Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Alison reviews How To Climb The Eiffel Tower by Elizabeth Hein

Today’s book review comes from Alison, she blogs at


Alison chose to read and review  How to Climb the Eiffel Tower by Elizabeth Hein

How To Climb The Eiffel Tower by Elizabeth Hein

How To Climb The Eiffel Tower by Elizabeth Hein

How to Climb the Eiffel Tower

An uplifting, enjoyable read.

Lara is 29 and lives a solitary, friendless life, working, going to the gym and eating takeout every night. Then she is diagnosed with cervical cancer and her life is changed, but in surprisingly positive ways.

This book is harrowing at times, as Lara’s background story is revealed and the reasons for her fear of people become clear. But watching her finally make friends and finally live is really rewarding and a pleasure to read.

Her relationship with Jane is a stand out of the story and the kindness of Vanessa is heart-warming. But this book isn’t soppy or sentimental; neither is it preachy. It is simply a tale of a lost, lonely girl who learns to live when confronted by her mortality.

I didn’t particularly enjoy the recounting of Lara’s dreams, although I can see why they are included. This was my only issue with the book. Aside from this, this is definitely worth a read and I recommend it.

Four out of five stars.

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Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Dani reviews How To Climb the Eiffel Tower by Elizabeth Hein

Today we have a review from team member Dani, she blogs at


Dani chose to read and review How To Climb The Eiffel Tower by Elizabeth Hein

How to climb the Eiffel Tower

Here is Dani’s review.

This book has become one of my all-time favourites. My ability to form a coherent review may be severely stunted by how much I loved it.

The story follows Lara Blaine, a super-fit workaholic who’s running from a tragic past. When she gets diagnosed with cancer, the world of relative safety she’s built around herself is shaken to the foundations.

While the story and beautiful characterisation is poignant and moving, it’s also acutely relatable. There were times when I looked up from the pages half convinced that had cancer – that’s how realistic Ms Hein’s character is.

In spite of the sober subject matter, the story is one of hope, of healing on more than one level and of fresh starts. It’s a grounded, accurate and enlightening tale of friendship and overcoming fears.

How to Climb the Eiffel Tower is fantastically written, and the plot was a perfect amalgamation of all of the factors in Lara’s life. I loved the careful growing of relationships (especially with Vanessa) and the way we get to see our protagonist grow as a person. I was, however, a little thrown by the suddenness of her romantic pairing (I was rooting for Tom!).

Jane and Lara also have a great relationship – their selfless natures and their unfamiliarity with the art of friendship make them a joy to read about.

My only real complaint about the book doesn’t affect the text at all; it’s just that I felt the cover image didn’t quite do the novel justice. This isn’t a wishy-washy rom-com, but a candid, down-to-earth story of life and – more importantly – of hope.

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Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Melissa reviews “How To Climb The Eiffel Tower” by Elizabeth Hein

Rosie’s Book Review Team brings you today’s review by Melissa. She blogs at

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Melissa chose to review “How To Climb The Eiffel Tower” by Elizabeth Hein

How to climb the Eiffel Tower

With a horrific past that left her bitter, closed off, and emotionally crippled, it is with the startling diagnosis of cancer that Lara truly begins to heal.

I found the first half rather slow and slightly difficult to remain engaged with, but that’s most likely due to Lara’s prickly personality. Truth be told, she was supposed to be prickly and I believe I was supposed to slowly grow to love her, which I did. By the second half, Lara’s icy exterior began to thaw as she opened up to the love around her and it became a much more pleasant reading experience. In the final scenes, I felt that I was there beside her, holding her hand, wanting to help her climb above all the pain. I give Hein tremendous kudos for a fantastic job at transforming her main character from a hide-in-your-shell turtle to a live and laugh and love butterfly.

Though I enjoyed it and recommend it, there were a few times when I was pulled out of the story, most commonly when Lara repeatedly said oh my god. It got a bit old and it wasn’t necessary.

Overall, a well written novel about friendship, love, courage, and cancer.

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Are you a believer?

Are you a believer?.

This post is dedicated to Diane, a neighbour of mine who died a few years ago after a struggle with breast cancer, I used to pop in and keep her company, cook some of her meals and do a bit of washing. On occasions I even took her to the doctors and one weekend spent several hours with her at hospital. One line I left out of the story was this message ” I didn’t die of the cancer, it was my heart that gave up” she said.

I’m glad she beat the cancer it’s a cruel disease.

Good Evening, Ladies and Gentlemen, thank-you for coming this evening….” The man on stage began his introductions. I’d been having a one sided conversation for days with an ex-neighbour, about coming to this show.

“A lady came to see me earlier, whilst I was in my dressing room, I don’t usually allow this, but she was very pleasant, she asked if I’d enjoyed my recent holiday. She recalled her last holiday where she had sadly fallen ill. We chatted for a while before I ushered her away, saying that I needed to prepare for the show. I felt she never left, she hovered close by.

I’d like to introduce you to this lady now, her name is Diane. She’s come this evening to see a friend, not a relative but a neighbour. Is there anyone in the audience called Rose? No sorry Rosie who would know this lady?”

Goosebumps ran up and down my neck and I felt myself pushed from behind. Strange when I sat on the back row. I slowly raised my hand and a camera on the stage swung to me. I saw myself pictured on the stage screen. A microphone was passed.

“Do you know a Lady called Diane?”

“Yes!” I stammered. My friend stood next to me in support, the attention was making me tremble.

“Your neighbour?”

“Yes” I confirmed

Back and forth went questions.

“Max Bygraves, she loved Max Bygraves”

“I don’t know, possibly” I couldn’t remember, Diane had only been my neighbour for 5 years and Max was a little in the past.

“Toothbrushes! A pink and a blue one, in fact you and your friend, just look at you, you’re wearing blue and your friend is in pink” This made the audience laugh and the tension eased, I remember choosing to wear the blue jumper earlier, a coincidence?

My friend said she had been buying toothbrushes in the shop where Diane used to work earlier that day and arguing with her husband over the pink and blue ones. I didn’t understand a connection with toothbrushes. I shook my head.

“It’s ok, it will come to you later perhaps, let’s thank this lady for being a part of the show” The audience applauded and we sat down, I was a bit shocked.

I had such strong feeling from the show that it kept playing over and over in my mind. I needed to phone a friend, but broaching this subject with an Irish Catholic on a Sunday wasn’t ideal, I left it until Monday.

The phone call went like this…

“Hi Margaret…. I saw a show with a spiritual medium on Saturday and I think Diane came through.”

“I’ll just top up my Gin love and then you can carry on….” she said.

“Right then, I’m sitting down now, do you know, Diane and I always wanted to go to one of those shows, she was a real believer. What happened?”

I told her about Diane’s spirit approaching the medium in his dressing room. She hooted with laughter, “That would be her alright, always one to be at the front of any queue we were in. “Coming through, it’s my birthday!” She’d announce, that women had more birthdays than anyone else!”

“Diane mention Max Bygraves and toothbrushes, does that mean anything to you?”

“Ha ha ha! Oh my life! It was her. She loved Max Bygraves! When our kids were young and later when we’d had a few Gins we’d sing that song by him;

“You’re a pink toothbrush, I’m a blue toothbrush, have we met somewhere before?”

We talked some more, I was left with a glowing feeling of happiness. Putting the experience down on paper doesn’t do it justice. YOU JUST HAD TO BE THERE!

Fans of Grease…

John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John have reunited to make a charity music video. It’s 35 years since they first sang Grease together. They have released a Christmas album which also features the likes of Cliff Richard and Barbra Streisand. All the proceeds will go to The Jett Travolta Foundation and The Cancer and Wellness Foundation in Australia.

Wow! I loved the film and the musicals which have followed. Grease and all that it involved were temptations and leaps into questionable morals during my childhood. The romance and storylines have remained with me as I’ve grown up. I never tire of watching the re-runs!

Breast Cancer Awareness Day

Today is Breast Cancer Awareness Day. Check out the World’s Biggest Bra being auctioned off on EBay to raise money for Breast Cancer. Auction closes on Sunday. The Pink Bra is 29.6m long and each cup is 2.5m deep. It first appeared last year when it was suspended from the ITV Tower, London. This massive Bra is modelled on a 34B T-Shirt Bra. It is the size of 2 football fields and weighs the equivalent of 1800 bras.

world's largest bra, breast cancer, eBay

For more information go to

A Monster Calls

Having talked about this book, only a couple of days ago, in my bog titled “Cancer the scary big “C” word”, Mumsnet book club is also promoting the same book. There is a chance to get your hands on one for free for 24 hours from 10am today.

If you missed the Mail on Sunday review, A monster Calls, by Patrick Ness is the story of a 13-year old boy whose mother gets cancer. It was originally written for children to help them come to terms with the emotional chaos this can cause amongst a family. However it has been repackaged for adults too. Reviewed in the medical journal The Lancet, many medical professionals support its content.

Check out Mumsnet bookclub for other book giveaways and book club news.

Cancer -The scary big “C” word

The Mail on Sunday has an article written by Kate Wheeler a child oncologist at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, reviewing a book called “A monster Calls” by Patrick Ness. Originally written for children it tells the story from the eye of a 13-year-old boy whose mother is terminally ill.

First written for children aged 9 years and over, it tackles the difficult subject of cancer and the emotions caused by the illness. It has even been reviewed in the medical journal, The Lancet. Kate has recommended the book to patients and their families, health professionals, teachers and friends. The book has just been re-packaged for adult readers.

The book can be summed up in the Authors own words, and is a book I shall put on my “want to read” list. Patrick Ness says; “The story is about loss and there’s not a person in the world young or old – who hasn’t experienced that”