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The World At My Feet By Catherine Isaac

The World At My Feet‘The World At My Feet’ is the latest book by Catherine Isaac.

1990. Harriet is a journalist. Her job takes her to dangerous places, where she asks questions and tries to make a difference. But when she is sent to Romania, to the state orphanages the world is only just learning about, she is forced to rethink her most important rule. 2018. Ellie is a gardener. Her garden is her sanctuary, her pride and joy. But, though she spends long days outdoors, she hasn’t set foot beyond her gate for far too long. Now someone enters her life who could finally be the reason she needs to overcome her fears.

‘The World At My Feet’ is the third book by Catherine and just like her debut, it’s just as tearjerking and captivating.

The story is seen through the narrative of mother and daughter Harriet and Ellie. To the outside world, Ellie is a strong and powerful woman with a strong following on her gardening Instagram page but Ellie doesn’t move beyond her garden due to agoraphobia. Much as she’d love to step outside her garden, her fear and anxiety have prevented her leaving the house for a number of years, leaving her reliant on deliveries and support from her parents and younger sister called Lucy.

Although Ellie’s narrative is written in the present tense, her mother’s Harriet is written in the past tense at the height of her career when she was a war correspondent travelling to some of the most dangerous places in the world.  One place that particularly triggered an emotion and connection with Harriet, was the Romanian orphanages, were children with haunting eyes who were not only malnourished of food but also love and affection.

The story seen through Ellie’s makes for frustrating and sad reading, she’s a wonderful young woman who quite literally has the world at her end but is consumed by her fear that her life is in limbo. Aware that she needs to make changes before it’s too late, she become friends with Jamie, the garden centre delivery man who gently coaxes her out into real world with his kind and fun nature. Their friendship makes for lovely reading as they get to know each other and their interactions.

Harriet’s narrative makes for quite hard hitting reading as she travels to war worn torn and poverty stricken countries. Catherine vividly describes the desperation and desolation of the orphanages as the children long for love and are horribly deprived of it and this make upsetting reading at times.

Like her previous novels, Catherine’s novels really strike a chord with its reader connecting with them on an emotional level that really pulls its audience in. The story focuses on genuinely upsetting topics such as agoraphobia and the orphanages in Romania, but she writes with such sensitivity and warmth which really captures the readers heart. Even in the darkest moments of the story, there are elements of light with the beautiful descriptions of the gardens and the inclusion of a friendly canine called Gertie.

Beautifully written with thoroughly researched subjects, Catherine has created another soulful story that captivates the reader. ‘The World At My Feet’ is a stunningly written story of hope, courage and new beginnings.

You can buy ‘The World At My Feet’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

A Family Reunion By Patricia Scanlan

A Family Reunion‘A Family Reunion’ is the latest book by Patricia Scanlan.

When four feisty women from the same family, get together at a family reunion, anything can happen…

‘A Family Reunion’ is a hard hitting and emotional story about a family’s hardship with bitter feelings and revelations.

The story begins on the night of Brigid’s 80th birthday, when a surprise party is organised by her friends and family. Having spent over 60 years giving her life to the Catholic Church and helping those less well off, she’s looking forward to her retirement. But on that night, her younger sister Imelda, who has always jealous of Brigid leaving Ireland and having a more exciting life and leaving her to deal with the family farm and settle for a much slower pace of life than she ever desired. After Imelda reveals the bottled up emotions from the last 60 years, the story then flows for many decades and seen from 3 generations of women. Brigid and Imelda, Imelda’s daughter Keelin and Keelin’s daughter Marie Claire, who has just returned to Ireland from Canada after that her boyfriend was cheating on her.

The story is seen from the different narratives as they all battle with the aftermath of Brigid’s party and all the women are devastated at Imelda’s news.

Imelda is a hard character, she’s selfish absorbed and is not afraid to speak her mind. She longed to leave rural Ireland for the city lights of Dublin, but couldn’t with Brigid becoming a nun and has never forgiving her sister for taking away her opportunity and as the years go by with everyone singing Brigid’s praises, Imelda’s resentment grows.

Brigid is an interesting character, she became a nun to discover more opportunities in life and escape Ireland and found herself loving and embracing helping the sick in Africa and her narratives makes for humbling reading at times.

The story spans over 70 years and it really does make for upsetting and sad reading in part. The Catholic Church has such a strong hold over Ireland and over the years there have been terrible stories revealed with the Catholic Church in the forecourt of them. The Mother and Baby Homes where underage or unwed women had babies only for them to cruelly taken away from them to be sold or to have buried in unmarked graves. Women were unable to get contraceptives and had to travel to Northern Ireland and only recently in 2018, in the Irish Referendum, was it allowed that women could have abortions in Ireland and not have to travel to England for an already traumatic experience.

Patricia has truly written a story that evokes many reactions from the hardships that women faced living in Ireland, the treatment and judgement from the Church that impacted on so many lives as well as the lack of equality. To think, that women were unable to get library cards without consent from their husbands made for truly shocking reading. It’s remarkable to read how the country has progressed throughout the years but without the power and resilience of the women of Ireland, life could be a lot darker.

Sweetly written and crafted with the warmth of Irish culture and dialogue, A story of revelations, hope and the power of family blood, ‘A Family Reunion’ is a poignant and insightful about how the consequences of one night can changes lives forever.

You can buy ‘A Family Reunion’ from Amazon and is also available to buy from good bookshops.

The Other Daughter By Caroline Bishop

The Other Daughter‘The Other Daughter’ is the latest book by Caroline Bishop.

When Jessica discovers a shocking secret about her birth, she leaves her London home and travels to Switzerland in search of answers. She knows her journalist mother spent time in the country forty years earlier, reporting on the Swiss women’s liberation movement, but what she doesn’t know is what happened to her while she was there. Can Jess summon the courage to face the truth about her family, or will her search only hurt herself and those around her even more?

It’s difficult to go into too much detail about this book, without giving too much away but it’s a beautifully written story about a search for answers.

The story is written in the past and present of mother and daughter Evelyn and Jess. After her mother died, Jess discovered something that left any unanswered questions, taking her to Switzerland looking for answers. Whilst in Switzerland, she works for a professional couple called Julia and Michael, teaching their children Lea and Luca, English. As Jess helps improve the children’s English, she’s determined to find some answers to her past.

The past narrative is seen from Evelyn, who aspires to be a successful journalist writing current affairs and hard hitting stories in the 1970’s, but it’s difficult to be taken seriously as a writer in male dominated industry and she finds herself the butt of jokes. But persistence pays off when she travels to Switzerland to follow a women’s movement looking for equality. But just as her career has taken off, Evelyn becomes pregnant and fears that all her hard work will be for nothing when the baby is born.

This book is a beautifully written story of two women finding their places in life and the struggles they have faced along the way. I loved Evelyn, her passion and determination for equality and for her own right to work made for fascinating reading. It’s was also incredibly reflective of how far society has moved forward. Granted, we’re still along way of from the ideal scenario but, to think of time when a woman couldn’t stand at a bar to order a drink made for astounding reading.

Caroline paints a vivid picture with her writing, whether it was the bustling city of London or the Swiss Alps, she sweeps the reader away in this poignant tale. This book is Caroline’s debut novel and I thought it was a tremendous, story, well paced with relatable characters and never once did my interest waver.

Jess was also an interesting woman who’s faced some struggles, things that should have come naturally to her have been cruelly taken away and she battled emotions with this and this does make for sympathetic and relatable reading.

A fascinating story into the exploration of women’s rights and one woman’s journey into the background of her birth, ‘The Other Daughter’ is an emotional story that really engaged my attention.

You can buy ‘The Other Daughter’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Space Hopper By Helen Fisher

Space Hopper‘Space Hopper’ is Helen Fisher’s debut novel.

Although Faye is happy with her life, the loss of her mother as a child weighs on her mind even more now that she is a mother herself. So she is amazed when, in an extraordinary turn of events, she finds herself back in her childhood home in the 1970s. Faced with the chance to finally seek answers to her questions – but away from her own family – how much is she willing to give up for another moment with her mother?

Helen’s debut novel is a beautifully written story about about new beginnings and second chances.

When Fay discovers an old box of memories in the attic which results in a strange accident, she finds herself reliving her life and getting to see her mother who died when she was only 8.

This book is a beautiful story that really strikes a chord with the reader. Fay is a wonderful character, she’s kind with a huge heart but misses her mother greatly and relishes on the opportunity to relive her life and spend some more time with her. The story is a tender box and the main character being the the Space Hopper box that has travelled with her through the years filled with memories and photographs of happy times.

Beautifully written and heartfelt with poignancy and tender moments throughout, ‘Space Hopper’ is a bittersweet story about grief, love and made for genuinely uplifting reading.

You can buy ‘Space Hopper’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Claire Frost

Claire Frost“Claire Frost grew up in Manchester, the middle of three sisters. She always wanted to do a job that involved writing, so after studying Classics at Bristol University she found a job in magazines. For the last 10 years she’s worked at ‘The Sun on Sunday’s Fabulous’ magazine, where she is Assistant Editor and Books Editor. She can mostly be found at her desk buried beneath an ever-increasing pile of books or at home writing funny and heart-warming novels about love, life and social media.

  1. For readers of the blog who may not be familiar with you or your writing, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing.
    Hi Bronagh – and hi readers of the Handwritten Girl blog! I love writing fun, relatable, feelgood books about romantic relationships, female friendships and how we live our lives online and IRL. I am also a journalist and work as Assistant Editor at Fabulous magazine, where I edit copy plus review books and interview authors for the magazine’s books pages
  2. Can you tell us about your new book called ‘Married at First Swipe’?
    I would love to! Married At First Swipe is about Hannah, who is always looking for her next adventure but also wants to find someone she can settle down with, and her best friend Jess, who is married to her childhood sweetheart and they live with their lovely seven-year-old twins in a nice semi-detached house in a Manchester suburb. But when Jess reveals her dating business is on the verge of going under, Hannah comes up with a daring plan to generate much-needed publicity: she will let Jess set her up on the ultimate blind date – which will take place at the altar. What could possibly go wrong?!
  3. If you were to start your own book club, what authors would you ask to join?
    Ooh, I like this question! I am lucky enough to know lots of amazing authors, all of whom I’d love to start a book club with (in fact, a few of us are already in a book club together!), so I would invite all of them. And knowing I had them as my moral support, I would also invite some authors I’d love to fangirl embarrassingly at, such as Jilly Cooper, Kate Atkinson and David Nicholls.
  4. You also have the exciting job of being a magazine book reviewer, what’s it like now having people review your books?
    It’s, um, a bit weird, to be honest! But I also know just how many novels book reviewers get sent, so I am so grateful when people take the time to read and review my books. It means a huge amount when someone tells me they’ve enjoyed reading something I’ve written – whether that person is a book reviewer, blogger or any other kind of reader – and I don’t think that feeling will ever get old.
  5. What’s your favourite opening line from a book?
    I am not sure anyone will ever better the opening line of Dodie Smith’s ‘I Capture The Castle’: ‘I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.’
  6. What’s your favourite part of the writing process?
    The bit when I hold a finished copy of my book in my hands!
  7. Married At First Swipe

  8. What’s your favourite book of all time?
    Argh, this is SUCH a difficult one! But I will always love ‘The Secret Garden’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and more recently, ‘Life After Life’ by Kate Atkinson is breath-takingly amazing.
  9. Is there anything that you would change about your writing journey?
    I really try not to have regrets, but if there was one thing I could tell past-me (and, in fact, present-me!) it’s to have more self-belief in my writing. I have spent – and definitely still spend – far too much time doubting whether I can really do this. But I now have two actual paperbacks with my name on the front, so I definitely CAN do it!
  10. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
    Hmm, if I was stranded for a very long time, I guess I’d want books I could re-read over and over again without getting bored. So I would choose the first three books of Elizabeth Jane Howard’s Cazelet chronicles – every time I read the series (which I do every couple of years) I realise just how brilliant she was at creating characters who are both multi-layered, interesting and relatable.
  11. What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
    I know everyone says this, but actually putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard!) is the only real way to improve and develop your writing. You can read all the ‘how to write’ book you want, but unless you are actually filling a page with words, the theory behind it all doesn’t mean anything. I know that every day I write I learn so much – and I hope that every book I write is better than the last.
  12. When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
    A large cup of coffee (and my espresso martini scented candle!).
  13. And finally, do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website?
    I am working on my third novel right now – all I can say is that it is a little bit different but I am so excited about it!

    You can find Claire Frost on Twitter

    You can pre-order ‘Married At First Swipe’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 4th February 2021.