I was intrigued when I heard that Graham Norton was releasing his debut fiction novel, having watched him on TV for years and finding him immensely entertaining I wondered what his writing debut would bring and set about getting the book from net galley.
Those that seen Norton may have certain expectations on what he would write about and you’ll probably find yourself very surprised when you start this book.
PJ Collins is the local police officer in a village not used to much police action, over weight and not used to drama when a body is discovered on an old farm PJ is suddenly at the centre of what could be the unravelling of a huge village secret.
In their youth Eve Ross and Brid Riodran fought over the affections of Tommy Burke, but then he disappeared ‘to London’ leaving both women in the lurch and with lives that could have been very different.
In the following investigations many secrets are unearthed and old rivalries stirred – it’s definitely not what you’d expect from Norton but a wonderful and exceptionally well written debut novel full of surprises (of the good kind!)
An excellent debut which I will be recommending to all!
Hodder & Stoughton
6th October 2016
Graham Norton's masterful debut is an intelligently crafted story of love, secrets and loss.
The remote Irish village of Duneen has known little drama; and yet its inhabitants are troubled. Sergeant PJ Collins hasn't always been this overweight; mother of two Brid Riordan hasn't always been an alcoholic; and elegant Evelyn Ross hasn't always felt that her life was a total waste.
So when human remains are discovered on an old farm, suspected to be that of Tommy Burke - a former love of both Brid and Evelyn - the village's dark past begins to unravel. As the frustrated PJ struggles to solve a genuine case for the first time in his life, he unearths a community's worth of anger and resentments, secrets and regret.
Darkly comic, touching and at times profoundly sad. Graham Norton employs his acerbic wit to breathe life into a host of loveable characters, and explore - with searing honesty - the complexities and contradictions that make us human.
If He Really Loved Me sees us meet Holly firstly 2 years in the future, with a happy baby, son and apparently husband, but before her husband is revealed we travel back Picking up from where book one in The Liberty Sands trilogy left us as Holly tries to find a moment to reveal to son Harry that follwing her holiday romance she is pregnant.
Still avoiding Phillippe and determined not to reveal to him she is pregnant it seems history is set to repeat itself. But with the relationship with his mum set to change Harry thinks it’s time to find out who his father is and that every child deserves to know their father.
Phillippe meanwhile is set on tracking down Holly and finding out if they can make things up, but it seems he will get a surprise when he does find her. Can they be honest with each other and make a go of things, or are there too many secrets in the way of the relationship?
There are plenty of twists in this saga and a few characters are developed a little more, with secrets being unhidden and new information revealed – there are some nice surprises in the way that take this away from the holiday romance of the first book and make the characters much more three dimensional with their own problems and histories.
The end of the book leaves you guessing and hanging on to delve straight into book 3 to find out exactly who Holly is going to end up with in her happily ever after! I can’t wait for more!
If He Really Loved Me...
The Liberty Sands Trilogy
25th November 2015
Book one in the Liberty Sands Trilogy, Life's a Beach and Then..., introduced us to Holly, Harry and Philippe; If He Really Loved Me... continues their captivating story, from love to heartbreak. trust to betrayal, and back again.
Single mum, Holly Wilson, and her twenty-year-old son,Harry, have an enviably close relationship but when Harry finds out that she is pregnant and, for reasons unknown to all but herself, intends to raise the baby alone again, he begins to question her decision not to tell him about his own father, who abandoned them before his birth.
Upon discovering his father's name, Harry secretly embarks on his search for the truth, a search which takes him to Los Angeles where he uncovers a tragic story. Still reeling from what he has learned, an extraordinary twist of fate brings Harry and Philippe, the father of Holly's unborn child, face to face. Should Harry tell him about the baby and risk damaging his relationship with his mum forever? If he does, will Philippe want to be a husband and father? And will Holly be prepared to give Philippe a second chance?
I read this book without knowing the actual title or author when I discovered a lot of other bloggers talking about it under the #ReadWithoutPrejudice tag it was available as through netgalley. I was intrigued by the idea of reading a book without having seen a cover or having any preconceptions based on the author and am glad I did so. This was a brilliant campaign for a book whose main topic is prejudice.
Ruth works on the labour ward of the hospital where she’s been for 20 years, she’s worked hard to get where she is, lost her husband to the war and has a son who is doing wonderful at school. Then on a normal day at work as she exams a new born baby she is faced with prejudice by the baby’s parents who request she does not touch their child.. why? Because Ruth is black and the parents are white supremacists. When that baby later dies after being left in Ruth’s care she is found in a frightening situation where everyone blames her for the death.
The book is full of twists and turns and does a wonderful job of highlighting racial prejudices even in those who don’t believe themselves to be racist. The developing friendship between Ruth and her lawyer Kennedy is also very well written and I loved how the two played off each other to highlight the issues Ruth faces as a black woman.
You are constantly left wondering how the book will end and there are some very big twists before the conclusion (which I won’t spoil), you won’t be able to put this book down! It certainly lives up to it’s title as a small great thing.
Small Great Things
Hodder & Stoughton
22nd November 2016
When a newborn baby dies after a routine hospital procedure, there is no doubt about who will be held responsible: the nurse who had been banned from looking after him by his father.
What the nurse, her lawyer and the father of the child cannot know is how this death will irrevocably change all of their lives, in ways both expected and not.
Small Great Things is about prejudice and power; it is about that which divides and unites us.
Thanks for a free netgalley copy of this book in exchange for review, I’d seen this book being talked about on twitter and my interest piqued. When Beth was young her parents separated leaving her and her sister with her mum who relied on her uncle for help. When events take a sinister turn Beth flees her home and goes to live with her dad and his new girlfriend – eventually with the death of her father she is returned home to her village but her sister is unhappy with her sister’s abandonment and not ready to talk to her.
It seems however that Sara is also hiding a terrible secret which she ends up unable to conceal from Beth, this secret binds them together into adulthood. Where we then find that Beth too is keeping a big secret from her daughter and brother in law.
A story which features of tangled web of family secrets that will keep you returning to the page for more. You can’t help but feel for Beth who has faced so much in her life and led a life full of secrets, although the secrets are more or less revealed by the e, you can’t help but wonder why she didn’t reveal them to those closest to her much earlier.
Another fab read from Bookouture
31st March 2016
Two childhoods destroyed. One story they will never tell. Until now.
Beth ran away from her family when she was a teenager. She left behind a terrible evil that took her innocence. She also left behind her sister, Sara.
When Beth returns home, she is shocked to discover her terrible secret is not just hers alone…she shares it with Sara. Under the shadow of a remote headland, the sisters make an oath they promise never to break.
Eva’s birth is a mystery that remains unsolved. Years later with her marriage in ruins, and her future uncertain, she realizes that to move forward with her life, she must first understand her past.
But while Eva is drawing closer to the truth about her roots, Beth and Sara’s lives are falling apart, crushed under the weight of the secret they carry. They must confront the past and face the darkness once more. But this time, their story will be heard.
Fergus Boggs is being cared for in a home having lost his memory, when a package arrives at the home for him and his daughter Sabrina looks inside she discovers a marble collection of considerable value. But her dad has never mentioned marbles before and the collection seems news to his family.
The story focuses on one day in Sabrina’s life as she investigates where the marble collection has come from and how it came to be her dads. Through it she hopes to find something which may unlock her dad’s memories. Cleverly the book also covers most of Fergus’s life, from the very moment locked in a school cupboard he discovers marbles, his relationship with older brother Hamish and his other brothers which could sometimes be tough and even the relationship with his mother. There was a very poignant scene in the middle of the novel when we witness the boys waiting as mum is in labour.
The marbles as a plot device seems a very clever idea, a secret to be uncovered and explored and although the book isn’t patricularly long it covers a large period of time without leaving you feeling things are happening too fast.
i thought this was differnt in style to Cecelia Ahern’s usual books, it missed the magical touch that we’ve seen in earlier books but none the less I enjoyed the book for what it was.
The Marble Collector
5th May 2016
A box of possessions.
A father with no memory.
A daughter with just one day to piece together the past.
When Sabrina Boggs stumbles upon a mysterious collection of her father’s belongings, her seemingly uneventful life suddenly alters and shifts.
In the single day she has to search for answers about the man she thought she knew, a man who can no longer remember his own story, Sabrina uncovers far bigger secrets than she could have imagined. And discovers that sometimes it’s the people closest to us that we know the least.
With thanks to the publishers for allowing us a copy of The Disappearance in exchange for review. In the early seventies following the death of her father Audrey uses the money she has to start a new life and meet her friend in India – she is immediately in awe of the smells and colours of the exotic land and enjoying her new life when she meets the handsome (and rich) Ralph. Whilst her friend warns her that he may not be all that he seems love is blind and Audrey falls deeply in love with Ralph agreeing to marry him. Marriage to Ralph however means not working and having to look after his 3 month old twins Lexie and John and on the condition she never reveals to them that she is not their birth mother.
Fast forward 40 years and following a car accident and them feeling their mother isn’t acting normally John and Lexie are trying to persuade her that maybe it’s time to look into assisted living. However Audrey has other ideas and when she invites the twins to share a cruise around the Greek islands as a last hurrah things take a tragic turn when it’s discovered that Audrey is missing presumed overboard.
A fabulously written novel which switches well from present to past and alternates between Audrey and Lexie’s point of view to further the story. I particularly loved the way the relationship between the twins was explored and the similarities between John and his father were visible in the way he behaved with his twin and Audrey. I believe Audrey came across as a brave and strong woman to have sacrificed her own happiness for children who weren’t even her own.
I was gripped from the first page and felt invested in the story to the end – the end was magical with a superb twist and conclusion which I weren’t spoil – highly recommend you read this and disappear among the pages!
21st April 2016
In a family built on lies, who can you trust?
Audrey Bailey will never forget the moment she met Ralph Templeton in the sweltering heat of a Bombay café. Her lonely life over, she was soon married with two small children. But things in the Templeton household were never quite what they seemed.
Now approaching 70, and increasingly a burden on the children she’s never felt close to, Audrey plans a once-in-a-lifetime cruise around the Greek isles. Forcing twins Lexi and John along for the ride, the Templetons set sail as a party of three – but only two will return.
On the night of her birthday, Audrey goes missing…hours after she breaks the news that the twins stand to inherit a fortune after her death. As the search of the ship widens, so does the list of suspects – and with dark clues emerging about Audrey’s early life, the twins begin to question if they can even trust one another…