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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

My Counterfeit Self by Jane Davis

    I was hooked into My Counterfeit Self from the beginning and found the central protagonist, Lucy, intriguing. She is a political activist and poet and as the book changes between the present of 2014 , and back through her childhood, we come to understand more about her. Lucy grows up throughout the book and it is interesting to see how her 'voice' alters from the vulnerable girl to the complicated adult she becomes. The story opens with Lucy about to go to the funeral of her on/ off lover, Dominic. She has received a letter nominating her for an Honour from the Queen. To the anti- establishment rebel, it is an anathema.

    The title of the book rings through the plot as we see people who hide behind carefully constructed facades. Lucy's relationships with her two greatest friends, Ralph and Dominic, are complicit in creating the identity she presents to the world and through their friendship, they are, at least initially, protective of each other. Cleverly written, Lucy's family secrets are revealed. The author shows how it is difficult to see beyond the public face of marriage when lurking underneath may be a completely unexpected reality. In creating Lucy, Jane Davis has given us an individual who has taken control of her life and made choices. Lucy believes she has  rejected the model of family life offered up by her parents and created her own 'tribe'.  Over the course of the book we realise that she has a vulnerable side and doubts herself, being wary of others' opinions. Apart from Pamela, her ex- governess and later mentor, she has no time for women. You see how her lack of trust in people started in her childhood. As a child, she lied to protect herself and somehow carried that on into adulthood. Lucy is a character with a rich hinterland. As a character: uncomplicated, she certainly is not.

  Written over five decades, the book covers the changing times  through Lucy's political causes, all photographed by Ralph. The major events of the twentieth and early twenty first century pass by, from the early days of nuclear testing through Greenham Common and onwards. I liked the references to actual events as it really felt as if Lucy's story was rooted in daily life. I didn't foresee the ending but found it deeply satisfying. The narrative twisted and turned and kept me reading right to the end.

In short: an absorbing look at relationships and the face we present to the world. 

Disclaimer -  I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.

                                                          About the Author: 

Jane Davis’s  first novel, ‘Half-truths and White Lies’, won the Daily Mail First Novel Award in 2008 and was described by Joanne Harris as ‘A story of secrets, lies, grief and, ultimately, redemption, charmingly handled by this very promising new writer.’ The Bookseller featured her in their ‘One to Watch’ section.
She has since published six further novels, ‘These Fragile Things’, ‘I Stopped Time’,’A Funeral for an Owl’ (released as a three book box-set called ‘Second Chapter’), ‘An Unchoreographed Life’ (chosen to be featured in the multi-author limited edition box-set, Outside the Box: Women Writing Women), ‘An Unknown Woman’, Writing Magazine’s Self-published Book of the Year 2016, and ‘My Counterfeit Self’. Compulsion Reads describe her as ‘a phenomenal writer whose ability to create well-rounded characters that are easy to relate to feels effortless.’
Jane lives in Carshalton, Surrey with her Formula 1 obsessed, star-gazing, beer-brewing partner, surrounded by growing piles of paperbacks, CDs and general chaos. When she’s not writing, you will often find Jane halfway up a mountain with a camera in hand.

You can connect with Jane at her website here   or follow her on Twitter here


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