The Silk Weaver – Liz Trenow

The Silk Weaver – Liz Trenow

With thanks to the publishers for sending us a copy of this book in exchange for review.  I was interested in the description of this book, which bought to mind the books of Dinah Jefferies that I’ve been enjoying recently and I was intrigued to take on another authors take on historical romance.

 

In the Silk Weaver Liz Trenow introduces us to Anna Butterfield, on the death of her mother she has given up the comforts of her peaceful life tending to her dad and sister and is thrown head first into London life with her aunt – her uncle a silk merchant has a social status which Anna finds she must also step into.  She must wear the right clothes and be seen with the right people for a young woman of her status.

However soon on arriving Anna meets French silk weaver Henri and soon through several twists of fates their lives become intertwined in a forbidden romance.

Trenow has managed to weave a wonderful story which immerses the reader in history, I did however find this book a bit slow going to start with and it takes a long time to get into the romance.  However once it began I was drawn into the relationship and the book was better for it.

 

The Silk Weaver Book Cover The Silk Weaver
Liz Trenow
Pan
Paperback
416

1760, Spitalfields. Anna Butterfield’s life is about to change forever, as she moves from her idyllic Suffolk home to be introduced into London society. A chance encounter with a French silk weaver, Henri, draws her in to the volatile world of the city’s burgeoning silk trade. Henri is working on his ‘master piece’, to become a master weaver and freeman; Anna longs to become an artist while struggling against pressure from her uncle’s family to marry a wealthy young lawyer.

As their lives become ever more intertwined, Henri realises that Anna’s designs could give them both an opportunity for freedom. But his world becomes more dangerous by the day, as riots threaten to tear them apart forever . . .

Inspired by real historical events and characters, The Silk Weaver is a captivating, unforgettable story of illicit romance in a time of enlightenment and social upheaval.

Blog Tour – Before the Rains – Dinah Jefferies

Blog Tour – Before the Rains – Dinah Jefferies

We’re really enjoying reading Dinah Jefferies at Compelling reads so were thrilled to be asked again to take part in the Blog Tour for her latest novel Before The Rains.

This time Dinah takes us on a journey to India – Eliza is an aspiring photographer, who is widowed but determined to forge ahead in her career.  She has connections with India from her childhood, where she tragically witnessed the death of her father, murdered by a bomb from a freedom group.  This sets up the political undercurrent of the story, as old traditions struggle against British rule and the fight for freedom from it.

Eliza has returned to photograph the royal family of Rajputana where she meets and is attracted to Prince Jay, second in line to the throne, while he teaches Eliza about Indian culture she shows him the true poverty of his country and inspires him to take up a project of water irrigation. As Eliza grows closer to Jay it isn’t unnoticed by those around and she is discouraged from getting close to him as he is destined to marry well.  British diplomat Clifford also has designs on her and in using her to spy on the Royal family.

It’s a complex love story which is cleverly played out to highlight the politics of the time – both sides end up making sacrifices for love and in Eliza’s case she makes a few discoveries about her own identity, as a woman post widowhood and her family history.

It’s a novel which again blends history, romance and the exotic Indian landscape into a captivating story, it’s Dinah’s signature style which works so well and keeps us returning to her stories.

See our other Dinah Jefferies reviews and posts here: http://compellingreads.co.uk/?s=dinah+jefferies

Before The Rains Book Cover Before The Rains
Dinah Jefferies
Penguin
23rd February 2017
Paperback
400

1930, Rajputana, India. Since her husband's death, 28-year-old photojournalist Eliza's only companion has been her camera. When the British Government send her to an Indian princely state to photograph the royal family, she's determined to make a name for herself.

But when Eliza arrives at the palace she meets Jay, the Prince's handsome, brooding brother. While Eliza awakens Jay to the poverty of his people, he awakens her to the injustices of British rule. Soon Jay and Eliza find they have more in common than they think. But their families - and society - think otherwise. Eventually they will have to make a choice between doing what's expected, or following their hearts. . .

The Silk Merchant’s Daughter  – Dinah Jefferies

The Silk Merchant’s Daughter – Dinah Jefferies

With thanks to the publishers and Net Galley for allowing us a copy of The Silk Merchant’s Daughter.  Having read and thoroughly enjoyed Dinah’s previous two novels I was looking forward to what this would bring.

In the Silk Merchant’s Daughter we follow the story of Nicole, half French, half Vietnamese and with a father and sister who appear to just about tolerate her she’s never been too sure of her place in the world, spending most of her time with the family cook Lisa.

In 1952 Nicole Hanoi, her beautiful older sister is handed control of their father’s business and Nicole just an abandoned silk shop in the Vietnamese quarter.  To Nicole this is further proof that she will remain in her sisters shadow, and that her father does not care much for her – she feels he has always blamed her for her mother’s death.

There are rumblings of things about to change in the place they call home and Nicole half French, half Vietnamese is reaching a time of decision, over to choose her family or make her own way and find which side she belongs to, but can she make the right decision?

She’s embroiled in a love triangle with her sister as the same man seems to be courting them both, but he too isn’t all that he seems and when Nicole witnesses a terrible event and her family and Mark are all involved it forces her to take a look at her life and what she wants from it.

Yet again Dinah Jeffries has given us a beautiful story set in exotic surroundings so richly described you can see yourself in the heart of the action alongside the characters.  You can’t help but be connected to Nicole and want to find out more about her and the answers to the questions she seeks – what is the truth of her birth, was it really her mistake she nearly drowned as a child?  Can she find love and her own way in the way and escape the shadow of her sister?

What I found most fascinating in this book, was not Nicole’s story – although this was the heart of the book and thoroughly captivating, but Sylvia’s – seeing through Nicole’s eyes as this older, beautiful sister who seemingly has everything handed to her, it’s when you realise that maybe there is more to this character, and she may actually need help of her own that to me was a beautiful part of the story, to see that other characters too had reasons for the way they were.

Dinah is so good at picking a time and a place and making it come alive on the page – I’ve not before been so well transported to a moment in history then in her books! She’s a master in what she does! You can literally see and feel the silks and the smells of the marktplace, love this book, well done again Dinah!

 

 

The Silk Merchant's Daughter Book Cover The Silk Merchant's Daughter
Dinah Jefferies
Penguin
25th February 2016
Kindle
400

FROM THE NUMBER ONE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE TEA PLANTER'S WIFE

Dinah Jefferies' stunning new novel is a gripping, unforgettable tale of a woman torn between two worlds...

1952, French Indochina. Since her mother's death, eighteen-year-old half-French, half-Vietnamese Nicole has been living in the shadow of her beautiful older sister, Sylvie. When Sylvie is handed control of the family silk business, Nicole is given an abandoned silk shop in the Vietnamese quarter of Hanoi. But the area is teeming with militant rebels who want to end French rule, by any means possible. For the first time, Nicole is awakened to the corruption of colonial rule - and her own family's involvement shocks her to the core...

Tran, a notorious Vietnamese insurgent, seems to offer the perfect escape from her troubles, while Mark, a charming American trader, is the man she's always dreamed of. But who can she trust in this world where no one is what they seem?

The Silk Merchant's Daughter is a captivating tale of dark secrets, sisterly rivalry and love against the odds, enchantingly set in colonial era Vietnam.

Nightingales at War – Donna Douglas

Nightingales at War – Donna Douglas

Huge thanks to the publishers for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Set against the bakcgound of the ongoing war this book follows a group of nurses at The Nightingale as they do their bit for the war effort.

Dora is returning to work following a 2 year absence after leaving to be married and start a family. Now the mother of twins her husband is fighting and returning to work as a nurse is a welcome distraction to thinking about where he is and his well being.

Best friends Jen & Cissy are just beginning their time as nurses along with Eve.  But as Cissy is happy with her boyfriend and Jen is drawn to the mysterious Johnny their friendship suffers and Eve and Cissy become closer.

Eve has not been able to live her own life before, her every move has been governed by her forbiddable aunt so being a Nightingale nurse leads to a new found freedom and a chance to find out who she really is.

I loved the pace of this book and the glimpse into several girls all with different backgrounds and problems in the background, but no one story outshone the other, with each being perfectly balanced and tied together by the conclusion.  My personal favourite of the characters was Eve and I loved her development as she escaped the shadow of her aunt.

It was a great insight into war time nursing and the relationships between patients and nurses, doctors and nurses, and indeed the nurses themselves.

I’ve not personally read the earlier books by Donna Douglas but having read this book I’m now intrigued and wanting to see more of her work.

It’s a book where you can understand each character without being overwhelmed by all the different stories.

A really wonderful read that will leave you wanting more!

 

 

 

As the war takes its toll, the Nightingale nurses must do their bit for king and country…

Dora is the devoted mother of twin babies but, determined to help the war effort, she goes back to work at the Nightingale Hospital.

More used to nights out in the West End, Jennifer and Cissy volunteer in the hope of tending to handsome soldiers. They soon find out that nursing isn’t quite what they were expecting. For shy and troubled Eve, the hospital provides an escape from the pressures of home, but the life of a nurse is never easy, especially at wartime.

Can the nurses rally together while war rages all around them? And will the Nightingale Hospital survive the Blitz?

Nightingales at War Book Cover Nightingales at War
Donna Douglas
Arrow
Paperback
432

As the war takes its toll, the Nightingale nurses must do their bit for king and country…

Dora is the devoted mother of twin babies but, determined to help the war effort, she goes back to work at the Nightingale Hospital.

More used to nights out in the West End, Jennifer and Cissy volunteer in the hope of tending to handsome soldiers. They soon find out that nursing isn’t quite what they were expecting. For shy and troubled Eve, the hospital provides an escape from the pressures of home, but the life of a nurse is never easy, especially at wartime.

Can the nurses rally together while war rages all around them? And will the Nightingale Hospital survive the Blitz?

The Poppy Factory – Liz Trenow

The Poppy Factory – Liz Trenow

Many thanks to Olivia at Light Brigade PR for allowing us a copy of this book to review in honor of Remembrance Day.  The Poppy Factory tells the story of Jess on return from her tour as a medic in Afghanistan she is dealing with the struggles of returning to normality and the effects of undiagnosed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Struggling to do her job, hold her relationship together and drinking to cope leads to her losing the things she loves most.

Finding the dairies of her Great Grandmother Rose Barker, wife of a returned first world war soldier who lost his leg at the end of the war Jess begins to see the parallels of her life with that of her Great Grandfather’s.  He too drinks, finds it hard to get a job and hold his marriage together, but finds hope thanks to his wife in the Poppy Factory which finds jobs for the veterans.

A very poignant story in places of the struggles of PTSD on the sufferer, but also their loved ones, but a story of hope and remembrance at the same time.  It features the very first remembrance day and gives a glimpse into what that may have been like for those there remembering their loved ones.

The threads of the two stories are beautifully entwined in a moving narrative, leaving me with hope at the end that Jess made it through and was ok.  My one negative on the book as that it ended very abruptly and I really wanted to see that she was ok, but this is still a beautiful read.

 

We will remember them

 

THE POPPY FACTORY BY LIZ TRENOW

 

Inspired by the upcoming anniversary of the First World War, historical fiction author Liz Trenow has penned a captivating story of two young women, bound together by the tragedy of two very different wars.

Interviews with soldiers who have recently served in Afghanistan, along with an NHS paramedic and extensive research into the origins of the incredibly inspirational Poppy Factory which to this day helps returning soldiers to find work helped Liz to create remarkable characters inspired by real events.

 

With the end of the First World War, Rose is looking forward to welcoming home her beloved husband Alfie from the battlefields. But his return is not what Rose had expected. Traumatised by what he has seen, the Alfie who comes home is a different man to the one Rose married. As he struggles to cope with life in peace time, Rose wrestles with temptation as the man she fell in love with seems lost forever.

Many years later, Jess returns from her final tour of Afghanistan. Haunted by nightmares from her time at the front, her longed-for homecoming is a disaster and she wonders if her life will ever be the same again. Can comfort come through her great-grandmother Rose’s diaries?

For Jess and Rose, the realities of war have terrible consequences. Can the Poppy Factory, set up to help injured soldiers, rescue them both from the heartache of war?

 

About The Author

Liz Trenow is a former journalist who spent fifteen years on regional and national newspapers, and on BBC radio and television news, before turning her hand to fiction. The Forgotten Seamstress is her second novel. She lives in East Anglia with her artist husband, and they have two grown up daughters.  Find out more at www.liztrenow.com.

The Poppy Factory Book Cover The Poppy Factory
Liz Trenow
Avon
28th August 2014
Kindle
400

A captivating story of two young women, bound together by the tragedy of two very different wars. Perfect for fans of Katie Flynn and Maureen Lee.

With the end of the First World War, Rose is looking forward to welcoming home her beloved husband, Alfie, from the battlefields. But his return is not what Rose had expected. Traumatised by what he has seen, the Alfie who comes home is a different man to the one Rose married. As he struggles to cope with life in peacetime, Rose wrestles with temptation as the man she fell in love with seems lost forever.

Many years later, Jess returns from her final tour of Afghanistan. Haunted by nightmares from her time at the front, her longed-for homecoming is a disaster and she wonders if her life will ever be the same again. Can comfort come through her great-grandmother Rose’s diaries?

For Jess and Rose, the realities of war have terrible consequences. Can the Poppy Factory, set up to help injured soldiers, rescue them both from the heartache of war?

The Winter Garden – Jane Thynne

The Winter Garden – Jane Thynne

Thanks to Rik at Simon & Schuster UK for sending us a copy of this book for review, it’s been sitting in my to read pile for a while eagerly awaiting opening.

The Winter Garden is actually the second in a series about actress turned spy Clara Vine set in the early days of Nazi Germany before the second world war starts.  I hadn’t read the first book but on reading this as a stand alone book I didn’t feel like I was missing anything from the first book.

There are some very familar names scattered throughout the book including Hitler and Goebbels.  It features a murder in the nazi bride school and Clara ends up becoming slightly involved, although this didn’t seem like being the main story, I’m actually not sure what the main part of the story was as there was so much packed into the book.  A love story with another spy (but that is very short), a bit of spying on a German pilot and Clara being tailed by a mysterious person.

Whilst there were many good bits about the book, especially the relationship between Clara and Strauss and a really good conclusion which neatly wraps everything up, if I’m honest I struggled to get into the book and it fet overly long and missing a central point.  I’m sorry this one just wasn’t for me 🙁

The Winter Garden Book Cover The Winter Garden
Jane Thynne
Simon & Schuster UK
13th February 2014
Hardback
432

Berlin, 1937. The city radiates glamour and ambition. But danger lurks in every shadow…
Anna Hansen, a bride-to-be, is a pupil at one of Hitler's notorious Nazi Bride Schools, where young women are schooled on the art of being an SS officer's wife. Then, one night, she is brutally murdered and left in the gardens of the school. Her death will be hushed up and her life forgotten.
Clara Vine is an actress at Berlin's famous Ufa studios by day and an undercover British Intelligence agent by night. She knew Anna and is disturbed by news of her death. She cannot understand why someone would want to cover it up, but she soon discovers that Anna's murder is linked to a far more ominous secret.
With the newly abdicated Edward VIII and his wife Wallis set to arrive in Berlin, and the Mitford sisters dazzling on the social scene, Clara must work in the darkness to find the truth and send it back to London. It is a dangerous path she treads, and it will take everything she has to survive…

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