Thursday, 27 February 2014

River of Destiny

River of Destiny by Barbara Erskine

I'm a fan of time-slip novels and when I kept hearing this author's name as a top time-slip writer, I thought I'd better give her a go. This is a whopper of a novel, and I bought the print book rather than the ebook.

It's set in three time periods - contemporary, Victorian and Anglo-Saxon. The location is a sleepy Suffolk river, on the banks of which are a few converted barns. Zoe and her husband Ken have moved into one, to pursue their dream of a life outside London and all the sailing you could want. But their marriage isn't working as well as it should, and when Zoe meets their new neighbour, scarred blacksmith Leo, she realises what's been missing. There are ghosts appearing everywhere - a ghost Viking ship on the river and various apparitions in Zoe's barn. In the Victorian story the lady of the manor can't get pregnant by her husband so picks the local blacksmith to be her stud. And in the Anglo-Saxon era, another blacksmith is making a sword, the Destiny Maker, for his lord. There's conflict here between the new Christianity and the old religion - he's a Christian but the sword is to be made according to the old ways, and inscribed with magical runes...

Far too much story to do any kind of a synopsis here and I realise the above all sounds disjointed. But the story does hang together and it's a good read, if a bit overly long. In places it's a little repetitive, and it's definitely not a believable story, there are far too many ghosts appearing for that! But it's an enjoyable read.

Hope for Hannah

Hope for Hannah by Linda Mitchelmore

Lovely little novella I read on my Kindle on a long train journey the other day. Set on Dartmoor in 1903. Hannah meets dashing William Lawlor who is a painter, a sensitive soul she feels instantly at ease with. Then she meets his brother Ralph. The two men are the local nobility, set to soon inherit their uncle's quarry and estate. Both brothers want her, but for different reasons.

This was a delightful romance, possibly a bit predictable but enjoyable, and I particularly loved the setting and time period.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Catherine of Deepdale

Catherine of Deepdale by Millie Vigor

I met Millie, a truly inspirational woman, at a writing conference a few weeks ago. Her story was so incredible (began writing in her 70s, 3 book deal at age 84, now 87) I wanted to read one of her novels, and picked this one. It's based on a real person, though whether that real person is Millie herself or not I don't know. I'll ask her if or when I meet her again.

Catherine is a young bride in 1946, and goes with her husband Robbie to his family home - a croft in the Shetland islands. She had no idea how hard life can be on a croft, and when his mother doesn't hold back in showing her contempt for Catherine, she almost gives up and goes back south. But she decides to stay and battle it out. Tragedy strikes when Robbie drowns in a fishing accident, and shortly after Catherine finds she is pregnant. But she stays anyway, and builds up the croft the way Robbie had dreamt of. She's a feisty, strong heroine who came alive for me and who I really admired.

Overall the book is well written and really evokes the Shetland isles and all their weather. Sorry, Weather - it needs a capital letter. I've not been there though I have been to far north Scotland. It's a cosy read - one you need to curl up with by the fireside. Satisfying ending, if a little predictable. I very much enjoyed reading it.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

The Doctor's Daughter

The Doctor's Daughter by Sally Quilford

We're back in 1916 for this one - the first Peg Bradbourne mystery. A man is found dead, apparently suicide but there are some unexplained circumstances surrounding his death. Then suddenly Peg's own stepmother is found dead, and Peg finds herself promising her little half-sister that she will get to the truth. Are the deaths linked and if so, how?

The plot progresses with many twists and turns, typical for a Sally Quilford novel, and when the truth comes out it's not at all what you expect. The perfect novella to while away a few hours.

Sunday, 2 February 2014


Shadowman by Della Galton

Karen and Rob run a stable yard. They're in financial difficulties, and then someone starts sending anonymous letters accusing Rob of having affairs. Karen needs to find out whether they're true and who's sending them, as well as saving her marriage and their business.

This is a wonderful little book - the kind you can read in a couple of hours on a rainy Sunday, and it'll keep you totally engrossed. Lots of twists and turns and dead ends, as you're led first one way and then another wondering who dunnit. Highly recommended.