Two books as usual please
Vote will be when all suggestions are in.
Review date will be 6 weeks after the vote! :-D
These are my suggestions. I won't be able to vote so I'm happy with whatever everyone else decides.
Mariana by Susanna Kearsley
Blurb from back of book-
The first time Julia Beckett saw Greywethers she was only five, but she knew that it was her house. And now that she's at last become its owner, she suspects that she was drawn there for a reason. As if Greywethers were a portal between worlds, she finds herself transported into seventeenth-century England, becoming Mariana, a young woman struggling against danger and treachery, and battling a forbidden love. Each time Julia travels back, she becomes more enthralled with the past...until she realizes Mariana's life is threatening to eclipse her own, and she must find a way to lay the past to rest or lose the chance for happiness in her own time.
I was fascinated by this book from the start. You do have to suspend disbelief about time travel to really enjoy this book but it all seems to happen so naturally I soon found myself drawn in. The descriptions of 17th century life are cleverly drawn so that they become a natural part of the story. It covers an area of history I had not thought much about, life after the Restoration, with its lingering resentments and hardships as well as introducing some interesting characters from the present.
Martyr by Rory Clements
England is close to war. Within days the axe could fall on the neck of Mary Queen of Scots, and Spain is already gathering a battle fleet to avenge her.
Tensions in Elizabeth I's government are at breaking point. At the eye of the storm is John Shakespeare, chief intelligencer in the secret service of Sir Francis Walsingham. When an intercept reveals a plot to assassinate England's 'sea dragon', Francis Drake, Shakespeare is ordered to protect him. With Drake on land fitting out his ships, he is frighteningly vulnerable. If he dies, England will be open to invasion.
In a London rife with rumour, Shakespeare must decide which leads to follow, which to ignore. When a high-born young woman is found mutilated and murdered at an illicit printing house, it is political gunpowder - and he has no option but to investigate.
But why is Shakespeare shadowed at every turn by the brutal Richard Topcliffe, the blood-drenched priest-hunter who claims intimacy with Queen Elizabeth herself? What is Topcliffe's interest in a housemaid, whose baby has been stolen? And where do two fugitive Jesuit priests fit into the puzzle, one happy to die for God, the other to kill for Him?
Home Truths by Freya North
Raised by their loving and eccentric Uncle Django, the McCabe sisters assume their early thirties will be a time of happiness and stability.
However, Cat, the youngest is home from abroad to begin a new phase of her life – but it’s proving more difficult than she thought. Fen is determined to be a better mother to her baby than her own was to her – though her love life is suffering as a result. Pip, the eldest, loves looking after her stepson, her husband, her uncle and her sisters – even if her own needs are sidelined.
At Django’s 75th birthday party, secrets are revealed that throw the family into chaos. Can heart and home ever be reconciled for the McCabes? After all, what does it mean if suddenly your sisters aren’t quite your sisters?
The Casual Vacancy by J K Rowling
In the idyllic small town of Pagford, a councillor dies and leaves a casual vacancy – an empty seat on the Parish Council.
In the election for his successor that follows, it is clear that behind the pretty surface this is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, wives at war with husbands, teachers at war with pupils..... Pagford is not what it seems.
From the smallest of elections in a sleepy British town, J K Rowling conjures an epic, emotional and compulsively readable tale. One critic says ‘A stunning, brilliant, outrageously gripping and entertaining evocation of British society today.
My Suggestions are
Jam Butties and a Pan of Scouse - Maggie Clark & Catherine Kemp
JAM BUTTIES AND A PAN OF SCOUSE is a gritty yet heart-warming memoir set against the backdrop of Liverpool's tightknit working-class docklands community. The story covers Maggie Clarke's upbringing in the tenements close to the docks, the River Mersey and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal: an area notorious for having the worst slums in Britain, yet the closest community as well.
At the tender age of 11, Maggie Clarke finds herself the matriarch of the family when her Irish mother runs off with another man. Leaving school at 14 to work at a local factory putting sticks into lollies, she is determined to make a better life for herself and her family - before starting her own family with her childhood sweetheart, who she marries at 19 after 'falling in the family way'. She has one night of married life with her husband before he is sent to India with the Navy and is devastated when she never hears from him again, presuming him a casualty of the war that is raging at home and abroad.
Another tragedy strikes when Maggie's brother Tommy is also claimed by the war, leaving her father inconsolable, but Maggie knows life has to go on and falls in love with Joseph, an Irish settler who she has 8 children with. But her happiness is short-lived as her first husband suddenly appears out of the blue demanding a divorce, and her new husband drinks away what little money they have, returning in fits of rage that leave Maggie and her children hungry and afraid. Many times she is only able to feed her brood by the kindness of neighbours putting a 'pan of scouse' on the range for her, or feeding her kids jam butties to help out.
Maggie's story sweeps across the changing face of Liverpool, from its squalid dock streets, the tenement blocks and cobbled roads to the decline of the docklands, new council housing, the rise of the Mersey beat, the Beatles and the energy and passion of a city that is home to a cast of colourful characters with the resilience to withstand the heartbreak and hardships that only the poorest can know.
The Devil You Know - Josephine Cox 99p Kindle Special at the moment
Sonny Fareham's lover - and also her boss - is the charismatic Tony Bridgeman, a successful and ruthless man who usually gets what he wants. But for Sonny, the affair that has promised a future of hope and happiness must end in desperate fear. Late one evening, Sonny overhears a private conversation between Tony Bridgeman and his wife. Only then does she realise she is in great danger.
Pregnant and afraid, Sonny flees her home to make a new life in the north of England, where she meets a gregarious and motherly new friend, Ellie Kenny. When the mysterious and handsome David Langham seems drawn to her, Sonny almost dares to believe that she could be happy again. But never far away is the one person who wants to destroy everything that she now holds dear...
How could someone not suggest this:
The Storm Sister by Lucinda Riley
Following on from The Seven Sisters, this is the second book in a spellbinding series of novels based loosely on the mythology surrounding the famous constellation. Each one follows the story of one sister, and each book opens at a beautiful chateau on the shores of Lake Geneva. The sisters gather together when they are told that their beloved father, an elusive billionaire they knew as Pa Salt, has died. He adopted them from across the globe, and now they are each left with an envelope, which holds a clue to their past, and a set of coordinates engraved on an armillary sphere, showing where their father found them.The Second Sister tells Ally's story. A talent sailor, Ally is competing in one of the world's deadliest races when tragedy strikes. This leads her to leave her life on the beautiful Mediterranean waters and follow the clue her father left her to a museum in Norway, where she begins to discover her past - and the story of a young woman, Anna, who lived there over 100 years before - and her links to the composer Edvard Grieg and his famous music to accompany Peer Gynt . .
Someone is Watching by Joy Fielding
Deeply shaken after a brutal attack, Bailey Carpenter struggles to reclaim control over what had once seemed like a neatly-ordered life. Unable to face her job, her friends, or even the world outside her apartment, Bailey is trapped with her thoughts, replaying the attack in a desperate search for a detail that will help the police uncover the identity of her unknown assailant. Bailey sees her attacker in the face of every stranger, and is unable to trust anyone other than her half-sister, Claire, and Claire’s snarky teenage daughter Jade. To pass the time in her lonely apartment, Bailey plays with the binoculars she once used in her career as a private investigator, scanning the high-rise buildings around hers for entertainment. She quickly discovers a favorite source: a handsome, wealthy playboy in the apartment across the street. But as she watches him strut around his bedroom, she starts to wonder if he’s putting on a show - with her as his intended audience. Looking out the window late one night, she sees him looking tauntingly right back at her, binoculars in hand. Could it be the assailant she’s been so desperate to identify has been right there, watching her, the whole time? The police, exasperated after Bailey’s many paranoid false alarms, believe she’s crying wolf, and Claire tries to convince her she’s wrong. Doubting her own sanity, Bailey has only Jade left to turn to, and together the two hatch a dangerous plot to discover just what exactly is going on in the apartment across the way.
My first suggestion is -
Mouse and the Cossacks by Paul Wilson
The first thing you have to know about me is that I have no voice. Sometimes I wish words would come you, but mostly I'm happy to be silent. It's safer that way ...….
Mouse de Bruin doesn't talk - she hasn't for four years. Do she is happy to move to a is e farmhouse with her mother. They don't have to speak to anyone at all, and that's how Mouse likes it. But her ears and eyes work perfectly well, and Mouse can is ense that William Crosby, the old man whose home they're renting, has a story worth uncovering.
She spends her days trying to unravel the clues he left behind, and discovers his involvement long ago with a group of Cossack exiles as a young army officer at the end of the Second World War. Together, Mouse's curiosity and William's short temper draw us into the secrets that haunt them both. But why, as Mouse begins to untangle William's past, is she so keen to eliminate all traces of her own life?
My second suggestion is -
The Floating Brothel, by Sian Rees.
The extraordinary true story of an 18th century ship and its cargo of female convicts.
"Not much attempt had been made to enforce discipline among the eomen , many of them London proustites, who had turned the ship into a floating brothel at her various ports of call"
In July 1789, 237 women convicts left England for Botany Bay in Australia on board a ship called the Lady Julian, destined to provide sexual services and a breeding bank for the men already there.
This is an enthralling story of the women and their voyage.
Based on painstaking research and primary sources, such as court records and the first-hand account of the voyage written by the ship's steward who fell on love with 19-year-old Sarah Whitelam, this is a riveting work of recovered history.