Will I need space for a broken heart in my handbag?

Now and Then in Tuscany

Angela Petch

Will I need space for a broken heart in my handbag? 

 

 

 

Click here to buy on Amazon

‘In my heart there was a storm that needed to break and my heart hurt like thorns on the wild rosa canina growing in the hedgerows…’

If you embark on this journey of discovery then be sure to prepare some delicious crostini, in advance, as you will not be able to put the book down….

This is a story of love wrapped up in an insight into rural history and customs of Tuscany. Meet ancient craftsmen and farmers, of Montebotolino, and marvel at the tenacity of their families; see how they survived difficult times.

The history of Giuseppe, a farrier and a cobbler, is completely absorbing.  Giuseppe was born at the beginning of last century.  His naivety leads him down some challenging paths, but this shapes the man, and ‘suffering begins the journey to wisdom.’   I found myself wanting to shout at Giuseppe and send him in the direction of love; the loves story is beautiful.

For me, the novel unlocked secrets of the enchanting holiday destination.  I have often wondered who had once walked along the ancient tracks, and who once lived in the ancient dwellings that nestle in the mountains.   As the title suggests, the reader delves into rural Tuscany as it is now and as it was back then at the beginning of last century. The reader has the privilege of meeting characters from the different generations and has more knowledge than the characters:  it is satisfying to fit the jigsaw together.  Indeed, there is a cleverly crafted narrative, in which there are emotional parallels in the lives of the characters from the past and the present.

Giuseppe’s grandson, Francesco, and his English wife, Anna have turned the ancient houses into holiday lets. Their son, Davide, encounters some of the emotional challenges of childhood that Giuseppe, his great-grandfather, had to face. Alba, Giuseppe’s great-granddaughter, faces choices about education very different to her great-grandparents.   Whilst Giuseppe’s grandson Francesco and his wife face different daily routines; this reminds us of how life has changed. However, the tenderness between the couples from both generations is crafted skilfully, and there is an exploration of love.

Life, in Montebotolino, was hard at the beginning of the last century.  Yet, the people had to make the most of nature’s larder, and the peasant food is so tempting.  It seems that the working people, from the past, shaped the menus in contemporary Italy, sadly many of their homes have been left empty as their lifestyle was too difficult. The charm, and majestic beauty of the Tuscan landscape is still there to seduce the modern traveller.  Fortunately, we can still see:

‘Cypress tree lined twisting white ribbon roads up hills towards impressive stone buildings…trees like stakes holding down the land.’

This story takes the reader beneath the surface of the magical holiday destination, associated with a paradise for the eye and the belly.

The transumanza is the Italian term for transhumance, the traditional twice yearly migration of sheep and cows from the highlands to the lowlands, and vice versa. The word literally means “crossing the land”. Ref:  Wikipedia

 

See My Reading for all my other reviews at jessiecahalin.com/my-reading/

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Originally posted 2017-04-22 09:37:05.

‘SHIP AHOY!’ There’s an entertaining mystery in my handbag

The Bookshop Detective 

Jan Ellis

 

It was a great treat for me to take another holiday in idyllic seaside town where:

‘To the east, the land fell away towards Combemouth; to the west a chain of scalloped shaped bays edged the land’.

The setting is vivid and the charming bookshop is inviting.  I settled back into my usual seat in The Reading Room and listened to the latest gossip.

Eleanor, the bookshop owner, is a kind, engaging character – she is someone that one could trust.  Her positive outlook led her to set up a new life in Combemouth six years ago.  Her philosophy of love is that ‘love is twenty percent attraction, thirty percent luck and fifty percent timing.’  She appreciates her good fortune to meet Dan and the fact that his love supports and guides her – proof that a second marriage can work. The previous book told Eleanor and Dan’s love story but this book tells a different kind of story.  In this novel, Eleanor is a glamorous, young ‘Mrs’ Marple:  forget the brogues, forget the tweed and dig out a vintage party frock.

The suspense story captured my imagination so much that I wanted to be there.  I could imagine a stage production of this mystery as it has all the right ingredients: the manor, the briefcase, the ring, the vicar…   Enter Eleanor, the Bookshop Detective, exit Dreary Deirdre.  Cue Daniel, waiting in the wings to support but something is troubling him. Is his ex-wife on the horizon?

Blow away the dust on Joshua’s books to reveal a ship. Can you see the ghost ship sailing in the distance and will this bring a bad omen?  Dim the lights as the ghost ship gets closer.  The characters present a tableau of the Victorian scenes.  But what happened to the poor boy who was flogged?  Can Eleanor’s investigation save the boy?  Why does someone think that Eleanor is ‘going to kill him?’

In a stage production, the actors would have to play many roles.  For instance, Erika and Deirdre could be the same actor, or could it be Erika and Daniel?  Could someone play the rock star and the vicar?  Surely Connie and Joyce could be the same actor.  Are there any clues here? You will have to read the book to find out.

I am getting carried away with this ‘detective lark’!  Jan Ellis is so clever at writing the dialogue that I became completely absorbed and wanted to be amid the drama.  Jan Ellis has skilfully woven the clues into the narrative.  I envied Eleanor’s knowledge and read the book greedily in one sitting.  I visited the bookshop, the fair and the parties so it was only right that I should be able to get involved in the investigation.

This book has been cleverly constructed so that it could be enjoyed without knowledge of Summer of Surprises and An Unexpected Affair.  However, I would recommend this delightful duo as a holiday read!  Begin at the beginning with An Unexpected Affair and let the drama unfold as you take a comfortable seat in the Reading Room. Jan Ellis is skilled at creating fun, engaging characters and drawing you into their world.

Jan Ellis

This novel presents a perfect escape: a cleverly constructed narrative.  What a brilliant idea to delve into the detective genre with the characters created in the romance genre -love it!

 

 

 

Click to buy on Amazon

 

Please read all my reviews on My Reading and my blog at jessiecahalin.com

Originally posted 2017-06-21 07:00:13.

Meeting Jane Austen

Today, I attended the Bennet household. Alas, Elizabeth was not at home. I was rather shocked to be greeted by her father, Mr Bennet. I did not see a servant.

Apparently, Mr Bennet had taken refuge from the house as there was a quarrel afoot. He was a pleasant enough fellow but a little shabby.

Finally, he asked the parlour maid to show me into the library. Strangely, every book on the shelves has been penned by a Jane Austen. I was most impressed with a book entitled, ‘Pride and Prejudice’.

I made a note of some words:

‘I declare there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than a book!…When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if it does not have an excellent library.’

Lost in Austen’s books, I read until the clock struck four and my stomach rumbled. Venturing into the corridor, surprised that the house was silent, I decided to depart.  A Miss Austen opened the door and insisted on my company. She informed me that Mr Bennet lives in her imagination, but he had been seen loitering on the doorstop on many occasions.

Amused by my breeches, Miss Austen invited me to take tea with her. She smiled when I explained they are cropped trousers. We sat in a very modest parlour.  The maid served tea and a buttered apple tart.  Delighted that her books had made me forget time, Miss Austen commented that. ‘…for my own part, if a book is written well, I always find it too short.’

This year marks the 200th anniversary of Jane’s death and her books remain popular.  It is a delight to own a beautiful copy of the books.  However, it never fails to amaze me that it is now possible to download the timeless stories for free.

 

Please see all my adventures at Handbag Adventures and my blog at jessiecahalin.com.

 A novel for Kate Middleton’s handbag

Emily Williams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emily came to visit the Chat Room on a rainy day in Wales. She was wearing a floaty, floral dress and a raincoat.  I noted that her bag was an overflowing brown, leather Fiorelli bag. Despite the rain, Emily was very cheerful and happy to talk about her book. Whilst bouncing her little baby daughter, Florence, on her knee Emily was also keeping one eye on her son, Elliot. The mischievous toddler was heading towards a pile of books, with a pen in his hand and a glint in his eye. After refocusing the children onto their colouring activities, and trying to stop Elliot drawing on his little sister, we settled down for a chat.

We drank tea and ate Welsh cakes, as we discussed Emily’s debut novel, Letters to Eloise.

Jessie:  Why did you decide to present the novel in a series of letters?

Emily: As a child, I always wrote letters as I loved to receive replies. We moved around a lot as children so I kept touch with friends and family by writing letters, ever hopeful of that reply. There is nothing more special than receiving a hand-written letter. My late grandmother loved writing letters to me and even in her nineties she would send them. It seemed the perfect way for Flora to write to her unborn child.

Jessie: Capture the essence of your book in a couple of sentences.

Emily: Letters to Eloise is the warm, witty, and heart-wrenching debut epistolary novel by Emily Williams. The novel is a love story of misunderstandings, loss, and betrayal but ultimately the incredible bond between mother and child.

Jessie:  You have received an incredible number of reviews.  Please read some extracts from the reviews.

Emily: Thank you. I have been so lucky to receive such lovely reviews.

At this point, Elliot was keen to show off his colouring so we paused to make another cup of tea. Emily took the opportunity to retrieve the reviews of her book.  It took some time as she has over fifty reviews.

‘It is a very emotional book. It’s utterly heart-breaking at times but, perhaps surprisingly, there is quite a bit humour in it too and it is also uplifting.’

‘What a beautifully written book. I enjoyed every page as the story unfolded. Sad at times but also uplifting – just like real life. Loved it.’

Emily Williams

‘I am so glad that I stumbled upon this book. I absolutely loved the entire thing. I’m a sucker for stories like this, stories about true love, and stories about the sacrifices we make for this love.’

Jessie: Have you got an extract from your book to tempt a reader?

Emily didn’t even need to read from the book, as she knew which words would hook the reader.

Emily: However, as soon as I saw that positive blue line seep along the window in the plastic casing of the pregnancy test, I knew you were the one to whom I will write my letters.

Jessie: How did you feel when you had finished writing your book, and did you miss any of the characters?

Emily: I really did miss the characters and still do. Parts of the story still come to me and the words play out in my mind. I became so immersed into the story over the four years that I wrote the book that it was really hard to let it go. It was very emotional for me to write, after been told that I couldn’t conceive. Then when I became pregnant, the words of the book had extra meaning for me.

I felt a mixture of sadness and elation when the book was finished. Then pure fear that I would never be able to write anything like that again!

Jessie: Who would you like to read your book and why? This could be another author, someone famous, a friend or a member of your family. 

Emily: I would love Kate Middleton to read my story. I would hope that she would connect to Flora, having had two children herself, and I would love to know her opinion as the story unfolds

Kate, if you’re listening, DM me and I will send you a copy!

Emily Williams

Jessie: Why should I keep your book in my handbag?

Emily: Letters to Eloise will connect with your soul after you read it (I hope). You’ll always want to keep the story close to your heart.

Jessie: What is the last sentence written in your writer’s notebook?

Emily: ‘I knew where he’d be; where he always was.’ This sentence is from my YA novel ‘The Subtle Art of Keeping a Racehorse. I mainly just have notes or mind-maps in the notebook rather than sentences but this is the last full sentence in the book

Jessie: What is the biggest challenge for an independent author?

Emily: The biggest challenge is being noticed in a sea of other equally fantastic authors. Writing quality is the first step but then finding readers willing to take to risk on an unknown author is very challenging.

I have been so lucky with the support of fantastic book bloggers and reviewers that have been so kind. I am hoping that one day I will succeed in getting my name known out there as an author but at the moment I am content when I receive the lovely reviews I have had for Letters to Eloise.

Jessie: What is the best advice that you have received as a writer?

Emily: Believe in yourself and never give up!

A little more about Emily…

Emily Williams is hard-working and driven to succeed. She is passionate about her writing: she has adored writing for as long as she can remember. She grew up wanting to write novels.  Fortunately, a career teaching enables her to inspire children to use their imagination and writing skills to develop their own stories. Emily is ever thankful to her own primary school teachers for instilling her passion in writing and is hoping she can do her little bit to pass this on.

Emily has far too many animals, but aims in life to buy a farm so she can have some more!

Emily is currently working on her next novel, whilst looking after two children, and host of small pets and suffering from a poorly wrist after a riding injury.

Best of luck to Emily with her debut novel, she has already received an impressive number of accolades.  Emily’s unique storytelling hooks the reader from the outset.  I am looking forward to her second novel. 

Read my review of Letters to Eloise on My Reading page.

 

Please see all my author interviews at My Guests and my blog at jessiecahalin.com.

Originally posted 2017-08-19 07:00:14.

My handbag is bursting at the seams

Check out my blog at jessiecahalin.com

Dear Authors,

My handbag is bursting at the seams…  

Thank you so much for the lovely review requests.

I have been overwhelmed with such lovely requests and have a long reading list for the next 6 months.

Authors work tirelessly to tell their stories, and the stories deserve to be sipped slowly, and savoured, like a good wine.  But don’t worry, I get drunk on words and not wine when I am reviewing!!!

You will find examples of my reviews on My Reading page at jessiecahalin.com/my-reading/

 

 

 

 

See the full details on my Review Requests page.

Check out my blog at jessiecahalin.com.

 

Jessie

@BooksInHandbag

Originally posted 2017-04-20 22:24:11.

A book stored in pocket between the sea and the sky

Keep Me Safe

Daniela Sacerdoti

I will place the lost souls in my handbag and KEEP THEM SAFE in a pocket between the sea and the sky.  Warning: this book will rouse romantic ramblings, inspired by the lyrical language of the book. 

 

The novel explores love and weaves a magic spell on the reader.  I will not give away the narrative, but it is a romance with a difference; it is a romance from a bird’s eye view.

 

Read the full enchanting review on My Reading.

 

Check out my blog at jessiecahalin.com

Originally posted 2017-04-15 07:00:10.

A little ray of sunshine in my handbag

Check out my blog at jessiecahalin.com

The sun always shines when you read a Moorcroft book! 

The sun just gets hotter and hotter ‘until any air has been too soaked in sunshine for relief’, and you feel, like Elle, as if you need an exhilarating swim to chase away the blues.

This is a great book to read, at any time; whether you are on holiday or just want a chance to escape a challenging week.

Read more of this review in My Reading.

 

 

Check out my blog at jessiecahalin.com

Originally posted 2017-04-08 11:56:13.