In 1942, Pam decides to defer her place at Oxford University to help with the war effort, joining a team of codebreakers in Bletchley Park. Finding herself the subject of the affection of two young men, she makes her choice, setting in motion a series of events that could change her life forever.
The Girl From Bletchley Park is another superb dual timeframe book from Kathleen McGurl. Kathleen seems to have the knack of choosing the perfect eras for these books and she has done it again here, the Buckinghamshire estate being the perfect setting for a book about mystery and betrayal. I visited Bletchley Park several years ago and would thoroughly recommend it as it really brings home how brave and intelligent women like Pam were.
The theme of betrayal runs through both timeframes, albeit betrayal in very different ways. I admired the strength of both women, Pam and Julia, and enjoyed reading a book with such strong female characters who were not afraid to take matters into their own hands when faced with an earth-shattering situation.
I always look forward to Kathleen McGurl’s books and am eagerly waiting to see which historical era she takes us to next.
With thanks to Net Galley and HQ Digital for my copy.
Take a look at my reviews of other books by Kathleen McGurl.
After the death of her mother, Amelia Prentice is clearing out her attic when she finds a box of Victorian photographs. Depicting the Attwater family who resided at a Pembrokeshire estate called Cliffside, Amelia sets out to discover who they were. When she finds the diaries of Osyth Attwater, she finds her interest piqued even more.
Back in 1883, young Osyth overhears a conversation which shatters her world and leaves her wondering what other secrets her family has kept from her. What exactly did happen to Osyth’s mother and is there any link in the present day to Amelia?
I am a huge fan of the Marquess House series by Alexandra Walsh and was pleased to see that she had written another timeshift book, this time set in my favoured period of historical fiction, the Victorian age. The author captures the era perfectly and I particularly liked how it deals with some of the subjects that would have been taboo in that age such as mental illness and relationships outside of marriage.
Initially, I found myself favouring the sections written in the present day due to my love of all things genealogical but as the book progressed and I found myself understanding the complex family relationships of the family in 1883, I began to enjoy both eras equally. Osyth soon became a firm favourite and I admired her tenacity despite her reputation for being a bit of a dreamer.
The Wind Chime is a beautiful, poignant book written with sensitivity. I have already downloaded the next in the series, The Music Makers.
Take a look at my reviews of the Marquess House series by the same author:
In 1903, a woman is found by some fisherman, badly beaten, accompanied by her young daughter. They are taken to All Hallows, an asylum on Dartmoor where the woman falls into a coma, but her young daughter, Harriet, is taken to an attic room in the care of Nurse Emma Everdeen.
Ninety years later, in 1993, after the death of his mother, young Lewis Tyler is sent to All Hallows, which is now a boarding school. Finding a kindred spirit in Isak, they find out about Nurse Everdeen and her charge and soon they are determined to find out what happened back in 1903.
The introduction to the book grabbed me instantly as we see Lewis Tyler, in the present day, visiting All Hallows as part of his work. It is clear to see that he has a past with this building and we are left with a hint as to what it may be. This took us nicely to the two timeframes that form the majority of the book, Lewis featuring in the events of 1993.
I liked the character of Lewis immediately and had great sympathy towards his plight. An outsider, it was good to see him find a friend in Isak, another boy with a troubled life. I enjoyed the scenes they shared as they tried to discover the mystery behind the strange noises coming from the room above theirs – was it their imagination or something a bit more ghostly?
The part of the story set in 1903 had a huge sense of foreboding. Nurse Everdeen was a character who grew on me as the book progressed, her story tugging at the heartstrings on more than one occasion. Louise Douglas paints a very damning picture of life at the asylum and I almost felt relieved that Nurse Everdeen was in her claustrophobic room in the attic.
There were numerous shocks along the way, the denouement being a very pleasant surprise. I like it when a book suddenly takes you somewhere you were not expecting and The Room in the Attic definitely does this! This is an engrossing multi-genre read that kept me gripped right until the end.
With thanks to Boldwood Books and Rachel’s Random Resources.
London, 1940: After their house is destroyed in the Blitz, Nell Spelman flees to the countryside with her baby, Alice, leaving her husband, Arthur behind. Arthur has an important job to do – he is one of the men tasked with keeping the Great Clock at Westminster working and the famous Big Ben chiming.
New York, Present Day: When Ellie discovers a watch belonging to a grandmother she never met, she embarks on an investigation to find out more about her family’s past. When another discovery shocks her to the core, she begins to wonder whether she really wants to know the truth.
The first thing I would like to say about The Clockmaker’s Wife is how pleased I was that the blurb does not give away too much of the plot. Enough to grab my attention, I found myself instantly engrossed in the story, wondering where the author was going to take us. The World War Two setting opens up so many potential twists and turns and we definitely have many of them here!
Although this is told in two time frames, it was the chapters set during World War Two that were the strongest for me as this was where the core of the plot took place. All aspects of the war were covered from the Blitz to evacuation, rationing to the changing role of women. There is a huge element of mystery and intrigue making up the focus for both time frames which was exciting and at times, highly emotive.
The Clockmaker’s Wife is a well-written piece of historical fiction which kept me gripped right until the end and I will definitely be looking out for more books by this author.
With thanks to Ellie Pilcher for organising the blog tour and to Avon and Net Galley for my copy.
In 1911, Emma leaves the family home to become a stewardess onboard the ocean liner Olympic. Leaving her two sisters, Lily and Ruby, behind, she promises to be back soon. Nothing ever goes according to plan, however, and soon the sisters’ lives are changed for ever. In the present day, Harriet finds her late grandmother’s travelling trunk in the attic. Finding a photo of her grandmother with her sisters, she is confused. She knew that her grandmother had a sister who died young but who is the other girl? She soon finds herself learning about the three sister ships Olympic, Britannic and Titanic and discovering what tore the sisters apart.
It is always a pleasure to feature on a blog tour for a Kathleen McGurl book and more so when the subject is something that I have a great interest in – RMS Titanic. The story of the Titanic has been well documented but the fate of her sister ships is less known and it was clear to see the research that has been undertaken by the author in order to tell their stories. Most fiction about the Titanic tends to focus on the passengers, so it was pleasing to read about a member of staff, giving a different perspective of life at sea.
The two time frames each have their own plot, linked neatly together by a family connection. We also see the common theme of complicated sibling relationships running throughout both eras. There were many parallels between the two sets of characters, Ruby and Davina being headstrong with no concerns about how they are perceived by the outside world and the more staid personalities of Emma and Sally.
I am a fan of genealogical fiction and so I particularly enjoyed reading about Harriet’s desire to find out about her family and her use of DNA testing. This gave the story another superb layer, helping to contribute to the several twists and turns that the author has included, one of which, in particular, knocked me sideways!
It is no secret that I am a huge fan of Kathleen McGurl’s dual timeline novels and this one is another wonderful read. An accurate portrayal of family relationships with a plot that is both heartwarming and heart wrenching, I thoroughly recommend reading The Lost Sister.
With thanks to Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources, Net Galley, H Q Digital and Kathleen McGurl for my copy and for organising the blog tour.
Take a look at my reviews of some of Kathleen McGurl’s other books:
Grief-stricken gardener Megan Taylor, tries to put thoughts of her missing in action brother out of her mind by taking a job at Foxfield Hall, restoring the maze in the overgrown gardens. She soon becomes interested in the mystery of the hall’s most famous resident, Lady Eleanor Fairfax, who disappeared in 1939 during the harvest festival. Although no body was ever found, Megan begins to wonder if she could have been murdered. There is also the possibility that she ran away in order to avoid a marriage to someone she didn’t love or could it even have something to do with her father’s war work? Megan finds the maze drawing her in, feeling that the truth could lie inside. Will she discover what happened to Eleanor or will she become the next woman to simply disappear without a trace?
If you had the opportunity to prevent a past tragedy from happening, not knowing how your actions would affect the future, would you do it? This is the dilemma faced by Megan when she is somehow transported back to 1939, days before the disappearance of Lady Eleanor Fairfax. Ellie, as she is known, is about to find her world turned upside down due to the outbreak of World War Two, her fiancé’s involvement in the armed services and her father’s secret war work meaning that she is left in the care of Ava Seaborne, her father’s new secretary. Ava was a mysterious character, this feeling of forebording becoming stronger when Megan encountered a Dr Faye Seaborne. A familial connection or something else entirely?
The Lost Girls of Foxfield Hall packs in an awful lot, switching genres effectively throughout. Part mystery, science-fiction, history and romance, it was the time travel element that fascinated me the most. The two lead characters, Megan and Ellie, were both strong women, Ellie in particular showing great tenacity when faced with her future. Knowing the fate that was about to befall her, yet not knowing exactly how it was to happen, I admired Ellie’s determination to get to the truth, not letting the aforementioned Ava Seaborne stop her in her tracks.
Jessica Thorne managed to blindside me numerous times, leaving me wondering which characters were on the side of Ellie and Megan and which ones were not. This definitely kept me on my toes throughout! In such a complex plot, I was pleased that there were no loose ends left at the end, the story reaching a satisfying conclusion.
With thanks to Bookouture and Netgalley for my ARC and to Noelle Holten for orgainsing the blog tour.
When George first sets eyes on Lucy, one of his household’s servants, he is smitten and is soon making plans for his future. After being rejected, however, his hopes are further thwarted when Lucy dies, seemingly the victim of a poisoning. Distraught, George knows that someone at home must have killed her, but who?
Cassie is quite content with her life: a job she loves, friends she can rely on and doting parents who would do anything for her. All this is turned upside down, however, as research into her family history makes her question everything she thought she knew about her life.
I am a huge fan of Kathleen McGurl’s dual timeline novels, my favourite being The Daughters of Red Hill Hall. I was thrilled, therefore to see that the author has revisited my favourite era of historical fiction, the Victorian period, in her latest book, The Forgotten Gift.
As with her other books, we have two different plots set in two different time frames with a common theme running through them. The issue of family secrets is very much at the forefront here and the lengths some people will go to in order to stop these secrets from being revealed. I had great sympathy for George, who came across as a lovely young man, shunned by his family through no fault of his own. By starting the book with George’s will, I immediately became invested in his story, and was desperate to know what had happened in his life. This also provided a good link between the two time frames as Cassie tried to discover the same things.
As a fellow genealogist, I could relate a lot to the character of Cassie and loved how an enjoyable evening for her was one sat reading old documents, trying to make sense of the past. The discovery of scandal is an occupational hazard for a family historian, but Cassie manages to open up several cans of worms that have a profound effect on her life. I won’t give any spoilers, but I felt that this was sensitively handled, showing very real reactions from all involved parties.
I have, recently, been struggling to read books at my usual pace and I knew that a Kathleen McGurl book would help me out of my slump. I was so right as I raced through The Forgotten Gift, desperate to know what had happened in George’s life and how had overcome his problems. (Although I loved Cassie’s story, it was George who tugged at the heart strings for me!)
This is a wonderful read which, although fiction, gives a real insight into aspects of Victorian life. I have sung the praises of this author many times and I will continue to do so. If you haven’t read any of her work before, then please do – you won’t be disappointed!
With thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources, Kathleen McGurl, Net Galley ad HQ Digital for my copy of The Forgotten Gift.
Take a look at my reviews of other books by Kathleen McGurl:
One night, young Emily Moon witnesses the brutal murder of her father. Unable to tell anyone what she has seen, her mother thinks that he has simply disappeared, leaving her to find solace in the alcohol that she sells at their clifftop inn in Cornwall. Knowing that the smugglers that operate nearby are the ones responsible for the murder, Emily is not happy that the killers are seemingly getting away with this horrific crime.
After a tragic case, police officer Phoebe Bellingham decides that a break in Cornwall would be the ideal way to get some respite. Staying with her friend at The Moon Girl pub, she comes across the story of Emily and is immediately intrigued. Just what did happen to Emily Moon and are we about to see history repeat itself over 200 years later?
As a fan of dual timeline books, The Smuggler’s Daughter ticked all of the boxes for me. The author successfully transported me back to Georgian England, painting a very descriptive picture of the Cornwall coastline, something straight out of du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn. I could almost smell the sea air and hear the wind whistling across the cliffs.
Although the time frames are two very different eras, we get to see a parallel in the plots due to the place the story is set, with smuggling being the common link. We also see some similarities between the two lead characters, both of them with an eye for justice and a desire to do the right thing. My heart went out to Phoebe who is torturing herself due to what she perceives as a failure on her part to do her job properly on her last case. It was easy to see why she needed something to occupy her mind, her investigation into Emily Moon being the perfect distraction.
Emily Moon is a fantastic character. Dismissed by locals as a simple young girl, she was actually an incredibly strong young woman, brave beyond her years. I loved every scene she was in and had my fingers crossed throughout the book that she would go on to live a happy life. I admired her tenacity, even when faced with extreme danger, and understood her need to revenge the death of her father, whatever the cost.
The Smuggler’s Daughter is one of those books that draws you in straight away and I found it difficult to put down, reading it in a few sittings. This is the perfect book for someone wanting a mix of history and mystery and I will definitely be looking out for more books by this author.
With thanks to HQ and Net Galley for my ARC and to Sian Baldwin for organising the blog tour.
The year is 1935 and stationmaster Ted loves working on the railway in Dorset to the point where he never takes any time off. All changes, however, when he meets one of the passengers, Annie Galbraith, and falls head over heels in love. Unfortunately, with the railway due to close and a terrible accident occurring at the station, his life is about to change forever.
In the present day, recovering from recent heartbreak, Tilly leaves London to stay with her railway volunteer father in Dorset. Finding a diary hidden in the old stationmaster’s house, she soon becomes engrossed in Ted’s story and makes it her mission to find out exactly what happened on the day the railway closed and why it had repercussions for so many people…
Kathleen McGurl is one of those authors where, as soon as I know there is a new book coming out, I have to have it! I was so pleased, therefore, to be one of the blogs opening the blog tour for her latest dual timeline novel. I love how the two stories in her books gradually come together, giving you a complete picture of what happened, and this was definitely the case in The Stationmaster’s Daughter.
If I had to choose, I would say that the part of the story set in the past was my favourite. Ted is one of those instantly likeable characters and I found myself rooting for him from the start even though you just know that things are not going to turn out well for him. I was transported back to a completely different time where circumstances prevented him from being with the woman he loved, even if I did feel that the woman of his dreams, Annie, didn’t help his cause a great deal! This part of the story was a direct contrast to what was happening in the present day with Tilly, who, although going through a tough time, was able to deal with her situation in a much more practical way.
The Stationmaster’s Daughter has a fantastic setting and Kathleen McGurl really takes you back to a time when life moved at a slower pace than what we are used to. A perfect summer read with an emotional backdrop, the author has, yet again, written another intriguing, entertaining story. I look forward to the next one!
With thanks to Net Galley and HQ Digital and also to Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the blog tour.
Take a look at my reviews of some of Kathleen McGurl’s other books here: