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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

Gone Without a Trace by Mary Torjussen **Blog Tour Guest Post **

It's my turn on the Blog Tour to celebrate the publication on March 23rd of Gone Without a Trace by Mary Torjussen.  I'm absolutely delighted to welcome Mary to Books, Life and Everything to tell us her thoughts on the setting for her novel, in the Wirral in North-west England. Before that, however, let's find out a little about the book:

No one ever disappears completely... 

You leave for work one morning.

Another day in your normal life.

Until you come home to discover that your boyfriend has gone. His belongings have disappeared. He hasn't been at work for weeks. It's as if he never existed.

But that's not possible, is it?

And there is worse to come.

Because just as you are searching for him someone is also watching you.  

 Welcome to Books, Life and Everything, Mary - and over to you!

Writing the Wirral

When I first moved up from London to Liverpool, I lived in a flat at the top of a house that overlooked the River Mersey, right at the tip of the Wirral peninsula. It was the year of the Toxteth riots and the Liverpool I grew to love then was physically very different from the Liverpool we see now. Over the years I’ve seen it change from being a post-war, scruffy city to a place that’s known for designer shops and hen parties. The Wirral, just across the river, which is where I still live, however, is just the same as it always was.

    The first thing I found when I moved here was that the Wirral was not classed as part of Liverpool. It was seen as separate, a different world, by both parties. Where I slowly grew to love Liverpool, I felt an infinity with the Wirral from the moment I moved here. I love living so close to the river, love watching Liverpool’s waterfront skyline with its majestic buildings and cathedrals. You can walk along the river for miles, until you’re looking out onto the Irish sea. The sky is fabulous there, whether it’s at sunrise or sunset. There’s so much space to think and to dream. 

    When I started to write Gone Without a Trace it was inevitable I’d set it here. I wanted to feel I knew the places Hannah would go to, to search for Matt. I wanted her to live near the small towns I knew, to run by the river and to look for Matt in pubs I’d been to. I knew she would have moved away for a while, though. I saw her as ambitious and unhappy in her childhood home, so I knew she would go to university away from home. The North has a pull, though, and I knew she’d follow the path of so many graduates and return to work in her home town. 

    When my daughter moved into a flat last year, she lived across the road from the one I moved to all those years ago. On the day I helped her move, I looked out of her window and saw my old flat and could almost see my old self, the same age as she is now, walking down the road towards me. I’d taken little notice of the building she was moving into, yet it had a view of mine that meant someone there had witnessed all those key events of my life. 

    It struck me then how little the landscape had changed and how little we change, too. And, as I was writing Gone Without a Trace at that time, I thought of how little Hannah would have changed throughout her life, and that then made me think more about the girl she’d been and the woman she’d become.

Thank you Mary! Coming from the North-west myself, I've had cause to go pretty near to the Wirral and it's so refreshing to see it as the setting for a novel. 

My Thoughts

Gone Without a Trace turned out to be one of those reads that you can't put down until you've come to the end and untied all those strands of the story. I read it virtually all in one go over a weekend and found it to be a cleverly thought out read. I had to applaud how the reader's view of the main character, Hannah, developed as the novel unfolded and I have to admit that I was wrong footed a couple of times.

    I particularly admired the way Mary Torjussen manipulates the reader, keeping you on edge throughout just as Hannah must be. You are never really sure as to who can be trusted, with so many characters lining up for the title of 'unreliable' . The ending was slick and skilfully written. You are drip fed information about Hannah's family life and slowly come to realise its relevance. In Hannah, we have a character with plenty of back story which adds depth to the characterisation.

In short: a thriller which chills and intrigues. 

About the Author

Mary Torjussen grew up in Stoke- on- Trent. There was no television in her family home so books have always been her escape- she spent hours reading and writing stories as a child.  Mary has a MA in Creative Writing from Liverpool John Moores University and worked as a teacher in Liverpool before becoming a full-time writer. She has two adult children and lives on the Wirral, where her debut novel, Gone Without a Trace, is set.

You can connect with Mary on Twitter and follow her on Goodreads

Thanks to Millie Seaward of Headline Publishing Group for a copy of the book and a place on the Tour!

Check out the rest of the Tour! 



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