Rags-to-Riches Wife by Catherine Tinley Publication Date : January 23rd 2020 Publisher : Mills & Boon Genre : Historical Romance Page : 368
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
To wedded Lady?
Lady’s maid Jane Bailey’s life is turned upside down by the arrival of wealthy gentleman Robert Kendal. He’s come to take Jane to visit her long-lost, aristocratic grandfather. Travelling together, they succumb to a mutual attraction. Yet Jane knows a maid should not hope to love a gentleman, even if she’s suddenly wearing silk dresses and dining with the Family. Society decrees they cannot marry, but how long can Jane deny her heart?
*** Note: I won this book in giveaways ***
Rags-to-Riches Wife was lovely historical romance that revolved around Jane Bailey, a lady’s maid whose life changed when her estranged aristocratic grandfather called her to his estate. It was about class difference, forbidden romance, rich people’s behaviour towards servants, prejudice, judgement, and family drama.
Writing was beautiful, descriptive and vivid that took me back to regency era. Book was mostly set in Yorkshire at grand and impressive Beechmount Hall where Jane’s grandfather lived. Story was written in third person narrative from both Jane and Robert’s perspective which helped in understanding what was going on in their head and what they felt about the whole situation.
Plot was interesting, engaging, pretty straightforward. Book started with Jane losing her father and how their life changed after that; how Jane and her mother worked hard, found employer, earned their the position at Ledbury house in Bedfordshire; and Jane’s friendly relationship with her employer, Lady Kingswood, who taught her many things including education. At the same time Robert was sent from Yorkshire to Bedfordshire to fetch Jane at his uncle- Mr. Millinthrope’s order who didn’t know the reason behind the summon. But when he reached Ledbury house Jane and her mother knew the reason. Mr. Millinthrope was Jane’s grandfather who was estranged from her father as he couldn’t accept Jane mother for her lower status. After a bit discussion and dilema Jane agreed to travel with Robert. And so started their romantic journey. I was curious to see when and how Jane will tell Robert why his uncle summoned her and how will it affect their growing friendship and feelings.
Jane was perfect heroine. Beautiful, skilled and educated, respectful, fiery, and determined but was vulnerable. The nightmare of sexual assault still haunted her and Jane had panic attacks when something triggered those memory. I liked how delicately it was handled and how Jane found strength and safety in Robert’s company and overcame her fears.
Her feeling of loneliness, unfair and unwelcome treatment at Beechmount Hall was heart felt. I could see how tough it was to live in house where everybody looked down on her and even servant didn’t accept her. But still I admired her self-discipline and never complained or cried. Her dilemma of how to behave after arriving at Beechmount Hall and after her grandfather’s declaration was realistic. She couldn’t figure out who she was, a servant or lady of Beechmount Hall. It was difficult adjustment and change for her. I loved the way things turned out for her and how she understood who she really was.
Robert was introvert, reserved gentleman who helped his uncle maintaining estate. He was responsible, caring and kind person but I do feel he had a bit of tantrum issue. If anything troubled him he would gallop on his horse rather than talking it out and even after his head is clear from horse riding he wouldn’t voice his thoughts easily. That made book a bit longer and made me eye roll at his reaction to all things, but on the whole, I like him.
Best part of the book was descriptions of Beechmount Hall, representation of class difference, attire and fashion, conduct, etiquettes, and mind set of people, and soirée. It truly brought me to different time and era.
Romance was slow built and delightful. I enjoyed reading Jane and Robert’s journey from Ledbury house to Beechmount, how they got to know each other more, how their feeling grew from respect to friendship. They even shared kiss and started loving each other but they didn’t know it was love. Foolishness of Mr. Millinthrope breached their blossoming relationship but I liked how soirée mended things between them.
I could guess few things but climax was surprising. I wasn’t expecting such turns of events after soirée. It was sad time and when Jane and Robert were given opportunity to be together guess what they took whole 50 pages to grab it- tsk, tsk. All I wanted to do was lock them in a room and make them talk to each other, end would have come 50 pages earlier. Strangely I don’t regret it. Loved the end, despite all conflicts and drama love won at the end. I want to read more historical romance after this.
Why 4.5 stars-
Story felt a bit longer because of Jan and Robert’s inability to talk things and solve their issue.
On a lighter note, why that heroine’s eyes on cover is not blue? Jane’s eye were blue, so very blue. It doesn’t look blue to me on cover.😅
Rags-to-Riches Wife was delightful and absorbing, well written regency romance with likable characters and plot.
I hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know in comments what do you think about this book and my review, have you read this book already orany book by the same author. Which is you favourite historical romance set in regency era?
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Hello readers! I’m excited to be part of virtual online book tour of THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY, Natalie Jenner’s highly acclaimed debut novel and to be one of the Seventy-five popular blogs and websites participating in this biggest tour. Check out book details and my reviews of this historical fiction novel in this post. Many thanks to Laurel @austenprose for tour invite and publisher providing review copy.
The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner Publication Date : May 26th 2020 Publisher : St. Martin’s Press Genre : Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, General Fiction, Austenesque Pages : 320
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.
One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England’s finest novelists. Now it’s home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen’s legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen’s home and her legacy. These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others—could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.
An Amazon Best Book of May 2020
One of Goodreads Big Books of Spring & Hot Books of Summer
One of Audible’s Top 50 Most Anticipated Spring Audiobooks
June 2020 Indie Next Pick
May 2020 Library Reads Pick
Starred Review – Library Journal
Starred Review – Booklist
AUDIOBOOK NARRATED BY ACTOR RICHARD ARMITAGE:
The full unabridged text of THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY was read by the distinguished English film, television, theatre and voice actor Richard Armitage for the audiobook recording. Best known by many period drama fans for his outstanding performance as John Thornton in the BBC television adaptation of North and South (2004), Armitage also portrayed Thorin Oakenshield in Peter Jackson’s film trilogy adaptation of The Hobbit (2012 – 2014).
“Just like a story written by Austen herself, Jenner’s first novel is brimming with charming moments, endearing characters, and nuanced relationships…Readers won’t need previous knowledge of Austen and her novels to enjoy this tale’s slow revealing of secrets that build to a satisfying and dramatic ending.” ―Booklist (starred review)
“Few things draw disparate people together so quickly as discovering they love the same writers. Few writers cement such friendships as deeply as Austen does. I believe that the readers of Jenner’s book will fall in love with the readers inside Jenner’s book, all of us thinking and dreaming of Austen the whole while. What could be better? Nothing, that’s what! A wonderful book, a wonderful read.” ―Karen Joy Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club
“Fans of The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society will adore The Jane Austen Society… A charming and memorable debut, which reminds us of the universal language of literature and the power of books to unite and heal.” —Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Girls of Paris
The Jane Austen Society was beautifully written historical fiction that revolved around seven characters, their love for Jane Austen books and their idea of Jane Austen Society. It was about getting over loss and grief, camaraderie and companionship one find in mutual love and passion for books, romance, village and Post WWII life, and power of reading.
Writing was beautiful. It had that classic feel that took me right to post WWII, 1940s era, written multiple third person narrative set in the quaint village, Chawton, Hampshire where Jane Austen spent last few years of her life writing her world famous books. It was so well written that I had hard time believing this was author’s debut novel.
Plot was simple yet enjoyable, refreshing and uplifting. It started with introduction of all 7 main characters and their life- Adeline, Dr. Gray, Mimi, Adam, Evie, Andrew, and Yardley. Each were introduced in different chapters with ups and down in their life, how they are big fan of Jane Austen and love all her books, how they met each other and later formed Jane Austen Society to preserve history and legacy and to spread their love to more people.
All characters were going through hard time, fighting their own battle to keep their ship afloat in the ocean of life. They all were so different from each other both in nature and profession and yet one thing that bound them in solid camaraderie was Jane Austen’s books and also saved their ship from sinking.
Dr. Gray was widowed general physician of Chawton who knew everybody in village with their past and future. This smart, down to earth and humble and gentle soul couldn’t see the signs of love that was always there. I liked his moment of realization. Adeline was school teacher and now young widow. She was my favorite character in book. I felt for her and I admired her for getting out of her grief.
Frances was lonely woman and only living child of Knight Family, living with her ailing father who never appreciated her. It was hard to understand her resignation, calm and cool demeanor to all that happened to her, nonetheless I liked her. Andrew was Knight Family’s solicitor who respected and admired Frances. It was mystery why he never told her- or if he did, what happened- which was revealed near the end.
Mimi– She had most interesting back story of all. I loved her from the beginning. Her journey to Hollywood star and love for everything related to Jane Austen was mind-blowing. I can’t believe how this smart, with so much self-restrain and self-respecting person can end up with likes of Jack. I didn’t like him a bit. I loved her for not losing her head in relationship, her view towards Hollywood and village life, and doing right thing at the end.
Adam was lonely and quiet farmer who had hard life. It was lovely to read his thoughts while reading Jane Austen. This man was full of surprises. Yardley brought liveliness in this book. I wasn’t sure if I liked him or not in the beginning but in second half he was great. Evie was brilliant. This girl surprised me. Her observations, love for books, foresight and thorough-mindedness was amazing. She literally saved everything.
What I loved in this book was backstory of all characters, beautiful description of Chawton, home of Jane Austen, Knight Estate and its library, her family history, tradition, legacy and villager’s view point towards it, and their culture and mindset.
Best of all banter and discussion between characters on Jane Austen books, their dissection of all Austen characters and their passionate love for all her books and more importantly how they understood Jane Austen through her writing, her view towards society and observation of people through her characters. I have only read Pride and Prejudice and I have to say I didn’t understood the book the way these characters did.
Romance was fun to read. We can see couples’ admiration and who liked who but who ended up with whom was mystery itself. There was misunderstanding and drama just liked Pride and Prejudice, jealousy and possibility of love triangle which was flamed by busybody of village.
There was mystery of a will by old Knight that decided the fate of Frances and cottage the society wanted to turn into museum. I couldn’t tell till the end what will happen to cottage, if they could save it or not and how. Climax was tense but they were still hopeful because of Evie’s smartness, and then the biggest secret was revealed. It was shocking but the unlikely decision and then a scheme gave it whole new turn. It was at the end and in epilogue was actually revealed what exactly happened to cottage. Epilogue was lovely, feel good and exhilarating.
And lastly, I listened audiobook narrated by Richard Armitage. This was my first audiobook, I struggled a bit, wouldn’t have tried it without e-book but after few chapters I loved it. One thing was sure, I got so used to Richard’s voice. Pitch and changes he made for different characters was amazing.
This made me want to reread Pride and Prejudice and read all Austen books. It was said many times in the book Jane Austen’s novels act as balm to wounded, sooth the soul and get us through disturbing times. Well this is best time to read Austen books and see if it works in the time like this.
The Jane Austen Society was simple yet beautiful, lovely and refreshing historical fiction with amazing characters and setting.
Natalie Jenner is the debut author of THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY, a fictional telling of the start of the society in the 1940s in the village of Chawton, where Austen wrote or revised her major works. Born in England and raised in Canada, Natalie graduated from the University of Toronto with degrees in English Literature and Law and has worked for decades in the legal industry. She recently founded the independent bookstore Archetype Books in Oakville, Ontario, where she lives with her family and two rescue dogs.
Mightier Than the Sword (The Clifton Chronicles #5) by Jeffrey Archer Publication date : February 24th 2015 Publisher : St. Martin’s Press Genre : Historical Fiction Pages : 400 Stars : ★★★★☆
A bomb goes off, but how many passengers on the MV Buckingham have lost their lives? You will find out only if you read the opening chapter of Mightier than the Sword.
When Harry arrives in New York, his publisher Harold Guinzberg tells him he has been elected as the next president of English PEN, which will give him the opportunity to launch a campaign for the release of a fellow author, Anatoly Babakov, who is languishing in a Russian Gulag in Siberia. His crime, writing a book Uncle Joe, which gives an insight into what it was like to work for Josef Stalin. So determined is he to see Babakov released, Harry puts his own life in danger.
Emma Clifton, now Chairman of Barrington Shipping, is having to face the repercussions of the IRA bombing her ship. Some board members feel she should resign while others, including Sebastian Clifton, newly elected to the board, are determined to see she remains as Chairman.
Giles Barrington is now a Minister of the Crown, and looks set for high office, but a trip to East Germany does not end as a diplomatic success, and once again Giles’ political career is thrown off balance by none other than Major Alex Fisher. Fisher decides to stand against Giles at the forthcoming general election. But this time who wins?
Sebastian Clifton asks his girlfriend Samantha to marry him. She happily accepts, but then later changes her mind after she discovers what Seb has been up to behind her back.
The book ends with two court trials: one at the high court in London, a libel case pitting Emma Clifton against Lady Virginia Fenwick; while another, a show trial, takes place in Russia after Harry has been arrested as a spy. Thus continues book five of the Clifton Chronicles, Jeffrey Archer’s most accomplished work to date, with all the trademark twists and turns that have made him one of the most successful authors in the world.
Mightier Than the Sword was perfect title for this book. Another stellar book in this compelling series that revolved around two family and their never ending problems. It was about, good vs bad, don’t get greedy, sticking to morals and principles will always be rewarding, fight for yourself at right time, fate, family, love and passion.
Writing was as usual gripping, engaging and fast paced that demanded attention in all chapters. Mightier Than the Sword, told from multiple perspective from Harry and Emma, Giles, Sebastian and Lady Virginia’s POV, was set in Bristol and London, occasional visits in U.S. but this time Harry travels to Russia and Giles to Berlin that changed their life.
Mightier Than the Swordstarted in 1964 picking up from the end of last book, Be Careful What You Wish For, and ended in 1970. It’s clear from the synopsis, no main character died in the blast on Buckingham’s maiden voyage but I will not tell more or what damage it caused. I was thinking how I should write the review as I don’t want say much but at the same time I don’t want end up saying little. Moreover, lot was going on in this book, turn after turn and many surprises. Each main character was facing enemy in this book and each were given equal attention so I will divide my review in what they were facing, what was good and bad with their situation.
As soon as Emma returned from states she was facing Libel trial filed by Virginia moreover some member of board were plotting against her and that included a new enemy Desmond Muller. It felt like she was running out of luck this time. Desmond was unscrupulous, clever and sharp enemy who gave Emma and company hard time and his timing of final strike was fabulous. For first time I feared for Emma. Court room session didn’t help in reducing that fear as Virginia’s lawyer was brilliant. I was curious to see how she was going to fight both of them at the same time and this time if she lose, she was going to lose big- her position, reputation and company.
Emma evolved a lot over four previous books of this series.Her impression as first woman chairman of public company was formidable. She was admiring, ethical, honest person with high morals and principles. She wouldn’t do wrong with anybody but at the same time wouldn’t let anyone harm her and her family.
Sebastian was fighting Adrian Sloane, his boss who planned to take over Farthings bank. This initial part was tense. Sloane was smart and most dishonest and greedy man. His plan was great, with time in his favor and took over the bank real fast that made Seb resign from his job but he was determined to get back to him. I was curious to see how he was going to fight him with no job and less money.
Seb was exceptionally brilliant but in getting revenge and money fast, living accomplished life, he messed up his personal life. Over the course of this book, he learned and developed a lot. He took one step at a time and climbed financial ladder, took all the opportunity at right time. It was looking like all Cedric taught to him finally came to its fruition when he saw name of Hakim Bishra. I liked that man and I loved how game of fighting Sloane turned from this point.
Giles was not happy family man in this. His son died at age 3 and that broke him and Gwyneth apart. He respected Gwyneth but love was drifting and when he went to Berlin to attend conference as a minister of Crown, he made a mistake that made him resign and once again fight election. Time was also not in his favor as again he had to fight against Fisher. I was curious to see what was the result of election and how would he face consequences of his mistakes. He was best example of sportsmanship and I loved him for being resilient and following his heart. I enjoyed every word and pages when he fought election and later when he supported Emma, but Gwyneth was best and I hope he don’t regret letting her go.
Harry was facing most dangerous situation of all. To begin with he was now president of English PEN and started a campaign for release of Anatoly Babakov, Russian novelist who was imprisoned for 20 years for writing a book on Stalin, titled Uncle Joe. He was curious to find out what was in the book and why Russian government destroyed every copy on publication day of Uncle Joe. He passionately felt for Babakov. But fight for his release meant fight against whole Russian government. First he went to Russia as a guest speaker of PEN- he delivered mind blowing speech (it was as good as Gile’s election speeches) and some work from cabinet secretary (which turned out real interesting). I didn’t know he had photographic memory until this book! Why it wasn’t mentioned before! He discovered location one last copy of Uncle Joe and had to visit Russia again but without protection secretary. Isn’t it just getting just better and better? I was curious to find out how he would locate it and how he would get away with or maybe not? What will happen if Russian caught him? This part was best on whole book.
I enjoyed every tricky situations every characters faced, how they fought their enemies- who won one or two small battle as well that made me worry for characters- and how they came out of it. I loved each of them for not losing hope, sought each other’s help and advice, fought keeping their morals and principles intact that ultimately rewarded them with best result.
I loved reading scenes that were based on historical events like Berlin wall and The Stasi of the East German communist government, imprisonment of Russian writer, and Stalin’s biography through Uncle Joe which was most intriguing.
Climax made me anxious, laugh, curious and awed all at the same time. Harry’s escape, Emma’s trial, and enemies’ plan all was pumping the adrenaline at best. I was holding my breath when finally end neared and then I cursed, ‘Damn Cliffhangers!’ At 3:00 a.m. I got up from bed pulled out sixth book and read few chapters to see the real end. And I tell you it was amazing.
Why 4 stars-
Honestly, I’m tired seeing Virginia and Fisher again. Cliftons and Barringtons are so nice and always do right thing so why they are having lot of enemies? It’s like wherever they go they made enemy. From 1919 to 1970 there wasn’t a year they didn’t face problem! It’s really far fetching.
Overall,Mightier Than the Sword was gripping, fast paced historical fiction and family saga, full of twist and turn and drama. I definitely recommend this to fans of Jeffrey Archer.
Be Careful What You Wish For (The Clifton Chronicles #4) by Jeffrey Archer Publication Date : March 11th 2014 Publisher : St. Martin’s Press / MacMillan Genre : Historical Fiction Pages : 387 Stars : ★★★★★
Bestselling author Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish For opens with Harry Clifton and his wife Emma rushing to hospital to learn the fate of their son Sebastian, who has been involved in a fatal car accident. But who died, Sebastian or his best friend Bruno?
When Ross Buchanan is forced to resign as chairman of the Barrington Shipping Company, Emma Clifton wants to replace him. But Don Pedro Martinez intends to install his puppet, the egregious Major Alex Fisher, in order to destroy the Barrington family firm just as the company plans to build its new luxury liner, the MV Buckingham.
Back in London, Harry and Emma’s adopted daughter wins a scholarship to the Slade Academy of Art where she falls in love with a fellow student, Clive Bingham, who asks her to marry him. Both families are delighted until Priscilla Bingham, Jessica’s future mother-in-law, has a visit from an old friend, Lady Virginia Fenwick, who drops her particular brand of poison into the wedding chalice.
Then, without warning, Cedric Hardcastle, a bluff Yorkshireman who no one has come across before, takes his place on the board of Barringtons. This causes an upheaval that none of them could have anticipated, and will change the lives of every member of the Clifton and Barrington families. Hardcastle’s first decision is who to support to become the next chairman of the board: Emma Clifton or Major Alex Fisher? And with that decision, the story takes yet another twist that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Be Careful What You Wish For showcases the master storyteller’s talent as never before – when the Clifton and Barrington families march forward into the sixties, in this epic tale of love, revenge, ambition and betrayal.
*** Note : I purchased this book. ***
Be Careful What You Wish For was fourth in historical fiction series, The Clifton Chronicle, that revolved around fighting new enemy of Barringtons and Cliftons they made in last book, Martinez. It was about family, friendship, saving family business, politics, drama, and above all vendetta.
Once again Barrington shipping company was attacked in this book and this time not just by Fisher and Lady Virginia but also by the most dangerous man in the country, Don Pedro Martinez. Book started where exactly the cliffhanger of previous book Best Kept Secret left me hanging and thinking what exactly happened in the car accident. I knew who would have survived but the opening with a false news was bit surprise. Untoward outcome of Martinez’s plan drove him even crazier and angrier that started his revenge plan to destroy whole Clifton and Barrington family. Who could have think the Thinker statue could cost characters more than the combined value of statue and counterfeit five pound notes at the base of it that Cliftons helped government to confiscate from Martinez.
That synopsis said many thing and summarized what you can expect really well so I will jump to most important thing that kept me hooked to story, the curious questions I had while reading the story- What Martinez is planning, when will he strike and who will step in his traps? Who is tutoring Sebastian to make him smarter and clever? Who is that Cedric Hardcastle mentioned in the synopsis, is he good guy or bad guy? What mischief Fisher and Virginia will create along with Martinez and what will it cost to Barringtons and Cliftons? There were many surprises and twist was heart breaking.
Writing was again great, flawless and easy, jumping from one narration to other with smooth transition. It started in 1957 and ended in 1964 following the story of Harry and Emma, Sebastian, Giles, Jessica, Fisher, Martinez and we have new character Cedric Hardcastle. Each character narrating one year and telling what hurdles they faced in that year.
Harry and Emma once again were amazing. In this book Harry has taken a back seat, popping in here and there and mainly focusing on plots of his novel but whenever he appeared in the book, I liked him and felt for him. I wish he had listened to everybody’s advice. It could have saved them from tragedy.
Giles was also not in the front of the story. He appeared in family and board meeting and during election for MP. He was busy in his political carrier and his marriage. Yes, this time he married right woman and I was happy for him. What I didn’t see coming was him stepping on the trap set by Martinez. He is Giles and Martinez need to do something bigger to break him. I liked how he took the blow and moved on in life focusing on next election.
Emma, once again, took the rein of Barrington shipping empire in her control but before she could do that she faced trouble so bad it could have bankrupt the company. That trouble came in the name of Fisher, Martinez and Virginia. I admired her determination and will to save the company. Her instinct were right from the beginning and I knew she will have to fight hard. Her and Fisher’s speech was brilliant. The voting for chairman’s seat felt like another of Gile’s election. I loved how whole board room scenario raised tension and kept curiosity level on the top. And I loved her hysterical speech after climax.
Sebastian has grown so much after accident. He was now wise and clever, smart and developed character. Not developed when it came to women but boy after some hysterical encounter where he made fool of himself finally found a beautiful girl. That came in second half but by that time he found a great job. It was impressive how quickly he learned and how quickly he could charm people. I loved him for the way he helped his mother.
Cedric, Susan Fisher, Clive Bingham and his family were the characters who surprised me most. They turned out exactly opposite than I guessed. I’m not saying who they were and what was their role and what they did either in favor of Cliftons or against but only that author did amazing them, especially Cedric.
The most devious villain of the book Martinez was made to hate. He was brilliant, a perfect villain who had no principles and morals and would stop at nothing to achieve what he wanted. He didn’t leave any single character. He set traps for everyone. His deadliest blow was Jessica. I hated him for going there and I knew he wouldn’t stop there. He was crazily riding the revenge wave, or should I say tsunami?
Jessica was never in limelight until this book. Her talent was earning her name and fame, found a nice boy and was going to marry. She was so happy and lovely. It hurt me to see them braking her and even made me shout at what it caused. That gave the story major turning point.
I loved how all well-wishers of the family gathered and hatched a plan that would strike Fisher, Virginia and most of all Martinez at the same time. All chapters from this turning point was tense, exciting, and thrilling. It was like cat and mouse game and I couldn’t wait to see who won. Even after definitive answer Martinez had the element of surprise and made the book end in cliffhanger.
Overall, Be Careful What You Wish For was another smart, entertaining and exciting historical fiction and family saga. I can’t wait to see what happened next and what new trouble they will face.
Beyond The Moon by Catherine Taylor Publication Date: January 2020 Publisher: The Cameo Press Ltd Genre: Historical Fiction / Romance / Time Travel Pages: 494 Stars: ★★★★★
Outlander meets Birdsong is this haunting debut timeslip novel, where a strange twist of fate connects a British soldier fighting in the First World War and a young woman living in modern-day England a century later.
*Shortlisted for the Eharmony/Orion Write Your Own Love Story Prize 2018/19
In 1916 1st Lieutenant Robert Lovett is a patient at Coldbrook Hall military hospital in Sussex, England. A gifted artist, he’s been wounded fighting in the Great War. Shell shocked and suffering from hysterical blindness he can no longer see his own face, let alone paint, and life seems increasingly hopeless.
A century later in 2017, medical student Louisa Casson has just lost her beloved grandmother – her only family. Heartbroken, she drowns her sorrows in alcohol on the South Downs cliffs – only to fall accidentally part-way down. Doctors fear she may have attempted suicide, and Louisa finds herself involuntarily admitted to Coldbrook Hall – now a psychiatric hospital, an unfriendly and chaotic place.
Then one day, while secretly exploring the old Victorian hospital’s ruined, abandoned wing, Louisa hears a voice calling for help, and stumbles across a dark, old-fashioned hospital room. Inside, lying on the floor, is a mysterious, sightless young man, who tells her he was hurt at the Battle of the Somme, a WW1 battle a century ago. And that his name is Lieutenant Robert Lovett…
Two people, two battles: one against the invading Germans on the battlefields of 1916 France, the other against a substandard, uncaring mental health facility in modern-day England. Two journeys begun a century apart, but somehow destined to coincide – and become one desperate struggle to be together.
Beyond The Moon was captivating historical romance set in dual timeline that revolved around grief stricken medical student Louisa Casson and WWI soldier and artist Robert Lovett. It was about horrors of WWI, war and its impact on soldiers, how war changed people and how it affected their life and mental status, inhumane treatment towards patients in private psychiatric institute, grief, loss and love.
Writing was flawless, lyrical, and descriptive. I enjoyed description of Coldbrook Hall, psychiatry ward, both modern and WWI era, battles and life of soldiers and VAD nurses. It was wonderfully narrated in Louisa and Robert’s voice that gave life to story.
As synopsis said book started with Louisa’s stupid mistake of falling over cliff that was seen as suicide attempt and was admitted to ColdBrook hall Psychiatry ward without her will. We don’t see many hope for her coming out anytime soon. (As I discussed with Virginia the way people were treated at this psychiatry institute and the way staff behaved- both nurses and doctors- it didn’t look like all that behavior and treatment can happen in modern time (2017). It felt more like institute from 40s or 60s.) So good thing happened to Louisa after coming here was her time slip back in 1916 and met Robert who was recovering hysterical blindness. Was Louisa really not right in mind, why she time slipped and met Robert, what was connecting her to this era and why she was wearing Rose Ashby’s clothes whenever she went back in time, what was her connection to Rose? It was interesting to get answers to all this questions.
All characters we well written. Their emotions, thoughts and life was portrayed wonderfully. Both Louisa and Robert were developed, were going through a lot in different time period. Common thing was- that formed a connection- they both were broken and lost soul.
Louisa was emotionally disturbed because of her grandmother’s death and her involuntary admission in psychiatric hospital. Careless and compassionless staff and doctors weren’t ready to even consider her perspective or listen to her plea. She was good person and made friends and won heart of few patients at Coldbrook who taught her rules to survive this heartless place. Her dilemma on meeting Robert and time slip, feeling of hopelessness and loneliness was narrated realistically. I agreed with Louisa, it didn’t make sense. Her emotions and love for Robert was classic. I loved reading her feelings and view point. Her friendship with secondary character both in 2017 and 1917 and her will and determinations to help her friends, Robert, and others amazing.
All chapters narrated in her voice told about her life and family, life at hospital and connection to WWI era and what she time slipped back in 1917. What I love most about her narration was stark difference of two era, lifestyle, language and people and above all the comfort of modern times and her struggle in history without the advancement of present times.
Robert was great throughout the book. War changed him a lot. It did damage but also taught him compassion and understand grief and loss. He respected those who wanted to preserve their sanity by not involving in war and I agreed his view on conscientious objectors. War seeped so deep in his mind and soul that he couldn’t cope with normality, his blindness, and not being at war leading his men at front. His hopelessness, tragedy he saw, guilt he felt for killing men, losing his own men and then losing eyesight was sad and heartfelt. His reaction on finding out Louisa’s secret was natural. I would have thought the same if I was at his place. I don’t judge him for what he did. But life after the heartbreak for him was horrible.
As character I loved Louisa but when it comes to narration, Robert’s POV on WWI, politics, soldiers and their condition on both British and German side, state of land and villages, nature and prisoners was brilliant, poetic and deep. Author got into his artistic side so well. It was all so lifelike, poignant and horror filled yet there was beauty in words.
Romance was classic. Both Louisa and Robert felt connection from the very beginning, couldn’t help but wait to meet each other next time and as they knew more about each other they found themselves falling in love so deep that centaury long gap couldn’t stop their love. It added a good deal mystery and curiosity. I kept reading to see if they will meet again and how. I feel their time apart in second part was really long but even in their separate chapters their love was in center of all.
Second half of the book was best. I loved reading life of VAD nurses and what it was like in medical camp during WWI. I could guess mystery behind the time slip but the way it was explained, Louisa’s conversation about it and trying to understand logic and purpose behind it was best. Climax was tense. Louisa’ hopelessness and frustration was palpable. I felt she couldn’t find her way back but then that sudden chance, it felt both dramatic and knife-edged. End was good, I was dreading the worst but it was filled with happiness and hope.
Why 4.5 stars-
I’m still skeptical about what happened from climax to end. I know whole time slip thing was implausible and I was prepared for it but that decision of Louisa just after that incident at hospital and time slip and at the end was unbelievable. But I’m rounding it to 5 star because I loved writing and plot.
Overall, it was intriguing, poignant historical romance with wonderful writing and concept. I highly recommend this book to fans of time travel and historical fiction.