📚A Light-Hearted Mock-Memoir. @CathyRy reviews Price’s Price by Chris Maden, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Cathy.

Cathy blogs here https://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Cathy has been reading Price’s Price by Chris Maden

Book cover for historical fiction set in Hong Kong, Price's Price by Chris Maden.

Price’s Price is described as ‘a light-hearted and elegiac mock-memoir’ and I think that sums it up pretty well. Stanley Featherstonehaugh Price spent his childhood in Zimbabwe and his boyhood in English schools. He had dreams of exploration in deepest Africa and beyond just as soon as he came into his inheritance, which he believed would become his when he reached his eighteenth birthday. It came as a huge blow to discover he wouldn’t get anything until he was either twenty-five or married. Stanley tried for the second option but his marriage strategy was scuppered when his intended married someone else.

‘Thus, I formed my creed. What the Fates have in store is beyond the ken of any mortal, but the point is to face their whims with a sense of adventure and fun. Not fatalism, which is an abnegation of life, but rather a vicarious acceptance of all that they threw in my path.’

Stanley decided to join the army, believing they might be persuaded to fund an expedition. After a year at Sandhurst and another in the mountains of Nepal with the Gurkhas, he was asked where he wanted to be stationed. Anywhere but Hong Kong was Stanley’s answer. So Hong Kong it was.

Stanley seemed to drift through life, at the mercy of his desires but lamenting at times the non realisation of his dreams of exploration. His was a louche lifestyle fuelled in large parts by sex, booze and the desire for wealth. With descriptive prose Chris Maden portrays a vivid picture of Stanley’s life in Hong Kong with all its ups and downs, bars, clubs, brief (and longer) encounters, businesses and wealth made then lost.

A very expressive, unusual and at times poignant read, with a memorable protagonist. I enjoyed it.

Orange rose book description
Book description

Stanley Price has dreamt since childhood of exploring the world. But, when the army posts him to Hong Kong in the 1960s, this officer, scoundrel and rake falls for the glamour, the girls and the gung-ho attitude. Swept along and seduced by this free-wheeling city, he is sucked into a delightful vortex of beer, women and bribes. His dreams remain ever-present but out of reach. Until, that is, he falls for a young lady who could be his redemption – or his nemesis.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

📚’Beautiful, strange, unflinching in the way it portrays a descent into corruption’. Jenni reviews Price’s Price by Chris Maden, for Rosie’s Bookreview Team #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Jenni.

Find out more about Jenni here https://jenniferdebie.com/

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Jenni has been reading Price’s Price by Chris Maden

Book cover for historical fiction set in Hong Kong, Price's Price by Chris Maden.
Price’s Price by Chris Maden

There is what I would call a ‘style curve’ to the opening of Chris Maden’s debut novel, Price’s Price. The prose has a drifting, distanced quality, like looking at the world through a softened lens, that can be off-putting to readers as we are introduced to Stanley Price, first as he sits waiting in a bar for a woman from the past, and then are catapulted through a flashback to his childhood as the son of a plantation owner in mid-20th century Zimbabwe. Childhood in Africa drifts into boyhood spent in British boarding schools, misspent teenage years sampling the delights of London and Europe, a near miss or two with assorted women of varying levels of repute, and a commission in the British Army that takes him around the world, but always there is distance between Price and the world around him. A distance that translates to isolation even from the readers following along with his memories, seeing everything through his eyes.

The drifting style of storytelling never changes, never sharpens once Price lands in Hong Kong in the 1970s, dispatched there by the British Army to police the border and exist as a colonizing presence in a city that has no real use for colonizers, yet the prose fits the man to a T. Slowly Price is absorbed by Hong Kong, its women, its politics, its corruption, never seemingly on purpose, and yet he drifts on from scene to scene, year to year, boom to bust as the markets surge and sink. Through it all the inherent aimlessness of Price’s trajectory is mirrored in the style in which Maden writes him, and somewhere along the way readers stop being bothered by the writing and are absorbed by it instead.

Price’s journey is pungent, redolent with perfume and liquor, sweat and sex, fortunes made and lost all at the whim of the Fates he so frequently looks to, and somewhere in the middle of this Maden has created an incredibly compelling character. Stanley Price, as written, is neither terribly good, nor terribly bad, as a person. He is neither a genius, nor an idiot. He is not always a good friend, but then goes to great lengths for those he cares about. He’s just a man. A man full of flaws and potential and an ability to adapt to the world around him, even as the earth on which he stands shifts with every change in the wind.

Hong Kong is a city in flux, and Maden’s sense of the time, place, and rapidly changing social, political, and economic situation of the 1970s and ‘80s feels tangible to the reader. From seedy bars to exclusive clubs, smuggling scams and factory floors, Maden sends his protagonist wandering through all, and as the reader wanders with him we can’t help but be amazed at the situations Price finds himself in.

And the many scrapes that he must talk himself out of.

Beautiful, strange, unflinching in the way it portrays a descent into corruption and the ways a man must redeem himself by small measures again and again, reading Price’s Price was an experience I find difficult to describe beyond saying simply, it’s good. It’s very, very good.

5/5

Orange rose book description
Book description

Stanley Price has dreamt since childhood of exploring the world. But, when the army posts him to Hong Kong in the 1960s, this officer, scoundrel and rake falls for the glamour, the girls and the gung-ho attitude. Swept along and seduced by this free-wheeling city, he is sucked into a delightful vortex of beer, women and bribes. His dreams remain ever-present but out of reach. Until, that is, he falls for a young lady who could be his redemption – or his nemesis.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

📚Set in France in 1969. Noelle reviews #Histfic Lake Of Echoes by @LizaPerrat, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Noelle.

Noelle blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Noelle has been reading Lake Of Echoes by Liza Perrat.

Book cover for Lake Of Echoes by Liza Perrat
Lake Of Echoes by Liza Perrat

Juliette lives with her father, Bruno, and her mother, Lea. Her father is headmaster at a local school, and her mother runs L’Auberge de Lea, where they live, together with her father’s mother. The marriage is gradually falling apart, both from Bruno’s apparent infidelity and also Lea’s laser focus running on the auberge, which takes all her time and most of her attention.  The mother-in-law contributes to the turmoil by her unquestioning support of everything her son does and her unending criticism of Lea.

Juliette is witness to the arguments and frequently flees the house to get away from the ugliness. One day she does not return. Neighbors and people from the nearby village are organized into search parties led a local gendarme, who at first thinks Juliette will come home. At time goes by, Lea is tormented by thoughts of what has happened to her daughter but by necessity must continue to run the auberge and face the pity of the villagers. Her sister and her neighbors, one of whom is a self-proclaimed psychic, are her only support.

As the seasons pass, Lea’s despair deepens and Bruno finally moves out, leaving his wife for the teacher with whom Lea thought he was having an affair. The reader is introduced to various men in the village, raising one question after another about who took Juliette. The author creates various paths that never seem to lead to the perpetrator!

Liza Perrat can create complex and compelling characters, and she definitely does here. The reader is privy to the mind of an eight-year-old, to the feckless Bruno, to the apparently tireless and but always prim and proper mother-in-law, and to the mad workings of the mind of Juliette’s captor. You are drawn into Lea’s anguish over her lost child, which only strengthens as time passes. She is willing, as any mother would, to hold onto any sliver of hope, no matter how tenuous, despite the months passing, and the additional impact of the breakup of her marriage. Her inner strength is remarkable. The author truly understand her characters.

This emotional tension is set against the colorful local traditions of rural France, the workings of the auberge, and sumptuous description of the changing seasons around the lake which it overlooks.  And since this in an auberge, there is always tempting French cuisine, the descriptions of which made me dig out my French cookbooks.

Orange rose book description
Book description

A vanished daughter. A failing marriage. A mother’s life in ruins.
1969. As France seethes in the wake of social unrest, eight-year-old Juliette is caught up in the turmoil of her parents’ fragmenting marriage.
Unable to bear another argument, she flees her home.
Neighbours joining the search for Juliette are stunned that such a harrowing thing could happen in their tranquil lakeside village.
But this is nothing compared to her mother, Lea’s torment, imagining what has befallen her daughter.
Léa, though, must remain strong to run her auberge and as the seasons pass with no news from the gendarmes, she is forced to accept she may never know her daughter’s fate.
Despite the villagers’ scepticism, Léa’s only hope remains with a clairvoyant who believes Juliette is alive.
But will mother and daughter ever be reunited?
Steeped in centuries-old tradition, against an enchanting French countryside backdrop, Lake of Echoes will delight your senses and captivate your heart.

Universal link: mybook.to/LakeofEchoesEbook

📚Historic Domestic #Thriller. Frank Reviews Lake Of Echoes by @LizaPerrat, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Frank.

Find out more about Frank here https://franklparker.com/

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Frank has been reading Lake Of Echoes by Liza Perrat

Book cover for Lake Of Echoes by Liza Perrat
Lake Of Echoes by Liza Perrat

There is so much that is great about this book that it is difficult to know where to start. So I will start at the beginning. Léa took on the business of running an Auberge beside a lake in rural France in order to give her something to take her mind off the tragic loss of her son by cot death at just 3 months old. Now, in 1969, it is clear that her marriage is on the rocks. She and husband Bruno, Head Master at the village school, are constantly bickering, blaming each other for the tragedy. During one particularly heated exchange their 8 year old daughter, Juliette, wanders off. When she does not return we have the beginnings of a tension filled mystery. And the ensuing plot is handled with consummate skill by this Australian writer who has lived in France for more than two decades.

For those of us old enough to remember them, the years embracing the end of the sixties and beginning of the seventies can offer a rosy hued vision of ‘flower power’; of Height Ashbury and Woodstock, of armed guards confronted by hippies pushing flowers into the barrels of their guns. But it was also a time of riots across several European nations and the USA, of the cold war and fears of communism and nuclear war; a time when strange cults emerged led by charismatic psychopaths who brainwashed their adherents into believing dangerous nonsense. It is this atmosphere that Perrat taps into with her mesmerising tale.

The first half of the book concentrates on Léa’s attempts to come to terms with the loss of another child. As weeks pass and nobody is found whilst more girls from the same age group disappear, we share her anger at the incompetence of the Gendarmerie. When she seeks help from a friend who claims to be clairvoyant she is treated with scorn. Meanwhile readers are provided with tantalising glimpses of the abductor and his henchwomen, his wife and sister.

The second half of the book presents a description of the lives of the girls under the discipline ordered by the abductor and administered by the women. The abductor’s master plan is revealed and tension rises as Juliette devises an escape plan.

The climax is superbly handled. There is no siege by armed gendarmes as might be the case today. I can’t tell you how the situation is resolved, for that would spoil your pleasure in reading it for yourself, something which I urge you to do.

The events are told from the different points of view of several of the characters. Each has a unique and utterly believable voice. The children, especially, are beautifully drawn. Animals, too, have important roles and their behaviour demonstrates the author’s skill as an observer of every aspect of life in rural France. So, too, do her descriptions of the landscape and climate. It is these details that bring the novel to life and make it one of the best domestic thrillers you will read in a long time. I wish I could award more than 5 stars.

Orange rose book description
Book description

A vanished daughter. A failing marriage. A mother’s life in ruins.
1969. As France seethes in the wake of social unrest, eight-year-old Juliette is caught up in the turmoil of her parents’ fragmenting marriage.
Unable to bear another argument, she flees her home.
Neighbours joining the search for Juliette are stunned that such a harrowing thing could happen in their tranquil lakeside village.
But this is nothing compared to her mother, Lea’s torment, imagining what has befallen her daughter.
Léa, though, must remain strong to run her auberge and as the seasons pass with no news from the gendarmes, she is forced to accept she may never know her daughter’s fate.
Despite the villagers’ scepticism, Léa’s only hope remains with a clairvoyant who believes Juliette is alive.
But will mother and daughter ever be reunited?
Steeped in centuries-old tradition, against an enchanting French countryside backdrop, Lake of Echoes will delight your senses and captivate your heart.

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

🌅#HistoricalFiction Lake Of Echoes by @LizaPerrat. Reviewed for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT by @OlgaNM7 #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Olga.

Olga blogs here https://www.authortranslatorolga.com

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Olga has been reading Lake Of Echoes by Liza Perrat

Book cover for Lake Of Echoes by Liza Perrat
Lake Of Echoes by Liza Perrat

I had access to a very early ARC of this novel by Liza Perrat, the first in a new series, which I freely chose to review.

I came across Perrat’s novels through Rosie’s Book Review Team and have been an admirer and follower since. She writes historical fiction set in a variety of eras (from the Middle Ages to WWII, mostly in France) and also fiction set in the second half of the XX century, often in her native Australia. She combines complex and compelling characters (female characters usually take centre stage), with plots that grab the readers’ attention and don’t let go. That combined with a very vivid style of writing, the epitome of showing rather than telling (one can really see, smell, hear, and even taste what is happening to the characters and share in their experiences) mean that reading her novels is a truly immersive experience.

And this one is not an exception, but rather an excellent example of the best qualities of her writing.

Imagine a woman who’s already lost a child, having to live through the kidnapping of her now only daughter. Léa, who had poured her energies into her new project (an auberge by a beautiful lake) in an attempt at regaining some peace and thirst for life, is devastated, and her relationship with her husband, already strained, ends up breaking. To make matters worse, three other girls are also kidnapped and efforts to find them fail. Life becomes increasingly difficult, and the only hope Léa has comes from her two neighbours and friends, Clotilde and Bev, as Clotilde reads the cards and insists that the girls are all alive and well. Of course, nobody else believes them, time passes, and some sort of life develops, but Léa and her family keep waiting. And… Of course, I’m not going to tell you what happens, but the story deals with grief, loss, family relationships, also life in a small (French) village, prejudices and rumours, and how life has changed since the late 1960s (so close and yet so far).

I have mentioned Léa, who tells her story in the first person, with some fragments (in italics) when she remembers the past in a vivid and immersive manner that makes us identify with her, and suffer her same pain. Louise, Léa’s mother-in-law, is a strong character, one who is always proper and maintains the façade, no matter how difficult things get or what she might be feeling inside. We don’t see the story from her perspective, but we share in some of the other characters’ stories, although those are told in the third person. This is the case for Juliette, who is a delightful girl, intelligent, but she behaves like a normal eight-year-old and does not fully understand what is happening. Her interaction with the other girls and with the kidnapper and the people helping him (some more willingly than others) is tough to read but it feels believable within the parameters of the story.

We also get to share in the thoughts of the kidnapper (although we only know him by the identity he adopts and not his real one), his sister, Alice (a favourite of mine, despite her circumstances), and his wife, and there are other characters featured as well, all in the third person, with the occasional flashback. This maintains the mystery while allowing readers more insight into aspects of the story the authorities and the mother know nothing about.

It is difficult to talk about the baddy without revealing too much, but let me tell you he is a great creation, and being in his head at times is a scary and horrifying experience.

The setting is truly wonderful. Despite the horrific aspects of the story, it is impossible not to love the lake, the villages around it, the wonderful traditions, the festivals, the cooking… I am looking forward to reading more stories set in the area, and I know the author is already working on the second one.

The writing, as I’ve mentioned, is beautiful and also heart-wrenching at times. We experience the emotions of the characters, and also the wonders of nature, the change of seasons, and even the pets and animals have their own personalities and help readers feel at home there. Readers need not worry about the different points of view causing confusion, as there are no sudden changes in narrative voice, each chapter is told from a single perspective, clearly indicated, and the story is told in chronological order, apart from a few chapters, and with the dates also featuring at the head of each new chapter.

The whole of the story has something of the fairy tale, with Gothic-like houses, dangerous rivers, sometimes magical and sometimes scary woods, strange people living in the forest, and some characters that will remind us of some beloved characters. But the narrative works on many levels, and I was totally invested in the mystery as well. There are plenty of clues, red herrings, and hints dropped throughout the story, and many possible suspects. There is also a gendarme, Major Rocamadour, who grows on us as the story progresses, and we discover he is not all business. He does have a pretty tough nut to crack, though, but, without revealing too much, I can say that I enjoyed the ending, and the story ends up on a hopeful note.

I recommend this wonderfully written story to anybody who loves imagination, great characters, a strong plot, and who love a setting full of charm but also some underlying darkness and menace. Anybody who has read and enjoyed Liza Perrat’s previous novels is in for a treat, and those who haven’t met her yet… Well, what are you waiting for?

Orange rose book description
Book description

A vanished daughter. A failing marriage. A mother’s life in ruins.
1969. As France seethes in the wake of social unrest, eight-year-old Juliette is caught up in the turmoil of her parents’ fragmenting marriage.
Unable to bear another argument, she flees her home.
Neighbours joining the search for Juliette are stunned that such a harrowing thing could happen in their tranquil lakeside village.
But this is nothing compared to her mother, Lea’s torment, imagining what has befallen her daughter.
Léa, though, must remain strong to run her auberge and as the seasons pass with no news from the gendarmes, she is forced to accept she may never know her daughter’s fate.
Despite the villagers’ scepticism, Léa’s only hope remains with a clairvoyant who believes Juliette is alive.
But will mother and daughter ever be reunited?
Steeped in centuries-old tradition, against an enchanting French countryside backdrop, Lake of Echoes will delight your senses and captivate your heart.

Universal link: mybook.to/LakeofEchoesEbook