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The Fascination by Essie Fox #Review #Giveaway

   Today be prepared for a dark, Victorian gothic novel! The Fascination by Essie Fox is published on June 22nd by Orenda . For the chance to win a print copy of The Fascination see the foot of this post for details. Victorian England. A world of rural fairgrounds and glamorous London theatres. A world of dark secrets and deadly obsessions… Twin sisters Keziah and Tilly Lovell are identical in every way, except that Tilly hasn't grown a single inch since she was five. Coerced into promoting their father's quack elixir as they tour the country fairgrounds, at the age of fifteen the girls are sold to a mysterious Italian known as ‘Captain’. Theo is an orphan, raised by his grandfather, Lord Seabrook, a man who has a dark interest in anatomical freaks and other curiosities … particularly the human kind. Resenting his grandson for his mother’s death in childbirth, when Seabrook remarries and a new heir is produced, Theo is forced to leave home without a penny to his

A Ration Book Wedding by Jean Fullerton #Review

 Today, the day before VE Day, I am delighted to feature another in Jean  Fullerton's Ration Book series, A Ration Book Wedding.
Because in the darkest days of the Blitz, love is more important than ever.

It's February 1942 and the Americans have finally joined Britain and its allies. Meanwhile, twenty-three-year-old Francesca Fabrino, like thousands of other women, is doing her bit for the war effort in a factory in East London. But her thoughts are constantly occupied by her unrequited love for Charlie Brogan, who has recently married a woman of questionable reputation, before being shipped out to North Africa with the Eighth Army.

When Francesca starts a new job as an Italian translator for the BBC Overseas Department, she meets handsome Count Leonardo D'Angelo. Just as Francesca has begun to put her hopeless love for Charlie to one side and embrace the affections of this charming and impressive man, Charlie returns from the front, his marriage in ruins and his heart burning for Francesca at last. Could she, a good Catholic girl, countenance an illicit affair with the man she has always longed for? Or should she choose a different, less dangerous path?

My Thoughts

It was great to be reacquainted with the Brogan family but also to follow Francesca's story. The writing drips with authenticity again as Wartime London of 1942 is evoked. The rationing and the effect on family life is clearly pictured through the descriptions of a typical day where the nights are dominated with the air raids and life is to an extent proscribed. Francesca is at the start carrying out war work in the armament factory but her life opens out when she gets herself a job in the newly formed Radio Roma and the BBC. 

    Francesca is a likeable character. Her affection for her father is clear despite his attempts to make her conform to his traditional Catholic values. You sense how she is ready for more opportunities but unwilling to upset her father. In this, she has to tread a difficult path. Through Charlie's unsuitable wife, you get to see a completely different side of society to the family values of the Brogans and the Fabrinos. This is a murky world of child neglect, prostitution, exotic dancing, thieving and the Black Market. It is fascinating to see how some of the richer types seem to be able to carry on their affluent lives at the Ritz. 

    Birthsm Weddings and Deaths carry on throughout the War, despite all the odds. As an evocation of life in the Home Front during the Second World War, this is a remarkably readable and well written standalone novel.

In short: Life under duress.

About the Author

Jean Fullerton is the author of eleven novels all set in East London where she was born. She also a retired district nurse and university lecturer.  She won the Harry Bowling prize in 2006 and after initially signing for two East London historical series with Orion she moved to Corvus, part of Atlantic Publishing and is half way through her WW2 East London series featuring the Brogan family.

You can follow Jean here: Website   |  Facebook   |  Twitter

Book link: Amazon UK   |  Amazon US

Thanks to Jean Fullerton and Rachel of Rachel's Random Resources  for a copy of the book and a place on the tour. 

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