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Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Review: Blackbeard's Daughter, Diana Strenka.

"Colonial dreams have become piratical nightmares. Margaret takes one disastrous turn after the other as she confronts the perils of murder, war, and revenge. When her father decides to pursue criminal mischief aboard a pirate's vessel, Margaret joins him in an effort to save his life. Though unsuccessful, Margaret discovers the unforgettable treasure that her father has left her: love, laughter, and an unquenchable spirit for adventure."

Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Although there are several great scenes and sections to this novel by Diana Strenka, the blurb and the book itself don't always match up. A fair amount of the novel is dialogue - sometimes, it reads more like a screenplay than a novel - and a lot happens very quickly without much depth or world-building. The reader can sometimes barely draw breath before the next significant thing happens. For me, this reads like an early draft of an otherwise very promising story. With some more time and careful editing and revisions, this could be a very interesting story.  

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Review: The Forgotten Garden, Kate Morton

1913: A little girl is hiding on a ship headed for Australia knowing nothing but a strange woman called 'The Authoress' told her to hide and wait until she came back.

Decades later, Nell is told the mysterious circumstances in which she is found, and seeks the truth. 

After Nell's death, her granddaughter, Cassandra, finds that her enigmatic grandmother has bequeathed her a cottage in England. Resolved to make light of her grandmother's hidden past, she goes to England and discovers an extraordinary past. 

The Forgotten Garden is both sweeping in scope and precious with detail. Kate Morton handles each time period with generous description and setting, and character painting in drips and drabs so the mystery of each character fits in with solving the mystery of the whole novel itself.

The stories of each are bittersweet, endings resolved but not in a cliche happily ever after matter, necessarily. The problem, as it can sometimes be, of identity is brought to the fore here, particularly in Nell's story - what do you do after thinking your origins one way for twenty one years, only to have them pulled out from under your feet? Slowly but surely, Cassandra pieces together the clues to her grandmother's past and her journey of discovery and, in doing so, finds resolution herself.

This is a novel to be absorbed by, perfect for curling up on the sofa with a blanket, a cup of tea, and a few hours in which to escape.