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Greaders review April/May 14 books

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AnninGlos Report 23 May 2014 17:28

Please review any of the following that you have read. And also any others on the list that you may have read but that were not voted in.

The Midnight Rose - Lucinda Riley 111
The Sealed Letter by Emma Donaghue 11
Lionheart by Sharon Penman 11
The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez 11
A Dangerous Dress by Julia Holden 11


AnninGlos Report 23 May 2014 17:35

Review Lionheart by Sharron Penman.

I had forgotten how long and involved her books always are. This one took me nearly 2 weeks to read with so many characters, some of whose names were difficult that I admit to skipping a bit here and there.
However, the story was fascinating and painted Richard the first in a different light to the bloodthirsty warrior he is usually painted as. I have to say I learnt a lot about the crusades and the people and customs of the times and really enjoyed the book. At the end of the book SP explains how her research changed her view of Richard and also gives an interesting lot of background to the story. She says Richards story will continue in her follow up book The Kings Ransom so I shall look out for that one.

The Midnight Rose by Lucinda Riley
This is the third book by LR that I have read and I have loved them all. She always does such a good job of linking past events with the present.
Anahita who is Indian and living in Darjeeling, is 100 years old, she is reminiscing and remembering the son she had when young. She has his death certificate but has never believed that he died. She has written a letter to him for when he is, she hopes eventually found. She leaves instructions that, after her death her Great Grandson Ari should continue the search and be given the letter. Anahita makes a friend in Princess Indira
Rebecca Bradley is American and is an actress. She is commissioned to play a part in a film that is to be made in England at what turns out to be a country house that played a part in Anahita’s youth.
The story moves between India with flash backs and South West England in the present.
I thought the whole story was very well written, the characters very believable and the descriptions of both India and the lives of royalty and the dilapidated country house very well done. The character of Anthony, Lord Astbury made my skin crawl and the housekeeper’s obsession with Rebecca was reminiscent of Daphne Du Maurier.
A very good book that I really enjoyed and I look forward to her next one.


AnninGlos Report 23 May 2014 17:56

Greaders review The Sealed Letter by Emma Donague

It took me a few pages to get used to the style of writing, it was very much in the style of Jane Austin. But it grew on me, the horror of infidelity and maybe subsequent divorce. The place of women in Victorian society. All the stereotype characters were there. The stern (and to be pitied) husband, Henry Coddrington,, the flighty bored wife Helen, the feminist wife's girlfriend Fido Faithful with whom we have hints of a close relationship, gung ho military officers, pious vicars wife. All the characters beautifully drawn. No doubt because they were based on the true characters of those names

The court case was interesting from a viewpoint of modern day quick divorces, thank goodness for progress, what a cost it would be if things were still the same. 'Visitors' to the court treated it like theatre, it was entertainment and the more salacious the better they liked it. As Harry's brother said ' what struck me wasn't so much the long windedness, s the dirty mindedness. All those over educated fellows vying with each other to invent euphemisms for the act in question' i think this was my favourite part of the book. But it was history written as fiction, very interesting and very readable.

Helen managed to gain retribution from Fido by blackmailing her for money to enable her to go abroad.

However she died impoverished at the age of 45 we learn in the notes so she didn't have a very happy life in the end. Henry remarried and was knighted we are also informed, so the divorce did him no harm. One wonders how many children were harmed by being torn from their Mothers by the law that awarded custody to the father?

I did enjoy the book, it was entertaining and enlightening, a good combination, I will look out for her other books.


Greenfingers Report 23 May 2014 18:39

I will be honest , with bees in the chimney, probs with washing machine, and associated waiting in for pest control etc, I have only had time to read one book the Midnight Rose, I haven't read any by this author before, but thoroughly enjoyed every line.....I cannot enthuse enough, it was great.

Jill in France

Jill in France Report 23 May 2014 21:57

The Midnight Rose
I loved this and at every spare bit of time I had, I was reading this. Loved the past and present story line and it was the type of book that just seem to come alive. I will be on the look out for more from this author

x Jill

Jill in France

Jill in France Report 23 May 2014 21:57

The Midnight Rose
I loved this and at every spare bit of time I had, I was reading this. Loved the past and present story line and it was the type of book that just seem to come alive. I will be on the look out for more from this author

x Jill


Pammy51 Report 23 May 2014 22:36

Will post revues tomorrow


Berona Report 24 May 2014 00:07

I'm afraid I have to apologise. I have had a lot on my plate in the last few weeks and have only managed to read Midnight Rose - and I still haven't quite finished it. However, I have enjoyed following the past and present and it keeps me interested all the time. I wish I had more time to read it. Hope that will change soon.


AnninGlos Report 24 May 2014 09:14

No problem Berona. Hope you are ok.


TessAkaBridgetTheFidget Report 24 May 2014 11:14

Have seen this. Will be back later - when son and grandsons have gone home.


Mersey Report 24 May 2014 12:05

The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez

I would first like to say this would never of been a choice of mine to read.....

Sunny has a coffee shop in Kabul, she is an American who followed her
heart to Afghanistan and there she decided to open a coffee shop to not
only help herself and without realising it at first helping others around her.....

The story is is continued through about 5 character (Sunnys Customers) that
become friends from all different walks of life, with a different story to tell and share.
They quickly become best of friends and family in the dangerous enviroment of which they live in, in Kabul. They look after each other and have the strangest of bonds because no-one else will or understands........

There is so much to this book and I certainly do not want to go into too much detail without spoiling their individual stories.... I loved this book so much, I actually did think it was special book, and had me wanting more.......

I cannot wait for her next book !!


Mersey Report 24 May 2014 12:17

A Dangerous Dress - Julia Holden

Jane Stuart writes an essay regarding the dress and how her grandmother was young and had gone to Paris & when she put on this gorgeous dress she felt empowered as if she could do anything or be anyone while wearing such a dress. A movie producer reads Jane’s essay and is making a movie based on her essay. She receives a call from the producer’s assistant with details on plane ticket, passport photo’s and a car that will pick her up and drive her to such places. When Jane receives he plane ticket she realizes she is going to Paris..This turns her life upside down... She takes her dress (grandmas) with her carefully packed in her suitcase and off to Paris she goes....

To me it was a bit like a fairy story with a twist like a once upson a time story with mystery, I was much more interested in Jane's grandmother and how it became known as the dangerous dress. Would look out for this author again......


Pammy51 Report 24 May 2014 14:24


I've read quite a lot about Richard and the Plantaganets but the books seem to gloss over most of the females, perhaps Eleanor of Aquitaine is so charismatic the others pale into insignificance, so it was interesting to read about Richard's wife and sisters. Penman writes with authority but doesn't push the historical facts down your throat. Like Ann I shall look out for the next book.

For those in the UK there is a programme on BBC 4 on Wednesday called The Crusades (a repeat but I missed it first time round) featuring Richard and Saladin.


Pammy51 Report 24 May 2014 14:41

The Midnight Rose

I haven't come across Lucinda Riley before though I see she has written at least three other books. This book is rich in settings, from the Raj to Dartmoor, and seems to link the different time sections effortlessly. I haven't been to India but the scenes set there seemed very realistic.
Although it is a long book I didn't want it to finish.


AnninGlos Report 24 May 2014 15:10

One I suggested that didn't win was The Island Hideaway by Louise Candlish. Quite a pleasant easy read, ideal holiday reading. eleanor breaks up with fiance. when she hears he is going to Panarea on holiday with his new girlfriend she deceded to follow him. On the boat over she meets Lewis. I enjoyed it and it was a relief after reading Lionheart which while very good was not a particularly easy read.


Mersey Report 24 May 2014 16:33

The Midnight Rose - Lucinda Riley

I did enjoy The Midnight Rose, even though the actual rose plays a cameo role . . Anahita's story is fascinating and her view of London and the world outside of the British Raj is so lovely. The book book evolves the more you read, pages wanting you more, I could not put this book down as with the rest of the authors books . Like a magical Downton Abbey

Her father dies in 1909, nine-year-old Anahita Chavan and her widowed mother, from a noble family, are forced to move into the society of the Moon Palace in Jaipur in the service of their wealthy relatives.

Anni, as she is known, has inherited her mother’s feminine gifts of sight and healing and has a sound education in English, history and science thanks to the radical ideas of her late poet-philosopher father

Anni forms a close friendship with the headstrong Indira and is allowed to leave her home in Jaipur to become the princess’s official companion at the Cooch Behar Palace in the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas.

When the girls are 14, Anni accompanies Indira to school in England but on the outbreak of war, they are evacuated to Astbury Hall in Devon, home of the widow of a former British official in Cooch Behar.

Feeling isolated by a cooling in her friendship with Indira, Anni finds a mutual attachment with young Donald Astbury, a blond Adonis and reluctant heir to the magnificent, remote Astbury Estate.

Loved it!!


TessAkaBridgetTheFidget Report 26 May 2014 13:22

The Midnight Rose by Lluinda Riley.

I enjoyed reading the book, especially when Anahita was telling her life story.
Her story was rich in detail and very interesting. She had a home life with her parents, with all the freedom they could give, then her palace life with her friend, Princess Indira. This is followed by what happened to them both when they went to England foe their education, the interruption of The Great War and all its consequences.

At school Anahita was a "nobody" but with the coming of the war, she gradually finds her feet - is able to put her healing abilities to good use -- and she meets and falls in love with Donald Astbury at his home. Astbury Hall

Eighty years later her great-grandson, Ari, sets off to uncover her story and find out what happened to her son, Moh.
He meets Rebecca an American film star at Astbury Hall, where she is staying while making a film. She fits nicely into his quest and as she listens to his story, a new romance is born.

I enjoyed all of the story, really wanted Ari to be successful in his search for what really happened to Moh. Would recommend the book to anyone who hasn't read it yet, and might even read it again myself in a couple of years.

Big Thumbs Up!!


TessAkaBridgetTheFidget Report 26 May 2014 13:50

The Sealed Letter by Emma Donoghue

I had to keep reminding myself that this book is set in the 1860's long before women got the vote, that things were very different for them then.

It is the story of two women - Emily "Fido" Faithfull, and her one time dear-friend, Helen Coddrington.

Fido is unmarried and an exponent of women's right to work. She runs a printers and employs women herself. She is also part of the womens movement, and a magazine that hopes to push forward rights for women.

Helen is a married woman with two daughters. She is a fun loving woman, who is bored at home.
Her husband is much older than her, he is a Vice-Admiral, a rather staid man.

The two women have not been in touch for several years, when a "chance-meeting" in the street, brings them back together.

Helen uses Fido to meet her friend and lover, Colonel Anderson.

The Admiral eventually suspects that his wife is being unfaithful and employs someone to follow her and report back.

This leads to a court case for divorce (based on a real divorce that was reported in the newspapers).

All the sordid details are discussed in the court, and later printed in the papers.

A sad story of betrayal, unhappiness, spite and nastiness.
Very little joy and happiness.
A real eye-opener, of what it was like to get divorced for women, or to try to get a job that would support a family.

I got very impatient with Helen, had to keep reminding myself how different her life and times were to the present day.

Well worth reading, and as it was based on fact, no real hope of a fairy tale ending. A real history lesson instead.

Thank goodness for women's rights and equality.

Yes, I would recommend this very well written book - but not if you wanted to be cheered up.


TessAkaBridgetTheFidget Report 26 May 2014 13:53

Requested The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul a few weeks ago. Was seventh on the waiting list at the time.

Hope that it will be available soon - looking forward to reading it. Will then do a review - but if not here soon, will attach the review to the next batch.



TessAkaBridgetTheFidget Report 26 May 2014 17:58

Enjoyed reading the reviews. \seems that we are all in agreement re The Midnight Rose - we all loved it.

The Sealed Letter was areal eyeopener. While I got rather impatient with Helen - and had decided early on that the "Accidental" meeting with fido was contrived, Ann saw through Fido completely, realising that she was not a total innocent, so therefore had a lot more sympathy for Helen.

I am lookingforward to reading The Little Coffee Sop of Kabul especially after reading the review.

Have now to add a few more authors to my "look out for books by ....." list.

Just don't know when I shall get round to reading them all. At the moment all by body feels fit for is sleep.