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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.

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday By Milly Johnson

I Wish It Could Be Christmas EverydayIf there’s one book that will get you into the spirit of Christmas this year, it’s Milly Johnson’s latest festive offering.

Six people all going to different places are forced to hole up in a small inn on the North Yorkshire Moors. Bridge is meeting her soon to be ex-husband Luke to sign a piece of paper that will officially begin the end of their marriage. She wanted to see him for five minutes tops, because she can’t stand the sight of him. Or is she just afraid to be in his presence for any longer than that because what she feels isn’t the hate she pretends to have for him? Luke is meeting his soon to be ex-wife Bridge for the shortest of meetings. He has moved on from his disastrous marriage to her and the last thing he needs is to be trapped with her for four full days when dangerous old feelings could resurface. Industry boss Jack is on his way to a meeting with a Japanese client who cancels at the last minute. It’s a dratted inconvenience having to spend Christmas with a bunch of strangers. But is it really – for someone who is lonely and craving company? Mary has been in love with her boss Jack for four years and this was her big chance to show him she was flesh and blood not the mere useful equivalent of an office stapler. Now she has four days to show him that he needs her in his personal life… but has that chance come too late? Charlie and Robin are going to Aviemore for a snow-filled, luxury Christmas with all the bells and whistles they can muster. Having to spend it with a group of strangers instead, cooking their own dinner would be a complete and disastrous let down to them… wouldn’t it? Six people – some at peace with themselves, some work in progresses, some lost… all take and give from each other in this festive fun-filled feast. A story packed with broccoli, snowmen, carols, paper chains, mince pies, plum tomatoes and cherries… kindness, wisdom and above all hope.

The story is seen through the perspective of 6 people who are all travelling on a snowy winter’s night. The weather is so torrential that they all pull over in a hotel called Figgy Hollow Inn, that is lying vacant but is completely prepared for Christmas. The 6 people are all at crossroads in their lives but during the 23- 27th December, they become firm friends and come to some realisations about themselves.

Outspoken Bridge is meeting her ex-husband Luke to finally sign their divorce papers, married couple Robin and Charlie were off to Scotland for their Christmas celebrations, whilst businessman Jack and his PA Mary were on their way to an important business trip.

As usual, Milly has produced another book that will literally have you feeling warm and glowing inside. With the magical setting of the Figgy Hollow Inn, it’s festive and welcoming setting as well as the wealth of indulgent food on offer that literally has the reader salivating with each page.

I loved the characters so much and had a connection with each one. Bridge and Luke are a complex couple, after years of arguing and moving on, they’ve finally decided to sign the papers but whilst in Figgy Hollow, they remember the good times when money was less but they still loved each other. These parts make for poignant and warm reading as the couple reflect on old times. Robin and Charlie bicker like a old couple, but there’s a deep love between them even though there’s quite an age age between them. Charlie was the gentleman of the story, exuding charm and wisdom to the party with his gentle nature. Whereas Mary has been in love with her boss for years, but Jack has never seen her in this light, but it seems the magic of Figgy Hollow is making him look at his PA in a new way. The magical setting of Figgy Hollow is making everyone reevaluate their lives as well as the importance of friendship at this time of year.

‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ is another charming story from Milly, delivered with her trademark tenderness, love and wit and is story of hope, magic and new friendships. This book is Christmas wrapped up with a festive bow.

You can buy ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.