Stevie Carroll (stevie_carroll) wrote,
Stevie Carroll

Books Read and Listened To Part Three

Wrapping up the current big batch of reviews...

Actors on Shakespeare: Antony and Cleopatra (Actors on Shakespeare Series)
by Vanessa Redgrave
Series edited by Colin Nicholson
Published by Faber & Faber Plays
Print book
ISBN 9780571212354

Vanessa Redgrave, an iconoclastic actor equally adept in classic or modern roles for stage or screen, has played in and directed Antony and Cleopatra a number of times since 1973, both in the UK and the USA. Using those experiences she delves into the background history and the foreground of character to form a dazzling mosaic of insights into the art of play. Shakespeare's work is important in shaping our language and character. The enduring popularity and success of Shakespearean productions in theatre and on film is a truly international and cross-cultural phenomenon. The aim of the Actors on Shakespeare series is to provide a unique and accessible contemporary commentary to each of the plays via top-class actors who have performed in them.


Vanessa Redgrave has played Cleopatra and directed the play, so she is well positioned to write this analysis. A great look at the play from a different point of view to the various dry (mainly) male academic commentaries that accompany texts of the play itself.

The Unknown Bridesmaid
by Margaret Forster
Published by Chatto & Windus
Audio book
ISBN 9780701188054

When Julia was eight, she was asked to be a bridesmaid at her beautiful cousin Iris' wedding. Her mother saw this as a chore - expensive, inconvenient - but Julia was thrilled. When the time came, even the fact that her bridesmaid's dress didn't fit, and was plain cream rather than the pink she'd hoped for, couldn't ruin the day. But after this, things began to go wrong for Julia, starting with an episode involving her cousin's baby, a pram and a secret trip round the block. A lifetime later, Julia is a child psychologist who every day deals with young girls said to be behaving badly. Some are stealing, some are running away from home, some are terribly untidy, some won't eat or get out of bed. Julia has a special knack with these girls. She understands which really are troubled, and which are at the mercy of the way they are seen by the adults around them. But one day, Julia's own troubled past starts to creep into her present. And as she struggles to understand her childhood self, she must confront the possibility that the truth may not be as devastating as she feared.

I enjoyed this, although I felt the audio narration didn't always make it clear when we were switching from one point in the timeline to another. My favourite parts were those in which present day Julia was dealing with the various girls sent to her for assessment, but her empathy had its roots in her past, and so the whole story tied together neatly.

Never Say Goodbye
by Susan Lewis
Published by Ballantine Books
ISBN 9780345549501

Josie Clark, a loving wife and mother, struggles to make ends meet by cleaning homes and working at a diner while her husband drives a taxi. Josie’s joy is her two children, just entering adulthood. But with her son recently imprisoned for a crime she is certain he didn’t commit, and her daughter marrying too young, Josie now worries about the future—and wonders if she’ll ever be able to ensure their safety and happiness.

Across town, in a gorgeous house by the sea, successful property developer Bel Monkton lives in comparative luxury. But she has struggles of her own. Since the death of her twin sister more than a year ago, Bel has been unable to rebuild her shattered world, and the troubled past she thought was behind her haunts her ever more.

Faced with uncertainty and heartbreak, Josie and Bel find each other and a surprising friendship that will change their lives.


Reviewed on The Good, The Bad, & The Unread.

How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days
by Laura Lee Guhrke
Published by Avon
ISBN 9780062118202

They had a deal...

From the moment she met the devil-may-care Duke of Margrave, Edie knew he could change her life. And when he agreed to her outrageous proposal of a marriage of convenience, she was transformed from ruined American heiress to English duchess. Five years later, she's delighted with their arrangement, especially since her husband is living on another continent.

But deals are made to be broken...

By marrying an heiress, Stuart was able to pay his family's enormous debts, and Edie's terms that he leave England forever seemed a small price to pay. But when a brush with death impels him home, he decides it's time for a real marriage with his luscious American bride, and he proposes a bold new bargain: ten days to win her willing kiss. But is ten days enough to win her heart?


Reviewed on The Good, The Bad, & The Unread.

Julia's Double Chance
by Em Ashcroft
Published by Siren BookStrand Inc
ISBN not found

The lovely widow Julia, Lady Ormond, needs an heir. Charles Tait and Snowley "Snow" Mason need Julia. Together, they find a love worth fighting for.

Julia will be left penniless if she doesn’t get pregnant in the next two months. Charles and Snow both want Julia and suggest that they help. They take her to the notorious Madame Joly’s House of Passion in Covent Garden and show her passion beyond her wildest dreams. Julia falls in love with the men, but she can’t give way to her emotions. She must be above suspicion for her child’s sake, but in the House of Passion she discovers she needs both men for her happiness.

Charles and Snow don’t want to let Julia go, but deeply in love with her, they want what’s best for her. With their happiness at stake, they must find a way to keep her. But how to do that and preserve their thriving business and Julia’s good name?


To be reviewed on The Good, The Bad, & The Unread.

The Forgotten Seamstress
by Liz Trenow
Published by Sourcebooks Landmark
ISBN 9781402282508

She Kept Her Secret for a Lifetime...

A shy girl with no family, Maria knows she's lucky to have landed in the sewing room of the royal household. Before World War I casts its shadow, she catches the eye of the Prince of Wales, a glamorous and intense gentleman. But her life takes a far darker turn, and soon all she has left is a fantastical story about her time at Buckingham Palace.

Decades later, Caroline Meadows discovers a beautiful quilt in her mother's attic. When she can't figure out the meaning of the message embroidered into its lining, she embarks on a quest to reveal its mystery, a puzzle that only seems to grow more important to her own heart. As Caroline pieces together the secret history of the quilt, she comes closer and closer to the truth about Maria.

Page-turning and heartbreaking, The Forgotten Seamstress weaves together past and present in an unforgettable journey.


Reviewed on The Good, The Bad, & The Unread.

Singled Out: How Two Million Women Survived Without Men After the First World War
by Virginia Nicholson
Published by Viking Books
Print book
ISBN 9780670915644

The First World War deprived Britain of three-quarters of a million soldiers, with as many more incapacitated. In 1919 a generation of women who unquestioningly believed marriage to be their birthright discovered that there were, quite simply, not enough men to go round. The press ran alarming stories about the 'Problem of the Surplus Women - Two Million who can never become Wives ...'. But behind the headlines were thousands of brave, emancipated individuals forced by a tragedy of historic proportions to rethink their entire futures. Tracing their fates, Virginia Nicholson shows how the single woman of the inter-war decades had to stop depending on men for her income, her identity and her happiness. Some just endured, others challenged the conventions, fought the system and found fulfilment. "Singled Out" pays homage to this remarkable generation of women who were changed by war, and in their turn helped change society.


Based on a wide range of biographies, memoirs, and interviews, this is a great analysis of the many ways in which women coped with being single in a world where they were expected to be either wives and mothers or to stay at home forever. Some inspiring stories in amongst the more familiar ones.

The Doomsday Kids: Liam's Promise (The Doomsday Kids Book 1)
by Karyn Langhorne Folan
Published by K Squared Books
ISBN 9780615966083

Separated from their parents, eight kids must survive a nuclear blast that destroys their city. They couldn't be more different: Liam Harper and his sister Lilly, who has Down's Syndrome, are outsiders who are new to public schools. Mysterious Amaranth Jones doesn't have parents; she lives in a group home. Nate and Nester Bartlett are half-brothers who don't like each other much. Rod Wasserman is a prankster and bully who has made Liam's life as a new kid miserable. His girlfriend, Amy Yamamoto, is popular cheerleader who doesn't seem to care for much beyond her hair and her makeup. And Elise Gomez is only seven and barely speaks English.

Tumbling into a bomb shelter called "The Hole" beneath Liam's house, the group face injury, deprivation and their dislike for each other. When the food runs out, they have no choice but to emerge, facing the devastation of the world above. In order to escape the fallout, they must put aside their differences and walk 200 miles to a mountain cabin, where they hope they will be safe.


To be reviewed on The Good, The Bad, & The Unread.

How Many Miles to Babylon
by Jennifer Johnston
Published by Penguin Books
Print book
ISBN 9780140119510

As a child Alec, heir to the big house and only son of a bitter marriage, formed a close friendship with Jerry, a village boy who shared his passion for horses. In 1914 both enlisted in the British Army - Alec goaded by his beautiful, cold mother to fight for King and Country, Jerry to learn his trade for the Irish Nationalist cause. But amid the mud of Flanders, their relationship is tested by an ordeal beyond the horror of the battlefield.


A short but powerful novella about friendship, told by Alec as he awaits his fate in a cell; being an officer he is allowed writing materials, unlike the men who faced court martial (as we discover when his story unfolds). Definitely recommended to those interested in the period.

You Had Me At Hello
by Mhairi McFarlane
Published by Avon
ISBN 9780007488056

What happens when the one that got away comes back?

Rachel and Ben. Ben and Rachel. It was them against the world. Until it all fell apart.

It’s been a decade since they last spoke, but when Rachel bumps into Ben one rainy day, the years melt away.

From the moment they met they’d been a gang of two; partners in crime and the best of friends. But life has moved on. Ben is married. Rachel is definitely not. In fact, the men in her life make her want to take holy orders…

Yet in that split second, Rachel feels the old friendship return. And along with it, the broken heart she’s never been able to mend.

If you love David Nicholls and Lisa Jewell then this is the book for you. Hilarious, heartbreaking and everything in between, you’ll be hooked from their first ‘hello’.


To be reviewed on The Good, The Bad, & The Unread.
Tags: audio books, ebooks, good-bad-unread, goodreads, print books, reviews
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