- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 2929 KB
- Print Length: 379 pages
- Publisher: Transworld Digital (19 Sept. 2019)
- Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07NMHPCDQ
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Customer reviews: 17 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #243,014 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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An Echo of Scandal Kindle Edition
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Ale feels an connection to Arthur and manages to get some false papers and get on a boat to Tangiers in Morocco. Still pretending to be a boy, she manages to get a job working as a cook for Arthur in his home Dar Portuna. But she is not the only one with secrets to hide.
50 years later, a young writer, Sam Hackett comes across a writing case inscribed with the initials A L and inspired by the history of the object, starts to research the owner of the case, soon realising there is a mystery that needs to be solved. I really liked that the second timeline in the book was still in a historical setting, in the days where writers still wrote using typewriters and did all their research the old fashioned way, instead of using Google!
Laura kindly offered to send me a copy of this book and knowing it was historical fiction was enough for me to say yes. The dual timeline over alternating chapters works well - I enjoyed finding our what would happen to Ale while enjoying watching Sam discover the mystery at the same time.
The descriptions of the food were amazing - so vivid I could almost taste and smell the food Ale cooked. Each of the chapters set in 1928, started with a recipe for a cocktail (I love cocktails and they all sound delicious!) I really enjoy learning about different cultures and I felt I really could imagine what Tangier must be like. I'm not sure how much time the author spent there doing research but I was convinced she must have lived a significant part of her life there to capture it so well.
Intoxicating, exotic and mysterious, I loved this book and hope to read more by this author.
From the opening few pages, the reader is sucked straight into the story and like the mystery at the heart of this book you are held in its grip until the very last page. Tangiers has lots to hide and there are still those who wish one of the greatest secrets of all to remain hidden and unspoken. Initially, Laura Madeleine takes us back in time to get to know the main female character Alejandra or Ale. It is 1928 and she has not had an easy life and has grown up in a hosteria in Cordoba, Spain having been left there as a baby. She has no mother figure in her life for the owner cannot be described in that way. She is the kitchen porter, the general dogsbody whom scant attention is paid to. But when she is taken under the cook's wing she learns all manner of recipes and ways to make the most of what is on offer in the market. But as an incident occurs and the blame is laid on Alejandra she is forced to flee and disappear. She changes her appearance and wants people to believe she is a man which leads her into some very tricky situations. The most tricky of all will be the one that defines the remainder of her life and whatever way she plays it will have devastating consequences. Ale becomes embroiled in a situation she has no control over as greater forces are at work.
Poor, destitute, homeless and on the run she finds herself attracted by the lure of Tangiers across the Mediteranean Sea. Through means she wishes she never had to engage in she finds herself in the exciting, fragrant and foreign city which sets in motion a chain of events whose ripples will be felt for well over fifty years. I thought Ale was a strong and resilient character who through no fault of her own found herself in circumstances she stood no chance of turning to her advantage to prove her innocence. But maybe that was all meant to happen for the people she meets in Tangiers provide her with a different outlook on life. Englishman Arthur Langham is very much shrouded in secrecy. Both the man himself and his lifestyle seem to draw Ale in although she must not have either of her two major secrets revealed. As we move back and forth between 1928 and 1978 the reader attempts to establish connections although you can never can quite put your finger as to how the pieces of the puzzle may eventually connect. The tension, uncertainty and unease increase with every turn of the page and you question many times just what has Ale got herself involved in? Has she gone too deep into someone else's life attract by an aura of allurement? If she discovers the truth will it prove to be her downfall?
We follow Samuel in 1978 in a Tangiers that in some ways is very different from that of the city Ale knew in 1928 but in many others it has remarkably remained unchanged. Laura Madeleine excels at bringing the setting to life. The location is so enticing and the heat, colours,flavours, hustle and bustle all add to the sense of mystery. As the title says An Echo of Scandal and these echoes still reverberate through the many corners of the city. Laura is such a visual storyteller which really helps to capture your imagination and aids with getting to know Samuel better as he wanders the lanes, alleyways and hotspots of the city. The culture is described so richly and it seems like another time and place altogether. Samuel is a man down on his luck, struggling to pay rent or to even eat. He is on the verge of admitting defeat. His dreams of producing the great novel are about to be quashed. As he sells the last remaining item of any value, his typewriter, he ends up with a writing case in its place. A mystery has been dropped right into his lap for the contents within the case inspire Samuel to get writing but to also uncover the secrets behind what he has seen. He begins to retrace the steps of someone he does not know save for one lone initial. But the clues are all there scattered throughout the city. It's whether Samuel has the where with all and the perseverance to keep going to reach the ultimate destination?
Samuel was clever, insightful and had a creative and intuitive mind. At times you felt though was he just grasping at straws. You wonder given as we are also following Alejandra's story as well how do the two strands intertwine if ever? Samuel falls deeper and deeper into the mystery and wills himself on trying to establish who owned the case and why does he now feel as if he is being watched or even taunted? Will he uncover the truth or will it all be lies, lies and more lies. Someone wants the secret to remain that way. Has Samuel stirred up a hornets nest best left undisturbed? Or is it time for the full truth to finally emerge? Samuel was certainly brave in persisting when many doors appeared closed. Would it all prove to be much or will what he discovers transform his life forever?
An Echo of Scandal was an intriguing, interesting and absorbing read that even in the end left me wondering exactly what did happen. Maybe each reader will take something different from the ending. This is a story well worth the read and I look forward to seeing where Laura Madeleine transports us to next.
Top international reviews
It isn't just the descriptions that make her stories unforgettable, though. Her characters capture your imagination. They are strong, willful, flawed.... human. Sam, for example, is a shiftless vagabond who dresses it up with the name writer. He moves from place to place, always traveling and looking for inspiration for the book he wants to write. Up to now, he's lived on his family's largess; but now he's cut off. All he will receive is a ticket home. He can't leave... he loves it here. Many... maybe most... would find work. Sam, instead, sells the typewriter that was to be his tool in creating his masterpiece. Instead he gets an old writing case, fifty years old to be exact, with the initials A.L. Inside is a letter, an apology.... he has to know who this person was. This, this is the story he's been looking for! It's easy to get caught up in Sam's drama and passion. Personally, I adored Sam. Ale, too, was one of those characters that you can't help but fall for. Strong, fierce, determined to live in a world unfair to women... she's a force of nature.
I loved everything about this novel. It was really well written, melding the two timelines seamlessly. Honestly, I think that's why I feel like Madeleine is one of the best historical fiction authors I have read- dual timelines and story lines that blend perfectly- neither feeling less important than the other. It gives me a chance to live in that past while uncovering their mysteries. I don't know if that makes sense, but it's always the feeling I have when I read her books. For me, this is a five star book.
On the adult content scale, there's a lot. Language, substance abuse, violence and sexual content- both consensual and non. It's definitely geared toward adults. I would give it a seven.