young children were employed) and install equipment, Kate's family and fellow weavers sought to destroy it. To complicate matters, Henry and Kate, while on different sides of the battle, found they had more in common than differences.

Image result for wool mills 1800 england

Friday, January 18, 2019

How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny

How the Light Gets in by Louise Penny was quite a tense, nail biting read. All seems to be lost and Chief Inspector Gamache isn't his usual confident self. Each book in the series, set in Three Pines, Quebec, make the characters more endearing to me.

You can read an excerpt here

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” - Leonard Cohen

Christmas is approaching, and in Qu├ębec it’s a time of dazzling snowfalls, bright lights, and gatherings with friends in front of blazing hearths. But shadows are falling on the usually festive season for Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. Most of his best agents have left the Homicide Department, his old friend and lieutenant Jean-Guy Beauvoir hasn’t spoken to him in months, and hostile forces are lining up against him. When Gamache receives a message from Myrna Landers that a longtime friend has failed to arrive for Christmas in the village of Three Pines, he welcomes the chance to get away from the city. Mystified by Myrna's reluctance to reveal her friend's name, Gamache soon discovers the missing woman was once one of the most famous people not just in North America, but in the world, and now goes unrecognized by virtually everyone except the mad, brilliant poet Ruth Zardo.
As events come to a head, Gamache is drawn ever deeper into the world of Three Pines. Increasingly, he is not only investigating the disappearance of Myrna’s friend but also seeking a safe place for himself and his still-loyal colleagues. Is there peace to be found even in Three Pines, and at what cost to Gamache and the people he holds dear?