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Reviews Written by
M. F. Cayley (Hampshire, UK)
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The Trader's Wife (The Traders Book 1)
The Trader's Wife (The Traders Book 1)
Price: £4.31

5.0 out of 5 stars An easy and enjoyable read, 21 Jan. 2015
The first of a series of novels set mainly in Fremantle in Western Australia in the 19th century. It combines several interwoven family stories with some interesting historical background, which is introduced as a natural part of the story-line. An easy and enjoyable read.


A Good American
A Good American
Price: £4.35

4.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting, 15 Jan. 2015
This review is from: A Good American (Kindle Edition)
An enchanting novel about a couple who emigrated from Germany to small-town Southern USA in the early 20th century and their descendants. What grips is not the story line - there is no strong plot thread - but the beautiful atmospheric style and the slightly humorous take on family relationships. It is slightly let down by the final section, which races through the recent history of the family: it felt to me that the author was not sure how to end the novel. But this did not detract significantly from my overall enjoyment.


Together for Christmas
Together for Christmas
Price: £4.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable novel set during WW1, 6 Jan. 2015
A novel about two contrasting ex-orphanage girls during WW1: one well-behaved, realistic, and capable of looking after herself; the other full of fantasies that lead her into trouble and danger. The novel is light reading, but enjoyable.


The Christmas Surprise
The Christmas Surprise
Price: £6.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Just delightful, 28 Dec. 2014
A delightful book - mostly, despite the title, not about Christmas - set in a Derbyshire village, with a dysfunctional upper-class family, a delightful sweet-shop owner, a wedding that was rescued from near-disaster, and an adopted baby from Africa. Very well written, and the central characters are well-portrayed and engaging. There are moments of comedy and moments of bitter-sweet sadness. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel.


Death in Bordeaux
Death in Bordeaux
Price: £2.32

4.0 out of 5 stars The main characters are well-rounded - some subsidiary personages are more 2-dimensional - and the style is very good. There are, 21 Dec. 2014
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This review is from: Death in Bordeaux (Kindle Edition)
An atmospheric novel set in Bordeaux in the first part of WW2, during which France is occupied. It portrays well the divisions in France, and the antisemitism prevalent in parts of French society. Although it starts with a murder, and other murders follow, the novel is really an exploration of the difficulty of maintaining integrity in very difficult times, and of how conflicting loyalties can arise. The main characters are well-rounded - some subsidiary personages are more 2-dimensional - and the style is very good. There are a few typographic mistakes in the Kindle edition, and occasional moments of repetitiveness, but these did not seriously detract from my enjoyment. I recommend the book.


North and South (Wordsworth Classics)
North and South (Wordsworth Classics)
by Elizabeth Gaskell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars One of Mrs Gaskell's best works, 18 Dec. 2014
This is one of Mrs Gaskell's best works. The love-plot could be almost straight out of the Mills and Boon stable: relatively poor vicar's daughter, who finds it hard to conform to middle-class genteel expectations, is forced to move with her parents to a Northern town where she encounters a hard-headed and successful mill owner with whom she has an initially antagonistic relationship... Even the happy ending is as rushed as it sometimes is in run-of-the-mill romances. But what lifts this novel above the level of a straightforward romance is that the love-story is just a pretext for a much more serious work exploring industrial relations and the life of the ordinary factory worker, and this is the real focus of the novel. At its heart is a strike, in which Mrs Gaskell sees and understands the position of both sides, and presents one of the leaders of the strike in a sympathetic way while also showing how the strikers by no means have all the right on their side. I have given the book only 4 stars because in places it is a bit too preachy, in a mid-Victorian middle-class pious way, and because of the rushed nature of the final chapter.


The Lost Wife
The Lost Wife
Price: £4.31

4.0 out of 5 stars Moving and, at times, harrowing novel about 2 Czech Jews who survived WW2, 10 Dec. 2014
This review is from: The Lost Wife (Kindle Edition)
A novel centred on two Jews brought up in well-off families in pre-WW2 Czechoslovakia, and separated early in the War just after their marriage. Each believes the other dead. One becomes a successful doctor in the USA, the other is sent to Terezin Concentration camp. It is a novel of survivor guilt, and of courage in appalling conditions. The part of the book dealing with the pre-War period seemed to me in need of shortening - hence 4 stars rather than 5; but the book really came to life with harrowing descriptions of life in Terezin. The portrayal of how the doctor never came to terms with the loss of his wife is also very moving. I thoroughly recommend the novel.


Christmas for One: No Greater Love
Christmas for One: No Greater Love
Price: £2.84

3.0 out of 5 stars Unconvincing central characters, 5 Dec. 2014
A Christmas novel which could have been so much better. Meg, a successful patisserie manager with lots of emotional grief in her past and a young son, prepares for Christmas. For work she has to go to New York for a couple on nights, and there meets a US architect with whom she falls in love. But is she really heading for a happy Christmas? The trouble for me was that I found Meg emotionally too naive, the architect unsympathetic, and both of them unconvincing. The young son is wonderful, but the weaknesses in the portrayal of the two main characters make the book unsatisfactory.


Blue Lightning (Shetland Book 4)
Blue Lightning (Shetland Book 4)
Price: £3.59

4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable crime novel set in Fair Isle, 1 Dec. 2014
The fourth of Ann Cleeves' Shetland crime novels, this time set in Fair Isle. It is the closest to the traditional "country-house mystery" murder genre: all the suspects are staying at a remote field centre for bird watchers and scientists studying birds, with assorted personal and professional motives. I found it enjoyable, but thought the birding background was just a little too dominant - and I guessed the murderer quite early on.


The White Princess (Cousins War Series Book 5)
The White Princess (Cousins War Series Book 5)
Price: £3.79

1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 16 Nov. 2014
After the previous 4 novels in the Cousins' War series, which I enjoyed, I found this a big disappointment. It is written from the viewpoint of Elizabeth of York, after the Battle of Bosworth, who became wife of Henry VII. At the heart of my criticism of the novel is the portrayal of Henry as a cowardly, constantly frightened monarch with little natural leadership ability. Yes, he did have to face a succession of rebellions, but that was only to be expected. Yes, some Yorkists did try to dethrone him. But Henry in history was a strong king. I found Philippa Gregory's treatment of him totally unconvincing. Equally unconvincing is the portrayal of Elizabeth's love-hate relationship with him. She also takes the pretender Perkin Warbeck's claim to be Richard Duke of York as true - which it almost certainly wasn't - and creates a liaison between Henry and Warbeck's wife for which there is, as far as I am aware, no evidence. The novel is repetitive - even the same phrases keep appearing - and could have done with very drastic editing.


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