Genre: Family Saga

The Secret by Kathryn Hughes (4/5)

Posted August 13, 2016 in Book Review / 0 Comments

The Secret by Kathryn Hughes (4/5)The Secret: The #1 Bestselling Author by Kathryn Hughes
Published by Headline Review on September 8th 2016
Genres: Family Saga, Fiction
Pages: 416
Format: ARC, Paperback
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From the #1 bestselling author of The Letter comes The Secret - a heartbreaking novel of tragedy, hope and second chances. Fans of Jojo Moyes and Amanda Prowse will love the moving human drama of Kathryn Hughes. 'A wonderful uplifting story' Lesley Pearse on The Letter
Mary has been nursing a secret. Forty years ago, she made a choice that would change her world for ever, and alter the path of someone she holds dear.
Beth is searching for answers. She has never known the truth about her parentage, but finding out could be the lifeline her sick child so desperately needs. When Beth finds a faded newspaper cutting amongst her mother's things, she realises the key to her son's future lies in her own past. She must go back to where it all began to unlock...The Secret.

I have to say that this isn’t the usual kind of book I would be drawn to, but I was fortunate enough to win a copy from Headline Review on Twitter. I’m so pleased that I did as I absolutely loved this book!

The book follows Beth, who has never known who her father was. After her mother’s death, she starts to unearth secrets which will rock her family to its very core. The story is told along two timelines – modern-day with Beth, her husband Michael and their 5-year old son Jake, who has end stage liver failure; and flashbacks to 1975 when a group of people were involved in a fatal road crash. As Beth finds out more about her past, the two stories come together in a fantastic story.

I thoroughly enjoyed this, and can’t thank Headline Review enough for this proof copy. I wouldn’t have picked up this book normally, but I am definitely looking forward to reading more from this author.

The Marble Collector by Cecelia Ahern (3/5)

Posted March 16, 2016 in Book Review / 0 Comments

The Marble Collector by Cecelia Ahern (3/5)The Marble Collector by Cecelia Ahern
Published by HarperCollins on November 5th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Family Saga, Fiction
Pages: 304
Format: Hardback
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The poignant new bestseller from Cecelia Ahern.
The Marble Collector tells the story of a woman who discovers a collection of marbles in her father's belongings. On learning that part of the collection is missing, she embarks on a quest to relocate the missing marbles to complete the collection and also to understand and complete the picture of a man she realises she never fully knew. As she uncovers the story of a damaged childhood, she also comes to understand what is missing in herself.
Moving, thought-provoking and uplifting, The Marble Collector is a love story between a daughter and her father, and a man and his memories.

I have been a fan of Ahern’s work since the early days. Her first books were like fairytales for adults with a fantastic mix of great storytelling and magic. However her later books seem to be following a more traditional path and this book is nothing more than a family saga drama.

It follows the childhood story of Fergus Boggs, and that of his daughter Sabrina when she discovers her dad’s marble collection. She starts to unravel the story of Fergus’ life and realises he’s been keeping secrets from her and her mother. Fergus himself is in a home after a stroke which has affected his memory, so he can’t tell Sabrina a lot of what she wants to know.

The writing is excellent as with all Ahern books. But the storyline is contrived. The events are shoe-horned into a single day, which gives the book a bit of a claustrophobic feel. I also couldn’t get behind the main storyline of marbles playing such a huge part in an adult’s life. Maybe it’s an Irish thing, who knows?! But for me marbles were childhood toys, not something grown men play with. I couldn’t really get behind the reasoning for the secret being kept for so many years, either. That just didn’t make a lot of sense.

It’s a good book, but not one of Ahern’s best. It’s disappointing to see what looks to be a permanent shift away from the magical adult fairytales, into the more mundane family saga / drama genre.

The Man who Disappeared by Clare Morrall (2/5)

Posted March 3, 2016 in Book Review / 0 Comments

The Man who Disappeared by Clare Morrall (2/5)The Man Who Disappeared by Clare Morrall
Published by Sceptre on June 24th 2010
Genres: Family Saga, Fiction, General
Pages: 376
Format: Paperback
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When reliable, respectable Felix Kendall vanishes, his wife Kate is left reeling. As she and their children cope with the shocking impact on their comfortable lives, Kate realises that, if Felix is guilty, she never truly knew the man she loved. But as she faces the possibility that he might not return, she also discovers strengths she never knew she had.

I read Astonishing Splashes of Colour by Clare Morrall a number of years ago when it first came out. I remember enjoying the book immensely, so was really pleased when I saw a friend had bought me a copy of this book, which I hadn’t come across before.

The premise sounds great. Successful family man, Felix Kendall, seems to have everything. Until he disappears and leaves his wife Kate – previously a “stay at home mum” – to pick up the pieces of their lives and their children’s lives. The luxury home disappears, as do the private schooling and fancy cars, and Kate is left to try and reconstruct a life for herself while wondering what happened to the man she thought she knew.

I was expecting a page-turning thriller from the synopsis, wondering what Felix had done and willing the story to unravel at a fast, twisting pace. Instead what you get is a plod-along family saga. It’s a good read, but it’s just not the read I was expecting. Instead Felix and his misdemeanours almost get pushed to one side as the story focuses on Kate and the children, and how they pull their lives back together again.

The first third to half of the book is good, but then it starts to tail off, and drags along a bit. Almost like the story had to be eked out to fill the requisite number of pages before the end. The conclusion is weak and ultimately unsatisfying.

It’s an OK read, but it could have been so much better with just a few tweaks.

Perfect Daughter by Amanda Prowse (2/5)

Posted February 22, 2016 in Book Review / 0 Comments

Perfect Daughter by Amanda Prowse (2/5)Perfect Daughter: The Perfect Summer Read (No Greater Courage) by Amanda Prowse
Published by Head of Zeus on February 1st 2016
Genres: Family Saga, Fiction
Pages: 368
Format: Kindle
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Wife. Mother. Daughter. What happens when it all becomes too much?
Jackie loves her family. Sure, her teenage children can be stroppy. Her husband a little lazy. And providing round-the-clock care for her Alzheimer's-ridden mother is exhausting. She's sacrificed a lot to provide this safe and loving home, in their cramped but cosy semi with a view of the sea.
All Jackie wants is for her children to have a brighter future than she did. So long as Martha, the eldest, gets into university and follows her dreams, all her sacrifice will be worth something... won't it?
Poppy Day, What Have I Done?, Clover's Child, A Little Love, Will You Remember Me?, Christmas for One.

This isn’t my usual kind of read at all. However I’m currently laid up with a broken ankle, and was looking for something easy to read through the drug and pain haze!

The most I can say about the book was it was OK. The main character, “Jacks” (urgh!) Morgan is a wife, mother and carer to her own elderly mother who is suffering from dementia. The relationship between “Jacks” (urgh!) and her mother was never on the best of terms even when she was little, so it’s surprising that “Jacks” (urgh!) takes such close care of her as she does. She has a husband who seems to barely lift a finger, and two children (10 and 18) who expect every little thing handed to them. Then “Jacks” (urgh!) complains that she’s tired and run down. I can’t help but think if she wasn’t such a doormat then things could be a whole lot better for her!

There’s a very odd side-story about a childhood sweetheart who makes a reappearance, which didn’t really add anything to the story. There were also a couple of “secrets” which became quite obvious as the book went on and which I was just relieved when they were revealed.

There really isn’t a lot to this book. It’s fine for what it is – but I don’t think I’ll be picking up any more in this series. Besides which, the name “Jacks” (urgh!) just grated every single time I read it!!