Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Contemporary #Fiction BEYOND THE YEW TREE by @RachelJWalkley

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading Beyond the Yew Tree by Rachel Walkley

Whispers in the courtroom.

Only one juror hears them.

Can Laura unravel the truth by the end of the trial?

 

Laura is a sensible, well organised young woman. Setting out for her first day of jury service she is well prepared with a flask full of coffee.

“Laura preferred a predictable, uneventful day to exciting unplanned crises or emotional meltdowns. No surprises, no sudden happenings.”

So, she hopes for structured, uncomplicated days at the law court next to Lincoln castle.  But listening to the barristers, she is aware of a hissing noise, of soft whispers disturbing her concentration. And then when she returns to her empty home at night, her sleep is disturbed by distressing dreams of a woman imprisoned in a Victorian gaol.  It can’t be the fraud case which is causing her dreams, but strolling through the castle she spots the gravestones of those who had been executed for murder. Needing answers, Laura seeks the help of the museum curator, Sean.

Laura is also distressed by the long absence of her lover, Marco, who has been visiting his family in Italy for some time while maintaining very little communication with her.  Determined to seek out the source of her nightmares and come to a fair judgement on the court case, Laura’s calm demeanour conceals deep guilt about an event in her past.

Having endured jury service personally, I found Laura’s experience locked in a room with 11 disparate people very familiar.  Keeping alert during a complex case can be difficult and barristers are often very persuasive.  Luckily Laura’s intelligence and financial background help her detect weaknesses in the evidence, but does she have the confidence to speak up?

The threads of guilt and justice entwine between the present day and the past and as the trial comes to an end, Laura must also decide the path her life should take. A very rewarding read.

Book description

In an old courtroom, a hissing voice distracts reluctant juror, Laura, and at night recurring nightmares transport her to a Victorian gaol and the company of a wretched woman. Although burdened by her own secret guilt, and struggling to form meaningful relationships, Laura isn’t one to give up easily when faced with an extraordinary situation.
The child-like whispers lead Laura to an old prison graveyard, where she teams up with enthusiastic museum curator, Sean. He believes a missing manuscript is the key to understanding her haunting dreams. But nobody knows if it actually exists.
Laura is confronted with the fate of two people – the man in the dock accused of defrauding a charity for the blind, and the restless spirit of a woman hanged over a century ago for murder.
If Sean is the companion she needs in her life, will he believe her when she realises that the two mysteries are converging around a long-forgotten child who only Laura can hear?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Rosie’s #Bookreview #Team #RBRT Victorian #Romance THE WINTER COMPANION by @MimiMatthewsEsq

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading The Winter Companion by Mimi Matthews

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Mimi Matthews is, in my opinion, quite the best author of historical romance writing today.  The stories in the Parish Orphans of Devon, complement each other in the way that the friendship of the four young men also does.  Each has noble qualities and failings, with which their new partners will support them.  At first Neville Cross might seem a less dynamic hero than his former friends but his strong physique and gentle relationship with horses make him very attractive.  In contrast our heroine, Clara, seems confident and highly intelligent. But each have problems to deal with.  After a traumatic accident, Neville struggles with communication while Clara must earn a living to support her brother at university.

This novel unites all the Parish Orphans of the previous books at Greyfriar’s Abbey, the home of Justin Thornhill, for a Christmas celebration together.  As Clara is a lady’s companion and Neville, a groom they are slightly distanced from the other three orphans and their wives. Despite incredible chemistry between them, it seems unlikely that Clara and Neville could have a future together. Neville believes he cannot strike out on his own, while Clara feels duty bound to her brother because of a previous indiscretion.  While Neville does his best to care for a Dartmoor pony in foal, Clara becomes aware that her brother is in trouble but soon it appears that they will be cut off by bad weather.

This is an excellent conclusion to the series, showing us love overcoming personal difficulties and a new future which might not have been possible without their mutual commitment.

Book description

A winter reunion for the orphans brings romance for Neville Cross in Book 4 of Mimi Matthews’ USA Today bestselling Parish Orphans of Devon series.

She Needed to be Seen…

As a lady’s companion, Clara Hartwright never receives much attention from anyone. And that’s precisely how she likes it. With a stormy past, and an unconventional plan for her future, it’s far safer to remain invisible. But when her new employer is invited to a month-long holiday at a remote coastal abbey, Clara discovers that she may not be as invisible as she’d hoped. At least, not as far as one gentleman is concerned.

He Wanted to be Heard…

Neville Cross has always been more comfortable with animals than people. An accident in his youth has left him with a brain injury that affects his speech. Forming the words to speak to his childhood friends is difficult enough. Finding the right things to say to a lovely young lady’s companion seems downright impossible. But Miss Hartwright is no ordinary companion. In fact, there may not be anything ordinary about her at all.

During a bleak Devon winter, two sensitive souls forge an unexpected friendship. But when Clara needs him most, will Neville find the courage to face his fears? Or is saying goodbye to her the most heroic thing he can do?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Cosy #Mystery DEATH BY BAGUETTE by @JSAauthor

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading Death By Baguette by Jennifer S Alderson.

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Death by Baguette is the second murder mystery involving quick-witted Lana Hansen. A helpful, efficient tour-guide, she takes small groups of wealthy American tourists on organised visits to popular destination.  This is also Lana’s first visit to Paris, but she is well prepared and nothing phases her, except discovering her new boyfriend, Chad, is one of the guests and he’s married! Visiting Paris, the city of love, in time for Valentine’s Day sounds idyllic for the couples she accompanies but most of them have relationship problems, including Lana’s friend Willow and her partner Jane.  Luckily Lana’s new assistant Randy Wright is very helpful, if rather nervous.

The plot is gradually revealed as we travel with the group, viewing the Louvre, the Rodin Museum and the cathedral at Chartres.  Most of these places are familiar to me but I enjoyed the vivid but not over long descriptions of the attractive features.  In fact, the book would be an excellent introduction to anyone planning their first encounter with the city.

As many of the group become increasingly antagonistic towards each other there are plenty of suspects when Chad suddenly collapses, poisoned during a picnic under the Tour Eiffel.  Even Lana and her friends are persons of interest to the French detective.  She turns her mind to investigating everyone in the party, aided by a journalist friend back in Seattle, but in the dramatic denouement Lara depends on the help of others.

Like the first book in the Travel Can Be Murder series this cozy mystery is fast moving, entertaining reading and I am hoping that in future episodes Lana will have more success in finding a successful romantic partner.

Book description

Death by Baguette: A Valentine’s Day Murder in Paris

Paris—the city of love, lights … and murder? Join tour guide Lana Hansen as she escorts five couples on an unforgettable Valentine-themed vacation to France! Unfortunately it will be the last trip for one passenger…

Lana Hansen’s future is looking bright. She has money in her bank account, a babysitter for her cat, and even a boyfriend. Regrettably she won’t get to celebrate Valentine’s Day with her new beau, Chad. Instead, she will be leading a lovers-only tour in France. Luckily for Lana, her best friend, Willow, and her partner, Jane, will be joining her.

Things go downhill when Lana’s new boyfriend shows up in Paris for her tour—with his wife. Chad is not the website developer he claimed to be, but a famous restaurant critic whose love of women rivals his passion for food.

After Chad drops dead during a picnic under the Eiffel Tower, a persistent French detective becomes convinced that he was poisoned. And the inspector’s sights are set on several members of the tour—including Lana!

While escorting her group through the cobblestone streets of Montmartre, the grand gardens of Versailles, and the historic Marché des Enfants Rouges market, Lana must figure out who really killed Chad before she has to say bonjour to prison and adieu to her freedom.

Introducing Lana Hansen, tour guide, reluctant amateur sleuth, and star of the Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mystery Series. Join Lana as she leads tourists and readers to fascinating cities around the globe on intriguing adventures that, unfortunately for Lana, often turn deadly.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Cosy #Mystery DEATH ON THE DANUBE by @JSAauthor

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading Death On The Danube by Jennifer S. Alderson

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In Death on the Danube, Jennifer S Alderson has turned away from the dangerous adventures of Art Historian Zelda Richardson and turned to cozy mystery with newly divorced Lana Hansen as she takes up a new life as a tour guide with Wanderlust Tours.  I soon adapted to this style of murder mystery as Lana uses her skill with people to take care of a disparate group of wealthy tourists threatened by murder within their midst.  An intelligent former journalist, Lana puts the “Fabulous Five” group of mature women at ease while trying to solve the case.

The book includes vivid descriptions of places of interest in Budapest as settings to the interactions of suspicious characters such as Helen and Tom who own a yacht rental company and Carl, a fellow tour guide, who seems to prefer gambling.  I was kept guessing about the guilt of those guests who seemed most unpleasant or of more likeable old friend, Sally who has been betrayed so badly by the first victim.  I am certainly tempted to visit Budapest myself, now and I am looking forward to following Lana’s investigations next year in A Valentine’s Day Murder in Paris.

Book description

Who knew a New Year’s trip to Budapest could be so deadly? The tour must go on – even with a killer in their midst…

Recent divorcee Lana Hansen needs a break. Her luck has run sour for going on a decade, ever since she got fired from her favorite job as an investigative reporter. When her fresh start in Seattle doesn’t work out as planned, Lana ends up unemployed and penniless on Christmas Eve.

Dotty Thompson, her landlord and the owner of Wanderlust Tours, is also in a tight spot after one of her tour guides ends up in the hospital, leaving her a guide short on Christmas Day.

When Dotty offers her a job leading the tour group through Budapest, Hungary, Lana jumps at the chance. It’s the perfect way to ring in the new year and pay her rent!

What starts off as the adventure of a lifetime quickly turns into a nightmare when Carl, her fellow tour guide, is found floating in the Danube River. Was it murder or accidental death? Suspects abound when Lana discovers almost everyone on the tour had a bone to pick with Carl.

But Dotty insists the tour must go on, so Lana finds herself trapped with nine murder suspects. When another guest turns up dead, Lana has to figure out who the killer is before she too ends up floating in the Danube…

Introducing Lana Hansen, tour guide, reluctant amateur sleuth, and star of the Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mystery Series. Join Lana as she leads tourists and readers to fascinating cities around the globe on intriguing adventures that, unfortunately for Lana, often turn deadly.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #HistoricalFiction THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR by @AilishSinclair

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading The Mermaid And The Bear by Ailish Sinclair

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Scotland in 1597 was not a place to be a woman, especially a woman of faith, opinions or healing gifts.  But Isobell has fled from her London home to avoid marriage to a cruel Englishman and has found kindness and friendship in a Scottish castle.  Hiding her wealthy background, she starts work as a kitchen maid but her clumsy mistakes reveal her lack of experience.  While Bessie, the housekeeper guards her secrets, Isobell must be more cautious with Agnes, the spiteful governess and Christen, the aristocratic lady of the house.

Soon Isobell is captivated by the impressive castle and its fairy tale setting and she finds meeting the Laird is an overwhelming experience. It is a pleasure to read of their growing romance despite misunderstandings but as they grow closer, others gather to cause pain and suffering.

This carefully researched story is based on true events in Aberdeen when cruel men gained power over innocent women by accusing them of witchcraft.  It is a horrifying story from our history, mirrored in other parts of the United Kingdom.  Thankfully in The Mermaid and the Bear the sadness is tempered by love and kinship in a believable and satisfying conclusion.  An enchanting novel.

Book description

Isobell needs to escape. She has to. Her life depends on it.

She has a plan and it’s a well thought-out, well observed plan, to flee her privileged life in London and the cruel man who would marry her, and ruin her, and make a fresh start in Scotland.

She dreams of faery castles, surrounded by ancient woodlands and misty lochs… and maybe even romance, in the dark and haunted eyes of a mysterious Laird.

Despite the superstitious nature of the time and place, her dreams seem to be coming true, as she finds friendship and warmth, love and safety. And the chance for a new beginning…

Until the past catches up with her.

Set in the late sixteenth century, at the height of the Scottish witchcraft accusations, The Mermaid and the Bear is a story of triumph over evil, hope through adversity, faith in humankind and – above all – love.

AmazonUK | AmzonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #CrimeFiction THE PAPERBOY by @DianaJFebry

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading The Paperboy by Diana J. Febry

The Paperboy: A rural detective mystery (Peter Hatherall Mystery Book 6) by [Febry, Diana J]

This standalone detective story begins with a tragic event but already we know that cause of this sudden stabbing is another murder 24 years earlier.  Readers of the previous Peter Hatherall mysteries will enjoy seeing Peter as a young inexperienced copper and as we read of the mismanaged case in 1994, we begin to see the connection to this new investigation.  DI Fiona Williams, who is first on the scene, cannot understand why her boss DCI Hatherall is linking an old case solved in the past, to this event, when there are other leads to follow.

As we read about the movements of the culprit, we also observe the careful detective process.  Handicapped by accusations that he is using old resentments to cloud his judgement, Peter tries to convince his friend, Fiona, that the answer lies in a blurred photo kept by the recent victim.  Before they can solve the case there are two abductions, while Fiona and Peter deal with major problems in their home lives.  The characters of the detectives and the victims are strongly drawn and I became involved in their believable predicaments.

Although a good read on its own I am now tempted to read earlier books from the series to learn more about this likeable detective.

Book description

A stand-alone murder mystery featuring DCI Peter Hatherall.
A young mother brutally stabbed in a busy park in front of her son.
A paperboy shot in an isolated farmhouse twenty-four years previously.
DI Fiona Williams is baffled when her senior officer, DCI Peter Hatherall makes a connection between the two cases.
As details of Hatherall’s involvement in the old case emerge, her loyalty is tested to breaking point and she starts to question his decisions.
When the murdered woman’s son does missing the time for hesitating is over.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Victorian #Mystery INTRIGUE & INFAMY by @carolJhedges

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading Intrigue & Infamy by Carol J Hedges

Intrigue

Never has a Victorian murder mystery seemed more appropriate for the time of reading.  Once again Carol Hedges captures our imagination with her tale of honest policemen, hard-working women and dastardly villains.  At a time when Italy and Germany are hotbeds of revolution as they try to build up unified national identities, foreign residents of London are subject to racist attacks by an unknown group.  Meanwhile, Juliana Silverton has ensnared her perfect husband and she can look forward to a happy successful marriage provided no scandal is revealed about her or her fiancé, Harry Haddon. But in the house of Harry’s father, Sir Nicholas Haddon, his second wife despairs as her young’s son’s loyalty is lost to a new young Italian tutor.

As the elegant Juliana tries to preserve her future, she is threatened by a jealous friend while Harry finds the bullying he received at Eton, continues into his adult life.  They must both summon courage and sang-froid to achieve happiness together. As more innocent people are attacked in the city, thank goodness we can rely on the careful detective work of our old friends Jack Cully and Lachlan Greig.

Intrigue and Infamy recreates the glitter and sparkle of sumptuous 1860s London, contrasting it with deception and secrecy and we are shown how so many people struggled against prejudice, misfortune and cruelty. Another compulsive read!

Book description

It is 1866, the end of a long hot summer in Victorian London, and the inhabitants are seething with discontent. Much of it is aimed at the foreign population living in the city. So when a well-reputed Jewish tailoring business is set aflame, and the body of the owner is discovered inside, Detective Inspector Lachlan Grieg suspects a link to various other attacks being carried out across the city, and to a vicious letter campaign being conducted in the newspapers.

Can he discover who is behind the attacks before more people perish?

Elsewhere, Giovanni Bellini arrives in England to tutor the youngest son of Sir Nicholas Haddon, ex-MP and City financier. But what are Bellini’s links to a dangerous Italian radical living in secret exile in London, and to beautiful Juliana Silverton, engaged to Harry Haddon, the heir to the family fortune?

Romance and racism, murder and mishap share centre stage in this seventh exciting book in the Victorian Detectives series.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Intrigue

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Memoir LOVE, LOSS and MOVING ON by @LorieKEckert

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading Love, Loss and Moving On by Lorie Kleiner Eckert

Where to begin?  This book was a total surprise- part memoir, part fantasy and one way of dealing with loss, guilt and loneliness.  And any book which gives a detailed description of the life and films of actor, Bill Nighy can’t be bad.

Lorie Kleiner Eckert relates events during 2015, two years after the death of her long-term partner, Big Irv, via her diary entries, some of her “Slice of Life” newspaper columns and fan letters to Bill Nighy. She is witty and informative. Supported by good friends, Lorie shares regular visits to movies, prepares weekly dinners for her children and grandchildren and runs a craft day each Monday for her youngest grandchildren.  Being of a similar age, I admire her energy tremendously, but she was aware that she had not come to terms with Irv’s death from cancer or her guilt at turning him out of her house.

An amazingly creative lady she had previously produced stunning quilts with simple, important messages spelt out in the designs but now she felt unable to return to her craft.  Then she responded to the suggestion of writing The Book of Irv with sections on Good Stuff, Bad Stuff and Ugly Stuff.  Working through these topics she tells us about their relationship and how despite their love for each other he made life impossible by trying to keep her family away.  Interspersed with the fan letters she sent to Bill and those she wrote but did not send, Lorie works out what she wants from the future but she also helped me, the reader, to see echoes in my own life when I had to deal with the death of my mother.

The best thing about reading “Love, Loss, and Moving On” is that I have found a person to follow, whose blogs and motivational articles speak personally to me.

Book description

“Love, Loss, and Moving On” captures the universal truths about the risks and rewards of relationships when you’re a woman of a certain age. With a relatable style both hilarious and heart-rending, Lorie Kleiner Eckert shares her grief, loneliness, and curiosity as she processes her past to create a rich, fulfilling future for herself. Lorie comes to terms with the death of her longtime partner, coping with her uncertainties by connecting with good friends, writing to work through her emotions, searching the Internet, and eating her fair share of ice cream. (Oh, and there’s also the matter of falling head over heels for a certain handsome British actor known for his bespoke navy suits.) “Love, Loss, and Moving On” will have readers laughing, crying, and above all, nodding in recognition as they travel Lorie’s path with her, gaining strength and inspiration for their own journeys into what comes next.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

 

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #RegencyRomance The Work Of Art by @MimiMatthewsEsq

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading The Work Of Art by Mimi Matthews

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Phyllida Satterthwaite is presented to us surrounded by a cacophony of misbehaving dogs, all of whom she owns and cares about. Insisting on bringing them to the London home of her uncle Edgar Townsend, she must soon find a husband to provide for her, now she is penniless.  It is apparent that she puts animals before people and she seems unaware of her beauty, only thinking herself odd because of her mismatched eye colours.  But for one person, the Duke of Moreland, she is a work of art, which he wishes to add to his collection.

It might have gone according to Townsend’s plan had it not been for the noble actions of Captain Arthur Heywood, but what use is he, so badly injured from the battle of Albuera that he can hardly walk. Yet Arthur and Philly are drawn together because they don’t fit into the artificial society of Regency London.  Arthur fears a terrible fate will befall Philly and he is prepared to use his wealth, and power to keep her safe.  But can there be a happy ending?  Arthur is damaged, physically and mentally, while Philly is an innocent, gentle girl who longs for independence and a safe place to look after her animals.

As with all Miss Matthews’ novels, it is the conversations between hero and heroine which catch the imagination. As love grows, problems increase. Philly is still in danger and Arthur is not fit enough to protect her.  There are credible misunderstandings and a complex plot but the intimacy of this delightful couple is such a pleasure to read.

Book description

An Uncommon Beauty…

Hidden away in rural Devonshire, Phyllida Satterthwaite has always been considered more odd than beautiful. But in London, her oddity has made her a sensation. Far worse, it’s caught the eye of the sinister Duke of Moreland–a notorious art collector obsessed with acquiring one-of-a-kind treasures. To escape the duke’s clutches, she’s going to need a little help.

An Unlikely Hero…

Captain Arthur Heywood’s days of heroism are long past. Grievously injured in the Peninsular War, he can no longer walk unaided, let alone shoot a pistol. What use can he possibly be to a damsel in distress? He has nothing left to offer except his good name.

Can a marriage of convenience save Philly from the vengeful duke? Or will life with Arthur put her–and her heart–in more danger than ever?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Travel Stories PASSIONATE TRAVELLERS by @TrishaNicholson #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading PassIonate Travellers by Trisha Nicholson

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Recounting the story of 21 epic journeys, made by a panoply of individuals through known time, is quite a challenge.  How should they be sorted?  Do they share a common purpose?  Can we learn from their experiences?  Trish Nicholson had chosen to group the journeys according to the geographical region they visited, with each section introduced by a Perspective giving the reader a picture of the area’s context within society at the time of the travellers described. Each person had different reasons to set out; curiosity, greed, a mission, a need for challenge, but all were surprised. The sketch maps of each journey are a great asset, however knowledgeable (or not) you may be of the 21st century world.

This is a book of choices. Do you seek out the names which are familiar, such as Herodotus, Mungo Park or Robert Louis Stevenson, do you choose to follow the brave journeys of the women who endured discomfort to find new experiences or do you read from the beginning to the end?  All approaches are rewarding, but I admit to skipping first to some of my favourites such as Gladys Aylward, whom I’ve admired since childhood, and Marianne North, whose accurate, beautiful drawings of plants are on show at Kew gardens.  Then I discovered amazing journeys made by strangers to me. Ida Pfeiffer’s suffering in order to see most of Iceland, Stevenson’s fascinating tour of the islands of the Pacific Ocean and the anarchic Alexandra David-Neel’s determination to enter the forbidden city of Lhasa, all filled me with awe and admiration, even though many of these people would not be easy companions.

I shall be buying Passionate Travellers as a present for friends who love journeys or who find people intriguing. Its fluent prose and detailed account of the world of the past are irresistible.

Book description

Accompanying these 21 passionate travellers on their personal quests, we discover what drove them, and share their incredible journeys through deserts, mountains, jungles and seas to every continent, spanning 2,000 years of history from 480 BCE to the 1930s. These are true stories of daring adventure, courage, cunning, even murder and, above everything, sheer determination against all odds.
Most of these eight women and thirteen men were ordinary people transformed by their journeys. They travelled from Africa, China, Persia, Russia, and the Mediterranean as well as from Europe and America. Their backgrounds were diverse, including: poet, artist, invalid, slave, pilgrim, doctor, missionary, scholar, diplomat, dilettante, storyteller, and anarchistic opera singer.

AmeaonUK | AmazonUS

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