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cover miss Boston.jpg.rendition.460.707

I rarely take part in blog tours but having so, so loved Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves last year when I read it, I simply had to take part in the blog tour which celebrates the release of the paperback edition.

So, a very big thank you to Rachel Malik and the folks at Penguin books for providing me with this lovely, new paperback edition to offer as a giveaway.

Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves is a gorgeous novel, the kind I was sorry to finish, the characters have remained with me ever since I finished it. It is a story that comes from the author’s own family, one which would suit readers of vintage fiction. If you love writers like Stella Gibbons, and novels sets during the 1940s and 50s then this novel is definitely for you. I have yet to hear of anyone who hasn’t loved it.

I reviewed it back in July, having bought the hardback edition on something of a whim, I devoured the book. You can read my full review here, though I am copying some of it across here to help you decide whether you would like to read it yourself.

Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves is the story of two unconventional women, who are brought together by a world gone mad. Elsie Boston is a farmer, working the farm her father signed over to her, the best she can, her brothers killed in the First World War, her sisters have left to get married and as another war gets under way she is alone at Starlight, happy in her solitude and with the animals and the land she loves. In 1940, Elsie applies for a land girl to help out, gets the spare room ready, nervous about having another person in the house.

Rene Hargreaves arrives, a little older than Elsie had expected, she is a city woman, a widow drawn to work on the land like Elsie. Rene’s past is more complex than Elsie realises at first, she carries the shadows of it with her, never quite escaping her own sense of guilt.

Rene and Elsie come to understand one another quickly, they develop an easy way of life together, playing patience, doing jigsaws and listening to the wireless in the evenings after the work of the farm is done.

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The novel spans more than twenty years, trouble comes to Starlight but Elsie and Rene throw their lot in together and head off into the British countryside. Their lives will be turned upside down, held up for examination by the media, and subject to a high-profile court case.

If you would like to win this paperback copy of Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves, drop me a line in the comments box telling me what your favourite period to read about is – mine is definitely World War Two.

I will keep the giveway open for a week – closing it next Monday morning (19th) one winner will be drawn by a random name generator and notified by email. I shall be away for a few days but will post the book out when I get back. Happy to post anywhere by the way – so open to everyone – good luck.

Miss Boston and Miss H Blog Tour

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Nina Bawden giveaway

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Christmas must have come early. I have decided to share some lovely Nina Bawden books with you all.

Last week Little Brown UK sent me these lovely editions of two Nina Bawden children’s books. Carrie’s War and The Peppermint Pig. I decided I would give them away, there may be a child in your life who will enjoy curling up with these lovely books, transported by Bawden’s consummate story telling. Or perhaps you would like to revisit your childhood favourites for yourself. So, the first giveaway is for BOTH these titles.

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Giveaway 1.

When I was a child I adored Carrie’s War – I devoured the book, and watched the TV adaptation, I even watched the remake as an adult. It is a story I carried with me for many years and I think I had a slightly romanticised view of evacuation because of it. It tells the story of three children evacuated to Wales during World War two – such a wonderful cast of characters, it was definitely the book I loved most as a child – and still love now. I can’t remember if I read The Peppermint Pig, but I don’t think I did. The Peppermint Pig appears to be the story of a family living through a difficult period who are healed by the laughter a clever, mischievous little pig brings to their lives.

Giveaway 2

Of course, many, many years later, I discovered Nina Bawden’s adult novels, she was very prolific, and I have enjoyed quite a number of them now. So, I have purchased a new copy of The Birds on the Trees, one of my favourite Bawden novels for adults as giveaway number two (It has yet to arrive – so the image of the cover is only what was shown on a certain well-known shopping site – the images are not always correct, I find).

imagesThe Birds in the Trees is beautifully observed with great insight and honesty, it is a novel about parents and children and family life with all its complexities. In 2010 The Birds on the Trees was nominated for The Lost Booker – voted for by readers, Bawden lost out to Troubles by J G Farrell (another excellent novel). The Lost Booker was for books published in 1970 – as changing Booker rules that year meant many novels lost out on being considered.

Toby Flowers is the boy/young man at the centre of this novel – which is told in the varying voices of his family – his mother and father, younger sister and grandmother. These first-person narratives dropped into what is largely a third person narrative, works so well – giving the novel an added intimacy.

To enter simply tell me what your favourite children’s book was (I’m just being nosy really) and let me know which giveaway you would like to win, the two books for children or The Birds on the Trees. The Giveaway is open worldwide – and winners will be drawn next Monday, using a random name generator.

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Phew! I’ve just finished typing names into a random name generator and due to the number of entries it took a while. I’m glad I didn’t have the responsibility and could leave it all to fate – and the internet.

Resh Susan who blogs at The Book Satchel wins A Wreath of Roses which will travelling all the way to India soon.

Anne P – wins a copy of A Game of Hide and seek

Mary Durant – wins a copy of In a Summer Season

Thank you everyone for entering – I’m sorry there can be only three winners. I hope the winners enjoy their books – all three are wonderful novels. Please let me know what you think once you have read them.

Once again, a big thank you to Virago Press and Little Brown books for providing these books for me to giveaway.

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aroomwithaviewThe classic club has spun and the number was number 4.

So I will have the very great pleasure of reading A Room with a view by EM Forster. I have actually read it before – but my memory of it was eclipsed by my great love for A Passage to India – which I read around the same time, and re-read not long ago.

  “We cast a shadow on something wherever we stand, and it is no good moving from place to place to save things; because the shadow always follows. Choose a place where you won’t do harm – yes, choose a place where you won’t do very much harm, and stand in it for all you are worth, facing the sunshine.”

 

I will most likely read this toward the beginning of September  and as I have no memory of it, it will be just as if I have never read it before.

 

Lost and FoundLost and Found giveaway

 

Thank you to those who entered the giveaway – I closed the giveaway last night and randomly chose three winners. So congrstulations to…

 

Si Stokes

Kerry Hale

and KatharineDS

 

I have passed you details to Corsair who have informed me that they sent out the books today.

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Lost and Found giveaway

Lost and Found

 

It started with a letter…Carol is unhappily married to a man she doesn’t love and mother to a daughter she doesn’t understand. Stuck in a life she doesn’t want and crippled with guilt, she can’t shake the feeling that she has wasted her life. So she puts pen to paper and writes a Letter to the Universe.
Albert is a widowed postman, approaching retirement age, and living only with his cat, Gloria, for company. Slowly being pushed out at his place of work, he is forced down to the post room where they sort undeliverable mail. Forgotten in his work place and bullied by his neighbours, Albert is extremely lonely. When a series of letters turns up with a smiley face drawn in place of an address, he cannot help reading them.

A few months ago I read a review copy of a debut novel which I enjoyed enormously. Lost and Found by Tom winter came out in February. Today the paperback edition is published and the lovely people at Corsair contacted me with a view to offering 3 copies to readers of my blog.

Carol wants a disease. Nothing deadly, and nothing crippling. She doesn’t aspire to disabled parking, for instance, despite its obvious advantages.
‘It’s true I haven’t done much with my life,’ she wants to tell people, ‘but it’s the . . . the leprosy.’
She imagines how they would nod sympathetically, albeit while backing away, and even she might feel better about looking at herself in the mirror each morning: a middle- aged woman who hasn’t accomplished much because she can’t, because she’s been too busy peeling off dead skin and looking for missing body parts.
‘Yes,’ she’d say, as she arrives at work late yet again, ‘I know I’m crap at this, but the good news is I’ve found a couple of my fingers.’
But, no, there is no disease, no excuse to hide behind. She has a husband who’s a certifiable dickhead, but this isn’t her disability per se. And her daughter – well, what can she say
on that subject? In the months prior to giving birth, she read

every book on child-rearing she could find. In retrospect, Sun Tzu’s Art of War would have been a better choice, or perhaps a field study of rabid primates.
Naturally, this isn’t how she’d expected to feel about motherhood, but watching her baby daughter morph into a teenager has been an alarming experience, like cresting the first hill of a rollercoaster just as she realized her seatbelt was broken.
Now seventeen, her daughter stands on the cusp of independence, the whole world at her feet. And Carol is on a bus home, staring at a window too wet with rain to offer a view of anything; an indeterminate cityscape, as fractured and abstract as her own life – the hint of a street sign, the edge of a shop front, but nothing complete, nothing she can look at and say, ‘Ah, that’s where I am.’
So, nearly twenty years of married life have come to this:
‘I’m leaving.’
She savours the words for a moment, already regretting that she’ll only get to say them once. Condensing so many years of frustration into two small words has given them a curious, almost nuclear power, as if they might slip from her mouth and accidentally level the whole of London.
She knows she’ll tell her husband over dinner tonight, though she still isn’t sure how she’ll raise the subject. The only certainty is that she’ll serve a nicer dessert than usual – her favourite, as it happens – though she’ll try her best to make
this seem like an act of consolation rather than celebration.

Lost and Found is a novel written in letters, the voices of the two main characters come across strongly and are really engaging and likeable. I found the novel hugely enjoyable – a real feel good book that I found hard to put down, I feel sure that many of you out there would enjoy it too. i am certainly looking forward to seeing what Tom Winter comes up with next.

PRAISE FOR LOST AND FOUND:

‘Witty, off-beat and moving’ Genevieve Fox, Daily Mail

‘Winter makes the reader not only smile, but pause and, in the final line, shed an appropriate tear about what it means to be given a second chance at happiness’ The Lady

‘A touching tale, full of pathos and laugh-out-loud moments’ Candis

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tom Winter is a British writer living in Berlin. Lost and Found is his first novel. He is currently at work on his second book.

If you would like to win a copy of this lovely feel good read – then please add a comment to the box below leaving me an email address where I can contact you should you win. I will keep the giveaway open untill Sunday evening – and then choose three winners by a random name generator. I will pass the winners details to Corsair who will then send out the books. Good luck everyone.

tom winter

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foldingstar

Alan Hollinghurst – birthday May 26th

I don’t often find myself setting a book aside – and am always very disappointed – and to be honest a little cross with myself when I do. Very late on Saturday – so late I only read about 10 pages – I picked up The Folding Star by Alan Hollinghurst. On Sunday I was out walking with my rambling group – and as usual I took my book to read on the coach. I tried valiantly to tell myself I was enjoying it – I wasn’t. Hollinghurst writes beautifully but there is a lot of – hmm how can I put it? Well the sexual content seems a little gratuitous at times – although it does serve to set the characters in their selfish self-absorbed context. The central character of this novel seems thoroughly unlikeable, sometimes that doesn’t matter but I found after less than 60 pages – that I really didn’t care about him and his goings on.

So on Sunday evening after getting home I tried a few more pages, and no! It just wasn’t working so I laid it aside. I have put it on the pile to bookcross – despite it being a signed copy I bought when I went to a talk by Alan Hollinghurst shortly after reading The Strangers child – a book I loved. The Stranger’s Child was the second of Hollinghurst’s books I had read, I read The Line of Beauty – which I enjoyed – although most of those characters I seem to remember were rather horrid too. I suspect that The Folding Star has put me off Hollinghurst for life – which is a shame because he really is a beautiful writer.

jamaicainnGiveaway result
Using random.com I have drawn A.M.B to receive the Virago Paperback of Jamaica Inn. Congratulations A.M.B I do hope you enjoy it.

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Blog Hop – the winners.

What a lovely blog hop it has been. I visited so many lovely blogs and have been lucky enough to win a book from Samstillreading – that news really cheered my cold and miserable morning up.

The winners of my blog hop giveaway then are :

Clare – word by Word – who wins a copy of The Moonstone

Helen at She reads novels – who wins a copy of  Far from the Madding Crowd. I so look forward to hearing what these winners think of these books as they are novels I really loved.

Thank you so much to everyone who took part, and an especially big thank you to Judith for organising and hosting this great blogging event.

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