“The sky is falling in!”

Not really, the book is called “Fallen Skies”

I have just finished another book for my Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.  It will probably be my last as I am now reading another Lee Child.

Fallen Skies by Philippa Gregory was a book I picked up for $2 at a charity shop.  

Fallen SkiesThe book was published in 1994 so the cover is completely different to that which you might see in a bookshop today. Her is the cover you are likely to find today.

fallen skies 2Unknown

Most of Gregory’s books which have been republished or published since The Other Boleyn Girl have a line saying something about The Other Boleyn Girl, which was made into a movie in 2008.

I have read a few Philippa Gregory books but not one about the aftermath of the First World War.  This one certainly portrayed the horrendous suffering of those who had participated in the war.  The mental and emotional trauma is at the forefront of this novel.

It seems wrong to say that I enjoyed this novel as there are so many aspects of the story that are heartbreaking but enjoy it I did.  It was another novel that I found I wanted to keep reading and there are twists in the plot that were unexpected.

A great read.

From the cover:

Lily Valance wants to forget the war.  She’s determined to enjoy the world of the 1920s with its music, singing, laughter and pleasure.  When she meets Captain Stephen Winters, a decorated hero back from the Front, she’s drawn to his wealth and status.  In Lily he sees his salvation – from the past, from the nightmares, from the guilt at surviving the Flanders plains where so many were lost.

But it’s a dream that cannot last. Lily has no intention of leaving her singing career.  The hidden tensions behind the respectable facade of the Winters’ household come to a head. Stephen’s nightmares merge ever closer with reality and the truth of what took place in the mud and darkness brings him and all who love him to a terrible reckoning.

Another book with a sewing related title

The Tailor’s Girl by Fiona McIntosh is a historical fiction novel but also a romance.

The Tailor's Girl

I have read Fiona McIntosh previously, The French Promise and The Lavender Keeper.

The Tailor’s Girl is another book for my Historical Fiction Reading Challenge as the story is set in the few years following World War I.

From the cover:

When a humble soldier, known only as Jones, wakes in a military hospital he has no recollection of his past.  Jones’s few fleeting memories are horrifying moments from the battlefield at Ypres.  His identity becomes a puzzle he must solve.

Then Eden Valentine arrives in his world, a stunning seamstress who dreams of her own high-fashion salon in London.  Mourning the loss of her brother in the war, Eden cannot turn away the soldier in desperate need of her help.

The key to Jones’s past – and Eden’s future – may lie with the mysterious Alex Wynter, aristocratic heir to the country manor Larksfell Hall.  But the news that Alex bears will bring shattering consequences that threaten to tear their lives apart.

This novel is set in London in the 1920’s but there are also glimpses of the English countryside and aristocratic living. Eden is the daughter of a Jewish tailor who had aspirations to work in Savile Row but now does piece work for the Savile Row tailors.  Eden is a talented seamstress and the novel highlights the difficulties for working women when the war ended and the difficulties soldiers suffered when they returned from the war. Eden and Jones are both strong and determined characters and the interplay of their stories is beautifully done.

The reader lives in hope throughout the novel and it is not until the last few pages that you find out whether your hope has been in vain.

A terrific novel.  Highly recommended. Another Australian author.




Seamstress, dressmaker, sewer or needlewoman

I have read the Seamstress now I have read Posie Graeme Evans‘ book The Dressmaker. It is the first historical fiction I have read in the last couple of months.  I have been caught up reading Lee Child’s series on Jack Reacher.

The DressmakerAs the quote on the front says: “all the delicious elements required for true escapism”  which meant that this was a book that I read very quickly.  It was true escapism with some of the coincidences that occurred within the book making it truly “fiction”.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I will now look for other titles by this author.

From the back cover:

Ellen Gowan is an enigma.  Why is she such a young widow?  Where does she come from?  And how did she learn to make such exquisite gowns?

Orphaned at thirteen, pregnant at fifteen, Ellen endures loss, loneliness and betrayal to become society’s most talented and sought-after dressmaker to the aristocracy of Victorian England.

Ellen Gowan’s story is a powerful testament to one woman’s indomitable spirit as she fights tenaciously for the survival of her family.

This is a novel by an Australian author who is also the creator and producer of McLeod’s Daughters – a successful television drama series.

The Dressmaker is now added to my Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.




Miles off course, this is Rowland Sinclair again

This is the book I missed in the Rowland Sinclair series.  It doesn’t seem to matter that I have read it out of order as the books work well as stand alone novels.

miles off course

From the cover:

In early 1933, Rowland Sinclair and his companion are ensconced in the superlative luxury of The Hydro Majestic – Medlow Bath, where trouble seems distant indeed.

And then Harry Simpson vanishes.

Croquet and pre-dinner cocktails are abandoned for the High Country where Rowland hunts for Simpson with a determination that is a mysterious as the disappearance itself.  Stockmen, gnagsters and a belligerent writer all gather to the fray, as the investigation becomes embroiled with a much darker conspiracy.

 Murder, treason trespass kidnapping betrayal. . .again Rowland Sinclair finds himself in the middle of it all.

The Hydro Majestic is in the process of rejuvenation at present and it is worth having a look at the website to see how the hotel looked in Rowland Sinclair’s day.

I loved this book in the series, the main reason being it was set in the High Country.  Places all had a familiarity to me which makes the story even more realistic.  Yarrangobilly, Adaminaby, Tumut, Batlow, Tumbarumba.

I have fond memories of Yarrangobilly in particular.  There is a thermal pool there and that was mentioned in the novel.  Our children swam in the pool when they were very small children. ( There were massive tadpoles in the pool!)

The book is another really enjoyable read. It involves politics, romance, cattlemen and of course crime and the Rowland Sinclair set.

The Rowland Sinclair books are easy reading and a joy to read.

You can read an extract from the book here.

This is another book for my Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.

Australian history with a bit of crime and romance

I am really enjoying the Sulari Gentill books of the Rowland Sinclair series.


I have just finished Gentlemen Formerly Dressed and enjoyed it just as much as the previous book I reviewed.  The story moves along at a rollicking pace and I stop now and again to check on some particular aspect of Australian history mentioned in the plot.  I love how Sulari Gentill brings history to life.  I have never been a great lover of history but I am loving this series.  The book is set in London but follows on from the troubles they had while in Nazi Germany.

From the cover:

After narrowly escaping the terror of Nazi Germany, Rowland Sinclair and his companions land in London, believing they are safe.

But they are wrong.

A bizarre murder plunges the hapless Australians into a queer world of British aristocracy, Fascist Blackshirts, illicit love, scandal, and spies.

A world where gentlemen are not always what they are dressed up to be.

 There are some wonderful reviews to be found here.

This is another for my Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.

Mudbound was such an appropriate title for this novel

I have managed to complete another book for my Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.  This novel was Mudbound by Hillary Jordan which won the 2006 Bellwether Prize for Fiction.


The novel is set on a cotton farm in the 1940s and the story is told by six people, three of those voices being white the other three being black and bit by bit, the six voices unravel into a powerful story containing mindless racial violence, adulterous sex, and patricide. The realistic portrayal of the hatred towards negroes is to the forefront of this novel and the damage that is done to both white and black families is the end result of this story.
From the cover:
Two men return from war to the McAllan cotton farm in the Mississippi Delta in 1946.  One is Jamie McAllan: charming, handsome, and sensitive to the plight of his sister-in-law Laura who hates rural living.  The other war hero is Ronsel Jackson, the eldest son of the black sharecroppers who live on the McAllan Farm, who finds he still has to fight the bigotry of his own countrymen.  It is the unlikely friendship of these two brother-in-arms, and the passions they arouse in others, that drive this powerful debut novel.
Hillary Jordan‘s characters come alive and stirred strong emotions in me. I felt such anger toward the small-minded men who fought against the inevitable changes in society with violence and cruelty. I especially enjoyed that the chapters were told from various points of view, which gives you a deeper insight into the actions and motivations of the characters. A moving story which I highly recommend.
You can find a negative review of the book here if you want to compare.