Archive for the ‘historical fiction’ Category

Blog Tour Review: Under the Jewelled Sky – Alison McQueen

Under the Jewelled Sky by Alison McQueen

Title: Under the Jewelled Sky
Author: Alison McQueen
Publication date: 25 April 2013
Publisher: Orion
Format: Trade paperback
ISBN: 9781409131182
Length: 352 pages
Genre: Historical fiction
Age group: Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon | Amazon US | The Book Depository

Synopsis

A love story for India, for a lost world and a boy from a forbidden world.

London 1957. In a bid to erase her past, Sophie Schofield accepts a wedding proposal from ambitious British diplomat, Lucien Grainger. When he is posted to New Delhi, into the glittering circle of ex-pat society, old wounds begin to break open as Sophie is confronted with the memory of her first, forbidden love and its devastating consequences. This is not the India she fell in love with ten years before in a maharaja’s palace, the India that ripped out her heart as Partition tore the country in two.

And so begins the unravelling of an ill-fated marriage, setting in motion a devastating chain of events that will bring her face to face with a past she tried so desperately to forget, and a future she must fight for. This is a tender story of love, loss of innocence, and the aftermath of a terrible decision no one knew how to avoid.

My thoughts

Regular readers of the blog might know that it’s quite rare when I read and review historical fiction or books with a similar subject matter. I’ve never really been interested in this genre and on the rare occasion when I did pick up a historical novel, I never seemed to enjoy it as much as I should have. However, there was something about Under the Jewelled Sky (possibly the idea of love and loss and a past better forgotten) which really piqued my curiosity and I decided to read it. Never in a million years did I imagine falling in love with McQueen’s story as much and as quickly as I did.

Starting her story with a hint of a family drama and a dark past, the author introduces us to Sophie – a British girl who spent part of her childhood in India – and her mother who is visibly not too keen on seeing her daughter after so many years. We learn that it’s been quite a long time since the two of them saw each other and they clearly haven’t been in touch ever since. It takes a great deal of courage on Sophie’s part to make this visit, yet her mother couldn’t behave in a more rude and nasty way. When Sophie announces that she only came to tell her something, she refuses to listen. And Sophie leaves. Needless to say, it was only the first chapter but I was hooked already. What might have happened to cause such tension between the two women? What was Sophie about to say to her mother? I knew it would be related to some buried family secrets but the complexity of Sophie’s past and what they’ve all been through back in India not only took me completely by surprise but made me read the last 200 pages in literally one sitting.

(more…)

Review: Debutantes – Cora Harrison

Cover of Debutantes by Cora Harrison

Title: Debutantes
Author: Cora Harrison
Publication date: 2 August, 2012
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-4472-0594-4
Length: 320 pages
Genre: Historical fiction
Age group: Young Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository

Synopsis

It’s 1923 and London is a whirl of jazz, dancing and parties. Violet, Daisy, Poppy and Rose Derrington are desperate to be part of it, but stuck in an enormous crumbling house in the country, with no money and no fashionable dresses, the excitement seems a lifetime away.

Luckily the girls each have a plan for escaping their humdrum country life: Rose wants to be a novelist, Poppy a jazz musician and Daisy a famous film director. Violet, however, has only one ambition: to become the perfect Debutante, so that she can go to London and catch the eye of Prince George, the most eligible bachelor in the country.

But a house as big and old as Beech Grove Manor hides many secrets, and Daisy is about to uncover one so huge it could ruin all their plans—ruin everything—forever.

My thoughts

What caught my attention when I first heard about Debutantes was the fact that it’s supposed to be ‘the perfect read for Downton Abbey fans’. As a huge fan of this show I just knew I had to read this – and it blew me away.

At the risk of sounding terribly gushy, there was nothing I didn’t like about this book. The story centres around the four Derrington sisters who, a few chapters in, I became really fond of. I love the fact that they all have their own dreams, their own ambitions and they are all so different from each other. Violet is the beautiful, the energetic one; Rose is the youngest of them all and she’s the smart one, Poppy is a bit reserved, the one who doesn’t care for expensive dresses or meeting someone famous or rich. And there’s Daisy, who’s been living in the shadows of her sisters all her life and who’s always there to help them. I loved Poppy and Daisy’s relationship. They reminded me of Elizabeth Bennet from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice – they are the ones (but especially Poppy) who would rather spend time with their friends and have a good time than spend their days looking for someone rich and marry for money.

(more…)

Review: To Turn Full Circle – Linda Mitchelmore

Cover of To Turn Full Circle by Linda Mitchelmore

Title: To Turn Full Circle
Author: Linda Mitchelmore
Publication date:  7 June, 2012
Publisher: Choc Lit
Format: Ebook
ISBN: 9781906931728
Length: 336 pages
Genre: Historical fiction / Romance
Age group: Young Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository

Synopsis

Life in Devon in 1909 is hard and unforgiving, especially for young Emma Le Goff, whose mother and brother die in curious circumstances, leaving her totally alone in the world. While she grieves, her callous landlord Reuben Jago claims her home and belongings. His son Seth is deeply attracted to Emma and sympathises with her desperate need to find out what really happened, but all his attempts to help only incur his father’s wrath.

When mysterious fisherman Matthew Caunter comes to Emma’s rescue, Seth is jealous at what he sees and seeks solace in another woman. However, he finds that forgetting Emma is not as easy as he hoped. Matthew is kind and charismatic, but handsome Seth is never far from Emma’s mind. Whatever twists and turns her life takes, it seems there is always something – or someone – missing. Can Seth persuade Emma that they can overcome their past?

My thoughts

Up until now, I haven’t really ventured into the world of historical fiction – I wasn’t really intrigued by these stories and I knew they wouldn’t be my cup of tea. But then I saw To Turn Full Circle and something changed. I genuinely liked the sound of this story, the story of a young girl with a difficult past, and decided that this novel would be a great way for me to branch out and to start my journey into unknown territory. And I have to say, it was definitely worth it.

What I loved about it the most is the fact that it appeals to such a wide audience. Based on the fact that the main character, Emma, is only 15 when the novel starts one would think it’s aimed at the young adult generation only. And how wrong I was in assuming this! To Turn Full Circle, I think, is definitely one of those books that all generations would enjoy – adult and young adult alike. There are no cheesy make-out sessions or anything else that would be too “offensive” for young readers and adults will no doubt find it a charming story.

Emma is a lovely narrator and main character and I really liked her. She’s still very young and naive at the beginning and she has a lot to learn but I loved the fact that she didn’t let go of her dreams and she was brave enough to stand up for herself. To be honest, I have a love-hate relationship with good guys like Seth because I often find them almost “too good to be true”. I felt the same way about Seth but I really started to like him by the end. In a way he’s quite similar to Emma. They’ve both been through a lot but they do everything they can to forget the past and to achieve their dreams, to be happy. Matthew Caunter, however, was someone I loved from the start. He’s quite a mysterious and complex character who I hope to see more of in the sequel.

(more…)