The Little Old Lady who Struck Lucky Again – Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg


Publication Date: Available Now from Pan Macmillan.

Source: Publisher Review Copy.

The little old lady is back! This time, Martha Andersson and her friends – the League of Pensioners – have left behind their dreary care home in Stockholm and are enjoying the bright lights of Las Vegas.
This is their opportunity for a new lease of life and they plan to make the most of it. But before long, they are up to their old tricks and with ingenious tactics, a pair of false teeth and a wheelchair each, they plot to outwit the security system at one of the casinos.

So we last met the little old lady, also known as Martha Anderson, when she was breaking all the rules and forming the league of pensioners. That was a terrifically fun and hilarious read and luckily this one was the same.

This time all our friends are in Las Vegas – where they are soon caught up in a hugely hilarious amount of criminal activity.

This was such a great uplifting read –   if you can imagine the Ocean Eleven gang all in their 70’s and 80’s planning all sorts of shenanigans, you’ve probably got this one down pat. Beautifully hilarious at times, with a really good heart to it, I loved Martha even more in this one than the last, her character really grew for me. I think possibly I enjoyed the first one a LITTLE more simply because it was such a new idea, rampaging pensioners refusing to sit in a corner and knit – but still, it is a rip rollicking adventure and I am definitely planning to become a master criminal when I hit 65. I mean why not?

One group of lively pensioners versus a criminal gang made for all sorts of laugh out loud moments, the great writing and storytelling of the first novel is very much still right there, there are some side stories and little bits and bobs that REALLY brightened my day at times and overall you won’t find much better if you are looking for a funny, heartwarming read. From someone who spends most of their reading time with serial killers and psychotic women, this was a breath of fresh air and a little bit of a wonderful reading holiday. So glad there is going to be a third book!

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Liz Currently Loves….The Invisible Library by GGenevieve Cogman


Publication Date: Available Now from Tor.

Source: Publisher Review Copy

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant Kai, she’s posted to an alternative London. Their mission – to retrieve a dangerous book. But when they arrive, it’s already been stolen. London’s underground factions seem prepared to fight to the very death to find her book. Adding to the jeopardy, this world is chaos-infested – the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic. Irene’s new assistant is also hiding secrets of his own. Soon, she’s up to her eyebrows in a heady mix of danger, clues and secret societies. Yet failure is not an option – the nature of reality itself is at stake.

This was absolutely the best fun I’ve had with a book in ages. Brilliant characters, magical world building and a whole load of adventure.

Irene is sent into one alternate London to retrieve a dangerous book – shadowed by new assistant Kai, this mission is anything but straightforward and what follows is a rip roaring race to find the book, involving Vampires, Werewolves, Fai and, well, alligators….

I absolutely adore the world the author has created here – it is a brilliant mix of mundane and magic, the mysterious “library” having a life all of its own, spreading out throughout the many different worlds that exist. The librarians are an eclectic bunch, although we only meet a small section of that society, I definitely want to find out more in (hopefully) future adventures. The London that Irene ends up in is very different to our own, and the people she encounters there are a heady mix of hero and villain –  even those closest to her are not always what they seem and it is highly engaging throughout, with some laugh out loud moments, some edge of the seat thrills, with some real emotional resonance mixed up right in there.

The mythology is intelligently created, it really is beautifully written, a real page turner where anything can happen and often does – right at the heart of it though is Irene and her love of books, which of course for any reader is a magical thing. It makes her highly relatable and you will be with her all the way as she tries to work out who is friend and foe, fights the good fight and maybe discovers more about herself along the way.

Absolutely and utterly sparkling. Highly HIGHLY recommended.

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Liz Currently Loves – The Sham by Ellen Allen


Publication Date: Available Now from BookBaby.

Source: Author Review Copy.

Eighteen-year-old Emily Heath would love to leave her dead-end town, known locally as “The Sham”, with her boyfriend, Jack, but he’s very, very sick; his body is failing and his brain is shutting down. He’s also in hiding, under suspicion of murder. Six months’ ago, strange signs were painted across town in a dialect no one has spoken for decades and one of Emily’s classmates washed up in the local floods.

The Sham was a book that surprised me. I expected one thing, got quite another, it was a terrifically eclectic and weirdly wonderful read exploring some haunting themes at its heart.

Emily meets Jack, a strange enigmatic character and falls for him. So much so that she glosses over his odd proclivities and rather weird ways and is willing to go a long way to protect him from the suspicions of the town. Meanwhile her own family is causing her grief, old signs are appearing all over “The Sham” and girls are disappearing..

Admittedly I was very nearly put off this one by a very violent bullying scene right at the start of it – however this was simply the jumping off point  for a really clever tale that is not all that it immediately appears to be and this scene is integral to that and important. Ellen Allen keeps the suspense going throughout – Just who is Jack and where did he come from, what is happening with the disappearances, all enthralling and engaging stuff.

Added to that we have a hint of family drama, some very well drawn characters some of whom are immensely unlikeable but still very authentic. I loved Emily, she is ruled by her heart rather than by her head a lot of the time, but its still very practically minded. There are some humerous moments to offset the dark side of the story, some of which made me laugh a lot…the jam for example, ha.

Clever writing, a weird and wonderful feel to it and a story that will take you in often astonishing directions, I thought it was terrific. It will get into your head and stay there!

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Liz Currently Loves…A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale.


Publication Date: March 26th 2015 from Tinder Press

Source: Publisher Review Copy

In the golden 1900s, Harry Cane, a shy, eligible gentleman of leisure is drawn from a life of quiet routine into courting and marrying Winnie, eldest daughter of the fatherless Wells clan, who are not quite as respectable as they would appear. They settle by the sea and have a daughter and conventional marriage does not seem such a tumultuous change after all. When a chance encounter awakens scandalous desires never acknowledged until now, however, Harry is forced to forsake the land and people he loves for a harsh new life as a homesteader on the newly colonized Canadian prairies. There, in a place called Winter, he will come to find a deep love within an alternative family, a love imperiled by war, madness and an evil man of undeniable magnetism.

An absolutely remarkable novel, I loved every single minute of it. Old School storytelling at its best, Patrick Gale weaves a heartfelt and emotive web around the reader as we follow a man called Harry Cane through life, love, war, insanity and redemption.

When we meet Harry he is a gentle soul who drifts through life, facing problems as they arise but mostly having a quiet and routine existence with nothing hugely significant going on. He meets Winnie, marries her and seems set to carry on meandering along. Then an encounter leads to a passionate affair, which when it ends leaves Harry in an untenable position – so he departs for Canada, seeking a new path.

It is beautifully written, atmospheric and with a magnificent sense of place and time, undeniably addictive I was enthralled throughout. Fascinating looking back at the differing attitudes of the time, the characters pop from the page and it is all brilliantly authentic and often very emotional. I was up and down like a yo-yo with my feelings whilst reading this, sometimes happy, sometimes sad, always utterly enchanted with the people and the places, by the end I was in tears. The good kind.

It is kind of hard to know what else to say, sometimes I guess less is more.  I have joined the growing mob of readers who are going to throw this novel at everyone they ever met once it is released – a marvel of a story that you will both relish and adore, I really cannot recommend it highly enough.

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Why We Write – Drop In Feature – Guest post from Ravinder Randhawa.



Today I am pleased to welcome Ravinda to the blog telling us why she writes. Thank you Ravinda!



Why We Write


I knew at a very young age that I wanted to write. A strange knowing in a young child, whose family circle was devoid of writers, journalists or any other literati. The family may not yet have produced authors and artists but it was a family which valued knowledge and learning. We were taught that books were always to be treated with care and respect. As a child, I remember being really shocked when I saw a friend scribbling and drawing in her book, and when I asked her about it she couldn’t understand why it mattered. Personally I couldn’t understand why it didn’t matter. Books are precious. This is akin to Salman Rushdie’s childhood story about having to kiss a book if it fell to the floor before putting it back on the bookshelf.

Books have always been a passion and I was the traditional bookworm, always having a book under the pillow, or truanting from my chores, nose buried in a book. The love of books doesn’t always lead to the urge to write so there must be some mystery, some unknown part of our soul and psyche propelling us writers to spend our lives creating stories which we hope will entertain, convey some truth and meaning, or purely provide escapism. The desire to tell stories and the desire to listen to them has existed throughout the ages and across the world. Could it be that we humans do need more from our brief existence than merely the satisfaction of our physical needs? That we have an insatiable desire to engage with greater vistas, ideas and philosophies?

The conviction that writing is my vocation has been one of the fixed things in my life, accompanying me from childhood to maturity. Like a companion, always there at my side and existing in the sense of a journey, not a destination. I’m sure I’ll be tapping away on my last day on this planet, worrying about how to formulate this or that sentence, trying to decide whether a comma or semi-colon is needed and looking forward to getting stuck into the next revision. Unlike some writers I love revising, for that’s when the novel begins to develop, stretch and gather depth.

I used to think that writing was far too noble an art for me to aspire to (not that it put me off) but I used to go around calling myself a ‘would-be’ writer. Even now, after having had three acclaimed novels published and many short stories, I sometimes think ‘Wow, how did that happen?’ I remember holding the published copy of my first novel, A Wicked Old Woman, in my hands with a sense of pure disbelief. How could those handwritten pages, those typed sheets have been transformed into a book that was as bona fide as any other? How could it actually be sitting in bookshops and libraries, being bought and borrowed by actual readers?

Publishing the first novel is always a milestone but it doesn’t mean that writing subsequent novels becomes easier. In fact, I think it becomes harder because you demand more from yourself and become more critical. Perhaps that feeling of always having to go back to the baseline and start from scratch, arises from the different demands of each novel, the different challenges of story, structure, plot and character. In addition, I do think the more you write the more critical you become of your own work. That heady outpouring of the first novel, never really occurs again, because with each work, the desire to develop, extend and refine becomes stronger.

The urge to write is also the urge to have my say about the world. Thousands of writers, Shakespeare, Dickens and others have used fiction to have their rants and raves about the world, whether the subject is treachery, Victorian workhouses or political corruption. For me, fiction is a truth teller; telling the truth with tenderness, humanity and nuance. Whether it deploys the structures of comedy, tragedy or satire, fiction accomplishes the amazing feat of making the reader forget themselves and experience the emotions, dilemmas and dangers of someone else, as if in this way, more is conveyed than is actually being said. Fiction provides an ‘immersive’ experience in a way that newspaper articles, which with all their information, statistics and research never can. The deceptive art of ‘making up stories’ often succeeds in leaving the reader haunted by characters and events, which enrich the reader’s life experience, allows them to extend the boundaries of their own lives, and look at the world in a more thoughtful way.

Writing is that strange act of creating something out of nothing. I’m not quite sure where the urge comes from but the challenge is always there: to create an entertainment or a truth which captivates and enthrals, engages the heart and mind. It’s wonderful when a reader says ‘I got lost in a book.’


About Beauty and the Beast: Enemies,Romance, Fireworks.

‘Problems? Confusions? Contradictions? I got them all and if you’ve got them, then FLAUNT them is my motto.’ Meet Harjinder (aka Hari-jan): ‘A’ level student, supermarket worker and desperate journalist. Feisty and impulsive, Hari-jan can’t refuse a dare and to make matters worse has fallen in love with the wrong boy. Her best friend Ghazala has taken to wearing the hijab and mentoring racists. Can Hari-jan battle through the hurdles and win her man? Can Ghazala work out how to do Good in her own way? A sparkling, coming-of-age novel about life, love and friendship.

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Author Interview: Luca Veste and The Dying Place.


So I’m a bit behind here – apologies to Luca who very kindly answered some questions for me about his brilliant follow up to “Dead Gone” ages ago now. I use Christmas as my excuse, I mean who doesnt get a befuddled brain at Christmas? Anyway here we are at last, and thanks to Luca for telling me all about The Dying Place. Although I’m sure the answer to the last question may have changed by now…

A second outing for Murphy and  Rossi then – and something a little different for them this time. What was the original inspiration behind this story?


The initial idea came from an ongoing conversation I’ve been having with my dad for many years. Whilst extremely liberal in most societal concerns, when it comes to teenagers and the issues they can cause, he has a very different view. On many occasions he has said that the only way to deal with what some would call “scallies” or “chavs” etc, is to get a group of old boys together in a van and pick these teenagers up off the street, beat them up, and then return them to civilisation changed forever. As I’ve got older, I have started to question the logic of violence ending violence, so I decided to write about a group of people coming together to do exactly what my dad had outlined… and it, of course, leads to disastrous results!


Its an interesting theme and one that will garner discussion – do you think perhaps society as a whole could do more to encourage young people to focus their energy in a more positive way?


Of course, but I think it’s always been that way. It’s arguably more prominent now, with an ageing population who have stories about youths and the problems they cause fed to them by their preferred media. However, it’s not just the fault of media as to why encouragement is possibly not there as much now, and there are many things which we could do as a society to give more opportunities to young people. Closing libraries, youth clubs, and avenues such as those is not the answer. Neither is increasing university fees to ridiculous levels, restraining those in low-income families to consider going (which is arguably the intention). With the collapse of industry a few decades ago, what jobs/careers are actually viable for young people out there? It’s something that needs to be considered more.


Can you tell us anything about what is next for the duo?


I’m writing Murphy and Rossi 3 at the moment. All I can say is that there’s a serial killer in Liverpool again… but this time, there’s a twist. The theme is violence in media and 24 hour news culture. That’s all I’m allowed to say at the moment!


Which book would you most like to give to friends and family this Christmas?


My favourite read of the year so far is between three… Long Way Home by Eva Dolan, The Nightmare Place by Steve Mosby, and We Are Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler, with the latter just edging out the other two. I would probably go for that one as a present, but I learned long ago that I don’t exactly share taste in novels with the rest of my family, so a voucher may be a better idea instead 😉

Thank you Luca!


DI Murphy and DS Rossi discover the body of known troublemaker Dean Hughes, dumped on the steps of St Mary’s Church in West Derby, Liverpool. His body is covered with the unmistakable marks of torture. As they hunt for the killer, they discover a worrying pattern. Other teenagers, all young delinquents, have been disappearing without a trace. Who is clearing the streets of Liverpool? Where are the other missing boys being held? And can Murphy and Rossi find them before they meet the same fate as Dean?


A different case for Murphy and Rossi this time, a dark and disturbing tale but brilliantly written and very addictive, taking on themes of the breaks in our society and turning them into a haunting tale which is also endlessly fascinating.

I’m a fan of Murphy and Rossi as a duo – they are a great “crime fiction” pairing, I find one of the strengths of these tales is how Luca gives focus not only to them but to the people they get involved with in each case, we as readers see both sides of the story, even as identities are hidden to allow for some terrific mystery elements.

In the case of “The Dying Place” I was not only enthralled and often disturbed by the tale unfolding but it also gave me pause for thought, to consider the heart of Justice and how that can mean different things to different people. At turns terrifying and emotional this really was a wonderfully constructed thriller with hugely appealing characters, both those we know and those we don’t.

A very emotional ending with an excellent lead in to book 3, which I can’t wait for, made this one of my top crime reads of last year. Excellent stuff.

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New Release Spotlight: Shallow Waters by Rebecca Bradley.


I recently read Shallow Waters, a great crime debut from Rebecca Bradley  – so I caught up with her to ask a few questions, here is what she had to tell me.


Tell us a little about the inspiration for Hannah as a character?


To be honest, I’m not sure there was a real inspiration as such. I just knew I wanted a female protagonist and I wanted to tell the story in first person narrative so the reader would be there right in the middle of the action as she was. From there Hannah evolved on the page with the story. I drew up a backstory, which is only hinted at in Shallow Waters, and that makes her who she is. As for her manner with her team, I didn’t want a tough hot-headed maverick, but neither did I want her to be seen as a pushover. I wanted to avoid stereotypes which is difficult is such a busy genre, so I just wrote, with those parameters, and what you read is the result.


Was there a lot of research involved to make the police investigation aspects so authentic?


Thank you, I’m glad you found it authentic. I know crime readers can pick up on details so it is important to me. If you decide to write a procedural, it needs to be procedurally correct. If you’re writing that maverick cop, mentioned above, who do as they please, then it doesn’t matter. Luckily I know a lot of police officers and research isn’t a difficult issue for me. I know the case she investigates is a difficult read for people, but there have been so many high profile court cases on the news lately of girls being groomed that I wanted to cover it, but obviously with as light a touch as I could and again, I know the right people.


Is crime your preferred reading genre as well as writing?


I love crime fiction! Last year I had to force myself to start reading outside the genre. I then found out I quite liked YA. How’s that for a change in genres? But there are some great crime writers out there and they can tackle some great social topics or they can just give us a really good read. I have so many books I still want to read, I need to be able to read faster!


Can you tell us anything about what is next for Hannah?


Hannah will be returning at the end of June this year. It will be six months on from the last novel (in the novel as well as literally) and the team are in for a really difficult time. It’s more complex as she has to deal with fallout from Shallow Waters; emotionally and practically, and at the same time she finds herself up against a killer who in some ways mirrors her. It’s an interesting one.



One book you recommend to everyone.


Just one?! If I say it fast you might not notice 🙂


OK, deep breath; Everything by Karin Slaughter, David Jackson, The Humans by Matt Haig, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer!


There. Just the one!


Favourite thing to do on a lazy Sunday.


Read a book. Seriously what else if it’s a lazy Sunday? I have to have multiple cups of tea with me as well though.


One famous person you would most like to meet and why.


There are a lot of people I’d like to meet and for various reasons, but one person is Chris Hadfield. The astronaut who was in space and making YouTube videos while he was up there. Teaching. Sharing. It was amazing to follow him on Twitter and see his photographs. Did you see the video where he sang David Bowie’s, Space Oddity while up there? It was amazing! OK, end of gushing.

Thank you Rebecca!



When the naked, battered body of an unidentified teenager is found dumped in an alleyway, post-mortem finds evidence of a harrowing series of events.
Another teenage death with the same MO pushes DI Hannah Robbins and her team on the Nottingham City division Major Crimes Unit, to their limits, and across county borders. In a race against the clock they attempt to unpick a thick web of lies and deceit to uncover the truth behind the deaths.
But it doesn’t stop there. When catching a killer isn’t enough, just how far are the team willing to push themselves to save the next girl?

A really excellent crime debut, dark, clever and immensely readable, Shallow Waters is a gritty and addictive read that will grip you from the outset.

Hannah Robbins is an excellent main protagonist, emotionally resonant and with just enough secrets to embed you into the series – she is driven and very authentic, you will get right behind her. I liked the relationship she had with her reporter boyfriend, it gives an intriguing twist to proceedings and the rest of the cast are well rounded, as an introduction to a new ongoing series this worked perfectly.

It is violent – possibly not for the faint hearted, the mystery element is emotive and very well drawn and will keep you turning those pages to discover the outcome. The police procedural portions of the tale are well rounded and realistic, the pressure and the horror of tracking a killer comes across beautifully. There is a terrific depth to the plotting, especially in relation to allowing the reader to get to know the victim, therefore ensuring that we are as desperate as the police are to catch the villain.

Overall then a really really great read and one that I highly recommend for fans of Crime Fiction. Can’t wait to find out what is next for Hannah and Co.

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Liz Currently Loves…Death in the Rainy Season by Anna Jaquiery.


Publication Date: 9th April 2015 from Mantle

Source: Advance Reading Copy.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia; the rainy season. When a French man, Hugo Quercy, is found brutally murdered, Commandant Serge Morel finds his holiday drawn to an abrupt halt. Quercy – dynamic, well-connected – was the magnetic head of a humanitarian organisation which looked after the area’s neglected youth.
Opening his investigation, the Parisian detective soon finds himself buried in one of his most challenging cases yet.

So “The Lying Down Room” was one of my favourite debuts of its year, so I was very excited to revisit Serge Morel in the second book in the series – it was absolutely worth the wait, another beautifully written crime novel with a decidedly intriguing main protagonist at the heart of it all.

Here we find Morel on holiday in Cambodia, hoping to reconnect with family, but the brutal murder of a French man finds him thrown into the centre of another mystery. Dealing with the rather eclectic ways of the Cambodian police, local politics and French politices with a distinct lack of resources, this will be a huge challenge.

There are a lot of things to love about this story – not the least of which is the absolutely evocative sense of place Anna Jaquiery brings to her stories. As a snapshot of real life in Cambodia, it is done with a practical eye and a real sense of authenticity that puts you right there with Serge as we see it through his eyes and that of others. There is a beauty and an emotion about it all that pops off the page and gives this a distinct edge when it comes to immersing the reader in the tale being told.

There are some beautifully drawn characters, the mystery itself is intelligent and evocative – this is not so much a rush to judgement or a thrill ride of a tale, but more of a gentle uncovering of the many layers hiding the truth. The lack of resources Morel faces works to give this a more psychological side, this will not be solved by a lucky fingerprint found but by talking to the people involved, knowing them, understanding their motives, feelings and actions. A Russian doll type tale where Morel unlocks one part of Hugo’s life which leads to another then another then eventually to a killer – It is all exquisitely achieved and absolutely addictive.

On top of all that we get some excellent insights into Morel himself as his own story continues, some small peeks back into what is going on in France, so as a book two it works so well, I loved every minute of it and cannot wait to find out what is next.

Overall then a most terrific read. Definitely highly recommended for fans of Literary Crime stories.


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Spotlight on The Curvy Girls Club….

So today see’s the release of “The Curvy Girls Club” by Michele Gorman. It sounds brilliant so I was pleased to be able to spotlight this today for you all and give you some further information…


index UK COVER


The Curvy Girls Club US coverU.S. COVER

About the Book:

A hilarious heart-warming read about normal women with normal problems.
Perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella and Bridesmaids.

Can the curvy girls have their cake and eat it?

Meet best friends Pixie, Ellie, Katie and Jane. Fed up with always struggling to lose weight, they start a social club where size doesn’t matter. Soon it’s the most popular place to be – having fun instead of counting carbs. And the girls suddenly find their lives changing in ways they never imagined.

But outside the club, things aren’t as rosy, as they struggle with the ups and downs of everyday life.

In this funny, heart-warming read about normal women learning to love themselves, the curvy girls soon realise that no matter what life throws at them, together, anything is possible . . .


Watch the video’s!

“You are not fat”:



Michele Gorman is the USA TODAY bestselling author of eight romantic comedies. Born and raised in the US, Michele has lived in London for 16 years. She is very fond of naps, ice cream and Richard Curtis films but objects to spiders and the word “portion”.

You can find out more about Michele by following her on twitter, Facebook and by reading her blog or website. Do chat with her online – she’s always looking for an excuse to procrastinate!

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The Girl in the Photograph. Interview with Kate Riordan.


So tomorrow you can finally get your hands on The Girl in the Photograph, a brilliant and evocative story – As you may know I recently spent a weekend at Owlpen, the inspiration for the novel, you can find a link to my article about that further down the page. To celebrate publication I asked Kate a few questions and here is what she had to tell me.


Having had a wonderful weekend there, I know Owlpen Manor in Gloucestershire provided the inspiration for the novel – but tell us a little about your first visit and how the story started for you?


I first went to Owlpen for a travel piece I was writing for Time Out magazine. I stayed in the Court House, which is a little cottage close to the manor house. I was expecting the estate to be beautiful; what I hadn’t anticipated was the atmosphere of the place. That was what stayed with me, and later inspired the setting for the book that eventually became The Girl in the Photograph – with the Court House becoming the little summerhouse where Alice finds Elizabeth’s diary. The first scene I wrote was Alice’s arrival at Fiercombe Manor. At that point I didn’t know what had brought Alice to the valley, or what would happen to her while she was there. I was just enjoying writing about a beautiful place with a mysterious past – mysterious even to me!

The two amazing women we follow in the story are on similar paths but are very different people – Were you emotionally attached to both equally or was there a favourite?


Though outwardly they seem very different, that’s because they’re products of different times and different backgrounds. At base they actually have a lot in common. Both are trapped because they’re women; both are frightened by their lack of choices; both are romantics who have been let down by the men in their lives. I wanted to rescue both of them at various points in the narrative – pick them up and put them down in our times – so, yes, I definitely felt attached to both. Your sympathetic characters become close friends of a kind, and so it would feel disloyal to pick a favourite.


Elizabeth is definitely an echo within Fiercombe – do you believe that history can “haunt” a house, not necessarily in a supernatural way?


Yes, I like to think so. I don’t believe in ghosts per se, and I’ve looked hard in some ostensibly haunted houses without seeing a thing! Even so, I’m really drawn to the idea that something of what has gone before still remains. There are places I’ve been where the past just seems so much closer. Sometimes that’s creepy and sometimes it’s comforting. Generally it’s the latter – and I prefer living in old houses for that reason. I think about people from a hundred years ago moving through the same rooms I now occupy – laughing and arguing and dreaming – and I find that fascinating. Poignant, too.



Did you always forsee that ending for both Alice and Elizabeth or did things change as the tale developed?


I knew I wanted a blend of sadness and redemption so yes, I planned the ending pretty early on. What I didn’t know was how I was going to get there, in either character’s case. It was the middle I didn’t have a clue about. Characters have a habit of taking you in a direction you didn’t expect but I was always clear how I wanted to leave them.


  One book you recommend to everyone.

Books are so subjective that there isn’t a single one I can think of that everyone would love. But if that’s too much of a cop-out I’ll go for Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations and John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany.

Book you wish you had written.

Oh, I’m always wishing that. One of the more recent ones is Kate Atkinson’s Life after Life. That woman is a genius. Her books are so funny, heart-breaking and uplifting all at the same time. Her ear for dialogue is unrivalled, too.


Can you tell us anything about your next project?


I’ve almost finished the first draft, which is exciting (and a relief). It’s about a grandmother and granddaughter who are both governesses when they’re young. Moving between 1878, 1910 and 1922, it’s not only about their experiences working for the same family, but their own complex relationship. I’ve been interested in governesses since I read Jane Eyre as a child. Theirs was a life of contradictions because they were neither servant nor family. They were working women when very few ‘respectable’ women were, but this didn’t mean they were free and independent. Far from it: they might have been educated but they were usually without means or status. All this gave them a unique – and frequently lonely – perspective on life.

Thank you SO much Kate!

About the book:


In the summer of 1933, Alice Eveleigh has arrived at Fiercombe Manor in disgrace. The beautiful house becomes her sanctuary, a place to hide her shame from society in the care of the housekeeper, Mrs Jelphs. But the manor also becomes a place of suspicion, one of secrecy.
Something isn’t right.
Someone is watching.
There are secrets that the manor house seems determined to keep. Tragedy haunts the empty rooms and foreboding hangs heavy in the stifling heat. Traces of the previous occupant, Elizabeth Stanton, are everywhere and soon Alice discovers Elizabeth’s life eerily mirrors the path she herself is on

I absolutely adored this story – told in two timelines as we follow Alice as she arrives at Fiercombe Manor and Elizabeth Stanton, a previous resident who is somewhat enigmatic, this gripped me from the start and is written so beautifully and with such great poignancy that it stayed with me long after I had finished it. The two main characters are appealing and genuinely fascinating, separated as they are by years but both living strangely parallel lives.  It really was a most terrific read and I loved every minute of it.

This will certainly be going on my Highly Recommended list when I write up a fuller review and I would definitely encourage everyone to add it to their reading lists for the New Year.

I was lucky enough to recently visit the inspiration behind the story, Owlpen Manor in Gloucestershire and you can read all about that here. Again I would encourage anyone who can to visit there themselves – beautiful and peaceful I had the best time. Links to the Owlpen website can be found in the article.


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Happy Reading Folks!