#BookReview – The Woman at Number 24 by Juliet Ashton (@Julietstories) @simonschusterUK

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Meet the residents of number 24 in the warm, witty and wonderful new novel from bestselling author Juliet Ashton.

When your marriage falls apart, the last place you’d want your husband to move to is downstairs. Unfortunately for Sarah, up in the eaves at number 24, her ex-husband now lives one floor beneath her with his new wife. Their happiness floats up through the floorboards, taunting her.

A child psychologist, Sarah has picked up great sadness from the little girl, Una, who lives with her careworn mother three floors below, but is Sarah emotionally equipped to reach out?

The Spring brings a new couple to the house. Jane and Tom‘s zest for life revives the flagging spirits, and Sarah can’t deny the instant attraction to handsome Tom. Having seen at first hand what infidelity does to people, she’ll never act on it … but the air fizzes with potential. The sunshine doesn’t reach every corner of number 24, however. Elderly Mavis, tucked away in the basement, has kept the world at bay for decades. She’s about to find out that she can’t hide forever.

Juliet Ashton weaves a story of love, friendship and community that will move you to laughter and to tears.

Think Cold Feet meets David Nicholls, with a dash of the joy of Jill Mansell added for good measure.

What does TWG think?

When writing my reviews, I usually write my overall thoughts of the book towards the end, using the top half of the review as a suspenseful build up to my oh-so-important views ;). This time however, I cannot review it that way. I’ve tried, but I just cannot write the build up to my views. I need to air them straight away, a bit like ripping off a plaster. I apologise in advance, I really do….but I have to be honest…

OMG I BLOOMIN’ LOVED THIS BOOK!!! HELLO NEW FAVOURITE BOOK!!!!!

Oh em gee!!!! I adore Juliet Ashton and her alter egos, she is an incredibly talented author and I have never read a book of hers that I didn’t like. I just knew that her newest book, The Woman at Number 24, would be included in my loved list alongside the others.

The first main character we meet at the start of the book is Sarah, a child psychologist whose own life has taken a tumble, leaving her feel unsure of her own self-worth. Not only that, a certain ex-husband of hers is living in the flat below hers, swanning about in his own egotistical bubble. My views on the ex? He’s a doorbell-end. There are a lot of colourful main characters in the housing block and the arrival of Jane and Tom, make the characters of the T.V. show, ‘Rainbow’, seem completely bland. Seriously. Jane is a HOOT! She is so real and has such an unhinged mouth which makes for excellent (and hilarious) reading. Honestly, she became one of my favourite characters rather quickly.

Hiding away from everyone else was yet another character, Mavis. She reminded me of a ‘wild card’ as she seemed to be the odd one out, giving off such marmite vibes. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be changing your opinion on Mavis the whole way through. Do you like her? Do you hate her?

I have never come across a selection of mismatched characters such as these, before. The only way I can describe the overall house is by thinking of ‘Big Brother’, the T.V. show; although on an extremely loose basis (I said they were mismatched not completely barmy)! Each character (or miniature household) came with their own storyline and keeping up with several separate lifestyles wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I guess I expected to feel a little confused by the comings and goings, but I didn’t. In actual fact, I loved the complex storyline with the high energy situations, as well as the underlying hidden messages.

What really hit home for me with ‘The Woman at Number 24’, were the powerful and intense friendships and the lengths that the characters went to protect them. I guess it made me feel quite emotional as I have never had that kind of friendship before, yet each individual character ALWAYS thought of the ones that they held dear. If they didn’t seem them for a day or two, they would get worried and actively seek them out. If I went anywhere, would I be missed? Before I started reading this novel, my positivity about trust, friendships, and even feeling loved, was quite low. However, after I finished this novel, I found myself closing the book with a satisfied grin on my face and the feeling of hope surrounding me in a little bubble.

I am amazed that, despite the busy storyline and the multiple poignant situations, the storyline never lost its personality, nor was it stuck in limbo with any ‘blank’ moments.

‘The Woman at Number 24′ is a perfectly written, inspiring and heart warming novel which will leave you feeling like a puzzle; complete. Picture Mary Poppins’ never ending bag. Got that? Make that bag even bigger and you will have a clearer image of exactly how much Juliet Ashton’s novel kept on giving.

This book blew me away several times over. It made me incredibly emotional one moment and in hysterics the next. It opened my eyes to the true beauty of hope, true friendships and being loved for who you are.
More importantly, ‘The Woman at Number 24’ ended up being the puzzle piece that I didn’t even know was missing.
Outstanding and by far my most favourite book of 2017.

Huge thanks to Simon & Shuster.

Buy ‘The Woman at Number 24’ now from Amazon UK
Buy ‘The Woman at Number 24’ now from Amazon US

Book review – Mothers and Daughters by Minna Howard.

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Blurb.

‘Alice finds herself suddenly widowed in her early forties, leaving her with an empty house and a lonely heart.

Laura and Evie, her twenty-something daughters announce their separate and unexpected news, which ploughs Alice straight out of grieving and into the prospect planning a wedding and becoming a reluctant – yet glamorous – granny, to not one, but three grandchildren.

Frank, an old family friend returns to give his godchild Laura away at her wedding.

A whole host of secrets unfold that rock the family’s foundations and set Alice free to finally begin a new, exciting chapter of her life with no regrets.’

What does TWG think?

‘Until death do us part’ is part of the vow that’s said when you get married isn’t it? You find ‘the one’, get married and imagine your wedded bliss to last for many, many years (I can only assume as I have never been married). But what if you found yourself to be a widow at the age of forty? Don’t they say that life begins at forty? How can life begin at forty when one life has just ended? Alongside the grief and loneliness, add a dose of shocking news from daughter 2 AND unexpected news from daughter 1 and you get one stressed out Alice. Will Alice’s relationships with her daughters survive the newly added pressure? Mother and daughter bonds are strong, but are they THIS strong?

Minna Howard’s book has been sitting on my Kindle since May and I have only just gotten around to reading it, shocking isn’t it? Being a mother with a daughter myself, this book intrigued me immensely.

It didn’t take me that long to warm up to Alice as she has a heart of gold and wants to protect those that are close to her, regardless of the pickles they land themselves in. When it came to her children; Laura and Evie, I found myself leaning more towards Evie. Maybe it was because I could relate to part of her situation, or maybe it was because she seemed to be around more in the story.

I loved the way Minna has based her storyline around modern-day situations, some of which a lot of readers will probably be able to relate to. She has made those particular situations their own personality, and, instead of the usual negativity that seems to appear when those topics arise, Minna has written them with a ‘it’s happened…AND?’ attitude. For me, that was a breath of fresh air. She hasn’t written the circumstances through rose-tinted glasses, she has written them realistically from another point of view.

I may sound old before my time here, but the way that Laura spoke to her mother annoyed me haha. She spoke with such a condescending attitude but it was Alice’s response that surprised me the most. I thought Alice to be a feisty woman, but when it came to the interaction with her daughters, she let herself become a doormat. That made me quite sad. Gosh, I get involved in books don’t I haha.

If I’m honest, I didn’t have any idea what to expect when I read this book, I just went with the flow. Whilst ‘Mothers and Daughters’ is predominantly based around Alice and her two daughters, the book changes direction three-quarters in. Even though I wasn’t expecting anything in particular to happen as it were, I had my mouth open in shock. It’s crazy how you create a bubble for the ones that you love and see no wrong in them, but not everything is at it seems, is it?

Mothers and Daughters is a book about love, trust and new beginnings. Minna Howard has written such a diverse a homely story which oozes with personality and emotion. This book is an ideal read for any day, and every day. A book that will make you want to curl up on the sofa with your favourite chocolate whilst discovering the true depth of a mother/daughter bond. thought-provoking and deep. Roll on the next book!

Mothers and Daughters by Minna Howard, published by Aria, is available to buy now from Amazon UK.