Guest Post, Q&A + Blog Tour: The Married Girls by Diney Costeloe

Diney Costeloe is the bestselling author of THE THROWAWAY CHILDREN, THE RUNAWAY FAMILY, THE LOST SOLDIER, THE SISTERS OF ST CROIX and THE GIRL WITH NO NAME. She divides her time between Somerset and West Cork.

Thank you to Head of Zeus for giving me the chance to have a guest post and to have a Q&A – I am hosting the amazing Diney Costeloe and her new novel, ‘The Married Girls’.

 

Synopsis

Wynsdown, 1949. In the small Somerset village of Wynsdown, Charlotte Shepherd is happily married to farmer Billy. She arrived from Germany on the Kindertransport as a child during the war and now feels settled in her adopted home.

Meanwhile, the squire’s fighter pilot son, Felix, has returned to the village with a fiancée in tow. Daphne is beautiful, charming… and harbouring secrets. After meeting during the war, Felix knows some of Daphne’s past, but she has worked hard to conceal that which could unravel her carefully built life.

For Charlotte, too, a dangerous past is coming back in the shape of fellow refugee, bad boy Harry Black. Forever bound by their childhoods, Charlotte will always care for him, but Harry’s return disrupts the village quiet and it’s not long before gossip spreads.

The war may have ended, but for these girls, trouble is only just beginning.

Guest Post

What happened to Charlotte?

When I had finished The Girl With No Name, the war was over. Peace had broken out! But the lives of the people who had lived through it all, whether in the services or as civilians, had been dramatically changed.  They had seen things that no one should be asked to see, they had done things that they would have considered inconceivable before the war. They had lived through the constant bombing of the Blitz, lived with the fear of a German invasion and lost loved ones at home and abroad. Families who had been separated for a long time, sometimes years, were reunited and discovered that they were none of them the same people they’d been before. Men came home to wives who’d grown used to a new independence. Wives found that the husbands who returned were not the same men as the ones who had been called up in 1939. Everyone had to make adjustments, learn to know each other again. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. This was happening wherever you lived and the small community of Wynsdown was no exception.

Wynsdown is where Charlotte and Billy, now married live, and I wanted to know how they  and their neighbours were all getting on now that there was no further danger from the skies. The danger was over, but the privations were not. There were shortages of everything and rationing was as rigid as ever. Everyone had to continue to make do and mend.

The Married Girls tells of the changes they faced and how they coped with them.

Felix has to come to terms with leaving the RAF; Daphne is determined not to revert to the life she had before the war; Charlotte is starting married life with the man she loves in a place she feels safe; bad boy Harry risks coming back to London with a new name and finds a very different place from the one he escaped and from Sydney, where he’s been living ever since.

Life goes on. In some cases it is a life that has changed out of all recognition, in others it appears to settle back to something like pre-war normality, but the war has brought about fundamental changes in behaviour, morals and attitude. There are undercurrents  beneath the apparent smooth and steady flow of life, threatening to bring turmoil and discord to those who are moving on with their lives, married, in post-war England.

Question and Answer

  1. How did you come up with the idea to write Girl with No Name ?

I had written a book, The Runaway Family, about a Jewish family trying to survive the persecution of the Nazis in Germany and Austria in 1938. Some of the children arrive in London on one of the Kindertransport trains. That book was complete and stand alone, but it made me wonder how such children would cope with being thrown into a strange place, where they knew no one, couldn’t speak the language and they had to cope with desperate homesickness. The Girl With No Name was the result of my thoughts.

  1. Who is your favourite character in The Married Girls and why?

This is a difficult question to answer. There are several that I’m fond of, not necessarily the main characters. The four that come to mind first are, Billy, the Vicar, Dan and Dieter. They’re all quite different, but I always enjoyed writing about them.

  1. What type of books do you have hidden on your shelves?

All sorts of things, often going back to my childhood and kept for my grandchildren. For instance, all the Narnia books.  Winne the Pooh, Complete Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer for re-reading, Cynthia Harrod Eagles…particularly her ‘Slider’ series of detective novels and her WWI series as yet unfinished. (I’m waiting for the next one!) I do like detective fiction series such as Susan Hill’s Simon Serrailler, Donna Leon’s Brunetti series, set in Venice, Peter May’s Scottish Lewis Trilogy and Peter James’s Roy Grace series set in Brighton. With series like these, you go back and meet up with old friends whose lives have been going on while you haven’t been reading about them! ….and that’s only the fiction! Plenty of research books too.

  1. What advice would you give to potential authors?

The only way to write a book is to get on and do it. When you come to the end of a writing session, don’t finish at the end of a chapter, leaving yourself with a blank page to start with next time. Even if you only write one paragraph…one sentence… “He left the house slamming the door behind him….” you’re already moving on to the next part. If you’re still really stuck when you next sit down to write, re-read and edit what you wrote last time and then go straight on, that usually works. People ask if you have to wait for inspiration, answer, NO. You’d never put pen to paper at all.

Top Ten Things That Will Make Me Instantly Want To Read A Book

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish in June 2010. This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists over at The Broke and the Bookish.

Today’s top ten is what triggers me to instantly read a book – I’ll keep them brief because I could go on for hours and hours streaming off a huge list of things that attract me to choosing specific books.

  1. A fairytale retelling – I love them so much, I find it hard to get into but I loved the Lunar Chronicles, but never actually finished the series, so I’d like to buy them again to re-read. I also enjoyed Geekerella, which is based off of Cinderella, but with a twist.
  2. A love interest – I’m a romantic at heart and I just go gooey all over.
  3. Feminism – I love books written from a feminist perspective – I need to read more feminist books, I need to buy the Spinster Club series to marathon them – I enjoyed reading them, but again, it was another set of books that I unhaul due to lack of space.
  4. Humor – I love a good book that will make me laugh. I still love the Georgia Nicholson series, they’re in storage and I can’t wait until I move out so I can have a dedicated library and study where they’ll live.
  5. Multiple Perspectives – Gah! It may be the psychologist in me, but I truly do love seeing what the other characters are thinking, after having recently read ‘Try Not to  Breathe’, I remember why I love books with more than one perspective.
  6. Written in the form of letters/messages/emails – they’re the best and they spice things up a bit.
  7. Cool graphics or illustrations – Some books with quirky illustrations or graphics that are beautifully planned are things which make me go weak at the knees.
  8. Short chapters – They make me feel like I’m reading more than what I actually am!
  9. Thrillers – I love me a good thriller.
  10. All the books!

The difference a prince makes.

Guest Post – Emily Williams

I recently read and reviewed Letters to Elosie by Emily Williams, and after posting my review I was lucky enough to have a guest post from the amazing author herself answering several questions  – check out my review here, and have a look at Emily on goodreads.

Letters to Eloise

Letters to Eloise is very emotional, is there a book you’ve read that made you cry?

I am not great at showing emotions so rarely cry, however since having children I have become a much more weepy and emotional! Recently I have read The Idea Of You by Amanda Prowse and the opening chapter definitely made me cry! Whilst pregnant, I struggled to read Letters to Eloise without crying, so the editing ground to a halt for a good couple of years!

Who is your favourite character and why?

 It is hard to choose a favourite character in Letters to Eloise as I like the characters for different reasons. Brooke, however, was the most fun to write and she developed her own voice as the book progressed. She definitely stole my heart and edged her way into the story more than I had planned!

How much research did you have to do, how long did it take before you decided you had enough to write?

 The initial plan with the letters took a long time to organise. I matched all the dates and days of the week to the correct day back in 1995 and tried to research events that occurred during that year. For example, a camera brand mentioned by River’s friends was the exact brand that Canon released that year. Then fitting the days and dates to Flora’s pregnancy gestation (to the exact day) was a complete headache! Other parts of the story, such as the ancient Abelard and Heloise interwoven tale and the Cissbury ring legends, took in-depth research and numerous copyright/permission checks.

Without giving away any spoilers (I know its hard!) , what was the hardest section to write about?

 The letter from Flora’s dad to the baby was the hardest section to write. My parents live abroad so writing this part was particularly emotional. I didn’t find, at the time, writing the last few chapters particularly hard. However when returning to edit them, after having had my son and baby daughter (who was a couple months old at the time) was a different matter! You will understand why when you read the story.

Before becoming an author, what was your aim in life, like Flora, I want to become a teacher.

 I am a teacher! Best of luck with your ambitions too. I used the term ‘Write what you know,’ and gave Flora my career ambitions. When I took my PGCE, I had wanted to use my Psychology degree to become an Educational Psychologist but stayed teaching primary school children, which I love.

Back as far as being in primary school though, I always wanted to be an author. Or a Vet, but the fear of blood ruled that out!

 Do you read book reviews? How do you cope when you receive good or bad ones?

 I have been very lucky so far and have not come across a truly negative review. I had a couple with constructive criticism, which I found tough at the time, but take the advice onboard. I want to make my novel and future novels the best they possibly can be, so it is important to accept and take onboard any advice given. When I receive my first truly awful review, I think I will have a good sob and then hopefully pick myself up!

The good reviews however, completely thrill me! I was never sure what reception Letters to Eloise would get, so receiving a good review completely amazes me every time and I am so thankful.

Finally, what is you favourite childhood story, how do you think Eloise would react to reading it?

I loved the Br’er rabbit stories by Grandmother used to read to us when we stayed over for the weekend. I hope Eloise would feel just as comforted and loved being read these stories.

Thank you so much for having me on your blog, I have really enjoyed answering your fabulous questions. I do hope your readers will enjoy Letters to Eloise.

Top Ten Of The Most Unique Books I’ve Read

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish in June 2010. This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists over at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week is the top ten books which are some of the most unique that I have read. I didn’t know where to begin with this, but I decide to go in the direction of books that mean something to me, that people may not know about or there may be unpopular opinions surrounding them.

  1. Boys Don’t Cry by Malorie Blackman
  2. The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson
  3. The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett
  4. Lolita by Valdmir Nabokov
  5. Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon
  6. Letters to Eloise by Emily Williams
  7. The Hollow by Jessica Verday
  8. Girl Up by Laura Bates
  9. Did I Mention I Loved You? by Estelle Maskame
  10. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

I thought that I would try and add a few different genres into the mix as well as some which may not be as popular or well-known. Any opinions for discussion use the comments section –  I look forward to hearing what you have to say.

Book Review: The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn
Publication date November 5th 2015
Genres: Short Story, Thriller, Fiction
Pages: 79
Format: Paperback
Source: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Goodreads

The Grownup

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S Y N O P S I S

A young woman is making a living, faking it as a cut-price psychic working at Spiritual Palms (with some illegal soft-core sex work on the side). She makes a decent wage – mostly by telling people what they want to hear. But then she meets Susan Burke. Susan moved to the city one year ago with her husband and 15-year old stepson Miles. They live in a Victorian house called Carterhook Manor, built in 1893. Susan has become convinced that some malevolent spirit is inhabiting their home, and taking possession of the stepson. She has even found trickles of blood on the wall. The young woman doesn’t believe in exorcism or the supernatural, but she does see an opportunity to make a lot of money. However when she enters the house for the first time, and meets Miles, she begins to feel it too, as if the very house is watching her, waiting, biding its time….

The Grownup which originally appeared as What Do You Do? in George R. R. Martin’s Rogues anthology, proves once again that Gillian Flynn is one of the world’s most original and skilled voices in fiction.

R E V I E W

I have never read a book by Gillian Flynn before and so I went in not knowing how easy it was to fall for her writing style. We follow a unnamed female narrator who is bought up to manipulate others from a vary young age. She is known soft core sex work and is placed at the front of store to read people.

She is a very perspective character, being able to read others around her and then acts accordingly. She is a very opinion character, not afraid of discussing sex or finding out how people tick. She is invited into a clients home after being told she is experiencing a vibe from the house that makes her think it is haunted.

It is a very paced novel and it is very creepy, leaving you with the biggest mind fuck known to man, I still can’t work out in my head which character I should believe, Miles or Susan.

There were so many twists and turns which I could’t get over, and usually, I’m pretty good at figuring out whodunnit.

C O N C L U S I O N

We are left as readers without a proper ending, one that I still feel as though Flynn could  have written, but thats whats so great about a short story – its short, fast paced and is amazing at what it does. I am now officially introduced to Flynn’s work. I can’t wait to read more from her.

Book Review: Letters to Eloise by Emily Williams

*DISCLAIMER: I received this book for review from the author herself*

Letters to Eloise by Emily Williams
Publication date February 17th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, modern
Pages: 293
Format: E-Book
Source: Lutino Publications
Goodreads

Letters to Eloise

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S Y N O P S I S
Receiving a hand written letter is something that always puts a smile on my face, no matter who the sender is.’ Flora Tierney.

When post-graduate student Flora falls unexpectedly pregnant during her final year studies she hits a huge predicament; continue a recent affair with her handsome but mysterious lecturer who dazzles her with love letters taken from the ancient tale of ‘Abelard and Heloise’, or chase after the past with her estranged first love?
But will either man be there to support her during the turmoil ahead?

‘Banish me, therefore, for ever from your heart’, Abelard to Heloise.

Letters to Eloise is the heart wrenching debut epistolary novel by Emily Williams; a love story of misunderstandings, loss, and betrayal but ultimately the incredible bond between mother and child.

R E V I E W

I really enjoyed this book, it was an emotional rollercoaster that was jam packed full of the side effects of pregnancy with a underlying plot twist – which I absolutely LOVED. I am super pumped to be letting you all know that the amazing creator of this book Emily Williams herself is doing a guest post write on this blog!

I really enjoyed the way that the story was written, the style of the letters addressed to Flora’s unborn baby explaining her own friendships, relationships and her troubles of how she fell pregnant. We also find that she is a student studying for her postgraduate teaching degree. I loved how strong she was, and luckily for Flora, she already had a degree under her belt, allowing her to search for a job once she had her baby.

Flora’s friendship dynamics are interesting, we see Brian and Brooke, who although have Flora’s best interests at heart can cause some slight issues later on in the story, I found that it was a slow building plot, and as soon as I got into the plot, I couldn’t put the book down. We follow her love interest River and the relationship Flora has with him alongside his pregnancy. My heart goes out to River, but his relationship with Flora also has its ups and downs.

C O N C L U S I O N

Williams has written an emotional piece of work which follows a strong headed young woman writing her life out and her heart for her future child. It is a sad story which ended in my heart aching, but it was one that needs to be talked about more – it was beautifully written.

10 Reasons I Love Harry Potter

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish in June 2010. This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists over at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week is a freebie fandom week, as a reader, I wouldn’t really place myself in any particular fandom, I was never Team Edward or Jacob, and truth be told, I have never actually read any Percy Jackson novels… I decided to go with Harry Potter because I love the films and the books, gosh, they’re so fantastic.

  1. You can be sorted into the different houses – yes, I tried it, and I was sorted into Ravenclaw, I did however hold out hope for Gryffindor *sighs*
  2.  Butter-beer – enough said.
  3. The Harry Potter lot in London is amazing, and it has some new additions, which I HAVE to go and see again.
  4. J.K. Rowling is the queen of twitter.
  5. It influenced thousands of people to read; my Uni even has a Harry Potter Society – one which I am not part of, but they watch the films and have organised a trip to the studio tour in London.
  6. There are so many books based around the whole world; magical beasts, tales of beedle the bard, rules of quidditch; making the world just that more realistic!
  7. Replica wands… perfect for cosplay
  8. The franchise has decided to create illustrated editions of the books – which I want to collect; so darn beautiful and heavy!
  9. The release of the Cursed Child caused more frenzy which shows how dedicated the fandom is.
  10. I couldn’t imagine a better casting of the trio – seeing them grow up throughout the films gives my heart a little tug.

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