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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Daughters of Castle Deverill by Santa Montefiore

Title: Daughters of Castle Deverill
Author: Santa Montefiore
Publisher: 1 September 2016 by Simon and Schuster (Australia)
Pages: 544 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: womens fiction
My Rating: 3 crowns


The sweeping new novel from number one bestselling author Santa Montefiore.

It is 1925 and the war is long over. But much has been lost and life will never truly be the same again.

Castle Deverill, cherished home to the Deverill family in the west of Ireland for hundreds of years, has burned to the ground. But young and flighty Celia Deverill is determined to restore the sad ruin to its former glory. Celia married well and has the wealth, after all, to keep it in the family and she cannot bear to see it stand neglected.

But dark shadows are gathering once more, as the financial markets start to shake. And everything that felt so certain is thrown once again into doubt.

A compelling story of family and history, from the author of the top ten bestseller Songs of Love and War.
My Thoughts

Drawn in by the exquisite cover and premise of  a sweeping, epic (over 500 pages) and romantic saga, I will state from the outset it was  my fault that I didn't realise that this is book two of a trilogy. Some books are easy to read as a stand alone, but unfortunately on this occasion, I found it was not easy to pick up the story that is Daughters of Castle Deverill.

That being said, it was on the whole, a well written story. After the reported actions from book one (I read up as much as I could on that), the main plot appears that everything is travelling along in 1925 with a major refurbishment for the castle (that unearths a mystery) until the financial disaster of 1929 and ensuing fallout. There are characters a plenty and outside the main families there are many other worthy secondary characters who all contribute in some way to this epic tale. Montefiore's deft penmanship transports you to Ireland and America, describing the beauty of both countries at the time. 

For it being a well written tale, I felt it was drawn out in some parts - disjointed and seeming to flit from one thing to the next.  The main characters were not inviting: Kitty was a bit lost, Bridie was bitter and Celia's storyline got interesting towards the end but was not engaging enough from the beginning.  Jack was the one character that was engaging, but sadly he was not present enough. Then, of course, being middle book of a trilogy, there is still much to be revealed and concluded in book three. 

This  book strikes me as one that would adapt well to a television drama series, but just make certain that you jump on board from the beginning. 

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release

Monday, September 26, 2016

My Husband's Wife by Amanda Prowse

Title: My Husband's Wife
Author: Amanda Prowse
Publisher: 14 July 2016 by Head of Zeus
Pages: 368 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: womens fiction, contemporary
My Rating: 3 crowns


Once a week, Rosie Tipcott counts her blessings.
She goes to sit on her favourite bench on the north Devon cliffs, and thanks her lucky stars for her wonderful husband, her mischievous young daughters, and her neat little house by the sea. She vows to dedicate every waking hour to making her family happy.
But then her husband unexpectedly leaves her for another woman and takes the children. Now she must ask the question: what is left in her life? Can Rosie find the strength to rebuild herself? More importantly, does she even want to?

My Thoughts

I was keen to try an Amanda Prowse book as she states that she wishes to write about women we feel we all know. She wishes to bring a true sense of human reality into her novels that undoubtedly will touch the reader in a number of ways. So what you have here is both a true and modern portrayal of family life - from the mundane to the tears and joys. 

'That life was the one she had always wanted; gorgeous kids, a lovely house and her man by her side.'

The exchanges between characters are true and well presented, particularly those between Rosie and her three in-laws - brother, mother and father in-law. In fact I found the most fascinating character to be Kev and wish we had of seen more of him.  I also found Rosie's father to be identifiable and interesting. 

So whilst this was an easy read, I did struggle with a few things. You know from the blurb that the husband is going to leave but that takes quite a while - almost half the book. This makes it a little frustrating, especially as the problems with the relationship are never explicit, decreasing - I believe - the emotional impact. I was not invested in their relationship. 

"I think you need to get over the idea that you can and should punish me because things didn’t work out the way you wanted them to."

There was, however, very explicit coverage of Rosie's grief and whilst I get it, I found her continual torrent of tears a little difficult to bear. At times I wanted to shake Rosie and tell her to be stronger. Did she want to fight back but just didn't know how? In many ways she was a victim of her own making.

‘And I guess the big question is this, Rosie: what are you going to do? How are you going to recapture your life?’

I also found the ending to be somewhat abrupt, the quick resolutions and neat rounding up of everything too quick. In some ways it was quite depressing in parts but as the author states she writes about women for women and there may be some out there that would 'get' this far more than I did.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release