The Promise Girls by Marie Bostwick

The Promise Girls by Marie Bostwick
The Promise Girls 
by Marie Bostwick (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by

 

EXCERPT: Three weeks into the book tour, Joanie still isn’t used to the silence of television studios, ponderous silence that feels like being closed in a concrete box with wall so thick no noise from the outside world can penetrate, just as no sound emanating inside can escape. Joanie can scream as loud as she wants and no one will hear her.

Joanie, Meg, and Avery, and their mother sit in upholstered side chairs, like the ones you see in the waiting rooms of doctors offices, motionless, waiting. Avery is so little her feet can’t touch the floor, but she doesn’t kick her legs or even fidget.

The audience is still as well. They stare at Joanie and her little sisters in a way that makes her think about people at the zoo staring through the glass at the reptile house, waiting for the snakes to do something interesting.

Soon they will – she will. If she doesn’t lose her nerve.

THE BLURB: Every child prodigy grows up eventually. For the Promise sisters, escaping their mother’s narcissism and the notoriety that came with her bestselling book hasn’t been easy. Minerva Promise claimed that her three “test tube” daughters–gifted pianist Joanie, artistic Meg, and storyteller Avery–were engineered and molded to be geniuses. In adulthood, their modest lives fall far short of her grand ambitions. But now, twenty years after the book’s release, she hopes to redeem herself by taking part in a new documentary.

Meg, who hasn’t picked up a paintbrush in years, adamantly refuses to participate, until a car accident leaves her with crushing medical bills. While she recuperates in Seattle, the three sisters reluctantly meet with filmmaker Hal Seeger, another former prodigy. Like them, he’s familiar with the weight of failed potential. But as he digs deeper, he uncovers secrets they’ve hidden from each other–and a revelation that will challenge their beliefs, even as it spurs them to forge their own extraordinary lives at last.

MY THOUGHTS: Family secrets and lies. Always a winner with me, especially when it is as well written and captivating as The Promise Girls by Marie Bostwick. This is the first time I have read anything by this author, but it won’t be the last. She will be joining my very short list of ‘go to’ authors for when I want a rest from the murder and mystery that is my normal fare.

I can say it no better than this- “Reading Marie Bostwick is like wrapping yourself up in a warm, hand-crafted quilt. Her books, rich in character and plot, are stitched together by a skilled wordsmith.” –Debbie Macomber, #1 New York Times bestselling author.

In her letter at the end of the book, the author writes that this book is incredibly special to her, a rare instance when she finished the final manuscript and ‘felt entirely, completely, incandescently happy’with her work. I felt the same way. This is a ‘feel good’ book. A book about family and love, and how easy it is to lose your way in spite of, or perhaps because of, best intentions.

Bostwick has woven a captivating story around a very different type of family. And she has done it well, giving us a look at a childhood that under no circumstances could be termed normal, until it all blows up in their faces, and then we meet the sisters again as adults, all living lives very different than what we might have expected.

 

Thank you to Kensington Books via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Promise Girls for review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on

Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite

Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite
Her Last Secret 
by Barbara Copperthwaite (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: The time had come to expose all the secrets, no matter what.
If only she had the courage to do so. If only the family was strong enough to survive it. If only she didn’t do something stupid herself.

THE BLURB: There are some secrets you can never tell.

The last thing to go through Dominique Thomas’s head was the image of her teenage daughter’s face and her heart lifted. Then the shot rang out.

They were the perfect family. Successful businessman Ben Thomas and his wife Dominique live an enviable life, along with their beautiful children; teenager Ruby and quirky younger daughter, Mouse.

But on Christmas Day the police are called to their London home, only to discover a horrific scene; the entire family lying lifeless, victims of an unknown assailant.

But when Ruby’s diary is discovered, revealing her rage at the world around her, police are forced to look closer to home for the key to this tragedy.

Each family member harboured their own dark truths – but has keeping their secrets pushed Ruby to the edge of sanity? Or are there darker forces at work?

This dark, gripping psychological thriller will have you holding your breath until the very last page. Fans of Behind Closed Doors, Sometimes I Lie, and The Girl on the Train will be captivated.

MY THOUGHTS: I hate abandoning a read. I know how much effort goes into giving birth to a book. And I tried, I really tried. I struggled through to 57%, but it just got harder and harder. I found it all very contrived and predictable. I felt nothing for any of the characters. While it is not necessary for me to like the characters, it is necessary for me to feel something. I recently read a book where I couldn’t stand any of the characters, but I rated it 4-stars because the plot was great, and there was atmosphere and I felt involved. None of this happened with Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite. Nada. Zilch.

I know I am in the minority here, so if you have read and enjoyed Barbara Copperthwaite in the past, or you are intrigued by the excerpt or the blurb, then please read Her Last Secret and let me know how you feel about it.

Apologies and thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or my ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my blog sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

And a note to whomever decides what to put on the cover, it is really irritating that we are constantly being told that a book is gripping and we won’t be able to put it down. We’re big people. Let us make up our own minds on that. Also endless comparisons to Gone Girl, or Girl on the Train tend to put my teeth on edge. Let the book stand or fall on its own merit.

Friday Favorite – The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

Looking for something to read over the weekend?

Nothing on your book radar that is screaming “read me!”?

Check out my Friday Favorite  – it may not be new, it may not even be by an author you have ever heard of, but it will be a book that has captured both my imagination and my heart.

Up until now, my Friday Favorite has been a book that I read some time ago, but that has stayed in my heart and my mind for one reason or another, and is ensconced on my bookshelves marked as a ‘keeper’.

This week is different. This week I read The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman, a book that has only just been published this week. And I loved it. Several days after finishing it, the characters are still in my head. I am going to make Aunt Isabelle’s rosemary lemonade this weekend. Other delicious ideas are tucked away for future use. So take a look at The Rules of Magic. It is an unusual book, but in the nicest possible way.

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
The Rules of Magic (Practical Magic, #0) 
by Alice Hoffman (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: ‘Once upon a time, before the whole world changed, it was possible to run away from home, disguise who you were, and fit into polite society. The children’s mother had done just that.’

THE BLURB: Find your magic

For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man.

Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people’s thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk.

From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Back in New York City each begins a risky journey as they try to escape the family curse.

The Owens children cannot escape love even if they try, just as they cannot escape the pains of the human heart. The two beautiful sisters will grow up to be the revered, and sometimes feared, aunts in Practical Magic, while Vincent, their beloved brother, will leave an unexpected legacy.

MY THOUGHTS: I was bereft when I finished The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman. I wanted to go right back to the beginning and start all over again. This is a fairy story for adults. It is bewitching, enchanting and compelling. I want to move in with the Owen’s family, to be embraced by them, to become one of them.

Just as Mrs Russell was instantly in thrall to Vincent when she spied him in the kitchen, I was instantly in thrall to Hoffman’s writing. Alice (may I call you Alice?) writes in a lazy, indolent fashion that slowly seduces the reader, leaving one feeling languidly intrigued.

I scribbled pages of notes as I read, highlighted sections to quote. But as I prepared to write this review, I realised that, taken out of context, they mean nothing.

If you think this book is about witchcraft, you are wrong. Yes, there are black cats and spells and potions, but that is not what this book is about. It is about acceptance, of ourselves and of others. It is about family, and it is about love. And if you do not read The Rules of Magic then you will miss out on a wonderful book which really is all about finding the magic in yourself.

I am going out to buy a hard copy of this book for my shelf. It is a ‘forever’ book. I am also going to read everything by this author that I can lay my hands on.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or my ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2115763233?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

 

 

I Made You a Cuddle – words by Ami Muir, pictures by Becky Lazarevic and Sarah Mutande

https://goo.gl/images/yJJt7S

EXCERPT: This cuddle I’ve made you is one of a kind,
And it’s filled up with all of the love I can find.’

THE BLURB: There are so many things a cuddle can do, inside this book is a cuddle for you.

MY THOUGHTS: It is impossible not to smile while reading this beautifully illustrated children’s book. It is warm, affectionate and a must have on the toddler’s bookshelf.

Illustrated by Becky Lazarevic and Sarah Mutande

New Zealand made 😊

 

The Comfort of Black by Carter Wilson

The Comfort of Black by Carter   Wilson
The Comfort of Black
by Carter Wilson (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by

 

EXCERPT: Hannah didn’t have a plan beyond setting her father on fire.

She hid in her closet tonight as Billy rampaged, cloaked in the dark amongst shoes too small to wear, clothes reeking of cigarette smoke no matter how many times she washed them, and a memory box containing only dried, blackened roses from her first and only boyfriend, a romance that lasted not much longer than the flowers. Hannah had spent much time in this closet before, and time itself stretched into magical proportions in the cramped darkness. Seconds were minutes, minutes were hours. But it would finally be over. Billy was predictable. When his rage ended, it would leave him fatigued, like a cheetah after a kill. He would sleep, and when he did, it would be Hannah’s turn to act.

THE BLURB: Though they seem to have everything, Hannah Parks has watched her husband, Dallin, become increasingly distant. Her hope is buoyed when the couple decides to start a family, but what Dallin reveals in his sleep one night rocks Hannah to her core. As she starts to investigate a much darker side of Dallin than she ever knew existed, Hannah peels away the layers of a diseased relationship closely tied to her own abusive past. When Dallin attempts to have Hannah abducted, she is forced to run, doing so with the aid of a man named Black–an ex-con and expert at helping people disappear. Together they must keep Hannah safe from her husband’s far-reaching grasp, all the while trying to solve the mystery behind Dallin’s sudden violence. Does Hannah’s dark family history hold the key to her survival?

MY THOUGHTS: 3 stars for this very changeable book by Carter Wilson, The Comfort of Black.

The title intrigued me, and the opening sentence definitely grabbed my attention. ‘Hannah didn’t have a plan beyond setting her father on fire.’ In fact, that would be one of the most attention grabbing opening sentences I have ever read.

The first third of the book was well written, taut. I found myself holding my breath as I read. But then all changed. It was almost as though someone else had written the middle third of the book. The Comfort of Black changed from being a psychological thriller to a story that used gratuitous violence to no good effect. In fact I did wonder, once I had finished reading, if the original book when finished was too short and so someone had added these pages to it to stretch it out…… To me, it was entirely out of context and totally unnecessary.

The final quarter of the book picked up the psychological thriller thread to some degree again, but for me the damage had been done.

Thank you to NetGalley and Oceanview Publishing for a digital ARC of The Comfort of Black for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1447074609

If You Only Knew by Cynthia Clark

 

If You Only Knew by Cynthia Clark
If You Only Knew
by Cynthia Clark

Reviewed by


EXCERPT:’…..there was the crisp white envelope with my name written in a handwriting I didn’t recognize and no sender’s address.

Tearing open the envelope, I’d taken out the plain sheet of paper.

I FINALLY FOUND YOU, was written in block capitals. I KNOW WHAT YOU DID AND YOU’RE GOING TO PAY.’

THE BLURB: A wife, a mother, a killer.

One wrong decision, one terrifying night, leaves student Elizabeth with a stark choice – kill or be killed. And the consequences of that choice will shape her whole life.

Now a wife, a mother, and a lawyer, she must find a way to out run her past, protect her family and live with her secret. But is it really possible to live a happy life with such a huge shadow cast by the past? And as it becomes clear that someone else knows her secret and is hunting her down, time is running out for Elizabeth to keep her family safe.

In the bestselling tradition of Clare Mackintosh and Jenny Blackhurst, Cynthia Clark has written a heart-stopping story about the choices we make and how far we’d go to protect our families. Even if it means deceiving the people we love most…

MY THOUGHTS: Living with guilt must be one of the hardest things to do. I can imagine it eating away at you rather like the sea undermining a cliff face. On top, everything looks fine. Underneath, the foundations are crumbling.

And that pretty much sums up Elizabeth’s life. When she made her decision, she had no idea how far the repercussions would reach over the years, nor that she would have to keep adding layer upon layer of lies to keep her secret safe.

Cynthia Clark has written an absorbing and unpredictable story of a woman trapped by the undertow of her past. If You Only Knew is a tale of duplicity, one that packs quite an emotional punch. She has captured the raw emotions of a woman whose carefully constructed facade is being systematically demolished around her, but who cannot give up trying to resurrect and shore up that facade despite knowing that she is ultimately fighting a losing battle; a woman who knows that when she finally loses the battle, she is likely to lose everything and everyone she loves.

As I said, If You Only Knew packs quite an emotional punch. I held my breath in anticipation, I got angry, I was sad, frustrated, and shook my head in denial. I guess you could call it an interactive read! But one thing I never felt was bored.

Thank you to Aria via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of If You Only Knew by Cynthia Clark for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2147531009

 

The Secrets of the Tides by Hannah Richell

Secrets of the Tides by Hannah Richell
Secrets of the Tides
by Hannah Richell (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: A half-empty train rattles through fields and farmland towards the grey concrete sprawl of the city. There is a young woman huddled in the farthest corner of the last carriage. Her hair is like a veil, hiding her tears. In her pocket is an antique brooch. Her fingers brush the cold arc of it before flipping it over and over in time to the rhythmic clatter of wheels on track. When she can resist no longer, she releases the clasp and stabs the pin deep into the flesh of her palm.
It’s agony, but she won’t stop. She presses the needle deeper still, until warm blood streams down her wrist and splashes crimson onto the carriage floor.
Finally, the train jerks and slows. Brakes squeal.
As they reach their destination she pushes the bloodied brooch deep into her coat pocket, grabs her bag and then drops down onto the platform.
People dart about her. Two women shriek and embrace. A tall man in a turban races for the ticket barriers. A spotty teenager hops from foot to foot, gazing up at the departures board as he shovels crisps into his mouth. Everything around her seems to buzz and hum while she just stands there on the platform, a single fixed point, breathing deeply.
Signs for the Underground point one way but she ignores them, hefting her bag onto her shoulder and making for the street exit. She strikes out across a busy pedestrian crossing and turns left for the bridge. Big Ben looms in the distance; it is three minutes to twelve.
She walks with purpose; she knows where she is going and what has to be done. But then she sees the river, and the sight of it, a shifting black mass carving its way through the city, makes her shudder. Whenever she’s imagined this moment the water has been grey and flat, not dark and viscous like seeping oil. But it doesn’t matter now. There is no going back.
She stops halfway across the bridge and leans her rucksack up against the wall. Then, with a quick glance about her, she scoots up and over the barrier until she is clinging to the other side of the balustrade.
The toes of her trainers balance precariously on the concrete ledge. She grips the wall, wincing as her bleeding palm scrapes the stone, and then twists so that she is facing the water below. The wind blows her hair, whipping it across her face and stinging her eyes until hot tears form. She blinks them back.
‘Hey!’ She hears a cry behind her. ‘Hey, what are you doing?’
She is out of time.
She locks her gaze on a sea of grey buildings on the far horizon and, with a final breath, lets go of the balustrade. Then she is falling, falling, falling.
Any breath left in her body is punched out by the ice-cold water. She fights the urge to kick and struggle, instead surrendering herself to the inky blackness, letting the weight of her clothes take her stone-like towards the bottom.
By the time Big Ben chimes midday she is gone, lost to the murky depths below.

THE BLURB: Every family has its secrets. Some are small, like telling a white lie or snooping through a private drawer. Others are more serious, like infidelity and betrayal. And some secrets are so terrible they must be hidden away in a deep, dark place, for if they ever came to light, they would surely tear a family apart . . .

The Tides are a family full of secrets. Returning to Clifftops, the rambling family house high up on the Dorset coastline, youngest daughter Dora hopes for a fresh start, for herself and the new life she carries. But can long-held secrets ever really be forgiven? And even if you can forgive, can you ever really learn to love again?

Secrets of the Tides is a family drama with a dark thread of suspense at its heart.

MY THOUGHTS: I love a good family drama. And Secrets of the Tides by Hannah Richell certainly ticked all the boxes. And believe it or not, this was a debut novel!

Secrets and lies. We all have them. We all tell them. It is just the scale, the magnitude that varies. And families? They are probably the worst culprits. For families keep secrets from one another, and for one another. And then there are the families who conspire to keep secrets from the outside world. I am not going to tell you which category this family falls into.

Hannah Richell portrays a very realistic family; the squabbles, the petty jealousies, the familiarity that breeds contempt and discontent, the wanting. ……..always wanting more, wanting something different.

Full marks Ms Richell. I will be reading more from you. And Secrets of the Tides is going on my ‘keeper’ shelf.

All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

For an explanation of my rating system, please visit my profile page on Goodreads.com or my ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/970113698

The Surrogate by Louise Jensen

The Surrogate by Louise Jensen
The Surrogate
by Louise Jensen (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: ‘Is it really a coincidence she is here, or has she purposely tracked me down? And if so, why?

‘Revenge’ whispers the voice inside my head.’

THE BLURB: ‘You know that feeling? When you want something so badly, you almost feel you’d kill for it?’

Be careful what you wish for…

Kat and her husband Nick have tried everything to become parents, and are on the point of giving up. Then a chance encounter with Kat’s childhood friend Lisa gives Kat and Nick one last chance to achieve their dream.

But Kat and Lisa’s history hides dark secrets.

And there is more to Lisa than meets the eye.

As dangerous cracks start to appear in Kat’s perfect picture of happily-ever-after, she realises that she must face her fear of the past to save her family…

MY THOUGHTS: Twisted, twisty and oh so nerve wracking! I almost tore my fingernails out of their beds reading The Surrogate by Louise Jensen, and I do not bite my nails!

Full marks to Louise Jensen. She has demonstrated that she is mistress of her art. I thought I knew where she was going with this. She reinforced my beliefs. But she took me for a ride – up the wrong road. More than that, I am not going to say. I don’t want to give anything away. I don’t want to spoil any surprises. And they come thick and fast.

I am going to liken reading this book to riding a roller coaster in one of those spinning teacups with no seat belts. Thrilling, scary. Yes, you may have to suspend belief occasionally, but believe me, by then, you won’t care.

Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Surrogate for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2123237779

The Mistake by K.L. Slater

The Mistake by K.L. Slater
The Mistake
by K.L. Slater (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: ‘Billy, come out. Please. ..you’re scaring me now.’

It was true. Her heart was banging against her chest wall like a tin drum and her mouth and throat were dry with fear.

For five full, long minutes she walked up and down the long road, stepping into the bushes wherever there was a gap, searching everywhere for her brother.

But Billy was nowhere to be found.’

THE BLURB: You think you know the truth about the people you love.

But one discovery can change everything…

Eight-year-old Billy goes missing one day, out flying his kite with his sister Rose. Two days later, he is found dead.

Sixteen years on, Rose still blames herself for Billy’s death. How could she have failed to protect her little brother?

Rose has never fully recovered from the trauma, and one of the few people she trusts is her neighbour Ronnie, who she has known all her life. But one day Ronnie falls ill, and Rose goes next door to help him… and what she finds in his attic room turns her world upside down.

Rose thought she knew the truth about what happened to Billy. She thought she knew her neighbour. Now the only thing she knows is that she is in danger…

MY THOUGHTS: There were things I liked about this book, and things I didn’t. I will start with the negatives so that I can end on a good note.

Poor Rose was traumatized by everything that had happened. I was going to list all these things, but it would give away too much of the story. But personally, I found it all just a little too much, too overdone. It was bland and clichéd, and I failed to pick up any sense of suspense.

There was a lot of dialogue in this book, much of which didn’t add any value. There were a few loose ends, unresolved that I, personally, would have liked to have seen explained. For one, the deaths of her parents. The fact that they are dead is mentioned several times. So that I began to think that it must be important in some way, to the story. But, nothing. Grace is only 34. Her parents were not old. What are the chances that both parents would be dead of natural causes? And the threatened closure of the library where Rose worked….a lot was made of this issue, but we never learn the outcome. It is probably not important, but damn it, I WANT TO KNOW! Up until the end, it was all pretty predictable.

Now, let’s get to the good stuff – the end was superb. There is no doubt that Slater is a very clever writer. I have read all four of her books. Safe With Me and Liar were 5-star reads. Blink, 3-star. The Mistake 3.5-star, upgraded because of the ending, of which I am not going to speak again for fear of giving something away.

One more little niggle- authors, publishers, whoever is responsible, STOP putting things on the cover like ‘an unputdownable psychological thriller with a brilliant twist’. I don’t want to be looking for the twist. I want it to jump up and slap me in the face and go ‘There! You weren’t expecting that, were you!’ I know I am not the only one who feels like this.

Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Mistake by K. L. Slater for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com review page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2142849430?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Friday Favorite

Looking for something to read over the weekend?

Nothing on your book radar that is screaming “read me!”?

Check out my Friday Favorite  – it may not be new, it may not even be by an author you have ever heard of, but it will be a book that has captured both my imagination and my heart.

I had always known Penny Vincenzi for her compelling and sweeping family sagas. So I was surprised and excited to find, in 2014, a collection of short stories by her. I have to admit to also being just a little apprehensive. ……after all, her going from writing tomes of 700+ pages to short stories was quite a change, and no doubt, something of a challenge. How did she do? Read on. …..

Love in the Afternoon and Other Delights by Penny Vincenzi
Love in the Afternoon and Other Delights
by Penny Vincenzi (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPTS: Because this is a book of short stories, I am going to give you two excerpts. The first is from a story titled ‘Knowing Best’.

‘Laura Maddox and Fergus O’Connell were very fond of telling people they had met at an old people’s home. Since they were both young, stylish and successful, it was not a story that was easy to believe; nevertheless, it was perfectly true in essence, if not in detail, and was made much of in speeches at their wedding.
The detail was that the meeting place had been not quite an old people’s home, rather a very expensive nursing home, where Laura’s widowed grandmother was recovering from a hip operation and complaining ceaselessly about having to live with a lot of old people (most of whom were in fact the same age as, if not a little younger than, herself), and Fergus’s twice-divorced great-uncle, in a room just two along the corridor, was recovering from a very nasty bout of pneumonia and was constantly in trouble with the nurses for locking himself in the lavatory with a flask of his best Irish whiskey.’

The second excerpt is from a story titled ‘The Brooch’.
‘It was a very beautiful brooch. It was what used to be called paste, and would now be called Diamante: glittery and brilliant and in the shape of a full moon and two stars trailing off it in two slender threads. It was the sort of thing you could make stories up about, which Anna had when she was little – like the moon wearing the stars as a sort of a sash. Or the stars were trying to get away from it. The brooch belonged to her grandmother, Bella, and was pinned to her large, cushiony bosom, and Anna would sit on her knee and play with it. Later on, she had been allowed to wear it when they went to tea with her and she would keep saying she wanted to go to the lavatory so she could pass the big mirror in the hall and admire it, pinned on to her cardigan, right in the middle of her small flat chest. One day, she thought, she would have wonderful bosoms like her grandmother and the brooch would show up much better. She had always known she would have the brooch; her grandmother had promised her that, adding quickly that Rachel, Anna’s older sister, would have her pearls.

THE BLURB: A fabulous collection of short stories and essays by much loved and multi-million-copy bestselling author Penny Vincenzi.

From her sweeping novels to her searing journalism, Penny Vincenzi has been writing all her life, and this is a collection of her work brought together in a single edition for the first time. As well as ten stunning short stories, Penny also shares some of her thoughts on a huge range of subjects from love and relationships to work and families, and gives us a peek at the tantalising first chapter of her new novel – making LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON AND OTHER DELIGHTS a must-have for any Vincenzi fan.

MY THOUGHTS: I love Penny Vincenzi – and this collection of short stories, like the sweeping family sagas she is known for, I just couldn’t put down. Along with the short stories is a preview of her then next book, A Perfect Heritage, and a series of published articles by Penny giving us a great insight into her character, including ‘Getting Older’, ‘Being a Mother’, and ‘My Career in a Nutshell’. She also gives some great tips on writing, and I think this may have overtaken Stephen King’s “On Writing” as my bible.
The short stories are amusing, entertaining and absorbing. Just the way they should be.