Three Stripes South Blog Tour

In 2016, desperate for a drastic change, Bex Band decided to walk the length of Israel with her husband: a 1000km trek including a dangerous crossing through the vast Negev desert. She’d never done anything like it before and the experience changed her life, building back her confidence and self-esteem.

Three Stripes South tells the story of this transformative adventure – battling heat, exhaustion, self-doubt and prejudice – and the new life Bex built for herself when she got home, founding the Love Her Wild women’s adventure community.

‘Lacking confidence is something that a lot of women can relate to’ says Bex. ‘For me personally, it began at school with undiagnosed dyslexia and bullying. This fed into my adult years where I found myself in a vicious cycle of unhappy jobs and bouts of depression. I had low self-esteem and a belief that I really wasn’t capable of achieving much in life.’

Fast forward to today and Bex has transformed her life, tackling gender inequality in adventure travel, and championing women in the outdoors through regular talks, blogging and leading women on adventures all over the world. Nominated for multiple awards for her work advocating women in adventure, her story is an inspiration.


Three Stripes South is written by Bex Band and tells the story of a 1000km trek that has inspired thousands of women to ‘Find Their Wild’ and push themselves out of their comfort zone…

Right up until the point where she embarks upon her unforgettable journey, Bex is living a rather ordinary life that does not indicate at all her propensity for adventure and achievement. Her desire for ‘something more’ propels her towards this unforgettable adventure and this book allows you to experience it vicariously alongside her.

brown concrete building near body of water during daytime

Bex hits upon the idea to hike a 1000km trail through Israel, right through the indomitable Negev desert and see just how much her courage, tenacity and spirit of adventure will be tested on this unforgettable journey.

Although he has never had this yearning, when she suggests it to her husband Gil he is definitely up for the challenge and they decide that they will both take a career break and head off together on this epic adventure of a lifetime.

Bex Band takes uswith her as they navigate the ups and downs – both literally and metaphrically of the 52-day hike of the Israel National Trail, all the way to Eilat on the Gulf of Aqaba.

bird's eye photography of road on dessert

The 52 days is full of unique challenges and experiences – which spring to life right off the page in Three Stripes South. The time and space to really think about her life and what she wanted on the trip ultimately led to her creating the UK’s largest female adventure community, Love her Wild, which was an unexpected result of this opportunity to find her own voice and ambitions whilst pushing herself in a wholly unexpected way

My own travels in Mongolia and China a few years ago gave me a similar space and freedom to experience the natural world in a wholly different way and I found much to connect with across these vividly written pages. Who knows, you might even be tempted to set off on your own mini adventure after being inspired by Bex and her journey into the unknown…

brown suv on dirt road during daytime

If you enjoy a great non fiction read and fancy reading something that is really different and will allow you to reflect like Bex on where your life is going and where you’d like to be in 5 years, you’ll find this book really inspiring and should order yourself a copy without delay.

Three Stripes South is published by Bradt and you can buy a copy here

Happy Reading and I very much hope that more of you are inspired by Bex to Find your own Wild!

brown rock formation during sunset

Writer On The Shelf

Bex Band

Bex Band is a full-time adventurer and conservationist. She founded the UK’s largest women’s adventure community, Love Her Wild. Her previous adventures include thru hiking the 1000km Israel National Trail, kick-scooting the length of the USA and kayaking the width of the UK against plastic pollution.

Bex has been recognised by Business Leader as UK’s top 30 inspirational entrepreneurs and was award the Next Generation Award by Enterprise Nation. For her work advocating women in adventure she has been shortlisted for a National Diversity Award and in 2018 was given ‘Legacy Maker’ status on the San Miguel ‘Alternative Rich List’.

You can follow Bex on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter (@Bex_Band) or via her blog, which has had over a 1.3million readers:


I Shot The Devil Blog Tour

Erin Sloane was sixteen when high school senior Andre Villiers was murdered by his friends. They were her friends, too, led by the intense, charismatic Ricky Hell. Five people went into West Cypress Woods the night Andre was murdered. Only three came out.

Ativan, alcohol and distance had dimmed Erin’s memories of that time. But nearly twenty years later, an ageing father will bring her home. Now a journalist, she is asked to write a story about the Southport Three and the thrill-kill murder that electrified the country. Erin’s investigation propels her closer and closer to a terrifying truth. And closer and closer to danger.

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As soon as I received this book, I knew that it was going to be hard to keep to my reading schedule and be disciplined as I knew that it was going to be something really special before I even opened it. It’s right up my street and I could not wait to embark upon this dark, intelligent and twisty debut…

I absolutely love books that take all the elements of the true crime genre that I love and mould them together into a reading experience that feels real all the way through. I’m led to believe that Ruth McIver based this on a real US murder case she encountered when she was younger and I was absolutely intrigued to see what happened as the aftermath of the events all those years ago in Southport, Long Island– so when Anne Cater asked me if I’d like to take part in the blog tour for Random Things Tours, I absolutely bit her hand off and I’m so glad that I did as I absolutely loved it!

Although I was totally absorbed in the story in I Shot the Devil, it is undoubtedly the twists and turns that are rendered so perfectly in Ruth McIver’s writing that makes it such a treat to read.  The story of the fateful night is as shadowy as the events themselves and the darkness in the woods is mirrored by the web of silence and misdirection that has been drawn over this case until Erin’s arrival.

Erin’s journey to unravel the truth about what happened all those years ago was depicted vividly – with the diverse ‘versions of the truth’ all unfolding around us as we join her in her efforts to try and work out who might be telling the truth, and who might have reasons to cover up the true events of that night and lead us down a path of misdirection in order to distance themselves from the events of that night and the truth behind what really went on.

Ruth McIver keeps you on the edge of your seat as you start to piece together the events of what might have gone on that fateful night when two young men went into the woods and never returned. Every voice tells you a different story, and you join with Erin in trying to make sense of what happened and finally uncover the truth. Once I’d started I found it incredibly difficult to put this book down and enjoyed the feeling of being a sleuth and trying to work out the facts for myself, among all the versions of that night we are presented with…

Erin’s personal involvement with events adds another dimension to the plot as that night cost her the love of her life. Ricky being denounced as a Satanist and a murderer is something that drives her to uncover the truth about that night’s events and see if there has been a different version of evenys than the one that has gone down in local folklore. The more Erin tries to unravel the events of the past, the closer she gets to her own family and the threats to her life become ever increasing. This pageturning read turns into a race against time as Erin herself becomes dangerously close to losing her life in the battle to uncover the truth

thriller, crime, adrian mkinty, gillian flynn, paula hawkins

You will definitely find it hard to put this book down as you’ll be so wrapped up in this dark tale of murder, lies and dark secrets that you’ll need to keep reading and find out how it all ends. Erin is not a character to give up easily, no matter the circumstances, so it’s safe to say that there were parts of this novel that I read with a thudding heart and sweaty palms as I was not sure how it was all going to end. Needless to say, I was not disappointed and I’m really jealous of anyone who’s yet to start reading I Shot The Devil as they are definitely in for an absolute thrill of a ride.

I  recommend this pageturning debut to people who really like to get their teeth into a story  that will grip them and reads like true crime in a fictional body.   I loved the fact that it really kept me guessing as much as I enjoyed the plot and I will definitely be recommending it to friends of mine who enjoy a page-turning read with a dark heart. If you haven’t added this to your autumn TBR, then be sure to grab yourself a copy. You will definitely not regret it

You need to buy this book, I’ve heard a lot of my book loving pals saying they are in a bit of a reading slump at the moment. I think that this could be ther perfect book to jolt you out of it! Thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me – she definitely knows my reading tastes. All I can do now is count down to Ruth McIver’s next book as I can’t wait to see what dark path she leads us down next!

‘An incredible thriller that kept me up reading. This is the book people will be talking about in 2021. Intense. Wickedly smart. A stunning debut from a gifted author.’ ADRIAN McKINTY, bestselling author of The Chain

‘One of the freshest debuts to come along in a long time. A tense, irresistible thriller shot through with moments of unnerving darkness. A clever, compelling read.’ DERVLA MCTIERNAN, #1 bestselling author of The Ruin, The Scholar and The Good Turn

A powder-keg with a slow burning fuse . . . perfectly balanced and terrifically twisting, I Shot the Devil is for fans of Alex Marwood, Paula Hawkins and Gillian Flynn‘ BOOKS+PUBLISHING

Writer On The Shelf

Tinder Press picks up McIver crime debut | The Bookseller

Ruth McIver is a Dublin-born, Western Australian and New York City raised writer currently based in Melbourne, Australia. She is represented by the Story Factory. In 2019 Ruth completed her PhD in the field of true-crime inspired fiction with Curtin University. Her unpublished manuscript, Nothing Gold, was runner-up in the inaugural Banjo Prize (2018) and was one of seven manuscripts selected to be pitched at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival (2014). I Shot the Devil is her debut novel and won the 2018 Richell Prize for Emerging Writers.

The House Beneath the Cliffs Blog Tour

A remote yet beautiful village. A tiny kitchen lunch club. The perfect place to start again.

Anna moves to Crovie, a tiny fishing village on the Moray Firth, for a fresh start. But when she arrives, she realises her new home is really no more than a shed, and the village itself sits beneath a cliff right on the edge of the sea, in constant danger of storms and landslides. Has she made a terrible mistake?

Yet as she begins to learn about the Scottish coast and its people, something she thought she’d lost reawakens in her. She rediscovers her love of cooking, and turns her kitchen into a pop-up lunch club. But not all the locals are delighted about her arrival, and some are keen to see her plans fail.

THE 10 BEST Crovie Cottages, Holiday Cottages (with prices) - Book Self  Catering in Crovie, Scotland | Tripadvisor

Will Anna really be able to put down roots in this remote and wild village? Or will her fragile new beginning start to crumble with the cliffs . . . ?

Beautiful, moving and utterly absorbing, The House Beneath the Cliffs is a novel of friendship and food, storms and secrets, and the beauty of second chances

‘A gorgeously remote and romantic great escape, brimming with foodie passion, friendship and heart’ Laura Kemp, author of A Year of Surprising Acts of Kindness

Crovie Village

The House Beneath the Cliffs opens with the upheaval as Anna heads to the reote village of Crovie to take refuge from the turbulence of her private life. But just as her previous life has eroded, so too is the house which she’s moved to starting to crumble away and is at risk of being damaged still further by its exposure to the srorms and winds of the north east coast  But as Anna discovers sometimes the past refuses to be neatly laid to rest. Anna starts to rediscover the things that made her heart lift and opens a fantastic lunch club with her amazing cooking skills .  Her club leaves a nasty taste in some of the locals’ mouth and the next steps are never easy as she tries to survive and rive, despite the obstacles that appear in her path. This story of transformation amd positivity despite everything was very more-ish and several nights kept me up much later than I’d intended with a real sense of ‘just one more chapter…’

The drive for Anna to succeed with the skilful characterisation combined to draw me into a story where I was really rooting for her and the stunningly evocative setting – where you could swear that you can hear the sea beating off the Crovie seacliffs all combined to keep me turning the pages. I really liked the way that it whetted my appetite as everythubg that was on the menu at the cafe sounded right up my street and made me wish that I could roll up to Crovie myself and enjoy the delicious array of treats on offer.

If you like a story that will remind you of why community and postivity are so important  you’ll love this book and I know that my mum’s definitely going to be pinching it from me for her holidays. I’d like to thank Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the Blog Tour, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s a fwonderful read that will be hard to tear yourself way from once you get started.

Buy yourself a copy here and discover Anna’s lunch club, Robbie, Crovie & Fisherman’s Luck for yourself

Human remains found at Crovie fire cottage - BBC News

Writer On The Shelf

Sharon Gosling lives with her husband in a very remote village in northern Cumbia, where they moved to run a second-hand bookshop, Withnail Books in Penrith. She began her career in entertainment journalism, writing for magazines in the science fiction and fantasy genre, before moving on to write tie-in books for TV shows such as Stargate and the ‘re-imagined’ Battlestar Galactica. She has also written, produced and directed audio dramas based in the same genre. When she’s not writing, she creates beautiful linocut artwork and is the author of multiple children’s books. The House Beneath the Cliffs is her first adult novel.

Twitter @sharongosling

The Beloved Girls – blog tour

The outstanding new novel from the Sunday Times Top Ten bestselling author of The Garden of Lost and Found.

Catherine, a successful barrister, vanishes from a train station on the eve of her anniversary. Is it because she saw a figure – someone she believed long dead? Or was it a shadow cast by her troubled, fractured mind? The answer lies buried in the past. It lies in the events of the hot, seismic summer of 1989, at Vanes – a mysterious West Country manor house – where a young girl, Jane Lestrange, arrives to stay with the gilded, grand Hunter family, and where a devastating tragedy will unfold. Over the summer, as an ancient family ritual looms closer, Janey falls for each member of the family in turn. She and Kitty, the eldest daughter of the house, will forge a bond that decades later, is still shaping the present . . .

A gorgeous epic . . . Wholly absorbing. I adored it’ MARIAN KEYES

‘This sweeping, absorbing story is a treat’ ADELE PARKS

‘A compelling story of female friendship, dark secrets and family bonds that pulls you in and won’t let go’ ROSANNA LEY

‘If you love atmospheric stories about old houses, families and secrets, this is for you’ GOOD HOUSEKEEPING

‘A gorgeous story to get immersed in’ Prima

A mysterious house, a disappearance and a compelling mystery – these are some of the many reasons that I was so drawn to The Beloved Girls and why I’m so grateful to Anne Cater from #RandomThings Tours for inviting me to participate in this blog tour.

I love immersing myself in a fabulous historical read and the setting here was one of the most memorable aspects of The Beloved Girls as I really felt like I could imagine myself there at Vanes with Janey and explore its hidden pathways and mysteries for myself.

Is anyone else like me and love to go online and look for settings of the book that they’re loving, to try and see its world come to life? I love doing it and I found myself scrolling through pages and pages of gorgeous houses, trying to walk in both Janey and Kitty’s shoes.

BOOKS FOR WOMEN, SUMMER READS, WOMEN’S FICTION, women’s fiction, romantic fiction

It was lovely to lose myself in a fantastic historical read after eight weeks of the Summer holidays where I’ve been mostly reading contemporary writing and non-fiction.  It’s funny that I get drawn to books in waves, and after reading The Beloved Girls  I’m now on a real Historical Fiction mission and am set on re-reading lots of novels set in big houses with stunning gardens and family secrets as well.

Book club brand authors, historical fiction paperbacks, must read books, must-reads, books for women

The closed and mysterious world of Vanes was so intriguing and really allowed me to travel back in time through its pages.  I really loved the way that Harriet Evans draws the reader in and keeps them guessing about the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Catherine and the secrets of the past that we begin to uncover and this made me turn the pages rapidly as I sought to uncover the mysteries of the past for myself. I found myself wondering about whaand what Catherine really saw and her story felt so real to me that I could almost imagine the people in it coming to life…

Book club brand authors, historical fiction paperbacks, must read books, must-reads, books for women

I loved the juxtaposition of Janey’s relationship with the glamorous Hunter family through the years, especially her obsession with Kitty  The deftly portrayed relationship between them lures you in and you are soon caught up in a mermerising tale where everything is not as it seems on the surface and ancient rituals and ceremonies chime unnervingly with the fates that are to unfold in the not too distant future. If you love an epic read, with credible and compelling characters then you’ll really love The Beloved Girls – I was a huge fan growing up of my mum’s Rosamund Pilcher novels and this novel reminded me so much of her immersive tales of history, intrigue and family secrets.

I absolutely loved this book enjoyed the fact that I was on holiday and could really dedicate some serious hours of reading to this unforgettable tale I enjoyed the feeling of being immersed in this world where hidden secrets and unspoken thoughts tug away at your subconscious.  I got so lost in this story that I stayed up far too late to finish it as I could not go to sleep without finishing it and immediately wanted my sister to read it too so we could have a long catch-up Marian Keyes loved it too – so what higher recommendation should you wish for ? Harriet Evans is probably one of my favourite writers of historical fiction and I can’t wait to see what she does next as in my eyes she can do no wrong.

Jane Austen, Kate Atkinson, Jojo Moyes, Where the crawdads sing, grown ups marian keyes

Two, two, the beloved girls,

Clothed all in green, O,

One is one and all alone, and evermore shall be so

Buy yourself a copy here

Dear Grace Blog Tour

The most unlikely friendship. The most unexpected consequences.

When Anna’s husband cheats on her, she’s sure she’ll never be happy again. But then she meets 94-year-old Grace. Despite an age gap of more than fifty years, the pair set out together on a life-changing journey halfway across the country in search of some answers.

Sometimes the only way to move on is to revisit the past. But will Anna and Grace be prepared for what they find?

A story about love, female friendship, heartbreak and learning to forgive.

man in red shirt wearing eyeglasses

Dear Grace was an absolutely heartwarming read. It’s a warm and uplifting story that will genuinely draw you into its world and make you feel part of Anna and Grace’s world as they embark upon an unforgettable friendship journey that neither of them could ever have predicted.

Grace was a fantastic character that you can totally believe in. When she loses ‘her Roy’ after so many happy years together since she was jilted at the altar, her grief is an easy sentiment to connect with – I’m sure lots of readers will connect with her heartbreak and sense of being lost and a stranger in her own life. Grace sees few things to look forward to in life and thinks of all of her best years as being behind her at the start of this tale

woman wiping her eyes

Grace’s blossoming friendship with her carer Anna is one of the best things about Dear Grace. You really feel their relationship bloom – drawn together by a sense of loss and both feeling that they might be alone for the duration, they find common ground and a sense of purpose in this developing friendship. Their age barrier makes no difference and despite the 50 years or so between them, they are soon thick as thieves. Once handsome Tom is thrown into the mix – who’s the grandson of Grace’s brother Ernest – things start to change in ways that neither of them might ever have expected

Claire Swatman has written this book from the heart, and it’s a great feelgood read to end the summer on. It reminds us all that friendship doesn’t come with age defining labels on it and the people that matter to us can appear at all stages of our lives. Readers will find much to connect with in the portrayal of Grace and Anna’s trials and tribulations in the name of love and you’d have to have a heart of stone not to be moved at several points in this story.

Seeing their friendship deepen with daytrips and shared confidences was an absolute joy and I’ll be gifting this to both my mum and sister as I know that it’s the kind of book they both absolutely love reading. We could all make a wee bit of room in our lives for Anna and Grace and this is a friendship novel that I think will strike a chord with women across the country as they think about their friends who’ve stood by them through thick and thin- and how it’s never too late for second chances at happiness, whether that’s through romance or through choosing to live your life again after feeling it was over…

two green, white, and red striped deckchairs near body of water

Dear Grace is a wonderful read, the friendship between these two women is a joy to read, despite them being from different generations you’ll be totally rooting for them to find their happiness again and see that life is for living. I loved hearing about Grace’s memories and found myself wishing I could go on a wee daytrip with her myself

man and woman sitting in front of beach

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Anne Cater for inviting me to participate in the Blog Tour – I’m totally certain that it’s going to be an amazing success. Buy your own copy here from Hive and find out why this friendship is so very special for yourself.

Dear Grace, Paperback / softback Book

Writer On The Shelf

Clare Swatman is an author and journalist. She has had two previous novels published, with her debut, Before You Go, selling in 22 territories around the world. She has also spent 20 years writing for women’s magazines in the UK.

Her latest novel, Dear Grace, is inspired by her love of Lowestoft, the town where she spent many happy holidays with her late grandparents.

Clare lives in Hertfordshire in the UK with her husband and two boys. Even the cat is male, which means she’s destined to be outnumbered forever.

Facebook  Clare Swatman Author

Instagram @clareswatmanauthor,

Twitter  @clareswatman

The Perfect Life Blog Tour


Vanessa has always found it easy to pretend to be somebody different, somebody better. When things get tough in her real life, all she has to do is throw on some nicer clothes, adopt a new accent and she can escape.

That’s how it started: looking round houses she couldn’t possibly afford. Harmless fun really. Until it wasn’t.

Because a man who lived in one of those houses is dead.

And everyone thinks Vanessa killed him..

Secrets and Lies always make for an intoxicating read – and I absolutely loved this immersive and enjoyable journey into Vanessa’s dream life as it transforms into her worst nightmare  As soon as I started reading The Perfect Lie, it made me want tocast aside all of the other books on my TBR and dive in and let me tell you, Nuala Ellwood did not disappoint

If you read my blog, you’ll know that I love a novel that asks us to think about our own lives and put ourselves in the place of the characters that we are reading about. When this is well done, it’s my favourite kind of book – but it can be notoriously difficult to pull off effectively. Often, I’ve been left disappointed by an uneven narrative or I’d feel unconvinced and put the book to one side.

low-angle photography of brown mansion under a cloudy sky during daytime

The Perfect Lie is fortunately not one of those books: the story of Vanessa is totally engrossing and I could absolutely imagine myself in her shoes as I can imagine few things more fascinating than viewing houses that I’m never going to live in. I got totally caught up in the way the story unfolds after she sees a listing for the home of children’s author, Geoffrey Rivers, whose books were important to her childhood, and feels compelled to view it. I thoroughly enjoyed the way that I had to stay on my toes to keep up with the twists and turns of this original and clever read. The gorgeous cover with its intriguing tagline ‘she’d kill to get it’ ensured that I devoured this novel in one greedy gulp and I lost myself in it during my first weekend of the summer break.

I think that part of its success is that it never really gives too much away so you find yourself obsessing about what kind of tiny ‘tells’ might be hidden in the text that might give the next part away – you’ll have great fun doing so as the story rattles along at a cracking pace as you try to second-guess the tapestry of truth, lies and evasions. I like the fact that we are constantly made to think about the ways that the decisions and choices we make – even the ones we make out of necessity – can often come back to haunt us in ways that we might not expect – and Vanessa certainly finds this out to her peril…

If you love novels that throw you in at the deep end and ask you to try and work out the truth then you will definitely find much to love here. You don’t have to be a true crime addict like me to fall in love with this engrossing psychological thriller. I thoroughly recommend The Perfect Lie to anyone looking for a book that will keep you up way too late and give you a few sleepless nights all of your own. I loved the way that it kept me on my toes and that’s what made me recommend it to our book group as I know that lots of our members love a book like this

This is a summer read to be enjoyed in one gulp, if you get the opportunity – set aside a rainy Sunday, clear your diary and give yourself a real treat.

So many of my favourite bloggers are on this tour -so make sure you check out their reviews too

Thanks to Penguin’s Ellie Hudson for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and for my copy of the book.

The Perfect Lie is available now. Click here to order yourself a copy here

‘A gripping, poignant novel … I read it in one sitting‘ Rosamund Lupton

‘A clever, twisty plot that takes psychological mind games to a new level. Nuala Ellwood has done it again!’ Jane Corry

‘This book will take all your expectations and upend them, making you question everything you thought you knew‘ Emma Kavanagh

Brilliantly compulsive and with one hell of a twist! I was consumed until the final heartbreaking page’ Claire Douglas

Absolutely brilliant – excitingclever, it deserves to be a bestseller‘ Priscilla Masters

Writer On The Shelf

Nuala Ellwood is the author of three best selling novels: My Sister’s Bones ,for which she was selected as one of the Observer’s New Faces of Fiction 2017, Day of the Accident and the House on the Lake. Nuala lives in York with her young son.

 Twitter @NualaWrites #ThePerfectLife @VikingBooksUK

The Vixen Blog Tour

It’s 1953, and Simon Putnam, a recent Harvard graduate newly hired by a distinguished New York publishing firm, has entered a glittering world of three-martini lunches, exclusive literary parties, and old-money aristocrats in exquisitely tailored suits, a far cry from his loving, middle-class Jewish family in Coney Island.

But Simon’s first assignment—editing The Vixen, the Patriot and the Fanatic, a lurid bodice-ripper improbably based on the recent trial and execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, a potboiler intended to shore up the firm’s failing finances—makes him question the cost of admission. Because Simon has a secret that, at the height of the Red Scare and the McCarthy hearings, he cannot reveal: his beloved mother was a childhood friend of Ethel Rosenberg’s. His parents mourn Ethel’s death.

Simon’s dilemma grows thornier when he meets The Vixen’s author, the startlingly beautiful, reckless, seductive Anya Partridge, ensconced in her opium-scented boudoir in a luxury Hudson River mental asylum. As mysteries deepen, as the confluence of sex, money, politics and power spirals out of Simon’s control, he must face what he’s lost by exchanging the loving safety of his middle-class Jewish parents’ Coney Island apartment for the witty, whiskey-soaked orbit of his charismatic boss, the legendary Warren Landry. Gradually Simon realizes that the people around him are not what they seem, that everyone is keeping secrets, that ordinary events may conceal a diabolical plot—and that these crises may steer him toward a brighter future. 

At once domestic and political, contemporary and historic, funny and heartbreaking, enlivened by surprising plot turns and passages from Anya’s hilariously bad novel, The Vixen illuminates a period of history with eerily striking similarities to the current moment. Meanwhile it asks timeless questions: How do we balance ambition and conscience? What do social mobility and cultural assimilation require us to sacrifice? How do we develop an authentic self, discover a vocation, and learn to live with the mysteries of love, family, art, life and loss?

It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs…… ” So goes the opening sentence of Sylvia Plath’s 1963 novel The Bell Jar, referring to the Jewish American couple, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage and sent to the electric chair.

If you love a historical tale that brings a fascinating period most vividly to life, you will love this book that brings the era of the Red Scare and the McCarthy hearings alive and allows you to consider moral questions about truth, certainty and integrity as you experience the highs and lows of the glittering world of 1950’s New York alongside Simon and compare the parallels with the way we report ‘the truth’ in the 21st century too.

The Vixen is without a doubt one of the most intriguing and original books I’ve read this year – and I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that I’ll be saying exactly the same in December when it comes to look back across all my reads of 2021. It plunges us into the experiences of someone seeing this world from an outsider’s perspective, coming from a solidly middle class and respectable Jewisf family, and being plunged into reporting on one of the most controversial cases of the entire decade. Being sent to edit this book changes everything and the gilded lives around him make everything he’s always known and been so certain of start to transform before his very eyes as he is assimilated into this (not particularly brave, nor honourable) new world…

Francine Proses’s original and fascinating read is told from the fictional point of view of Simpn Putnam but as Sylvia Plath has already revealed, this was indeed a real life case and I became literally obsessed with it this summer as I experienced it through this semi-fictional medium. This fantastically realised novel is based on Julius and Ethel’s true story, which makes it all the more compelling and I was glad it was my summer holidays, so I could get totally caught up in this memorable and immersive historical tale.

If you have been folowing me for a while, you’ll know that I love a compelling true life case where I find out something new about a period that I can really immerse myself in – and even though I thought I knew a fair bit about this period, there was a lot here that was new to me and that of course I went down a rabbit hole looking up whilst I was reading this tale. The fact that we hear things from the perspective of ‘outsider’ Simon, also contributed to my enjoyment hugely as I enjoyed his very different insights to the characters she observes as we are led through this view through the characers and settings that he is so unfamiliar with, and gaze in awe alongside him at Anya Partridge and her decadent life.

As readers we feel intrigued alongside Simon as we are able to observe a totally unfamiliiar world from his fresh perspective. It was fascinating to hear about this case and look at how it was handled by the media of the time and consider the fact that although everything has changed since then, actually – nothing really has. His youth and naivety allow us to see things with fresh eyes and be as dazzled as he was– and then, inevitably when the scales have fallen from his eyes somewhat and the dynamic has changed irrevocably we become as disillusioned as he was and begin to question the wheels within wheels that allowed this part of society to fuction in this way then – and think about the way that it still works now.

Simon’s position was unique and I loved seeing the characters from this original and clever perspective – living as we do in a ‘post truth’ era means that it is doubly fascinating to think about the moral dilemmas that he is faced with as the book moves towards publication and imagine yourself in his shoes and think about what you yourself might have done.

I loved the way that we are able to hear about the way that women’s lives were so set in stone and how inflexible society was, no matter what your status or wealth at this time. I got more and more fascinated by this era as the novel progressed. The social history is blended absolutely perfectly with the plotting that you’re unaware that you are learning so much abut this period as you are immersed in their stories as you turn the pages – you’ll absolutely love the ‘extracts’ from the book itself and will be delighted when they appear as you get caught up in the ‘reality’ that is at the heart of this story.

Francine Prose does an absolutely amazing job of allowing us an insight into the dangers inherent at this time in American history and through this enables us to reflectb on and consider the paralllels in our own time more deeply Through this novel we are able to imagine the small details of 1950s America – their domestic lives, their friendships, foods and favourite TV shows – much like Mad Men did. as they live through a period of great politcal upheaval and change. I was totally caught up in this story and have thought about it non stop over the last few weeks. I think it would make for an incredible film, you can imagine these characters coming to life off the pages as you read and I’d love to see what era Francine Prose depicts next…

As you can see, I absolutely loved this book It is a wonderfully realised and at times absokutely hilarious historical read that will fascinate you as you connect with the lives of its characters right up until the final page. We get so caught up in the lives of these characters that it was almost impossible to stop living alongside them until the book had finished. I have gone down the rabbit hole of exploring this era for hours after finishing the book and am looking for another read set in the same area as I feel absolutely fascinated by this period of change in modern American history and how many parallels there are for our times across its pages

Buy yourself a copy here and follow the blog tour to see what these other bloggers thought of the book. Thank you so much to Anne Cater from Random ThingsTours for the invitation and I’m delighted to be giving a glowing five stars for this incredible historical read.

Writer On The Shelf

Francine Prose is the author of twenty works of fiction. Her novel ‘A Changed Man’ won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and ‘Blue Angel’ was a finalist for the National Book Award.

Her most recent works of nonfiction include the highly acclaimed ‘Anne Frank:The Book, The Life, The Afterflife’, and the New York Times bestseller ‘Reading Like A Writer’.

The recipient of numerous grants and honors, including a Guggenheim and a Fulbright, a Director’s Fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, Prose is a former president of PEN American Center, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Her most recent book is ‘Lovers At The Chameleon Club,Paris 1932’. She lives in New York City

Twitter @ProseFrancine @RandomTTours

“No one states problems more correctly, more astutely, more amusingly and more uncomfortably than Francine Prose . . . The gift of her work to a reader is to create for us what she creates for her protagonist: the subtle unfolding, the moment-by-moment process of discovery as we read and change, from not knowing and even not wanting to know or care, to seeing what we had not seen and finding our way to the light of the ending.”—Amy Bloom, New York Times Book Review

“Depending on the light, it’s either a very funny serious story or a very serious funny story. But no matter how you turn it, The Vixen offers an illuminating reflection on the slippery nature of truth in America, then and now.”—Washington Post

Critically acclaimed, bestselling author Francine Prose returns with a dazzling new novel set in the glamorous world of 1950s New York publishing, the story of a young man tasked with editing a steamy bodice-ripper based on the recent trial and execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg—an assignment that will reveal the true cost of entering that seductive, dangerous new world.