Southampton/London – The Widow – Fiona Barton

widow350

Why a booktrail?

2010: You know those women who stand beside their husbands who have been accused of terrible crimes? What do the wives really think and know?

Story

Told in three separate voices – the reporter, the detective and the widow of course following the death of the widow’s husband, accused of abducting a two year old girl. When the husband dies, the woman who has stood by his side all this time gets to talk and say her piece. The story starts as the reporter comes to the widow’s door and flashbacks show why and what events have led to this point. What did Jean really know of Glen and his past? What really does go on behind closed doors?

Place and setting

Screen shot 2016-01-13 at 22.53.00
*Greenwich London Where Jean worked as a hairdresser when she meets Glen *Premier inn South London where Sparkes and co eat breakfast before calling on the widow *Southampton Westland Bella goes missing from here *Southhampton police station where the police enquiry is centered from. Bob Sparkes is from the Hampshire police force

Bella a two year old girl has been abducted from her garden  in Southampton and the main suspect is Glen Taylor who works as a delivery driver. When the police arrive to question him, the secrets start spilling out and Glen Taylor’s character is revealed in flashbacks and drip by drip revelation.

Four years after the little girl has gone missing, Glen dies and this is when Jean says that she will speak and tell her side of the story. A lot has happened since this time. The setting here is behind closed doors and into the darkest recesses of the human mind.

One terrible crime unsettling in the nature of it and the suspect that Glen is one part of a much bigger criminal activity involving children. Chilling and unsettling. How would it feel to be married to someone suspected of this? Jean needs to start talking and stop acting the quiet, meek little woman in the dark.

What happens when the cameras of the world stop watching and life attempts to carry on…

Review

What secrets are hidden inside a marriage. When one is suspected of a crime, can the other person really not know what was going on? Fiona starts the novel by stating that she has worked as a journalist and mentions the range of people she has interviewed from victims to suspect and that it’s not always the people in the spotlight that leave the biggest impression. She says we have all seen the widow on the television and wondered what she knew and that this is her story. It was quite a story and although I felt really uncomfortable reading the sections about child abuse and those who commit it, the bits where you got to see the relationship between the media and the people involved was interesting.

I really didn’t know how to feel about Jean though as she changed quite considerably throughout the story. The whole novel centered around what she did and didn’t know and so the end was for me a bit…i’m not sure. I’ve been thinking about this and I’m still not sure several days after having read it.

But that is the sign of a book that gets you in some way – an unreliable narrator and getting inside a trial by media. This for me was the most interesting part of the novel and the fact that Fiona was such an expert on it really gave it added depth.

Susan booktrailer

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Chocolate locations with Carole Matthews

Chocolate lovers
Why a booktrail?

2000s: How lovely is it to spend Christmas with Carole Matthews. She has chocolate!

Story

The third book in the chocolate lovers series sees a Christmas themed book more Christmassy than Christmas itself. The Chocolate Lovers Club is bigger and better than ever. Lucy has been managing the shop Chocolate Heaven for nine months now and it’s the place to meet for her and friends Nadia, Chantal and Autumn.

There are chocolate recipes to discover, some more traditional than others. And for the friends, a boyfriend, a former fiance and the chance of finding new love all wrapped up with a huge Christmas bow!

Place and Setting

Screen shot 2015-12-22 at 13.54.24
The three places connected by friendship and chocolate

London

What can we say – this is  a walk underneath a chocolate fountain. Even in the end notes, Carole writes of her ahem ‘ research’ for this novel such as a tour with the Chocolate Ecstasy Tours. She’s even had a chocolate weekend or two at the Three Ways House hotel in Mickleton.  They have chocolate weekends!!! The friends she’s met -rather like those in the book have bonded over a love of chocolate and like love she says, it seems to be a universal language.

In London, the chocolate shop is in the city where the Christmas spirt is alive and well. The crowds are out in Oxford street and Hamleys is buzzing with kids and more kids. However the four friends spend their time, chatting, and just getting through their family and romantic entanglements.

“Chocolate Heaven is still a place of refuge to all of us in times of need, A little corner of this earth that wraps up in in cosiness, comforts us and feeds us chocolate. Hurrah! Long may it thrive.”

Keswick

The outing to Keswick is where both Carole’s and the girls spiritual home is.  Cumbria cottage is in the village, it still has  high street like the villages of old. A traditional time gone by. “It was pretty stone buildings ”Nadia doesn’t think she has seen anywhere quite so lovely. “ The Lakes is  a place to rest and relax when you need to escape the buzz of London if only for a while.

Bruges

And Bruges – the home of chocolate on the continent. There’s a Christmas market and a myriad of chocolate shops like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

“Bruges looks flipping fabulous in its festive garb.”

Review

This is a warm feeling of a novel. A mug of Hot chocolate topped with marshmallows and sugar sprinkles. Never is it sickly sweet however yet it gives you the same feeling – tasty, warm, and very inviting. And afterwards you sit back with a huge smile on your face and this book is so realistic on the chocolate front that I swear I had a chocolate tash as well.

It goes without saying that you have to eat chocolate whilst eating this book or at least have some to hand as you’ll be racing out that door to get some when you start reading. I’d read the other books and had experienced that before so I was prepared. Well it would be rude not to I thought.

Carole’s writing is always warm and friendly and I enjoyed meeting the friends again. This is what true friendship is all about – laughs, support through troubled times and advice aplenty. I loved Lucy who goes all out to get new recipe ideas and her trip to Bruges! Well that had me chuckling.

These friends have been through a lot together and what a wonderful way to wrap up their story with a Christmas bow. The next book is out early next year and there’s a new development! Can’t wait.

Susan booktrailer

Denmark – Lone Theils – A Writer to Watch…

Today we welcome Lone Theils to the Booktrail sofa as she chats about her book Fatal Crossing – Pigerne fra Englandsbåden in Danish. This debut takes place in both Denmark and the UK and is set in the modern age of globalisation

LONEThe star of the show? Nora Sand – the no-nonsense kickboxing UK correspondent for Danish newspaper Globalt starts to investigate a suitcase and onto the trail of two Danish girls that disappeared in 1985.A chilling story inspired very much by true events…

Lone – welcome to the Booktrail and thank you for this yummy liquorice! Salted Poletter – there’s nothing like it!

Why did you choose to mix Scandinavian noir with traditional British crime?

It was natural to me, because I love both genres and I am in a way a mixture myself. I have spent most of my professional life working as a journalist out of London and so when I travel between the UK and Denmark I always say, I am going home to Denmark and I am going home to London when I travel the other way. It kind of makes sense to me.

I just love a great crime novel and I used to gobble up Agatha Christie from when I was 12 years old, later on I started on Sjöval and Wahlö, so in a way I am a product of both traditions.

Nora Sand is quite the no-nonsense kickboxing main character? Can you tell us more about her?

She is a complex person. In many ways she is so used to taking care of herself that she finds it difficult to let anyone help her or even think that asking anyone for help is an option. In that respect she is a bit annoying, you could say. But she is also this clever and quite tough journalist who knows both how to use her brain and also can use kickboxing to get out of a sticky situation.

This is mainly inspired by my own great love of kickboxing, which I do a couple of times a week.

I think there has been a tendency to let female heroines be smart, but not so physical, and I thought: Why not? Why can´t a woman be smart AND take action and defend herself?

Women can do both, I feel, and maybe that is part of my Scandinavian heritage, the Pippi Longstocking idea that girls a strong. (Pippi can, after all, lift a horse) and she is dead clever.

pigerna_fra_englandsbåden_omsl-e1439289174816Your novel is inspired by true events. Can you tell us more about this?

I read this story in Politiken online which just really stayed with me. Not least because it was illustrated by an old photo of two girls taken at the central station in Copenhagen many years ago. The story was this: In the US a serial killer had been apprehended and convicted for a number of murders, but the police suspected there were more victims. He had a pattern where he would photograph people before he killed them. After he was put on death row, the police found a storage room he had rented, and in there they unearthed literally piles of photos of unknown people. Potential victims. The background of one of these photos made it clear it had been taken in Denmark and for that reason the police in the US had contacted their Danish colleagues to try to establish who the girls were, and if they were alive at all. The piece I read was basically the Danish police appealing for information: Did anybody know these girls?

In real life they turned out to be alive. But the story stuck with me, the idea that after many years a photo would emerge who could solve a crime. I moved the setting to the ferry between Denmark and England and made the serial killer British. Deliberately I did not read more on the real story, so as to feel free to make my own twisted plot.

Your job is reporter for the Danish newspaper Politiken how has this helped or shaped your writing?

It has helped in more ways that I can count. First of all I has sent me to many corners of the UK, so it has given me knowledge about how people live, talk and what things really look like. I often approach setting a scene in the story as I would write a feature article. What details are important, how you capture people´s dialogue.

Secondly, just being a journalist gives you a good working relationship with the act of writing. You have had to respect thousands of deadlines during a working life, so you know that sometimes you cannot spend five hours waiting for inspiration. Sometimes you just sit down and get on with it, so the working discipline is there. Also as a journalist, I think you get less sensitive to editing. Which is a good thing, because what most people don’t know is that there is so much editing work with a book. So it helps that you don’t feel like crying when your editor says you have to cut five pages of this or that.

Finally it has of course helped me that I am a journalist myself and has a job that is similar to Nora´s. I know how it works to be a correspondent. Both the good and bad parts and I try to make that a part of the book.

Denmark

What are the things you miss about living in Denmark? What English habit or word do you still find amusing?

I miss most of all my nieces and nephews, they are 4 to 8 years old and they don’t really get why I need to live so far away from them. One of my nephews actually at some point called me Auntie London instead of Auntie Lone. I miss friends, but it is pretty easy to stay in touch these days.

Oh, and every time I am in Denmark I stock up on Danish rye bread and liquorice (I don’t know why the Brits do not see the beauty of salty liquorice, such as Poletter  – What is not to like?)

I have in some respect turned so British in all these small things that you almost stop to notice. Such as apologizing when people bump into you, being overly polite when people are being rude to you. And I believe I have gotten the art of saying Really? as I arch my eyebrows just so down to a t. I believe in the healing powers of a good cuppa, and I even put vinegar on my chips (admittedly that last bit did take me a while to pick up on).

But there are things that I still get a little bit baffled by such as cricket (I respect it and love the white outfits, but I just cant seem to grasp the finer points), carpets on bathroom floors and how some of the more sordid papers are actually selling so well despite being so full of blatantly non-journalistic stories.

Now then – a lighter topic for a moment. What about Danish cake and drink?

One of the most Danish of cakes is, in my opinion the Brunsviger. It is a quite bready cake but with a completely decadent slather of a thick layer of brown sugar mixed with butter which melts into it in the oven. For added naughtiness some people eat with ice cold whipped cream. My mum used to make that as a birthday cake when I was a kid and would even decorate it with sweets.

For drink, a very Danish thing that I have for some reason never seen in the UK is elderberry cordial. I don’t mean the cordial you make from the flowers (which I also love), but the small black berries. It taste amazing and is also full of C-vitamins. I swear by the stuff in wintertime and I feel secretly and somewhat irrationally convinced that drinking it with hot water and sometimes a bit of fresh ginger will cure anything from flu to heart ache. I don’t know why it hasn’t caught on in the UK.

Where are you from in Denmark and why does the landscape fascinate an English audience do you think?

I was born in Holstebro, which is in the WestDENMARKern part of Jutland, not quite as rough as Søndervig, but pretty close. Western Jutland is a place where most of the trees point East because of the hard wind coming in from the West and where people tend to not speak too much and just get on with it. It probably would not be too far off to compare it a bit with Scotland. What I mostly loved about my hometown was that there was an amazing library. It played a great part in my life long love affair with books.

I feel I belong to many places in Denmark now, I lived in Århus, in Copenhagen and I have a Summer house now in Djursland. But part of me will always have a streak of Western Jutland in me. For better or for worse.

Please share with us a fun Danish word, phrase or saying.

I once had a British friend coming over for a visit to Denmark and she was laughing really hard when we passed a shop with a sign that proudly pronounced that here was a Boghandel.

You can see what she must have been thinking. In Danish it means book store. Also as a writer there is a great satisfaction when you can write the word Slut in your book. Because in Danish it means The End.

Not such a great phrase in English.

And on that note, we decide to finish the rather nice salty licquorice she’s brought. Lone you are more than welcome back.

Twitter – @LoneTheils

Facebook: /ForfatterLoneTheils

Web: www.litteratursiden.dk

London – London’s Glory Bryant and May – Christopher Fowler

londons gloryWhy a booktrail?

A selection of short stories showcasing London’s finest crime fighting duo at the Peculiar Crimes Unit

Story

There are some cases that as a police officer you never forget. Cases that aren’t even properly explained in the telling of your stories so when there is a chance to revisit these cases and investigate them in detail, the result is a unique caseload entitled ‘London’s glory’

Call them cold cases, old cases, call them what you will, but be sure that as Bryant and May cases there will be careful consideration to get things cleared up.

As the doors of the Peculiar Crimes Unit reopen, the files of investigations with settings as diverse as a circus freak show, on board a London Tour bus and even a yacht off the coast of Turkey come under the spotlight

Place and Setting

Oxford Circus The story of the Secret Santa in Selfridges department store Caledonian Road The location of the Peculiar crime unit Primrose hill has an interesting history Bow street A location of the peculiar crime unit Marble Arch where the tour bus starts from on the tour New Victoria Line History of the underground station starts here
Oxford Circus
The story of the Secret Santa in Selfridges department store
Caledonian Road
The location of the Peculiar crime unit
Primrose Hill
has an interesting history
Bow street
A location of the peculiar crime unit
Marble Arch
where the tour bus starts from on the tour
New Victoria Line
History of the underground station starts here

Bryant and May – named after a brand of matches and with much more spark. The book opens with a history of the duo themselves from their creator Christopher Fowler with his inspiration for creation of their quirks, London banter, inspiration from other London detective such as Sherlock and the creation of the most peculiar crime agency in the capital if not the world.

London as a setting and historical setting in particular offers more than one scenario for a crime story. It’s not just the smog or the streets of the city that set the scene, it’s the history and the  strange facts, strange scenarios and events captured in the pages of history that form the ideal London for Bryant and May.

London in a matchbox:

The Department Store – Secret Santa in Selfridges

Primrose Hill  – and its execution history!

Hampstead Common – a scene of murder

The Barbican – poison on the cards?

And the reasons for the Peculiar Crime Unit’s various locations in Bow Street, Mornington Crescent and Caledonian Road.

To discover London through the eyes of Bryant and May is to discover the lives of these two characters as they have moved around investigating different parts of the city, discovering various characters, various back alleys and many quirks that you may not get to see otherwise.

Bryant and May are a very thrilling duo and you’ll never see London, its history and its essence in any other way.

REVIEW – Susan

If you love Bryant and May you’ll find this very interesting which I did as this was a potted history of their London and the cases you remember reading about and those that you don’t  – each one examined through unique eyes.

The history of london through its detective such as Sherlock and others who have been in the city is an interesting one and I really felt as if I was sat next to Christopher Fowler himself as he told me his deepest secrets and inspiration for his novels. How his love and fascination for the city and its quirks and how he managed to get this into his novels.

It’s a friendly, humourous read and the cases range from the weird to the bizarre. I tried to ration my reading but it was impossible as I wanted to find out a bit more and see where I would go next with Bryant and May.

These two are just the kind of people you’d want to meet for a drink. Oh the stories they would tell  and how they would tell them!- you just know there are gems to come in future books.

The London of Bryant and May by Christopher Fowler

One of the most perfect literary guides we know for London has to be Christopher Fowler.

londons gloryLondon – its quirks, idiosyncrancies, history and essence all feature in his books with the dashing duo of Bryant and May. His latest? A series of short stories filling in some of the gaps of previous cases and exploring angles you may not have considered before.

These are the books, the Bryant and May ‘guides to London’ where history and setting is as much a character as the police characters themselves. Think you know the city? Well you’ve not met Christopher and discovered how he portrays the city in his tales of crime and intrigue…

Welcome to the London of Christopher Fowler…..

I was born in the centre of London and let loose in Piccadilly Circus at about age four, so it always fascinated me. As kids we used to sneak into the scenery docks of theatres and watch rehearsals, and generally treated London as our playground; it never felt weird or unsafe. Although I’ve since lived in other countries, it was obvious that I should settle on London as my main location for books. One of my favourite locations for a story was the Clerkenwell House of Detention, one of the most disturbing underground buildings I’ve ever entered, and it’s impossible to live nearby and not be aware of what lies below the streets. You can see the Fleet tributaries through drain covers, and follow the chain of wells from King’s Cross down through Farringdon to the river. It’s a perfect setting for a murder mystery.

Christopher Fowler
Christopher Fowler

But for me there were other connections. My parents met in The Griffin pub on Clerkenwell Road, having worked at the nearby engineering firm of Griffin & Tatlock together. My father bought his wedding ring from a friend in Hatton Garden, and my mother always took me to the circus in the basement of Gamages department store in Holborn at Christmas. My first fountain pen came from one of the local suppliers, as did my first typewriter. Today I still live just a short walk away in King’s Cross.

At the London Metropolitan Archive, I read the story of the party-loving Lady Hatton whose dance with the Devil became a London myth. This became the basis of ‘Bryant & May and the Bleeding Heart’. The more I dig into any part of London, the more I end up including it in the finished book.

bleeding heart Dickens pointed out that in London even the snowflakes were covered in soot, ‘gone into mourning for the death of the sun’, and there’s something about the low level of light that mutes the shades of brick and concrete,  and depresses those of us who suffer through the purgatorial month of February. The geography of London near the river matches its weather, being perverse, willful, confusing and unsettling. The roads are always atmospheric, so they make fertile ground for the creation of dark tales. Add to that mix the stories of murders and hangings associated with Smithfield, the animal bones washed down from the butcheries on the riverbanks, and half the job is done for me.

All this makes writing (and reading) my crime novels sound depressing, but I have a lot of fun mixing fact and fiction, sending my elderly detectives around the backstreets in search of murderers. Fans write from around the world asking about the different London areas I use. I can’t see myself ever running out of ideas, because London provides them. One day I’ll have to start my own guided tour!

Well, what a lovely idea to end on, a Bryant and May guided tour seen through the eyes of Mr Christopher Fowler. Now that would be a tour to remember!

London – The Girl with No Past – Kathryn Croft

girl with no past

Why a booktrail?

2000s and the past: What were you like as a teenager. Remember what really went on?

Story

Leah can run but she can’t hide. She hides out in her London flat and lives a rather solitary life with only her books for company. What might sound ideal for any bookworm soon reveals itself to be anything but and Leah is actually hiding from her past and is very lonely.

When she meets Julian, it would see that life is getting better, but things change when on the anniversary of that day she is trying so hard to forget, she receives an anonymous card telling her that someone knows the truth and that they’re after Leah.

What did happen all those years ago, What and who is Leah and where will it all end?

Place and Setting

Could this be Leah's solitary area of London? There is a Garrett Road but there's no Allfarthing Road where she lives but there is Allfarthing Avenue
Could this be Leah’s solitary area of London? There is a Garrett Road but there’s no Allfarthing Road where she lives but there is Allfarthing Avenue

London present day

Life in a London flat with books for company might seem ideal but it is far from it. Leah lives an anonymous life with no social life and outside contact. She is on the run and hiding from herself with no friends and a job she can do with her eyes closed although it in a library!. Living in the big smoke if you want to ‘disappear’ seems relatively easy for despite the numbers of people living there, you can feel the most alone you have ever felt. Still that suits Leah well. She blends into the London landscape she says. Perfect

The setting in Leah’s world is more like a social desert with the winds blowing in the odd man in the library who she talks to, and a dating website when she tries to contact with the world outside. But contact opens up a whole new danger.

The Past – At School

Leah at school is a carefree girl with a boyfriend Adam who she idolises to the point of putting him on a pedestal. But the picture slowly forms of a school life that was not so perfect after all and a day in particular…

Teenagers do what teenagers do, but these guys like to not only push boundaries, cross them and more.

What did she do, or what happened that was so awful? The story of her high school days are dizzying and complex as one piece falls into place one after the other and to appreciate how it all fits, you have to stand back and take in the bigger picture. Everyone remembers their school days but some memories won’t stay buried for long. This story of teenage misdemeanors comes back and bites you right where it hurts.

Review

That cover got me first. That tunnel and the way the no is smudged to suggest something very blurred and wrong.  A place to have secrets and a dark tunnel with a chilling silhouette that grabbed me from the word go.

I thought I would like Leah – works with books, lives with books but just like the characters, you think you know someone… I don’t want to say too much for fear of suggesting things away. Suffice to say there were a lot of reasons to have an interest in Leah and to want to know more about her. The novel is mainly set in present day London but the story told in flashbacks to the past was a real head spinner. A person’s past can affect them in many different ways and those teenager years…what they can do to a person! There are more than a red herring or two to quash any assumptions you think you might have when reading this.

It’s clever the way the author has written this -making me feel so uncertain about the main character. It’s fast and pacey too  – a real mix of emotions wrapped up  in one girl’s life. The ending did not disappoint either and maybe it’s just my natural noisiness but I really did want to know what, why, how and when and those questions never stopped throughout. I love a book which takes you by surprise and this one certainly did.

Fictional friends from around the world

FRIENDSFictional characters are good people to know. They’re like our friends, share many of our milestones in life – those we meet at school, those in classic novels, the first person we admire and want to be, the person who teaches us about life and those that give us a sense of adventure…

Here we’ve chosen four characters as represented on book covers. Fictional friends and people we admire and want to spend time with for various reasons..

the-enchanted-wood-2A Childhood friend – Moon Face from Enid Blyton’s Enchanted Wood series

The stories take place in an enchanted forest in which there is the most magical of trees called the ‘Faraway Tree’.  It’s very tall and the top of it disappears into the clouds. Many characters live in the cave like dwellings that are carved into its trunk. When Jo, Bessie and Fanny move into a house nearby and meet Moonface, one of the characters in the novel, I wanted to be his friend and have adventures in the Faraway Tree. He has rounded furniture and a magic slide that goes all the way to the bottom of the tree. How I wanted to go on that slide!

the-miniaturistA friend to introduce you to a new world of intrigue -Nella from The Miniaturist – Set in Amsterdam

The Miniaturist was the hit book of 2014 and deservedly so as this novel, set in Amsterdam 1686 had such an amazing premise of a miniaturist who predicted events in the small objects she created, was an immediate draw. Nella is portrayed on the front cover which I just really wanted to climb inside and explore along with the others in the story. But it was Nella and her journey I wanted to go on – despite the difficulties and heartbreak she suffers as it was her spirit and personality I liked and I wanted to befriend her pet Peebo as well if I’m honest. Put Marin in her place as well perhaps. And furnish that exquisite dollshouse! A world to disappear inside – rather like that in the novel itself. 

https://thebooktrail.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/the-miniaturist-amsterdam-1686/

ann cleevesTough friend you need when in trouble – Vera from Ann Cleeves crime fiction novels set in Northumberland

Vera doesn’t take any prisoners – well she does in her job since she’s a very effective police Detective, but in her coarse comments and witty but gritty asides, you know where you stand.

This is the kind of person I would love to meet for she would be loyal yet honest, brutally so perhaps but you know you can always depend on her and she always gets the job done. She might rub you up the wrong way, like the creases in her raincoat, but you know what you are getting from Vera. No nonsense results and a loyalty that you will never forget.

https://thebooktrail.wordpress.com/2015/04/19/silent-voices-northumberland-tyne-valley-ann-cleeves/

BOOK 1A friend to go travelling with – Passepartout from Around the World in 80 Days

Passepartout was my inspiration for everything – from booktrailing to learning languages, this guy has been my lifelong travelling companion. As I followed him and his ideas around the world and even studied French to be more like him. What started as a childhood adventure has taken me to so many places and languages via books and for real and for that I can consider him a friend in a million who I would love to meet for real and shake his hand. He represents travel, adventure, the sense of never giving up and solving problems for his friend Phileas Fogg and I would love to go travelling with him.

Susan Booktrailer

Who are your fictional friends and why?

Cornwall, London – The Lake House – Kate Morton

KAte morton novel

Why a booktrail?

1933, 2003 -An abandoned lake house holds on to the secrets of what happened one fateful night when a baby disappeared never to be seen again.

Story

June 1933 Cornwall

A summer’s evening sitting by the lake house, a sumptuous garden, a happy family…hours later the peace shattered and a baby missing. Years later, the abandoned house still holds the secrets of what happened that night.

Eleanor and Anthony live in the gorgeous home with their children Deborah, Alice, Clemmie and baby Theo. The family seem happy, the mood idyllic, but behind the happy facade, all is not what it seems. For as the evening draws to a close, baby Theo disappears, nowhere to be found. Despite a frantic search, he has seemingly vanished from the face of the earth.  The family home, is never the same again and soon becomes an abandoned shrine to its sad fate.

Modern day – 2003

Sadie Sparrow returns to her Grandfather’s home in Cornwall on leave from her job as a police detective. One day she stumbles across the abandoned lake house and starts to wonder about its past. What did really happen that night and what secrets are buried in the tangled and derelict mess of the lake house? Alice Edevane, now a famous author, has spent years trying to contain the unravelling of secrets to within her novels’ plots. However she cannot escape the most intriguing case – that of her very own past.

PLACE AND SETTING

The Lost Gardens of Heligan Inspiration for the lake house and surrounding area Visit - http://heligan.com/ Newquay- The Gardens of Trerice Kate mentions this in an interview as having reminded her of her lake house  - the beautiful gardens of Trerice  Visit - http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/trerice/ Polperro harbour The walks and harbour here are just like those the characters experience in the story Polperro Harbour Heritage Museum Gives a flavour of life back in time... Visit - Polperro Harbour Heritage Museum http://www.polperro.org/museum.html
The Lost Gardens of Heligan
Inspiration for the lake house and surrounding area? Kate’s been inspired by these in other novels
Visit – http://heligan.com/
Newquay- The Gardens of Trerice
Kate mentions this in an interview as having reminded her of her lake house – the beautiful gardens of Trerice
Visit – http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/trerice/
Polperro harbour
The walks and harbour here are just like those the characters experience in the story
Polperro Harbour Heritage Museum
Gives a flavour of life back in time…
Visit – Polperro Harbour Heritage Museum

Welcome to Loeanneth, the lake house, home of the Edevane family. A sumptuous home in the gorgeous setting of Cornwall. A beautiful garden and peaceful lake, gardeners toiling in the background and a family enjoying midsummer on the lawn..

A narrow stream chattered its way across the estate, delighting in the brief sunny respite before being reeled inexorably back towards the woods, and  a stone bridge, the legacy of some long ago great -uncle straddled the banks allowing access to Loeanneth.

The family estate of Eleanor Edevane and her family. This is a house and a setting that inspires fairy tales – Eleanor and the Magic Doorway – written by a family friend. Alice herself skips into the woods, imagining plotlines, characters and scenarios she wants to happen. The Lake House and its grounds are like a fairytale setting but with a dark mystery at its core.

Imagine this as a photograph – captured as a moment in time. Fast forward 70 years and the photograph is now faded, the rooms abandoned, the garden ramshackle and the secrets tucked away. The secret of a house still standing and still the only shrine to a missing baby appeals to a police detective. But the walls and gardens seem keen to hang on to what they know, the fresh air now weaving its way along its corridors,  chilling what has lain within for seventy years.

The house is the centre of the story and the novel. A character in its own right, it is so beautifully and stunningly evoked that you will see the wallpaper as it fades from one chapter to the next before the flashbacks take you back to when it was vibrant, on the walls of the nursery, when the garden was lush and green, when the lake was clear and the sound of laughter and a baby gurgling in its crib rang through the air.

From the outside, a picture of happiness but the walls would tell another story entirely.

Polperro harbour - (c) Monika Kludka and Visit Cornwall
Polperro harbour – (c) Monika Kludka and Visit Cornwall
Polperro harbour - (c) Adam Gibbard and Visit Cornwall
Polperro harbour – (c) Adam Gibbard and Visit Cornwall

Review

Kate Morton is that rare breed of writers for me who totally and utterly has you captivated and hanging on her every word. She weaves the many threads of two stories into a complex and intriguing tapestry of secrets, red herrings and a world which is so vivid and evocative, it’s as if you could step through the cover and see it for yourself.

The two stories, past and present wove seamlessly together although for me the story of the past was the most absorbing. What did happen that fateful midsummer night? As ever with Kate, you think you know, until the very end when you realise she’s been teasing you with something all along and you’re as lost in that big ramshackle garden as the children in the story.

The idea of going back to an old house and discovering its secrets of what happened that fateful day is captivating. Alice in the present day is a mystery to herself and I particularly loved finding all about her in flashbacks to when she was an excited teenager. Oh and Eleanor and Anthony – I gasped when I found out what was going on and the events leading up to that midsummer night. In the present day, Sadie tries to unravel it all but her own story threatens to cloud her judgement. The stories worked very well together and added a real sense of intrigue.

I was pulled and pushed in one direction after another – from 1933, back to 1911 and then back to 2003 but never once did I feel lost. The characters stories build and flow seamlessly and I particularly loved the idea that Alice was now a mystery writer and had followed her dreams. Oh to read a Diggory Brent novel now!

It’s tricky to review without giving anything away but I totally recommend this for fans of a complex, intricate mystery which will take you on a journey and immerse you in the walls of a utterly captivating Cornish lake house.

Suffolk, London – The Secret Keeper – Kate Morton

KAte morton

Why a booktrail?

1930s, 1960s, 2011: A shocking scene on a Suffolk farm reveals a story of love, loss and mystery which spans the decades

Story

Deep in the heart of the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicholson is reading and dreaming in her treehouse. Her family are having a birthday party at the bottom of the garden. Before the afternoon is over, she will witness a shocking crime that changes everything.

Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress, living in London. She returns to the family farm for her mother Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday and finds herself overwhelmed by questions concerning ‘that day’ that she now finds she needs answers to since her mother is dying.

From pre-WWII England through the Blitz, to the fifties and beyond, she examines the story of her mother Dorothy and two people she met during the war -Vivien and Jimmy— whose lives soon become forever entwined.

Place and setting

London - 7 and 25 Campden Grove’ - where Dorothy and Vivien live during the war London - Kensington Gardens and the famous Peter Pan statue - and the bench beside it - Dorothy sits here and waits for a certain someone to join her. London - British Library http://www.bl.uk/ Laurel goes looking for answers here Marble Arch Where the famous Lyons Corner House used to be. Try a Patisserie Valerie to evoke the time and place to take tea with Jimmy, Vivien and Dorothy
London – 7 and 25 Campden Grove– where Dorothy and Vivien live during the war
London – Kensington Gardens and the famous Peter Pan statue – and the bench beside it – Dorothy sits here and waits for a certain someone to join her.
London – British Library
Laurel goes looking for answers here
s Marble Arch
Where the famous Lyons Corner House used to be. Try a Patisserie Valerie to evoke the time and place to take tea with Jimmy, Vivien and Dorothy

From the sunny gardens and fields of the Suffolk countryside to the streets of wartime London, this is a story of how the fate of three people from very different backgrounds can become fatally entwined in ways none of them could have imagined.

Suffolk

Laurel now an actress returns to the farmhouse and the family home where she witnessed a murder all those years ago. A day which started out so well with a birthday party, laughter, family and reading her book in her secret tree house reading spot, dreaming of a boy named Billy. A day of childhood innocence which changed in a second.

Returning to Suffolk all those years ago brings back memories of every kind. From the creek of the wooden steps to the groans of the house as it seems to remember times past, the old house first seen in the sixties now becomes a house of memories and mystery in Laurel’s adult life.

London

London is the city of glamour for actress Laurel but back when she was growing up, when her mum was living in London during the war, it was a very different place. London in the Blitz was a dangerous place and in the streets of Kensington, Dorothy meets Vivien, a lady she admires for her dress sense, worthy work at the hospital and life she thinks she deserves.

Dorothy grows up in a loving family, spends time on the beach in Coventry but London with its bright lights and promises of adventure calls to her like nothing else has. Living in the rather posh Camden Grove just off Kensington High Street is a dream come true. Lyons Corner House at Marble Arch where she and boyfriend Jimmy eat, the shopping,  the WVS canteen in Kensington and the good work they can all do for the war effort.

Vivien and Dorothy – Two very different women living on the same street. Vivien has the life that Dorothy wants and the clothes of the time, the look, the style is what excites Dorothy in the big city. This is where she feels she is meant to be. Her new life is beginning- love for Jimmy and a new job change her world.

Jimmy Metcalfe is a photographer and captures the war’s effects on the city. His camera tells a story but it’s what’s behind the lens that really matters. London comes alive as he and Dorothy meet in Kensington Gardens, drink at the club at Marble Arch and Vivien works at the local hospital there.

Suffolk

But what Laurel discovers about her mother all those years ago, why a life should end in murder has its roots deep in the heart of history and war. She takes time to travel to Oxford as well and search in the records of time but sometimes the story not written on the page is the strangest of all.

Review

I loved this novel. Loved it and there are no other words really to express how genius the plot and evocative the writing. Absolutely stunning and captivating novel about second chances and how nothing is what it seems. The stabbing of a man in the opening chapters seems such a cruel and random act from a woman who has always been a calm and collected figure. I was intrigued from the very first page as the calm scene was set before that cliff hanger. The story which spirals out from this one event is one of the most captivating and fascinating story lines I have read in a long long while. Don’t hurry it or dismiss seemingly throwaway comments in this book – every word seems to act like a clue towards the final mystery.

Wartime London – oh the detail of this with the meetings at the Lyons Tea House, the scurry of people in the streets and the rations really captured the time and place and the sense that in one street, two women of very different backgrounds could be thrown together. I loved Vivien and finding out about her work and worried about her illness and how she acted. Dorothy’s plan to harm her former friend spiralled out of control and I was dying to reach into the book and pull one of them out for safety. I wanted to hug Jimmy though as he came across as a man in love, blinded by love but good to the core. Oh to sit with him in that canteen and drink tea!

The story builds, twists and turns and shocks you when you least expect it. Kate’s writing immerses you in a world that I didn’t want to leave and when Laurel finally found out what happened that fateful day, I was gobsmacked.

Vivien, Dorothy and Jimmy – never have I been so enamored with three characters in one novel. Read it again once you know the end as it’s fun trying to spot all those clues that were staring you in the face!