Las Vegas – Shopaholic to the rescue – Sophie Kinsella

sophie kinsellaWhy a booktrail?

2000s – Travelling across the Las Vegas desert in an RV to find your missing father may not be the best idea Becky’s ever had…

Story

Becky Bloomwood is the shopaholic of the title who in previous outings has been the bane of her family and especially her bank manager’s life. Now in this latest offering, she is still in contact with him sending him emails and updates of what she’s up to. He’e even writing a book about his days as a bank manager and of course wants Becky to star in it.

But she’s got other things on her mind. Her father has gone missing . Last heard from travelling to Las Vegas where he and a friend have gone “in order to take care of something”

Like a credit card in the middle of a department store sale, Becky is dying to get out there. Las Vegas should be very afraid

Place and Setting

Las Vegas *Bellagio hotel Becky and her friends have breakfast here. The fountains here are a landmark too! *Caesars palace The hotel with a Roman theme where the shopping is fantastic *A Little White Wedding Chapel This just had to be in a visit to Las Vegas if Becky is involved!
Las Vegas
*Bellagio hotel
Becky and her friends have breakfast here. The fountains here are a landmark too!
*Caesars palace
The hotel with a Roman theme where the shopping is fantastic
*A Little White Wedding Chapel
This just had to be in a visit to Las Vegas if Becky is involved!

 

This is Las Vegas but not as you know it. This is Las Vegas seen through the eyes of Becky Brandon née Bloomwood and so when the novel opens with them getting stopped by the police in the middle of the Nevada desert just outside of Las Vegas, you know things are not going to go well.

The Becky bus is filled with characters you would not want on a long road trip across the US, but thankfully they’re only going as far as Las Vegas. Dad has a map from 1972 which traces a route from LA to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon so Becky follows hot on his heels to find them.

Husband Luke drives the RV in and around Las Vegas as the trail goes hot and cold and the diversions ever more wacky. From breakfast at the Bellagio to staying in the Venetian Palace, seeing Las Vegas through the eyes of a (former?) shopaholic is a novel way of seeing the city of sin. As Sin seems to have been replaced with ‘Milkshake cows’ ‘Vogue for Guns’ and reenacting various scenes from the Ocean’s 11 movie.  George Clooney sadly does not make an appearance nor does Brad Pitt.

Oh and Becky being Becky manages to find herself at the Elvis Wedding Chapel to see the finer points of Las Vegas City. She gets involved with dancing, casino gambling, drinking, the local culture, the wild and wacky hotels and discovers that ‘ you can’t line dance in flip flops”

And all the while, she’s supposed to be finding her father! But there’s a plan for that…

Review

I’d only read the first three of the Shopaholic series and well, things have changed haven’t they? Easy to follow though as if you understand Becky’s mindset from the first books and her random thoughts as they continue to veer left and right  – much like the journey across the desert in a RV.

Going on a journey across the USA – well not technically as it’s from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, there are so many ways that a girl and her friends travelling in an RV can get into trouble. And she does. Becky is very accident prone and well gets into muddles you would never expect. You do have to suspend disbelief at points but then this is Becky isn’t it and she has somewhat of a reputation.

She’s not so much a shopaholic in this book as a travel guide with a difference on the lookout for an runaway dad. A crazy girl on a crazy adventure in perhaps one of the craziest cities in the US. I did enjoy the trail side to the story as they crossed the Nevada desert in the search of someone but I think I need to read more of the earlier books to get more out of this one.

I did keep imaging  Isla Fisher in the scenes though and as the star of the show, if this were a future movie, she would have great fun filming this!

Across the States – literary style

USA Tour Today!

MAPS

Now America is a big place that goes without saying but even just by choosing a few select places across any of the 50 states, you can really see and experience a lot of what this vast country has to offer.

Let’s start with a  literary journey with a difference. Once inspired by real events and to guide you around? The wonderful Judy Blume:

Elizabeth, New Jersey

in-the-unlikely-event_248wFrom the author of Are you there God, it’s me Margaret, Judy Blume takes us to New Jersey and a story for adults about how life goes on despite everything.

Miri Ammerman returns to her hometown to mark the anniversary of the worst year of her life. Aged fifteen, she remembers the carefree time of her first time in love. But this was the 1950s when plane travel was new and exciting, when three planes fell from the sky within three months of each other. This  was when her life changed as did everyone else’s in that community.

Judy Blume writes a haunting story of three generations of families, friends, and strangers, whose lives were changed that day. Some people brought closer together and others fell apart. But that day has never been forgotten.

https://thebooktrail.wordpress.com/2015/06/11/in-the-unlikely-event-new-jersey-judy-blume/

The Aleutian Islands, Alaska

Grab your woolies for the next leg of the journey as we’re off to Alaska

all-this-will-belostThe story of a little known event in the second world war which took place in the Aleutian islands of Alaska

June 3, 1942.

No one would think that this tiny and far away place, so distant from the centre of the WW2 would become embroiled in an international situation but on this day it did. For it was on this day that the Japanese Imperial Navy bombed Dutch Harbor in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. This was the start of a war which saw some 2500 Japanese troops invade the islands capturing those of Attu and Kiska.

Against this backdrop, married couple John and Helen are separated by the needs of war. John is war journalist covering events whilst his wife Helen remains back in Seattle.

When John’s plane is shot down, he must decide if to surrender or to survive in the Alaskan wilderness before trying to return home.

https://thebooktrail.wordpress.com/2015/06/08/all-this-will-be-lost-alaska-aleutian-islands-brian-payton/

Now – off to New York

church-of-marveslsThe city that never sleeps!

See it in a whole new light…..

Roll up roll up for what you are about to see will surprise you, shock you and never leave your mind. Are you ready to enter the Church of Marvels…..well, are you?

New York, 1895. The Church of Marvels

The Church of Marvels can be a dangerous place to be. Owned by Friendship Willingbird Church, her two daughters Odile and Belle performed every night. Belle the star of the show as ‘the shape shifter’ and Odile ‘the girl on the wheel’. But now their dreams as well as the sideshow lie in ashes, razed to the ground. Their mother dead and Belle missing.

Over the water, in Blackwell’s lunatic asylum, Alphie wakes up groggy and confused. How did she get here and why isn’t her husband demanding her release? And just who is that strange girl in the corner who refuses to speak?

Back in the ashes of Coney Island, a young man, Sylvan Threadgill works as a privy cleaner. One night he comes across an abandoned new born baby. Since he is an orphan himself, he takes the baby under his wing and vows to track down its mother.

One night, a lot can happen in the Church of Marvels and a great deal more can happen as a result….

https://thebooktrail.wordpress.com/2015/06/03/church-of-marvels-coney-island-nyc-leslie-parry/

Finally…if you dare

New Orleans

the-axemans-jazzBased upon a real unsolved crime – when a killer dubbed, “the New Orleans Axeman” murdered several people between 1918-1919.

Journalist John Riley receives the now infamous letter supposedly from the Axman saying that he is to pass through the city but will spare anyone playing jazz music.

Now back to a few months prior to the letter being sent, with the murders having already started –many victims have already been found butchered, many of the Sicilian grocery store owners. The doors always seemed tp be locked from the inside proving mad theories to emerge as to who this axeman was some kind of phantom –

https://thebooktrail.wordpress.com/2014/05/07/the-axemans-jazz-new-orleans/

The Truth According to Us – Macedonia, West Virginia – Annie Barrows

annie B

Why a booktrail?

In the small town of Macedonia, West Virginia, times are a changing and history comes to light that could change it even more 

Story in a nutshell

In the small town of Macedonia, West Virginia, the Romeyn  family were once one of the most prominent and well known until the Depression hit, and they like everyone else had to adapt to their new circumstances. But life is generally good and uneventful. However things are about to get shaken up big time.

Layla Beck comes to Macedonia, at the behest of her Senator father to write a history of Macedonia for the West Virginia Writers’ Project. This is a scheme set up under Roosevelt’s New Deal to support writers facing hardship. So she starts delving into the town’s history and that lives of its people.

Turns out Macedonia may not be as quiet and uneventful as first thought.

Place and setting

MAP-1

Macedonia, West Virgina is a fictional town although there is a Macedonia in nearby Ohio, this is not the one portrayed in the book. Instead, Macedonia in TTAU is inspired by several small towns in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia particularly Martinsburg (also mentioned in the novel). Annie Burrows tells us more – 

 Martinsburg  Home of a major sock factory called Interwoven Mills, which proudly supplied one quarter of the nation’s males with socks for three or four decades.  My grandfather worked there. Now no longer there, instead we’ve found this historical museum that is worth a visit as it explains the history of Martinsburg and of Belle Boyd ‘the confederate spy’ Romney.  Another source for Macedonia is a small town called Romney Most of the names in the book are derived from graves in Romney’s cemetery, Indian Mound Cemetery   Charles Town where Jottie and Sol go for their tryst, is also a real place, and theh horse show is real.  It is also truly the place where the abolitionist John Brown was hung. Bavarian Inn The Bavarian Restaurant in Shepherdstown, where Felix takes Jottie and the girls to dinner, was not only real in 1938, but is still real today (at least it was a few years ago).   Ice Mountain  where Felix begins his seduction of Layla with ice chips, is a  mountain ridge in West Virginia and is a national natural landmark

Martinsburg
Home of a major sock factory called Interwoven Mills, which proudly supplied one quarter of the nation’s males with socks for three or four decades.  My grandfather worked there. 
Romney.
Another source for Macedonia is a small town called Romney Most of the names in the book are derived from graves in Romney’s cemetery, Indian Mound Cemetery

Charles Town
where Jottie and Sol go for their tryst, is also a real place, and theh horse show is real.  It is also truly the place where the abolitionist John Brown was hung.
Bavarian Inn
The Bavarian Restaurant in Shepherdstown, where Felix takes Jottie and the girls to dinner, was not only real in 1938, but is still real today (at least it was a few years ago). 
Ice Mountain
where Felix begins his seduction of Layla with ice chips, is a  mountain ridge in West Virginia and is a national natural landmark

The time and setting of 1938 in a small town America is evoked in so many ways.

The Federal Writers’ Project was a very real  New Deal jobs program that began in around 1935 before ending in 1943. The year of 1938 was therefore the heyday of the entire project and this is the main setting for the book -this is the year of the second Great Depression after all and was the year before WW2 and the horrors which followed.

Macedonia is a quirky small town community and the people who live there are a delight to meet. Each of them has their own distinctive set of quirks and beliefs and when Leyla comes to town, they are at first reluctant to share their history with her (with this attitude not surprisingly)

‘I can’t stand this poky little town any more. How can I bear it for three more months? Today alone has lasted years…’

– but then start to help share, well their version of history. The Romeyns family also only want to present to the world their edited version of the truth.

The secrets lying beneath the surface of a family with a figurehead such as Jottie may want to stay hidden, but Layla is keen to keep digging, and Jottie could be a good source of information. Niece Willa, aged 12 acts as a kind of mini detective and also starts her own investigation. She doesn’t like the fact that her father Felix is so often away and barely notices her.

Just what will the history of Macedonia reveal? What kind of past does it have and what kind of future is it likely to have after Leyla writes the book? The 150 Celebrations are underway but who knows what will happen once the music stops and the cold harsh reality of day lifts its weary head?

Bookish musings by Susan

I was excited to read this book for many reasons. One was that Annie Barrows was one of the two genius women who wrote The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and well, I was going to read this one straight away.

I was not disappointed. In fact I was drawn into the setting and the characters from the very first page and was enthralled to delve into the lives of the people of small town America. The time period of the depression and the writers project really added historical interest to the story and as soon as Layla started to investigate and  the community try to hide their secrets, I was right there with her, wanting to have a nosy too.

The characters of the story are what make it for me since I felt if I got to know each and every quirky one of them such is the vivid writing and voices of each of them. Jottie I loved and the stories they tell! Wait till you read about the Knock Pie Trail – brilliant and fascinating on so many levels.

I was sad to leave this town and its people – a charming and poignant story.

Church of Marvels – Coney Island, NYC – Leslie Parry

church of marvesls

Why a booktrail?

Roll up roll up for what you are about to see will surprise you, shock you and never leave your mind. Are you ready to enter the Church of Marvels…..well, are you?

Story in a nutshell

New York, 1895. The Church of Marvels

The Church of Marvels can be a dangerous place to be. Owned by Friendship Willingbird Church, her two daughters Odile and Belle performed every night. Belle the star of the show as ‘the shape shifter’ and Odile ‘the girl on the wheel’. But now their dreams as well as the sideshow lie in ashes, razed tp the ground. Their mother dead and Belle missing.

Over the water, in Blackwell’s lunatic asylum, Alphie wakes up groggy and confused. How did she get here and why isn’t her husband demanding her release? And just who is that strange girl in the corner who refuses to speak?

Back in the ashes of Coney Island, a young man, Sylvan Threadgill works as a privy cleaner. One night he comes across an abandoned new born baby. Since he is an orphan himself, he takes the baby under his wing and vows to track down its mother.

One night, a lot can happen in the Church of Marvels and a great deal more can happen as a result….

Place and setting

Coney island Where the church of Marvels once stood Black well’s island (Roosevelt island) Located in the East River, Blackwell's Island was renamed Welfare Island in 1921 and Roosevelt Island in 1973. There has been a prison, an insane asylum and hospitals here. and is where we meet Alphine Broome street Where Sylvan finds the baby Ludlow street Sylvan’s home Doyers Street Searching for Belle takes the trail here Orchard and Broome (91 orchard) A significant spot in the novel
Coney Island
Where the church of Marvels once stood
Blackwell’s Island (Roosevelt island)
Located in the East River, Blackwell’s Island was renamed Welfare Island in 1921 and Roosevelt Island in 1973. There has been a prison, an insane asylum and hospitals here. and is where we meet Alphine
Broome street
Where Sylvan finds the baby
Ludlow street
Sylvan’s home
Doyers Street
Searching for Belle takes the trail here
Orchard and Broome (91 orchard)
A significant spot in the novel

Roll up roll up for Turn of the century New York city is the real star of the show. There’s a lot to see here –  a whole host of diverse and fascinating characters, performers in a sideshow, animals, a shape shifter, Georgette, with her extra set of legs; Aldovar, half man/half woman and Leland the “dwarf.”

Coney Island is the place to be – you’ll see the world go by by standing on Coney island.  A place of fun and amusement but dark deeds as we venture behind the glittering facade into the depths of New York City….

From the Coney Island seashore to the tenement-studded, dirty side streets of the Lower East Side, a spectacular sideshow to a desolate asylum, this night will link three very different people together for life. And the animals too, don’t forget these creatures –

“Wherever they glittered in the afterlife – flying among the high rafters of heaven, swimming with her mother in an undersea cave – she hoped the tigers had known it, and roared.”

From Broome Street to Ludlow street –  When Sylvan finds the baby, he takes her home and tries to find the mother,a  journey which takes him into the darkest corners of the city.

The island – This is no time to be a woman for one – Belle is missing, gone on the run into Manhattan and another is imprisoned in an asylum on Blackwell island. Now renamed Roosevelt island, this was the site of the first asyulm in New York. The scenes here are shocking and raw. The treatment of those incarcerated will chill you as it did us. All the more shocking if based on true fact or even just research.

‘The heady stench – horseshit and roasting chestnuts and trash barrels pulsing with maggots.”

Meanwhile, Belle, escapes into the bowels of Manhattan. this is no world for a woman and least of all one trying to escape her past. The trail takes her to many places around Manhattan  – Doyers Street or maybe the weaver on  Cherry Street can help?

These three characters will show you sides of New York that you have never seen before and will never see again. Their world is vibrant yet solemn, colourful and yet dark but utterly compelling.

“For I’ve found that here in this city, the lights burn ever brighter, but they cast the darkest shadows.”

Bookish musings

Loved this! So evocative of a time and place gone by but a fascinating one that you might not want to go to for real for what you might see, but where you will end up anyway when the magic of Coney Island hits you.

The stories which wove in and out of the side streets, the islands and the nooks and crannies of this fascinating place were a real mix which painted and illuminated a picture of New York in times past. a time where you could do and be anything unless if you were a woman it would seem. The scenes in the asylum were difficult to read and very emotional but they provide a shockingly accurate account of what went on.

Not sure what I liked best – story, characters or setting. Spoilt for choice – like being in a real Church of Marvels, I didn’t know where to look first and was captivated until I left.  A literary visit which will linger for a long while to come.

The Mountain Story – Palm Springs – Lori Lansens

the-mountain-story

Why a booktrail?

Four people go up a mountain near Palm Springs. Three return. What happened up there and why were two of them determined to go up that day in particular?

Story in a nutshell

Wolf Truly has a mission. He’s off to the mountain, his mountain – the one where his memories are not good ones. He takes nothing as he is not intending to come back.

However he is not the only one with a link to the mountain. Three women he meets in the cable car also seem keen to find something there. There’s talk of a secret lake they say, and they want to to find it.

This is not the landscape for being stranded on but that’w what happens when the weather changes and so their bed for the night is a lethal ridge with the lights of the city twinkling below, so close and yet so terrifyingly far away.

Whether anyone will get off the mountain is quite another story…

Place and setting

Palm Springs The region where the novel is set and the landscape is evoked. Coachella Valley The Cahuilla Indian inhabit the area and surrounding area Mount San Jacinto - http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=636 Inspiration for the fictional mountain although the author says that the geography has changed
Palm Springs
The region where the novel is set and the landscape is evoked.
Coachella Valley
The Cahuilla Indian inhabit the area and surrounding area
Mount San Jacintohttp://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=636
Inspiration for the fictional mountain although the author says that the geography has changed

Michigan – Before the mountain

The boys journey and tragic childhood take him from Michigan to a life of troubled days and alcoholism to what is hopefully a happier time with his father’s sister. Tragedy, memories of the mountain and memories of his past cause the young Wolf to pay one last visit, one last look at the imposing mountain –

We can’t take the tram. We gotta climb the bitch”

You shouldn’t probably call her the bitch considering she’s named after a saint”

The mountain – Palm Springs  -Mount St Jacinto is the model for the fictional mountain in the story

This is a story of survival in every sense of the word – and the landscape is harsh and unforgiving.

As we neared the lake I could smell the still water and the lichen frosted rocks and the endangered mountain phlox…the ground beneath us pulsed

Poisonous plants, rocky ledges, rock falls, ragged unsteady ground..and that’s not forgetting the animals they encounter along the way.

Fate isn’t kind to the careless

The day they get lost, Wolf speaks of his unease growing with every steo and his lack of desire to see this secret lake again. it might be nostalgic for one woman in the trip but for him it’s a crime scene.

I tried to remain calm but I knew we were lost. I’d never been lost before. At least not in a mountain setting…

And he has reason to worry for this landscape is unforgiving and raw. It will take you in seconds and stories abound of deaths in this area, dead bodies of people who have tried to survive this mountain and failed. Not all those who come here leave. Everyone knows of the story of the hiker who tried…

Wolf did not intend to leave and the women have reasons of their own for being there. With place names such as Tin Town,  Devil’s Canyon and the Secret Lake, this is a landscape of unforgiving harshness…. but wait what’s that noise? Has help come at last?

You can’t trust mountain acoustics. You think you hear things – waterfalls airplanes voices. It’s just the wind

But someone has heard something…..

Bookish musings

Blimey this was good. If you’ve ever been hiking and worried about getting lost  don’t read this! Ironic that Wolf should be going up the mountain to commit suicide but then find out that the mountain has a lot more in store for him that he realized.

The women he meets – when their stories came out it added to the weird isolation that was already more than building up. Desperate times call for desperate measures. That mountain is unforgiving and will wait for no one.

Four people on a mountain and only three come down…..the fate of the fourth person is tragic as it is the culmination of a series of events from that very first tram up to the mountain station.

The tension builds as the isolation and rawness of the mountain envelopes and pokes each one of the people there.

The legend stories told of men who had died there, poisonous plants and tragic details of the mountain really added to the overall sense of ‘how the hell will they get out of this situation’ the lights from Palm Springs below tends to mock them as they seem so close despite their being so lost.

A mountain tale which shows how suffering and survival in the wilderness show the extremes of the human spirit and how four people can come together under the most pressurized of situations.

Girls on Tour – Around the World – Nicola Doherty

girls on tour

Why a booktrail?

Formerly published at 5 e novellas, now you can literally travel the world with Poppy in Paris, Lily in LA, Maggie in Meribel, Rachel in Rome before heading off the to big apple.

Story in a nutshell 

Even if you’ve never met the four friends who have the most madcap adventures in far flung places around the world, here you can meet them all ‘ on tour’ for the celebrity travellers that they are. Set together in one volume, the journey almost seems like the most extravagant and mad cap adventure in the world.

Poppy, Lily, Maggie, and Rachel. Who will you want to be and where will you want to go? Well now you can now pick this perfect literary package tour. Holiday destinations and a fair few surprises and giggles along the way…

Place and setting

GIRLS-ON-TOUR

There should be a poster for this book – Girls on Tour – certainly reads like a tour and with that song ‘ Here come the girls’ ringing in our ears, this is the perfect moment to read this book.

Paris

Poppy’s off on a work trip to the city of romance. Ironic when she’s in one of her deepest dry spells. Oh and as soon as she arrives and steps off that metro at Odeon station, she sees the familiar Paris sights: the statue of Danton, broad boulevards with tall white buildings, Saint Suplice and the beautiful Jardins de Luxembourg. Oh but the two most iconic sites for a booktrailer are here too – The Shakespeare ad Company book shop and the nearby tea shop ‘ La Fourmi Ailee’ – literally translated as ‘ant with wings’. A very Parisian Jaunt around the city of love, but will it be love for Poppy?

Los Angeles

Lily in LA, where her dream role is ambushed by an all-American dreamboat. Oh the thrills and spills of the city of fame and fortune. Quirky funny observations where Hollywood boulevard reminds her of Bromley! From The treelined avenue of Abbot Kinney boulevard, this is a ride around Venice Beach and the wedding dress shops of the area. But with an American dreamboat not far behind…

Meribel

Maggie is in Meribel, where a romantic skiing holiday turns topsy-turvy.What’s there not to love with the soft white pure snow, hot chocolate, raclette, vin chaud…and plenty of eye candy too to enjoy on the slopes of the French alps

Rome

Ride a Vespa with Rachel in Rome, and follow her and her two besties around the city with history, culture and delectable men. It’s a culinary journey too for it made us want to eat olives, ice cream and sip cappuccinos although not at the same time!

Manhattan

What trip to New York would not want to recreate a little of the Sex and the City magic? Don’t be hungry when reading this for there are cocktails, pancakes and gorgeous treats galore. Oh and when the girls do Manhattan, they do Manhattan – from the tourist sites to the fun things that only girls on holiday can do. There’s a lot of fashion sights too and then Lily shares their real reason for being here..

Bookish musings

Well if you love travel, girlie holidays, thrills and spills of the unexpected, adventure and cocktails then you’re in for a fun ride! Such different characters and different settings for their quirky natures to come alive. Nice how the stories are interlinked and the friendships develop, I wanted to be the fifth girl on the tour to be honest. Thought we’d go to somewhere in Spain, Barcelona for example. Oooh I had it all planned out, the things we would do and the things we would see! I feel I know the girls well enough now to know what each one would like to do on their next jaunt away!

A lot of fun and dashing around the globe seeing each different lifestyles personality and adventures was a great literary trip. Interesting how the settings complimented the girls personalities too – and brought out such different behaviours. I had a song ‘ Girls on tour ‘ with a spice girl theme running in my mind all throughout these five picture postcards of literary jaunts and it made for a great soundtrack.

When you read something like this which could be a travelogue, love story, adventure and challenge to overcome troubles in your life all rolled into one, you just know you’re in for a great ride.

Liar’s Bench – Kentucky – Kim Michele Richardson

The liars bench

Why the booktrail?

In the (fictional) town of Peckinpaw Kentucky,there is a bench built from the remains of a gallows. Called the Liar’s Bench for it knows the secrets of those that sit there and the lies they tell.

Story in a nutshell

Kentucky 1972

Mudas Summers is just turning 17 when her beloved Mama, Ella, is found hanging from the rafters of their home. Did her husband do the deed? Many think so. Others think Ella got sick and tired pf the abuse and did it herself. Mudas or Muddy as she is known wants to know the truth. And it’s not long before she finds strange papers hidden amongst her mama’s possessions.

But Peckinpaw keeps its secrets buried deep.

There is a bench in the town which has been crafted from the gallows of a slave who was hanged hanged a century ago on nearby Hark Hill Plantation. A tribute, a relic–and a caution- and a trail that leads from the past to Muddy’s future.

Place and setting

Peckinpaw - fictional yet set in Kentucky  The fictional town of Peckinpaw is in western Kentucky and sits between the towns of Paducah and Hopkinsville: Owensboro KY where the last public hanging was held - The hanging took place in Owensboro KY: http://visitowensboro.com/ Lexington A town nearby  Nashville Tommy and her mum take her there and mum lives here with Tommy
Peckinpaw – fictional yet set in Kentucky
The fictional town of Peckinpaw is in western Kentucky and sits between the towns of Paducah and Hopkinsville
Owensboro KY where the last public hanging was held – The hanging took place in Owensboro KY: http://visitowensboro.com/
Lexington
A town nearby
Nashville
Tommy and her mum take her there and mum lives here with Tommy

Peckinpaw is fictional yet could be based on Owensboro as this is also a river town where the last public hanging took place in 1936

The inspiration for dear Frannie and Amos’ Liar’s Bench came from the author’s husband who told when my husband told me the story of his father attending last public hanging – Rainey Bethea on August 14, 1936 in the little river town of Owensboro KY.

The time and place of Kentucky via fictional Peckinpaw are evoked via language and of course vivid description –

I looked at Mama’s home – the bare windows curtained with nothing more than bird droppings splattered down the panes, it was hard to believe that a banker’s daughter and a once prominent member of he Peckinpaw community lived in this rundown old clapboard held together by peeling paint and thick moss layered over shadowed boards.

The lies and the liar’s bench –

When a lie seeps into the very heartwood of a town, soaks the beams and posts that hold it up from the earth, the rot sets to its work

Two hangings many years apart tell the story of the volatile environment of the South. Mrs Anderson watches :

A parasol’s long fringe tassels hid the mistress’s expression just as he string of lies hid the truth.

The troubled and volatile south is a tough place to be and Peckinpaw sounds like a typical and difficult place to live for children such as Muddy. The threat of public hangings and the relationship between owners and slaves evokes  a time of hardship, deep seated racism and a lack of deep old Southern animosity at that time.

Gritty, rugged, raw like the landscape of Peckinpaw.

Bookish musings

First of all, the author sent me a link to a real life Liar’s Bench that I really want to share with you –

A liar’s bench: Small town life captured by Frank M Hohenberger in Indiana 1923 in this photo. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/229894755954781422/

An interesting and gritty tale of two cases of hanging and racial prejudice in the deep south. The two cases and the link of the liar’s bench between them is an  interesting link and it is at the centre of all that happens in the novel.

The time and place come alive with the dust on the road and the wind through the trees. Whilst most bears witness to the difficulties of life in small-town Kentucky, there are some memorable and even amusing lines

“He cursed loud enough to shake the dust off a field crow”

And I for one was both intrigued and surprised to read of a game called Cow Plop Bingo.

However, the serious side to the story is what lingers here and the secrets of one small town and the complicated mix of characters within it. the thought of a bench in the middle of the town square where the ghost of Frannie Crow sits and where the lies seep in still, was a spooky and ethereal feel to the whole novel.

Fascinating.

Brings back a period of time and a way of life that is raw, gritty and ultimately fascinating.