Guest Review: Coming Home to Island House – Erica James

Coming Home to Island House

 

Coming Home to Island House

Erica James

Orion

ISBN: 9781409159605

Description:

The captivating new novel from Sunday Times bestselling author Erica James.

It’s the summer of 1939, and after touring an unsettled Europe to promote her latest book, Romily Temple returns home to Island House and the love of her life, the charismatic Jack Devereux.

But when Jack falls ill, his estranged family are called home and given seven days to find a way to bury their resentments and come together.

With war now declared, each member of the family is reluctantly forced to accept their new stepmother and confront their own shortcomings. But can the habits of a lifetime be changed in one week? And can Romily, a woman who thrives on adventure, cope with the life that has been so unexpectedly thrust upon her?

 

Brenda’s Review:

Romily Temple returned home to Island House after her tour of Europe, where she was promoting her latest crime novel, to discover her new husband and greatest love, Jack Devereux, gravely ill. Jack’s best friend, lawyer Roddy Fitzwilliam was tasked with sending messages to Jack’s estranged family, calling them home, where Jack hoped to make amends for his mistakes of the past.

The necessity was that siblings Hope, Kit and Arthur, plus their cousin Allegra, were to spend a week together at Island House, getting to know one another once again, and to forgive the issues that had driven them all apart those many years ago. Could they do it? There would be a lot of adjusting to be done, and with war imminent, change was happening…

Romily was an adventurous spirit; probably one of the reasons Jack had fallen in love with her – but was she up to the sudden change in her life?

Beautifully written historical drama, Coming Home to Island House is my first by author Erica James, and won’t be my last! Set between August 1939 and December 1940, WWII impacted heavily on the characters, as well as past grievances, forgiveness and love. I was completely enthralled by this novel, which was both heartbreaking and heartwarming and I have no hesitation in recommending this 5 star read highly. I’d like to thank Maggie for the recommendation as well 🙂

With thanks to Hachette AU for my ARC to read and review.

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Post Script: Miracles Do Happen – Fela and Felix Rosenbloom

A remarkable story of strength, resilience, family and survival.Miracles Do Happen

Miracles Do Happen

Fela and Felix Rosenbloom

Scribe Publications

ISBN: 9781925322309

 

Description:

In 1933, a ten-year-old Jewish girl, Fela Perelman, befriended a new family that had moved into her street in Lodz, Poland. There were three children in the Rozenblum family — Rose, Felix, and Maria. Fela and Rose became best friends, while Felix kept his distance. Five years later, Fela and Felix discovered that they liked each other, and soon became sweethearts.

 

When war broke out not long after, the Jews of Lodz found themselves under German occupation, and were soon forced into a ghetto. For Fela and her family, and her community, it was the start of a descent into hell. Fela eventually survived the ghetto, forced labour in Germany, and then the last 17 months of Auschwitz’s existence and the death march out of it.

 

For Felix, the Germans’ intentions were crystal clear. Late in November 1939, as a 17-year-old, he decided to flee eastward, to Soviet-controlled Polish territory. He begged his family to come with him, but they felt unable to. Felix spent the war doing forced labour in the Soviet Union, often in very harsh conditions.

 

After the war, miraculously, Fela and Felix found each other. None of Fela’s family had survived. Of Felix’s immediate family, only his two sisters had survived — and they were now in Sweden. The young couple were bereft and alone. This is their story.

 

 

My View:

A remarkable story of strength, resilience, family and survival.

 

A poignant memoir that is told in two parts: Fela’s story of life pre-world war two, a time of innocence and meeting the boy who was destined to become her husband and an economically worded description of life during the war and as an inmate of Auschwitz and other detention centres. I am glad for the sparseness of words – what Fela has written must have been very difficult to survive let alone recount afterwards. The horrors penetrate event the toughest psyche.  Fela story ends with her migration to Australia.

 

Felix’s story is a little different – yet just as haunting and survival just as miraculous as that described in Fela’s narrative; forced labour in Russia was no doubt an extremely difficult and perilous, yet Felix survived and post war reconnected with Fela and eventually migrated to Australia.  What a remarkable story. What resilience!

 

I think we all would benefit from reading these courageous personal stories – a reminder of just how hostile life was during this ghastly inhuman war (all wars are unconscionable). There are lessons for all here.

 

PS

Love the cover art – the images and the tactile paper.

 

Post Script: Playing With Fire – Tess Gerritsen

Cover Playing With Fire

Playing With Fire

Tess Gerritsen

Random House UK, Transworld Publishers

Bantam Press

ISBN: 9780593075296

 

 

 

Description:

What if your child wanted you dead?

 

Julia doesn’t understand what is happening to her daughter, but she thinks she knows what’s causing it. She is terrified for Lily, and for herself, but what scares her more is that no one believes her.

 

If she is going to help Lily, she will have to find the answers alone, embarking on a search that will take her to the shadowy back streets of Venice.

 

There, Julia uncovers a heartbreaking, long-buried tale of tragedy and devastation – a discovery that puts her in serious danger. Some people will do anything in their power to keep the truth silent . . .

 

 

My View:

Tess Gerritsen is a writer who does not let you down! This fast paced mystery will have you tearing through the pages racing to the climax! A dual time lined mystery, one narrative set in Italy during WW11 is heartbreaking and devastating, and the other, a contemporary narrative, collides with the WW11 story in an explosive and haunting manner, startling with its conviction.

 

The settings and the music provide a most exquisite backdrop to this story – I could feel the music racing across the pages – sometimes passionate and vibrant, sometimes sad and mournful – either way they added a level of emotional connection to the dual narratives; the perfect glue to connect the two stories.

 

The twist in the conclusion will leave you gasping! And relieved. And just a little disappointed; I really enjoyed the haunting, paranormal aspect of this narrative and would love to see this author try her hand a full blown paranormal mystery. A great read.

 

Post Script: The Port Fairy Murders – Robert Gott

Outstanding!

The Port Fairy Murders

The Port Fairy Murders

Robert Gott

Scribe

ISBN: 9781925106459

 

Description:

The Port Fairy Murders is the sequel to The Holiday Murders, a political and historical crime novel set in 1943 featuring the newly formed Homicide department of Victoria Police.

 

The department has been struggling to counter little known fascist groups, particularly an organisation called Australia First that has been festering in Australia since before the war. And now there’s an extra problem: the bitter divide between Catholics and Protestants, which is especially raw in small rural communities.

 

The homicide team, which once again includes Detective Joe Sable and Constable Helen Lord, is trying to track down a dangerous man named George Starling. At the same time they are called to investigate a double murder in the fishing village of Port fairy. It seems straightforward – they have a signed confession – but it soon becomes apparent that nothing about the incident is as it seems.

 

Written with great verve and insight, The Port Fairy Murders is a superb psychological study, as well as a riveting historical whodunit.

 

My View:

Outstanding!

 

An Open Letter to Robert Gott

 

Dear Mt Gott (or may I call you Robert?)

 

I am writing to complain about your latest book, The Port Fairy Murders. I recently (last night) read this novel and was engaged, enchanted, invested and so involved in this narrative that when I read to the end of page 282 and then there was no more I was bereft! Surely there must be more? What will happen to Joe Stable next? Does poor Tom recover? What about Helen? She will be devastated by that phone call. And then there are the relationships stalled and unfulfilled. And did I mention the villains? There are villains to be caught and murders to be solved.

 

If you need inspiration I can send you many pictures of coastal towns in South Australia (courtesy of our recent holiday) that will send your fingers flying across the keyboard. Do you need help with research – I have some spare time, I can do. Come on Robert, where is the next episode?

 

Your loyal fan

 

Carol

 

Post Script: The Holiday Murders- Robert Gott

Powerful, brutal, captivating and charming. And did I mention well written??

The Holiday Murders: Robert Gott- Scribe.

The Holiday Murders: Robert Gott- Scribe.

The Holiday Murders

Robert Gott

Scribe

ISBN: 9781922070258

Description:

ON CHRISTAMS EVE, 1943

The newly founded but undermanned Homicide division of the Melbourne Police force is called to investigate the vicious double murder of a father and son. When Military Intelligence becomes involved, Homicides Inspector Titus Lambert must unravel the personal from the political.

If only the killings had stopped at two. The police are desperate to come to grips with an extraordinary and disquieting upsurge of violence. For Constable Helen Lord, it is an opportunity to make her mark in a male-dominated world where she is patronised as a novelty. For Detective Joe Sable, the investigation forces a reassessment of his indifference to his Jewish heritage. Racing against the clock, the police uncover simmering tensions among secretive local Nazi sympathisers as a psychopathic fascist usurper makes his move.

 

 

 An Open Letter to Robert Gott

 

Dear Mr Gott

I am ashamed to say I knew nothing about you as an author until after I read the schedule of the Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival (May 2015) where I noticed your name against a session titled “A Season to Die For.” This session sparked my interest and I decided to research your work and consequently decided to try and read a few of your books to see if I liked your narratives and style before committing to the session. I am committed! What a brilliant writer you are. Why haven’t I come across your name before?

I have just finished reading The Holiday Murders, it is two o’clock in the morning and I should be going back to bed…I am really tempted to start the next book in this series, The Port Fairy Murders…what a dilemma…sleep V reading….in the end I decided I had better try and get some sleep- I knew if I started this next book I would still be reading at sunrise or however long it took me to finish reading this book.

What did I love about The Holiday Murders I hear you asking? Everything! Characterisations, interesting plot touching on the changing role of women’s place in society, politics, prejudice, Nazism, history, bullying, power over, murder, co dependence in a violent kind of way … …and I was alerted to so much domestic and international history/politics that I wasn’t even aware of in Australia at that time (coincidently this also was referred to in a recent read by Peter Carey – Amnesia: re migration/White Australia policy) funny how thing resonate…as a baby boomer, I mostly was unaware of these issues…times were changing before I became aware.

So back to the book; great writing, engaging characters, authentic settings,enlightening social commentary and an amazing twist at the end and did I mention that as you know from the start who did it – you spend the rest of the book trying to figure out why; intriguing. Bring on the next in this series – I can’t wait.

 

PS

Did I mention up until know I thought I didn’t like historical crime fiction?? I am converted.

 

Kind regards and looking forward to hearing you speak at the Margaret River Reader Writer Festival.

 

Carol