mystery

All posts tagged mystery

Talking About The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon with Chrissi Reads

Published February 16, 2017 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Part coming-of-age story, part mystery, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep is a quirky and utterly charming debut about a community in need of absolution and two girls learning what it means to belong.

England, 1976. Mrs. Creasy is missing and the Avenue is alive with whispers. The neighbors blame her sudden disappearance on the heat wave, but ten-year-olds Grace and Tilly aren’t convinced. As the summer shimmers endlessly on, the girls decide to take matters into their own hands. Inspired by the local vicar, they go looking for God—they believe that if they find Him they might also find Mrs. Creasy and bring her home.

Spunky, spirited Grace and quiet, thoughtful Tilly go door to door in search of clues. The cul-de-sac starts to give up its secrets, and the amateur detectives uncover much more than ever imagined. As they try to make sense of what they’ve seen and heard, a complicated history of deception begins to emerge. Everyone on the Avenue has something to hide, a reason for not fitting in.

In the suffocating heat of the summer, the ability to guard these differences becomes impossible. Along with the parched lawns and the melting pavement, the lives of all the neighbors begin to unravel. What the girls don’t realize is that the lies told to conceal what happened one fateful day about a decade ago are the same ones Mrs. Creasy was beginning to peel back just before she disappeared.

What did WE think?:

CHRISSI: What were your first impressions of this book?

BETH: I was already pre-disposed to like this book, I had heard really good things about it from a friend of mine and the title was just too good to resist! I almost couldn’t believe it was a debut novel when I first started reading it, it felt like I was reading a book where the author had been established and writing for years. I was initially confused by some aspects of the story – but in a good way, I just wanted to know what exactly was going on and the author is very good at the “slow reveal,” shall we say?

BETH: Who were your favourite characters in the novel and why?

CHRISSI: I really liked Grace and Tilly because I felt like their friendship was incredibly realistic. I found myself excited to read Grace’s point of view because I really wanted to read about her perspective on the whole situation. I love reading from children’s point of view because they can be so honest, be incredibly wise, yet they can be incredibly naive at the same time.

CHRISSI: The cover of this book is quite simple. Why do you think they went for this choice?

BETH: I actually love how simple the cover is. It’s a lovely shade of blue with just a single goat on the front. No sheep though! 🙂 The title is actually described quite early on in the book but I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that the two young girls are trying to find God and they have been told by the local vicar that God prefers his people to be a flock of sheep rather than goats. The story is quite simple in the end, coming down to separating these people into the two categories (or can they really be separated?) so I think the cover is perfect for what the novel is.

BETH: What did you think about the relationship between friends Grace and Tilly? Was it typical of a female friendship at that impressionable age?

CHRISSI: I’ve mentioned in the previous answer that I really enjoyed the relationship between Grace and Tilly. I did like reading about them because it was so realistic. I felt like Grace was the more dominant friend and I do feel that friendship at that impressionable age can be like that. I felt like Grace thought she had to watch over Tilly and I loved that protective quality that Grace had. There are moments when Grace doesn’t treat Tilly well and I think that is true of a female friendship at that age. Children can be insensitive towards others and hurt them deeply because they still have a lot to learn.

CHRISSI: What do you think the setting of the heat wave of 1976 adds to the story?

BETH: The heatwave is almost a character in itself, it is mentioned so often and people are obviously suffering because of it. I think people have heard about the heat doing funny things to people’s characters…making them snap, do odd things etc and I think the heat actually has a huge affect on the characters in the story in exactly this way. Perhaps the heat exacerbates the situation and causes people to over-react where they might not normally do so?

BETH: How do you think the mystery of where Mrs Creasy had gone was played out in this novel?

CHRISSI:  The mystery of Mrs Creasy was very intriguing throughout the story. I have to agree that it’s very much a slow reveal and at times, I did start to lose a bit of interest in the story which is why I haven’t rated it higher. I enjoyed reading about the worry of the secrets that Mrs Creasy had taken with her. I felt like that was more important to her neighbours, rather than genuine concern about where she was.

CHRISSI: Many characters in the story have secrets and regrets – how do you judge the actions they have taken? Does it make you consider how we judge people without really knowing them?

BETH: Yes, yes, yes. I don’t think any character really comes out and apologises for their behaviour outright but you can definitely sense the guilt, the regret and a cooling of tempers, especially to the object of most of the characters anger. It felt very much when I was reading it sort of like a mob mentality with each character being “egged on” by what another would say/feel or do. This kind of behaviour becomes very dangerous when multiple people jump on the bandwagon so as to speak, as we can see from the events that occur.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: Yes! I can’t believe that this book was a debut. It seemed incredibly accomplished! I enjoyed this book.

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Yes!

BETH’s Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

CHRISSI’s Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

 

 

Just What Kind Of Mother Are You? – Paula Daly

Published February 12, 2017 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

A searing and sinister thriller for readers who liked Gone Girl.

What if your best friend’s child disappears? And it was all your fault.

This is exactly what happens to Lisa Kallisto, overwhelmed working mother of three, one freezing December in the English Lake District. She takes her eye off the ball for just a moment and her whole world descends into the stuff of nightmares. Because, not only is thirteen-year-old Lucinda missing, and not only is it all Lisa’s fault, but she’s the second teenage girl to disappear within this small tightknit community over two weeks. The first girl turned up stripped bare, dumped on a busy high street, after suffering from a terrifying ordeal.

Wracked with guilt over her mistake and after being publicly blamed by Lucinda’s family, Lisa sets out to right the wrong. But as she begins peeling away the layers surrounding Lucinda’s disappearance, Lisa learns that the small, posh, quiet town she lives in isn’t what she thought it was, and her friends may not be who they appear, either.

What did I think?:

I was recommended this book by my sister and fellow blogger, Chrissi Reads and as usual, she knows exactly what kind of book I like to get my teeth into. Just What Kind Of Mother Are You is a gritty and exciting psychological thriller that I ended up devouring in just a twenty four hour period. It was so difficult in fact to put this book down and it was a shame that life got in the way sometimes as I could have easily finished it in one sitting.

The story focuses on Lisa Kallisto, married mother of three who is struggling to look after her three children, house and finances and manage a company that re-homes unwanted cats and dogs. It isn’t really surprising that from time to time, she becomes entirely human and makes mistakes. On the day in question she has kept her thirteen year old daughter Sally home from school as she is ill but has neglected to remember that Sally’s friend Lucinda is meant to be having a sleepover that night at her house and that she is meant to pick her up from school. Understandable really, she had her unwell daughter on her mind?

However, it is not until the next day before she discovers that Lucinda is missing and now Lucinda’s mother, Kate blames her entirely for what has happened. Worse of all, it is feared that Lucinda has fallen victim of a serial kidnapper and rapist as previously, another girl from the community was taken and subjected to a horrific ordeal. After a third girl goes missing the race is on for lead investigator  DC Joanne Aspinall to find the individual responsible for these chilling crimes before it escalates beyond control. Lisa, feeling terrible about what occurred on “her watch,” also does a bit of investigating of her own and what she finds brings a whole new interpretation to the title of this novel.

This was a fantastic debut novel that kept me gripped throughout, desperately turning the pages to find out what was going to happen. The plot and characters are beautifully conceived and very realistic which added a new chill to the narrative as it was so darn believable. I especially felt for the character of Lisa, caught up in the hectic dramas of everyday life, trying to do it all and be a great mother at the same time. She put a lot of pressure on herself and constantly compared her own life to those of her other friends, especially Kate who seemed to take things in her stride. We had a whole host of strong, independent female characters which I loved but even the male characters were wonderfully drawn and constantly intriguing to me. It was so easy to race through this action-packed novel, it felt like the author had been writing for years and years and there was never a dull moment. The ending just knocked me for six I have to say and I’ll certainly be putting Paula Daly’s next two novels, Keep Your Friends Close and The Mistake I Made on my “must read soon,” list. She definitely has the potential to be one of my favourite authors.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

 

Swimming Lessons – Claire Fuller

Published February 7, 2017 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Ingrid Coleman writes letters to her husband, Gil, about the truth of their marriage, but instead of giving them to him, she hides them in the thousands of books he has collected over the years. When Ingrid has written her final letter she disappears from a Dorset beach, leaving behind her beautiful but dilapidated house by the sea, her husband, and her two daughters, Flora and Nan.

Twelve years later, Gil thinks he sees Ingrid from a bookshop window, but he’s getting older and this unlikely sighting is chalked up to senility. Flora, who has never believed her mother drowned, returns home to care for her father and to try to finally discover what happened to Ingrid. But what Flora doesn’t realize is that the answers to her questions are hidden in the books that surround her. Scandalous and whip-smart, Swimming Lessons holds the Coleman family up to the light, exposing the mysterious truths of a passionate and troubled marriage.

What did I think?:

I fell in love with Claire Fuller’s writing after I read her amazing debut novel Our Endless Numbered Days in the summertime of last year. If you haven’t read it, please you absolutely must – it’s a brilliant, shocking read which I highly recommend. I knew Claire was working on her second book, Swimming Lessons but when she kindly contacted me and asked if I’d like to read it, I literally jumped at the chance. I’m so glad I did. It’s slow paced at the beginning but by the time I was a third of the way through I was completely hooked and it was difficult to pry the book away from me!

We see the drama unfold from multiple different perspectives. Firstly from Gil who swears that he sees his wife Ingrid standing outside a bookshop window. The strange thing is, Ingrid disappeared many years previously and is thought to have drowned in a tragic accident. Gil follows the woman he thinks to be Ingrid and ends up falling and ending up in hospital. This is where we meet his two daughters, Nan and the younger sister Flora who are completely different personalities but come together to help their father as they receive some heart-breaking news. We then get some insights into the past of this fascinating family from Flora’s memories of her childhood, her parents and from Ingrid herself.

This was the part that I just adored as Gil begins to find old letters addressed to him from Ingrid hidden in his precious books. They start from the very beginning of their relationship (which was frowned upon from some individuals due to the age difference between them) to their married life, berating him for certain behaviours and admitting other secrets. Basically, telling their whole story, warts and all, from her point of view. It’s the story of a dysfunctional relationship that also holds a lot of love which beggars belief at some points and intrigues you at other times. Do we ever really find out what has happened to Ingrid? Maybe…maybe not, but we certainly understand her and Gil a lot better through the process.

Like Claire’s debut novel, this story took me completely by surprise with how attached I became to the characters and their story. I never really felt like I understood Gil and his reasons for doing what he did but I certainly sympathised with Ingrid and the situation she found herself in and even understood her reasons for being attracted to Gil in the first place. I probably actually preferred Gil in the “present day” situation, being looked after by his daughters and perhaps feeling guilt and remorse for events that occurred in the past. On finishing it, I immediately wanted to go back to the beginning and perhaps pick up on things I may have missed in the narrative, not having the full information I had at the end and it’s definitely a novel I will look forward to re-reading in the future. Claire Fuller can do no wrong in my eyes as an author and with Swimming Lessons, she has certainly cemented herself in my heart as one of my favourites.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Blog Tour – Echoes In Death (In Death #44) – J.D. Robb

Published February 3, 2017 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

THE #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING SERIES . . . The chilling new suspense novel from the author of Brotherhood in Death.

After a party in New York, Lieutenant Eve Dallas rides home with her billionaire husband, Roarke, happy to be done with cocktails and small talk.

After another party, not far away, a woman retires to her bedroom with her husband—and walks into a brutal nightmare.

Their paths are about to collide…

When the young woman—dazed, naked, and bloody—wanders in front of their car, Roarke slams on the brakes just in time, and Eve, still in glittering gown and heels, springs into action. It’s been a long night for the tired homicide cop, and it’s far from over.

Daphne Strazza is rushed to the ER, but it’s too late for Dr. Anthony Strazza. A brilliant orthopedic surgeon, he now lies dead amid the wreckage of his obsessively organized town house, his three safes opened and emptied. Daphne would be a valuable witness, but in her terror and shock the only description of the perp she can offer is repeatedly calling him “the devil” . . .

While it emerges that Dr. Strazza was cold, controlling, and widely disliked—and that he treated Daphne like a trophy wife—this is one case where the evidence doesn’t point to the spouse as the first suspect. So Eve and her team must get started on the legwork, interviewing everyone from dinner-party guests to professional colleagues to caterers, in a desperate race to answer some crucial questions:

What does the devil look like? And where will he show up next?

What did I think?:

First of all, many thanks to Little, Brown publishers for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and providing me with a copy of Echoes In Death in exchange for an honest review. Now, I love my crime fiction but so far haven’t actually read any of J.D. Robb’s novels – and there’s been a lot of them. This is the forty-fourth in the In Death series featuring Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her Irish husband Roarke and the author has written many more novels (more than two hundred to be exact!) under both the pseudonym J.D. Robb and her real name, Nora Roberts.

The novel follows our main character Lt Eve Dallas, her husband to a lesser extent, and her loyal partner Peabody as they deal with a frightening new evil. On their way home from a party, a naked, bloody and petrified young woman jumps out in front of Eve and Roarke’s car. After further questioning the woman, Daphne Strazza is found to have undergone a horrifying ordeal. A man has broken into her house, brutally raped and beaten her multiple times and killed her husband. The only thing she can tell Eve for certain is that he was “the devil.” Eve soon discovers that the assailant was wearing a mask and shortly forms a connection between two other incidents involving rich couples where the perp dressed up as a vampire and secondly as a ghoul. However, the previous two incidents didn’t involve any deaths and Eve worries that the incidents are escalating. Eve and her department must pull out all the stops to find the man responsible for these atrocities before he strikes again.

Echoes In Death isn’t like any other work of crime fiction that I’ve read before and I loved that about it. It’s actually set in the future, a mid 21st-century New York City where the landscape still feels quite familiar but technology has moved on in giant leaps and bounds. We have intricate  home security systems in place, machines that can identify a living person or corpse at the touch of a button, new drugs and treatments for things as simple as a headache and (my favourite) helpful household droids. There are a multitude of strong, interesting characters including the independent, compassionate Eve and her side-kick Peabody whom I instantly fell in love with. My only slight issue was that I guessed who the killer was pretty soon after he was introduced in the novel. I usually feel quite disappointed when this happens but I have to say that it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story at all.

I have to admit to being a bit concerned when I agreed to read this novel as I’m a bit of a stickler at reading things in order and not having read any of the other books in the series I was worried that I wouldn’t connect to certain things in the characters back stories. It’s true at points I did feel slightly ignorant, especially concerning Eve’s traumatic past (which  I won’t go into for fear of spoilers) but in a positive way, I am looking forward to having lots of books in the series to go back to and fill in the blanks for myself! This book surprised me in a lot of ways, it certainly wasn’t what I expected and I’m really looking forward to catching up with things right from the beginning of the series.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

AUTHOR INFORMATION

July 10, 2011 - Boonsboro, Maryland USA: Best-selling author Nora Roberts on the porch of the Inn at Boonsboro in historic Boonsboro, Maryland. Ms. Roberts bought the 1790s-era building and created an eight-room boutique hotel meant to cater to women's romantic sides. Rooms are named for famous literary couples, including Marguerite and Percy of "The Scarlet Pimpernel" and Jane and Rochester from "Jane Eyre." Ms. Roberts spent $3 million renovating the three-story inn. Roberts is the author of more than 209 romance novels. She writes as J.D. Robb for the "In Death" series (Evelyn Hockstein/POLARIS) ///

Nora Roberts is the number one New York Times bestseller of more than 200 novels. She published her first novel using the pseudonym J.D. Robb in 1995, with the In Death series, Robb has become one of the biggest thriller writers on earth, with each new novel reaching number one on bestseller charts over the world. With over 450 million copies of her books in print, she is indisputably one of the most celebrated and popular writers in the world.

Find Nora on her website at http://www.noraroberts.com/

Or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/norarobertsjdrobb

Thank you once again to Little, Brown publishers for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a great time doing it. Echoes In Death was published on 7th February 2017 and is also available as an e-book. Why not check out some of the other stops on the tour?

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Blog Tour – Burned And Broken – Mark Hardie

Published January 27, 2017 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

An enigmatic policeman – currently the subject of an internal investigation – is found burned to death in his car on the Southend sea front.

A vulnerable young woman, fresh out of the care system, is trying to discover the truth behind the sudden death of her best friend.

As DS Frank Pearson and DC Catherine Russell from the Essex Police Major Investigation Team are brought in to solve the mystery that surrounds their colleague’s death, they’re under intense pressure to crack the case without damaging the force’s reputation.

When a dramatic turn of events casts a whole new light on both cases, the way forward is far from clear. Were the victims connected in some way? And just how much should Pearson and Russell reveal to their bosses as they begin to unearth some dark secrets that the force would rather keep buried?

Mark Hardie’s stylish and gripping debut introduces a brilliant new detective duo to the world of crime fiction, weaving together two suspenseful stories that end in a breath-taking finale.

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to Little, Brown publishers for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and providing me with a copy of Mark Hardie’s debut novel in exchange for an honest review. I may have mentioned in previous posts that I used to read almost exclusively crime fiction, until I started broadening what I read as I found with many crime novels, they were getting a bit “samey,” to me. Therefore, it takes something quite special (usually terrific characters or an intriguing plot) to get me back into reading the genre. Luckily, Burned And Broken had both and I was captivated until the end.

Our two main characters are DS Frank Pearson and his partner DC Catherine (Cat) Russell who are working together to try and piece together the reasons behind the gruesome death of their colleague, DI Carragher killed in suspicious circumstances after his burned body was found in his car. Alongside this story is also the story of a dead young girl, Alicia whose case Carragher was working on before his unfortunate demise. Then there is Donna, best friend of Alicia who is certain that Alicia’s death was no accident and is determined to see her murderer brought to justice. She comes with her own set of issues, raised in the care system, a loner with mental health issues and an adoring friend, Malcolm who follows her like a little shadow. How and why are the two stories linked? And what murky secrets are about to be unearthed as Pearson and Russell go digging?

I really enjoyed many things about this novel. The style of writing was intense and brilliant that shifted from past to present to future without ever muddling or over-complicating the narrative. At times, the pace may feel slightly slow but it all builds up to an explosive finale with many twists and turns to savour. I liked how Pearson and Russell worked as a team but I don’t really feel we got to know them deeply as characters – perhaps this is all to come in further books in the series? My favourite character had to be troubled Donna who was written fantastically. She instantly drew me into her world, where just struggling to survive every day was a huge achievement. As always, it’s a bonus for me if I can’t see the ending coming or guess any of the possible motives/perpetrators and I certainly didn’t with this novel. This is a very promising start to a series from Mark Hardie and I look forward to where he takes the characters next.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

AUTHOR INFORMATION

hardiemark-c-mark-hardie

Mark Hardie was born in 1960 in Bow, East London. He began writing fulltime after completely losing his eyesight in 2002. He has completed a creative writing course and an advanced creative writing course at the Open University, both with distinction.

Mark lives with his wife Debbie in Southend-on-Sea.

You can find Mark on Twitter @MARKHARDIECRIME

On his GoodReads page https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8452087.Mark_Hardie

Thank you once again to Little, Brown publishers for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a really great time doing it! Why not check out the other posts today from my fellow bloggers? Burned And Broken has been released in e-book format and is due to be released in paperback in May 2017.

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Talking About I’m Travelling Alone by Samuel Bjørk with Chrissi Reads

Published January 26, 2017 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

A six year old girl is found hanging from a tree. Around her neck is an airline tag which says ‘I’m travelling alone’.

A special homicide unit in Oslo is re-opened with veteran police investigator Holger Munch at the helm. He must convince his erstwhile partner, Mia Kruger, an extremely talented but eccentric investigator, to leave the solitary island to which she has retreated in order to take her own life.

When scrutinising the murder files, Mia spots the number One carved into the dead girl’s fingernail. She returns to duty to prevent more little girls falling victim to a terrifying, revenge-driven serial killer…

What did WE think?:

CHRISSI: What were your first impressions of this book?

BETH: From the very basic….yaay, a crime novel to (even better) a Scandinavian crime novel! I’ve always been a bit of a fan of crime fiction from the Scandinavian region so I was excited to begin. My very high expectations were completely fulfilled as it is everything I could possibly want from this genre – a thrilling plot, a great mystery and intriguing characters.

BETH: Mia had a very strong relationship with her twin sister. How do you think what happened to her sister affected her as a person and as a police detective?

CHRISSI: A good question! I think Mia’s relationship with her sister did have such an impact on her. After the situation with her sister, Mia has completely changed. She sees no point in carrying on and wants to be with her sister again. I loved how a case did bring her out of isolation though. Mia had always been a dedicated and wonderful police detective and I feel she felt compelled to take the case on and help to solve the crime.

CHRISSI: This is a Scandinavian thriller – do you feel there is a distinctive tone to books and TV from Scandinavian countries?

BETH: Definitely. These authors are not afraid to go dark and disturbing and the darker the book is, the more it affects me personally and leads me to think on it for days after finishing. It also helps that they have some beautiful (and sometimes very remote) settings to describe so that adds to the chill factor. Also, being set in a country that I don’t know too much about and don’t speak the language is a greater form of escape for me and I love that sense of escapism in a novel.

BETH: There are a few twists in this tale, did you expect them and do you think they worked?

CHRISSI: I think the twists in this tale are exactly what kept a good pace of the story. I’m not one for crime fiction, but I felt compelled to read on. I think it’s the twists that kept me working through this story. I thought the twists and turns within the story were actually very smart and I think that’s what captured my attention and kept it there. I think there were some twists that were executed better than others, but on the whole, I really enjoyed this book!

CHRISSI: The relationship between the detectives Holger Munch and Mia Kruger is a key part of the novel. Discuss what this adds to the novel.

BETH: Holger and Mia are both fascinating characters, especially Mia who had a twin sister who sadly died from a drug overdose. From the very beginning you can tell they both have a few skeletons in their closet or quite a colourful past which is alluded to throughout the story. As they both come with their own separate and very different histories, they seem to be somewhat kindred spirits and I loved watching their working relationship and how they both looked after and out for each other, no matter the cost to themselves.

BETH: You are not normally a big fan of crime fiction, how did this one compare to others you have read?

CHRISSI: You’re right. I’m not a fan of crime fiction. I usually find the plot quite same-y and a little predictable. However, I thought this book was particularly smart and had some really interesting story-lines that really worked well and seemed to come together. I wasn’t bored when I was reading this book and sometimes I find myself losing interest in crime fiction.

CHRISSI: How does this book compare to others in it’s genre?

BETH: Very well I think. I’ve already mentioned that I’m a bit of a fan of Scandinavian noir and this sits perfectly alongside authors such as Jo Nesbo and Camilla Lackberg (two of my favourites). The plot was terrific but it was the strength of the characters themselves that would make me come back and read another book in the series by the author.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: Whilst I wouldn’t race at the chance to read another book by this author (it’s not my genre!) I wouldn’t say I’d avoid the author in the future. If I was interested in the book, I’d certainly read it!

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Yes!

Star rating (out of 5):

BETH:

four-stars_0

CHRISSI:

3-5-stars

Talking About The Muse by Jessie Burton with Chrissi Reads

Published January 11, 2017 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

The Sunday Times Number One Bestseller

A picture hides a thousand words . . .

On a hot July day in 1967, Odelle Bastien climbs the stone steps of the Skelton gallery in London, knowing that her life is about to change forever. Having struggled to find her place in the city since she arrived from Trinidad five years ago, she has been offered a job as a typist under the tutelage of the glamorous and enigmatic Marjorie Quick. But though Quick takes Odelle into her confidence, and unlocks a potential she didn’t know she had, she remains a mystery – no more so than when a lost masterpiece with a secret history is delivered to the gallery.

The truth about the painting lies in 1936 and a large house in rural Spain, where Olive Schloss, the daughter of a renowned art dealer, is harbouring ambitions of her own. Into this fragile paradise come artist and revolutionary Isaac Robles and his half-sister Teresa, who immediately insinuate themselves into the Schloss family, with explosive and devastating consequences . . .

Seductive, exhilarating and suspenseful, The Muse is an unforgettable novel about aspiration and identity, love and obsession, authenticity and deception – a masterpiece from Jessie Burton, the million-copy bestselling author of The Miniaturist.

What did WE think?:

CHRISSI: How does The Muse compare to The Miniaturist?

BETH: The Muse is Jessie Burton’s second novel after the roaring success of her debut, The Miniaturist which I thought was great but I actually enjoyed this one more. Physically speaking, they are both beautiful specimens with some gorgeous art but more specifically, they are both works of historical fiction that tell their stories from the perspective of strong women. In The Muse, we actually follow the stories of two women in different countries and time periods but who are strikingly similar in some aspects. There is a link between both stories which is brought together towards the end of the novel but part of the fun of this book is watching it all being brought together.

BETH: There are a number of supporting characters in this novel. Which one was your favourite and why?

CHRISSI: Ooh interesting question. I think my favourite character would have to be Cynth. I really liked their friendship and thought it came across really well in the beginning. It is their friendship that immediately hooked me in the story. I wish we would’ve seen more from her!

CHRISSI: The story is split between London in 1967 and Spain in 1936 – what parallels do you see between the two stories?

BETH: There are a lot of parallels between the two, one being as I mentioned above is the similarity between Odelle and Olive’s strength of characters. Both stories also feature a love interest that at some point in both narratives causes the women some concern for different reasons. Odelle and Olive are also both artists – Olive in the literal sense of the word is a very talented painter and Odelle is a writer. In both narratives they struggle with their art, being in both the thirties and sixties as something not many women did.

BETH: Discuss the character of Marjorie Quick and her relationship with Odelle.

CHRISSI: Marjorie Quick is an incredibly interesting character. I found her really intriguing right from the start. I think she saw something in Odelle right from the start which was really intriguing. Majorie really was an no nonsense character. She seemed incredibly protective over Odelle and I wondered why she was so keen to stifle the interest in the painting. She also seemed cautious over Odelle’s relationship. I found her to be an incredibly complex character and their relationship too seemed complex!

CHRISSI: Jessie Burton evokes two very different settings in London and Spain – how does she create the sense of place and time for both these storylines?

BETH: First of all, I loved that we got two such colourful stories with a multitude of intriguing and diverse characters. The author evokes the sense of London perfectly, from the fashions that were worn to places that were mentioned. It was quite a contrast between sections to be transported from a cold, dreary London to a hot, tempestuous Spain but the author’s use of descriptive prose meant that each setting was available in glorious and vivid detail.

BETH: Did you find any parts of this book difficult to read and why?

CHRISSI: If I’m honest, as I got further into this book I began to lose interest in it. I find Jessie Burton’s writing to be quite flowery and sometimes that doesn’t capture my imagination as much as I want it to. Don’t get me wrong, she is a brilliant writer, she’s just not my cup of tea.

CHRISSI: What was your favourite part of this book?

BETH: That’s such a hard question as I really loved every single minute from start to finish. There wasn’t even a narrative that I preferred, both were perfect and equally fantastic. If I had to choose though it would be a certain scene in Spain when a certain shocking event occurs that I was NOT expecting. (no spoilers!)

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I don’t think so. A great writer- sure, but not one that I’ve connected with during both of her books.

Would we recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Yes!

Star rating (out of 5):

BETH:

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CHRISSI:

3 Star Rating Clip Art