#BlogTour! #GuestPost from author of Woman in the Shadows; @CarolMcGrath @AccentPress

A powerful, evocative new novel by the critically acclaimed author of The Handfasted Wife, The Woman in the Shadows tells the rise of Thomas Cromwell, Tudor England's most powerful statesman, through the eyes of his wife Elizabeth.

When beautiful cloth merchant’s daughter Elizabeth Williams is widowed at the age of twenty-two, she is determined to make herself a success in the business she has learned from her father. But there are those who oppose a woman making her own way in the world, and soon Elizabeth realises she may have some powerful enemies – enemies who also know the truth about her late husband.

Security – and happiness – comes when Elizabeth is introduced to kindly, ambitious merchant turned lawyer, Thomas Cromwell. Their marriage is one based on mutual love and respect…but it isn’t always easy being the wife of an influential, headstrong man in Henry VIII’s London.

The city is filled with ruthless people and strange delights – and Elizabeth realises she must adjust to the life she has chosen…or risk losing e she has chosen…or risk losing everything.

Author Guest Post

Thank you for inviting me to speak about Elizabeth Cromwell and my experience writing about this little known Tudor woman.
Elizabeth Cromwell was the wife of one of Tudor England’s most famous statesmen, Thomas Cromwell who is recently immortalised in Hilary Mantel’s novels Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies. I was curious about a woman married to such a personage and wanted to bring her out of the shadows and give this Tudor wife and mother of three children, Anne, Grace and Gregory, her own story.

My first challenge was finding out what was known about her. There was not a lot. She had been married before to a Yeoman of the King’s Guard and was a widow. Her father was a cloth merchant and she had a sister, Joan, and a brother, Henry. It seems that Thomas Cromwell may have known the family as they all hailed from Putney. I don’t think Cromwell came from an impoverished background either as his father owned land and a fulling mill. He had a brewery and a blacksmith’s concern. Cromwell hailed from a middling sort of background, though he later claimed that his father was drunken and violent.

It is important to get into the mind-set of the period you are writing. It was not really about stepping into Elizabeth Cromwell’s shoes and inhabiting her. It was more about trying to see life and her world as she might have seen it. That is difficult for a twenty-first century writer looking back. I do believe people throughout history experience emotions in common but the way these are played out is different and an historical writer must pay attention to this. My challenge was to give Elizabeth a plausible story and to work out situations containing conflicts to engage a reader and draw reader into her character and her world. I had to research this world first and then conceal all that knowledge within the narrative and the way I constructed her personality and character. No one wants to read information dump.

Elizabeth was a widow. Widows during this period had a degree of legal and financial independence within a society controlled by men.  It might be a shock to us now to think of English women as commodities and, indeed, there were women who disliked the total control family and society exerted over their lives, but there were very few. Running their own households would afford a degree of freedom within the domestic sphere so, unless they wished to enter a convent, women aspired to marriage, accepting the protection of often much older men, or unfaithful young men. The idea was that love or at least respect would follow the marriage. Marriage was rarely romantic. However, a widow could choose her own second husband and I use that fact to make Elizabeth’s character appealing to the modern reader without her seeming too free. Her desire to marry Thomas Cromwell sets up conflict along with the fact that Elizabeth inherited a failing cloth business and wants to make it successful despite her father’s objections and his attempts to remarry her.
I knew that Thomas Cromwell was interested in the new learning known as Humanism– humanists were interested in interrogating the past through discussion and in new translations of old works by Latin and Greek writers, and that Thomas was also a ‘Renaissance Man’ who adored all things Italian and beautiful objects. There is indication that by around 1517 he was a realist who disliked reliquary and indulgences. He never remarried after Elizabeth’s death in 1528/29 and he was a family man. I think I can conclude that it may have been a solid marriage. All this made it easier for me to make Elizabeth, a Tudor woman accessible for today’s reader. I hope that when you read the book you will agree.

Huge thanks to Carol McGrath for the interesting and highly informative guest post! If you wish to purchase her nice, The Woman in the Shadows, you can do so Here!

About the author

Carol McGrath has an MA in Creative Writing from The Seamus Heaney Centre, Queens University Belfast, followed by an MPhil in Creative Writing from University of London. The Handfasted Wife, first in a trilogy about the royal women of 1066 was shortlisted for the RoNAs in 2014. The Swan-Daughter and The Betrothed Sister complete this best-selling trilogy. The Woman in the Shadows, a novel that considers Henry VIII’s statesman, Thomas Cromwell, through the eyes of Elizabeth his wife, will be published on August 4th, 2017. Carol is working on a new medieval Trilogy, The Rose Trilogy, set in the High Middle Ages.  It subject matter is three linked medieval queens, sometimes considered ‘She Wolves’. She speaks at events and conferences on the subject of medieval women, writing Historical Fiction, The Bayeux Tapestry, and Fabrics, Tapestry and Embroidery as incorporated into fiction. Carol was the co-ordinator of the Historical Novels Association Conference, Oxford in September 2016 and reviews for the HNS.  Find Carol on her website:
www.carolcmcgrath.co.uk.

#BlogTour! #Review – It Was Only Ever You by @KateKerrigan @HoZ_Books

Kate kerrigan
WINNER OF RNA HISTORICAL ROMANCE NOVEL OF THE YEAR.

This is the story of three women and one charismatic man. A glamorous historical romance, perfect for fans of Maeve Binchy.

It is 1950s New York, the time of dance halls, swing bands and the beginning of rock and roll. In The Emerald, Ava Brogan dances the night away, knowing that she will never be pretty like the other Irish girls there, wishing her mother wouldn’t keep plotting to find her a husband.

Here, too, Sheila Klein, Holocaust orphan, dreams of finding a star and making her name in the music industry. Tough and cynical, she has never let her heart be broken by any man.

Enter Patrick Murphy, with a sublime voice, a hit song in his back pocket and charisma to burn. Ava and Sheila‘s worlds are about to be turned upside down. They do not know that Patrick‘s first great love from Ireland is on her way to New York – determined to find and get her man at all costs. Beautiful Rose is used to getting what she wants in life and that’s not about to change any time soon.

What does TWG think?

I need to start this review by giving the cover some love; just look at how gorgeous it is! The picture does not do it justice at all! On the paperback version of this book, the lettering is embossed and the colouring makes the graphic pop; all that is quite difficult to see on a Jpeg version, granted. ‘It Was Only Ever You’ is my most favourite book cover of 2017, absolutely beautiful! It’s safe to say that as soon as I held the book in my hands and saw the cover, my excitement for the storyline grew immensely.

Kate Kerrigan is a new author for TWG, shamefully I had never heard of her before now so I never realised that she has quite a few books in her published backlog. On a positive note I now have a lot of new titles to binge read!

‘It Was Only Ever You’ is set in 1950’s New York & Ireland, when rock and roll was at its prime, and romance was fully appreciated. Patrick Murphy is our main character, with Sheila and Ava being two ladies on his radar. However, a certain ‘first love’ is about to get acquainted with Patrick’s new friends, much to the annoyance of everyone involved.

There is a lot to this storyline to get your teeth sunk into, which makes this review a little bit harder than usual as it means that a lot of the storyline is entwined and I don’t wish to accidentally give anything way.

All I will say is that the romance in this novel is beautifully described, enchanting and severely old-school. By ‘old school’ I mean old-fashioned; flowers, sweet words, gentlemanly behaviour and so on, instead of swiping right on Tinder and feeling like the most romantic person on the Earth. As a completely un-romantic sort of person, ‘It Was Only Ever You’ even managed to make ME feel nostalgic and ‘awwwww!!!!’ at the levels of heart-warming moments between certain characters. Readers; take note!

I love reading historical fiction/historical romance, and Kate Kerrigan’s novel was no different. I adored the fact that the storyline was set in the 1950’s as that is my favourite era (swing!). I thought Kate Kerrigan’s mesmerising writing gave the storyline such glittering depth, a depth that can only be achieved when, in my opinion, the author writes from the heart, truly believing in their characters and their lives.

People usually associate ‘Titanic’ (Kate Winslet etc) as being a truly romantic novel but, in my opinion, I believe that ‘It Was Only Ever You’ needs to get film rights or something, as it blew me away in such a way that ‘Titanic’ the movie never did.

Kate Kerrigan is such a wonderful story-teller, who can bring her characters to life at the blink of an eye. Enchanting, beautifully written, and perfect to lose yourself in; ‘It Was Only Ever You’ truly is a romantic, glistening gem of literary beauty.

Thanks HoZ.

Buy now from Amazon UK

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#BlogTour! #Review – The Forgotten Family of Liverpool by Pam Howes (@PamHowes1) @Bookouture

The-Forgotten-Family-of-Liverpool-Kindle
The fighting has finished – but are their troubles just beginning?

It’s 1951 and rationing is finally coming to an end. But while Liverpool is recovering from the ferocity of war, a family is about to be torn apart…

Dora Rodgers is settling into a new life with her daughters Carol and Jackie, moving on from the betrayal of her husband. But then an unexpected knock at the door rips her family in two. Carol is taken away by a welfare officer to live with Dora’s estranged husband Joe. 

Dora is determined to fight for her child, but she struggles to cope when a tragic accident leaves her mother in hospital, and shocking news from Joe breaks her heart once more. 

With her family in pieces and her marriage over for good, will Dora ever manage to get her daughter Carol home where she belongs?

The Forgotten Family of Liverpool is a brave and tear-jerking story of one woman’s quest to protect her family. Perfect for fans of Nadine Dorries, Annie Murray and Kitty Neale. Discover Pam’s Mersey Trilogy today.

What does TWG think?

‘The Forgotten Family of Liverpool’ is book two in Pam Howes’ Mersey trilogy and, in my honest opinion, I believe that it can be read as a standalone. However, I would recommend reading the first book in the series, ‘The Lost Daughter of Liverpool’ beforehand, just so that you haven’t missed out on any vital information from the main characters back stories, before delving into the a new chapter of their lifestyles.

Having really enjoyed the first book in the series, I was super excited to read this novel. I couldn’t wait to catch up with some of the old characters, as well as creating new ‘friendships’ with new characters. Well, except Ivy of course, I would be lying if I said that I was yearning to meet up with her for a cup of builders tea.

Set in 1950’s Liverpool, Dora’s life showed signs of becoming even more complicated, especially where her estranged husband, Joe, was concerned. Reading about Dora’s struggles opened my eyes to the reality of the past, especially how differently situations were dealt with in those days compared to now. There were times where my heart ached for Dora and the challenges she had to face once again. That said, luck most definitely wasn’t on her side throughout the majority of the storyline, I was getting a bit exasperated at how her character always seemed to have the negativity thrown at her. Why, for two novels, did Dora face such hardships? Why wasn’t she given a break? Don’t get me wrong I know that life isn’t all rainbows and kisses, but still, I couldn’t understand it.

I did enjoy ‘The Forgotten Family of Liverpool’; it had a plot which kept me engrossed, as well as being able to make me take a walk down memory lane in terms of the historical feel. I loved the community spirit of the storyline, it was so lovely to see people coming together in times of need, and even at short notice. For me, that was the most heart-warming part of the novel.

Whilst I did enjoy being back in Liverpool with Dora and her family, I didn’t warm to the overall storyline as much as I did the first book due to what I said previously about Dora,  and how I felt that the storyline was seemed to be missing something. What that missing something was, however, I’m not overly sure, all I can pinpoint is that I needed a bit more to sink my teeth into.

As ever, Pam Howes’ delectable writing style left me wanting more; I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in the next part of the series.

Thanks Bookouture.

UK 🇬🇧 http://amzn.to/2qIcCya

US 🇺🇸 http://amzn.to/2pOgsrD

Forgotten Family of Liverpool Blog Tour

#BlogTour! #Review – The Silk Weaver’s Wife by Debbie Rix (@debbierix) @bookouture

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The unforgettable stories of two women crossing centuries as past and present weave together in this beautifully moving summer read.

2017: Millie wants more from her relationship and more from her life. So when her boss Max abruptly ends their affair, she takes the opportunity to write a feature in Italy.

Staying in a gorgeous villa, Millie unexpectedly falls in love with the owner, Lorenzo. Together they begin to unravel an incredible story, threaded through generations of silk weavers.

And Millie finds herself compelled to discover the identity of a mysterious woman in a portrait…

1704: Anastasia is desperate to escape her controlling and volatile father and plans to marry in secret. But instead of the life she has dreamed of, she finds herself trapped in Venice, the unwilling wife of a silk weaver.

Despite her circumstances, Anastasia is determined to change her fate…

What does TWG think?

Being perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect with ‘The Silk Weaver’s Wife’ as, whilst I have heard of Debbie Rix, I had never read any of her novels before this one. To begin with, it took me a couple of chapters to warm up to the storyline as there was a lot of information to digest, and the pace was quite slow. When I reached halfway, I felt like bowing to the slow pace as it is such an important part of the overall novel structure, which is severely misunderstood.

Set during two different times, The Silk Weaver’s Wife explorers silk weaving in 1704, and 2017. In 1704 our main character is Anastasia, she has fallen in love yet her father seems to have different plans for her love life. It’s either his way, or the high way. Anastasia was forced into a lifestyle which compromised her safety, dignity, and independence. Reading Anastasia’s story was absolutely devastating. Whilst the character came across incredibly strong and independent, she was actually quite fearful and longed for her own life back. During the chapters of 1704, Debbie Rix takes us on a journey through time, an eye-opening one at that, especially when the storyline took us to different countries. Planes weren’t invented then, so how do you think the characters managed to get to those different countries? Imagine the length of time it must have taken them! I was in awe. I adore history. Debbie Rix has incorporated some wonderful historical facts alongside her fictional work – all of which blew me away.

During the chapters of 2017, the main character is Millie, a journalist who’s love life isn’t exactly above-board. That aside, Millie was given the opportunity to write a feature in Italy, exploring the history surrounding silk weaver’s as a whole. Well, she also got to explore a certain local Italian stallion….

I adored watching the past and present come together throughout the storyline, finding out the history behind the silk weaver’s, as well as seeing certain items from the past in the present chapters. Outstanding!

I absolutely LOVED this book! Yes, it was a little heavy in some parts but, due to the nature of the storyline, it just meant that I had to take my time over the storyline. Not really a hardship! Debbie Rix has blown me away with her enchanting and flawless writing style. Honestly, I have never read anything like it before.

Debbie Rix is an outstanding storyteller with such beautiful and iconic writing, which captured my heart and soul. The historical features in The Silk Weaver’s Wife, were written impeccably. The fictional parts of the storyline were written in such a mesmerising, and addictive manner; I was excited to change each page. Put the two parts together, and you have one memorable and alluring novel.

I believe I have found a new favourite author, and a new set of books to buy online. I need more of Debbie Rix on my bookshelf after this.

The Silk Weaver’s Wife is an authentic portrayal of silk weaving history meeting silk weaving present, whilst also being entwined with the authors distinctive and outstanding writing style. Overall, I cannot recommend this book enough, you must read this one!

Thanks Bookouture.

Buy now from Amazon UK

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#BlogTour! #Review & #Extract – The Mothers of Lovely Lane by @NadineDorries @HoZ_Books

Dorries_LL03_THE MOTHERS OF LOVELY LANE
From the bestselling author of The Angels of Lovely Lane, The Four Streets and Ruby Flynn.

Noleen Delaney is one of an army of night cleaners at St Angelus hospital in Liverpool. Since her husband was injured in the war, she has supported her five children. With help from her eldest, Bryan – a porter’s lad – the family just about gets by.

When Finn, her youngest, passes the eleven plus exam, Noleen feels faint. Allowing Finn to attend the grammar will stretch her purse too far.

When Bryan steps in to help, the results rock the St Angelus community. As the nurses of Lovely Lane near their final exams, Noleen will find herself tested, and her heart broken. Just how far can a mother’s love stretch?

What does TWG think?

I don’t think I had ever read a Nadine Dorries book before this one. I had heard of the author and I was aware of her literary success, but still I hadn’t picked up one of her books. Shameful. Utterly shameful. 
Because ‘The Mothers of Lovely Lane’ is book number three of the ‘lovely lane’ series, I was a bit anxious about reading it just incase I should have read the previous books beforehand. Luckily there didn’t seem to be an issue, which meant that I was able to enjoy the storyline without feeling like I was missing something important. That said, there were a lot of characters to keep track of, and just like any other storyline with a lot of people, I did end up confused. Not that hard to do, to be honest!

Recently, sagas and historical fiction novels have been high on my list of favourite genres due to the complexity of knowledge that just oozes from every page. Reading ‘The Mothers of Lovely Lane’ made me feel as though I was constantly learning something due to the fantastic attention to detail, and the level of historical knowledge.

Set in Liverpool just after the war, ‘The Mothers of Lovely Lane’ is mostly  centred around the national health service, and the various changes surrounding the health care during the war and after. I found those parts quite hard to read as they were so raw and incredibly poignant. When you sit back and think about it, it’s crazy to think that our country was once like that. It really hit home. Just by reading the book, it made me realise exactly how difficult and emotional those times were.

On the other side of the coin, I was moved by the level of community spirit within this novel. I have never, ever, seen anything like it. It really made me quite emotional that the characters went to such lengths to protect their own, and support who they loved. Absolutely incredible.

Hats off to Nadine Dorries for creating such an incredible main character in Noleen. When you read this book, you’ll see exactly what I mean, but, hand on heart, Noleen is the type of person who would walk around naked just to ensure her children had clothes. Even now, days after finishing the book, Noleen still has a hold over me. If you have someone in your life like Noleen, treasure them.

Such a heart-breaking, poignant, and emotional read which will no doubt stay in your heart for a very, very long time. Wow.

Thanks HoZ.

Buy now from Amazon UK

Extract.

‘There’s a change, Lorraine. Is there any reason why you spend more time in the Delaneys’ kitchen these days than you do in your own?’ 

Lorraine had the good grace to blush. ‘Mam, Mary is my best friend, that’s why I go there. She has to help her mam a lot with all they have going on and her mam working nights.’ 

‘Don’t give me that, Lorraine. I gave birth to you, I know you. I think your attraction down at the Delaney house has more to do with their Bryan than your mate Mary.’ 

 ‘Mam!’ Lorraine almost shouted. ‘Don’t say that so little Stan can hear.’ 

Maisie wrung out her dishcloth and began clearing away the detritus of the Tanner breakfast table. She piled the bowls in the sink then took a packet of cigarettes out of her apron pocket. It might only be eight thirty but her hair was neat – hard from six days’ application of Get Set hairspray – and her lipstick fully applied. ‘Don’t be daft, love, I won’t. But I am right, aren’t I?’ 

She leant her back against the range and, tipping her cigarette packet upside down, tapped the bottom until one fell out. She lit it on the ame from the pilot light. Blowing the smoke upwards, she said, ‘Look, love, all I would say is take care. You are only young. Bryan has a lot of responsibilities and he is keen to get on. I don’t want you to be having a broken heart.’ She blew her smoke into the air. 

Lorraine placed her school books into her wicker basket. ‘Do you like him though, Mam?’ 

‘Lorraine, I’ve changed his nappy and wiped his nose enough times, of course I like him. I like all the kids around here. We are really just one big family. It’s not that. You are still at school and he is working now, up at the hospital, and he has his da to look after. I just don’t want you to go getting hurt, that’s all. Have you told Mary?’ 

Lorraine nodded. 

‘Well, love, if I can give you any advice, it is this, never let a fella know you fancy him. Even one who pushed your pram when you were in it.’ 

‘Oh, God, he didn’t, did he, Mam?’ 

‘Of course he did. We used to put you and Mary next to each other and send Bryan off to push you up and down Vince 

Street so we could get the washing done. Play hard to get, it’s the only way.’ Maisie turned back to the sink to ick her ash down the plug hole and looked out of the window. ‘Oh, here we go, your hairband is walking up the path. I bet little Stan swapped it for little Finn’s comic. Now let’s see what a good mate Mary Delaney is.’ 

Lorraine looked up from her basket and out of the kitchen window, into the back yard. ‘Stanley!’ she screamed at the top of her voice, as Mary Delaney walked in through the back gate, proudly wearing Lorraine’s hairband.

Mothers of Lovely Lane blog tour (1)

#GuestPost by ‘A Secret Sisterhood’ authors @Emmacsweeney & @EmilyMidorikawa #literary

To celebrate the release of their new literary inspired novel, A Secret Sisterhood, authors Emma Claire Sweeney and Emily Midorikawa have written a guest post about their own ‘sisterhood’ style friendship. It is a pleasure to welcome Emma Claire Sweeney back to TWG, alongside Emily Midorikawa.

Before I share the guest post, swoon over the stunning cover of their book and read the blurb below;

Secret Sisterhood revised cover

Male literary friendships are the stuff of legend; think Byron and Shelley, Fitzgerald and Hemingway. But the world’s best-loved female authors are usually portrayed as isolated eccentrics. Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney seek to dispel this myth with a wealth of hidden yet startling collaborations.

A Secret Sisterhood looks at Jane Austen’s bond with a family servant, the amateur playwright Anne Sharp; how Charlotte Brontë was inspired by the daring feminist Mary Taylor; the transatlantic relationship between George Eliot and the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe; and the underlying erotic charge that lit the friendship of Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield – a pair too often dismissed as bitter foes.

Through letters and diaries which have never been published before, this fascinating book resurrects these hitherto forgotten stories of female friendships that were sometimes illicit, scandalous and volatile; sometimes supportive, radical or inspiring; but always, until now, tantalisingly consigned to the shadows.

A Secret Sisterhood evolved from the authors’ own friendship. Their blog, Something Rhymed, charts female literary bonds and has been covered in the media and promoted by Margaret Atwood, Sheila Hancock and Kate Mosse, showing that the literary sisterhood is still alive today.

Guest Post.
Travellers on the Same Road
By
Emma Claire Sweeney and Emily Midorikawa

We got to know each other sixteen years ago, during a time when we were both living carefree lives as young English teachers in rural Japan. Emily lived in a tiny apartment surrounded by car parks and convenience stores; Emma in a tatami-floored house that looked out onto rice paddies and groves of bamboo. Here, each of us secretly picked up our pens.

We soon began to take the three-hour round trip between urban flat and country home, forging our friendship in both the ice cream parlours of the neon-choked city and in bath houses hidden up dark mountain lanes.

But it took almost a year of friendship before we shared our hopes of becoming published writers. Emma had decided by then to leave her mountain village, while Emily would be remaining for another twelve months.

When we arranged to meet for a farewell dinner, we had no idea that we’d come to look back on this evening as a key moment in our friendship. We chose a garlic-themed restaurant in Emily’s local shopping mall, which had become by then an eccentric favourite of ours. Seated at a table covered in a chequered plastic cloth, we talked about news from home, plans for the future, the books we loved. 

And then, over the course of the next hour, while twisting strands of spaghetti around our forks, we ‘came out’ to each other as aspiring authors. Neither of us had much to show for these aims just yet: diaries kept this past year, a few short stories. We understood next to nothing about the book industry either. Nonetheless, by the time we laid our cutlery down, we had something perhaps more precious: we knew that we had a friend with the same dream, and that by supporting each other, we could follow it together.

But we could hardly have predicted that our paths over the coming years would take such parallel routes. We got places on graduate creative writing programmes and secured agents at around the same time. 

While we felt grateful that we could share these celebratory moments with a friend, we each had a niggling worry that the literary success of one of us before the other might threaten the friendship we both held so dear.

 This proved a fear we would not end up having to face any time soon, since we’d spend a decade-and-a-half submitting books to publishers, and watching as the rejection slips racked up. 

Remembering that long-ago meal in a Japanese shopping mall, Emily wondered whether we’d have embarked on this literary journey at all had we known how little further forward we’d have come by now. Though equally downcast, Emma reminded us both that it wasn’t the writing itself that was getting us down, but the lack of improvement in our writerly prospects. 

Before the month was out, though, Emily would receive the news that she’d won a major competition for unpublished novels, and, to our delighted surprise, just days later, a publisher made an offer to bring out Emma’s novel, Owl Song at Dawn. 

Our early fears had proven unfounded. What’s more, not only did we join in with our friend’s celebrations, these felt less like individual achievements and more like moments of shared triumph.

We’d long wondered whether our favourite authors of the past had enjoyed such a sense of collaboration. Wordsworth and Coleridge came to mind, Byron and Shelley, Hemingway and Fitzgerald. But we struggled to name many friendships between female writers. 

Did Jane Austen forge a friendship with another female writer? Was there another woman to whom George Eliot turned to for literary support?

We discovered that Jane Austen benefitted from an unlikely friendship with a family servant, the amateur playwright Anne Sharp; Charlotte Brontë was inspired by the daring feminist Mary Taylor; George Eliot shared her experience of stratospheric literary fame with Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of internationally bestselling anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin; and Virginia Woolf was spurred on to produce her best work by her rivalrous friendship with fellow modernist Katherine Mansfield.

We decided that the richness of these stories deserved to be written up in a book. And so, when publishers offered to bring out A Secret Sisterhood, we were offered the chance to celebrate a truly joint endeavor – the sort of collaboration that the two young writers who ‘came out’ to each other in that Japanese shopping mall could hardly have dared dream.

Joint bio:

Writer friends Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney are the authors of A Secret Sisterhood: The hidden friendships of Austen, Brontë, Eliot and Woolf. They also co-run SomethingRhymed.com, a website that celebrates female literary friendship. They have written for the likes of the Guardian, the Independent on Sunday and The Times. Emily is a winner of the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, Emma is the author of the award-winning novel Owl Song at Dawn, and they both teach at New York University London. 

You can follow them on Twitter via @emilymidorikawa and @emmacsweeney, and Emma has an author page on Facebook.


I have their book ready and waiting on my TBR pile for review, which I aim to read as soon as I can so that you can swoon over the front cover year again! Or, seeing as the Jpeg doesn’t do it justice in the slightest (the real deal is shiny), you can buy your very own copy right now from: Amazon UK // Waterstones // Book Depository.

#BlogTour! #Review of Nobody’s Girl by Tania Crosse (@TaniaCrosse) @Aria_Fiction

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Day three of Tania Crosse’s blog tour is with me, TWG! I have a review of Tania Crosse’s new novel, Nobody’s Girl, on my blog today and I hope you enjoy it! Make sure you keep following the rest of the blog tour via the hosts above.

Nobody's Girl cover
A compelling story that tingles with drama, tension and an overwhelming sense of love. Perfect for the fans of Jo Cox and Rosie Goodwin.

The boom years immediately after the Great War bring nothing but happiness for wealthy industrialist Wigmore Stratfield-Whyte and his wife Clarissa – until tragedy robs them of their greatest treasure.

Many years later, an horrific fatal accident brings young Meg Chandler, a spirited farmer’s daughter, into their lives. Meg wants nothing to do with them, but Clarissa is drawn irresistibly towards the bereaved girl and will move heaven and earth to help her. Will Meg allow Clarissa into her own shattered life, and can the two share a future happiness together? And will Meg’s new acquaintances bring her the contentment she craves – or seek to destroy her?

Set in the Kent countryside in the years leading up to the Second World War, this compelling saga tingles with drama, tension and an overwhelming sense of love.

What does TWG think?

Oh.My.Word! ‘Nobody’s Girl’ really isn’t the easiest book to read. I had read about a chapter when I became choked with silent emotion, and I had to pause, put the book down and try to reassemble my thoughts. Now, what’ve I’ve just said isn’t a negative thing at all, especially how I said that it wasn’t an easy book to read. In terms of language usage and storyline organisation, it WAS an easy book to read; in terms of the theme of that first chapter, no, it wasn’t an easy book to read. With other books I have read, we usually get a meet a greet type feeling at the beginning of the book, being eased into the storyline gently and completely unaware as to what may be around the corner (or, the next page). However, ‘Nobody’s Girl’ didn’t really do that, before I had even learnt the ins and outs of the main characters I had been caught off guard in such a heart-wrenching way. I so badly wanted to cry, but I couldn’t because the emotion was far too raw. Does that make sense? Sometimes you can read something in a book which upsets you drastically, to the point you’re stunned into silent emotion. It was that.

As I mentioned before, I had to put the book down and go do something else which didn’t require any of my emotions. But, the more I tried to calm my emotions, the more I struggled to forget the novel. I felt as though I was abandoning the characters by pausing the book. How stupid does that sound, but it’s true.

When I decided to pick the book back up, I needed to keep my emotions in check otherwise the book was going to take me an age to read, and that’s not TWG. ‘Nobody’s Girl’ is set in the years between the Great War and World War II, straight away it was as though I had stepped back in time due to the use of ‘motor vehicle’, for example. Those slight word variations throughout the novel may be overlooked by many readers, but it was brilliant to see the author use the language from the time in which her book was set. ‘Nobody’s Girl’ starts off with two main characters, Wigmore and Clarissa Stratfield-Whyte; and it didn’t seem too long before another character main character was added. Sigh. I just wish it was under better circumstances.

Meg Chandler, a character who I would give anything to talk about right now. A character who, unfortunately, I cannot say too much about due to spoilers. A character who, just like the characters at the start of the book, managed to stir up the silent emotion I had been trying to hide for most of the book. Every emotion, action, and description about Meg’s situation was written to the point I thought I was watching everything from the sidelines. The pain. The moment of being unable to do anything; I have no words about how a large portion of the storyline made me feel. Saying that I became emotional would be an incredible understatement, I mean, who wouldn’t get emotional over the entire novel?

Tania Crosse created firework situations for several of the characters, and they were all written with such poise, sincerity, devastation, yet undeniable beauty. Yes, I could no longer understand my own thoughts and feelings whilst finishing this book, but the authors story telling had me absolutely spellbound.

‘Nobody’s Girl’ was full to the brim of heart-wrenching moments; sometimes it felt as though the beginning of the book started off the domino effect for the rest of the book. It got to a point where I was reading so fast because I was so worried someone else in the book was going to end up emotional, or more sparks were going to fly. This book really was cut throat.

On one hand, Nobody’s Girl kept me on the edge of my seat with emotions even I couldn’t understand, but on the other hand, Nobody’s Girl gave me hope, a sense of belonging, a reason to love and the lesson in learning how to BE loved.

This book is by far the most intense, and emotive novel I have read so far this year. Tania Crosse has blown me away and I am still trying to work out how to put my feet back on the ground. I will not forget Nobody’s Girl in a hurry, Meg will always be the girl in my heart.

Absolutely outstanding.

Thanks Aria.

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2nGEvsv

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2njgrdZ

iBooks: http://apple.co/2o0Szcn

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2o0WFRK

 

#BlogTour! #Review & #Extract – The Married Girls by Diney Costeloe @HoZ_Books

diney

The war is over, but trouble is brewing…

Wynsdown, 1949. In the small Somerset village of Wynsdown, Charlotte Shepherd is happily married to farmer Billy. She arrived from Germany on the Kindertransport as a child during the war and now feels settled in her adopted home.

Meanwhile, the squire’s fighter pilot son, Felix, has returned to the village with a fiancée in tow. Daphne is beautiful, charming… and harbouring secrets. After meeting during the war, Felix knows some of Daphne’s past, but she has worked hard to conceal that which could unravel her carefully built life.

For Charlotte, too, a dangerous past is coming back in the shape of fellow refugee, bad boy Harry Black. Forever bound by their childhoods, Charlotte will always care for him, but Harry’s return disrupts the village quiet and it’s not long before gossip spreads.

The war may have ended, but for these girls, trouble is only just beginning.

What does TWG think?

Diney Costeleo has been on my ‘book radar’ for a while, especially seeing as I cannot seem to go onto Amazon without one of her books cropping up! I am a bit ashamed to say that I hadn’t managed to read any of her previous books before I read ‘The Married Girls’. Unfortunately that means that I had no idea that ‘The Married Girls’ would be better read once the first book in the series, The Girl With No Name, had been read..

Oh dear…

I have read many book serials and the majority of the books in those series have been okay to read as a standalone. However for me, ‘The Married Girls’ wasn’t one of those. I was super excited to begin Diney Costeleo’s novel as I was intrigued about her writing style and actual storylines. After all, EVERYONE has heard of Diney Costeleo surely?

Because I hadn’t started the series with the book one, I found myself struggling with a large chunk of the storyline as I felt as though I was walking into the middle a storyline, instead of beginning it. I tried my best to look beyond that and focus on the shell of storyline, which made the last part of the novel a bit easier to read over all.

If I ignore the fact that I was missing important information, I would be honest and say that on a whole, I DID enjoy the concept of the book due to its historical core. Also, I found the to-ing and fro-ing and the rollercoaster twists, extremely intriguing and they are what kept me the most entertained throughout.

Whilst reading ‘The Married Girls’, it became rather clear that Diney Costeleo knows her craft due to the impressive way in which she had created intense situations, complex personas and heartfelt circumstances.

Based on what I could piece together myself, I enjoyed ‘The Married Girls’ as it was a great chance to step back in time to a part of history I didn’t know much about. Reading this novel made a change from reading historical fiction books that had been written in similar eras with similar styles.

I really do wish that I had found out sooner about book two following on the story from book one as I couldn’t enjoy the novel as much as I would have liked to. However, this does mean that I will be going to read book one as soon as I can, AND I will also be picking another Diney Costeleo novel to read as the author certainly stands out from the crowd with her own unique style.

Thank you Head of Zeus.

Buy now from Amazon UK

To whet your appetite for the novel, is an extract from Diney Costeleo’s novel, ‘The Married Girls’.

the married girls
PG 37
Fred Jones was waiting at the station and he greeted Felix
with a smile.
‘Welcome home, Mr Felix, it’s been too long.’
Felix laughed. ‘Don’t you start, Fred. I’ll get enough of that
from my mother!’ He gestured to Daphne. ‘And this is my
fiancée, Miss Daphne Higgins.’
Fred touched his cap and said, ‘Howdy-do, miss,’ before
opening the door so that Felix could hand her into the car.
As they drove over the hill towards Wynsdown, Daphne
stared out of the window. The gorge through which the road
twisted and turned had enormously steep, craggy sides. Thin
vegetation clung to the rocks which towered upward against
the pale blue of an autumn sky. Eventually they emerged on to
the hill top and Daphne found herself gazing out across wide,
undulating country, bathed in sunlight. Hedges and moss-
covered stone walls marked off fields, patches of woodland
broke the skyline, and tucked in the sheltered folds of the
land, an occasional farmhouse or barn. The sun struck colour
from the hedgerows and the woodland glowed with autumn
reds and golds. For someone brought up in the crowded East
End of London, where the streets were narrow and houses
jostled each other for space, it all looked empty and bleak.
Sheep grazed the fields and a herd of cows was gathered at
a farm gate waiting for evening milking. Sheep and cows!
Where were all the inhabitants?

Fred and Felix were chatting, talking about people she’d
never heard of and as they finally turned into the village of
Wynsdown she was becoming more and more disheartened.
As Fred swung the car round the village green and into the
lane that led to the manor, she saw a small group standing
outside the pub, the Magpie, watching. One small child
waved and Felix waved back.

PG38
‘Who was that waving?’ she asked a little pettishly. She was
tired of Felix paying her no attention.
‘Haven’t a clue,’ laughed Felix cheerfully. ‘Probably wasn’t
born last time I was home. Who was it, Fred, the kid who
waved?’
‘That was little Johnny Shepherd, Billy Shepherd from
Charing Farm’s lad.’
‘Billy’s married?’
‘Yes, he married that Charlotte, what was a German
refugee.’ He turned in between some tall stone gateposts and
pulled up outside the manor house. ‘Now then, Mr Felix, here
we are.’ As the car crunched to a halt, the front door opened
and two Labradors erupted into the driveway, followed
a little more slowly by Felix’s parents, Peter and Marjorie
Bellinger. Daphne stared at them through the car window as
Felix jumped out to greet them. They stood side by side in the
doorway, waiting, as Felix, shooing the excited dogs away,
hurried across to them.
Major Bellinger looked all right, Daphne decided, tall and
soldier-straight, his white hair cut short and smoothed across
his head, a neat white moustache above his mouth. She could
see the likeness to Felix.

That’s how Felix’ll look when he’s old, she thought as he
shook hands with his son. He was dressed in grey trousers
and a navy-blue blazer over a white shirt and some sort of
regimental tie, navy-blue with red zigzags across it. He’ll be
all right, Daphne thought. She was sure she could win him
over, given a little time. Felix’s mother, though, was another
matter altogether. Daphne watched as Felix hugged her, not
at all sure she liked the look of her prospective mother-in-law.
She wore a coffee-coloured suit, with a straight skirt, fitted at
the waist. The jacket had a neat collar, buttoned down with
PG39

ornate metal buttons, and four matching buttons down the
front. Her lipstick was red, her nose powdered, her grey hair
permed into regimented curls.
Mutton dressed as lamb, thought Daphne as she pinned
a smile to her lips and taking Felix’s hand, eased her legs
elegantly out of the car.
‘Mother, Dad,’ Felix said, proudly leading her forward,
‘I’d like you to meet Daphne, my wife to be.’
‘Welcome to Wynsdown, my dear,’ Peter Bellinger said and
held out his hand.
‘Pleased to meet you, I’m sure,’ trilled Daphne as she shook
the proffered hand.
‘Daphne, welcome,’ said Marjorie, ‘we’re so glad you could
come. Come along in. You must be dying for a cup of tea.’
And Daphne followed her through the front door into the
house that, one day, could be her home.

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