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The Wartime Book Club by Kate Thompson #Review

  The Wartime Book Club is a marvellous historical novel set on Jersey in World War Two. Written by Kate Thompson , it was published by Hodder $ Stoughton on February 13th. Jersey, 1943. Once a warm and neighbourly community, now German soldiers patrol the cobbled streets, imposing a harsh rule on the people of the island. Grace La Mottée, the island's only librarian, is ordered to destroy books which threaten the new regime. Instead, she hides the stories away in secret. Along with her headstrong best friend, postwoman Bea Rose, she wants to fight back. So she forms the wartime book club: a lifeline, offering fearful islanders the joy and escapism of reading. But as the occupation drags on, the women's quiet acts of bravery become more perilous - and more important - than ever before. And, when tensions turn to violence, they are forced to face the true, terrible cost of resistance . . . Based on astonishing real events, The Wartime Book Club is a love letter

Valentina by S.E. Lynes

Valentina is the author's debut novel, belonging to the psychological thriller genre. It centres on Shona, who has moved to a seemingly idyllic cottage on the outskirts of Aberdeen with her partner, Mikey and their baby. Without her other friends and family, we learn, in the early pages, of her feelings of isolation and loneliness as she adjusts to Mikey's absences as he is working offshore in the oil industry. Shona is befriended by a fellow young mother, Valentina. Although the book is written largely in the first person, mainly through Shona's eyes, we know from the start that somewhere along the way, something has gone wrong. 

    I enjoyed the way in which the story gradually unfolded and we glimpsed Shona's mounting doubts as to whether all was as it seemed. I did predict some of the truth of Shona's situation but was not prepared for the final denouement which I found shocking with a delicious twist. Similarly, I turned the page half way through and realised with a jolt that the 'I' now longer belonged to Shona but to Valentina. I enjoy books with multiple perspectives and it was a real positive to me to suddenly switch over to Valentina's point of view. Both Shona and Valentina's sections were written with distinct voices and the main characters in the book were all deftly written and fleshed out. 

    In Valentina, we have a story in which the main characters develop and their outlooks change over time. Because of the detail woven within the text, we are able to believe in this change and understand their perspectives and why they act the way they do. The author is able to weave together the descriptive language which evokes the atmosphere and mounting tension with the conversational tone of the two narrators. 

 In short: a life unravels as doubts and insecurites mount.

Thanks to the publisher, Blackbird Books, for an e-copy of the novel which is due to be published on July 1st 2016.


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