Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Book Review: THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND BY JOJO MOYES

Genre:  Fiction
Published:  Penguin  27 Sept 2012
Source:  RealReaders



About the Book:

In 1916 French artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his wife Sophie to fight at the Front. When her town falls into German hands, his portrait of Sophie stirs the heart of the local Kommandant and causes her to risk everything - her family, reputation and life - in the hope of seeing her true love one last time.

Nearly a century later and Sophie's portrait is given to Liv by her young husband shortly before his sudden death. Its beauty speaks of their short life together, but when the painting's dark and passion-torn history is revealed, Liv discovers that the first spark of love she has felt since she lost him is threatened...





The story starts in a small town in war-torn France when Sophie attempts to outwit the local German Kommandant, a man who will have a large say in her destiny.  She misses her husband who is away fighting and when she and her family are forced to serve the Germans with food every night in her small hotel, her emotions are stretched as the Kommandant becomes obsessed with a painting done by her husband of a young Sophie.

The first part is left on a cliffhanger and we are then moved forward to the present time and find that the same painting is now hanging in the bedroom of Liv, who's deceased husband bought it for her as he thought the girl in the painting looked like her.

Unfortunately, this is where my interest started to wane.  I loved the first part set in WWI and, even though the story goes back and forth, I did not enjoy it as much, somehow I could not warm to Liv and I found myself rushing through the story to read about what happened to Sophie.

Overall, I did like the storyline, I thought some of the characters were memorable, but I just wish that the first part had been longer and the second part had been shorter!



Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Book Review: TRUST YOUR EYES BY LINWOOD BARCLAY

Genre:  Thriller
Published:  Orion Books 27 Sept 2012
Source:  BookDagger RealReaders


About the Book:

A schizophrenic man spends his days and nights on a website called Whirl360, believing he's employed by the CIA to store the details of every town and city in the world in his head. Then one day, he sees something that shouldn't be there: a woman being murdered behind a window on a New York street. Suddenly Thomas has more to deal with than just his delusions, as he gets drawn into a deadly conspiracy.


Linwood Barclay is one of my favourite thriller authors, I couldn't put down No Time For Goodbye or Too Close To Home - they were both psychological thrillers that kept you guessing whodunnit and what happened until very near the end whereas this book is more of a thriller where you know fairly early what Thomas sees in the window and it is more about the aftermath.

Thomas (35 years old) is an interesting but vulnerable character, he spends his days on the computer travelling the world, he calls it his work.  He has a gift, a talent, and is obsessed with maps and learning directions, and has the ability to remember everything he sees while on Whirl360 (which sounds very much like Google Street View).  But he's not capable of living on his own or looking after himself so, after his father dies in somewhat mysterious circumstances, his brother Ray comes to look after him.

Unfortunately, due to a set of coincidences and bad luck, they become involved in a political cover up which endangers their lives ...... all because Thomas trusts his eyes ....

I thought this was a good all round story, with an original plot, some stereotypical characters, unexpected surprises, quite a few murders, political ambitions, the CIA, unlikely assassins, plus a touch of romance, which all made for a thrilling (but not a page-turning) read.

This book is available from 27 September 2012 from Amazon.co.uk.



Thursday, 9 August 2012

Book Review: THE WONDER GIRLS BY CATHERINE JONES

Genre:  Modern Fiction
Published:  June 2012  (Simon & Schuster)
Source:  From the Publishers

About the Book:

'Don't follow the crowd,' she'd be telling schoolgirls at the swimming baths. 'Follow your own star and when you have achieved your goal you will have that with you for the rest of your life...'
In 1928, a plucky young Welsh girl named Ida Gaze swims the Bristol Channel with the help of her best friend Freda and the inspiration of her heroine Amelia Earhart.
In 1937, on the instructions of the matron, a young skivvy at a grand maternity hospital in London smuggles out an orphaned baby on one of the coldest nights of the year.
Now, in a small town in Wales, an old lady named Ceci pieces together these stories and is about to discover the surprising ways in which they link to her own. It begins with two girls in the twenties who left their small Welsh village for the Big Smoke, feeling that the world was changing and everything was possible…



I really wanted to like this book....I loved the cover of the two young women wearing bathing suits from the 1920's and I thought the story would be more about them and their swimming lives....but it wasn't and I was so disappointed about that.

It started well ..... with 14 year old Cecily who was working as a cleaner at a rich private clinic in London in 1937.  One cold evening the Sister asks her to take away from the clinic the baby of a very poorly mother.  But we don't know why and this leaves us with a cliffhanger until near the end.

The story then moves to the present when Cecily, now an old lady, is living on her own after her 'companion' Freda had died.  Whilst looking through Freda's effects she finds an old photo of a young girl in a bathing costume and this sets her on a quest to discover who this girl was and what happened to her.

The book moves back and forth in time from the present to 1928 to a time when a 16 yr old girl called Ida Gaze (the 'Wonder Girl') becomes the first woman to swim the Bristol Channel - 11 miles of treacherous water between Wales and England.  'Nobody thought a woman would cross the Atlantic and Amelia Earhart did - so why shouldn't I cross the water to another country?'

I was really enjoying this part of the story as I found it fascinating but shortly after when Ida and her friend Freda decide to go to London to start a new life my interest waned quite a lot.  I found it a little boring and I struggled to keep going....but I did and it did get slightly better as the secrets are slowly revealed.

The only character I warmed to was Cecily, I didn't like Freda at all and I couldn't understand why so many women fell for her, she was an oddball, selfish and she didn't care who's feelings she hurt with her nasty remarks.

So, it was not really my kind of book overall.

If this sounds like your kind of book head on over to Lindsay at The Little Reader Library where Catherine Jones has written a fascinating piece all about the background to the story.  Lindsay loved this book and you can read her brilliant review here

Thank you to the publishers, Simon & Schuster, for sending me this to review.



Sunday, 1 July 2012

Book Review: STAY CLOSE BY HARLAN COBEN

Genre:  Thriller
Published:  29 March 2012  (Orion Books)
Pages:  387  (Hardback)
Source:  BookDagger RealReaders

About the Book:


Megan is a suburban soccer mom who once upon a time walked on the wild side. Now she's got two kids, a perfect husband, a house with a picket fence, and a growing sense of dissatisfaction. Ray used to be a talented documentary photographer, but at the age of forty he finds himself in a dead-end job posing as a paparazzo pandering to celebrity-obsessed rich kids. Broome is a detective who can't let go of a cold case - a local husband and father who disappeared seventeen years ago - and spends the anniversary every year visiting a house frozen in time, the missing man's family still waiting, his slippers left by the recliner as if he might show up any moment to step into them.
Three people living lives they never wanted, hiding secrets that even those closest to them would never suspect, will find that the past never truly fades away. Even as the terrible consequences of long-ago events crash together in the present and threaten to ruin lives, they will come to the startling realisation that they may not want to forget the past at all. And as each confronts the dark side of the American Dream - the boredom of suburban life, the thrill of temptation, the desperation that can lurk behind even the prettiest facades - they will discover the hard truth that the line between one kind of life and another can be as whisper thin as a heartbeat...


Harlan Coben is the 'master of the hook-and-twist' ... as the blurb says and this book does hook you and twist you till you don't know which turn it's going to take....which I love in a book!

The three main characters all seem to be living normal lives, seemingly unrelated to one another, but they all have secrets from their past which will just not stay hidden.  When a man goes missing, their memories are taken back to one night 17 years ago when another man went missing but is there a connection?

The writing is fast and slick, sometimes a little too complicated, and there are some unsavoury characters, including a couple of bible-bashers called Ken and Barbie who are definitely NOT like their namesakes!  

This is the kind of book where you have to keep turning the pages as there are so many cliffhangers and I didn't guess the ending which is all good.

Recommended for anyone who enjoys a good thriller.





Sunday, 24 June 2012

Books I Read on Holiday ......

I've just come back from a week's holiday and here are short reviews of the  two books I read and one audiobook I listened to while being very lazy!

My first book was Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon.

The Bad News for Rachel, 39, is that she's just lost her job, her home in London and her boyfriend!
The Good News is that she's just inherited, from her aunt, a lovely house, together with a Dogs Rescue/Boarding Kennels in the countryside!
Rachel is not a dog lover and doesn't know the first thing about dogs and fully intends to sell the business......but finds she has the knack of matching just the right people with the rescue dogs, and there's a hunky vet and a handsome doctor around.....well, maybe she may still a little longer!
It's obvious that Lucy Dillon loves dogs, the descriptions of the cute dogs will just make you go aaawww all the time.  Interesting and lively characters and a great plot make for an entertaining read.


I also listened to The Summer of Secrets by Martina Reilly read by Caroline Lennon.

Hope has just lost her 16th job in London when she decides to leave her friends and her life and move elsewhere, but a tragic plane crash lands her in hospital and her two best friends, Adam and Julie, decide she should recuperate back home in Ireland and so they rent a small cottage in Hope's home town and spend the summer there, not knowing that that is the last place that Hope wanted to go to.
Their lives will never be the same at the end of the summer as secrets and lies come out.
I really enjoyed this - in some parts it was laugh out loud funny and in others I was in tears!  Of all the books this was definitely my favourite.
Fabulous descriptions of the Irish countryside, the rolling hills, waterfalls, the sea, and the people....I want to move to Dunport!
Caroline Lennon's seductive Irish voice just added another dimension to the whole storyline.

My least favourite read was The Salt Road by Jane Johnson.

Set in the present time and the past, the parallel stories are of two different women.  Isabelle is left an amulet by her father and is fascinated by it and the unreadable parchment inside.  She is drawn to Morocco and has the opportunity to go there rock climbing where she meets someone who could help her solve the mystery of the ancient amulet and how it came to be in her father's possession.

The parallel story is of Marieta who obtains the amulet from her lover, we are never sure of the exact year but know it is in the past.

Although there are wonderful descriptions of the Moroccan land and people, I found it quite slow and boring in the middle.  I also didn't warm to the main character of Taib, who was helping Isabelle.  I thought it would be more of a mystery so I was disappointed at the overall storyline.

What are your Summer Reads?
Have you read any of these books and did you enjoy them?








Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Book Review: ISLAND OF BONES BY IMOGEN ROBERTSON

Genre:  Historical Mystery
Published:  Headline  (Mar 2012)
Pages:  466  (Paperback)
Source:  BookDagger RealReaders




About the Book:


Cumbria, 1783. A broken heritage; a secret history...

The tomb of the first Earl of Greta should have lain undisturbed on its island of bones for three hundred years.When idle curiosity opens the stone lid, however, inside is one body too many. Gabriel Crowther's family bought the Gretas' land long ago, and has suffered its own bloody history. His brother was hanged for murdering their father, the Baron of Keswick, and Crowther has chosen comfortable seclusion and anonymity over estate and title for thirty years. But the call of the mystery brings him home at last.

Travelling with forthright Mrs Harriet Westerman, who is escaping her own tragedy, Crowther finds a little town caught between new horrors and old, where ancient ways challenge modern justice. And against the wild and beautiful backdrop of fells and water, Crowther discovers that his past will not stay buried.





The story starts in 1751 at the Tower of London on the eve of the execution of Gabriel's brother who has been found guilty of the murder of their father.  There seems to be no love lost between the two brothers.


Next the time moves on to 1783 where an old tomb on the Island of Bones is found to contain a body that should not be there - could these two events be connected?


Attempting to solve the mystery are two unlikely friends -- Gabriel Crowther (a straight talking man in his fifties who has become quite renowned at ferreting all sorts of information from a body) and the recently widowed Mrs Harriet Westerman, a strong-minded thirty year old woman who is not a conventional 18th century lady!  What really worked best in this book was their unusual relationship and I do wonder how people of that time looked upon them.  Not that either of them cared much for convention.


I also loved the folklore of the Lake District when people believed in fairies and bogles and witches......plus an assortment of interesting characters like Casper Grace, a cunning man who most of the people trusted more than the doctors of the time to treat their ailments.  


I found the story quite slow moving at first as we meet all the characters while the plot moved at a snail's pace but I soon immersed myself into the complex story and, by the end, I was quickly turning the pages to discover the  secrets and twists in the tale, mainly due to the multiple narratives which really added to the intriguing plot.


This is the third in the Crowther & Westerman series and there are just enough references to the past stories to give you an idea of what has been happening earlier.


This is a compelling story that intrigues me enough to want to read more of this unlikely partnership.


The website of Imogen Robertson can be found here.







Saturday, 9 June 2012

BOOK GIVEAWAY WINNERS FOR THE PAINTED BRIDGE BY WENDY WALLACE

Thanks to everyone who entered my recent giveaway to win copies of Wendy Wallace's The Painted Bridge which I reviewed here.






Here are the 10 lucky winners!



Ails



Olivia


Diane C





Emails have been sent to them and the books will be posted when all postal details have been received.


Congratulations to everyone who won and commiserations if you weren't one of the lucky ones, but I will be running other book giveaways very soon.



Thursday, 31 May 2012

Some New Books Published in June 2012

The month of June is full of some fabulous titles - here is just a small selection - let me know what you think of them!








Wallflower in Bloom by Claire Cook
Published:  5 June 2012 (UK/USA)
Formats (UK):  Hardcover, Audio
Genre:  Romance

Deirdre Griffin is personal assistant to her charismatic, high-maintenance, New Age guru brother when a former boyfriend informs her that he's marrying another woman.

Drowning her sorrows in vodka, she taps into her brother's massive Internet following to get herself voted on as a last-minute replacement on "Dancing with the Stars" and finally her own fifteen minutes of fame have begun.



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Little Night by Luanne Rice
Published:  5 June 2012  (UK/USA)
Formats  (UK):  Hardcover, Kindle
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction

An emotionally gripping family drama from beloved New York Times bestseller Luanne Rice

Clare Burke's life took a devastating turn when she tried to protect her sister, Anne, from an abusive and controlling husband and ended up serving prison time for assault. The verdict largely hinged on Anne's defense of her spouse - all lies - and the sisters have been estranged ever since. Nearly twenty years later, Clare is living a quiet life in Manhattan as an urban birder and nature blogger, when her niece, Grit, turns up on her doorstep.

The two long for a relationship with each other, but they'll have to dig deep into their family's difficult past in order to build one. Together they face the wounds inflicted by Anne and find in their new connection a place of healing. When Clare begins to suspect her sister might be in New York, she and her niece hold out hope for a long-awaited reunion with her.

A riveting story about women and the primal, tangled family ties that bind them together.


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Equal of the Sun by Anita Amirrezvani
Published:  5 June 2012 (UK/USA)
Formats (UK):  Hardcover, Audio, Kindle
Genre:  Historical Fiction

From the author of the internationally bestselling The Blood of Flowers comes a compulsively readable and gorgeously crafted tale of power, loyalty, intrigue, and love in the royal court of 16th Century Iran.

Iran in 1576 is a place of peace, wealth, and dazzling beauty. But when the Shah dies without having named an heir, the court is thrown into tumult. Princess Pari, the Shah's daughter and closest advisor, knows more about the inner workings of the state than almost anyone, but the princess's maneuvers to instill order after her father's sudden death incite resentment and dissent. Pari and her trusted servant, a eunuch able to navigate the harem as well as the world beyond the palace walls, are in possession of an incredible tapestry of secrets and information that reveals a power struggle of epic proportions.

Based loosely on the life of Princess Pari Khan Khanoom, Equal of the Sun is a riveting story of political intrigue and a moving portrait of an unlikely friendship between a princess and a eunuch.

Anita Amirrezvani is a master storyteller and in her lustrous prose this rich and labyrinthine world comes to vivid life with a stunning cast of characters, passionate and brave men and women who defy or embrace their destiny in a Machiavellian game played by those who lust for power and will do anything to attain it.



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Backlash by Lynda La Plante (Anna Travis, Book 8)
Published:  7 June 2012 (UK/USA)
Formats (UK):  Hardcover, Audio, Kindle
Genre:  Mystery

Late night on a notorious high-rise estate in Hackney and a white van is being driven erratically. The driver is pulled over by the police and questioned. A woman on the street after a long evening's drinking...She never makes it home. A suspect...an arrest...a confession...A case done and dusted? Five years earlier, a 13-year-old girl disappeared in broad daylight on a busy London street. DCS James Langton headed the investigation; the case was never closed. It has haunted him ever since. And now comes another confession, to this murder, and to one more besides. Too good to be true? DCI Anna Travis, pulled into the fray, isn't so sure. Then the suspect changes his story...



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A Humble Companion by Laurie Graham
Published:  7 June 2012 (UK)
Formats (UK):  Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle
Genre:  Historical

Meet Nellie Welche - companion to royalty and keeper of secrets ... Nellie Welche is the daughter of a high-ranking steward in the household of Prinnie, Prince of Wales.
In 1788, at the age of twelve, she's proposed as a suitably humble companion to Princess Sophia, one of George III's enormous brood of children. Nellie and Sofy become friends for life. From the first rumblings of revolution in France to the exciting, modern times of gas light and steam trains, from poor mad George to safe and steady Victoria, Nellie is the sharp-penned narrator of a changing world and the unchanging, cloistered lives of Princess Sofy and her sisters. Nellie proves to be more a hawk-eyed witness than a Humble Companion, as her memoir lifts the lid on the House of Hanover's secrets and lies.

'It's a perfect book for a sunny day in the garden ... Laurie Graham takes us once again into places we never thought we'd get to - and no matter how wonderful or horrible the people there are, they're always really touching and funny' Paul Magrs.      



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Niceville by Carsten Stroud
Published:  12 June 2012  (UK/USA)
Formats  (UK):  Hardcover, Audio …......... Paperback, Kindle 2 Aug 2012
Genre:  Thriller/Mystery

Something is wrong in Niceville. . .  
A boy literally disappears from Main Street.  A security camera captures the moment of his instant, inexplicable vanishing. An audacious bank robbery goes seriously wrong: four cops are gunned down; a TV news helicopter is shot and spins crazily out of the sky, triggering a disastrous cascade of events that ricochet across twenty different lives over the course of just thirty-six hours.
Nick Kavanaugh, a cop with a dark side, investigates. Soon he and his wife, Kate, a distinguished lawyer from an old Niceville family, find themselves struggling to make sense not only of the disappearance and the robbery but also of a shadow world, where time has a different rhythm and where justice is elusive.
. . .Something is wrong in Niceville, where evil lives far longer than men do.
Compulsively readable, and populated with characters who leap off the page,
Niceville will draw you in, excite you, amaze you, horrify you, and, when it finally lets you go, make you sorry you have to leave.

“Terrific dialogue, oddball characters, and a wild story make this a great read.” —Elmore Leonard, author of Get Shorty and Out of Sight


"A compelling work that grabs your attention from page one." —Karin Slaughter


Another Cover:














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The Waters of Star Lake by Sara Rath
Published:  15 June 2012 (UK) ….....  22 May 2012 (USA)
Formats (UK):  Hardcover
Genre:  Humorous Mystery/Romance

Sara Rath returns to the setting of her first novel, Star Lake Saloon and Housekeeping Cottages (2005), for her pleasant third novel.
Soon after recently widowed Natalie Waters Lindquist arrives at her family cabin in rural northern Wisconsin, an attack on her beloved dog, Molly, places her at the center of rising local tensions over hunting and conservation. After being roped by feisty Ginger Kovalcik into a hunt for a gangster’s lost treasure, Natalie’s summer is further complicated by the unexpected arrival of her troubled granddaughter, Minnow.
Romantic possibilities emerge in hunky but secretive Bud Foster and handsome ecologist Will Davis. But a more compelling passion is Natalie’s fierce devotion to her family’s old home. Adventure takes Natalie and her eccentric companions from a roadkill picnic to a notorious gangster hideout, from a pristine morning lake to a rowdy bar called the Last Resort. The result is an affectionate portrait of this distinct region and its quirky inhabitants.


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A Place in the Country by Elizabeth Adler
Published:  19 June 2012 (UK/USA)
Formats (UK):  Hardcover, Kindle
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction

Caroline Evans is a single mom trying to raise her fifteen-year-old daughter, Issy, as best she can. Her ex-husband, James, was a philandering charmer, and a wealthy one at that. Their life had been lavish, but Caroline couldn't put up with his cheating and left him, taking Issy with her. And Issy has never forgiven her for this.
Now, they live in the countryside outside London, where Caroline has built a modestly successful catering business, and Issy is now at an all-girls boarding school. Things are beginning to feel normal. But when James mysteriously appears on her doorstep one night and then vanishes soon after, Caroline feels her world being turned upside down once again. Delving into a world of high-stakes finance she knows little about, Caroline and Issy must find a wary peace, and solve a murder. And Caroline also finds herself guarding a wounded heart against yet another man who seems determined to win her over.
With trademark twists and turns and memorable characters, Elizabeth Adler delivers another summer getaway novel that will leave you gasping for more.



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The Orphanmaster by Jean Zimmerman
Published:  19 June 2012 (UK/USA)
Formats (UK):  Hardcover, Audio
Genre:  Historical Mystery

From a debut novelist, a gripping historical thriller and rousing love story set in seventeenth-century Manhattan

It's 1663 in the tiny, hardscrabble Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, now present-day southern Manhattan. Orphan children are going missing, and among those looking into the mysterious state of affairs are a quick-witted twenty-two-year-old trader, Blandine von Couvering, herself an orphan, and a dashing British spy named Edward Drummond.

Suspects abound, including the governor's wealthy nephew, a green-eyed aristocrat with decadent tastes; an Algonquin trapper who may be possessed by a demon that turns people into cannibals; and the colony's own corrupt and conflicted orphanmaster. Both the search for the killer and Edward and Blandine's newfound romance are endangered, however, when Blandine is accused of being a witch and Edward is sentenced to hang for espionage. Meanwhile, war looms as the English king plans to wrest control of the colony.Jean Zimmerman brings New Amsterdam and its surrounding wilderness alive for modern-day readers with exacting period detail. Lively, fast paced, and full of colorful characters.

The Orphanmaster is a dramatic page-turner that will appeal to fans of Hilary Mantel and Geraldine Brooks.



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A Dangerous Inheritance by Alison Weir
Published:  21 June 2012 (UK)  2 Oct 2012 (USA)
Formats (UK):  Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle
Genre:  Historical

England's Tower of London was the terrifying last stop for generations of English political prisoners. A Dangerous Inheritance weaves together the lives and fates of four of its youngest and most blameless: Lady Katherine Grey, Lady Jane's younger sister; Kate Plantagenet, an English princess who lived nearly a century before her; and Edward and Richard, the boy princes imprisoned by their ruthless uncle, Richard III, never to be heard from again. Across the years, these four young royals shared the same small rooms in their dark prison, as all four shared the unfortunate role of being perceived as threats to the reigning monarch.

Weaving together their lives and fates into a dark mystery of thwarted love and ruthless ambition, Alison Weir has written the most suspenseful, large-scale novel of her career.



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Saturday, 26 May 2012

Author Wendy Wallace Talks About The Painted Bridge

Following on from my recent review of The Painted Bridge, I am thrilled that the author, Wendy Wallace has kindly taken some time out from her blog tour to write a short piece for Carole's Book Corner on where her ideas for the story came from.






A few different ideas gradually came together into the story of The Painted Bridge.


I was thinking about a visionary, a woman who sees visions, which was once quite a common way in which women expressed their spirituality. Then, I came across the photographs of Dr Hugh Diamond, who worked in an asylum in Surrey in the mid-19th century and made black and white photographs of patients.


I was intrigued and disturbed by the idea that Dr Diamond had apparently believed that photographs could be used to read the minds of the human subjects, and help determine their mental state. It was an idea that made sense at the time; physicians had long believed that different mental qualities were translated physically into the features.




Hugh Diamond photographed both men and women but I found the pictures of the women particularly moving. They looked pre-occupied in many cases, sad or resigned in others. Few looked ‘mad’ to me.  More than anything – they looked ordinary and recognizable, like women you might see now, sitting opposite you on a bus or train. In the mirror, even.


Researching the Victorian asylum, I began to realize how great the potential was at the time for abuse.  Although large government asylums were being built in every English county, many of the old-style small private madhouses lingered on – their profits dwindling as the modern asylums took in not only the so-called pauper lunatics but paying patients as well.


All that was required for a person to be detained in a madhouse was two doctors’ signatures. Women were, generally-speaking, more vulnerable to abuse of the system, partly because of their lower social status and, often, economic dependence but also because of the tendency of some male doctors of the day to see symptoms of ‘hysteria’ in any female behaviour of which they didn’t approve.


The two ideas began to take shape together – a women who is called mad, because of the visions she sees.  And a man who is inspired by Dr Diamond, a young, idealistic doctor who believes that the new science of photography will enable him to make better diagnoses of his patients’ conditions by seeing in to their minds.




At the same time, I had a postcard of Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of the Virgin of the Rocks propped on the mantelpiece by my desk. That beautiful image contributed to the idea of my vision-seeing woman being from the coast, and concerned with the peril of the seas. In the novel, Anna Palmer’s father is a ship’s captain and was drowned at sea.


As a young mother, many years ago, I once had a powerful nightmare that I’ve never forgotten, of a drowning of a child. If you’ve read The Painted Bridge, you’ll know that that image made its way in strongly too.


Another important part of the world of the novel is Lake House itself, and the grounds in which it’s set. The ‘painted bridge’ of the title, and the walled garden and grounds in which Anna Palmer walks with her keeper, Lovely, are partly inspired by historic Kenwood House, which is near where I live. The descriptions of the autumnal trees, then as the months pass the frozen lake and snowy landscape – and later the onset of a beautiful English spring – come partly from my almost daily walks there while I was writing the book.




The painted bridge, a bridge which is not what it seems, was a sustaining metaphor throughout the writing of the novel and helped me as well as Anna Palmer find a ‘way across’.


Thank you so much to Wendy Wallace for this fascinating piece.  You will find her website here.

The Painted Bridge has just been published by Simon & Schuster in the UK -- it will be published in the US in July 2012.....but if you want a copy before publication in the US please see the giveaway below!


A short synopsis of the story: 



An elegant, emotionally suspenseful debut, The Painted Bridge is a story of family betrayals, illicit power, and a woman sent to an asylum against her will in Victorian England.
Just outside London, behind a high stone wall, lies Lake House. In the winter of 1859, Anna Palmer becomes its newest patient. To Anna’s dismay, her new husband has declared her in need of treatment and brought her to this shabby asylum.     Confused and angry, Anna sets out to prove her sanity, but with her husband and doctors unwilling to listen, her freedom will not be won easily.



I gave this book 9/10 and my review can be found here.


If you would like the chance to win a copy all you need to do is:


Leave a comment below


Leave your email address.


Open to all UK and International readers.


Closing Date is 7th June 2012


One entry per person please.


Winners will be selected at random and contacted by email


Good Luck!



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