Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Cosy #Mystery Finders, Not Keepers by @dehaggerty

Today’s team review is from Jenny

#RBRT Review Team

Jenny has been reading Finders, Not Keepers by D.E. Haggerty

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This is a lighthearted and fun murder mystery. Terri finds a beautiful diamond necklace which turns out to be worth a pretty penny. Things are not as simple as you may think though, there is a story behind the jewel, an unsolved murder!
Terri’s friend Melanie, never one to let anything remotely exciting pass her by, insists Terri try to solve the mystery. This is not something Terri goes into lightheartedly, especially when there is ‘the mob’ involved.
Of course we cannot have a heroine without a hunk of a neighbour on her tail. Ryder has his eye on Terri and little does she know just how much of her he is looking at. I found Ryder to be quite irritating and overbearing, but all with good intentions.
This book is simple to read, easy to follow and had me giggling quite a bit too. The chapters are just the right length too.
A good book with just enough going on to keep you wanting more.

Book description

What do you do with a diamond no one wants? You can’t keep it. Or can you?

While cleaning her ex-husband’s effects out of the attic, Terri finds an exquisite diamond pendant necklace. She’s determined to return the necklace to its proper owner, but the owner was brutally killed, a murder which remains unsolved, and her heirs want nothing to do with the diamond. Terri embarks upon a journey researching charities to which she can donate the diamond. When her research becomes dangerous, Terri contemplates solving the murder herself. Her best friend, Melanie, jumps feet first into investigating the murder, but her neighbor, Ryder, doesn’t want Terri exposed to any danger. Ryder, to Terri’s surprise, also wants to be more than neighbors with Terri. Luckily, he’s prepared to take any measure necessary to keep her safe because someone is determined to stop her inquiries.

Join Terri on her quest to find a home for the diamond, which may result in the unveiling of a murderer – if she survives long enough.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

 

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #WomensFiction A Single Journey by Frankie McGowan

Today’s team review is from Jenny.

#RBRT Review Team

Jenny has been reading A Single Journey by Frankie McGowan

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3 1/2 Stars

The characters in this book are all completely different to one another, which makes the story interesting.  I enjoyed the way that the book begins in Berlin 1933 with a rather complex story that you need to take your time over, really get the feel of what the story is about…. its beginning.  Then it moves on to modern day Pimlico and Harriet with her jewelry stall.

This is a slow paced read; you need to concentrate on what is going on to fully digest the feel and importance of how the past merges with the present. The story was a little confusing at times for me, and I found myself reading some paragraphs over and over to realize fully what was happening in the story.  I did not like that aspect of the read.

The story itself though, is very good and has twists and turns, excitement and fear with a little romance thrown in for good measure. I think that the relationship between Harriet and Neil could have moved at a better pace and had more substance, especially in the final chapter. The author has done a lot of research to get her history and facts right for the story, that shows, and works well making the book quite compelling at times.

There is a lot going on in the book. If you were looking for a complex read, then I would recommend this, but if you want an easy read, then it would not be for you.

Book description

Harriet has begun to despair of her life.

With a failed relationship behind her, a business on the rocks and a flat that’s falling apart around her ears, she could really use some luck.

Elena Banbury, née Guseva, an elderly but imposing Russian woman who is Harriet’s neighbour and landlady, frequently entertains the punters at Harriet’s jewellery stall with tales of the palaces of St. Petersburg and the treasures of Fabergé. But Harriet sometimes feels, guiltily, that she could do without the endless errands that seem to fall to her as Elena’s friend.

Then, unexpectedly, when Elena dies, she leaves all her worldly goods to a grateful Harriet. In time, however, it becomes clear that others are shocked by Harriet’s good luck, too. Shocked… and very, very unhappy.

Challenged in court by Elena’s family who live in Berlin, Harriet is forced to give up her inheritance and long-dreamed-of plans for a new business, and start her life again. But with her reputation in tatters and the memory of Elena tainted, Harriet knows a great injustice has been done.

Against the advice of her friends, family and lawyers, Harriet sets off on her own, very singular journey to Berlin.

In the weeks that follow she meets rich and poor, the glamorous and the criminal, the honest and the secretive, and begins to see that perhaps she has something to learn from them all. Something to learn about herself, and something to learn about her priorities.

She knows she has to fight for justice. But, when she meets the scholarly, perceptive Neil, who generously tries to help Harriet in her mission, but who is struggling with a complicated marriage, she must also decide if she’ll fight for love, too.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Jenny reviews #RomCom In A Jam by @CindyDorminy

Today’s team review is from Jenny

#RBRT Review Team

Jenny has been reading In A Jam by Cindy Dorminy

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 5 Stars

I enjoyed this book so much.  The story had me grinning from ear to ear and chuckling from the very first chapter. I would say a good 90% of the book is fun and laid back, the other 10% is touching.  The author writes with a good South American style, I caught myself reading in the South American drawl that it should be read in to get the full feel of the characters. This made the book even more fun than it already is!

Andi meets Gunnar, a gorgeous, fit cop and they fancy each other from the start, things are never easy in love though. Will they pull through once Willow, Gunnar’s ex turns up? What a little venomous minx she is. A strong character and one that you love to hate!

After the death of her grandmother, Andi has to keep off the booze and run her grandmothers coffee shop ‘In a Jam’ before she can inherit her granny’s lottery winnings. For someone like Andie, who enjoys a good drink, this is not an easy task to complete.  The two Jackson sisters are a hoot. You can imagine what they are up to as the story unfolds.  Love them or hate them, you find that the story needs them and they grow on you as their characters unfold.

I loved some of the phrases, I found myself saying them out loud and giggling to myself.  This story made me laugh. It is relaxing to read and also created a tear in my eyes a couple of times too.

A good, modern love story, which I would highly recommend.

Book description

Andie Carson has to do three things to inherit her grandmother’s lottery winnings—sober up, spend a month running her grandmother’s Georgia coffee shop, and enter homemade jam in the county fair. If she can’t meet those terms, the money goes to the church, and Andie gets nothing. She figures her tasks will be easy enough, and once she completes them, Andie plans to sell the shop, take the money, and run back to Boston.

After a rough breakup from his crazy ex-fiancée, Officer Gunnar Wills decides to take a hiatus from women. All he wants is to help make his small town thrive the way it did when he was a kid. But when wild and beautiful Andie shows up, Gunnar’s hesitant heart begins to flutter.

Gunnar knows that Andie plans to leave, but he’s hoping to change her mind, fearful that if her coffee shop closes, Main Street will fold to the big-box corporations and forever change the landscape of his quaint community. But convincing her to stay means getting close enough to risk his heart in the process. Even though Gunnar makes small-town life seem a little sweeter, Andie has to decide if she’s ready to turn her world upside down and give up big-city life. One thing’s for sure—it’s a very sticky situation.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT The Women Of Heachley Hall by @RachelJWalkley #wwwblogs

Today’s team review is from Jenny.

#RBRT Review Team

Jenny has been reading The Women Of Heachley Hall by Rachel Walkley

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5 Stars

Her Great Aunt Felicity has left Miriam Heachely Hall. But she has to live in the house for one year and one day before she can sell it and collect her money, that are the terms. There are some brilliant spooky moments in the story, you feel as though you are there with Miriam, you feel her fear! Miriam lives in the run down hall day and night where she hears odd noises and things happen that she is unable to explain….there is the weird dust that appears, where is it coming from and what exactly is the dust?   With exception to her visits to the local pub and a short visit to her best friend Ruth, Miriam is determined not to be scared away from this strange house.

Then there is the arrival of Charles. A strange man, yet there is something quite captivating about him. There are questions that need to be answered about Great Aunt Felicity, about the history of Heachely Hall and its previous residents and also about Charles. Something does not add up, and Miriam is going to find out the truth!

I utterly loved this book from start to finish.  A haunting romance full of intrigue.  I was enthralled and had to keep reading, I needed to know what happens next, the end of every chapter left me wanting more.

This is a wonderful book, one I recommend highly, it has to be one of the best books that I have ever read…. and I have read quite a few over the years.

Thank you Rachel for drawing me into the mystery of Heachley Hall and its residents.

Book description

Miriam has one year to uncover Heachley Hall’s unimaginable past and a secret that only women can discover.

The life of a freelance illustrator will never rake in the millions so when twenty-eight year old Miriam discovers she’s the sole surviving heir to her great-aunt’s fortune, she can’t believe her luck. She dreams of selling her poky city flat and buying a studio.
But great fortune comes with an unbreakable contract. To earn her inheritance, Miriam must live a year and a day in the decaying Heachley Hall.
The fond memories of visiting the once grand Victorian mansion are all she has left of her parents and the million pound inheritance is enough of a temptation to encourage her to live there alone.
After all, a year’s not that long. So with the help of a local handyman, she begins to transform the house.
But the mystery remains. Why would loving Aunt Felicity do this to her?
Alone in the hall with her old life miles away, Miriam is desperate to discover the truth behind Felicity’s terms. Miriam believes the answer is hiding in her aunt’s last possession: a lost box. But delving into Felicity and Heachley’s long past is going to turn Miriam’s view of the world upside down.

Does she dare keep searching, and if she does, what if she finds something she wasn’t seeking?

Has something tragic happened at Heachley Hall?

About the author

Born in the Midlands, I grew up in East Anglia and am now firmly lodged in the North West of England. My first writing achievement was my Brownie badge and after that I’ve never let go of the dream of becoming of an author. Once a librarian and caretaker of books, I’m now a teller of tales and want to share with you the secrets that hide in the pages of my books.

Rachel Walkley

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #mystery A Clerical Error by @newwrites #SundayBlogShare

Today’s team review is from Jenny R,

#RBRT Review Team

Jenny has been reading A Clerical Error by J. New

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5 Stars

I enjoyed this book so very much.  The story unfolds at a nice pace and is very easy to keep up with. There is nothing confusing or complex in the way that the author has built up and unraveled the plot.  The story is well written, so much so that I could feel myself visualizing the scenes, the people and the unfolding of the plot.

The description and feel of the little village is warm and welcoming, the characters are well placed, and I especially love the way that Jocaster manipulates Ella into helping out at the village fete. I myself have come across this in my village.  I think that village life is actually like that, so to use this in the story is a lovely touch.

Ella Bridges, what a fine sleuth she is along with her aunt and sidekick ‘Phantom’ This is a cosy read, you can snuggle up on a winters evening with this book and you will not want to put it down.

The substance in this book is simply perfect.

Book description

When the crime scene is pure coincidence and there’s no evidence, how do you prove it was murder?

Ella Bridges faces her most challenging investigation so far when the vicar dies suddenly at the May Day Fete. But with evidence scarce and her personal life unravelling in ways she could never have imagined, she misses vital clues in the investigation.
Working alongside Sergeant Baxter of Scotland Yard, will Ella manage to unearth the clues needed to catch the killer before another life is lost? Or will personal shock cloud her mind and result in another tragedy?

‘A Clerical Error’ is set in 1930’s England, and is the third of The Yellow Cottage Vintage Mystery series.
‘Miss Marple meets The Ghost Whisperer’ – Perfect For Fans of Golden Age Murder Mysteries, Cozy Mysteries, Clean Reads and British Amateur Sleuths

About the author

J. New is the British author of The Yellow Cottage Vintage Mystery series. Set on the fictitious island of Linhay in the south of England during the 1930’s, they are an homage to the Golden Age mysteries but with a contemporary twist.

J. New

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #TrueLife Living In Italy by Stef Smulders @italie_verhalen

Today’s team review is from Jenny R

#RBRT Review Team

Jenny has been reading Living In Italy: The Real Deal by Stef Smulders

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 3 Stars

I have often had fancy thoughts of buying a nice little B&B in Italy. I have travelled there before on a road trip and found it such a beautiful, stunning and friendly place. So when I saw the title of this book, it grabbed my attention straight away.

It is a good read and one that I would recommend if you were thinking of taking up a project such as this one. I like the way that the author takes us through the stresses and frustrations of the bureaucratic red tape and the fun that he and his partner Nico experienced.

We often hear or read about dodgy, lazy builders that like to slack off and never seem to get renovations finished either on time or within budget. This certainly proves those points. The builder, Torti and his workers are an absolute nightmare and how on earth the owners managed to put up with them till the end of the project is beyond me. You can see how Italian builders get such a bad reputation.

The description of the Oltrepo region has been written with feeling. I almost felt as though I was driving through the Italian countryside.

At first I was not sure about the way Stef (the author) included Italian words into the dialog, but after a while it began to make more sense and I could see what he was trying to achieve. By the end of the book I found my self thinking that these Italian words would be helpful to those readers that are thinking of going to Italy.

This is an easy and relaxing read. It made me curious to see the final result, so I took a sneaky peak at the B&B website. Maybe I will take another Italian trip and book my stay with Stef and Nico.

Book description

Would you dare to follow your dream and move or retire to Italy? Stef & Nico did, although their dog Sara had her doubts. Now from your comfortable armchair you can share in the hilarious & horrendous adventures they experienced when they moved to Italy to start a bed and breakfast.

For lovers of amusing travelogue memoirs who like a good laugh. And for those interested in practical advice on how to buy a house in Italy there is useful information along the way, pleasantly presented within the short stories.

Glossary of Italian words included! Learn the true meaning of Italian phrases and expressions like “non ci sono problemi”, “di fiducia”, “persone serie”, “tutto a norma” and many more. Learn a bit of the foreign language before going to Italy.

Stef Smulders

Dutchman who moved to Italy in 2008 to live the good life wih husband and dog, welcoming guests in their Villa I Due Padroni B&B in the beautiful wine region Oltrepò Pavese, south of Milan.

Author of the Award winning book “Living in Italy: the Real Deal” with hilarious expat adventures.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Jenny R reviews GHOSTS OF MANOR HOUSE by @GhostsOfMH

Today’s team review is from Jenny.

#RBRT Review Team

Jenny has been reading Ghosts Of Manor House by Matt Powers

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Book review by Jenny Reeve

The Ghosts of Manor House by Matt Powers

Horror, Drama, History, Thriller

This book deserves 5 stars

I enjoyed this book so much.  Every ‘short’ chapter was a thrill. I could not wait to get to the next chilling part of the tale.   The storyline was unusual and the author certainly has a vivid imagination to have come up with this wonderful tale.

I must admit, once I was halfway through the book I had an inkling of where the characters would end up, but how they reached their destinations was simply wonderful to read. I took in every description that was written down, from the décor of the rooms to the description of Edmunds journal.  Mr. Travels is a brilliant and necessary part of this tale, sends shivers up my spine just thinking about that intimidating tree.

The final part of the story, which describes how Mr and Mrs Krane first fell in love with each other, is beautifully written,

Matt Powers writes with enthusiasm and he allows his imagination to take hold and take him on a journey, which has made this book a pleasure to read.

I would recommend this book to anyone that is thinking of reading it. Thrilling.

Book description

Edmund and Mary Wilder are very much in love. But the death of their young son, Tommy, has shattered their family. Edmund is determined to bring them back together, drawing on the only bit of strength he has left—his love for Mary and their daughter, Stephanie. But Mary sinks deeper into depression while little Stephanie’s anger grows. Edmund flounders in his attempts to rescue his family from the brink of collapse and doesn’t know where to turn.

Then Mary receives an invitation for the family to become guests at Manor House, a seemingly quaint Bed and Breakfast. This, she assures her husband, is the answer to all their troubles.

Edmund arrives ahead of his family to spend a couple days working on his long-delayed novel. But his growing curiosity about the old house leads Edmund to an encounter that will change him forever.

What will you sacrifice for love?

An old fashioned psychological thriller with a nod to Stephen King, Manor House will keep you guessing and compel you to turn the page to the very end.

A mother will sacrifice anything for her children. A husband will risk everything to save his wife. Manor House will take them all.

About the author

Matt is the author and creator of Ghosts of Manor House and Senior Producer at Zynga. Computers and video games have been a part of his life since he was young. As a child, he always played video games and when he was ten, his Dad told him that he should try making his own. And so he taught himself to program and create games on the computer. He majored in Computer Science and enjoys working with a team of creative people. Matt has a passion for books and finds writing to be a great way to release his inner creativity.

Matt lives and works in the busy and vibrant metropolis of San Francisco where he is surrounded by extraordinary views of the ocean. He loves how the city is filled with a variety of people and activities – there is always something to do and new to see. In addition to San Francisco, Matt spends a lot of time in Grass Valley with friends and family where he can escape the concrete jungle for the relative calm of this gold mining sierra town. This is where the characters and story of Ghosts came to life.

He loves to write because he can use his wacky and twisted imagination to create interesting characters that he brings to life on paper. Matt’s writing process with Ghosts started with a concept, “write a creepy haunted house story.” Ideas became scenes, which became characters that created a story. Matt made a deal with Manor House to tell its tale and so he did, but at what price?

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #Christmas #Shortstories Silent Night by @WendyClarke99 #fridayreads

Today’s team review is from Jenny R

#RBRT Review Team

Jenny has been reading Silent Night by Wendy Clarke

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Short Stories

4 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Full of short stories which are easy to read, each and every one of them well written.  The theme is Christmas and includes the stress, fun, excitement and endearing moments that all come with the festive period. I am sure that we are all able to relate to the situations in every composition that Wendy Clarke writes about in this book.

It made a delightful change to be able to pick up a book and read a whole story in 10-20 minutes. This is a book that you are able to fit in with household chores, coffee breaks at work, on the daily commute or simply when you have a little free time.

Every festive tale in the book is different. They range from endearing, sad, funny and inspiring.  It is such a marvellous idea to write a book with a variety of short stories.

I recommend this book completely

Book description

‘Silent Night’ is a collection of thirteen Christmas stories by Wendy Clarke, a regular writer of fiction for national magazines.

All of these stories have previously been published in either ‘The People’s Friend’ or ‘Take a Break Fiction Feast’. If you like stories with emotional depth and a satisfying ending, then this collection is for you.

About the author

Wendy Clarke is a full time writer of women’s fiction. She started writing when the primary school she taught in closed down and after completing two creative writing courses, began writing short fiction for magazines. Since then, she has sold over a hundred short stories and her work regularly appears in national women’s magazines such as The People’s Friend, Take a Break Fiction Feast and Woman’s Weekly. She has also written serials and a number of non-fiction magazine articles.

Wendy lives with her husband, cat and step-dog in Sussex and when not writing is usually dancing, singing or watching any programme that involves food!

Wendy Clarke

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Modern day ‘Emma’ I Could Write A Book by @KarenMCox1932

Today’s team review is from Jenny R

#RBRT Review Team

Jenny has been reading I Could Write A Book by Karen M Cox

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Chic Lit, Drama

4 stars

This book has been written well and truly in the style of Jane Austen’s ‘’Emma. A modern take on the classic tale, which works well.  There are plenty of characters that are all distinctive and they all add something to the flow of the story.

Once a character has been introduced into the drama, it does not take long to get to know each one and it is easy to visualize how they appear in your minds eye, from what they are wearing to their facial expressions.

If you have read Jane Austen’s ‘Emma’, then you may find that this story is far too similar, therefore you can anticipate what is going to happen and may well get bored with it. However, there is a good momentum to each chapter and this did help engage me and capture my imagination.  I have no doubt at all that Karen has accomplished what she set out to do with this story in making it work in a modern world.

Book description

“Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever and rich…”
Thus began Jane Austen’s classic, a light and lively tale set in an English village two hundred years ago. Yet every era has its share of Emmas: young women trying to find themselves in their own corners of the world.
I Could Write a Book is the story of a self-proclaimed modern woman: Emma Katherine Woodhouse, a 1970s co-ed whose life is pleasant, ordered, and predictable, if a bit confining.
Her friend George Knightley is a man of the world who has come home to fulfill his destiny: run his father’s thriving law practice and oversee the sprawling Donwell Farms, his family legacy in Central Kentucky horse country.
Since childhood, George’s and Emma’s lives have meshed and separated time and again. But now they’re adults with grown-up challenges and obligations. As Emma orchestrates life in quaint Highbury, George becomes less amused with her antics and struggles with a growing attraction to the young woman she’s become.
Rich with humor, poignancy, and the camaraderie of life in a small, Southern town, I Could Write a Book is a coming of age romance with side helpings of self-discovery, friendship, and finding true love in the most unlikely places.

About the author

Karen M Cox is an award-winning author of novels accented with romance and history: 1932, Find Wonder in All Things, Undeceived, and I Could Write a Book. Other published works include an ebook novella, The Journey Home, “Northanger Revisited 2015”, which appeared in Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer, “I, Darcy,” a short story in The Darcy Monologues, and “An Honest Man”, which will appear in the upcoming anthology, Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes and Gentleman Rogues.
Originally from Everett, WA, Karen now lives in Central Kentucky with her husband, where she works as a pediatric speech pathologist, encourages her children, and spoils her granddaughter. Like Austen’s Emma, Karen has many hobbies and projects she doesn’t quite finish, but like Elizabeth Bennet, she aspires to be a great reader and an excellent walker.

Karen M. Cox

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #HistFic Everybody’s Somebody by @berylkingston @EndeavourPress

Today’s team review is from Jenny R,

#RBRT Review Team

Jenny has been reading Everybody’s Somebody by Beryl Kingston

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Book review by Jenny Reeve

Everybody’s Somebody by Beryl Kingston

Chic Lit, Drama, History

This book deserves 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  There are so many historical accounts incorporated into the story, some of which I was unsure if they were true facts or fiction, so I literally Googled the accounts only to find they actually happened! I had a few excellent history lessons while having the pleasure of enjoying a good book. This made the story even more interesting and exciting.

I felt exhilarated moving from one chapter onto the next, desperately wanting to read more of Rosie’s life. There are many up’s and downs folded and blended into the tale and the way in which Beryl Kingston writes is very sympathetic to each situation. She writes with affection, thoughtfulness and care using words to create such heartfelt feelings, bringing the book to life completely.

The relationship between Rosie, her husband Jim and Gerry the artist is captivating. I thought I knew where the story was going but then there would be another unexpected turn and I was taken on a different route.

Wonderfully written, beautifully perceptive.  I loved this book.

Book description

“Life’s for real an’ you got to get on with it.”

Rosie Goodison is not one to shy away from life’s problems. Whether it’s finding work or challenging injustice, Rosie squares her shoulders, sets her chin high and faces it full on.

Born at the end of the nineteenth century, in the rural south of England and sent into service aged just twelve, Rosie quickly discovers that many good people spend their lives toiling for very little reward, whilst others ‘have it all’.

She decides it won’t be like that for her. Why can’t she ride in a car? Why can’t she work when she’s pregnant? Why can’t she live in a nice flat? Why can’t she be an artist’s model?

Whilst working as a housekeeper for two upper-class boys, Rosie starts to learn more and more about the world, gleaned from overheard conversations and newspapers left lying around. This triggers an ongoing thirst for knowledge, which shapes her views, informs her decisions and influences her future.

Rosie aspires to have a better life than that of her parents: better living conditions, better working conditions and pay, better education for her children, to be able to vote, to be able to control how many children she has…

Without realising it, this young woman is blazing a trail for all those who are to come after.

Whilst working in London, Rosie meets her sweetheart Jim, but the The Great War puts paid to their plans for the future, and matters worsen afterwards, as she, along with the rest of society, tries to deal with the horrors and losses.

This heart-warming story follows the events of the early twentieth century – the impact and horrors of WW1, the financial crisis and the rapid social and political changes that took place.

All that remains of Rosie now is a quartet of paintings in an art gallery. The artist, now famous but the model, unnamed and forgotten; nobody of consequence.

But everybody has a life story. Everybody leaves some kind of mark on this world.

Everybody’s somebody.

About the author

 

I was born in 1931 in Tooting, and when I was four was enrolled at a local dancing school run by a lady called Madam Hadley, which I attended until I was eight when the war began. Because of the war my school career was – shall we say – varied. I was evacuated twice, the first time to Felpham which is near Bognor Regis and the second to Harpenden in Hertfordshire, and consequently went to ten different schools. I ended up at Streatham Secondary School, an LCC grammar run on the Dalton system, which offered a few lessons as sparking points and then required pupils to be responsible for their own learning, either in study rooms with their teachers on hand to help and advise, or on their own in the library or the school hall. It suited me to a T. Then to King’s College London, where I read English and enjoyed myself a lot, but wasn’t particularly distinguished, having other things on my mind by then.

I am proud of the fact that I was in Tooting for the first four months of the blitz, and only left it to be evacuated again when our road was bombed and our house was uninhabitable. I spent the middle part of the war in Harpenden and returned to live in London again at the end of the war at the time of the V2’s, this time without my family.

When I was just sixteen I met the love of my life, who arrived on my doorstep in Air Force blue one February evening in the coldest winter on record. Despite heavy opposition from my parents, we married three years later during my first year at King’s and spent the next 53 years 11 months and 6 days living more and more happily together. We had three much loved children and five much loved grandchildren and once I’d embarked on my career as a novelist, researched all the books together, which was great fun. We finished work on ‘Gates of Paradise’ six weeks before he died. So this publication is special to me.

I have enjoyed two careers in my life – as a teacher from 1952 to 1985 (with ten years off to bring up my family, which some might consider a third career) and as a published writer from 1980 to date. I am also, although it sounds immodest to say it, an easy and charismatic public speaker, usually unfazed by any audience no matter how big or how small or what questions they might throw at me.

In the two schools where I was head of the English department, I deliberately covered the full range of age and ability, believing that as I was paid the largest salary I should carry the heaviest responsibility. My work was filmed by KCL Education Department for use in their PGCE course and I have given talks at various colleges and schools on a variety of educational subjects, from teaching poetry to ‘tackling’ sex education. I have never subscribed to the Gradgrind theory of education which is current now, but always believed that the job of a teacher is to enable her students to learn.

I have always been a political animal, taking part in street demonstrations, walking from Aldermaston to London, involved in the 1945 election despite the fact that I was only fourteen, taking to the streets again, along with a million others, to protest against the Iraq war when I was 72.

And as a last and rather lighter touch, I was a beauty queen in 1947. It wasn’t all protests!

Beryl Kingston

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