Rosie’s Coffee Break – When a book makes you think more about…..The Duddo Stones #MondayBlogs

How often do you read a book and it makes you think more about one of the book subjects or storylines and it has your brain cells all fired up with questions and curiosity?

Coffee Break

When I read The Cunning Women’s Cup, much of the storyline was written about the Duddo stones.


I was interested to find out more and one day visit them. The Duddo stones are found in Northumberland, Uk, only 4 miles from the Scottish border. Only 5 of the original 7 stones remain, they are believed to be around 4000 years old. Some of the stones have “cup” marks on them. Mystery surrounds these stones which are also known locally as “The Singing Stones”. Deep grooves in the stones and the harsh winds may well produce eerie sounds thought to be singing.

What book have you read recently which inspired you to do more research?

The Cunning Woman’s Cup by Susan Hewitt #bookreview #DuddoStones @sue9631

The Cunning Woman's CupThe Cunning Woman’s Cup by Sue Hewitt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Cunning Woman’s Cup is a contemporary piece of fiction woven around ancient standing stones and family dramas. It is set in Duddo, Northumberland near the Scottish border.

There is an ancient stone circle at Duddo made of 5 megaliths. We are introduced to Mordwand of the Brigantes a healing woman burned at the stake. Her story threads throughout the book in a series of small flashbacks.

Alice McCleish lives with Nipper, her dog, close to the standing stones. The small community is close and supportive of each other and Alice is one of the backbones of village life. She meets Margaret Allerton whilst out walking and they begin a friendship which will give them both a new lease of life.

I loved the way the author built this story introducing new layers and new characters once I’d got a good picture and feel for the place. Alice employs Brian Rigden to help restore her garden to the splendour it once was when her husband Callum was alive. Callum was a man at one with the land and the spirits which watched over them, while Alice was a true believer in God and his church. They agreed to disagree on spiritual matters.

It’s Brian who discovers an ancient cup whilst digging in the garden and the rare find warrants a full archaeological dig. The cup’s discovery starts off a whole series of changing events, Violet Turnbull has not left the house for nearly 30 years. An Agrophobic until she talks to Maisie one of the young students from the dig. With help from Maisie’s Aunt, Violet takes her own destiny onto her hands.

There’s so much more I’d love to tell you about the book, but I’d give too much away. I thought it was an inspiring read, I was off baking my own bread and yearning to make some lemon curd, but more importantly I was researching more about Duddo stones and I’d never thought much about the new business which takes over Henge Farm, but now I’m mulling it over as a sensible option to our human needs.

This book left me with questions, got me thinking, sent shivers down my spine, had me laughing and crying and although I knew it must end, I really didn’t want it to, I’d found a new friend, now I’m just off for a spiritual walk to the stones and then I’ll settle down for coffee cake and tea with Alice and Nipper.

Book description

When Alice McCleish’s gardener Brian unearths an object of great archaeological significance deep under the compost heap it is not only Alice and her burgeoning friendship with Margaret Allerton, retired Professor of Anthropology, that are affected: the family, friends and neighbours of Alice, who people the narrative, are also touched by subsequent events. Alice and Margaret find themselves questioning long-held beliefs about the material and spiritual world that surrounds them; and both women find their lives transformed unalterably by their newfound companionship. Serendipity puts Alice’s nearest neighbour, the troubled Violet Turnbull, in touch with the enigmatic Avian Tyler, whose mystical ‘gift’ offers Violet a promise of liberation. All the while an echoing voice from long, long ago hints at the history of the locality dominated by the standing stone circle that bestrides the skyline above the small community of Duddo, while charting the harrowing story that reveals the provenance of the artefacts found beneath the compost heap.

Find a copy here from or

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Romancing September author Hazel Osmond (Day 20)

Welcome to Day 20 of the Romancing September Across the world Tour. Today we are going to meet author Hazel Osmond and her book “Playing Grace”. After her interview here on my blog, head over to Georgia in a few hours and catch up with Hazel on Stephanie’s blog where they will consider writing romance in today’s society.

Let’s find out more about Hazel;

Hazel Osmond author

1.  Where is your home town?

I lived in a load of places when I was growing up, but I suppose Bath, in the West Country, UK, is my home town as far as being the place that shaped me the most when I was younger. Now though, I’ve lived in the North East of England for over thirty years, so my home town is Newcastle upon Tyne, UK – bold, vibrant, friendly. I love it.

2.  How long have you been writing?

I’ve been an advertising copywriter for over twenty years, but only started writing short stories and novels seven years ago.

3.  Have you always written romance?

 So far!! But I have a children’s book more or less finished and my short stories do not always have romances in them.

4.  Where is your book ‘Playing Grace’ set?

In London, against a backdrop of major art galleries – some of them based on real ones, some of them made up.

5.  How does the title of the book fit to the main characters?

Grace is pretending to be someone she isn’t to hide a big set of secrets from her past – so she’s playing a role. Tate, the American guy who explodes into her life senses that there is more to her than meets the eye and sets about trying to tease out the real Grace – so in a way, he’s playing her.

6.  How would you describe the relationship between Grace and Tate?

 I think to start with Grace is very much keeping him at arm’s length and he’s being as ‘in her face’ as possible to break down the wall. But there’s always an attraction there and as the book progresses, they both learn a lesson about honesty that fundamentally changes the relationship into something more tender. I really enjoyed playing about with the idea that what you see is not necessarily what you get.

7.  How steamy are the love scenes? Do you find them easy to write?

 Ah, now there is quite an erotic scene, but also a lot of sexual tension that I hope is very steamy even though no items of clothing are removed … I don’t think you should rip off the characters’ clothes unless, from a psychological point of view, that’s what they would have done then –  I think bunging a sex scene in to stir up interest is wince-making. That means I usually find the scenes easy to write because by the time they occur, I’ve got a really good idea of how the characters would act – so I’m not getting bogged down in how Part A meets Part B, but the whole physical and emotional flavour of what they’re doing.

Tate is also very good at saying things that have a real erotic charge to them.

8.  I love the fact that you bring humour to your book, does getting the humour right come easily to you?

 It seems to, but maybe the reader should be the judge of that!

I don’t think humour is a barrier to taking life seriously – it’s a way of stepping back and observing it. I cannot envisage writing anything that didn’t have humour in it somewhere – and I find people who can laugh in the face of fate are the bravest people around.

9.  Is the book a stand alone novel or will there be a sequel?

 So far, all my books have been stand alone ones.

10.  I believe you are busy writing more for your fans, what can we expect to see in the near future?

 Next year will be my fourth book – ‘The Mysterious Miss Mayhew’ – it’s told from the point of view of a man returning to the village he grew up in with his young daughter after his marriage has split up – and what happens when a mysterious young woman also turns up in the village. It’s set in Northumberland where I live because I like to do one novel set in London, followed by one set locally. Tom, the lead character has been lovely to write – I kind of fell in love with him while I was writing. (Don’t tell my husband!)

Playing Grace

For a copy of “Playing Grace” follow these links; or

Thank you Hazel for being our guest today, and Good Luck with your next book. Here’s a link to Stephanie’s blog