It seems only a little whole ago that a good friend to the shop was introducing us to her remarkable talent and her new book, Little Green Shoots.
Now Jenny Henderson has delivered her latest book to Cotswold Bookstore. Called Four in the Fifties, it has nothing to do with Enid Blyton's Famous Five after the death of poor Timmy, but is a nostalgic look at a childhood in the 50s and 60s. In fact, the full title is Four in the Fities, Seven in the Sixties.
Her jacket blurb - 'It will enthral anyone who can recall the excitement of steam trains, the steamy whirl of washday, of 'Listen with Mother' by cosy coal fires and the safe structured, daily routine of those times.' describes this illustrated book perfectly.
Priced at only £10.99, at our store, £1.00 of which Jenny will donate to the BBC Children in Need Appeal, it is the perfect companion to Little Green Shoots and a perfect gift for anyone who remember such times.
We are pleased to see that the new jacket on Just Henry conveys so much more than the original.
The coils of film and the blurred running children on the earlier cover made it look more like a ghost story to me. What do you think?
Though I'm very pleased that Just Henry is to appear on television (Sunday 18th - pay attention!) I always saw it as a serial. It is a real page turner. A gripping piece of story telling that kept at least two of our customers up ALL night reading it. As a serial, the wait till next weeks episode would have had the nation talking (and sold us lots of books!)
Michelle Magorian herself mailed us recently and here is part of her mail -
The film is a flavour of the book. The script writer, a lovely and experienced writer was basically asked to write a 90 minute drama from a 700 plus page book. I try to explain to people that it's rather like asking a composer to write a short arrangement based on a symphony for less instruments and then put his own creative input into it to make it hang together as a new piece of work. I tell people that they're both related and both different but that I hope people will enjoy them both in different ways.
I just hope that the 'Flavour' is a tasty one as it's a terrific book.
Here's a new book that we have been enthusing about, Lost Christmas by David Logan, and that too is to be on television. And on the same night too. Starting at 5.30 on Sunday 18th December on BBC 1, it runs right up to the start of Just Henry (see previous 2 posts).
Hope you don't mind me repeating our recent review.
Lost Christmas by David Logan Hardback at £8.99 When 11 year old Richard (or Goose, as he is known), hides his Dad’s car keys, a chain reaction of disasters occur. Now jump forward one year. Goose is living with his Nan, who we first meet trying to cook the Christmas Turkey in the washing machine. She suffers from Alzheimer’s but Goose dare not tell people how bad she is for fear of ending up in a home as his parents are both dead. His father’s best friend, Frank, fences goods that Goose steals but tries to look out for him. It is Frank who first comes across Anthony, a stranger who quotes facts like The Guinness Book of Records and seems to know an unusual amount about everyone he meets, more, indeed, than he knows about himself. A stolen bangle, a missing letter, Goose’s dog and a family drifting apart after the death of their daughter are all linked by the stranger’s knowledge and one by one, he brings them and Goose together in a moving story. Described in one review as ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ meets ‘Shameless’ this is an uplifting and frequently funny tale of ‘What if’ with a Christmas theme. Though billed as a book for youngsters, adults should not miss this one. (An ideal pressie for a youngster if you can borrow it later!) (Now being filmed starring Eddie Izzard)
Just Henry by Michelle Magorian
Paperback at £7.99
(Televised on Sunday 18th December 7pm ITV 1)
This book starts in late 1949 and fourteen year old Henry lives with his mother, stepfather, little stepsister and his Grandmother. Henry knows his father died a hero and ‘Uncle Bill’ does not match up in his eyes, nor in Gran’s. There is conflict enough at home without the new teacher taking against Henry, yet he seems friendly to the two boys that everybody else ignores. However, slowly Henry’s eyes are opened to truth after truth till a photo that he has taken turns his world upside down.
This was one of the most gripping and enjoyable books for youngsters that I have read. To write a children’s book that is more than 700 pages long takes some doing. However, to make sure that the reader is captivated for every one of those pages is a tremendous achievement. The author here populates her book with distinct and clearly defined characters which young readers will come to regard as friends - but not everyone in the book can be depended on. It is the gradual resolution of one mystery after another that involves both Henry and the reader in this terrific tale. The plot moves from one puzzle to the next with obvious care and simplicity so that, despite its length, the story is over all too soon.
For the younger reader, there is much social history on subtle display. How attitudes to divorce and single mums have changed! For a reader who remembers the period, it is a luxurious wallow in forgotten memories such as Saturday morning picture shows, the launch of the Eagle comic and references to the films of the time. For all, it is a heart warming, engrossing read.
It is ten years since the last book by Michelle Magorian. This superb book justifies the wait and though it was written for youngsters, adults are among its biggest fans.
The above was our review for Just Henry on its publication. I then went out of my way to read some of her other books and can highly recommend them. A favourite is A Little Love Song. A must for all young girls!
We are delighted to see that a book we have championed for the past three years is to be on television.
Many of you will have a copy of Just Henry by Michelle Magorian and a lucky few may have one of the limited edition signed copy hardbacks that we grabbed when it first came out in 2008.
Michelle is the author of Goodnight Mr Tom and, like that novel, Just Henry is rich in history (1949) and character. The youngsters in her book will soon seem like old friends and you'll be tempted to start again, when you come to the end.
If you haven't read it and want to do so before the showing on TV (7pm ITV 1 on Sunday 18th December), we have copies in stock, but be quick. With this good news, they may be in short supply.
I'm afraid we've done a silly billy thing. Somehow, despite the certain knowledge that one of the most sought-after books this Christmas will be the paperback edition of Justin Thyme, we have managed to run out of it completely.
Therefore, to reduce the disappointment, we have decided to cut the price of the hardback by £2.00 bringing it a little closer to the price of the paperback.
The hardback, from now till the New Year, will be £10.99 (the paperback is £7.99).
The hardback edition will make a super Christmas present (especially if combined with the amazing sequel, Thyme Running Out, at £12.99)!
Meanwhile, the secretive author, Panama Oxridge, is busy writing the third book in this amazing sequence. However, we are not quite sure what century he is in, right now, so he may have finished it or perhaps he's not started it yet. Time travel can be very confusing.
I have just set up a Games Workshop blog for those interested in our new venture.
It goes under the name of Mygamesworkshopmim.blogspot.com
and will develop over the coming months into a news sheet for GW at Cotswold Bookstore, a diary of what models I've been toying with and, perhaps, some photos of models belonging to some of our customers.
So, if you have a few models you'd like to see on our blog, drop in and talk to Tony.
It's nearly December and the December issue of White Dwarf is with us.
Note that we still have a few copies of the October (Dreadfleet) and November (Necrons) issues but they will have to be returned next weeek.
If you've missed them, call in soon.
I will soon be setting up a separate blog for our Games Workshop section of the shop with news of how I'm getting on with my attempted mastery of the brush and paint pot, with pics of models that are shown us and news of anything new in the shop.
I'll link it from the shop blog so that you can find it easily and will let you know the blog name, soon.
The December issue has 'An exciting Dreadfleet Campaign booklet inside' plus some new Citadel Finecast VEMs (Very ugly monsters)
Recently the Bookseller's Association ran a prize draw and we were lucky enough to have one of our customers win.
I'll rephrase that. Not just one of our customers but one of our FAVOURITE customers. All three of us agreed that the £100 book token couldn't have gone to a nicer person.
Jean Barlow is one of our regulars and it is typical of her that she spent the whole hundred pounds on presents for some of her friends.
Here she is receiving the £100.00 book token from David. As you can see, she is a fan of The Fight for Fordhill Farm by Ben and Charlotte Hollins and Nicky Ross. The other book she wanted in great numbers was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann ShafferandAnnie Barrows.
Lost Christmas by David Logan
Hardback at £8.99
When 11 year old Richard (or Goose, as he is known), hides his Dad’s car keys, a chain reaction of disasters occur.
Now jump forward one year. Goose is living with his Nan, who we first meet trying to cook the Christmas Turkey in the washing machine. She suffers from Alzheimer’s but Goose dare not tell people how bad she is for fear of ending up in a home as his parents are both dead. His father’s best friend, Frank, fences goods that Goose steals but tries to look out for him.
It is Frank who first comes across Anthony, a stranger who quotes facts like The Guinness Book of Records and seems to know an unusual amount about everyone he meets, more, indeed, than he knows about himself. A stolen bangle, a missing letter, Goose’s dog and a family drifting apart after the death of their daughter are all linked by the stranger’s knowledge and one by one, he brings them and Goose together in a moving story.
Described in one review as ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ meets ‘Shameless’ this is an uplifting and frequently funny tale of ‘What if’ with a Christmas theme.
Though billed as a book for youngsters, adults should not miss this one. (An ideal pressie for a youngster if you can borrow it later!)
(Now being filmed starring Eddie Izzard)
Kindly Caroline, from the Gloucestershire Echo, recently ask us for a few words on the paper book v the e-reader debate. Here's what they got -
David Whitehead and I have run the Cotswold Bookstore in Moreton-in-Marsh for the past ten years and not surprisingly, do not always agree. (You should here us on the correct way of sharpening a pencil!) Certainly, on the future of the ‘real book’ when under increasing attack by e-readers, we have different views.
His opinion is optimistic. He believes that this new gadget, the Kindle, in most cases, will be taken up with initial enthusiasm but will soon be discarded, and paper books returned to. Perhaps the e-reader will be revived in time for the next summer holiday (and don’t forget your charger!) but a paperback in the hotel foyer may look much more interesting. The Kindle, with its new lower price, may well be a popular Christmas gift but may even result in introducing more people to the joys of reading. He also points out that the e-reader cannot duplicate everything the ‘real book’ has to offer. Colour pictures for instance. The larger books such as art books and those on photography will also continue in paper form as will many books for younger children.
My view is very different for, if the present e-book is seen as a major threat to paper books, think how the future e-book will compare. It will have colour images, an inbuilt dictionary, an interactive index, a sound chip for the partially sighted and a dozen other features that are being designed as I type. Will the paper book still compete?
Of course the e-reader will still not replicate all the features of a book. You cannot loan your favourite read to a friend. You cannot make it a feature in your living room. It will not proclaim your interests to a visitor. However, all these aspects are those of habit and will soon be forgotten.
It is not the loss of the book itself that will change some of our lives, it will be the loss of the small, independent bookshop. In rural areas particularly, it is often a central meeting point, a place to see friends and exchange news. A place to deposit shopping while popping to the chemists. A place to sit awhile if the walk home is arduous. Even, in our case, a place to leave the dog while you go to the butchers!
Many will survive for a while. Those who own their premises and do not have to face escalating rent or those who diversify among them. There may be many ‘bookshops’ who make more money on coffee and cakes than they do on books. We have recently taken on Games Workshop models and games to widen our appeal. The future though, holds fewer bookshops than the present, and with the closure of many libraries too, there will be fewer places for children to sit quietly and look at a picture book, perhaps the biggest loss of all.
Of course, it is mainly the Internet and supermarkets which have all brought this about, but I think that the e-reader will have the final say and it could well be the most popular gift this Christmas. I naturally think I’m right about the pencils but I hope I’m wrong about e-readers.
Just arrived, mrather later than expected, the ninth of Lesley Cookman's 'Libby Sarjeant' murder mysteries, Murder at the Manor.
Lesley's books are similar in many respects to the Agatha Raisin books by our own best selling author, MC Beaton. There's a romantic element, a nice neat murder or three, plenty of laughs, larger than life characters and, of course, an involving mystery.
Usually Libby and her psychic sidekick, Fran, are found near their home village of Steeple Martin, in Kent, but in the new book they are off to Dorset after a murder at a writer's weekend. The authors present seem a rum bunch with pornography and 'Spank Monthly' being mentioned but Leslie does point out in her 'Acknowledgements' that real writer's are a much nicer bunch than those she portrays.
One of my favourite authors is Fantasy writer, Robin Hobb.
From the first book in The Farseer Trilogy, starting with Assassin's Apprentice I have enjoyed her work.
Right through another three trilogies, The Liveship Traders, The Tawny Man, The Soldiers Son and on into The Rain Wild Chronicles, she has maintained her high standards of plotting with sympathetic yet very human characters set in a totally believable landscape and social context.
Even the books written earlier under the name of Megan Lindholm were of interest and the pair comprising The Reindeer People and Wolf's Brother were already up to the Robin Hobb standard. Indeed, these are two of my favourites.
(Fans of Hobb may not be aware of these two, but I'm pleased to say that they are back in print and available at the shop)
So, where is all this leading? Right to her own comments on a con trick designed to take your money and disappoint you, apparently in her name.
When is Sci-fi not Sci-fi? When it's by Stephen King?
Stephen King has jumped genres in his latest though he seems, according to reviews I've read, to feel no compulsion to explain his time travel portal any more than did Edgar Rice Burroughs explain the portal that transported John Carter to Mars, 100 years ago.
(Film coming up on that, by the way. Shame it's Disney but you never know, they might not make a bad job of it)
Now if you want a really good explanation of Time Travel, look no further that Justin Thyme by 'Panama Oxridge'.
Hey! Don't stop reading. You may have read comments about JT on this site before but we have just discovered a small box of signed copies of the paperback. Only a few mind so if you want one, be in touch.
Back to Mr King. Some reviewers love it, others hate it, but it's flying out here. If you've read it - let us know what you think.
(Blackout, a Time Travel book by Connie Willis has received rave reviews and if you've not read The Time Traveller's Wife then you've missed a wonderful love story as well as great Sci-Fi.)
Well, here it is. Doesn't it look great. However, you can't have it yet!
We have a limited supply of the final book in the 'Inheritance Cycle' by Christopher Paolini so, if you want yours first thing on Tuesday morning, call in at the shop or phone us quickly. Some have already been put aside as advance orders.
With 850 pages, this massive and long awaited book will be snatched up.
The final confrontation with Galbatorix for Eragon and his dragon, Saphira.
And if you've missed this sprawling fantasy epic, start with Eragon which we have in stock.
'It's a Wonderful Life' is required viewing, in our household, every Christmas (along with the Alistair Sim version of 'A Christmas Carol, of course).
So, when I read the blurb on the back of this new book for youngsters, (It's a Wonderful Life' meets modern Manchester in this heartwarming story of an orphaned boy who meets a mysterious stranger on Christmas Eve) I had to have it in the shop.
I'll try squeezing it in with the three proof copies I've got and let you know what I think as soon as I can.
Of course, the line on the front saying 'Now a major film starring Eddie Izzard' might help it along.
Thanks to 'camden lock books' and 'The Bookseller' of course, an excellent article on the survival of the Independent Book Shop'. http://tinyurl.com/6j9qt42
It ends with a ten point list on the way ahead.
The one they've missed is, 'Have enough capital to start with so that you can buy your own premises, avoiding rent and overdraft charges'.
I like the point about running a bookshop as a hobby though. I'm sure that's what we're doing.
Now here's a light, amusing and intelligent read, just perfect for Christmas.
The Magic of Christmas by Trisha Ashley
Paperback at £6.99
Lizzie plans to leave her philandering husband, Tom, once son Jasper goes to college in a few months. However, Tom leaves her, permanently, by driving her car into a quarry. This sudden freedom doesn’t change her life as she continues cooking in competition with old flame Nick, writing her ‘Life in Recipes’ column and rehearsing for the traditional Mystery Play, that is until Tom’s girlfriends start turning up.
OK. This sounds very chic-lit but it is packed full of memorable eccentric characters and is very funny, very witty and has some particularly observant description that will make you laugh. It’s also delightfully personal, as if a friend had phoned to tell you of her day.
The perfect Christmas read, romance included.
If you want another opinion, give a look to - eyhttp://sbroadhurstreviews.blogspot.com/2011/10/magic-of-christmas-by-trisha-ashley.html?spref=tw
For my recent birthday, my sister from Perth, (down under) sent me a wonderful book. Apparently it's an Australian classic and I'd never come across it. Perhaps you all know all about it and think me an ignoramus for not doing so.
Called A Fortunate Life, it's the memoir of an amazing man, A.B. (Bert) Facey who was born in Australia in 1894. He was unable to read or write till well into adulthood and his story is told in very simple language yet his life was so full, the book is a real page turner.
Virtually abandoned as a young boy, he was passed from family to family, practically as a slave. He was beaten half to death by one man and carried those scars all his life. Surviving all this, he became tough and independent, virtually running farms by the time he was 12 and cattle driving across the outback at 14 (once getting lost in the bush for six days before being rescued by Aboriginal people). He worked with sheep, dug wells (and nearly died when one fell in on him) and was injured at Gallipoli and these are just a few of his many lives.
A quote on the blurb says - 'In Albert Facey's story we find a story of Australia.' and what a story!
For my Birthday, my thoughtful daughter in New Zealand (I have two thoughtful daughters, one here, one there) booked for me, two places at 'An Audience with Rob Caskie' at Ellenborough Park, near Southam. That's the Southam near Prestbury, by the way, not the one on the Chipping Norton road.
As my wife felt that the second ticket might be better used by someone who had an actual interest in military affairs, I took along Chris Stott, a good friend to all of us in the shop.
The building itself is is quite a sight as you can see on their web site http://www.ellenboroughpark.com/ and we were greeted by the highly efficient, Laura. Unfortunately there was a minor hiccough when a member of staff decided that Stott was pronounced Stoat and passed the word round so that everyone continued to call him Mr Stoat, all evening. I got away with Keats rather than Cats or possibly Coats.
There was a pay bar and the arrangement was for Chris to buy the first drink. When the young barman told Chris that the two glasses of orange juice that he was to pay for was priced at the very convenient round figure sum of £10.00, Chris paled, tottered a bit, but managed to stay upright. 'After all', he said later, 'We are to hear of the magnificent courage of the men of the 24th Foot surrounded by 4000 Zulu warriors. I could hardly turn tail at the sight of a £5.00 glass of orange juice.'
Rob Caskie, could be described as the South African version of Brian Blessed without the beard though he is almost certainly closer to sanity. He has a big booming voice and was soon entrancing the audience with details of the incredible courage of the men who fought against overwhelming odds for eight hours winning 11 VCs in the process. We learned, not only the story of the battle, but also what became of many of these young soldiers (average age 23) after the survivors returned home. He also told us of the weapons used (and I was glad to be in the second row, the club Rob was waving about seemed to come rather close to the heads of the audience members sitting at the front).
After his lecture,(delivered occasionally in the Zulu language) and a good round of applause from the thirty or so members of his audience, we were free to speak to the 'Corporal' who was dressed in the uniform as worn by the soldiers who fought that day. He had some of the rifles from the period and the throwing and stabbing spears of the Zulus. Again, a very knowledgeable fellow and very interesting to talk to.
Then, feeling like extras on the set of Downton Abbey, we were seated around a huge table and a grand meal was served. The theme was, of course, Welsh and Welsh Lamb and Welsh cakes came into it. I found myself sitting next to Douglas Bourne whose grandfather was the Colour Sergeant at Rorkes drift. (Played, in the film Zulu, by Nigel Green) Typically, he had never said anything about his exploits that day.
After an illuminating and entertaining evening, Chris and I were back in Moreton in Marsh at about midnight. However, the cost of his glass of orange juice was obviously very much in Chris's mind for he called in at the shop this morning and presented me with a carton of the stuff.
There was one thing I forgot to say on yesterday's post - we also stock White Dwarf.
That's the Games Workshop magazine containing advice on modelling, painting and gaming. It's a really useful monthly magazine. The photographs of some of the expertly painted miniatures, that appear every month,are incredibly detailed.
The models in the window have multiplied and on Wednesday, we hope to have representation from Warhammer 40,000.
However, just in case you are wondering - yes, we still are a bookshop and we'll soon be talking about books again.
And we still are a bookshop that loves dogs. This is Hector who called in on Sunday. He's a friendly hound but don't invite him in if you own a china shop. Bulls aren't in it.
Nice to meet you Hector (great name!) and thanks for bringing your folks in with you.
Finally we are up and running with our new (ad)venture. Cotswold Bookstore is now an official stockist of Games Workshop products.
We have taken quite a while to decide on this venture but we like to think that many of the customers for this product, may sometimes like to buy a book too.
Here's the new stand, full of Games Workshop games, miniatures and paints.
The three worlds are all represented, that's Warhammer, Warhammer 40,000 and Lord of the Rings.
Tony is a fan of the latter, though he's into modelling and painting, rather than the actual gaming.
Perhaps the prices are not visible in this photo, but we are extremely competitive, even with that minor competitor of ours - Amazon.
Here are some of Tony's Lord of the Rings models in our window display (top). The models below his have been loaned to us and assembled by Ben and painted by Mike. Thanks guys!
(Remember, click the pic for enlarged copy)
This is not just a game for children. Indeed, it would be the ideal hobby for kids and Dads to share. There's a big kid inside every Dad (or Granddad, in Tony's case) and we know a good few adults who are proud of their vast armies of Space Marines, Empire Cavalry or Uruk Hai.
Do pop in for a chat about this very social hobby and check out our prices. We even have a special spray-paint service for beginners. We'd also like to meet those experts among you for we could do with plenty of advice from the other side of the counter.
One last thing - If you would like to see YOUR painted Games Workshop models in our window and on this blog, do call in and show us them.
We had a very interesting visitor today. Ginny Williams-Ellis called in for a book but while in the shop she told us a bit about 'Read Easy'.
It's a scheme intended to help those with reading difficulties make that breakthrough that they couldn't manage earlier in life.
Apparently, about one in six people have difficulty with their reading so it is a much more common problem than many non-readers realise.
There's a new group being started, I believe based in Evesham.
There is a site at www.readeasy.org.uk and I expect there will soon be news of a local branch there. So, if you know anyone with this problem or would like to act as a volunteer, keep an eye on that address.
Instruments of Darkness by Imogen Robertson
Paperback at £6.99
This was a book which I received in the post from the author herself. Now, of course, I expect she has sent out more than one copy to the owners of book shops and that her main intention has been to improve her chances of selling copies. However, I presume we might have a mutual friend for with it, she had included a hand written letter addressed to, ‘Dear Tony’, hoping that I might enjoy her book. Well, Imogen, I certainly did.
Sir Hugh, second son of the Earl of Sussex, is not long returned from fighting in the American War of Independence, when a body is discovered on his land by his neighbour, the outspoken sea captain’s wife, Harriet Westerman. The reclusive Gabriel Crowther, an anatomist with an eye for detail, is soon dragged along by her into investigating the murder. It is obvious that there is a connection to the Earl for the murdered man has, on his person, a ring showing the Thornleigh arms but it is when a second murder occurs that suspicion falls on Hugh himself. Meanwhile, in a parallel story, the heir to the estate, who has married for love and has disowned his family, is also murdered in his London house. The bodies pile up and Harriet herself is also threatened. The already dizzy pace quickens through the riotous streets of London and more dramatic deaths to a grand finale in the blazing ruin of the great house.
This has a complex and dramatic Dickensian plot, wit borrowed from Austen, a dark love affair out of ‘The Turn of the Screw’ and a Bronte like ending yet it is fresh and inventive throughout. The mystery is a genuine one, the relationship between the outspoken Harriet and the rather dry Crowther is always entertaining and is often very funny. The characters are vividly described and more than one could have been an escapee from Copperfield or Bleak House (the author even uses a character’s name from Nicholas Nickleby) The contrasting settings of country houses and grand manners with the rabble in the streets of London during anti Catholic riots are both perfectly described, the one all manners and wit, the other foolishness and fear. In short, I was happy to receive this book from Impogen, and even happier to read it.
A thoroughly entertaining piece of work with two of the most interesting ‘detectives’ in fiction. I look forward to reading the next in the series, Anatomy of Murder, and we now stock both.
Thank you Imogen!
(There is a third 'Westerman and Crowther' novel, Island of Bones, due in the spring.)
Michelle Paver's 'Chronicles of Ancient Darkness' was a huge hit with our younger readers right from the first book, Wolf Brother. The quality of the series was confirmed when she won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize with the sixth in the series, Ghost Hunter. We 'reviewed' her adult title, Dark Matter, when it was in hardback a year ago but now it's a reasonably priced paperback, we thought more people aught to know about it.
When poverty forces Jack, a rather insular young man, to volunteer as one member of a three man team at an isolated weather station in the Arctic, he believes his main problem may be how to rub along with the other two who are of a different class and lifelong friends. However, it soon becomes apparent that there is another presence out there in the long northern night. When, because of an accident to one of his companions, he is left on his own, his nightmare begins and unlike Ghost Hunter, here it's not the ghost who is hunted, but Jack.
Told in diary form, this adult ghost story uses many tricks of the trade but uses them well. It has echoes of The Woman in Black in its claustrophobic isolation, but no harm there. It is its own story and expertly told by this author who knows the Arctic well.
The Very Picture of You
by Isabel Wolff
Paperback at £7.99
Though this is normally the sort of book I’d not pick up, when I received it as a proof, I decided to give it a go. I’ll confess that I quite enjoyed it.
Young, very single, Ella is a portrait artist who has painted many famous figures and commands a large fee. However, it is a portrait for her sister that causes her the biggest problem. The two main themes are this painting (of her sister’s future husband) and the unexpected and unwanted contact with her father who apparently deserted the family when Ella was still a child.
Though the central love story was given away by the blurb (don’t do that people!) and the truth about Ella’s missing father was rather telegraphed, it was the atmosphere of the portrait sessions that made this book enjoyable for me. The painting sessions and the conversations between sitters and artist seemed very real and I suspect that the author paints or spent many hours observing an artist at work.
A light, enjoyable, if predictable romance with a little more about it than some.
There are books that I would expect to enjoy. High fantasy (anything with a dragon or two, a few Elves, at least one wizard, of course, and a large and well described landscape). Science fiction too, often a bit more of a challenge. As are crime and espionage novels (I never know what's going on but I enjoy them). History too, especially military. I'm a sucker for a well told children's book too.
However, well down the list should be sagas about downtrodden widows mixing it with the toffs but I'm not going to miss out on my Downton Abbey fix any more than you are.
So, with the dangers to miners sadly in the news lately, we come to Netherwood by Jane Sanderson and what I thought of it -
This, the first in a new series, is a tale of two very different Yorkshire families a century ago, one headed by a miner, the other by Lord Hoyland, the mine owner.
Young, beautiful, Eve Williams, her devoted husband Arthur and their little family all spring to life from this book's earliest pages. Indeed, even the minor characters are solid, believable, well defined and great fun to meet.
Arthur works in Lord Hoyland's mines and earns little for long hours and dangerous work. The atmosphere of day-to-day living and survival for even these comparatively well treated families is made clear and hardship and hunger are always close by.
When Eve is widowed and faces ruin she finds that her skills as a baker are her salvation and, with a friend to help and encourage her, she soon finds her business catches the eye of more than just friends and neighbours.
Though Eve holds centre-stage with her friends and family, Lord Hoyland and his also star and both strands of the plot are told equally well. There seems little to challenge Eve’s rise ever upward to success and new love so this is a happy read, though not all those around her wish her well.
Light romance? Saga? Whatever. This should not really have been my cup of tea. However, it was, and good, Yorkshire tea at that.
This is a perfect read for Downton Abbey fans (and a great number of other folk, too) and I honestly look forward to knowing what happens next.
It's a paperback at only £6.99
You may remember me telling you what a very good book The Homecoming of Samuel Lake is.
Recently the author, Jenny Wingfield, kindly mailed us a little package containing signed book-plates. So, if you want one of these special book-plated editions, drop in, phone or mail us quickly. They won't last long.
In case you're thinking I exaggerated the quality of this terrific read, have a look at another opinion -
We were delighted to welcome two guests to Cotswold Bookstore today, the first time we'd had a double signing.
First Rebecca Tope arrived at 10.30 and she was soon meeting some of her fans, many of whom had come a long way to meet her.
She was kept busy signing both the paperback editiond of her Thea Osborne murder mystery series and also the latest hardback in the series, Deception in the Cotswolds.
The photographer from The Journal arrived just before twelve and only had a few minutes spare. Luckily, Phil Rickman, the second of our guests, arrived in time to have his press photograph taken with Rebecca and some of their followers.
Here are the pair of them, old friends.
The good folk who first introduced us to the works of Phil Rickman, Joe and Lin, are seen here, being greeted by Phil's outsize recently permed Airdale called Fergus.
Later, Joe and Lin had a long and interesting chat with Phil.
Meanwhile, Rebecca was taken away to be treated to lunch by a couple of her biggest fans.
These two gentlemen had also travelled a long way to see Phil and, as well as having him sign a few books, they were keen autograph hunters too.
Finally, it was Fergus who had the last word, asking for just one more biscuit, while Phil's wife Carol looks on.
Thank you Rebecca, Thank you Phil, and thank you all those folk who came along to meet them both.
For those of you who missed the Thyme Running Out launch, I can do no better than to refer you to the excellent and generous description to be found on Panama's own blog - http://tartanofthyme.blogspot.com/
We've all enjoyed the company of Lol Robinson and Hazey Jane II for the past three weeks and the songs have really grown on us.
Lol is a character in the unusual crime novels of Phil Rickman's. How he gets to make a CD is beyond me. David and I are certainly going to buy the disc from Phil when he comes up for the signing this weekend. It's called A Message from the Morning and is well worth a listen (or three). Lol has also recorded Songs from Lucy's Cottage and I hope Phil will bring some of those too.
We've finally decided our special prices for the signing day. We have both Rebecca Tope and Phil Rickman coming on Saturday and anyone buying a paperback by each author will be able to have a third paperback half price.
Phil's photo book of the sites mentioned in the series, Merrily's Border, will be reduced by £2.00 and the latest hardbacks by each author (Secrets of Pain* by Phil and Grave in the Cotswolds and Deception in the Cotswolds by Rebecca) will be £5.00 off for the day.