Coraggio (courage) in my handbag

Tuscan Roots

Angela Petch

 

 

 

 

 

On opening this beautiful book, I arrived in the ‘early morning sunshine at Perugia’, with Anna.  I sat back as she drove the Italian car and observed the way that the road ‘…cut its way through tobacco fields sprouting green shoots and [took] a mountain road joining Sansepolcro to Rimini.’  I admired the olive trees and waited as the ‘road climbed’.  It was impossible not to see the ‘lake glistening’ and to imagine the people sheltering in this setting during World War Two.

On arrival at Rofelle, I found my way through the tangle of ivy, listened to the river rushing past the stones and opened the large wooden door to the mill.   The paint was peeling, but the knocker of the lion’s head stood proud; as if to announce the courage of Davide, Ines and their parents.  I opened the door to enter the past, with Anna, through the letters and diaries.  It was wonderful to meet Anna’s mother, in the diaries, but painful to discover that her ‘heart began to shrivel a little each day…’ during her traumatic life.

I stopped at the mill ‘hidden in the folds of the Alps of the Moon, where the sun sets from the jewel red skies behind misted blue peaks.’ Anna’s mother once lived in a mill, and she explains ‘…the old building in ruins, crumbling into nothing seems to mirror what I am leaning of Mamma’s past.’ The Mill is ‘fragile’ and is a symbol of lost history and lost dreams that could be rekindled by the new generation.  Sitting on the steps to read the letters and diaries, I sensed the ‘breeze that dances on the river’.  Listening to the ‘sound of the river and distant sheep bells’, I could feel the loneliness of Ines. I am sure I heard the voices of the German soldiers who would have bathed there, and the whispers of the POWs and partisans hidden in the mountains.

I was completely spellbound by the characters and the clever structure of this novel.  ‘Tuscan Roots’ is a beautifully written novel examining cultural differences, the impact of war and the risks that ordinary people will take.  I was intrigued by the details of post war Britain, but wanted to stay in Italy. The contrast between the two settings and cultures reinforces Ines’ emotional landscape.  The patchwork of history and the present are sewn together effortlessly with Angela’s distinctive prose.  How much do we really understand about our grandparents and parents’ experiences?  Such a poignant message is presented:

‘We should not bury our memories, even if they are painful, even if mistakes were made in those times, which causes us anguish…we must learn from them.’

I discovered Anna’s history, trusted her observations and understood her pain.  I was very fond of the vulnerable, innocent Ines who demonstrated incredible bravery. The descriptions of the setting rooted me to the novel, and made me understand how it bound Ines to her homeland.  I pondered the way that a landscape can remain untouched throughout the generations but people leave clues about the place’s history.  The author examines how war changes circumstances and the simple things that we take for granted.  I was in awe of the people who made sacrifices for others during the war, in Italy. The romance of the setting presents the reader with the hope of love.  The romance in the novel is wonderful, natural and tender. Angela’s writing style is captivating.

The food prepared by the locals, in the Italian Apennines, transcends time and bridges the gap between the generations.  I enjoyed ‘the stuffed zucchini flowers, little squares of crostini topped with spicy tomatoes, liver pate and a creamy relish made from dandelion flowers, roasted bay leaves topped with ovals of melted cheese.’  Food is prepared to celebrate feasts, to welcome people into the home, to celebrate family occasions and to woo.

This novel evokes the senses and leaves the reader firmly fixed in Tuscany.  Not the tourist’s Italy, but rural, down to earth Italy – ‘this landscape feels lived in’, and the author breathes life into ‘the ghosts from the past’.  The story of the POW and partisans provide another dimension to this story, and I was impressed with how this was skilfully woven into the story.

Read Tuscan Roots, and you will not want to leave the romantic beauty of ‘indigo blue mountains’, or the ruins of Il Mulino (The Mill).  You will be impressed with the bravery of the Italian community during the war, and you will not want to leave the blossoming romance. I highly recommend this book!

 

Please see all my reviews at Books in Handbag and my blog at jessiecahalin.com.

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

Now and Then in Tuscany

Angela Petch

 

 

 

 

 

‘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

 

Please see all my reviews at Books In Handbag and my blog at jessiecahalin.com.

 

Dutch War Secret in my Handbag

Do you know the Dutch built a village for the Jewish community in World War Two?  Imogen Matthews tells the inspirational story in ‘The Hidden Village’.  She has written to her readers to explain more about the forgotten history and to introduce her dramatic extract.

Dear Readers

I’m so pleased to tell you about ‘The Hidden Village’, my novel set in WW2 Holland, deep in the Veluwe woods. It’s a story about survival, hope, despair, and ultimately, love, as a community pulls together to build a purpose-built village to shelter those persecuted by the Germans. The lives of young Sofie, Jan and Liesbeth become entwined with devastating consequences for their future.

About half-way through the book, Jan and his brother, Oscar, are arrested by the Gestapo for helping a fallen American pilot. This extract describes what happens after their terrifying journey in the back of the Nazis’ vehicle.

I chose this extract because it represents a dramatic turn in the story and shows how ruthless the Germans could be towards the Dutch people, even children.

I hope this extract will tempt you to read the book.  I am delighted to present more context about the novel.

Best wishes

Imogen Matthews

 

Extract

‘Is this a prison?’ he whispered to Oscar, who stood, white-faced, next to him.

‘It’s a police station but there are cells through that door,’ said Oscar.

‘They’re going to lock us up?’

‘Looks like it.’

Jan wished Oscar could be a bit more encouraging.

It was their turn next and they went up to the desk together.

‘Name,’ said the man behind the desk without looking up.

‘Oscar Mulder and Jan Mulder,’ said Oscar.

‘One at a time.’

‘We’re brothers. He’s only eleven,’ said Oscar.

Jan pushed close against him.

The man lifted his gaze for a brief moment, before going back to his form. After a short pause, he pulled out another from a pile and wrote Jan’s name in capitals across the top, followed by a line and a squiggle Jan couldn’t read.

Jan decided to let Oscar answer the questions. When he’d finished, they were both led by the smirking SS-er to the door leading to the cells. Again a feeling of panic rose from Jan’s abdomen at the prospect of being separated from his brother. They were marched along an echo-y corridor lined with closed doors. Jan had to break into a trot to keep up. At the end was a metal door that needed four keys to open it.

Jan and Oscar didn’t need telling. They walked through and the door swung back behind them with a decisive clang.’

 

More about the Novel

Deep in the Veluwe woods lies a secret that frustrates the Germans. Convinced that Jews are hiding somewhere close by, they can find no proof.

The secret is Berkenhout, a purpose-built village of huts, many underground, sheltering dozens of persecuted people.

Henk Hauer, head woodman, is in charge of building of underground huts and ensuring the Berkenhout inhabitants are kept safe, But could his friendship with certain German soldiers endanger the very existence of Berkenhout?

Sofie, a Jewish Dutch girl, is one of the first inhabitants of Berkenhout. At first she refuses to participate in village life and pines for her friends and family. But she realises there is no choice and comes to appreciate the support of the local community who make their survival possible.

Young tearaway, Jan, finds the woods an exciting place, but they pose danger from the patrolling German soldiers. His discovery of Donald, an American pilot, changes everything.

The Reviews

Ms E. Holmes-ievers: “From the first chapter you are engaged with the characters and I even found myself warning them when they were due to be raided – OUT LOUD! Sensitively written, with a page-turning plot, this is a wonderful new book from Imogen.”

Gilly Cox: “This skillful blend of fiction within the factual events happening to many at those times, holds you till the end. I couldn’t put it down, nor did I want to until the final page.”

Clarky: “Though the subject matter is tough, there are lighter moments and the book rattles along at a good pace. The varied cast of characters, especially the younger ones, keeps your interest. Highly recommended.”

The Characters

This was a story I felt I had to get down, so when I’d finished I was pleased I’d told a story that so many people won’t have known anything about. It left a big hole as I’d spent so long on the book and I realised just how attached I’d become to my characters.

I miss Sofie’s feistiness and determination not to let her life change by hiding away from the Germans. And I miss her best friend Liesbeth, who sticks by Sofie through thick and thin, even though she also has to make her own big sacrifices. I even miss the enigmatic Henk, the head woodman, who’s instrumental in getting the hidden village built, but struggles with his loyalties. I particularly miss Jan, who’s always getting into scrapes but is only trying to help others and do good. He goes through so much that I just want to give him a big hug and tell him that everything will turn out alright.

The Author

My Dutch heritage has shaped me and influenced the writing of this novel, which is set in the woods where my family and I have cycled for the past 27 years.

This is a story about events in WW2 that hardly anyone knows about. Once you start reading The Hidden Village you’ll be gripped and won’t want to let the book out of your sight!

The Hidden Village’ is a bestseller in the US with over three hundred reviews.  The novel explores wartime Holland and asks: Who can you trust?  You can read my review of this book at……

Imogen re-visited the setting of the novel and has mailed an article to Books in my Handbag Blog.

 

Please see all my extracts at Book Extracts and my blog at jessiecahalin.com.

 

A psychologist needed for my handbag

Letters to the Pianist

S. D. Mayes

 

 

 

 

 

Introducing S.D. Mayes and her debut novel – ‘Letters to the Pianist’

 

About the book

‘A Family Torn Apart. A Past They Can’t Escape.’

After their home is bombed in the London blitz, a chance connection brings the broken Goldberg family back together, but delivers rebellious and overweight Ruth Goldberg, into the hands of a murderer.

Letter from the author…

Dear readers,

I am delighted to present an extract from my new 1940s suspense novel, ‘Letters to the Pianist’.

This extract is taken from a third of the way into the story, when the pianist, Edward Chopard – a man with no memory of life before the London Blitz – is in New York, preparing to play a concert at Carnegie Hall. His good friend, psychologist Dr Oliver Jungston, has taken a sabbatical to help him on his concert tour.

This gives you a snapshot of the central theme of the story … how the protagonist, Edward is driven to make sense of the confusing events that are happening to him, as he attempts to discover who he really is.

Enjoy,

S.D. Mayes

Extract

The hospital psychologist Dr Oliver Jungston explains to his patient, Edward, about his troubled visions and the chance events unfolding in his life. 

‘These connections … the young boy, the blonde, the London Hospital, your lunch with John the chance meeting with the redhead, even our conversation right now – they are known as meaningful synchronicities.’

Edward looked baffled, rubbing his chin.

‘To explain, Jung’s philosophy is based on the principle that life is not a series of random events, but rather an expression of a deeper order, referred to as Unus mundus, Latin for one world or one energy. A meaningful coincidence occurs from a conscious or unconscious need, want or desire, that draws the observer and the connected phenomenon together through Unus mundus. Listen to me, Eddie,’ he said, standing up and waving his arms around like a conductor of an orchestra, ‘it’s all good.’

‘So you don’t think I’m slowly going insane?’

‘Not at all. These coincidences reveal a deeper realisation that something more powerful is at work. In short, the unconscious you, has brought about a chain of events so that you can rediscover your past. Your soul is pushing you to confront your emotional history.’

‘Hmm, sounds a bit mystical.’

‘Well, in a way it is. Jung believes these meaningful synchronicities direct us back to our spiritual nature.’ Oliver gazed into the distance. ‘There are links in every living thing. We magnetise them to us. There are no accidents.’

What the reviewers say…

‘Letters to the Pianist has a gripping and multi-layered plotline’ – The Daily Mail

‘Exceptional and unique … will remain with me for a very long time’ – Booklover Catlady

‘Mayes has written a masterpiece. Savour the words and let the pages turn themselves’ – John Winston, award winning author

‘This was an incredibly atmospheric novel that brilliantly depicted the effects of ww2 – loss, fear, grief, helplessness, poverty, evacuations and separations; whilst also being a very suspenseful and thrilling story. Detailing horrific acts committed against Jews – the torture made me somewhat uncomfortable – and conspiracies regarding the war.
I utterly loved the way this was written. It was immensely rich with descriptions and added great depth to the characters. The words flowed beautifully and created a vividly imaginable story, wholly capturing the ambience of war. The multiple POVs also gave an insight on the characters’ circumstances, thoughts and emotions.’ – Svetlana’s review

S.D.Mayes worked as a journalist for nearly twenty years before turning her hand to fiction. Originally from the West Country, she has one daughter and currently lives in Berkshire, United Kingdom.

The best of luck to S.D.Mayes with the unique and intriguing novel.

 

Please see my blog at jessiecahalin.com

Celebrating a slice of Italian history in my handbag

Angela Petch is an author of historical fiction, and she has written two wonderful novels set in Tuscany.  I completely lost myself in both novels. ‘Tuscan Roots’ and ‘Now and Then in Tuscany’ are based on her research into her husband’s family and his family’s region.  Angela and her husband live in Tuscany for six months of the year, thus her novels are written in the heart of the setting and culture. Angela’s intelligent and vivid style of writing is perfectly balanced with cultural and historical information. 

The ebooks of ‘Tuscan Roots’ and ‘Now and Then in Tuscany’ have been snapped up by Endeavour Press.  Angela has published short stories in People’s Friend and PRIMA magazine, and she won the Ip-Art short story award in 2008.

I simply adore Angela’s books and feel as if I have discovered a writer whose work will become classics.  I asked her to introduce the extract of ‘Tuscan Roots’ to prevent me from waxing lyrical for pages and pages. 

Cari lettori (Dear Readers),

It is 1944 and in a remote corner of German-occupied, war torn Italy. Ines, an eighteen year old Italian country girl is helping the partisans hide an escaped British POW. Meeting this young man will change her life forever.

There are two time threads weaving through “Tuscan Roots” and this extract from the story set in the past introduces Ines and Norman – two main protagonists. The diary extract is being read by her daughter, years later.

Saluti,

Angela

Presenting the extract:

“Rofelle, September 8th 1944

The inglese was still asleep on the planks above the cows. The nights were chilly and the animal warmth and dry hay made a comfortable bedroom – much better than mine. I have to share with nonna and she kicks and tosses at night. She snores like the pig we used to fatten for Christmas. There have been no pigs this year. The Germans have ‘requisitioned’ ours and everybody else’s in the area. ‘Pigs eating pigs,’ we muttered amongst ourselves.

Signore,’ I whispered.

There was no response. His face was long and pale, blond curls fell over his forehead which was bound with a dirty cloth. Blood had oozed and crusted onto the material. He was like a big baby.

Signore!’ I said it louder this time. There was still no response. I put the bowl of pasta down and gently shook him.

He opened his eyes, shouted and grabbed me round the neck. I pummelled him with my fists, I could hardly breathe. ‘Let me go, leave me alone!’ I shouted.

And then he recognised where he was and dropped his hands from round my neck. ‘Scusi, scusi. Sorry, signorina.

‘You nearly knocked over the food.’

I was shaking and rubbed my neck. His grip had hurt me. The cows below seemed to sense something was wrong and they mooed and stamped their hooves.

(Extracted from Ines’ diary. Chapter 10 “Tuscan Roots”)

More words about the book from Angela:

Tuscan Roots’ is a story of two women living in two different times. In 1943, in occupied Italy, Ines Santini’s sheltered existence is turned upside down when she meets Norman, an escaped British POW. In 1999, Anna Swill and, their daughter, starts to unravel accounts from assorted documents left to her after her mother’s death. She travels to the beautiful Tuscan Apennines, where the story unfolds. In researching her parents’ past, she will discover secrets about war, her parents and herself, which will change her life forever…

What do the reviewers say about ‘Tuscan Roots’?

It is indeed noteworthy that the ‘Tuscan Roots’ has received over fifty reviews!

“A wonderful read – it is a great combination of a true account and fiction that I truly couldn’t put down” (Elizabeth Pepper – Amazon) ;

Tuscan Roots is so much more than a literary take on ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ with its credibly fleshed-out characters, glimpses of life in war-weary occupied territory and dreary post-war London and a plot that keeps you on your toes but is never too convoluted – it’s a love letter to Tuscany.” – Ingenue Magazine. ;

“The way Angela has managed to capture in great detail the amazing natural beauty of this area and the culture of the Tuscan people is incredible.” Amazon Reviewer.

“If you love Italy, you will love this book. If you love history, this novel will show you an aspect of WW2 you may well not have encountered before. Angela Petch brings Tuscany to life; the customs, the people – you can taste the food, smell the wild flowers, see the scenery.” Amazon reviewer

Angela is a natural writer and describes herself as a ‘little bit nosey and always looking for stories’.  This piqued my interest and made me wonder how she had managed to weave such a beautiful story.

The inspiration behind ‘Tuscan Roots: A tangle of love and war in the Italian Apennines’

Tuscan Roots’ is my first novel and I wrote it for my lovely Italian mother-in-law who was ill at the time. She helped me with so many stories from her own life and allowed me to use them. I hasten to add that, although much of the book is factual and based on research, some of the story is fiction.  I missed the characters and so I wrote a sequel so I could mix with them again. Some of the main characters make a reappearance in “Now and Then in Tuscany” and …I am currently working on the third part of my Tuscan trilogy and the younger characters will tell their stories in this.

I cannot wait for the third novel in this series!

See my review of Tuscan Roots.

Angela’s contact detail:
Website: https://angelapetchsblogsite.wordpress.com
Twitter:@Angela_Petch
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AngelaJaneClarePetch/
Email:angela_maurice@hotmail.com

 

Please see all my extracts at Book Extracts and my blog at jessiecahalin.com.

 

Enigmatic Dual-Time Guernsey novel in my handbag 

Anne Allen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having departed from a grey, rainy day in London, it was a thrill to arrive in Guernsey.  A blue sky greeted me in Guernsey, and the cool breeze was refreshing.  A taxi took me to the quaint St Peter’s Port. I met Anne at The Old Government House Hotel, a cosy homely hotel with spectacular views.  Looking around, I tried to imagine how the building may have been used by the Germans, during World War Two.  My imagination slipped into scenes presented in novels and I shivered.  Fortunately, Anne greeted me, and her charming, sunny disposition and instantly brought me back to the present.

I wore my jeans and green Ralph Lauren jacket, while Anne wore jeans and a gorgeous grey leather jacket and carried a tan leather handbag. My green leather bag was crammed full of my notebook, kindle and snacks for the journey.  We sat in two comfortable brown leather armchairs, near a beautiful piano.  The room was cosy, despite the glamorous chandeliers twinkling above us. Unfortunately, there was no sign of the Renoir painting like the one found in Anne’s novel.  We chatted happily as we waited for the tea.  Grabbing Anne’s latest novel, ‘The Betrayal’, from my handbag, I asked Anne to tell me more.  

Jessie:  This is a beautiful place and it is difficult to imagine how Guernsey when it was occupied by the Germans.  Please, tell me more about your novel.

Anne: ‘The Betrayal’ is two intertwined stories; the first focusing on Leo, who loses everything in the German Occupation of Guernsey. The second concerns Fiona, who sixty years later, becomes caught up in what happened to Leo after the mysterious find of a Renoir in a Guernsey basement.

Jessie:  Where did you get the inspiration for your narrative in ‘The Betrayal’?

Anne: From two historical events that took place in Guernsey. The first was Renoir’s visit in 1883, when he stayed for a few weeks and painted numerous local scenes; in particular Moulin Huet on the south coast. These paintings are quite well-known and at least one is in a major museum. The second event was the forced deportation of Jews from Guernsey – and Jersey – by the Germans to concentration camps during WWII.

Jessie:  German occupation must have been terrifying for the inhabitants.  I look forward to reading your novel to capture a sense of the atmosphere.  Can you read an extract from the novel?

Anne removed her novel from the coffee table and selected a passage instantly.

Anne: ‘His heart lurched, hating to see her like this. Before he could say anything, she went on, ‘I can’t leave you here on your own, Leo. Anything might happen to you if…if the Germans do come.’

Jessie:  Great choice!  You build up the tension and make me want to read more.  Indeed, the passage is also anchored by the enigmatic front cover. I was searching for your reviews on the plane and found the following:

“To sum up, this is a wonderful novel, with tons of pace where pace is needed, and a setting so lovingly described, it is almost a character in the book. I am happy to recommend this story, in fact, all of them, to anybody who enjoys a well-plotted mystery populated with convincing and always credible characters.” A ‘Wishing Shelf’ Book Review

Anne found some Amazon reviews on her phone.

Anne:

“I just finished the book–could hardly put it down! Another winning story from Anne with history, romance and intrigue” Amazon review 5*

“Really enjoyed this book. I almost didn’t put it down. Wonderful twists and turns with a lot of wonderful descriptions of Guernsey” Amazon Review 5*

Jessie:  Having seen the wonderful setting via the plane.  Could you read your description of the setting?

Anne:  The warm sunshine felt good and deep breaths of salty air soon had her striding out towards Moulin Huet Bay. The yellow flowers of the gorse, shading pink campion and yellow celandine, made a bright contrast against the deep green of the grass and Fiona felt her spirits lift a little. Cliff walks had played a large part in her childhood and youth. Her parents considered them an integral part of the weekends and school holidays. They always started from Soldiers Bay, within easy reach of their home in Colborne Road. The path led them close to Blue Bell Wood, a delightful sea of blue in spring and one of Fiona’s favourite places.

Jessie:  The setting is wonderful and does ‘lift my spirits.’.  I adore a book where you feel transported to the time and place.  I can understand why Renoir was inspired to paint in Guernsey. I notice the novel is part of a series.  How does ‘The Betrayal’ fit into the Guernsey Series?

Anne:  All six books in The Guernsey Novels series are standalone stories but they share characters who featured in previous books. It’s like reading about a small town, when people know each other and turn up when needed. Each book has fresh main characters to add to the mix and to prevent readers becoming bored! My ‘fans’ tell me they love recognising characters from previous books in the series, making them feel at home

Jessie: How did you feel when you had finished writing ‘The Betrayal’, and did you miss any of the characters?

Anne: Relieved – and exhausted! It had taken me months longer than anticipated to finish but I was pleased with the result. Characters do get under your skin and I miss Fiona and Michael in particular. The joy of writing books in a series is that characters can pop up again, so it might be au revoir not goodbye.

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. 

Anne: I would be honoured if Barbara Erskine, the writer of so many wonderful time-slip books, would deign to read my humble offerings. Any words of advice and/or encouragement from her would be gratefully received.

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

Anne: It’s a page-turner and with short chapters, so easy to pick up and read when you have a moment to spare.

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

Anne: “Leopoldine drowned with her husband, aged 19, in September 1843.” For my next book, ‘The Inheritance’, set partly around Victor Hugo’s time in Guernsey.

Jessie: What is the biggest challenge for an author?

Anne: Getting noticed by potential readers. There are millions of books available to choose from these days making it almost impossible for an unknown writer to be noticed in the crowd. Now I have a series of six books to my name, it’s becoming a little easier.

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

Anne: To write as if for myself, not to worry if anyone will ever read my words.

More about Anne…

…Anne is a retired psychotherapist who finally got the chance to write when her three children flew the nest.
… loves history and exploring old houses, visiting places of archaeological interest on her travels.
…won a holiday to The Gambia early this year and had a wonderful time.

The enigma and setting of ‘The Betrayal’ left me wanting more, and I was delighted to receive a copy of the novel. I look forward to travelling back to Guernsey via the novel. 

Following the interview, Anne took me on a tour of St Peter’s Port.  The cobbled streets greeted us as we walked towards the gardens.  It is no surprise that this port has been deemed one of the prettiest ports. We walked to George Road, the lodging house where Renoir stayed during his visit to Guernsey.

 

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

 

A stolen painting in the pocket of my large handbag

Popular author, Anne Allen, released ‘The Betrayal’, on 22nd October.  ‘The Betrayal’ is the sixth book in the Guernsey Series.  Anne Allen has kindly selected an exclusive extract for Books in my Handbag.  The dual-time novel unfolds in the present day and during World War Two.  It is set against the backdrop of the German deportation of the Jewish community, in Guernsey, and involves a stolen Renoir painting. 

Treachery and theft lead to death – and love. 

‘The Betrayal’ is tense, powerful and spellbinding.

Anne will introduce her new novel, present an extract and tell you more about the intricate narrative.

Dear Readers,

I am delighted to present my latest in the Guernsey Novels series, ‘The Betrayal’.

This extract is from the beginning of the book and is the prelude to the modern part of the story, giving you a taste of the tension throughout the book.

Keep a copy of the book in your bag to dip into whenever you have a moment, you won’t regret it!

Happy Reading☺

Anne x

Presenting the extract:

Guernsey 2011

Something was wrong. The alarm didn’t blast out as he pushed open the back door of the shop. Standing still, he heard a noise. Someone was in the shop. Or more accurately, the basement. Nigel paused as he closed the door quietly behind him, his heart hammering against his ribs as he debated what to do. Whoever was in there knew how to disable a burglar alarm otherwise lights would be flashing and a discordant wail would be piercing the air. Best to shut them in the basement and call the police. Following the thought, he crept into the main shop, guided by the dim light coming through the rear window. His eyes adjusting to the dimness, Nigel tried to pick out the area where a rug should cover the trapdoor. For a moment he wondered who could have known about the basement, only discovered a few weeks before when they completed the renovations and replaced the flooring. Odd. And why the basement when the shop was full of valuable antiques?

Crouched at the edge of the hole, light from a torch casting shadows below, he was about to push the open door downwards when a hand snaked up and grabbed his arm.

More about ‘The Betrayal’…

Teresa Bichard and her baby are sent by her beloved husband, Leo, to England as the Germans draw closer to Guernsey. Days later they invade…

Leo, of Jewish descent, is betrayed to the Germans and is sent to a concentration camp, never to return.

Teresa returns to find Leo did not survive and the family’s valuable art collection, including a Renoir, is missing. Heartbroken, she returns to England.

Nigel and his twin Fiona buy a long-established antiques shop in Guernsey and during a refit, find a hidden stash of paintings, including what appears to be a Renoir. Days later, Fiona finds Nigel dead, an apparent suicide. Refusing to accept the verdict, a distraught Fiona employs a detective to help her discover the truth…

Searching for the true owner of the painting brings Fiona close to someone who opens a chink in her broken heart. Can she answer some crucial questions before laying her brother’s ghost to rest?

Who betrayed Leo?

Who knew about the stolen Renoir?

And are they prepared to kill – again?

What do the reviewers think of ‘The Betrayal’?

‘I am a huge fan of Anne Allen’s Guernsey series in which various locations are lovingly described. With the ‘suicide’ of her twin brother, this book has an orally different feel as Fiona tries to get to the bottom of it. With an undiscovered Renoir and links to WW2 this book has a much darker feel to it.’ Julie Ryan

‘Great characters and of course a love connection with a happy ending.’ Karen’s World

‘Having read Anne’s last book, Echoes of Time, I couldn’t wait to read her latest, and I wasn’t disappointed. The novel alternates between WW2 and 2011 and is set on the beautiful island of Guernsey. The Betrayal features twins, Fiona and Nigel, who discover a Renoir within the walls of their antique shop in 2011. When Nigel is found dead, and suicide is suspected, Fiona refuses to believe that her brother would end his own life and she sets out to uncover the truth. Unravelling the mystery will carry her on a journey back to 1940, and to the dark days of the German Occupation and the deportation of Jews.’ S. Charlton

And finally…

A late-comer to writing, Anne was a psychotherapist in a previous life.   Readers are lucky that Anne decided to tell her stories. Anne admits her characters do get under her skin and she misses Fiona and Michael, in particular. I look forward to discovering more about the characters and solving the mysteries presented by this delicious time-slip novel.

You can find out more about Anne Allen here.

 

Please see all the specially chosen extracts at Book Extracts and my blog at jessiecahalin.com