World Book Day and World Book Night 2015

World Book Night in the UK is a smart, fun way to give away books and spread the joy of reading.

We love Harold Fry so are sharing his story with people we want to encourage to read more…

It’s a well loved tail…….we’ve put bows on and put them in pretty envelopes…

Bear

Harold is on his journey. First Devon….

devon-sign

Then he’s going to head on up the UK giving books out as he goes…. no Harold no posting! Or where would your story have ended up if you’d posted that letter in the first place!?

postbox

Happy reading everyone! We’d love to hear about what you are doing today and which book you’re giving out. Hop over to Facebook as we’re following Harold on his bookgiving journey all the way from Devon to Berwick upon Tweed!

https://www.facebook.com/thebooktrail

Go on Harold!

Advertisements

A Place for Us – London, Bath, Paris, Florence – Harriet Evans

22673162 (1)

Why a booktrail?

Welcome to Winterfold, a fictional town in England but one you can visit with this tale of a secret hidden in the past…..

Story in a nutshell

Ooh a secret that comes out after 80 or so years…….An old woman who has kept this secret is finally ready to tell it and so she calls her family to the home in Winterfold (apparently somewhere near Bath) and a secret that could ruin the idyllic life she and her husband David have spent over fifty years building…

But she has to let her family know what she and David have sacrificed. She can’t live a lie any more.

The pretty house in the countryside is the setting for the secret reveal but what will happen once things are out in the open? will the peace and tranquility be shattered for ever?

Place and setting

 slade school of art http://www.ucl.ac.uk/slade The national gallery - http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/ Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN
 chapel market - where david walks past and eats an apple thinking of how he got out of a bad situation The Lyons corner house at marble arch where david sits to meet someone Stonehenge - Cat and Luke visit here  winterstoke - an old area in somerset bath denoting old feudal and tax boundaries  Florence - Via Dei Sapiti Rue de Charonne in Paris

LONDON – slade school of art http://www.ucl.ac.uk/slade
The national gallery – http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/

chapel market – where david walks past and eats an apple thinking of how he got out of a bad situation
The Lyons corner house at marble arch where david sits to meet someone
BATH – Stonehenge – Cat and Luke visit here
BATH  – winterstoke – an old area in somerset bath denoting old feudal and tax boundaries
Florence – Via Dei Sapiti
Rue de Charonne in Paris

The setting is a time gone by – a peaceful ramshackle house deep in the English countryside where the scent of wisteria climbing up the walls floats alongside the aroma of something being baked within. gingerbread covered hands wiped on tea towels then someone comes to the beautifully painted door opening to let you in. Only when you get inside, and meet your mother, she sits you down and tells you the truth, shattering everything you believed in in the process….

The settings come to life in the snippets learned from flashbacks –

Husband David – David was just a young boy living in London during WW2. some of the most fascinating scenes are set here and the life of the young man in such a turbulent time is captivating as well as being vital to understand later on in the book.

He met Martha at the Slade School of Art and wonders what would have happened if he had not met her that day. She had saved him and that is something he is sure about.

Florence – Daughter Florence is an academic/Professor of art and lives in – Florence in the via dei Sapiti! Her lack of social skills and awkwardness is endearing compared to others in the family.

Paris – Cat spends a lot of time in Paris and eats at the Abesses and at the Bar Georges on the Rue De Charonne. Ambling through life as indeed she does through the streets of Paris.

Bookish thoughts

Originally posted in four parts like a serial read, I would think each part would make you read the next so it would be easier to read all in one volume such as this one. I would think that a  book format rather than an ebook would be better as in the earlier part, each chapter flits from one character to the next and I often had to check back.

The story is in the form of a saga and I just love it when old people give up their secrets and reveal something to their children years later. Many of my favourite reads involve such a scenario and so I was enthralled from the get go. Despite a slow start, the tension and intrigue do build and I was really wanting to know what happened but also not sure that I did – as if I was one of the family.

Tell you what though, despite the darkness behind the facade, living in Winterfold sounds very nice indeed.  A family saga that spans time periods, war and peace, london and italy and a range of characters with secrets and histories of their own if Harriet ever decides to branch out and explore this more.

Which I hope she does.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry – Devon to Berwick – Rachel Joyce

harold-fry (1)

This book with its ready made map in the beginning is just crying out for a booktrail! It is a booktrail ready made!

Story in a nutshell 

Harold Fry is convinced that he must deliver a letter to an old love in order to save her, meeting various characters along the way and reminiscing about the events of his past and people he has known, as he tries to find peace and acceptance.

He walks all the way from Devon to Berwick for one reason and soon discovers that the journey throws up many questions and thoughts and that is before he has ever got to his destination!

This is such a sweet and uplifting story but never saccharine sweet or overdone. You will laugh and cry and moan at Harold but you will always will him on and encourage him to get to the next place. Extremely well written and people well observed – a character study and a tale of hope if ever we read one!

The booktrail to beat all booktrails!
The booktrail to beat all booktrails!

Well if this not the ultimate booktrail and tour of the UK by a literary character then we don’t know what is. Harold walks from the south of the country to the North in search of his special friend Queenie Henessey and it takes him through some of the most lovely cities and places in the country.

Follow the map and see the main parts of Harold’s journey – from Devon right up to Berwick on the border with Scotland via Exeter, Bath, Sheffield and the city of York.

Harold Travel Tips

He buys 4 table mats from the gift shop at Bickley Mill – “which offer laminated views of Devon” – http://www.bickleighmill.com/

Tries a Regency bath cream tea in a Bath tearoom and also stops for a rest in Bagley Green, Somerset. 

The reason we loved this book was its simplicity and overriding message of hope. As Harold himself says in  a letter to Queenie: “I am on my way. All you have to do is wait. Because I’m going to save you. I will keep walking, and you must keep living.”

This was a charming novel for many reasons – the way in which Harold set off in flimsy shoes to walk all the way to Berwick to do what he thought was right, to see his love and respect for Queenie, to understand the problems in his life and what he thought about them, and to learn of the people he meets along the way – those that tell their own stories or help him to achieve his.

have-you-seen-harold-fry

Along the way Harold thinks a lot about his life and how he has acted with certain situations and with his family. It’s only when he talks to others along the way that he soon realises that other people – those he meets on the way are also struggling with inner turmoil – struggling to put one foot in front of the other both literally and figuratively.

It’s very sad in parts but ultimately this is not a sad read. I cheered for Harold! I smiled as I imagined him and the dog running along side him, I was sad when he injured his feet – I thanked those who gave Harold hope and encouragement. But all the while I wanted to hug him and tell him to carry on as so many people were right behind him.

Harold could be any one of us – a simple normal person with regrets, a threadbare marriage and a dedication to a true friend. I often wondered what Queenie would make of all this – did she realise what was going on?

Happily Rachel has written Queenie’s story which we booktrail next- back to the world of Harold Fry? Yes please

The dark secrets of 1800s Bath

Bath, England, 1821.

16160831

 

The story in a nutshell –

Rachel Crofton is a governess but an unhappy one and so when she marries a charming self-made businessman, she sees it as a way out and the chance of a better life.

It is not long before she is asked to be the companion of friends of her husband  – and especially to a man called Jonathan Alleyn who is both reclusive and tortured in many ways due to the war. He is also harbouring harrowing memories of the how his childhood sweetheart Alice simply disappeared.

Starling meanwhile is a servant in the Alleyn family. She knew Alice years algo and loved her as a sister. she believes something else happened to alice and that jonahan is to blame.

Whatever the truth is, she is determined to get to it.

Rachel is also finding her experiences in the Alleyn household disturbing and she is also keen to find out what really is going on in that dark strange house. She finds the atmosphere at home repressive too and so she becomes even further entwined in the Alleyn’s world

There is some shocking and unsettling behind Bath’s immaculate facades. And the curtains are twitching….

 

The dark ,twisting streets of Bath - image courtesy of Wikipedia
The dark ,twisting streets of Bath – image courtesy of Wikipedia

 

The setting of Bath in the 1800s is nicely done

 

Marshlands
Marshlands

The day the child walked in from the march was one of deadening cold

 

The home of the reclusive Jonathan Alleyn –

 

Lansdown Crescent Bath - Wikipedia
Lansdown Crescent Bath – Wikipedia

The kitchen of the house on Landsdown Crescent , in Bath, had a vaulted ceiling and tall windows to compensate for being below street level.

The city was a tangled mess….

 

This and other houses are hiding deep dark secrets….Jonathan Alleyn for one with his black mood and his pain etched in his face and evident in his angry outbursts. Rachel is also determined to find out more about the past. She wanders the streets as she explores them, as if searching for the truth in the walls –

milsom-street-sign

Since her retreat from Milsom Street, she had taken to explore the narrower streets behind and between, where the backs of buildings piled on top of one another as they marched and down the city’s steep hills

There is mystery everywhere – what happened to Alice and will Starling or Rachel, coming from so different worlds, be able to find the answers on the marshes?

small

 

What happened to Alice all those years ago? and will Starling and Rachel be able to discover Bath’s dark truths?

Will either of them be prepared for what they find?

A thrilling ride thought Bath and despite being set in the 1800s this gives the reader familiar with the streets now or not, to wander around the cobbles and narrow streets, along to Landsdown crescent and across the marshes, by the tow path that runs along the river….