Friday, 29 July 2016

Daughters of Castle Deverill - Santa Montefiore

It is 1925 and the war is long over. But much has been lost and life will never truly be the same again.
Castle Deverill, cherished home to the Deverill family in the west of Ireland for hundreds of years, has burned to the ground. But young and flighty Celia Deverill is determined to restore the sad ruin to its former glory. Celia married well and has the wealth, after all, to keep it in the family and she cannot bear to see it stand neglected.
But dark shadows are gathering once more, as the financial markets start to shake. And everything that felt so certain is thrown once again into doubt.
A compelling story of family and history, from the author of the top ten bestseller Songs of Love and War.

What I thought:

Wow, wow and wow again!! I read Songs of Love and War and was totally blown away by it, so I was absolutely thrilled to discover that it was the first part of a trilogy and I immediately pre-ordered part two. As soon as Daughters of Castle Deverill appeared on my kindle, I literally dived in. I never dreamt that part two could be anywhere near as good as part one, but I couldn't have been more wrong.

Daughters of Castle Deverill began just where Songs of Love and War left off and it took this epic drama to another level. The characters I fell in love with in the first book all grew in personality and there were several new additions, an eclectic bunch that I would never in my wildest dreams have thought had a place in this story, but they just added to the wow factor that this book delivers. The part played by "The Shrubs" in this book ( sorry, but I don't want to spoil this treat for you by telling you what they are), was a touch of genius. I loved them in part one and totally adored them in part two.

The story continues, it's 1925 and a new owner moves into the castle, but after a massive refurbishment there is a shocking discovery. Kitty, Bridie and Celia, upon whom the story is largely based, all face life-changing decisions in one way or another, unsavoury characters rear their ugly heads and along with the revelation of long hidden secrets, this book embodies the great television drama serial it will one day surely become.

There is only one negative comment I can possibly make, and that is that I have to wait until next year for part three. Both books could easily be read as stand-alone novels, though I highly recommend you read Songs of Love and War first, purely because it is so good and will add to your enjoyment of Daughters of Castle Deverill.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

The Judge's Wife - Ann O'Loughlin

Can a love last forever?

When Emma returns to Dublin to put her estranged father’s affairs in order, she begins to piece together the story of his life and that of Grace, the mother she never knew. She knows her father as the judge – as stern and distant at home as he was in the courtroom. But as she goes through his personal effects, Emma begins to find clues about her mother that shock her profoundly.
A tale of enduring love and scandal that begins in 1950s Dublin and unravels across decades and continents, digging up long-buried family secrets along the way, The Judge’s Wife asks whether love really can last forever.

What I thought:

I really couldn't wait to read this book. Although I hadn't read anything by this author before, there was something about The Judge's Wife that instantly caught my eye and I wasn't disappointed. I'm not normally a very fast reader but I literally devoured this.  

The book follows Emma, who returns home after her father's death and discovers the real truth about her childhood. "Oh yes," I hear you say, "I've read that before!" "Oh no," I reply, "You haven't read anything like this before!" The story is told both in the present, which is the 1980s and in the past, which is the 1950s. Initially, I found myself getting lost, not knowing which period I was reading about, but I was soon back on track and this in no way detracted from the enjoyment of this novel - it really is superb, totally and utterly compelling. The storyline is very thought provoking and I found it quite disturbing at times, but it was still unputdownable. I assume it's fictional but based on what could and probably did happen to many unfortunate individuals. There is so much to tell about this enthralling tale of love and deception but I don't want to spoil the shock and surprise you get as you go from page to page.

Although very sad, the story is also uplifting and was an absolute pleasure to read. I thoroughly recommend this book and look forward to reading more by this author.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Songs af Love And War - Santa Montefiore

Their lives were mapped out ahead of them. But love and war will change everything…
Castle Deverill, nestled in the rolling Irish hills, is home to three very different women: flame-haired Kitty Deverill, her best friend and daughter of the castle’s cook, Bridie Doyle, and her flamboyant English cousin, Celia Deverill.
When war breaks out, the lives of all three are changed forever.
Wrenched apart by betrayal, their world turned to ash, the girls’ friendship seems all but lost as they are swept to different parts of the globe.  Yet, they have one thing in common: a fierce and unwavering longing for Castle Deverill and all the memories contained within it.

What I thought:

As much as I really do love chick-lit, it is this kind of book that made me really fall in love with reading. Songs of Love and War swept me away to a time and place that I could only ever dream about . Set in 1910 in an Irish castle, it truly is an epic saga, the kind of story that would sit comfortably as a serialised television drama.

The story follows Kitty Deverill, Anglo-Irish daughter of the Castle, Bridie Doyle, Irish daughter of the Castle's cook and Celia Deverill, Kitty's English cousin as they grow up together. Celia joins the girls every year when her family come over from England to spend the summer at the Castle. Bridie's home life is devoid of any of the privileges enjoyed by Kitty, but this doesn't stop them becoming best friends.  When the Irish rebel against the English as they battle for independence, the safety of the Deverill family is threatened and amid love, secrets and lies the girls are parted, their lives changed forever.

The characters within the book are all bursting with personality. Kitty is fiery, determined and fiercely proud of her Irish heritage with Bridie equally strong-willed. Kitty is shown little affection by Maud, her mother, but she shares a special relationship with her grandmother, Adeline, who drinks a special blend of tea that I found particularly amusing. The addition of "The Shrubs", (you have to read the book to understand), was just the cherry on the cake for me. They are adorable.

Nail-biting tension, love, loss, betrayal and heartache all make this a real page-turner. I fell in love with these characters and although I was sad to come to the end of the book, I was thrilled to learn that this is part one of a trilogy and Daughters of Castle Deverill is released in July 2016.