Tuesday 30 April 2024

What I've been reading in april

I read three books this month - two I would recommend and one which I wouldn't. 

 I started off the month with a book I picked at random on Amazon Kindle, The Wrong Daughter by Dandy Smith.

Caitlin and Olivia are excited about the prospect of being able to spend the night alone while their parents go out for the evening.  But unbeknown to them, they are being watched and in the middle of the night an intruder breaks in and kidnaps Olivia.  Caitlin can only watch in horror as a man in a Venetian hooked nose mask drags her older sister at knifepoint down the stairs.  The police are unable to solve the crime and Olivia's body is never found.

Many years later Caitlin receives a phone call telling her to come home immediately and she can hardly believe her eyes when she sees her sister in the family home with her parents.  Olivia refuses to be drawn into what has happened to her in all these years and is adamant that the police should not be involved.  Caitlin is immediately suspicious of Olivia and believes there is more to the mysterious reappearance.

In between the chapters is a second - seeming unconnected - storyline of siblings, Elinor and Heath Ledbury,  who live together in a stately home under the guidance of an unpleasant uncle who has control of their family trusts until they come of age.  I couldn't work out how this was going to be relevant - but it was!

For the first 3/4 of this book I was really enjoying it, but then it took a bit of a dark turn and I wasn't sure where it was going. It really is a tense psychological thriller but the last few chapters made me feel a bit uncomfortable so I'm afraid it's not one that I would recommend that you rush out and read.  

So I tried to find something that would be a much lighter subject matter -

No 23 Burlington Square by Jenni Keer.

Set in 1927 we meet Agnes Humphries, the landlady of 23 Burlington Square who has a vacant room to let. There are three applicants to consider. Stephen - a respectable banker who seems very sensible and almost too good to be true, Mercy Mayweather - a war widow who appears to be running away from something or someone, or Clara - her high spirited niece who drifts through life with no responsibility or interest in anything other than enjoying an exciting social life. Having brought scandal to her parents, Clara has been thrown out of home and Agnes feels that she must help family first and so offers the room to her.

Clara is very much the typical socialite of that era but finds that a chance meeting with Jemima, who lives in the basement flat of the house with her husband and young family, makes her question her life and stirs up the question of inequality for women at that time. An impetuous action by Clara damages that fledgling friendship and also makes Clara face a very difficult realisation about her true self.

Just as we have seen Clara move on with her new perspective on life the second part of the book begins.  We are transported back to 1927, with Agnes needing to let her vacant room.  This time Agnes chooses Stephen as the lucky tenant.  But just as we thought, Stephen is too good to be true and he may have been economical with the truth during his interview with Agnes.  He befriends one of the other lodgers and feels that his influence could help him turn things around.  Suffice it to say that Stephen's future is changed beyond his wildest dreams by the end of his stay.

Part three begins again back in 1927, but this time Agnes has chosen Mercy Mayweather to be her lodger.  The quiet widow is definitely hiding some secret and is constantly worrying that her family will find where she is and make her return to the homestead.  One thing is for sure and that is that no one is quite what they seem.

I really enjoyed this book.  I like the way that we witnessed how life would have panned out whichever one of the lodgers took the room.  I especially liked the ending which showed us that no matter who took that room, life for Agnes will never be the same!

Onto the last book of the month which was recommended to me by my daughter.  None Of This Is True by Lisa Jewell

Two women meet while out celebrating their 45th birthdays - birthday twins but their lives could not be more different.  Josie had married a much older man when very young and has two grown up daughters.  One who ran away from home when she was a teenager and the other who stays in her bedroom all day and night, gaming on her computer.  Alix is a podcaster who lives in a beautiful home and has two young children and a husband who has a drink problem.  

Josie becomes obsessed with Alix and approaches her with an idea for her podcast where she would tell her story and describe how she is about to dramatically change her mundane life.  Alix agrees to a trial interview and gets drawn into the dark chapters of Josie's life.  Josie gradually manipulates her way into Alix's life and even into her home.  

But are the stories that Josie discusses true?  Has she infiltrated Alix's life through a web of lies?  By getting involved in Josie's life has Alix put her own family in danger?  Oh boy, this is a page turner!  

So I would definitely recommend the last two books but not the first!


Patio Postcards said...

Thanks for the book recommendations, I'll check the last two are available through my library.

Barbara Eads said...

I really liked None of This is True and would also recommend it. My library doesn't have#23 Burlington Square, but it sounds like something I would like.

onceuponatimehappilyeverafter.com said...

The last two books both sound very good. I have pinned them for consideration with the book club. I was pulling for The Underground Librarian to win for our May book of the month, and will read it even though it didn't win. Funny Story might be cute and refreshing change from the sober stories we tend to read.

Ruth said...

I'm definitely adding the Lisa Jewel one to my TBR list. :)

Jennifer said...

I don't know how folks read those psychological thrillers. I would be done for - reading your review made me nervous. HA (but not joking). The Burlington Square story sounds like a good one. Here's to more light-hearted and enjoyable reading in the month ahead!!