Monday, 15 June 2020

QuickLit June 2020

Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy as usual for QuickLit. I have something to celebrate as we finish coming out of lockdown - I finally published my novel, A Dorset Summer (a promise seven years in the making, which is a whole other blog post). Here is a link to the post all about it, and the  Amazon link, if anyone is interested. Meanwhile, here's what kept me going in May:

The Venerable Bede. Source:

Donna Fletcher Crow - An Unholy Communion, A Newly Crimsoned Reliquary, and An All-Consuming Flame (The Monastery Murders, books 3-5)
I was definitely losing it by the end of lockdown - making cinnamon rolls at 10pm, and randomly choosing to read an entire series of cosy mysteries set in the heart of the Anglican church. As I mentioned last month, I enjoyed the first but the second was a let-down. The third picked up for me. In An Unholy Communion, ordinand Felicity and history lecturer Father Anthony, now engaged, take a young group of pilgrims through ancient Wales after the mysterious falling death of a past student of Anthony's. But the evil that seems to dog their footsteps is not wholly of this world. Oxford is the setting of A Newly Crimsoned Reliquary. Felicity is translating a manuscript for an order of nuns - but their Mother Superior has gone missing, and a grisly new "relic" turns up in a reliquary. The last installment, An All-Consuming Fire, meandered a bit, like the second: in the run-up to Anthony and Felicity's wedding, Anthony is roped in to help with a documentary on the English mystics, but the misfortunes dogging the set start to get closer to home...
What can I say - they have their ups and downs (Felicity must have some serious brain damage given all the times she's been knocked on the head, and Ms. Crow seems to paint anyone who isn't white middle class with broad brush strokes), but the historical parts of the mysteries are informing and entertaining, and it has spurred me to start re-reading the classics of my faith. Brain candy for church history geeks.

Jenny Colgan - The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris
Usually I stick to Jenny Colgan books that involve remote British locations plus baking or books. Also (quelle horreur!) I am not in love with Paris (Florence, now...). Anyhow, this is two parallel stories: while in hospital, Anna is roomed with her old French teacher, who helps her brush up her language skills and gets her a summer job with a chocolatier, who happens to be the teacher's first love. Anna's story is interspersed with that romance, set in the 70s. It's the classic Colgan formula, breezy, heartwarming, and not explicit. I wept a little, too.

Lorna Cook - The Forgotten Village
I had to read this dual timeline novel because it incorporates a fictionalised account of Tyneham, the Dorset village requisitioned by the army in the Second World War, a place I've visited several times. Just as Melissa's relationship falls apart on a holiday in Dorset, she meets TV historian Guy on a visit to the village. Struck by an anomaly in the photo of Lady Veronica and Sir Albert, they begin a spontaneous investigation of what actually happened in Tyneham in the last few, fateful days before the entire population was relocated, and, of course, find themselves falling for each other. Once I got over my initial disconnect between the facts I know and the fictional story Ms. Cook creates, I enjoyed this. I also recommend visiting the village if you are down that way and it is open (the army still uses the land for target practice so it's sometimes closed).

Bede - History of the English Church and People [also known as: Ecclesiastical History of the English People]
I got right to my promise and pulled this off my bookshelf. British readers may well recall the Venerable Bede from history lessons. This 8th century monk is known as a father of British history - he gathers sources from his network across Europe to present the church history of the English. I have to admit my eyes glazed over at the difficult names, except for Bishop Sexwulf - I bet he had a good congregation, but I'm glad I tackled it. I was also amused by Bede's shameless plug for another of his books right at the end; some things never change in publishing, it seems.


Colleen Donnelly - Letters and Lies
From a member of my critique group. Don't Come. I can't marry you. This is the telegram Lizzie's fiance-by-correspondence sends just as she is due to head out West for their marriage. But Lizzie, desperate to be married and to save her family business, boards the train under the guise of a widow intending to change his mind. But one lie leads to another, and she soon finds herself embroiled in trouble she hadn't anticipated. And she's not the only one concealing the truth. I wouldn't usually pick up a novel set in the Wild West, but I enjoyed this. It's an easy read, and, though romance is at its heart, it's more about sisterhood.

Let me know if you have any recommendations for Anglican mysteries - or just good Anglican books!

Available at Amazon

Sunday, 14 June 2020

A Dorset Summer is here!

Well, maybe not quite in the actual county right now, but my novel is finally published on Amazon! A promise to myself it took seven years to keep (no, that's not the novel blurb, but real life). But talking of blurbs, here is the back cover blurb:

A holiday in Dorset with her wealthy, newly-divorced cousin seems the perfect escape from Phoebe's mundane life as a governess – until a man walks from the sea at Studland and into her life. Phoebe is drawn inexorably into a relationship with Alex Milne, a reclusive, tormented WWI veteran, even as she is courted by handsome, gentle landowner James Stephenson. The three form an uneasy triangle of lovers and allies fighting to save the Dorset countryside and its way of life – but the ancient land exerts its own forces on their lives. Trapped between her passion and her integrity, her head and her heart, Phoebe must make choices that compel her to confront her past and threaten to destroy her future.

The alternative cover - I'm waiting for my daughter to edit it :)

And here is the trailer - it's amazing what you can do with no knowledge whatsoever:

Now available at Amazon: