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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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

 

 

I Invited Her In by Adele Parks

I Invited Her In

 

 

Title:                                           I Invited Her In

Author:                                      Adele Parks

Publisher:                                 HQ – HarperCollins

ISBN-10:                                     000828461X

ISBN-13:                                     978-0008284619

Date of Publication:              18th September 2018

Date of Review:                      29th August 2018

 

Synopsis

‘I invited her in… and she took everything.’

When Mel hears from a long-lost friend in need of help, she doesn’t hesitate to invite her to stay. Mel and Abi were best friends back in the day, sharing the highs and lows of student life, until Mel’s unplanned pregnancy made her drop out of her studies.

Now, seventeen years later, Mel and Abi’s lives couldn’t be more different. Mel is happily married, having raised her son on her own before meeting her husband, Ben. Now they share gorgeous girls and have a chaotic but happy family home, with three children.

Abi, meanwhile, followed her lover to LA for a glamorous life of parties, celebrity and indulgence. Everything was perfect, until she discovered her partner had been cheating on her. Seventeen years wasted, and nothing to show for it. So what Abi needs now is a true friend to lean on, to share her grief over a glass of wine, and to have some time to heal. And what better place than Mel’s house, with her lovely kids, and supportive husband…

This dark, unsettling tale of the reunion of long-lost friends is thoroughly gripping exploration of wanting what you can’t have, jealousy and revenge from Sunday Times bestseller Adele Parks.

My Review

I Invited her In is exactly the kind of book I love to curl up with: where one small act from the past has come back to haunt the protagonist with devastating consequences. Domestic noir type thrillers suck me right into the plot: not too blood thirsty but spine-tingling creepy, and all too real like it could happen to anybody.

Starting with a prologue, the narrative has a mixed point-of-view: first-person for Mel (and a couple of chapters near the end for her son, Liam, and his girlfriend, Tanya) and third-person for Abi and Ben. This works really well, leaving the reader in no doubt who they should be routing for.

Whilst Mel made a stupid and selfish mistake in the past, she is just far too considerate for her own good. Who takes in somebody they haven’t seen for the best part of twenty years and lets them stay for as long as they like? You just know there’s going to be trouble and although Mel is likeable there were times when I just wanted to scream at her to throw Abi out. Mel feels guilty for what she did to Abi when they were at uni together and is so intent on trying to make it up to her she puts her before those who matter the most. She is also blinded to her flaws and selfishness. A recipe for disaster!

With both Ben and Abi having substantial third-person narrative parts in the story, this adds a further layer of dramatic irony, giving a nail-biting and page-turning read. Luckily Mel has the most amazing husband and Abi’s scheming plans to destroy Mel aren’t as easy as she thought they’d be. But Abi isn’t about to give up on her revenge and what she does next will leave you reeling. Whilst I did guess what happened in the past fairly early on in the plot, how Abi exacts her revenge is a unique twist on what could have been a cliched story.

This was a brilliant read with a great twist at the end. I recommend this book for anybody who likes Lisa Jewell or Louise Jensen.

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 HQ for an Advance Review Copy of this book in return for an honest and unbiased review.

https://www.adeleparks.com/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Invited-Her-twisted-friendship-bestselling/dp/000828461X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535536813&sr=8-1&keywords=i+invited+her+in

 

 

While I Was Sleeping by Dani Atkins

while i was sleeping

 

Title:                                           While I Was Sleeping

Author:                                      Dani Atkins

Publisher:                                 Simon & Schuster UK

ISBN-10:                                    1471165930

ISBN-13:                                    978-1471165931

Date of Publication:              23rd August 2018

Date of Review:                      20th August 2018

 

Synopsis

What if someone else was living your happy ever after?
When Maddie wakes up in a hospital bed, she can’t remember anything about what happened to her or what has changed.
She just remembers she was about to be married and had everything to look forward to.
But it seems life has become a lot more complicated while she has been asleep …

 

My Review

Maddie has everything to live for: loving parents, a gorgeous fiancé who adores her, and a baby on the way. The icing on the cake is her fairy tale wedding which is just a few days away. But when she believes she is being followed she makes a decision that has devastating consequences and when she wakes from a coma nothing is as she remembers.

In contrast, with no family of her own, Chloe leads a solitary life. The only thing she has to look forward to is her job at the library and the volunteer work she does at the local hospital.

This is the first novel I’ve read by this author and had an open mind as to its genre. I knew love was a theme running through the story but with its initial fast paced narrative which sees Maddie trying to escape from somebody she believes to be stalking her, I visualised the narrative going down the domestic noir route. But I was wrong.

The novel is structured around a dual first-person narrative from both Maddie and Chloe’s perspectives. When Maddie wakes from a coma the plot twists come thick and fast and foreshadows the grief and anguish to follow.  However, as the story progresses, the pacing slows down and moves to a more literary style. Although not a lot happens during this part, I was still hooked by the author’s all-consuming style of writing. The story picks up when Chloe takes over as the narrator. Prior to this, Chloe had been cast as the antagonist; but with her own sad story to tell it’s easier to empathise with her. Although to be honest, my loyalty as a reader was with Maddie throughout.

As the lives of these two women intertwine their lives become more and more complicated.  But whilst Maddie and Chloe should be enemies, this is an uplifting story of compassion and friendship where jealousy and insecurities are forced to one side as they work together to overcome adversity for the sake of the person who they both love more than anything in the world.

Under Literature Love’s rating scheme, this book has been awarded 5 out of 5 stars for its genre. This means:

*****

         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 Simon & Schuster UK for an Advance Review Copy of this book.

 

An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

 

 An Unwanted Guest

 

Title:                                An Unwanted Guest

Author:                           Shari Lapena

Publisher:                      Bantam Press

ISBN-10:                          0593079647

ISBN-13:                         978-0593079645

Date of Publication:   26th July 2018

Date of Review:           8th August 2018

 

Synopsis

We can’t choose the strangers we meet.

As the guests arrive at beautiful, remote Mitchell’s Inn, they’re all looking forward to a relaxing weekend deep in the forest, miles from anywhere. They watch their fellow guests with interest, from a polite distance.

Usually we can avoid the people who make us nervous, make us afraid.

With a violent storm raging, the group finds itself completely cut off from the outside world. Nobody can get in – or out. And then the first body is found . . . and the horrifying truth comes to light. There’s a killer among them – and nowhere to run.

Until we find ourselves in a situation we can’t escape. Trapped.

 

My Review

After reading The Couple Next Door and A Stanger in the House, I was super excited to learn Shari Lapena’s third book An Unwanted Guest was due for publication. Shari Lapena is one of those authors I just know is going to give me a great read, but after reading the synopsis I was in two minds. If I’m honest it did sound a bit cliché Agatha Christie: a group of strangers stranded in an old building with no power who get popped off one by one. But did I enjoy this book as much as the other books by this author? Read on to find out!

Most contemporary thrillers are written in first-person, drawing the reader into the protagonist’s frame of mind. This novel, however, has an omniscient third-person perspective which works really well for this whodunit mystery type thriller. With a large and varied cast of characters and no main protagonist, the all-knowing third-person narration gives a more traditional feel as if being told the story from the outside looking in; the reader being privy to the thoughts and feelings of the whole cast, allowing them to draw their own conclusions as to what is going on and adding a further layer of suspense through dramatic irony.

By the end of the first hook where we find out one of the characters recognises one of the other characters, I was completely captivated.  Although, on the surface, the plot doesn’t sound that original, the narrative is so well written, and the characters are so compelling, I could have quite happily devoured the whole book in one sitting. There are lots of twists and turns and red herrings along the way, and when the murderer was revealed it wasn’t the person I thought it would be.

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

SHARI LAPENA  is the internationally bestselling author of The Couple Next Door and A Stranger in the House. She was a lawyer and an English teacher before turning her hand to fiction. She lives in Toronto.

https://www.sharilapena.com/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Unwanted-Guest-Shari-Lapena/dp/0593079647/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1533734902&sr=8-1&keywords=an+unwanted+guest

https://www.waterstones.com/book/an-unwanted-guest/shari-lapena/9780593079645