I Found You by Lisa Jewell

foundThe setting is Ridinghouse Bay in northern England. We have multiple story lines overlapping which eventually merge. One story is about Alice Lake, single mother of three.

By her own admittance she isn’t a good mother. She sees a man sitting in the rain staring out to sea near her home and eventually walks up to him, gives him an old coat, a cup of hot tea and checks on him. The man is in a fugue state and can’t remember anything about his life, not his name or where he’s from. From other reviews I see some people didn’t like Alice and I can see some of their point of view. She’s a kind person and a loving person but she’s a bit too bohemian for motherhood. Giving this stranger a place to sleep in her guest “shed” is kindly yet you wonder is she putting her children at risk? Who is this guy? The loving exchanges with her children, feeding a troupe of her teenage son’s friends and taking in stray dogs….and people…..she is basically a very good person.

The second story line is set in 1993, over twenty years prior to the Alice Lake and the memory-lapse-guy story. The Ross family stays at Rabbit Cottage every year, located on Ridinghouse Bay. The two teenagers, Gray and Kristy, aren’t as enthused about going now that they are older. Typical teens, right? Enter a mysterious handsome 19 year-old who takes a rather creepy interest in 15 year-old Kristy. The parents don’t notice it but older brother Gray certainly does and feels very protective. This story ramps up quickly.

Last but not least we have a Ukraine bride named Lily, living in London with her English husband Carl Montose. They’ve only been married a few weeks and suddenly he is missing.  He flat out disappears and Lily discovers she knew nothing about his life. The police get involved as it’s a missing persons case and some startling facts are revealed about Carl Montose.  Could he be the memory impaired fellow staying in Alice’s shed? For what it’s worth, I did not care for Lily.  Too brusque.

What I especially liked were the mini cliffhangers. The end of the chapters had you wanting more but as you turn the page, you move on to one of the other stories. This is the third book I have read by Lisa Jewell and have become a fan. Of the three novels this was my least favorite but I did like it.   On hold at the library is Jewell’s book The House We Grew Up In and I am looking forward to that one.

There is a bit of food mentioned yet it’s not a foodie book by any means.  Cream teas, cucumber sandwiches, beet and horseradish tea sandwiches, roasted beef with root vegetables, sausages and mash, pizza, steak, bagels and peanut butter and cake.

Alice fed the throng of teen boys sausages and mash.  While that was tempting I went with a roasted chicken meal.  Alice roasted beef and root vegetables and I opted for poultry. Lovely meal to share over a glass of wine and lots of chatter.

chick

Original recipe post may be found HERE at Squirrel Head Manor.

Sharing with Joy for her British Isles Friday event.

Watching You by Lisa Jewell

watchingThe beginning
A murder has taken place. There is a clear suspect based on evidence at the scene.  One of the things I loved is the author didn’t use a pronoun so you don’t know if the victim is male or female.  Not until near the very end!  There are alternating perspectives from several characters; these cloud the waters when you are formulating  theories about the interwoven scenarios.

This touches on so many issues from a school girl crush on a handsome teacher, a newly married couple who are at odds about having a baby, bullying, a mentally ill neighbor which you really feel for and a brilliant teenage boy who is expert at watching people and keeping detailed journals on activities. 

As a mystery/ thriller fan and reader I was pleased this wasn’t a slam dunk for me. Was I surprised about the ending? You betcha.

This is the second novel I have read by Lisa Jewell and it’s most certainly not the last. I enjoyed her latest book, The Family Upstairs, and certainly enjoyed this one.  Up next for me is Jewell’s novel I Found You

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My Yorkshire Great and Small by Peter Wright

We begin with an introduction to the Yorkshire Show in Harrogate, a  big agricultural event that’s been ongoing for over 150 years. Mr. Wright mentioned Amanda Owen, The Yorkshire Shepherdess, who attended and was a guest speaker. I’m a fan of her books as well.

What attracted me to the book was the setting and author being a veterinarian in the Dales. Peter Wright was a Vet trainee with Alf Wight and Donald Sinclair (James Herriot and Siegfried Farnon) something I didn’t know until I started reading this book. He also has a television show! The Yorkshire Vet is a program I was unaware of until I read this book and yes, it seems I am living under a rock some days when I discover an old show.

The observations and comparisons to present day and what life was like decades ago was also very interesting to me. Fishing is a pastime our author and his brother enjoyed very much.  The observation that many of the today’s youth don’t have that opportunity as they are living in cities and are so used to iPhone, Xboxes and that electronic distractions.

I found the story about finding centuries old coins fascinating.  A pair of brothers were digging up a piece of their farmland, leveling it off when they discovered a broken ceramic jug and coins.  It’s a great story and fabulous discovery.  After these old treasures were dug up  they ended up in a museum.  This is after a court decision.  If I am ever visiting near York’s Castle Museum I will certainly want to view the display of coins and old papers.

Much thanks to Netgalley for the advanced copy of this book. Publication date is January 17, 2020. If you enjoy reading about veterinarians, Yorkshire or loved the James Herriot stories you will like this book.

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We Met in December By Rosie Curtis

dece

Christmas and London are a match made in heaven. There’s a man on the street corner selling hot chestnuts by the bag, filling the air with the smell of cinnamon and vanilla. The ornate wooden windows of Liberty are glittering with lights and decorations. I stop to look at a huge tree swathed in ribbons and hung with a million dancing fairy lights and – “Watch out!

Jess is new to London and absolutely thrilled to be living there temporarily. Everything is a wonder to her from the sights, the culture, the lovely people and her home in Nottinghill.

Alex and Jess are roommates. They like each other, they develop a secret crush on one another, then the predictable coupling happens.   Alex helps Jess find her way around London, showing her the sights and taking us along for the walk.

This is a lighthearted, Hallmarkesque kinda book. I wanted to be immersed in Nottinghill, read about snow and London culture in a passive easy read. This is an easy read you can finish up in a day or two.

Much thanks to Netgalley for the advanced copy of this book. Publication date is November 5, 2019. If you enjoy a light romantic chick lit kinda book, you will like this story.

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Dear Stephanie, Dear Paul

paul I learned about this book from the blog Georgia Girl with an English Heart.  Kay, the writer of this blog married her pen friend from England.  Kay is an Anglophile  and had been writing to an English fellow for nine years before they married.  The book Dear Stephanie, Dear Paul: A transatlantic love story told through correspondence was recommended to Kay as it’s a similar story.

The time period is late 1940’s.  You can get a historical snapshot of the latest music, books, fashion and culture from both writers, American teenager Paul and English teenager Stephanie .

The rationing situation in England was interesting to read about as well as the economy.  Paul’s salary was a good fortune compared to English salaries fro the same job.  Paul saved and saved until he could eventually meet Stephanie and get a tour of England. After hundreds of letters where friendship blossomed into love, they married and lived in Ohio.  They were married 58 years and had three children.

If you’d like to read about that time period from the points of view of Paul and Stephanie you would love this book.

More info:

Stephanie Duke’s obituary
Paul Duke’s obituary

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Eric Clapton: the autobiography

clap This is a book I bought for my birthday and am just now getting around to reading it. I am enjoying it very much.  We like listening to music in the evenings and frequently the Clapton CDs are among our favorites.  His blues albums are among our favorites.

When I went to pick the book up from a local second hand store it wasn’t the copy they had before and I was slightly disappointed.  Turned out to be a winning situation as the other book was a Clapton biography and this is an autobiography, his own thoughts on events.

The book starts with Clapton’s recollection of his early childhood and discovering his position in the family.  At age seven he  discovered his mum and dad, Jack and Rose, were in fact his grandparents.  The way his birth mother treated him was appalling to me and the maternal side of me wanted to hug this confused and rejected child.

As we get into the musical introduction  of the book I found I couldn’t put it down. He discusses the first guitar he owned, school and the introduction into playing for the public. Those chapters cover the Yardbirds, John Mayall, Cream, Blind Faith and Derek and the Dominos.  You also read first hand accounts of his friendships and musical collaborations with the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and his friendship with George Harrison, Ginger Baker, Steve Winwood among others.

I knew the song Layla was written to woo George Harrison’s wife Patti as he was completely besotted with her but I did not know the inspiration for the song name. Layla and Majnun is  narrative poem composed by Persian poet Niẓāmi Ganjavi.  Layla is the equivalent of Juliet, forbidden love. Huh.

I’m about to finish the part where he talks about the substance abuse and his son Conor.  That’s a heart breaker.  The parts where Clapton talks about his love for George Harrison’s wife Patti was a turn off.  He describes his behavior, and other musicians in that era, as having loose morals and that was accepted. Drug addiction, deaths, strong musical ethics, recovery and family.

As it turns out he was extremely unsure of himself and music was an outlet.  The rejection of his mother affected him forever and while it seems a rock icon such as Clapton thrived on attention, it was just the opposite.  Note the cover of the album below.  He refused to look up and read the comic Beano while the photos were being taken. (this was discussed in the book).  Also, with Derek and the Dominos no one knew that Derek was actually Clapton.  He wanted to play anonymously  and reveled in the fact that the band played for small groups of 50 or in festivals and no one knew it was Clapton guitar. Until that news leaked out so……they broke up.

bluesbreakers_john_mayall_with_eric_clapton

My favorite parts are reading about the fabulous musical talents of that era and how they collaborated.  If you are a Clapton fan you may like this book.  He makes no apologies for his behavior, he reminisces abut the good, the bad and inspirations. Overall I like this book.

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The Nanny by Gilly MacMillan

nan Gilly MacMillan has earned a place on my must read list. After the last few lackluster mysteries it was a pleasure to tuck into a book that I couldn’t put down. I like a book with lots of twists and revelations.

The story takes place in an old English estate.  Seven year old Jocelyn Holt was a little girl when her beloved nanny Hannah Burgess up and disappeared.  The little girl was devastated as she seemed to love her more than her own mother, Lady Virginia Holt.

What happened to Hannah Burgess?

Thirty years pass and Jocelyn, now called Jo,  returns to the Holt estate due to financial difficulties after her husband dies.  She brings her young daughter Ruby along and while she struggled with a relationship with her estranged mother, she has no choice but to live there. She can’t understand the warm connection Ruby has to her mother Virginia.

One day Ruby and Jo take a kayak out on Lake Hall and drift toward an island.  Ruby discovers a skull near the shoreline and we are on our way to an interesting mystery.  Could it be Jo’s nanny Hannah who disappeared in the late 198o’s?  It all wraps up nicely but you’ll be in for quite a few surprises.  You will simultaneously dislike and feel very sorry for Virginia Holt as her character develops.

This is a dysfunctional family but it’s due to outside influences, in my opinion. Great read, lots of intrigue and I will certainly be looking for more of MacMillan’s novels.

Much thanks to LibraryThing for this advanced copy of the book.  Grab a copy when it comes out September 10, 2019.

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