AUTHOR INTERVIEW: The Last Time We Met by Carol Mason

Last Time We Met

I’m delighted to welcome Carol Mason over at Literature Love today to talk about her latest book The Last Time We Met, due for publication 16th October 2018 – one week today!

Welcome Carol, thank you so much for dropping by.

Thank you Callie! It’s lovely to have this opportunity. 

The Last Time We Met is a re-release of The Love Market, which was published eight years ago now, so how did it feel to go back and re-visit the characters Celine, Patrick, and Mike?

It’s the strangest thing! Writing a book is such a long process that takes so much out of you that, when you’ve gone through countless drafts and the book is finally done, you almost have an element of relief. Or if not that, then certainly a sense of closure. But then you might re-read it years later and think Hmmm! I wish I’d pushed this aspect of his character a little harder, or, if only I’d written that aspect with a little of the wisdom I now have today…. So then to actually get that opportunity – it’s amazing! You can see your story with new eyes and bring aspects of it to a whole new level. You feel fresh and energized at the thought of adding one more textural layer… In the case of this novel, I always felt I could have given the reader so much more of a reason to care about Celine and Patrick’s relationship and their coming together a second time. I felt I’d always done a terrific job with the emotionally resonant and complicated nature of Celine and Mike’s separation, but had I really shown the depth of Celine and Patrick’s connection, both in the past, and in the present? Had I truly explored the indelible impression left by first love? So it was tremendously fun and rewarding to go back in and make this aspect of the story sing! I fell in love with Patrick myself, and SO wanted to be there in that moment when she first set eyes on him…

I’m so glad you said that. After reading both The Love Market and The Last Time We Met, I felt a much deeper level of empathy for Patrick’s character this time and was really rooting for him!

All of your books have a literary feel to them that explores what it is that makes us human.  Celine’s story and the emotional pull she has endured is such a timeless one, but the contemporary world around us has changed quite a lot since you wrote The Love Market, particularly with the ever-increasing cyber world of social media.  How did this impact on any editorial changes for the Last Time We Met?

I did use a few pop culture references in the earlier edition that certainly dated the novel, so they had to come out. And of course online dating is so much more commonplace now than back then, so I had to tweak that to explain how Celine’s matchmaking business, called The Love Market, would still be relevant today. Plus Patrick and Celine get to FaceTime, which I don’t think we’d heard of back then! These were fairly easy tweaks compared to delving deeply into a character’s reasons for being! And a good editor helps that process too. And, as you so cleverly observed, I had to change Brad Pitt (as a heartthrob reference) to Ryan Gosling – Brad, bless him, is getting a bit past his sell-by now!

Hehe, yes, poor old Brad!

Every book of yours that I read seems to just get better and better; each book evidence of how you’ve grown as a writer.  Were you tempted to make big changes?  Were you tempted to kill anybody off, or re-write the ending?

Oh thank you. That’s very flattering and of course what writers really hope for! Yes, it was hard to re-read old work and not want to rewrite it! Not because I thought the writing was inferior, but perhaps because I am 10 years older now and 10 years wiser and more mature, so I see people and life a little differently. I’m not as idealistic any more. Perhaps I’m not even as romantic as I once was! This was helpful in establishing why Celine would be a little mistrusting of Patrick’s feelings at first – she too is not the girl she was when they first met. Plus I was better able to get to grips with the concept of what love really means once the thrill of the first flush has worn off.  All this added more depth to the story. But I must admit I was tempted to change the ending a little! I won’t say in what way, or I will give the game away. But, suffice to say, I reminded myself that 10 years ago I had written a love story and, while I could add to that story and improve that story in so many ways, I also wanted to stay true to it. When I finally handed this revised draft in I felt huge satisfaction with my ending – elements of the story might have changed but the characters at heart hadn’t. And that felt right.

­I love both the title and new jacket design for The Last Time We Met. They fit really well with the design of After You Left, and I know I will just have to have both of them sitting next to each other on my Favourite’s Bookshelf.  Do you have anything else in the pipeline? Something with another gorgeous cover to match After You Left and The Last time We Met perhaps (she asks hopefully!)

Thank you! And… yes! I have just gone through edits for my brand new novel that will be out March/April 2019. This one is called The Shadow Between Us.  It’s about a marriage that is tested in ways a couple could never have imagined. It’s about what happens when one day, quite out of the blue, almost everything about your life changes, and how you ever find your way back from that. It’s a sad, touching story, but also a very hopeful one. In fact, it’s the story I think I always wanted to write from the time I first began writing, only I wasn’t sure quite how to shape it and pull it off – it felt bigger than I had the maturity for back then. So I am massively excited for this one! This book is actually part of a brand new 4 book deal that I have just signed with my wonderful publisher, Lake Union. So I’m thrilled to say that writing will be keeping me busy for the next little while. I have my other ideas all lined up and can’t wait to share them with you in due course.

How exciting – I can’t tell you how happy that makes me! Well, it has been an absolute pleasure talking to you Carol. I wish you every success with The Last Time We Met and look forward to chatting to you again soon to talk about The Shadow Between Us.

You can read my review for The Last Time We Met here:

https://literaturelove.uk/2018/10/09/the-last-time-we-met-by-carol-mason/

 

About Carol Mason

Carol Mason

Carol Mason is the women’s fiction author of the Amazon Charts Bestselling novel After You Left, published by Lake Union, The Secrets of Married Women, Send Me A Lover and the soon to be re-released The Last Time We Met.
Carol grew up in Northern England – Sunderland, to be precise, but left there when she was 19, for London. There, she worked for the Diplomatic Service before leaving after about a year to embark on adventure travel to Canada, where she met the boy she would marry. Twenty-three years later, they still live in Canada, just outside of Vancouver. When not writing, Carol is ususally reading as many books she can manage, to always stay abreast of what is hot and current. When not doing that she is usually surfing recipes on the Internet, cooking, eating, then telling herself there has to be more to life than food.
You can visit Carol’s website here: http://www.carolmasonbooks.com

 

 

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Author Interview: Carol Mason

#TheShadowBetweenUs  #LakeUnionAuthors

#womensfiction  #NewRelease

The Shadow Between Us

Anybody who knows me will know that Carol Mason is one of my favourite all-time authors, so as you can guess, I’m super excited to welcome her back to Literature Love for a chat today.

So, Carol, WOW what a corker of a read The Shadow Between Us was! Your writing career seems to have exploded in the last couple of years, with each book just getting better and better, if that’s possible. If I had to choose, I would say The Shadow Between Us is my favourite. It’s a little different from your other books: darker more Female Noir than your usual Women’s Fiction.  Was this a conscious decision from the start, or did the darker theme progress as you wrote your first draft?

Thanks so much for having me back, Callie! That’s a great question. The novel is still considered women’s fiction, but of course within that genre there is room to move and grow. This story was one I wanted to write for years – from back when I first began novel-writing. I’m not sure I was mature enough to be quite ready for it back then. I always knew what Olivia’s big secret was that she was carrying around. I’d imagined this very thing happening to myself for years, and that felt to me like it might make a fascinating topic for a novel. But the final twist to the story was a surprise. I had finished the book and was troubled by how straightforwardly I’d managed to write it. I usually labour over the writing process, and at times it can be quite excruciating, and yet this one had almost written itself. And yet something was nagging at me. I felt there needed to be something else to explain why Olivia and her husband had been driven apart – beyond what I’d hinted at in the story. Something that, if readers had guessed her secret by the time it is revealed, would blow them away at the end. And then quite out of the blue it came to me, and then everything about the story made sense. This was it! I thought. This was what made the story much more emotionally complex. I was terrified my editor wouldn’t agree, but she did.

 

I love the fact that small, seemingly inconsequential things, early on in The Shadow Between Us tie up later in the book, culminating into that powerful and shocking twist at the end. What do you think makes a good story?

For me, it’s character over plot every time. I can settle for a less event-filled read if I am engrossed by the plight a character finds herself in. If I can ask myself how would I react in her shoes? If I can empathise with her and get her every step of the way – even when I don’t fully agree with her decisions or actions. She needs to be massively real to me, or I’m just not invested in the story. I also need beautiful writing where I might be drawn to re-read bits. If it all sounds too “off the top of the author’s head” it doesn’t feel special to me. Good writing makes a story sing from the rooftops. But of course there does need to be an actual story, and even with simple ones, they need to make a big impression. I think the marriage of all those elements is what makes a novel great for me.

 

My first question mentions writing of the first draft. What does your writing process entail: from the first snippet of an idea to the final edit? And how long is each process?

Yikes. The process is long. Haha. I usually get what I think is a good idea and then I live with it for a little while, playing it over in my mind. Very often when I try to mentally shape it into a book I end up thinking it just hasn’t got legs. Sometimes that means I abandon it, and other times it keeps poking at me so I come back to it and try to re-think it. I usually ask myself at that point if it has all the ingredients that people seem to enjoy in my books. You can write a story like this one which is a little darker than, say, The Last Time We Met, which was a much earlier book in my career, but there are similar elements to them. For example, I will ask: Is there a heart-wrenching dilemma? Is it heart-warming? Ultimately uplifting even though it might not seem it’s going to turn out that way? What is complicated about the characters that will really make them live? Will there be a surprise or two? Will the ending satisfy? If I find myself saying YES to all of those, then I feel I have a story that I can write. I then usually try to think of the book in thirds. I will have a sense of a beginning and the ending, but the rest is a blur. So I will try to figure out what happens in the first third, then once I’ve written that, I will try to work out the next third etc. I have a few key plot points that I write to guide me but the rest is just a wing and a prayer! Once I’ve got a first draft – which takes usually about 6 months, then I feel I’ve got a story I can develop to the next level. Then I breathe out a bit and start to get excited about the next draft where I’m going to be adding layers to the story. I usually do about 3 or 4 drafts before showing it to my editor. Once they read it and give feedback, it goes through 1 or 2 more drafts, then a copy edit, then a proof-read. By then I am elated I’ve accomplished it, but so relieved it’s over!

 

Do you have a preferred writing space?

I write in a room at the front of my house. I bought myself a nice big desk that I said would always be kept looking like desks in those beautiful photo-shoots of people’s work spaces, but it’s always littered with papers, coffee cups, cat toys, lip balm, socks, you name it. I seem to write best there. I can edit on my laptop on the couch, but I don’t find I actually compose very well unless I’m at my desk. No writing at the beach for me! And coffee shops would be way too distracting as I’m too much of a people-watcher.

 

You mention in the acknowledgements that your own mum came up with the title for The Shadow Between Us. This is a great title: intriguing, yet so obvious once you’ve read the book. And those gorgeous book jackets, each with a different dress: all so similar, yet different too. Seeing them all together makes my bookshelf feel like a mini wardrobe! How much input have your publishers allowed you to have with things like titles and jacket design?

Luckily I have come up with all my titles except for The Secrets of Married Women. As for this one, I had various titles that were very close to The Shadow Between Us, but not quite it. I read them all to my mother and she pulled various faces then said, well what about The Shadow Between Us? And I thought, perfect! My fabulous publisher, Lake Union, designed some gorgeous covers for my novels. They do all look like a family – which is what they’re trying to achieve for marketing/branding purposes. What I love is there are no heads and faces. I don’t like seeing a literal interpretation of a character, and prefer to have a bit of mystery and use my imagination as a reader. I like them because they’re a little edgy, very simple, they show hands and tension which hints to the story. Lake Union are very good in that they give me a great deal of input. If I felt a direction was very wrong for my books I’d feel comfortable (ish) to say that. But fortunately that hasn’t happened!

 

The letter-writing club in The Shadow Between Us is set in a café; coffee, cake and books seem to just go so well together don’t they!  Your own social media is full of delicious, mouth-watering meals, that you have made yourself.  How do you manage to fit in the time to make such scrumptiousness within your busy writing schedule?

I have a rule that during the week I must be able to make dinner in 20 minutes so I’ve got a few recipes down to a fine art. Though that means we often eat the same stuff. I get a bit more fancy on weekends as I love to cook so I relax that way. But mainly I am a foodie and can’t handle junk or too much ordering in. Plus I always have some cake on the go. My main one is a chocolate cake recipe I’ve tweaked over time. I make one weekly and give some to my mother, hide the rest from my husband, and have myself a slice with my cup of tea at 10AM.

 

It’s been less than five months since the Last Time We Met, and less than two years since the publication of After You Left. You must be left feeling quite dizzy! Are you going to take a break? Or are you diving straight into your next book?

You have to pretty much dive back in. I think breaks are for people who write faster than I do. The Last Time We Met and The Secrets of Married Women were re-releases though I did a lot of work to them, so I have been very busy since getting published with Lake Union. But I had plenty of years striving to be published so you won’t find me complaining!

 

Thanks for dropping by Carol and for giving a glimpse into your life as a writer. In my opinion, The Shadow Between Us is your best book yet, and I wish you all the success in the world with it. READERS GO ORDER IT NOW – YOU WILL LOVE IT!!

You can read my review here:

https://www.literaturelove.co.uk/blog-1/the-shadow-between-us

If you would like to purchase this book, links to major UK book outlets are listed at the bottom of the review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author Interview: Katrina Hart

 

The Lost townof Man's Crossing - Banner

I am pleased to welcome Katrina Hart over at Literature Love today. Katrina’s latest novel The Lost Town of Man’s Crossing was published on 3rd March, which so happens to be Katrina’s 30th birthday.

Hello Katrina, thank you for joining me today. You must be so excited to see The Lost Town of Man’s Crossing in print. I can’t think of a better birthday present! Is it a coincidence publication has coincided with your big 30? Or did you have it in mind when you started writing?

Thank you for having me.

Good Question! I wrote The Lost Town of Man’s Crossing a good while ago. But when it came to publishing my boyfriend and I thought it would be a wonderful Idea to publish my book on my birthday to celebrate how far I’d come in my writing journey. I was honestly really touched how many people helped celebrate my birthday and book release.

 

That is a wonderful achievement. Is writing something you’ve always wanted to do?  

I’ve always written diaries throughout my life. Writing about my days and happy and sad moments has always given me a sense of peace and cleared my mind. But a  few years back, I decided to take an online writing course and put my creative mind to good use. The tutor teaching the course really inspired me to keep writing and before I knew it the short story I had written for that course turned into my first full-length novel called Finding Destiny.

 

Do you write full-time or do you fit it in around another career?

I fit my writing around family commitments and my beloved cats, but mostly I write during nights.

 

Epic Fantasy isn’t a genre I’m familiar with. Can you tell me a little bit about it?

Fantasy is so much fun to write, for me, it’s about weaving magical worlds and pushing characters out of the ordinary and into a place where everything feels different, new and sometimes scary…

Suzy’s life takes a big leap into the unknown and she discovers that the rules in The Lost Town of Man’s Crossing are very different, even those who seem to have a moral vibe about them, also blur the lines between help, healing and painful sacrifice for the good of others…

I also love writing magic in my novel, mostly because magic comes from within and sparkles out on all of us in times when we need it. In this novel, I was able to show the inner magic of my characters and the physical power that strength gives them…

There is love in fantasy and characters travelling a journey with open hearts. I think some of those scenes can feel very emotional and really hammer home. What if you wake up one day to a world full of creatures, you’d never seen before and rules that if not followed could get you killed?

I think Fantasy is made for everyone who wants to travel to a magical place, see love, friendship, inner strength and the battle of life between right and wrong. Fantasy is a genre that everyone should give a read once in their lifetime just to feel what it’s like to see all kinds of different creature, pure love and turn that love into trying to counter darkness.

 

Wow thats sounds really intriguing. I agree everybody should give it a try: you’ve definitely convinced me! And that cover is just gorgeous! Who designed this and did you have much input?

The Lost Town of Man’s Crossing’s cover was designed by Bobooks who illustrate covers from your description. This was a very new process for me, but the right one for my creative and some might say an ambitious vision of how I wanted my cover to look. I had input at every stage with Bobooks which was amazing. Not only did they walk me through each step, but they also created the vision I wanted until I was completely happy with it…  I would highly recommend them and their skills for designing even the tiny details on the cover…

 

It’s been lovely talking to you today Katrina. The Lost town of Man’s Crossing sounds very intriguing, and I wish you every success both with this book and your future writing career.

 

Blub

The Lost Town of Man’s Crossing

Would you cross a land of magic, dark creatures and hidden secrets to face your own deepest fear?

After being shot, Suzy and her friend, Bill, are offered a second chance at life in The Lost Town Of Man’s Crossing, a land to which the chosen few are transported by their personal Crossing Creatures. There, Suzy encounters the evil Cole, who is all-out to gain the highest power of the land.

But Suzy comes from a magical family: her grandmother, Miss Hollow, founded a coven called Hollow-Wings, and her grandfather left her a secret, life-changing pouch. Soon, Cole craves that secret pouch more than anything.

It’s Suzy versus Cole – and one of them has met their match.

 

About the Author

My name is Katrina Hart but my friends call me Katie. I live in the East of England with my family, my two cats–Holly and Smokey–and our dog, Jessie. They are a nutty bunch but I love them all the same.

I have always had a passion for reading. I could easily spend a whole lifetime engrossed in a good book. In my twenties I joined an online writing class where I fell in love with writing my own stories.

Since I started writing I have discovered a new love for quotes. A quote that really inspired me was from Toni Morrison. Toni said: “If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

I came across this quote whilst I was studying. It was one of the many things that inspired me to begin writing Finding Destiny, my first novel.

In addition to Finding Destiny, I’ve written a number of other stories.

 

Links

Blog link http://katrinamarie25.wordpress.com.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Katrina-Hart-1785712648319624/

Twitter  @KatrinaHart2015

Amazon Book Link  UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07P5VP2R4

Amazon US https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07P5VP2R4

 

 

The Poppy Field by Deborah Carr

 

 The Poppy Field

 

Title:                                           The Poppy Field    

Author:                                       Deborah Carr

Publisher:                                   HarperImpulse

ISBN-10:                                       0008301018

ISBN-13:                                       978-0008301019

Date of Publication:                27th Dec 2018 (paperback)

         12th October 2018 (ebook)

Date of Review:                        16th October 2018

 

Synopsis

Young nurse, Gemma, is struggling with the traumas she has witnessed through her job in the NHS. Needing to escape from it all, Gemma agrees to help renovate a rundown farmhouse in Doullens, France, a town near the Somme. There, in a boarded-up cupboard, wrapped in old newspapers, is a tin that reveals the secret letters and heartache of Alice Le Breton, a young volunteer nurse who worked in a casualty clearing station near the front line.

Set in the present day and during the horrifying years of the war, both woman discover deep down the strength and courage to carry on in even the most difficult of times. Through Alice’s words and her unfailing love for her sweetheart at the front, Gemma learns to truly live again.

 

My Review

It’s been a while since I’ve read an historical novel, so with the centenary of Armistice Day approaching, The Poppy Field was a perfect choice.  With a dual timeline, the setting for this third-person narrative juxtaposes the tranquillity of a rural cottage in France 2018 with the same location 100 years ago, where the devastation and horrors of WW1 are only too evident.

In the present day, Gemma is a trauma nurse whose world is torn apart when her lover is rushed into the hospital where she works after a road accident. When he dies and Gemma discovers he wasn’t the man she thought he was, she takes a sabbatical refurbishing the run-down farmhouse that her father has inherited from his cousin. There she finds an old tin box containing two batches of love letters; the first batch between a young woman called Alice Le Breton and a Lieutenant Peter Conway, and the second between Alice and a Captain Edgar Woodhall.

Like Gemma, Alice is also a nurse, albeit under very different circumstances, and the first thing that struck me about Alice’s story was the level of historical research the author must have carried out. There are some epistolary style scenes, but the past element of this narrative is mostly told in a flashback style where I felt like I had been transported back in time to the make-shift hospital tents. The attention to detail with Alice’s story made me both shiver and gasp: I could almost smell the gangrene and taste the blood. As well as this, the realistic historical context makes you really appreciate just how different it must have been to have lived during that era. The way Alice, as a volunteer nurse, is answerable to the matron for her private life, almost like she was a prisoner rather than somebody who has given her free time to help others. This felt a very personal story and really brought Alice’s character to life.

As well symbolising the story’s setting, the book’s title is also a metaphorical emblem of hope and survival against all odds, and as Gemma unravels the mystery of the two sets of love letters, as well as Alice’s identity, parallels between the lives of the two women draw closer together.  Packed with both heartbreak and passion, this emotive narrative will leave you reaching for the tissues; but will Gemma’s heart finds a way to mend and flourish amongst the fields of poppies?

Not only is The Poppy Field a wonderful tribute to the heroes of WW1 but also to those who continue to serve and sacrifice themselves today.  The realistic characterisation, particularly from a historical perspective, makes this novel an ideal story for a screen adaption.

Under Literature Love’s rating scheme

this book has been awarded 5 out of 5 stars

*****

I absolutely loved this book and couldn’t put it down.

I recommend you stop what you’re doing and go and buy this book now!

 

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for an Advance Review Copy of this book in return for an honest and unbiased review.

About the Author

Website: www.deborahcarr.org

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Poppy-Field-Deborah-Carr/dp/0008301018/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-poppy-field/deborah-carr/9780008301019

 

The Last Time We Met by Carol Mason

 

 Last Time We Met

 

Title:                                           The Last Time We Met

Author:                                      Carol Mason

Publisher:                                  Lake Union

ISBN-10:                                     1503902552

ISBN-13:                                      978-1503902558

Date of Publication:                16th October 2018

Date of Review:                        9th October 2018

                                                   

Synopsis

Fifteen years ago in the colourful bustle of Vietnam, Celine and Patrick met and shared four blissful days together. It felt like true love, but soon reality tore them apart and Celine moved on. But now, when she sees him unexpectedly on a busy London street, suddenly nothing else matters.

As she deals with the mixed emotions of an amicable divorce, Celine becomes preoccupied with her daughter and the dating agency she founded—not least when her ex-husband, Mike, asks her to find him someone new. But now her path has crossed with Patrick’s again, is fate determined to pull them back together? Or is it Mike she really wants a second chance with?

Because first love is hard to get over. But real love never lets you go.

 

My Review

This stunning first-person narrative is a heart-breaking yet uplifting story of Celine whose otherwise happy marriage to Mike is torn apart when they both realise she is unable to forget her first love, Patrick. Mike is a good man and Celine loves him; but she’s not in love with him.

When a mysterious matchmaker reunites Celine with Patrick, she’s given a second chance but should Celine let her heart rule her head and choose a relationship full of passion with Patrick; or should she be content with life as a family unit with Mike and their daughter, Aimee?

There are some real tear-jerker moments where we see how the repercussion of family breakdown has affected Aimee, and it is these moments of heightened emotion that really showcase the skill of this author’s literary expertise.

The Last Time We Met is a revised and updated re-release of The Love Market which wasn’t available as a printed edition in the UK when published in 2010.  I can’t tell you how super-excited I am that not only will this fabulous book be available in print, it has also been re-vamped with a contemporary new title along with a gorgeous new book jacket.

But its new title and cover aren’t the only changes. Contemporary language and contextual updates bring a fresh new vibe to the narrative: selfies and Netflix were barely heard of when The Love Market was first published, and poor old Brad Pitt has been dumped as the named heartthrob in favour of Ryan Gosling!  Narrative tweaks give extra depth to the novel:  Carol Mason is one of those authors who just gets better and better with each book, and The Last Time We Met is evidence of how the author has grown and developed as a writer since initial publication.  Structural changes have also been made:  introducing Celine and Patrick’s time together in the past, before we see Celine in her present everyday life (as in The Love Market) gives Patrick’s character more of a voice.  This helps the reader to identify more with Patrick and alters the dynamics of the novel, making the novel’s conclusion even more satisfying.

The Last Time We Met is a beautifully written, thought provoking, and emotive story. I would recommend this book for anybody who likes JoJo Moyes or Dinah Jefferies.

Under Literature Love’s rating scheme this book has been awarded 5 out of 5 stars.

*****

I absolutely loved this book and couldn’t put it down.

I recommend you stop what you’re doing and go and buy this book now!

 

Thank you to the author, Carol Mason, for an Advance Review Copy of this book in return for an honest and unbiased review.

http://www.carolmasonbooks.com/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-Time-We-Met/dp/1503902552/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1534352590&sr=8-1&keywords=the+last+time+we+met

 

 

 

 

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

 

 Nine Perfect Strangers

Title:                                           Nine Perfect Strangers

Author:                                      Liane Moriarty

Publisher:                                 Michael Joseph

ISBN-10:                                    0718180291

ISBN-13:                                    978-0718180294

Date of Publication:              4th October 2018

Date of Review:                      4th October 2018

 

Synopsis

The retreat at health-and-wellness resort Tranquillum House promises total transformation.

Nine stressed city dwellers are keen to drop their literal and mental baggage, and absorb the meditative ambience while enjoying their hot stone massages.  Miles from anywhere, without cars or phones, they have no way to reach the outside world. Just time to think about themselves, and get to know each other.

Watching over them is the resort’s director, a woman on a mission. But quite a different one from any the guests might have imagined. For behind the retreat’s glamorous facade lies a dark agenda.

These nine perfect strangers have no idea what’s about to hit them . . .

 

My Review

With Liane Moriarty’s ‘My Husband’s Secret’ being in my all-time top 5 favourite novels, as soon as I saw this author had a new book out I just knew I wanted to read and review this.

The setting for Nine Perfect Strangers is a ‘health retreat’ where through alternating limited third-person perspectives we get to head-hop into the lives of the different characters. The story starts from Yeo’s Perspective. Yeo is one of the ‘personal wellness consultants’ at Tranquillum House, and through Yeo we are introduced to both his own backstory and that of his boss, Masha.

This is closely followed by visitors to the retreat where we soon discover each character has their own demon they are hoping to eliminate during their stay. Whilst as a group the characters are perfect strangers, some of the characters are related. But with each character hiding behind varying degrees of secrets and lies, the novel’s title metaphorically highlights how couples and families can still be strangers whilst to the outside world they are one unit. The head-hopping narrative works really well in portraying this.

This multi-perspective structure also works well in illustrating how judgemental people can be towards others, particularly with regards to first impressions.  This is quite comedic at times: particularly with the first two characters we meet – Frances and Tony. The first time Tony meets Frances she’s having a menopausal melt down at the side of the road; Tony thinks she’s unwell and stops to help but as a fiction writer, Frances’ creative mind has put Tony down as a serial killer.  Later at Tranquillum House, some of the guests think they know Tony from somewhere; making Francis believe her first instincts were right.  Whether she is or not, you’ll just have to read the book to find out!

As the events at Tranquillam House unfold, the guests are not only forced to face their inner demons but are also forced to ‘bond’ with each other. This results in initial perceptions between the fellow guests to make a dramatic turn and allows the narrative to touch on a number of sensitive issues: in particular grief, loss, and guilt. In true Liane Moriarty style this is executed particularly well, making for an enjoyable and rewarding read.

Under Literature Love’s rating scheme

this book has been awarded 4 out of 5 stars.

*****

I really enjoyed this book.

This book is highly recommended.

Thank you to the publisher, Michael Joseph, for an Advance Review Copy of this book.

 

About the Author

You can find out more about Liane at http://lianemoriarty.com.au/

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Liane-Moriarty/e/B00459IA54/ref=dbs_p_pbk_rwt_abau

https://www.waterstones.com/book/nine-perfect-strangers/liane-moriarty/9780718180294

 

 

 

Bitter by Francesca Jakobi

 

Bitter

 

Title:                                            Bitter

Author:                                        Francesca Jakobi

Genre:                                          Women’s’ Fiction

Publisher:                                   Weidenfeld & Nicolson

ISBN-10:                                       147460756X

ISBN-13:                                        978-1474607568

Date of Publication:                 4th October 2018 (paperback)

Date of Review:                         24th September 2018

 

Synopsis

It’s 1969, and while the summer of love lingers in London, Gilda is consumed by the mistakes of her past. She walked out on her beloved son Reuben when he was just a boy and fears he will never forgive her. When Reuben marries Alice, he seems transformed by love – a love Gilda has craved his entire adult life. What does his new wife have that she doesn’t? And how far will she go to find out? It’s an obsession that will bring shocking truths about the past to light . . .

My Review

Structured around short, fast-paced chapters, this first-person narrative is told from the perspective of Gilda: a twice-divorced, middle-aged woman whose only child has just married. Whilst the protagonist has been characterised as a stereotypical, over-bearing, Jewish mother, this characterisation is uniquely three-dimensional, where past and present timelines are brought together allowing the reader to empathise with Gilda’s heart-breaking story.

Affected by events of the past, Gilda’s relationship with her son, Rueben, is a distant one and her jealousy towards Rueben’s adoration of his new wife soon becomes an obsession for Gilda. But whilst the plot has an abundance of melancholic scenes, these are lifted by the narrator’s wonderfully dry sense of humour, which is prevalent right from the very start. The author’s strong metaphorical imagery is closely linked to this humour: ‘I planned this outfit months ago but this tight, white suit is too tight and too white. And this hat, all the netting …’.

The novel’s title is also metaphorical, with bitter being German for please. As a German girl living in an English boarding school in the early 1930s, when Gilda accidentally reverts to her native language with the use of the word bitter instead of please, she is ridiculed; highlighting Gilda’s both physical and metaphorical displacement in life.

Whilst I wouldn’t call this novel a psychological thriller as such, Gilda’s obsession towards her daughter-in-law comes very close to the line. There are moments of high suspense which will have you holding your breath, which together with its tight chapter structure, makes for an incredible edge-of-the-seat ride: just one little push and things could have turned very nasty indeed on more than one occasion!

But whilst this story has hints of a creepy psychological thriller, it is more a story of love, kindness, and true enduring friendship. This was a thoroughly enjoyable debut and I look forward to reading more from this author. I recommend this book to anybody who likes Carol Mason, Kit de Waal, or  Mary Paulson-Ellis

Under Literature Love’s rating scheme this book has been awarded 5 out of 5 stars.

*****

I absolutely loved this book and couldn’t put it down. I recommend you stop what you’re doing and go and buy this book now!

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley

for an Advance Review Copy of this book

in return for an honest and unbiased review.

 

About the Author

Francesca studied psychology at the University of Sussex, followed by a stint teaching English in Turkey and the Czech Republic. On returning to her native London she got a job as a reporter on a local paper and has worked in journalism ever since. She’s currently a layout editor at the Financial Times.

Bitter is her first novel, inspired by her grandmother who was sued for divorce in the 1940s.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bitter-Francesca-Jakobi/dp/1474607586/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1537798856&sr=8-1

https://www.waterstones.com/book/bitter/francesca-jakobi/9781474607582