Sunday, 28 May 2017

Songs of Love and War by Santa Montefiore - A Fabulous Tale of Friendships and Rivalries

This story could so easily be about three girls, Kitty, Bridie and Celia, who spent wonderful summers at Castle Deverill, County Cork, and grew up and found the most loving and suitable husbands, had lots of children, and lived happily ever after. But it's not!
Santa Montefiore has written a fabulous tale in Songs of Love and War of the friendships and rivalries of the girls, set against the Irish uprising at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Kitty, the granddaughter of Adeline, Lady Deverill, and her husband, Hubert, Lord Deverill, lives a privileged life, but is shunned by her mother, Maud, who favours her elder sisters, Victoria and Elspeth. She is shocked to discover that her father, Bertie, is having an affair with the beautiful Grace who becomes involved with the aggression towards their Anglo-Irish family.
Kitty considers herself as Irish as Bridie Doyle, the daughter of the cook at the Castle, and they slip away together to play in the gardens with Cousin Celia who arrives each year to spend the summer in Ireland. But their happiness doesn't last as Kitty and Bridie both fall in love with Jack O'Leary, the vet's son.
Castle Deverill has a curse that the male heirs of the Deverill family will have to haunt the castle as ghosts (which Kitty and her grandmother can see) until an O'Leary owns the castle again. So apart from the fact that Jack's Irish and not of the same class as Kitty, she knows that her father would never allow them to marry.
The story follows the girls through the Easter Rising which has a tragic effect on the Deverills and their castle, and into their twenties. As they grow up, they move further apart, but they never lose their love for Castle Deverill and the memories that they made there.
This book is the first of a trilogy, and I can't wait to read the rest!

Daughters of Castle Deverill is out now.

The Last Secret of the Deverills is out on July 13th 2017.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

The Secrets of Happiness - A Book to Make You Happy - by Lucy Diamond

We all want to be happy, don't we? And I think we're always on the look out for the secrets of happiness that other people seem to have. To this end, Lucy Diamond has written a book to make us happy as step-sisters, Rachel and Becca, do just that with some surprising results.
The Secrets of Happiness explores the lives of  two women who couldn't be more different. Rachel, nine years older, is an organised, focussed career-woman and mother, whilst Becca has not been very successful in anything she's done. She's a little overweight, and she used to run a jewellery business with a friend, but it didn't come to anything.
At Rachel's father's funeral (Becca's step-father), a woman called Violet tells Rachel that she knew her mother and, 'What a shame it was'. Curious, Rachel sets off from Hereford on a train to Manchester, in the hope of seeing Violet again. However she gets mugged and loses her memory. She hasn't told anyone where she's gone, so when she doesn't return, the neighbour looking after her children, Scarlet and Luke, contacts Becca in Birmingham. Becca gets fired from the pub where she works  because she wants some time off to look after Rachel's children, and so the story starts, and as it continues, Becca finds out that maybe Rachel's life is not so perfect after all.
There are some funny moments as Becca tries to deal with Rachel's clients who are expecting a fit, healthy life coach, not her wheezing sister, and there are some poignant moments as Rachel deals with her injuries and tries to put her own life back together. There are also some tense moments as the step-sisters confront the event that drove them apart.
This book certainly made me happy because I loved the characters that Lucy Diamond has drawn so well. It's the second book of hers that I've read, and I shall certainly look out for some more.