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Greaders review July/Aug books

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AnninGlos Report 20 Aug 2016 09:25

Please review the following

The Bones of You by Debbie Howells

And then:
The Things We Never Said By Susan Elliot Wright
Dorothea's war: the diaries of a First World War nurse by Dorothea Crewdson,
The girl who came home

And then any of those with one vote


AnninGlos Report 20 Aug 2016 09:29



The Bones of You by Debbie Howells

Well, maybe I am just not good with the dead person playing a role in the story. We have two families Kate, husband Angus and daughter Grace who remain normal throughout the book though Kate is rather naive to the mother in the other family. Joanna a woman who is so self obsessed with her appearance, she eats very little but drinks a fair bit and she is forever having nips and tucks and is into redecoration of her place.. she is the Barbie Doll of the family though the author did do a character background of Joanna's growing up in a weird family household ... this was done via the dead daughter Rosie. Then there is Joanna's husband who is a womaniser and a bully of his own children and is not beyond throttling his wife by asphyxiation and he also falls out with neighbours wherever they live and so are continually on the move to a new place to play their happy family role over and over again until Rosie gets killed. Oh and they have a younger daughter Delphine who survives by staying stum most of the time. It is a book with a dysfunctional story line and one knows who the murderer is within the first quarter of the book, even though we are not told who it is. One has to read it to the end, just to find out how they will also reach the same conclusion as myself. There is one thing that bugged me about the story, Jo produced her husband Neal's laptop from the bottom of a wardrobe and because she had been on a so-called computer course she manages to find brutal pornography on it which she says is Neal's and he does get arrested. I was waiting for the porn to have actually been put there by Joanna herself, it seemed to be something that her demented mind would come up with or am I reading more into her "bad" behaviour than is already there?

The Things we Never Said by Susan Elliot-Wright

I seem to read a lot of books that have one chapter from one person and the next from the other. I can well believe what poor Maggie went through, the horrors of it all and the way society was about unmarried mothers, and how she went off the rails when one of her babies (twins) died. Prior to all this she was working with an acting crowd as wardrobe mistress and once she was found to be pregnant her landlady turfed her out of her digs. Maggie could never bring herself to say she had been raped, even though after the rape her landlady was extremely good to her. Maggie ends up in an asylum and such was the treatment that the least little answer back or misdemeanour would send a patient off for electric shock treatment and once again their memories would take ages to resurface.
Jonathan's life is going from one disastrous step to another, he had a bleak childhood, his marriage is breaking down, his wife is pregnant and his father dies and he finds himself falling apart at the seams.
The lives of both Maggie and Jonathan are portrayed well as they both lose control of their own selves. The novel is well told, covers every aspect in relevant detail, it is not airy fairy, you can well believe all that is unfolding and it gets more interesting as one reads through it.
And I have to admire Maggie who when she was chucked out from her digs stayed with a friend from the acting world who has a boa constrictor in her act. The boa-constrictor lives in the house with them. LOL
That aside this is a great story, talks about the social mores that existed in those days and how problems were dealt with.. Spot on.

Also read:
Serious Intent by Margaret Yorke

Had not read anything by her before and this was a reasonably short paperback that has been waiting for me to read for quite some time. I enjoyed it. You have Tom WW2 Vet who has been living on his own for a while since his wife died, his son (Allan)doing time for murder but no one else knows about that. A woman named Ivy comes and does for him and she also cares for a neighbour's child (Mark) after school. Ivy's step-son is a bit of a tearaway and is not above stealing from the old bloke and Mark who is rather a discerning child keeps quiet but befriends Tom in a different manner. They get to be good friends and Mark borrows books that were Allan's. Up the road lives Richard and Verity and her two sons, he more or less ended up marrying her by default, she was so dependent on him and then turned against him after their marriage but every time she thought he might go she would be all lovey dovey again (she is a manic-depressive) Her eldest son played on the fact that he did not like Richard no matter what Richard did to be nice to the boys.
Marigold Darwin after her retirement decides to return to where she grew up and finds that Richard is living in her old house. She recognises the two younger children who get blamed for bad behaviour of the older children. She verifies that both Mark and Richard's younger step-son are okay. She buys the old house that Tom had lived in and when is son Allan is released from prison he is 1) taken aback that Tom left him nothing and 2) his childhood home is being lived in. It becomes such that their are tensions abounding between the families and even Marigold fears for her life. It is a ripping good yarn in a style that I would say is Enid Blyton for grown ups.



AnninGlos Report 20 Aug 2016 09:37

The Bones of you by Debbie Howells

The easiest part of belonging to Greaders is reading the book. The hardest is reviewing it and doing it justice.
I read this one fairly quickly, mainly because I wanted to know the outcome. I found it difficult to put down.
I did like DH’s style of writing this book. By using two narrators we were getting the current and past action one after the other. Therefore the pace was fast.
A story of abuse, of a Mother by her parents and of her daughters by both the mother and father, some physical abuse but mainly mental. And the abuse of the mother by the father, physical and mental. It was a toxic mixture, it was tragedy waiting to happen.
I thought the character of Kate was well written as was the relationship of Kate with the other characters in the story, the good neighbour who, wanting to help smooth troubled waters ends up deeply involved with parents and daughters, luckily without harming her own relationships with her husband and daughter.
Joanne who was forced to be perfect by her parents, to look good which she achieved by not eating mainly, was then concerned that her daughters, Rosanna and Delphine should also be perfect to please their father, her husband Neal, who only chose her because she was perfect.
Neal, so controlling who had done good things with an orphanage in Afghanistan but who also had a secret, and a temper.
Rosie, forced to be perfect, not allowed a full meal and to wear clothes too small so that she appeared slim. Rosie who loved to escape to Kate’s and be with the horses, who found somebody who loved her, but who couldn’t escape. And Delphine who saw much of what went on and who kept quiet.
A very well written book by an author I didn’t know, I will look out for more of her books. It is not a book I would have bought if it was not for greaders so thank you whoever chose it. I really enjoyed it.
I did like this paragraph from Rosie. “What you don’t know is that in the longest blackest night, there is always a light. That the wind is myriad souls singing, passing from one world to the next, as they begin their journey to the stars.”

Rabbit Stew and a penny or two by Maggie Smith-Bendell
Maggie Smith born 1941 to Lenard Smith and his Wife Defiance Small Romany Gypsies, or as they preferred to be known in those days, travellers. This changed in the 70s with first the New Age Travellers and then Irish Travellers when they reverted to being Gypsies again.

I found this an easy to read book detailing the highs and lows of gypsy life. Maggie having gone on to work in later life at helping .gypsy and Traveller families buy a plot of land on which to put their trailers. Not bad for a child who never wanted to go to school at first. She has worked hard and writes that she will go on and on until she becomes too old to fight for the rights of her people. She strongly believes that there must be small family sites where they can show communities that they live by the law,pay their bills and are human beings and deserve respect.

I enjoyed this book, it is well written and I found it entertaining as well as learning a lot from it.

The Girl who came home by Hazel Gaynor

I have always avoided reading books based on the true story of the Titanic as they didn't appeal to me. However this was a chosen book so I read it. And...... I did enjoy. It.

A very well written and insightful book. I had always felt sad for the terrible loss of life but by weaving a story around it the human stories are brought home to us. The fear of leaving home in Ireland to sail to a new life, that fear increased at the sight of the huge ship and the trust put in it as being a safe ship, unsinkable. Then the awe of how grand even steerage is, and the excitement of seeing all the posh people on board,

When the ship strikes the iceberg, the disbelief and the refusal to take it seriously all ring true. These scenes are all so very well written, as is the whole story of Maggie. I liked the way the story unfolded by having the book first set in the time before joining the ship in 1912, then fast forward to the late 20th century as Maggie relates her story to her granddaughter.

I thought it was an excellent, well written book which showed respect to those lost and those saved in the tragedy. I would certainly read more of her books.


Mersey Report 20 Aug 2016 10:05

Good morning loverlies...

I am away at the moment and will be doing my review tonight I am near the
End of one of the reads so will see you laters :-D


Anotheranninglos Report 20 Aug 2016 13:47

The bones of you.
I found this book easy to read and enjoyed it very much. The idea of Rosie having her own chapters appealed to me.
At some early point in the book I thought it was rosies father who was the killer and expected it to go down the route of sexual abuse and he had thought rosie had or was going to confide to Kate about.

I will be looking at other books by the author as I have never read debbie Howells before.

The other book I read was
Dorotheas War, which was one that i put forward. If it wasn't for the fact that some days I would read bones for you inbetween I would of given up on it. Although it did start picking up a bit in the middle. I suppose though being in the same envioarment doing the same job there wouldn't be alot to write about.
What a treasure these diares must be to her nephew and he done well in transcribing them so others can enjoy.
Its a good job she enjoyed eggs as she had many omeletts, eggs must of been easy to get.


Mersey Report 20 Aug 2016 19:14

The Things we Never Said - Susan Elliot Wright

I have literally just finished reading the last chapter of this book within the last hour

The first story is that of Maggie, who we first meet as a mental health patient in 1964. Maggie has no recollection of her life before entering the hospital and her story is divulged as she slowly starts to remember when we find out that she has had to make some very brave decisions which will affect her and others for a long time to come. Quite harrowing and upsetting in places in my opinion

The second story is that of Jonathan and takes place 40 years on. We meet him at a time when everything is going wrong in his life including, but not exclusively, problems at work and his father's death and the strain everything is putting on his marriage have really brought him to a low point. The only thing he has to look forward to is the birth of his first child. There are times in the book where you feel that he isn't getting the support he needs from his wife Fiona, but as a pregnant woman she has her own set of priorities. As the book says, when a woman is pregnant, she is the most important person in the world so when, on top of everything else, an unexpected visitor arrives with some quite shocking news that will have far reaching implications for Jonathan, he really feels he is on his own.

It starts to move at this point where the two stories join together, defintley a story
of suspense and I could not wait to see what would develop

There are some very serious issues in the book, and at times had to put it down
every now and again to take it all in........

Dorothea's war: the diaries of a First World War nurse by Dorothea Crewdson

A great story of a volunteer nurse in the first world war, this book has none of the mud and blood horror of the trenches but is such an intereresting account of what life was like in the field hospitals set up in northern France. Tents blow away, night duty is dreaded, convoys of patients arrive and, when recovered (most never did), are dispatched back to England. A mild flirtation with a doctor, with a walk in the woods to pick wild flowers is the most you'll get as in romance in this book. But if you are happy with a genuine account written up day by day in diary form this is a book for you, loved the story and although edited by Dorotheas nephew still had a story to be told. It actually reminded me of a programme I had watched quite a while ago that was a series.....


Pammy51 Report 20 Aug 2016 20:48

The Bones of You

Initially I thought this book was going to be really enjoyable. The beginning gripped you with the vivid description of Rosie's death and the hints that all was not well in her family. The story then changed to Kate, placing her and her family in the village and how she knew Rosie. As she became obsessed with finding what happened, Rosie's story was told as if her memory had regressed. I was rather disappointed with the way the characters were developed and, although I wanted to finish it to discover how the murderer was revealed I was not as enthralled as I thought I would be.

The Girl who Came Home
I have always been interested in the story of the Titanic and this story contained some fascinating, obviously well researched, facts about life aboard. The characters were well drawn especially Grace and her grandmother Maggie, suffering from survivor guilt from her rescue from the disaster. Their return to Ireland and the surprises they find there are both heart rending and heart warming.

Dorothea's War

One of the men in my family tree is listed as having died of wounds in hospital in WW1 so I hoped Dorothea's story would shed some light on what would have happened to him. It was a poignant record of her life near the front, dealing with the injured soldiers and trying to escape from the horrors by exploring the countryside, made more so by finding out that she died so young just before she was due to return home. Although well edited by her nephew, because it was a diary it made rather slow reading, maybe a book to dip into rather than to read in one go.


TessAkaBridgetTheFidget Report 1 Sep 2016 17:34

Sorry to have been AWOL for a while. Will try to do two or three reviews later today or tomorrow.


TessAkaBridgetTheFidget Report 2 Sep 2016 12:53


The Bones of You by Debbie Howells.

I didn't reread the suggestion details or the blurb on the back of the book before delving into it - so it was like stepping into the unknown.
The title. "The Bones of You". did suggest that someone had died - so when learning of the disappearance, I was not surprised that this was a case of murder.. However, just about everything else came as a surprise, (or in some cases a shock).

I liked the way that the story was told by different people, not just the main narrator, Kate. As the story unfolded I was moved, angered, shocked and gripped.
Who? and Why? were the main questions whirling around in my brain - there were so many suspects, more than one horrible person - horrifying acts of abuse, - it was difficult to decide the identy of of the murderer. I did eventually work out the Who? but not the Why?
The Bones of You was much more than a " Who dun it?". It was also a stark story of cruelty, abuse and deception, illustrating the cliché that. "you can't tell what goes on behind closed doors"
If you want a light, entertaining summer read, this is NOT the book for you. This is a deeper, worrying, puzzling and upsetting read. However, I still think that it was well worth sitting through many pages of anxiety, to get to the eventual conclusion.


TessAkaBridgetTheFidget Report 2 Sep 2016 13:45


The Things We Never Said, by. Susan Elliot Weight.

This story reminded me so much of how things used to be, and sometimes unfortunately, sometimes still are.
A gritty story that covers subjects such as rape, mental illness, single parenthood and adoption. All this is given a human face, a victim, a survivor, an inheritor.
The cast of characters include Maggie and Jonathan, we follow their separate stories. Maggie, trying to make sense of her past and to come to terms with it.
Jonathan, going thorough a rough patch in his life, at a time when he should be happily looking forward to the eminent birth of his first child. Instead he is in a fearful place, worried about the present and the future and stuck with only unhappy memories of his childhood.

This story almost seemed like a "fly on the wall" documentary. I found myself relating "second hand" ( I.e. I am close to people who have experienced some of these dreadful things), When certain facts came to light, I was tempted to find the pertainant information on freebmd etc ( just like happens on the help boards here).
A real emotional read, that to me rang so true. It caught at my heartstrings, big time.



AnninGlos Report 2 Sep 2016 14:43

thank you Tess, two good reviews from you. :-)


TessAkaBridgetTheFidget Report 2 Sep 2016 20:37

Thanks Ann, glad you liked them. Once I had done my reviews, I read everyone else's. Found them all interesting.
Have now made a note of the quote from Rosie in The Bones of You. Was touched by it when I read it, but too eager to keep reading, to write it down. Persie, like you, in the end, I thought that Jo was probably responsible for the porn on her husbands computer. That woman had a lot to answer for!


Dorothea's War. Edited by Richard Crewson

I enjoyed reading a nonfiction book. Especially in this case, where it was easy to find the family in Census records. I didn't though go as far as checking to see if anyone on here, or Ancestry had this family on their tree (invasion of privacy).

The diary starts on 12th June 1915, when Dorothea and her friend Christie are already in France. It starts quite slowly, with frequent entries made about day to day happenings, in what must have been a strange environment for Dorothea and the other VAD's. I felt at times that it was a little stilted, perhaps something that D. thought that she ought to do, or something that she promised herself that she would.
Whatever her motivations, thank goodness that she did keep a diary, that it was kept safe after her untimely death, and e that eventually her nephew, Richard edited it and turned it into a book.

This was originally just a diary for Dorothea to read, possibly something to aid her memory when she reread it in the future, something to help her to share her story with her family, when the war was over, and everyone was safe at home.

I soon not used to the way she "spoke" , using the slang of the day. Found the Chronology of the War. and the Glossary of Medical and Military terms very useful.

As time went on D. often left gaps in her diary entries, but at the same time, she wrote fuller accounts of what had happened. It seemed that she was now "talking" to other people, perhaps putting things in her diary that she couldn't put in her letters, (because of censorship).

I found it to be, not only Dorothea' s story, but also an interesting reference book and am tempted to get a copy for my book shelf. Then I can delve into it when researching family members involved in WW1, or when watching film/documentaries, or reading other books on the same subject.
I learned so much from the diary. D. worked not only on different types of ward, but also in the Mess, feeding the hungry workers! She worked with different nationalities, including German prisoners of war, who were transfered from prison camps because they were so I'll. ( no further comment on this specific subject, in case you haven't read it yet, but intend doing so).
The book brings home to me the tremendous advances made in medicine since WW1. So many more of our injured and I'll troops would have survived, if they had the medical knowledge we have now.

The attitudes to serious injury and maiming have changed too, thankfully.
One of the cases in point is when there are two very badly injured young patients on the ward, D. comments ..." poor G. died last night and everyone was so sorry.,.....such a dear boy, only 19 and as nice as could be". She goes on to say "L looks like pulling round ....looks pretty bad yet but has improved from a day or two ago. It would have been better if it had been he and not G. who had gone, as he really has nothing to live for, has had a leg off,no friends, and a wife who deserted him, poor man, it doesn't seem much of an existence to pull around for"

What a shame that D didn't live to see that even one-leggeded men had something to live for.
That infections and dome diseases could be treated with medicine. That the NHS would come into being and women would get the vote!
I wonder what SHE. would have thought of her diaries, if she had been able to read them many years later with hindsight.
RIP. Dorothea. And thank you Richard C. for sharing her story with us.


TessAkaBridgetTheFidget Report 2 Sep 2016 20:46

I see the "Rabbit Stew and a Question or Two". has also been reviewed.
It was one of my duggestions, so I will read it and review it with our next lot of books to be reviewed.

Time now to read the reviews of the books that I hsven',t read.

Will possibly be putting some more of them on my. " to read" list.

Off the library tomorrow to return some books and to request. " The Last Voyage of the Valentina"

The other books on the list don't seem to be available.