The Gown [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

June 3, 2021

The Gown by Jennifer Robson
#throwbackthursday

The Gown by Jennifer Robson (cover) Image: top view of the bride with her long train walking down the aisle

Genre/Categories/Setting: Historical Fiction, Royal Wedding, 1940s England

In 2020, I decided to systematically revisit my older review posts and update them. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads. Today, I’m re-sharing a review of the fascinating story of the making of Princess Elizabeth’s royal wedding gown: The Gown by Jennifer Robson.

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

The Gown is, in part, a behind-the-scenes story of the making of Princess (Queen) Elizabeth’s wedding gown. As the people of England endure a harsh winter and post war shortages and rationing, news of a Royal wedding brightens the country’s spirit. Told from two perspectives, we hear the imagined story of two young women who work for the famous fashion house of Norman Hartnell. Although the girls are accustomed to working on exclusive gowns for high profile clients and the Royal family, the newest assignment of a wedding gown for Princess (Queen) Elizabeth brings extraordinary pressure and excitement. A third perspective and modern timeline follows one of their granddaughters who travels to London a half century later to unravel her grandmother’s mysterious and secret past. There’s more to the story than the dress as the author gives us an idea of what life was like in 1940s London, and explores themes of friendship, family, and love.”

a wedding gown and so much more….

Continue here for my full review of The Gown

 



QOTD:

Have you read The Gown or is it on your TBR?

The Last Bookshop in London [Book Review] #BlogTour

April 7, 2021

The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin

The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin (cover) Image: a young woman stands beside a wall of bbookshelves near a window through which Big Ben and three WW11 planes are visible

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, WW11, London, Books About Books, “might also be a love story”

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Thank you for my invitation to participate in the 2021 Historical Fiction Blog Tour for The Last Bookshop in London. Thanks, #NetGalley @HarlequinBooks for my complimentary e ARC of #TheLastBookshopInLondon by @MadelineMMartin upon my request. All opinions are my own.

Historical Fiction Blog Tour (4 covers)

The Last Bookshop in London is a book about bookstores and a book about books set during the London Blitz during WW11. Grace Bennett has always wanted to move to the city, but the life she finds is not nearly what she expected as she hunts for a job, endures air raid shelters, and puts up black-out curtains. The only job she can find is at Primrose Hill, a dusty, old bookstore with a curmudgeonly owner. Grace, not sure she even loves reading that much, organizes and cleans the bookshop, gradually develops a love for books, enjoys a friendly relationship with a handsome and well-read customer named George, finds ways she can contribute to the war effort and the book community, and discovers the power of storytelling during the most difficult times.

The magic of reading in George’s words:

“Reading is going somewhere without ever taking a train or ship, an unveiling of new incredible worlds. It’s living a life you weren’t born into and a chance to see something colored by someone else’s perspective. It’s learning without having to face consequences of failures, and how best to succeed.”

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (cover)

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

My Thoughts:

(more…)

Meet Me at the Museum [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

March 18, 2021

Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson
#throwbackthursday

Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson (cover) Image: text in a wood frame...2 raspberries peek into a corner; frame sits on a plain seafoam green background

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Women’s Fiction, Literary Fiction, Epistolary, Friendship, England, Denmark, Archeology

In 2020, I decided to systematically revisit my older review posts and update them. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I look forward to sharing my review of a reflective story, Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson, in which strangers become friends.

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

What is the chance that a letter to a stranger will lead to a deep friendship?

“Told in epistolary format, the story in Meet Me at the Museum unfolds from alternating viewpoints as we meet the two main characters through their letters. Tina is a hard-working, loyal, and duty bound English farmer’s wife, mother, and grandmother, and she is also grieving the recent loss of her best friend, Bella. In thinking of the past, she remembers the promise that she and Bella made to each other to visit the Silkeborg Museum in Denmark to see the mummified Tolland Man from the Iron Age. Life intervened and now Tina is in her 60s and her friend is gone. She is inspired to write to Professor Glob, author of The Bog People, who mentions school children in the dedication of his book (our fictional Tina is one of the school children). Tina isn’t aware that Glob has died, so quiet, kind, and introspective Anders, curator of the Denmark museum, writes back to Tina. Tina and Anders begin a thoughtful and heartfelt correspondence. Anders is grieving the recent loss of his wife and through letters, Anders and Tina share intimate details of their lives with each other and express thoughts that they have difficulty sharing with anyone else. As they discuss archeology, the Tolland Man, their philosophies of life, grief, and their families, they develop an endearing and unique friendship that could possibly lead to more.”

Letter writing: “holding onto the softness and elegance” of the old ways.”

Continue here for my full review of Meet Me at the Museum ….



QOTD:

Have you read Meet Me at the Museum or is it on your TBR?

The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

January 14, 2021

The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter by Hazel Gaynor
#throwbackthursday

the Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter by Jazel Gaynor (cover) Image: a woman looks out over a landscape which includes a lighthouse

Genre/Categories: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Domestic Life

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m eager to share my review of the compelling The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter by Hazel Gaynor.a story of strong independent women.

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Inspired by true events, The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter shares the story of Grace Darling, an extraordinary young woman who helps her father keep the Longstone Lighthouse on the Farne Islands off the coast of northeast England. One day in 1838 during a furious storm, Grace and her father rescue nine shipwreck survivors. Grace gains notoriety and finds herself the subject of poems, ballads, and plays. The dear friendship that develops between Grace and one of the survivors and the survivor’s brother continues to impact lives 100 years later.

In 1938 at another lighthouse in Newport, Rhode Island, nineteen year old Matilda is sent away from Ireland in disgrace to live with a distant relative who happens to be an assistant lighthouse keeper. As Matilda stumbles upon an old chest containing artifacts from her family history, she uncovers the story of Grace and the connections Grace has to Matilda’s great-great-grandmother. Although Matilda’s part of the story is pure fiction, the hurricane that hits the east coast of the U.S. in 1938 is historic.

Author, Hazel Gaynor, creates strong connections between two time periods and two story lines including hurricane events of 1838 and 1938, complex connections between past and present family members, and lighthouse themes between the stories.

Even the brave were once afraid. The sum of generations of strong, courageous women who came before her, an echo of them all lingering in her soul.

Continue here for my full review of The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter ….



QOTD:

Have you read The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter or is it on your TBR?
Have you read other books by Hazel Gaynor?

Lady Clementine: A Review

January 10, 2020

 Lady Clementine: by Marie Benedict

Lady Clementine review

Genre/Categories: Biographical Historical Fiction, WW1 and WW11, England

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Thanks #netgalley #sourcebooks #sbkslandmark for a free e ARC of #ladyclementine in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Summary:

Clementine Churchill is the devoted wife, partner, and best friend of Winston Churchill. Lady Clementine is brilliant, ambitious, innovative, and fascinating, and she devotes all her energy and loyalty to her husband and country.

My Thoughts:

An underappreciated woman in history….

(more…)

The Lost For Words Bookshop: A Review

June 12, 2019

The Lost For Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland

The Lost For Words Bookshop Review

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Booksellers and Bookshops, Books About Books, England

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Young Loveday Cardew works in a bookshop and prefers books to people. Her discrete tattoos feature a few of her favorite first lines. Even though the bookshop is her sanctuary and a place where she can hide from her secrets, some mysterious packages with links to her past arrive and shatter her sense of safety. With support from a caring boss and the kindness of a young poet, can she find the courage to face her past and find hope for a bright future?

Amazon Rating:  4.2 Stars

My Thoughts:

(more…)

A Book You’ll Love, Mom!

May 10, 2019

Here’s a book recommendation I think you’ll love, Mom!

The Gown
by Jennifer Robson

The Gown Review

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Royal Wedding, 1940s England

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

The Gown is, in part, a behind-the-scenes story of the making of Princess (Queen) Elizabeth’s wedding gown. As the people of England endure a harsh winter and post-war shortages and rationing, news of a Royal wedding brightens the country’s spirit. Told from two perspectives, we hear the imagined story of two young women who work for the famous fashion house of Norman Hartnell. Although the girls are accustomed to working on exclusive gowns for high profile clients and the Royal family, the newest assignment of a wedding gown for Princess (Queen) Elizabeth brings extraordinary pressure and excitement. A third perspective (and modern timeline) follows one of their granddaughters who travels to London a half-century later to unravel her grandmother’s mysterious and secret past. There’s more to the story than the dress as the author gives us an idea of what life was like in 1940s London, and explores themes of friendship, family, and love.

Amazon Rating:  4.6 Stars

(more…)

The Gown [Book Review]

April 26. 2019

The Gown by Jennifer Robson

The Gown Review

Genre/Categories/Setting: Historical Fiction, Royal Wedding, 1940s England

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

The Gown is, in part, a behind-the-scenes story of the making of Princess (Queen) Elizabeth’s wedding gown. As the people of England endure a harsh winter and post war shortages and rationing, news of a Royal wedding brightens the country’s spirit. Told from two perspectives, we hear the imagined story of two young women who work for the famous fashion house of Norman Hartnell. Although the girls are accustomed to working on exclusive gowns for high profile clients and the Royal family, the newest assignment of a wedding gown for Princess (Queen) Elizabeth brings extraordinary pressure and excitement. A third perspective and modern timeline follows one of their granddaughters who travels to London a half century later to unravel her grandmother’s mysterious and secret past. There’s more to the story than the dress as the author gives us an idea of what life was like in 1940s London, and explores themes of friendship, family, and love.

Amazon Rating:  4.6 Stars

(more…)

Meet Me at the Museum [Book Review]

January 18, 2019

Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson

What is the chance that a letter to a stranger will lead to a deep friendship?

Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson (cover) Image: text in a wood frame...2 raspberries peek into a corner; frame sits on a plain seafoam green background

Genre/Categories: Women’s Fiction, Literary Fiction, Epistolary, Friendship, England, Denmark, Archeology

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Told in epistolary format, the story in Meet Me at the Museum unfolds from alternating viewpoints as we meet the two main characters through their letters. Tina is a hard-working, loyal, and duty bound English farmer’s wife, mother, and grandmother, and she is also grieving the recent loss of her best friend, Bella. In thinking of the past, she remembers the promise that she and Bella made to each other to visit the Silkeborg Museum in Denmark to see the mummified Tolland Man from the Iron Age. Life intervened and now Tina is in her 60s and her friend is gone. She is inspired to write to Professor Glob, author of The Bog People, who mentions school children in the dedication of his book (our fictional Tina is one of the school children). Tina isn’t aware that Glob has died, so quiet, kind, and introspective Anders, curator of the Denmark museum, writes back to Tina. Tina and Anders begin a thoughtful and heartfelt correspondence. Anders is grieving the recent loss of his wife and through letters, Anders and Tina share intimate details of their lives with each other and express thoughts that they have difficulty sharing with anyone else. As they discuss archeology, the Tolland Man, their philosophies of life, grief, and their families, they develop an endearing and unique friendship that could possibly lead to more.

Amazon Rating: 4.4 Stars

My Thoughts:

(more…)

The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter [Book Review]

November 2, 2018

Do you love lighthouses?

The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter by Hazel Gaynor

the Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter by Jazel Gaynor (cover) Image: a woman looks out over a landscape which includes a lighthouse

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Inspired by true events, The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter shares the story of Grace Darling, an extraordinary young woman who helps her father keep the Longstone Lighthouse on the Farne Islands off the coast of northeast England. One day in 1838 during a furious storm, Grace and her father rescue nine shipwreck survivors. Grace gains notoriety and finds herself the subject of poems, ballads, and plays. The dear friendship that develops between Grace and one of the survivors and the survivor’s brother continues to impact lives 100 years later.

In 1938 at another lighthouse in Newport, Rhode Island, nineteen year old Matilda is sent away from Ireland in disgrace to live with a distant relative who happens to be an assistant lighthouse keeper. As Matilda stumbles upon an old chest containing artifacts from her family history, she uncovers the story of Grace and the connections Grace has to Matilda’s great-great-grandmother. Although Matilda’s part of the story is pure fiction, the hurricane that hits the east coast of the U.S. in 1938 is historic.

Author, Hazel Gaynor, creates strong connections between two time periods and two story lines including hurricane events of 1838 and 1938, complex connections between past and present family members, and lighthouse themes between the stories.

Amazon (Early) Star Rating (November): 4.3 Stars

My Thoughts:

It’s always challenging to write a review when there’s so much to say!

Stars. First, I awarded The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter all the stars because it is an engaging page turner with a complex plot, poignant themes, inspiring and well drawn characters, and the story tugs at the emotions. Any time I’m left with a bit of a reading hangover, I know it’s a 4 or 5 star read. While it’s a solid 4.5, I bumped it up to 5 on Goodreads because of the excellent writing.

Characters. One of Hazel Gaynor’s strengths is in creating and writing about strong, memorable female characters. Grace Darling is a real person and a good portion of the story explores the true events that surround her life. In the 1830s, she remarkably takes on responsibilities at the lighthouse that are usually assigned to men. In fact, she can take care of the lighthouse as well as her brother can and has more passion for the job, yet at that time in history, the assignment of lighthouse keeper is given to her brother. Grace also shows initiative in rescuing and caring for nine shipwreck survivors. Grace is a heroine and a role model for women in 1838. Her courage and determination inspired an independently minded and troubled Matilda later in the story.

Even the brave were once afraid. The sum of generations of strong, courageous women who came before her, an echo of them all lingering in her soul.

While Grace is a real person, the strong women characters we meet in 1938 are fictionalized, but they represent the work that women accomplished as lighthouse keepers. All four women characters in this story are brave and formidable as they draw strength from each other.

The inspiration Matilda is able to draw from Grace and the strong women in her family, reminds me how grateful I am for the strong generations of women in my own family. I think the spirit of courage, bravery, and determination is passed along from generation to generation. Do you have stories of strong women in your family?

Even though the connection between all the characters comes together neatly in the end, I feel it is a touch too coincidental, convenient, and easy……but still emotionally rewarding.

The Wikipedia article on Grace Darling can be found here; however, I recommend NOT reading it until after you’ve read the story to avoid spoilers.

Plot. A complex and multilayered plot, multiple perspectives, two time periods, and two locations will keep you engaged! I enjoyed how the two different time periods complimented each other in setting, family ties, facing hurricanes, and the characterizations of strong women.

Setting. If you love the sea and lighthouses, you will absolutely love the settings described in The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter. Author Hazel Gaynor creates a delightful sense of place in both England and Rhode Island seaside locations. Even the detail of the collected shells connects both story lines.

Themes. Inspirational themes abound in The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter, and if you read my reviews you know that the presence of important themes often make or break my reading experience. I can overlook a lot in the presence of great writing and themes. In this story, poignant themes include father/daughter relationships; the lighthouse as a symbol of protection, guidance, safety, and protection; found family; strong and independent women finding their way and their voice; and family heritage.

Writing. In addition to the compelling story lines, you will enjoy excellent writing. I love a story in which I can appreciate the beautiful writing but it doesn’t interfere with the story. The writing flows as the author creates vivid images, memorable characters, and transitions between story lines. Hazel Gaynor is also the co author of the Last Christmas in Paris, one of my favorites of the year.  She has secured a place on my “auto buy” author list!

Lighthouses. Do you love lighthouses? Do you have a favorite lighthouse location? Do you have a nostalgic lighthouse story?

My personal lighthouse story: Several years ago my husband and I traveled to York, Maine so that my husband could meet his biological sister for the first time in his life! The Nubble Lighthouse is well loved by his sister’s family, and now it’s our favorite too! Here’s a pic my husband and I took in front of the lighthouse marking the occasion of birth siblings reunited!

Recommended. I’m highly recommending The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter for readers of historical fiction; for fans of stories with important themes; for those who savor stories of strong, independent women; and for all who are looking for an engaging and well-written story. Because of rich discussion possibilities, book clubs will enjoy this one.

My Star Rating: 4.5 Stars (rounded up to 5 stars on Goodreads)

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lighthouse keeper's daughter

The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter Information Here

Meet the Author, Hazel Gaynor

Hazel GaynorHAZEL GAYNOR is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of A Memory of Violets and The Girl Who Came Home, for which she received the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award. Her third novel, The Girl from the Savoy, was an Irish Times and Globe & Mail Canada bestseller, and was shortlisted for the BGE Irish Book Awards Popular Fiction Book of the Year. In 2017, she has published The Cottingley Secret and Last Christmas in Paris. Hazel was selected by US Library Journal as one of ‘Ten Big Breakout Authors’ for 2015 and her work has been translated into several languages. Hazel lives in Ireland with her husband and two children.



Happy Reading Book Worms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



QOTD:

Have you read The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter or is it on your TBR?
Do you have a favorite lighthouse location or lighthouse story?



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Looking Ahead in “Nonfiction November”

What do you have on your TBR for “Nonfiction November”?

One title that I’m considering is In Pieces by Sally Field. Beginning with The Flying Nun, Sally Field has played a lifelong prominent role in my entertainment life!

In Pieces

Another consideration is the new release by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Leadership: In Turbulent Times. I’m almost certain that this is what my husband will be reading for “Nonfiction November” as Doris Kearns Goodwin is one of his “auto buy” authors!

leadership in turbulent times



My Fall TBR

I’ll be updating my Fall TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!
So far I’ve read nine out of my twelve titles (three more to go!).



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.