Rags of Time

London.

1639.

Thomas Tallant, a young and ambitious Spice Merchant, returns from India to find his city in turmoil.

A bitter struggle is brewing between King Charles I and Parliament, as England slides into civil war. The capital is simmering with dissent. The conflict is ready to boil over.

But Thomas soon has other troubles to contend with. A wealthy merchant, Sir Joseph Venell, is savagely killed; then his partner Sir Hugh Swofford plunges to his death, in the Tallant household.

Suspicion falls on Thomas, who is sucked into a mire of treachery and rumour within the City of London. As the merchant struggles to clear his name, he becomes captivated by the enigmatic Elizabeth Seymour, whose passion for astronomy and mathematics is matched only by her addiction to the gaming tables.

Pursued by the authorities, Thomas races to unmask the real killer who claims a third victim to implicate him further, toying with his future in a deadly cat and mouse game.

In a desperate race against time, Elizabeth applies her powers of logic and deduction to unearth the clues that will point to the killer, but her way is barred by a secret message from the grave.

Can she crack its code before Thomas, now a wounded and exhausted fugitive, succumbs to the chase?

And, if she succeeds, has Thomas the strength to face his tormentor and win his life and reputation back?

I am so excited to welcome you today to my stop on the blog tour on this gorgeous sunny Monday for another fabulous historical novel –  Rags of Time by Michael Ward

Thank you to Anne Cater and RandomThingsTours for giving me the opportunity to read and review this fascinating historical read that I might never have encountered without her. It’s one of my favourite things about blogging that I’ve serendipitously encountered so many fantastic books and authors to write about and share them with other book lovers too, spending time in so many different eras and getting my change to experience life walking in their footsteps…

foot prints on sand

These characters in this book absolutely spring to life and I defy you not to be moved by some of their predicaments. It’s not just a great piece of fiction though – it is a thought provoking and intelligent piece of writing that poses some big questions about loyalty, patriotism and honour that would make it a perfect book club choice once the lockdown is over. I absolutely loved the character of Thomas and its civil war setting provided me with lots of food for thought and a fair few hours researching this period online after I’d finished the book.

I really did get caught up in this book. They do say that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but Thomas’ story more than matched up to its gorgeous cover. One of my favourite things was the relationship between Thomas and the unconventional Elizabeth, and how their encounters allowed  for a real trust to develop amidst all the lies, speculation and deception in the novel and in these times themselves. It’s a real strength of the novel that despite the drama and twists and turns  the characters in this novel remain absolutely credible and realistic and has you rooting for them as the pace heats up and things look pretty uncertain for them.

yellow dagger engraved on tree

Rags of Time is a stunningly researched period read that had me totally captivated. It’s a moving and powerful evocation of life from a very different world as far as women are concerned, yet so many of its reflections on both love and honour are absolutely timeless and will resonate with so many readers.

Rags of Time is available to buy now – here’s the link 

Check out what these other talented bloggers have to say about it on the Blog Tour

‘A satisfying, brooding mystery set in Stuart England anticipating the coming Civil War.’ Paul Walker, author of State of Treason

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Writer On The Shelf

Her other books are Man of My Dreams, Sisterland (a Richard & Judy Book Club pick) & Eligible Writing has been central to Mike Ward’s professional life. On graduating from university he became a journalist, working in newspapers and for the BBC.

He then went into journalism education, teaching and researching journalism practice before becoming head of the UK’s prestigious Journalism School at UCLan. For the last eight years he has run his own content creation company.

‘Rags of Time’ is Mike’s debut novel. Its sequel is due to be published late in 2020.

Queen Bee

Welcome to The Close – a beautiful street of mansions, where gorgeous Stella is the indisputable Queen Bee . . .

It is here that Laura, seeking peace and privacy after her marriage falls apart, rents a tiny studio. Unfortunately, her arrival upsets suspicious Stella – who fears Laura has designs on her fiancé, Al.

When Laura stumbles on the big secret Al is hiding, suddenly Stella’s perfectly controlled world, and Laura’s future, are threatened.

Taking a chance on beating Al at his own twisted game, these two former strangers are fast becoming friends.

But has Laura forgotten that revenge always comes with a sting in the tail?

Queen Bee is a totally page-turning read that kept me gripped and glued to the page last week in gorgeous Crail in the East Neuk of Fife Laura is a memorable an sympathetic protagonist and we find ourselves gripped by the nightmarish situation that she ends up inextricably tangled up in. I was happy to be sitting with my feet up on the deck, looking out at the gorgeous views from the balcony of our holiday home, totally caught up in this fast-paced and moreish read.

One of the main reasons that I think we feel so strongly about Laura’s situation is that she seems like the kind of person we actually might know. Despite the nightmarish situation she ends up in, we never feel like this is improbable or unbelievable. Her very credibility helps make this such a pageturning read as we really really want to know what happens to her and how her she and Stella will manage to turn the tables on the dastardly Al.

The fact that this book has such a familiar setting will resonate with lots of its readers as so many people I know have met a few Queen Bees of their own and it really does make you think about the most ordinary encounters we might have in quite a different light at times. Laura’s relationship with Stella turns out a lot differently than she imagined when she first met her and this is where the story really starts to get grippy.  Laura’s inner voice tells us that things are not quite as they seem with Al and I feel like this is a sound reminder to us that we should probably listen to that little niggle in real life as it might be more accurate than we ever could have imagined…

I really enjoyed the way that Laura was not just a stereotypical female character, wondering about why men are so crappy or pining over her ex. Laura’s very lack of passivity and ‘accepting her fate’ was one of the things that made this such an enjoyable read. The way that even the most ‘normal’ of people might have secrets lurking beneath the surface and might be very different people than they seem at first is a returning theme in domestic noir and I feel like it’s very well-handled here – we immerse ourselves in the facts that emerge and see things start to unravel before our very eyes in a wholly convincing way and I just could NOT put it down! So happy that I was somewhere so relaxing so that I could just keep turning those pages…

Queen Bee is a must read for all fans of a hilarious and gripping take on modern manners who like to be pulled into a story and held there until the very last page.  I’d like to thank @GabyYoung for inviting me onto the blog tour and introducing me to such a pageturner. I have loved Jane Fallon’s books from the very start and loved this perfect summer read Grab yourself a copy here and immerse yourself in Laura’s very own neighbourhood adventure – with a sting in the tail 🙂

Honeybee

FORUM BOOKS EVENT ANNOUNCEMENT

A virtual evening with @JaneFallon !!

13th August, 7:30pm

tickets £15 includes a copy of her new book #QueenBee Register at: http://bit.ly/2CGmJOC

‘Hugely compelling and unpredictable’ Ruth Jones

‘She always delivers a fabaliss read’ Marian Keyes

‘Brilliant, with completely unexpected twists’ Gill Sims

‘She’s the queen of the revenge novel’ Heat

Writer On the Shelf

Jane Fallon is the multi-award-winning television producer behind shows such as This Life, Teachers and 20 Things to Do before You’re 30. Her debut novel “Getting Rid of Matthew’ was published in 2007 and became a Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller as have her subsequent books ‘Got You Back’, ‘Foursome’, ‘The Ugly Sister’, ‘Skeletons’, ‘Strictly Between Us’,’My Sweet Revenge’, ‘Faking Friends’ and ‘Tell Me a Secret’

Her 10th novel Queen Bee is available now to pre order in both paperback and for Kindle.

Join Jane on Twitter – @janefallon or Instagram – @janefallon2

Starchild

Michaela Foster Marsh and her brother Frankie grew up as “twins” in Glasgow, Scotland in the sixties. Born only weeks apart, Michaela was white and Frankie was black, and they were an unusual sight in their dual pram. Despite the doting of his parents and the unceasing love of his sister, Frankie’s life was rarely easy, and it ended far too soon when a fire took him when he was only twenty-six. But for a devastated Michaela, Frankie’s effect on her life was only beginning. She embarks on a search to learn what she can about Frankie’s birth family, a journey that takes her to Uganda, to a culture and a family she never knew, through twists and turns and remarkable coincidences – and to a mission and to a connection with her African brethren she never could have imagined.

Starchild is a remarkably candid memoir that plays out on both a personal and global scale. It is the story of the intimacies of siblinghood and the complexities of multi-racial adoption. It is the story of the unique connection of extended family and the unique commitment to an adopted homeland. It is the story of long-held secrets revealed and long-maintained barriers broken. And it is ultimately the story of a sibling relationship that transcends borders, time, and life itself.

‘Starchild: A Memoir Of Adoption, Race And Family’ by Michaela Foster Marsh is a really important book and one that I’ll be recommending to everyone. It had me absolutely riveted during my wee reading retreat in gorgeous Crail on the east coast of Fife and I am finding it really hard to put into words what a fascinating, moving and unforgettable read that this was.

Starchild is one of the most moving and memorable books I’ve ever blogged about and I’m delighted to be sharing my review today and hoping that other people will discover this book for themselves and get an insight into Michaela’s unforgettable story. It is funny and relatable as well as traumatic and emotionally raw at times and I just could not stop thinking about it. Michaela’s journey to try and find Frankie’s biological family after they lose him allows us a real insight into the many thousands of people across the world have a shared history that they could be totally unaware of – and reminds us once and for all that there is far more connecting us than dividing us across the globe.

Starchild allows to see what it was like living in a mixed-race family in Glasgow for Frankie and Michaela and asks us to think about the meaning of family as we see for ourselves their very real sibling bond. Michaela shows incredible resilience and determination after the tragic loss of Frankie and takes us with her on her journey to Uganda so we can see her working to honour his life and connect with his roots with a hugely postive impact for so many people. It truly demonstrates the idea that when we do things for others, the positive impact can be far far bigger than we could ever have imagined and the emotional connections far deeper too.

The people that you meet in this book remain with you for a long time after you’ve finished turning the pages. It’s such an epic story that I feel like it’s impossible to close this book and not feel a strong connection to these people as you know that all the time you are reading it that there are thousands of families right now who are struggling to be accepted as mixed race families and many adopted children who never get to meet their biological families either – the world is undoubtedly full of real stories like this that are still happening and this book reminds us of the impact of human kindness and the strength of a sister’s love.

tree between green land during golden hour

The universality of this idea – that family can be far more diverse a concept than may of us realise – never erodes the sense that these are real people whose real lives we are getting an insight into and Michaela’s story is an extremely moving one  – which is an important part of why I really think that you should read it too.  I can’t forget her emotional as well as their literal journey to Uganda and found it incredibly moving to hear about the lengths she went to and the impact she has had on so many brothers and sisters lives since.

car passing by in between trees

This is an important read and I can’t recommend it highly enough. A powerful story of love and connection across the globe – it’s a book that contains a great deal of heartwarming moments, despite its many sad moments and challenges too -I feel humbled to be able to share their story and so glad that I was invited onto the blogtour and discovered it for myself.   Make sure that you get yourself a copy of Starchild this summer , you won’t be able to put it down.

STARCHILD is an odyssey; a spiritual voyage of self-discovery. Michaela Foster Marsh, through sheer – obsessive even – dedication, illuminates and highlights a path, no matter how jaggedly rocky, that can help lead towards emotional fulfilment.” –Peter McDougal, BAFTA and Prix Italia award-winning screenwriter

Writer On The Shelf

Michaela Foster Marsh is an acclaimed musician with three albums to her credit whose work has appeared in television and film, including Dawson’s Creek and The Matthew Sheppard Story.

She has been invited to sing at the Monaco International Film Festival, the Cannes International Film Festival, and for Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth. She is the founder and Executive Director of Starchild Charity, which works primarily with vulnerable children and women and which recently built a School for Creative Arts in Vvumba, Uganda.

In 2017, she was a finalist for Scotswoman of the Year by the Evening Times and has received a Prime Minister’s award for her work in Uganda. She lives with her partner in Glasgow.

Spirited Blog Tour

As someone who is a real fan of books set in the Victorian period and all things slightly supernatural, you can see why I would be so excited to get the opportunity to review Julie Cohen’s latest book – Spirited – as part of the blog tour. Spirited is one of the Lockdown reads that I’ve most enjoyed and it’s set me off down a rabbit hole of re-reading Sarah Waters’ Affinity and looking up some stories about real life Victorian mediums as I got so caught up in this beautifully rendered slice of Victoriana.

Viola Worth, our main character, has been brought up as a respectable and diligent young Victorian gentlewoman alongside her religious father’s ward, Jonah. Jonah and Viola are inseparable as children and so we are unsurprised to discover that they decide to marry once they are grown up. Their happiness over their engagement is blighted by the loss of Viola’s father who had been a hugely positive influence on her life. Unlike many Victorian fathers he encouraged her to develop her skills as a photographer and was delighted to witness her emerging talents in this field.

The fact that Viola and Jonah have spent some time apart, with Jonah going off to India like so many young men of his situation and era has subtly altered their relationship. They have not so much grown apart as people, it’s more like their different experiences have started to affect the way they see the world through their altering perspectives and they fee very much alone in their differing experiences of grief.

Their newly married life carries expectations that they both conform to, with varying senses of happiness and fulfilment. Viola certainly seems to find her bereavement and the feeling of being somewhat limited and trapped through circumstances very challenging . It is at this point that our medium enters the story and starts to change the dynamics in ways that neither of them could have anticipated and this is when I really got totally drawn into this beautifully written and captivating period piece.

Spirited Julie Cohen

Henriette is a fascinating character and very much plays the part of a catalyst in this story – adding to the lives of the other characters in this story and allowing us to see them afresh and uncover aspects of their personalities and former experiences that were previously hidden from us. Although I started this story feeling more sympathy towards Viola, as the novel unfurled and we started to get more insight into Jonah’s heroism during his time in India, including his heroism at the Siege of Delhi, I started to feel much more respect for him and see his buttoned-up ness in a new light. The way that we get insights into elements of the past through snippets of news reports and archive materials really added to the feeling of this being a ‘real’ story and brought these characters to life through its pages.

Spirited Julie Cohen

Spirited is a beautiful story with characters that sing and stay vividly with you even when you aren’t reading it. I absolutely love Sarah Waters and normally find that all other writers pale into comparison alongside er, but Spirited definitely gives her writing a very real run for its money. It is both a wonderfully rendered story that draws you in as well as asking the reader ti think about important issues like female agency, love and grief from some very interesting and original perspectives.

Henriette cast as much of a spell on me as she managed to within the story and I would absolutely love to see this novel brought to life on the screen as I think it would translate absolutely beautifully. There is so much more to say about this book, but I’m truly loath to spoil any of its beauty and subtle power by telling too much; this is a novel that unfolds in such a wonderfully understated way that I really want you to experience it wholly for yourself and feel its power in the same way that I was able to.

Thank you so much to Anne Cater & Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part on the Spirited blogtour and I definitely recommend that you buy your own copy and experience the haunting beauty of Spirited for yourself.

Kirsty Logan Gracekeepers

‘Brilliant . . . I enjoyed it hugely’ Marian Keyes

‘Hugely original and heartbreakingly real’ Rosie Walsh

‘Not often does a story remind us of what beautifully complex creatures we are. Julie Cohen has given us that rare gift’ Christina Dalcher

‘Elegant, thoughtful and powerful’ Daisy Buchanan

‘So cleverly done and authentic’ A J Pearce

‘Beautifully written and thought-provoking’ Kate Eberlen

‘A timely read that will stay with you long after you put it down’ Libby Page

‘A cobweb of a book: beautifully intricate and delicate’ Veronica Henry

‘Engaging, moving, arresting’ Sunday Times

‘A powerful and memorable story’ Sunday Express

‘A modern tale told with heart’ Grazia

Writer On The Shelf

Julie Cohen grew up in the western mountains of Maine. Her house was just up the hill from the library and she spent many hours walking back and forth, her nose in a book. She studied English Literature at Brown University and Cambridge University and is a popular speaker and teacher of creative writing, including classes for the Guardian and Literature Wales.

Her books have been translated into fifteen languages and have sold over a million copies; DEAR THING and TOGETHER were Richard and Judy Book Club picks. Her most recent novel is the critically acclaimed LOUIS & LOUISE. Julie lives in Berkshire with her husband, son and a terrier of dubious origin.

You can find out more about Julie on her website: http://www.julie-cohen.com and definitely follow her on Twitter @julie_cohen

Rodham

‘Awfully opinionated for a girl’ is what they call Hillary as she grows up in her Chicago suburb. Smart, diligent, and a bit plain, that’s the general consensus. Then Hillary goes to college, and her star rises. At Yale Law School, she continues to be a leader— and catches the eye of driven, handsome and charismatic Bill. But when he asks her to marry him, Hillary gives him a firm ‘No’.

The rest, as they say, isn’t history. How might things have turned out for them, for America, for the world itself, if Hillary Rodham had really turned down Bill Clinton?

With her sharp but always compassionate eye, Sittenfeld explores the loneliness, moral ambivalence and iron determination that characterise the quest for high office, as well as the painful compromises demanded of female ambition in a world ruled by men. Uncannily astute and witty in the telling, RODHAM is a brilliant re-imagining – an unmissable literary landmark and truly a novel of our times.

Rodham, Curtis Sittenfeld, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton

Having absolutely adored ‘American Wife’ I was dying to read Rodham and get as obsessed with Hillary’s early life and evolution as I was with the fictional representations of the Bush marriage and I am absolutely delighted to report that Rodham is even better than her previous offerings and I was totally blow away by this read. I love books that look at ‘alternate realities’ and this was one of the ultimate ‘what ifs’ for any contemporary feminist – Hillary Clinton if she hadn’t become First Lady is a fascinating concept and this conceit allows Sittenfeld to look at this Rodham-shaped universe in living colour – bringing Hillary to life on the page warts and all and taking us with her on a journey into this intriguing parallel universe

Rodham, Curtis Sittenfeld, Kate Atkinson,

It doesn’t really matter if you love or hate Hillary in real life. This is no hagiography but instead asks us to consider big questions about female ambition and what exactly is worth giving up for any man in the universe. It covers huge questions such as when ‘enough is enough’ for any woman who wants to consider herself strong, independent or a feminist in a world where the playing field is definitely not as level as it would like to think it is. ‘Having it all’ is still very much an unattainable dream for most women and it is interesting to examine exactly how little has changed in terms of how judged women are for the choices they make across the last thirty years – sometimes dispiritingly little, it seems upon reflection…

The New Yorker, Curtis Sittenfeld, Rodham

This book is determined to show us a Hillary in all her forms, not just as a strong, empowered and ambitious role model but sometimes as petty, emotional and relentlessly driven to the point of unpleasantness. I think we are all familiar with the idea that it’s hard to be a woman in a man’s world and Rodham does not just tell us, it shows us this repeatedly across the novel. It is sometimes quite difficult to read as we see her repeatedly getting thwarted because of her gender and it increased my admiration for her character as she picked herself up, dusted herself down and gritted her teeth in order to walk forward stronger for the second time, even after her many defeats.

Rodham, Curtis Sittenfeld, Wall Street Journal

What I loved about this book was, just like American Wife, that it took real historical events and allows us to ‘peek’ behind the headlines and witness them from the insider perspective. Seeing their formative years as a young couple was made even more fascinating due to the fact that in this book, Hillary’s head overrules her heart and she chooses ambition over romance. Many real White House players step onto the stage as cameos in this book and it allows you to suspend disbelief and imagine yourself being there and eavesdropping on all these conversations for yourself. As a huge fan of the West Wing, I love these insights and the twist of this being ‘altered reality’ definitely added an extra level of fascination for me as I went along with the conceit and allowed myself to imagine exactly what this America might have looked like.

Rodham, Curtis Sittenfeld

Although this is a fiction representation of Hillary’s character, it certainly read like truth. I loved its immersive quality and spent an afternoon by the river in a lounge chair, totally lost in its altered world. As a feminist, it was fascinating and sobering to see exactly how difficult it is to be a female with political ambitions and even though I have never been a huge fan of Hillary’s it would be difficult for anyone to finish this book without a huge amount of respect for any woman who enters this gladiatorial arena and is able to come out with their head held high. Even though President Clinton, in her pants suit, never did make it to the White House in her own right, I loved reading about her journey and think I will definitely follow up this fictional insight into Hillary’s life with an actual biography, to find out even more about this fascinating and divisive woman who cannot be said to lack ambition, even if – like Macbeth – at times it has been her undoing…

Thank you to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and I heartily recommend that you buy yourself a copy as soon as possible so that you can enjoy this wonderfully written and thought provoking read for yourself.

Rodham, Curtis Sittenfeld, Hillary Clinton

‘A lot of fun. A wonderful sad dream of what might have happened’ GUARDIAN

‘Startlingly good. One of my favourite writers.’ KATE ATKINSON

Writer On The Shelf

In addition to Rodham, Curtis Sittenfeld is the author of the Sunday Times bestseller American Wife, in which she painted a picture of an ordinary American girl – a thinly-disguised Laura Bush – who found herself married to a President. It was longlisted for the Orange Prize, as was her debut novel Prep.

Her other books are Man of My Dreams, Sisterland (a Richard & Judy Book Club pick), Eligible, and the acclaimed short story collection You Think It, I’ll Say It.

Her books are translated into 30 languages.

She lives with her family in the American Mid-West.

Fleishman Is In Trouble

Finally free from his nightmare of a marriage, Toby Fleishman is ready for a life of online dating and weekend-only parental duties. But as he optimistically looks to a future that is wildly different from the one he imagined, his life turns upside-down as his ex-wife, Rachel, suddenly disappears.

While Toby tries to find out what happened – juggling work, kids and his new, app-assisted sexual popularity – his tidy narrative of a spurned husband is his sole consolation. But if he ever wants to really understand where Rachel went and what really happened to his marriage, he is going to have to consider that he might not have seen it all that clearly in the first place.

You literally have to have been living underneath a stone if you haven’t heard the buzz surrounding Fleishman is in Trouble  from debut author,Taffy Brodesser-Akner – I mean honestly, this book has been shortlisted for nearly every book award you can imagine. That’s why I was so delighted to be invited onto the blogtour to see if this word-of-mouth sensation was every bit as captivating as the online chat suggested. As you will discover, I was definitely not disappointed and It certainly have me a lot to think about during my lockdown afternoon walks as I thought over some of the situations we are presented with in the novel – it was almost as if these were real people whose lives I’d got caught up in and they have certainly lived on with me after I finished the book …

Three Women, Anna Hope, Dolly Alderton, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sally Rooney, Booker, literary fiction

The Fleischman in question is Toby Fleishman, who is in his forties, divorced and going through somewhat of a ‘Tinderella’ moment on social media dating apps when we meet him. His new found dating nirvana draws to a shuddering stop when his ex wife drops his children off at his flat and promptly vanishes into thin air with no warning whatsoever – leaving him metaphorically ‘holding the baby’ with his offspring whilst being presented with the reality of his married life, rather than the altered and edited version which he allowed himself to remember.

This novel was quite a different one for me as I am much more used to considering middle age and the breakdown of a marriage in novels from the wife’s perspective, so this was an interesting departure for me and an opportunity to think about gender roles, sexuality and ageing from a wholly different point of view. That’s not to say that I often sympathised much with Toby – but it was a read that really made me think about his voice and that’s one of the things I love about blogging, that you encounter people and situations through your reading that challenge your own world-view and make you think about your stances on matters and come to a clearer understanding of why you think like you do.

Three Women, Anna Hope, Dolly Alderton, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sally Rooney, Booker, literary fiction

I loved the fact that this is Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s debut novel and it makes me very excited for what she goes on to write next. It was a brave decision to create a character in Toby Fleischman who is so radically different to this young female writer and I think that this is one of the things which impressed me the most – that she could ‘walk in his shoes’ so successfully. Taffy Brodesser-Akner allows Toby to get past his obsession with his newest online fling and stat to think about what he really had in his marriage to Rachel and where things started to unravel in their fairly unorthodox relationship Toby begins to think about the things that money can’t buy, instead of expensive homes and all the trappings of their successful lifestyle that had really begun to lose all real meaning for him.

Embarking on all of these Tinder experiences is an opportunity to free himself up and just be in a relationship that’s not bogged down with domestic minutiae, responsibilities and feelings of emasculation or warped gender roles. Toby initially seems to feel that in being free to date all of these available girls, he can feel like he’s free to be a man. It’s interesting to see that what he begins to long for however, rater than an endless conveyor belt of unfettered ‘hook-ups’ is actually a relationship that will make him feel valued and ‘seen’ – across the whole novel, my feelings towards Toby ebbed and flowed, from sympathising with some of his feelings and reflections, to finding him entitled and selfish at other times and I think that this is what made the novel very real for me. In real life we meet people who we can be draw towards as well as irritating us at ties and I think this novel managed to render this in a very convincing way.

Three Women, Anna Hope, Dolly Alderton, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sally Rooney, Booker, literary fiction

Elizabeth the narrator, is a friend of Toby’s and provides an interesting counterbalance to his experiences. Elizabeth feels that her life is just as difficult as anything that Toby is having to deal with – if not even more challenging, coping with being a journalist for a men’s magazine and feeling like she had to work twice as hard as any of her male compadres. Her marriage is almost a mirror image of Toby’s, but their common experience is that they feel buried in their marriage and that they have lost aspects of themselves in their relationship. Again, it was interesting to see this situation from both sides of the gender debate and think about the different elements that cause them grief within their very different situations.

Three Women, Anna Hope, Dolly Alderton, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sally Rooney, Booker, literary fiction

Taffy Brodesser-Akner is an original and thought provoking writer that definitely did not disappoint me and I think that this book really has a lot of insight into present day relationships and the gender debate – as well as giving us much to smile about in its rendering of contemporary parenting and online dating too; it’s far from a po-faced read and will have many readers nodding their heads or grimacing in recognition at both the neck of today’s smart arse teenagers and the dreadful shallowness of the 21st century dating world.

After finishing it, I really appreciated why it has generated so much discussion online and been nominated for so many awards, I definitely think that it will be a fabulous read for my next real life book group meeting as it will definitely divide sympathies and give us so much to talk about in terms of modern life in all its weird and wonderful permutations. I’d like to thank Anne Cater for inviting me onto the tour and urge you to buy a copy for yourself as soon as possible so that you can join in with the debate and see what you think of Toby’s life choices for yourself.

Fleishman is in Trouble cover

Writer On The Shelf

Taffy Brodesser-Akner is a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine . She has also written for GQ, ESPN the Magazine , and many other publications.

FLEISHMAN IS IN TROUBLE is her first novel.

Twitter: @taffyakner

Website: taffyakner.com

The Girl from Widow Hills

The aftermath of the media frenzy that surrounded Arden’s traumatic experience, 
and the book that her mother wrote about the incident, brought her celebrity and made her public property in the eyes of many.  Although her mother seemed to enjoy the fame, and the money that came with it,  Arden could not wait to escape all the attention and live an ordinary life.

When Arden Maynor was six years old, she was swept away in a terrifying storm 
and went missing for days. Against all odds, she was found alive, clinging to a storm drain. 
Fame followed, and so did fans, creeps and stalkers.  As soon as she was old enough, Arden changed her name and left Widow Hills behind.

Twenty years later, Olivia, as she is now known, is plagued by night terrors. She often finds herself out of bed in the middle of the night, sometimes streets away from her home. Then one evening she jolts awake in her yard, with the corpse of a man at her feet.

The girl from Widow Hills is about to become the centre of the story, once again…

The Girl from Widow Hills

As a real fan of a unique and intriguing mystery,  I was definitely seduced by the premise of this book featuring the disappearance of Arden and its aftermath – when it arrived and I saw the gorgeous cover design, that really sealed the deal for me and it quickly zoomed to the top of my TBR pile. I was delighted to be invited on the tour and couldn’t wait to see if it was as gripping as I was anticipating it to be…

This book definitely did not disappoint, it grabbed me and pulled me right into the story. I was really intrigued by the premise of the book: that we will puzzle our way through the many clues and trails about what actually happened to Arden and this really added to the story for me. The many secrets  that begin to emerge once we begin to see the past start to bleed into the present really kept me turning the pages as the novel unfolds. The fact that this felt like one of the true crime disappearances that I adore really added to my enjoyment and I got really caught up in Arden’s mysterious vanishing and what that might mean now that she’s grown up and trying to carve out a new life for herself as Olivia.

Olivia Meyer is an administrator in North Carolina and on the surface appears to be just another young woman starting to make her way in the world – however, two decades ago ‘Olivia’ was Arden Maynor – survivor of a three day dramatic search and rescue effort in Widow Hills after having been swept into the drainage system during a flood when she was sleepwalking. Arden’s amazing rescue brought her publicity and hordes of adoring fans, but it’s pretty difficult to live your life in the public eye so…

The Girl from Widow Hills

Ten years on, Arden has transformed herself into Olivia and all seems to be going well until the advent of the twenty year anniversary of her disappearance means that her nocturnal sleepwalking is back. Sleepwalking was the factor that underpinned her childhood disappearance, so this does not bode well. Things begin to truly unravel when Arden discovers a body right beside her house and all the past starts to rush back, even though she thought that she’d managed to detach herself from it once and for all. When the body is discovered to be someone from Olivia’s past she becomes caught up in their murder investigation and her past and future collide in a way that she’ has been trying to evade her whole life. She is now left with no choice but to confront the past and face up to what really did happen during those three ‘lost’ days back in Widow Hills..

I absolutely loved the way that we get Arden’s past and Olivia’s present day mingling together and this really worked as a dual timeline mystery– I really enjoyed trying to navigate my way through the tiny clues that are scattered throughout the story. It was intriguing to see which trail of breadcrumbs would prove to be the right one and Megan Miranda kept me changing my mind from one moment to the next .I enjoyed the way that the snippets of the past were presented in snapshots of phone-calls, writing and transcripts from the past and is added an additional element of trying to ‘solve’ the mystery through these snippets that I really enjoyed.

The Girl from Widow Hills

Even though there have been lots of novels this year where girls go missing, Megan Miranda ensures that the characters we meet in this story allow the plot to unfold in an original way which makes the story linger at the edges of our mind even when we aren’t reading it. The sleepwalking element blends the dream and reality together and reminds us of the way that we can sometimes mingle elements of our dreams and reality and this puts a darkly disturbing spin on that feeling.

Megan Miranda is an intriguing new writer for me – it’s hard to talk about this novel without spoilers, so I’ll just need to tell you that you must read it for yourself. You will be intrigued by the way that we gradually begin to uncover what exactly happened back then in Widow Hills and want to read on and find out exactly how Arden’s past and Olivia’s future are inextricably intertwined – as it’s far from an open and shut case. Things start to appear through the murk and you’ll not be able to believe you never noticed them before – in a satisfyingly well-constructed way. I cannot wait to go back and read Megan Miranda’s other novels and this will be a real treat for me this summer

The Girl from Widow Hills

Anyone who loves trying to work out a mystery and love novels that keep you guessing will love this novel. I had really high hopes for The Girl from Widow Hills and I’m delighted to say that I was definitely not disappointed. It was definitely a book that  I’ll be recommending to lots of people across the rest of the summer. I think that this would make an excellent Book Group read as it would be sure to provoke lots and lots of discussion and ensure that your readers are kept on their toes.

Buy yourself a copy of the book here

Sometimes you come across a thriller which stands out. This is one. This intelligent pacy read is a different take on the “missing girl scenario” with characters who aren’t always what they seem. You might not get a good night’s sleep again – especially if you’re prone to go walkabout in the night., Jane Corry, author of My Husband’s Wife

With Hitchcockian flair, Megan Miranda shrewdly examines what becomes of the people at the center of those rare, sensational news stories that capture the nation’s attention. The Girl from Widow Hills gave me the creeps in the best way possible., Chandler Baker, author of Whisper Network

hauntingly atmospheric and gorgeously written page-turner, The Girl from Widow Hills is a deeply thought-provoking, riveting mystery about the complex weight of history and the dangerous power of the lies we tell ourselves., Kimberly McCreight, author of Reconstructing Amelia

Writer On The Shelf

Megan Miranda is the author of All The Missing GirlsThe Perfect Stranger, and The Last
House Guest, which was the August 2019 Reese’s Book Club x Hello Sunshine pick. 

Follow her on  TwitterInstagram and Facebook.


She grew up in New Jersey, graduated from MIT, and lives in North Carolina with her husband and two children.