Guest Review – Her Mother’s Secret – Natasha Lester

Her Mother’s Secret

Natasha Lester

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733634659

 

Description:

1918, England. Armistice Day should bring peace into Leonora’s life. Rather than secretly making cosmetics in her father’s chemist shop to sell to army nurses such as Joan, her adventurous Australian friend, Leo hopes to now display her wares openly. Instead, Spanish flu arrives in the village, claiming her father’s life. Determined to start over, she boards a ship to New York City. On the way she meets debonair department store heir Everett Forsyth . . . In Manhattan, Leo works hard to make her cosmetics dream come true, but she’s a woman alone with a small salary and a society that deems make-up scandalous.

1939, New York City. Everett’s daughter, Alice, a promising ballerina, receives a mysterious letter inviting her to star in a series of advertisements for a cosmetics line. If she accepts she will be immortalized like dancers such as Zelda Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker and Ginger Rogers. Why, then, are her parents so quick to forbid it?

HER MOTHER’S SECRET is the story of a brave young woman chasing a dream in the face of society’s disapproval.

 

Brenda’s Review:

The elation of everyone around in Leonora East’s small village of Sutton Veny was high – the war was over; it was Armistice Day 1918 in England and the celebrations continued long into the afternoon. But joy soon turned to despair as Spanish Flu struck viciously – Leo spent her time dispensing medicine from her father’s chemist shop, praying that it would help. Late in the night, as she wearily entered the home where her father was waiting, she was devastated to find him struggling to breathe.

After his death, a grieving Leo decided she could no longer remain in the country. Her desire to create cosmetics that women the world over would want to wear had her sailing to New York City with her best friend Joan. Leo had made herself a deep rich red lipstick in her father’s chemist shop – but the shock from the self-righteous at the scandal she was causing by wearing it only caused Leo’s determination to strengthen. Meeting up with Everett Forsyth on the journey was fortuitous; he was one of the department store Forsyths from London and he was going to build another in Manhattan. His interest in Leo’s cosmetics gave her some confidence…

1939, twenty years later, Leo had been through much – a widow and continuing to work hard, she always looked to the future. Meantime, Everett’s nineteen year old daughter Alice was a devoted and extremely promising ballerina. But the letter Alice received one day at the dance studio was to change her life in a most unexpected way. Why though were her parents so angry? Confusion filled her mind – what could she do?

Her Mother’s Secret by Aussie author Natasha Lester is brilliant! The strength of character of Leo is phenomenal – the way women were treated in the early part of the century; the heartache and loneliness as she was ostracised by the elite of society – and she still held her head high! The author has historical fiction down to a fine art; her meticulous research is obvious. I thoroughly enjoyed Her Mother’s Secret, reading it in a matter of hours. A highly recommended 5 star read.

 

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Post Script: Devil’s Bridge – Linda Fairstein

Cover - Devils' Bridge

Devil’s Bridge

Linda Fairstein

Hachette Australia

Little, Brown

ISBN: 9780751560343

 

Description:

The Manhattan waterfront is one of New York City’s most magnificent vistas, boasting both the majestic Statue of Liberty and the busy George Washington Bridge. But Detective Mike Chapman is about to become far too well acquainted with the dangerous side of the Hudson River and its islands when he takes on his most personal case yet: the disappearance of Alex Cooper.

Coop is missing – but there are so many leads and terrifying complications: scores of enemies she has made after a decade of putting criminals behind bars; a recent security breach with dangerous repercussions; and a new intimacy in her relationship with Mike, causing the Police Commissioner himself to be wary of the methods Mike will use to get Coop back… if he can.

 

 

My View:

I am a big fan of Linda Fairstein’s Alexandra Cooper series and this latest book in that series did not disappoint. This narrative includes the characters we already know and love – Coop (who in this instance plays a pivotal yet behind the scenes role in this one) and Detective Mike Chapman – it is Chapman’s voice we hear narrating most of this story. The reader gets a opportuntity to learn a lot more about Mike’s background – the incidents and places and people that helped shaped his life and we get a fantastic visual of New York’s waterways, history and culture, now and during Mike’s childhood. We are privy to lessons on waterfront gangsters, Hell’s Kitchen’s family feuds, history and the architecture of this famous city; I feel I have already visited this city, I can see the images so clearly in my mind. But more than a reminiscence of life gone by this is a story of families, relationships and revenge with a love story in the mix and what a great story it is.  Some people hold grudges for a long time – what a waste of energy and in this case – of lives.

 

I look forward to reading this next instalment in this vital series.