Ithaca by Claire North (Review)

Ithaca by Claire North

Blurb

‘The greatest power we woman can own, is that we take in secret . . . ‘

Seventeen years ago, king Odysseus sailed to war with Troy, taking with him every man of fighting age from the island of Ithaca. None of them have returned, and the women have been left behind to run the kingdom.

Penelope was barely into womanhood when she wed Odysseus. Whilst he lived, her position was secure. But now, years on, speculation is mounting that husband is dead, and suitors are starting to knock at her door . . .

But no one man is strong enough to claim Odysseus’ empty throne – not yet. Between Penelope’s many suitors, a cold war of dubious alliances and hidden knives reigns, as everyone waits for the balance of power to tip one way or another. If Penelope chooses one from amongst them, it will plunge Ithaca into bloody civil war. Only through cunning and her spy network of maids can she maintain the delicate balance of power needed for the kingdom to survive.

On Ithaca, everyone watches everyone else, and there is no corner of the palace where intrigue does not reign . . .

Review

I was really excited when I saw this book whilst book shopping in Bath as I love an Ancient Greek retelling. A book that focuses on Penelope rather than Odysseus was like a breath of fresh air, Odysseus has enough literature about him. 

The other element I really enjoyed was the fact that the gods were involved and we could see their interactions with each other and with the mortals. So many retellings tend to ignore the gods because I think people don’t see them as trendy enough anymore but they play a vital role in the myths and I believe they should still be included. 

Hera is the main god to feature in this book and it was really nice to see her involved as it is usually the male gods taking centre stage or the impressive female gods like Athena and Artemis. 

Penelope is the queen of Ithaca but as all queens of Greece she might appear beautiful and regal but she has very little power. Clytemnestra is a perfect example of what happens to a queen of Greece who tries to rule in a mans world and Penelope knows she must avoid this at all costs. So Penelope is the perfect example of a meek and mild woman who listens to her male advisors and appears to be the perfect queen. However, behind the scenes we see a very different queen. Penelope is a woman of two faces and we get to see both. 

I really got into this book and really enjoyed it to start with but towards the middle the story really started to drag for me and to be honest I got a little bored. This meant my reading slowed down which made the book worse because it felt like it was never-ending. Thankfully, I kept with the book because the ending was better. This book was really well written but I felt it was just too long and could have been shorter. Overall, I enjoyed the book but for me it did drag. However I will give the next book in the series a chance because I would like to see what happens next. I give this book 3 out of 5 Dragons. 

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Purchase Links

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About the author

Claire North is actually Catherine Webb, a Carnegie Medal-nominated young-adult novel author whose first book, Mirror Dreams, was written when she was just 14 years old. She went on to write seven more successful YA novels. 

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The Hemlock Cure by Joanne Burn (Review)

The Hemlock Cure by Joanne Burn

Blurb

A glitteringly dark historical novel of love, persecution, and survival set against the backdrop of one of history’s most terrifying episodes: the Bubonic Plague.

It is 1665 and the women of Eyam village keep many secrets. Especially Isabel and Mae.

Isabel Frith, the village midwife, walks a dangerous line with her herbs and remedies. There are men in the village who speak of witchcraft, and Isabel has a past to hide. So she tells nobody her fears about the pious, reclusive apothecary, on whom she is keeping a watchful eye.

Mae, the apothecary’s youngest daughter, dreads her father’s rage if he discovers what she keeps from him: her feelings for Rafe, Isabel’s ward, or the fact that she studies from her father’s books at night.

But others have secrets too. Secrets darker than any of them could have imagined.

When Mae makes a horrifying discovery, Isabel is the only person she can turn to. But helping Mae will place them both in unimaginable peril. Meanwhile another danger is on its way from London. One that threatens to engulf them all. . . 

Review

I found this book whilst browsing in Toppings and Company whilst in Bath a couple of months ago. I had never come across Joanne Burn before but seeing this book on display I was attracted by the title and the blurb and decided to give the book a read. I am so pleased I decided to read this book because I absolutely loved it. 

This book is based on true events that happened during the plague in 1666. The village of Eyam quarantined itself in an attempt to stop the plague spreading. They sacrificed their own lives to try and save others. Certain characters within this book are also based on real characters from the village as well. 

I must admit to begin with I was a little confused with who was telling the story but I soon worked out the different voices and thought it was really cleverly done. I won’t say any more about the different narrators because I don’t want to spoil it for people. 

Mae is a confused young girl who lives in fear of her father but at the same time desperately wants to prove to her father that she is worthy of his pride and can be useful to him. To escape her rather tense life at home she visits her friend Isabel who is the village midwife and whose family welcomes Mae as one of their own. At Isabel’s she feels loved and welcome and of course there is also Rafe who is the ward of Isabel and her husband. Mae has feelings for Rafe but due to her age she is confused and can’t quite make sense of these feelings. 

This book is full of secrets. Mae has secrets she keeps from her father, Isabel has secrets she keeps from public view and Wulfric has secrets he only tells his diary and God. The whole village is full of secrets and as the story progresses we begin to see glimpses of these secrets and what they mean for the characters. 

The book is beautifully written and I will be honest I couldn’t put it down. The book kept me on tenterhooks all the way through and I loved every page. It is probably one of my favourite reads for 2022. I will be definitely reading Joanne Burn’s first novel and any further books. I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons. 

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Purchase Links

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(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Joanne Burn was born in Northampton in 1973, and now lives in the Peak District where she works as a writing coach. Her first novel, Petals and Stones, was published in 2018. The Hemlock Cure is her second novel.

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The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse (Review)

The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse

Blurb

World War I robbed England and France of an entire generation of friends, lovers and futures. In Freddie Watson’s case, the battlefields took his beloved brother and, at times, his peace of mind. 

In the winter of 1928, still seeking some kind of resolution, Freddie is travelling through the beautiful but forbidding French Pyrenees. During a snowstorm, his car spins off the mountain road. Freezing and dazed, he stumbles through the woods, emerging in a tiny village, where he finds an inn to wait out the blizzard. There he meets Fabrissa, a lovely young woman also mourning a lost generation. 

Over the course of one night, Fabrissa and Freddie share their stories. By the time dawn breaks, Freddie will have unearthed a tragic mystery that goes back through the centuries, and discovered his own role in the life of this old remote town.

Review

After reading my first Mosse book a few weeks ago I knew I had to read more of her books. Thankfully, my TBR trolley had a Mosse book sat on it which I am ashamed to say has been sat on there for over a year. I really wish I had started reading Mosse’s books earlier as I could not put this book down. 

Freddie is a lost soul. The death of Freddie’s brother has affected him deeply and instead of getting better his grief has slowly got worse. This has left him wandering around Europe trying to find some way to cope with his loss. This ends up with Freddie losing control of his car whilst in a snowstorm in France and ending up in a tiny village called Nulle which is very strange. 

The village is isolated and the hotel Freddie finds currently has no guests because it is not the season but the landlady airs the room and tries everything she can to make Freddie feel comfortable, including inviting him to a village get together. At this get together Freddie meets the stunning Fabrissa. Fabrissa is another lost soul and she decides to tell her story to Freddie. 

As Freddie and Fabrissa exchange their stories you begin to feel the emotion of both stories but as Fabrissa starts to tell her story you realise that it is a lot darker and that something is not quite right. 

The story is beautifully written and I absolutely loved the descriptions. It is written in first person and Mosse has done a brilliant job of getting the personality and character of Freddie across. This would have been a fantastic read for the spooky season but I am pleased that I read it this month as Autumn arrives as it felt like the perfect book for the season change. I can’t wait to read my next Mosse book and I give this brilliant book 5 out of 5 Dragons.

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Purchase Links

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(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Kate Mosse is an international bestselling author with sales of more than five million copies in 42 languages. Her fiction includes the novels Labyrinth (2005), Sepulchre (2007), The Winter Ghosts (2009), and Citadel (2012), as well as an acclaimed collection of short stories, The Mistletoe Bride & Other Haunting Tales (2013). Kate’s new novel, The Taxidermist’s Daughter is out now.

Kate is the Co-Founder and Chair of the Board of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction (previously the Orange Prize) and in June 2013, was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to literature. She lives in Sussex.

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The Woolworths Girls by Elaine Everest (Review)

The Woolworths Girls by Elaine Everest

Blurb

It’s 1938 and as the threat of war hangs over the country, Sarah Caselton is preparing for her new job at Woolworths. Before long, she forms a tight bond with two of her colleagues: the glamorous Maisie and shy Freda. The trio couldn’t be more different, but they immediately form a close-knit friendship, sharing their hopes and dreams for the future.

Sarah soon falls into the rhythm of her new position, enjoying the social events hosted by Woolies and her blossoming romance with young assistant manager, Alan. But with the threat of war clouding the horizon, the young men and women of Woolworths realize that there are bigger battles ahead. It’s a dangerous time for the nation, and an even more perilous time to fall in love . . .

Review

This is my third Elaine Everest read and the first one that I haven’t read at Christmas. I read Christmas at Woolworths last Christmas which is actually the second in the series so I thought I would start at the beginning and read the full Woolworths series. 

I love Everest’s writing because I always find it so comforting, it gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling which is always a good thing with a book. This book introduces the characters of the series, focusing on Sarah Caselton. Sarah gets a job working for Woolworths and makes two firm friends, the glamorous and feisty Maisie and the shy Freda. The three women are all so different but together they are unstoppable and best friends. 

As Sarah, Maisie and Freda start to enjoy their working lives at Woolworths and meeting and making new friends they also have to deal with the threat of impending war. As romances blossom the girls begin to realise that the men they love will be sent to war and this leads to uncertain times. 

My favourite character in this book was Ruby who is Sarah’s grandmother. Ruby is a widow and her home is at the heart of this book, everyone is welcome. Ruby takes anyone who needs help under her wing. There is always a hot meal and a shoulder to cry on where Ruby is concerned. Ruby works hard and goes above and beyond to help people, she really is a treasure. 

Everest’s clever writing makes you want to know more about all the characters in this book and not just the details of the main characters. I felt immersed in the story desperately wanting to know more about the characters which also meant I found it hard to put the book down. 

This story is so beautifully written and the characters Everest has created are just so easy to love that I will definitely be continuing with the series and reading other books by Everest. Everest is definitely a new comfort author for me. I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons.

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Bookshop.org | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Elaine Everest was born and brought up in northwest Kent and has written widely – both short stories and features – for women’s magazines. When she isn’t writing, Everest runs The Write Place creative writing school in Dartford Kent, and the blog for Romantic Novelists’ Association. 

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The Black Mountain by Kate Mosse (Review)

The Black Mountain by Kate Mosse

Blurb

It is May, 1706. Ana, a young Spanish woman, lives in a small town on the north-west coast of Tenerife with her mother and twin younger brothers. The town is in the shadow of a mighty volcano, which legend says has the devil living inside it. However, there has been no eruption for thousands of years and no one believes it is a threat.

One day, Ana notices that the air feels strange and heavy, that the birds have stopped singing. Tending the family vineyard, a sudden strange tremor in the earth frightens her. Very soon it will be a race against time for Ana to help persuade the town that they are in danger and should flee before the volcano erupts and destroys their world. Will they listen? And Ana herself faces another danger . . .

Review

I will be honest I have a quite a collection of unread Kate Mosse books. I see one of her books and think that looks good and buy it but never read it. However, after reading this book I will be rectifying that situation. This is definitely my favourite Quick Reads book that I have read so far. 

The story is fast paced and although predictable I still really enjoyed it. The main character Ana has a lot on her shoulders for someone so young, she tends the family vineyard, tries to keep an eye on her younger twin brothers and helps and looks after her mom. If life wasn’t hard enough for Ana now there are strange things happening with the mountain her family’s vineyard and home is on but that is not the only danger. 

Thankfully, Ana has some remarkable friends in the form of Widow Silva, Antonio and Rudi. Antonio is a mysterious man who nobody knows much about but Ana knows she can trust him because her father trusted him. Widow Silva makes her living smoking fish on the beach but she also keeps an eye on Rudi who is a young boy sadly crippled because he was born too early. Rudi is my favourite character and is truly adorable, he starts off so shy and vulnerable but slowly you see his true nature and you can’t help but smile every time he is mentioned. 

I loved this book and read it one sitting and yes I know there could have been more character development but it is deliberately a short novel so lacks the space for the extra development. In a way I think that helped because it kept the novel fast paced. I loved Kate Mosse’s writing and will definitely be reading more of her books soon, although I realise a lot of her books are a lot longer than this one which is only 136 pages. I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons. 

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Bookshop.org | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Kate Mosse is an international bestselling author with sales of more than five million copies in 42 languages. Her fiction includes the novels Labyrinth (2005), Sepulchre (2007), The Winter Ghosts (2009), and Citadel (2012), as well as an acclaimed collection of short stories, The Mistletoe Bride & Other Haunting Tales (2013). Kate’s new novel, The Taxidermist’s Daughter is out now.

Kate is the Co-Founder and Chair of the Board of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction (previously the Orange Prize) and in June 2013, was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to literature. She lives in Sussex.

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Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (Review)

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

Blurb

This is a seductive and evocative epic on an intimate scale, which tells the extraordinary story of a geisha girl. Summoning up more than twenty years of Japan’s most dramatic history, it uncovers a hidden world of eroticism and enchantment, exploitation and degradation. From a small fishing village in 1929, the tale moves to the glamorous and decadent heart of Kyoto in the 1930s, where a young peasant girl is sold as servant and apprentice to a renowned geisha house. She tells her story many years later from the Waldorf Astoria in New York; it exquisitely evokes another culture, a different time and the details of an extraordinary way of life. It conjures up the perfection and the ugliness of life behind rice-paper screens, where young girls learn the arts of geisha – dancing and singing, how to wind the kimono, how to walk and pour tea, and how to beguile the most powerful men.

Review

This book has been sat on my TBR list since 2019 and due to an unexpected hour long break at work where I found myself without a book I fired up the Kindle app on my phone and began reading this book and then found I couldn’t put it down. 

This book begins in a small fishing village in a shack where there live two sisters and their parents. The father is a poor fisherman and when the mother falls sick a local successful businessman suggests sending the two daughters to the city for a new life which the father eventually agrees to. The story then moves to a geisha house in Kyoto where the youngest of the two sisters starts her new life. 

The story is told from the first person perspective of the younger sister who is called Chiyo. Chiyo begins her life in the Okiya as a servant where she must win the approval of those who now own her who she knows as Mother and Granny. If Mother and Granny approve of her she will be trained as a Geisha. However, there is someone who stands in her way and that is the Geisha who currently lives in the Okiya called Hatsumomo. Hatsumomo is an evil woman who has taken a dislike to Chiyo and through the story Hatsumomo works her hardest to stop Chiyo from advancing in anything. 

As the story goes on we learn how Chiyo becomes a Geisha and gets her Geisha name of Sayuri and what her life entails. We also learn how and who helps her to get to her life as a Geisha. Sayuri is telling us her story from her home in New York many years later. She shows us how the life of a Geisha isn’t all luxury but it is hard work and dominated by the world of men. A Geisha spends her whole existence trying to beguile and please men. 

This book is so full on and really informative and that is one of the main reasons I could not put it down. It is also beautifully written and a joy to read. The main reason that I did not give the book a full 5 Dragons was because I didn’t really like the ending. I just didn’t like what Sayuri was willing to do to get her own way and it involved hurting the one man who always tried his hardest to keep her safe and be kind to her. It is for that reason I give the book 4 out of 5 Dragons. 

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Arthur Golden was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and was educated at Harvard College, where he received a degree in art history, specialising in Japanese art. In 1980 he earned an M.A. in Japanese history from Columbia University, where he also learned Mandarin Chinese. Following a summer in Beijing University, he worked in Tokyo, and, after returning to the United States, earned an M.A. in English from Boston University. He resides in Brookline, Massachusetts, with his wife and two children. 

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Sovereign by C. J. Sansom (Review)

Sovereign by C. J. Sansom

Blurb

Autumn, 1541. King Henry VIII has set out on a spectacular Progress to the North to attend an extravagant submission of his rebellious subjects in York.

Already in the city are lawyer Matthew Shardlake and his assistant Jack Barak. As well as assisting with legal work processing petitions to the King, Shardlake has reluctantly undertaken a special mission for the Archbishop Cranmer – to ensure the welfare of an important but dangerous conspirator being returned to London for interrogation.

But the murder of a local glazier involves Shardlake in deeper mysteries, connected not only to the prisoner in York Castle but to the royal family itself. And when Shardlake and Barak stumble upon a cache of secret papers which could threaten the Tudor throne, a chain of events unfolds that will lead to Shardlake facing the most terrifying fate of the age…

Review

This is the first Shardlake book that I have struggled with slightly but I am glad I persevered with it as I really enjoyed the book, especially the ending. 

We find Shardlake trying to live a quiet life fighting legal cases with the help of his assistant Jack Barak. Cromwell is now dead so Shardlake has been living his life as a normal lawyer would without being sent off to do any missions for the Crown. However, that promptly changes when Shardlake is summoned before Archbishop Cranmer who then gives Shardlake a mission. 

Shardlake finds himself joining the King’s progress to the North where not only will he be assisting with the legal work of processing the petitions to the King, he will also be ensuring the welfare of an important prisoner who needs to be interrogated in London. This is the last thing that poor Shardlake wants. 

Most of the book is in York and I must admit after the discovery of the secret papers the book did drag on for me and I really did want it to move along a bit quicker because it was at times rather dull. However, once Shardlake left York and got onto the boat things moved along at a much quicker pace and the story picked back up again and then I couldn’t put the book down till I had finished it. 

I wish this book had shown more of Guy who is one of my favourite characters but sadly he was only mentioned in passing and didn’t feature at all. We did get some new characters though. Giles is the lawyer from York who helps Shardlake with the petitions. He is an old man but still upright and very sharp of mind. He also comes across as rather a cuddly character and a man who would help anyone in need. 

The character I really couldn’t stand was Tamasin and at times Shardlake felt the same way. I really didn’t like her ways and found her far too pushy and brazen. She also had rather a big chip on her shoulder. 

Overall, I enjoyed the book and even when I had guessed who the suspect was I was still hooked. If the middle of the book had moved at a quicker pace I would have given this book a higher rating but sadly it was just too much of a drag for me. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons.

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(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

C. J. Sansom was educated at Birmingham University, where he took a BA and then a PhD in history. After working in a variety of jobs, he retrained as a solicitor and practised in Sussex, until becoming a full-time writer. He lives in Sussex.

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The Tale of the Tailor and the Three Dead Kings by Dan Jones (Review)

The Tale of the Tailor and the Three Dead Kings by Dan Jones

Blurb

A chilling medieval ghost story, retold by bestselling historian Dan Jones. Published in a beautiful small-format hardback, perfect as a Halloween read or a Christmas gift. 

One winter, in the dark days of King Richard II, a tailor was riding home on the road from Gilling to Ampleforth. It was dank, wet and gloomy; he couldn’t wait to get home and sit in front of a blazing fire.

Then, out of nowhere, the tailor is knocked off his horse by a raven, who then transforms into a hideous dog, his mouth writhing with its own innards. The dog issues the tailor with a warning: he must go to a priest and ask for absolution and return to the road, or else there will be consequences…

First recorded in the early fifteenth century by an unknown monk, The Tale of the Tailor and the Three Dead Kings was transcribed from the Latin by the great medievalist M.R. James in 1922. Building on that tradition, now bestselling historian Dan Jones retells this medieval ghost story in crisp and creepy prose.

Review

This story was originally part of a set of stories written down by an unknown monk in the fifteenth century. The medievalist and novelist M. R. James found these gems in 1922 and transcribed them. Dan Jones has now taken one of these stories and retold it in modern day prose. 

The story is set in the time of King Richard II and focuses on a tailor. On his way home this poor tailor encounters something terrifying and hideous. This poor tailor is then given a warning and if he doesn’t heed this warning there will be dire consequences for him. 

The story is a short story and was perfect for reading whilst enjoying a cup of tea. I didn’t find the story very scary but I did find it a bit gruesome at times. I also felt very sorry for this poor tailor who I really do not think deserved his treatment by the spirit. 

The book also contains the original latin which once my latin is better I hope to have a go at translating myself and seeing what the original story reads like. Overall, I enjoyed this little story but it didn’t wow me so I give it 3 out of 5 Dragons.

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Purchase Links

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(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Dan Jones is a historian, broadcaster and award-winning journalist. His books, including The Plantagenets, Magna Carta, The Templars and The Colour of Time, have sold more than one million copies worldwide. He has written and hosted dozens of TV shows including the acclaimed Netflix/Channel 5 series ‘Secrets of Great British Castles’. For ten years Dan wrote a weekly column for the London Evening Standard and his writing has also appeared in newspapers and magazines including The Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Wall Street Journal, Smithsonian, GQ and The Spectator.

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The Tenth Man by Graham Greene (Review)

The Tenth Man by Graham Greene

Blurb

In a prison in Occupied France one in every ten men is to be shot. The prisoners draw lots among themselves—and for rich lawyer Louis Chavel it seems that his whole life has been leading up to an agonising and crucial failure of nerve. Graham Greene wrote The Tenth Man in 1944, when he was under a two-year contract to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and the manuscript lay forgotten in MGM’s archives until 1983. It was published two years later. 

Review 

This book originated from a lost manuscript of Greene’s that turned up in an MGM sale. The person who purchased the manuscript returned it to Greene and he turned it into a novel which was published in 1985. 

This is a short book but one that really packs a punch. The book begins with a prison in occupied France and the news that every tenth man is to be shot. The prisoners are left to decide amongst themselves who will be shot, so they decide to draw lots. The rich lawyer Louis Chavel’s nerve leaves him and he gives up everything to the man who will take his place. 

Janvier is the man who takes Chavel’s place so he leaves all his new wealth to his sister and mother. When Chavel finally leaves the prison he has nothing to his name but he is still drawn to life he once had and so makes his way to his old home where he finds Janvier’s sister and mother. 

The book looks at the final years of the Second World War and how even the best of men can change in dire times. It is a story of cowardice, guilt, courage, romance and much more. Those who lie are trusted and those who tell the truth are not believed, everything is turned on its head in this book. 

I must admit the ending of the book was not what I expected and came as a big shock but it did show that miracles do happen. I will be honest as much as I love Greene’s books this book did not really enthral me that much as I just did not like the character of Chavel very much so I only give this book 3 out of 5 Dragons. 

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Henry Graham Greene (1904-1991) was an English writer and journalist regarded as one of the leading English novelists of the20th century.

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In the Shadow of Queens by Alison Weir (Review)

In the Shadow of Queens by Alison Weir

Blurb

Behind every great king stands a queen. And behind every queen, the whole court watches on…

Over the years of his reign, six different women took their place beside King Henry VIII of England as his wife and queen.

But the real stories of the six Tudor queens belong to those who lived among them. Played out in glittering palaces and whispering courts, these are tales of the people who loved and served these women, and those who lied and betrayed them.

Collected together for the first time, In the Shadow of Queens reveals thirteen startling stories from the Tudor court, told by those at the very heart of that world.

Review

I had already read the first few of these short stories on my Kindle but when I saw that the complete set had been put into a book I immediately ordered myself a copy. 

I reread the first few stories and then read the rest of the book. The only story that I really did not enjoy was the very last story. I found it so sad and disgraceful that poor Katharine Parr was not allowed to rest in peace and her grave was opened up and and vandalised so many times over the years. 

I must admit the stories got longer as the book went on which seemed a shame because the first few stories were very short in comparison. I would have liked the first few stories to be longer. I really enjoyed how Weir chose her topics for the stories. They were all connected with the queens in some way but some were based on places and some on people even if they were quite obscure people. 

I also really enjoyed Weir’s notes about what was historically accurate and what bits she embellished by herself. All the stories offered new view points of the queens lives which was really interesting. I particularly enjoyed the story about the infant Mary Seymour which we sadly know so little about. 

Overall I really enjoyed this book and I am very sad the series have come to end. I will definitely be reading more books by Weir. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons.

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About the author

Alison Weir was born in 1951 and is a British writer of history books, and latterly historical novels, mostly in the form of biographies about British Royalty.

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