Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Liberation by Kate Furnivall





Paperback: 552 pages                                                                                     

Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: November 3rd 2016 by Simon & Schuster Ltd
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentence: Caterina Lombardi didn't want Nonno to die.
My Opinion: It was quite by chance that I came to read this very readable novel set in southern Italy just after the Second World War. I just happened to see it on display at my local library recently and as an Italophile it appealed to me. I have never read any of Kate Furnivall's novels before but after enjoying this one she is an author I will not hesitate to read again.
The story is a tangled web of intrigue and deceit, a very descriptive account of a country that was struggling to survive. Caterina, the protagonist is a truly amazing young woman prepared to go to great lengths to protect her family. Highly recommended to fans of historical romantic fiction and Italophiles.


Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:


Italy, 1945: as British and American troops attempt to bring order to the devastated cities, its population fights each other to survive. Caterina Lombardi is desperate - her mother has abandoned them already and her brother is being drawn into the mafia. Early one morning, among the ruins of the bombed Naples streets, she is forced to go to extreme lengths to protect her family and in doing so forges a future very different to the one she expected. But will the secrets of her family's past be her downfall? This epic novel is an unforgettably powerful story of love, loss and the long shadow of war.



Video Trailer for ' The Liberation ' Courtesy of YouTube






Author Profile





Kate Furnivall was born in Penarth, Wales, UK to an English father and a Russian mother. She grew up there with her twin sister, an older brother and a sister.


Her mother's childhood was spent in Russia, China and India, and it was her that inspired her daughter to write, when she discovered the story of her grandmother. A White Russian refugee who fled from the Bolsheviks down into China. That extraordinary tale inspired her first book, The Russian Concubine. From then on, she was hooked.

Kate is the author of eight novels, including The Russian Concubine, The White Pearl and The Italian Wife. Her books have been translated into more than twenty languages and have been on the New York Times Bestseller list.

She went to London University where she studied English and from there she went into publishing, writing material for a series of books on the canals of Britain. Then into advertising where she met her husband, Norman, with whom she has two sons.


Photographs, Trailer and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.



YouTube - The Liberation     Wikipedia - Kate Furnivall    Goodreads Author Profile

Amazon Author Page    Kate Furnivall - Author Official Website

Friday, January 20, 2017

Where My Heart Used To Beat by Sebastian Faulks



                                            25241505

Hardback:325 pages                                                                                                  
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Hutchinson, 2015
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentence: With its free peanuts and anonymity, the airline lounge is somewhere I can usually feel at home; but on this occasion I was in too much of a panic to enjoy its self-importance.
Review Quote: "A masterpiece…a terrific novel, humming with ideas, knowing asides, shafts of sunlight, shouts of laughter and moments of almost unbearable tragedy" (Toby Clements Sunday Telegraph)
My Opinion: Such a sad story of love and loss with war taking a large part of the narrative.  The subject of both World Wars is a recurring theme in the novels of Sebastian Faulks and one he writes about so vividly, though sometimes this can be a little over powering. Another subject that Faulks has written about previously is the condition of the human mind and that is very much part of this latest novel as he explores how much our minds are part of our genetics.
As in his previous novels he manages despite the underlying harrowing parts of the story once again to have produced a compelling page turner. If you find parts difficult to concentrate on just keep going as it is well worthwhile for the heart rending ending.




Précis Courtesy of Goodreads
:


"You don't live the life I have without making some enemies."

Having accepted a strange but intriguing invitation to a French island, psychiatrist Robert Hendricks meets the man who has commissioned him to write a biography. But his subject seems more interested in finding out about Robert's past than he does in revealing his own. For years, Robert has refused to discuss his past. After the war ended, he refused to go to reunions, believing in some way that denying the killing and the deaths of his friends and fellow soldiers would mean he wouldn't be defined by the experience. Suddenly, he can't keep the memories from overtaking him. But can he trust his memories and can we believe what other people tell us about theirs?

Moving between the present and past, between France and Italy, New York and London, this is a powerful story about love and war, memory and desire, the relationship between the body and the mind.

Compelling and full of suspense, Where My Heart Used to Beat is a tender, brutal and thoughtful portrait of a man and a century, which asks whether, given the carnage we've witnessed and inflicted over the past one hundred years, people can ever be the same.

I have read the majority of his novels, five of which I have previously reviewed, I am including the links to them for those of you that might be interested.

Devil May Care  Engleby   Human Traces  A Week in December  A Possible Life



Video Trailer for 'Where My Heart Used To Beat'      ' Courtesy of YouTube and BBC Newsnight'




Author Profile






Sebastian Charles Faulks CBE was born in Donnington, England on April 20th 1953  He is a novelist, journalist, and broadcaster who is best known for his historical novels set in France — The Girl at the Lion D'Or, Birdsong, and Charlotte Grey. He comes from an interesting family background as can be read in this biographical profile. 
He is the son of Pamela (Lawless) and Peter Ronald Faulks, a Berkshire solicitor who later became a judge. He grew up in Newbury. His mother was both cultured and highly strung. She introduced him to reading and music at a young age. Her own mother, from whom she was estranged, had been an actress in repertory. His father was a company commander in the Duke of Wellington's Regiment, in which he served from 1939 to 1946. He saw action in Holland, France, Tunisia, Italy (at the Anzio landings), Syria and Palestine. He was wounded three times and awarded an immediate MC after an action against the Hermann Goering Parachute Troops in North Africa in 1942.
His maternal grandfather, Philip Henry Lawless, enlisted in the 1st Battalion, 28th county of London Regiment, otherwise known as The Artists' Rifles in 1914, and served in trench warfare on the Western Front until 1917, when he moved to the 26th Battalion Middlesex Regiment and finished the war in Salonika. He was decorated several times and received the Military Cross in 1918, the standard Victory Medal, the British War Medal and the 1914 Star. He eventually left the Army and returned to work as a wine merchant - his father's original occupation.
His paternal grandfather, Major James Faulks (Major was his name, not a military rank) was an accountant who had previously worked as a schoolmaster at a private boarding school in Tunbridge Wells, while Major's provisions merchant father, William Robert Faulks, supplied dairy products in late Victorian Paddington.
Faulks' father wanted him to become a diplomat. He claims his first ambition was to be a taxi driver until at the age of fifteen, while reading George Orwell, he decided to become a novelist instead. In fact, he is the only member of his paternal family not to be a lawyer; his father and uncle were judges and his brother Edward is a QC specialising in medical negligence.
Faulks was educated at the fee-charging Wellington College and studied English at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he won an open exhibition and to which he was elected an honorary fellow in 2007. He took a teaching job at the Dwight-Franklin International School after university while also moving into journalism, becoming a features writer for the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph, and was recruited by the Independent as Literary Editor in 1986. He became the Deputy Editor of the Independent on Sunday before leaving in 1991 to concentrate on writing. He has been a columnist forThe Guardian (1992-8) and The Evening Standard (1997-9).
He continues to contribute articles and reviews to a number of newspapers and magazines and to broadcast regularly. He wrote and presented the Channel 4 series Churchill's Secret Army, about the wartime Special Operations Executive (SOE), screened in 1999. Faulks is a team captain on BBC Radio 4's literary quiz The Write Stuff.
Faulks lives with his wife, Veronica (formerly his assistant at The Independent), and their three children William, Holly and Arthur . He works from his study in a top floor flat of a house near Holland Park Avenue, ten minutes from his home, starting work at 10am and finishing at 6pm, regardless of whether he is writing a book or not.
He was appointed a CBE in the Birthday Honours List 2002 for "services to Literature" and he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1994.
Faulks supports West Ham United. He writes about this in "Upton and Other Parks," a contribution to the 1990 football book Saturday's Boys.


The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and his writing.

Goodreads Author Profile   Sebastian Faulks - Biography.  Amazon Author Profile 


Sebastian Faulks - Facebook   Author's Official Website  


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Winter by Christopher Nicholson


Paperback: 247 pages                                                                                                
Genre:Historical Fiction
Publisher: Fourth Estate 2014
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentence: One of the old roads leaving a well-known country town in the west of England climbs a long slope and finally reaches a kind of open plain, a windy spot from which a wide prospect of the countryside is available.
Review Quote: 'Nicholson's understated prose perfectly suits this account of Thomas Hardy's unrequited love ....a superfine, thistledown novel about a novelist, a place and about love and loss....' The Guardian
My Opinion: Since studying Thomas Hardy's literature at school I have been a firm fan of all his novels. Tess of the D'Urbevilles has always been a favourite, so I was intrigued when presented with this title for a recent book club selection. In the 1920’s Thomas Hardy did actually adapt his apparently favourite novel Tess of the d’Urbervilles for a Dorset amateur dramatic group, so this novel is based on real events.
Winter is not something I would have normally wanted to read as I do not like it when it seems like an author is taking the fame of another, real and or fictional for their own novel. It almost feels like cheating to me.  Despite these doubts I did enjoy Winter, although I was not particularly keen on Nicholson's portrayal of either Thomas Hardy or his second wife Florence. He is portrayed as a somewhat reclusive and obstinate old man that is not at all pleasant to his much younger wife, though one feels she deserves it with her tendency to hysteria and nagging at times.
In conclusion this complex story about the winter of Hardy's life and the emotional problems arising in his marriage due to old age, his desires, fear of mortality and his wife's jealousies does provide a provoking read.
Regardless of the way the author has characterised Hardy, I still love his writing and would therefore recommend this novel to any fans of his work.


Précis Courtesy of Goodreads: 

In the winter of 1924 the most celebrated English writer of the day, 84-year-old Thomas Hardy, was living at his Dorset home of Max Gate with his second wife, Florence. Aged 45 but in poor health, Florence came to suspect that Hardy was in the grip of a romantic infatuation. The woman in question was a beautiful local actress, 27-year-old Gertrude Bugler, who was playing Tess in the first dramatic adaptation of Hardy's most famous novel, 'Tess of the d'Urbervilles'. Inspired by these events, 'Winter' is a brilliantly realised portrait of an old man and his imaginative life; the life that has brought him fame and wealth, but that condemns him to living lives he can't hope to lead, and reliving those he thought he once led. It is also, though, about the women who now surround him: the middle-aged, childless woman who thought she would find happiness as his handmaiden; and the young actress, with her youthful ambitions and desires, who came between them.


Author Profile:


Christopher Nicholson was born in London in 1956 and brought up in Surrey. He was educated at Tonbridge School in Kent, and read English at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. After university he worked in Cornwall for a charity encouraging community development. He then became a radio scriptwriter and producer, and made many documentaries and features mainly for the BBC World Service in London. He was married to the artist Catharine Nicholson, who died in 2011 www.catharinenicholson.com. He has two children, a son and a daughter. For the past twenty-five years he has lived in the countryside on the border between Wiltshire and Dorset.
He has written three novels: 'The Fattest Man In America' (2005), 'The Elephant Keeper' (2009) and 'Winter' (2014).

Photographs and Biographical information courtesy of the following sites.

Goodreads Author Profile     Amazon Author Page   Author Official Website