Review: Searching for Charlotte by Kate Forsyth and Belinda Murrell

Title: Searching for Charlotte

Author: Kate Forsyth and Belinda Murrell

Published: 1st November 2020, National Library of Australia

Status: Read November 2020 courtesy Quikmark Media

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My Thoughts:

“We come from a family of marvellous storytellers….Our lives were enriched by their stories…”

In 1841, the first Australian children’s book titled ‘A Mother’s Offering To Her Children’ was published, its author, ‘A Lady Long Resident in NSW’. It wasn’t until 1980 that the book was correctly attributed to Charlotte Waring Atkinson (Barton), the great-great-great-great grandmother of bestselling authors Kate Forsyth, and her sister, Belinda Murrell.

For Kate and Belinda, who grew up listening to the stories of their ancestors adventures, both before and after their arrival in Australia, Charlotte was already a figure of fascination. To discover she was Australia’s first children’s author only increased their admiration for her, and inspired the sisters two year search for the truth of the life she lived.

Searching for Charlotte is a hybrid narrative, a historical biography but one that is inextricably blended with the folklore of the sisters family history, and their own journey of discovery. Only so many questions can be answered definitively with what remains of the past…records, letters, diary entries, all of which Kate and Belinda draw on, but to fill in the gaps the sisters take some liberties, some of which comes from the stories passed down through generations, some from the informed speculation of the two women.

I enjoyed the process of learning of Charlotte’s life, and her legacy, which includes a daughter who earned the distinction of being the first Australian born woman to have a novel published. It’s unsurprising then that Kate and Belinda take such pride in their relationship to Charlotte, who seems to have been an intelligent, spirited, and courageous woman who faced many challenges, particularly in the latter half of her life as the wife, and then widow, of James Atkinson in the NSW colony.

A narrative that reveals adventure, tragedy and triumph, country and culture, folklore and family, I found Searching For Charlotte to be an engaging and enlightening read.

++++++

Available from NLA Publishing

Or your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia

Also by Kate Forsyth reviewed at Book’d Out

Review: The Lady Brewer of London by Karen Brooks

Title: The Lady Brewer of London

Author: Karen Brooks

Published: 10th November 2020, William Morrow

Status: Read November 2020 courtesy William Morrow/Edelweiss

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My Thoughts:

When Anneke Sheldrake’s father is lost at sea she is horrified to learn that she and her younger siblings have been left with nothing. Desperate to keep what remains of her family together, she strikes a bold bargain with her father’s employer and, armed with her late mother’s family recipes, daringly chooses to go into business as a brewer of ale. Despite being ostracised by most of her family and friends, and repeatedly harassed and intimidated by the local Abbot and his cronies whose monopoly of the ale trade is threatened, Anneke’s brew steadily wins favour amongst the community. Just as success seems within her reach, Anneke is targeted in a malicious attack that razes nearly everything she holds dear. Forced to flee for her life, Anneke is nevertheless determined to begin again and finds an unlikely ally in a London brothel owner. With courage and hard work, Anneke, taking the name Anna de Winter, slowly rebuilds her life and business, until the horrors of her past once again threaten to destroy her.

A saga of betrayal, love, tragedy, courage and triumph, The Lady Brewer Of London is an ambitious historical drama by author, Karen Brooks.

Anneke is strong protagonist, with spirit and convictions uncommon for her time. Despite harrowing personal tragedy she finds the strength to rise above it and carry on, refusing to be cowed by her persecutors. Her courage, loyalty and determination are admirable qualities and ensure the reader is firmly on her side, willing her to triumph.

Anneke’s loyal cast including her sweet sister, Betje, the brash Alyson, and the dashing hero, Lord Leander Rainford, are eminently appealing. The villains, including Anneke’s spiteful cousin, a raft of spiritually corrupt monks, and her inescapable enemy are infuriating and often terrifying.

Though set in medieval England, the story begins in ‘The year of Our Lord 1405 in the sixth year of the reign of Henry IV’, I didn’t get a true sense of the period. It seemed not that much different from Georgian or Victorian times, though to be fair it mattered little as the details were consistent and the setting well grounded. I was surprised at how interested I was in the history of the brewery industry, and I finally discovered the difference between beer and ale. (I don’t drink either so had never thought about it before)

The writing is articulate and the first person perspective works well. The pacing was reasonable but I did feel the story, at well over 500 pages, was too long overall. I was tempted to skim at times, particularly as the plot was, though well thought out, generally predictable, with the second half of the story essentially mirroring the events of the first.

Nevertheless, The Lady Brewer of London was a satisfying read and I’d recommend it to readers who enjoy the drama and romance of sweeping historical fiction driven by a strong heroine.

++++++

Available from HarperCollins US

Or your preferred retailer via Indiebound I Book Depository I Booko

* Published in Australia as The Brewer’s Tale *


Also by Karen Brooks reviewed at Book’d Out

Review: The Shearer’s Wife by Fleur McDonald

Title: The Shearer’s Wife {Detective Dave Burrows}

Author: Fleur McDonald

Published: 3rd November, Allen & Unwin

Status: Read November 2020 courtesy Allen & Unwin

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My Thoughts:

The Shearer’s Wife is the fourth Australian rural mystery novel by Fleur McDonald to feature Detective Dave Burrows, and the seventh in which he appears, but can nevertheless be read as a stand-alone.

The Shearer’s Wife is divided between two timelines, the first of which is set in the present day. When the Australian Federal Police arrive in Barker to arrest an elderly resident for drug distribution, Dave and his colleague Senior Constable Jack Higgins are convinced that Essie must be acting under duress. Warned off from interfering in the case, Dave asks Jack’s girlfriend, journalist Zara Ellison, to investigate.

Zara, while trying to ignore her symptoms of PTSD, throws herself into the case, looking for a reason Essie would risk the well-being of her young granddaughter by dealing drugs, and in doing so also uncovers a forty year old secret.

The second timeline tells the story of itinerant shearer, Ian Kelly and his very pregnant wife, Rose, who are heading to a station outside of Barker in 1980. When Rose goes into labour prematurely and gives birth to twins, she insists the new family remain in town but, unwilling to settle down, Ian chooses to leave them behind.

I enjoyed the pacing of both timelines, though Essie’s situation is the more compelling of the two storylines. The clues are provided early on to unravel the mystery of Essie’s motive, which is not unexpected, but does result in some moments of suspense, and a twist that endangers the lives of several of the characters is filled with tension. The fate of Rose and her family ties in at the end, providing a moving and uplifting conclusion.

I really like the character of Dave, an ethical, empathetic man who has a wonderful relationship with his wife, Kim. As a police officer in a small rural South Australian town, Dave occasionally finds himself walking a fine line between the professional and personal, but he is incensed when accused by the AFP of being myopic. He’s willing to risk his career in order to see justice is done, but not break the law.

One of the main issues explored in The Shearer’s Wife is the effects of PTSD. After the trauma of losing her father in a horrific car accident, and then her brother from a brief battle with cancer just six months previously (in Starting From Now) Zara is struggling, but unwilling to admit it. McDonald’s portrayal of Zara’s emotional state is thoughtful and sensitive, and addresses the general reluctance of people to seek help.

An engaging and entertaining novel, I spent an afternoon pleasantly immersed in The Shearer’s Wife, and I look forward to the next book to feature Dave Burrows and the community of Barker.

++++++

Available from Allen & Unwin RRP AUD$29.99

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository

Also by Fleur McDonald reviewed at Book’d Out 

Review: Death in Daylesford by Kerry Greenwood


Title: Death in Daylesford {Phryne Fisher #21}

Author: Kerry Greenwood

Published: 3rd November 2020, Allen & Unwin

Status: Read November 2020 courtesy Allen & Unwin

++++++

My Thoughts:

I have a confession to make. Despite adoring Kerry Greenwood’s Corinna Chapman series, I have tried, more than once, to read the Phryne Fisher series but never gotten past Cocaine Blues. To be fair, that was some time ago and at least a decade or two before Miss Fishers Murder Mysteries made its debut on TV, a show I’ve now binge-watched in it’s entirety on at least three (or five) occasions. So when I learnt that a new Phryne Fisher mystery was being published, I absolutely had to to get my hands on it. I was a teeny bit apprehensive, but thankfully I loved it.

In Death in Daylesford, Miss Phryne Fisher, accompanied by Dot, travels to country Victoria at the invitation of a war veteran who hopes to win her patronage for the spa retreat he runs for shell-shocked returned soldiers. Accommodated near Daylesford, Phryne is looking forward to a week of leisure, but almost immediately finds herself hunting a brazen murderer, three missing women, and a kidnapper, despite the objections of the oafish local officer.

Meanwhile in Melbourne, with Detective Inspector Jack Robinson on special assignment, Detective Sargent Hugh Collins’ lazy temporary supervisor is choosing the path of least resistance to solve a murder. Taking matters into his own hands, Hugh drafts Miss Fisher’s wards, Jane, Ruth, and Tinker, who are in the care of Mr and Mrs B, to help him, when it is revealed the victim is a school friend of the girls.

That makes four mysteries which Greenwood deftly develops in Death In Daylesford, skilfully laying red herrings and clues. Each of them are interesting in their own right, though the most intriguing relates to the very public murders of three young men. Deducing the perpetrator and their motive is a rare challenge for Phryne, even though the deaths occur right in front of her. My early theory was proved right, but there was a twist that took me by surprise.

I couldn’t help but visualise the actors from Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries as the story unfolded, but even if you are entirely unfamiliar with the series in any form, the characters have a strong presence. Phryne is her usual unconventional, stylish and seductive self, and Dot, her stalwart, beige-clad companion. Much is made of a barmaids beauty, her suitor’s brawn, the haggard appearance of a battered wife, and a Captain eager to please.

Greenwood’s writing is wonderfully descriptive, with the era coming across in all the details of the setting and styling, she excels at showing, not telling. I’m a fan of the Phryne’s quick wit, and dry observations, the author has a great sense of timing, and and an ear for natural dialogue.

Fans of the Phryne Fisher book series are sure to delight in this newest mystery, published seven years after the last, as should those viewers mourning the possible demise of the TV series. Entertaining and clever, Death in Daylesford is a charming, and satisfying read.

++++++

Available from Allen & Unwin RRP AUD$29.99

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Indiebound

Review: Truths from an Unreliable Witness by Fiona O’Loughlin

Title: Truths From an Unreliable Witness: Finding laughter in the darkest places

Author: Fiona O’Loughlin

Published: 27th October 2020, Hachette Australia

Status: Read November 2020 courtesy Hachette Australia

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My Thoughts:

When I read Fiona O’Loughlin’s first book, Me of the Never Never in 2012, it was as a fan of her comedy routines. I knew very little about her life other than what I’d gleaned from her stand-up, I just knew she made me laugh. I enjoyed the memoir which largely focused on her childhood, and her life as a young wife and mother of five in Australia’s outback. I remember her having recently admitted to her alcoholism, and writing about staying sober, I remember being glad for her, but now I know it was all a lie.

I didn’t really notice that over the next few years Fiona slowly seemed to disappear from the Australian comedy scene. Had I given it a passing thought I likely just assumed that she was busy doing stuff that didn’t make it on to my radar. I wouldn’t have guessed at the hell she was slipping into.

Truths From an Unreliable Witness is a raw, candid account of Fiona’s battle with alcoholism, her repeated failures to curb her addiction over the last decade or so which lead to the end of her marriage, and very nearly her career, multiple stints in rehab facilities, penury, a flirtation with meth, pills, a suicide attempt, and a coma. Fiona makes it clear that her perspective of these events is skewed by her addiction, that her memory is not always reliable, that some details are lost forever to black-outs, but this is the truth she has, and is willing to share.

I missed whatever reporting there may have been on her spectacular fall from grace so all of this came as a surprise to me. I don’t watch “I’m A Celebrity…” on which Fiona appeared in 2018 in the hopes of reviving her career, and won, despite a relapse which led her to drink hand sanitiser stolen from the production crew. It wasn’t her last relapse either, she has experienced several more since, though she now claims she has been sober for almost a year. Alcoholism is a battle never really won. Fiona it seems has come to terms with this, promising not that she is cured, but that she does her best every day not to give in to her addiction.

Fiona hopes that Truths From an Unreliable Witness will be a light in the dark, for others, and herself. Moving, confronting, and powerful I hope it will too.

++++++

Available from Hachette Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository

Review: Flying the Nest by Rachael Johns


Title: Flying The Nest

Author: Rachael Johns

Published: 29th October 2020, HQ Fiction Australia

Status: Read November 2020 courtesy Harlequin Australia

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My Thoughts:

Flying The Nest is a wonderfully engaging women’s fiction novel from bestselling Australian author Rachael Johns.

Ashling Wood is blindsided when her husband of twenty years casually suggests they try nest parenting while she’s busy preparing the oranges for their daughter’s soccer game. Her first instinct is to believe Adrian doesn’t understand what the term means, but he’s clear, he wants a trial separation and feels nest parenting, where the children remain in the house and the parents move in and out on an alternate schedule, is the best solution for them all.

The adjustment is difficult for a heartbroken Ashling who misses her children, ten year old Payton and fourteen year old Saxon, when she’s not with them. Taking on the renovation of a friends seaside cottage in Ragged Point during her ‘off’ weeks is a welcome distraction, and though she is certain the arrangement will not be anything but temporary, as the house undergoes a transformation, so too does Ashling.

I can’t imagine what it would be like should my husband so casually and carelessly announce one ordinary morning that he wanted a separation (touch wood). My sympathy was definitely reserved for Ashling from the start, and even though she seemed stuck in the denial phase for slightly too long, I think Johns portrayal of her character’s emotional state was sensitive and believable. There was a brutal scene in the marriage counselor’s office in particular where I really felt Ashling’s pain, and I was glad she finally got angry at Adrian, and found the impetus to take charge of her life.

The community of Ragged Point is a delightful haven for Ashling. Johns deftly creates the character of a small coastal community, and it’s there that she rediscovers, and is able to nurture, the parts of herself that have been dormant while helping her husband build their podiatry business, and raising their children. I liked the development of Ashling’s relationships with Jedda and Dan, who are great supports, but also have interesting stories of their own that add depth to the story.

Written with heart, humour, and warmth, Flying the Nest is sure to resonate with women who need to redefine their lives, whether because of a relationship breakdown, children leaving home, or other change of circumstances. Ashling’s journey is not without its challenges, but it is ultimately rewarding and inspiring, as is this novel.

++++++

Available from Harlequin Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository

Also by Rachael Johns reviewed at Book’d Out

Review: The Great Escape from Woodlands Nursing Home by Joanna Nell

Title: The Great Escape from Woodlands Nursing Home

Author: Joanna Nell

Published: 27th October 2020, Hachette Australia

Status: Read November 2020 courtesy Hachette Australia/ Netgalley

++++++

My Thoughts:

The Great Escape from Woodlands Nursing Home is a charming novel proving you’re never too old for a fresh start from Joanna Nell.

After 89-year-old Miss (never Mrs or Ms) Hattie Bloom breaks her hip from a fall in her backyard, she is dismayed to be told she must spend four to six weeks convalescing at the Woodlands Nursing Home. A recluse, far more more comfortable with birds than people, she is desperate return to the sandstone cottage she was born in, particularly concerned for the welfare of a pair of nesting owls in a tree her new neighbours are threatening to fell. When an ill-timed escape attempt is frustrated by a traffic jam, Hattie resigns herself to the temporary encroachments on her privacy and independence, agreeing to repairs on her home that might let her leave her sooner.

Ninety-year-old Walter Clements, recovering from a car accident, is also determined to return to his suburban home sooner rather than later. To that end, the former driver instructor agrees to humour his daughter and the DON (Director of Nursing) and undertake an assessment to show he is capable of safely managing a mobility scooter. Walter is outraged when a few small mistakes, which includes running over his examiner’s foot, destroying an antique table, and knocking over newcomer, Miss Hattie Bloom, scuppers his chances.

It’s not the most auspicious start to a relationship but nevertheless a friendship slowly blossoms between Hattie and Walter, despite their oppositional temperaments. Where Hattie is reserved and aloof, Walter is loud and gregarious, they actually remind me a little of my own grandparents (and coincidentally my grandfather was also named Walter). Both are well-developed characters, depicted with authenticity and warmth. Hattie, a naturalist and author, who has spent almost her entire life alone by choice, slowly opens up as she becomes enmeshed in the fabric of Woodlands. Walter is occasionally inappropriate, a little bewildered by today’s mores, fond of a glass or three of whiskey, and an incurable optimist, though not without regrets. Though he hopes to go home, he is making the best of his time in Woodlands.

Nell draws on her experience as a GP visiting nursing homes, to provide some insight into the routines, successes and failures of institutional care. Woodlands certainly seems better than many which have made news headlines due to abuse and neglect, however it’s still an institution and as such rules and regulations often override common sense practice. This is evident when night nurse Bronwyn is fired after her aged black lab Queenie, accidentally knocks over and injures one of the residents. Bronwyn is a favourite of many of the Home’s residents, not the least because of her unofficial night time ‘club’, the Night Owls, that provides and encourages activities for the sleepless.

Hattie and Walter’s antics are delightful, though not without a hint of poignancy. They bond over their plan to have Bronwyn reinstated, assisted by Murray, another resident who has become a close friend of Walter (men are severely outnumbered in Woodlands) but is bedridden. Nell doesn’t shy away from portraying the difficult realities of ageing, and Murray’s approaching demise, and his desire to go home one last time, is treated sensitively.

The Great Escape from Woodlands Nursing Home is a witty, charming, and heartwarming novel, recommended for the old, and not so old alike.

++++++

Available from Hachette Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I HiveUK

Review: An Unusual Boy by Fiona Higgins


Title: An Unusual Boy

Author: Fiona Higgins

Published: 20th October 2020, Boldwood Books

Status: Read October 2020 courtesy Boldwood Books/Netgalley

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My Thoughts:

‘Everyone’s unusual. Just you remember that. No one’s bloody normal.’

Unfolding from the alternate perspectives of music therapist, Julia Curtis, and her son, eleven-year-old Jackson, An Unusual Boy by Fiona Higgins is an emotive family drama about an atypical child and his typical family.

Both a source of joy and frustration for his parents and siblings, 9-year-old Ruby and 14-year-old Milla, Jackson is smart, honest, and sweet but also has several behavioural tics, and difficulties with the nuances of communication, which mark him as neurodiverse. Having recently relocated from the inner city to a coastal suburb, Julia is delighted when Jackson is invited to a schoolmate’s home, but the friendship is short lived when the boys are accused of a reprehensible act. With her workaholic husband largely absent, a shell-shocked Julia struggles to deal with the fall-out from the incident, and advocate for her unusual boy.

Higgins portrayal of her characters is authentic and sensitive. It’s easy to sympathise with Julia, a harried mother juggling the challenges of caring for her three children while working part time with little support from anyone, including her often absent husband. Carrying the ‘emotional load’ of a family is exhausting at the best of times, but is even more so when your child has additional needs, and Julia’s struggles and mistakes feel realistic as she tries to do the best she can.

Jackson’s unusual thought processes and behaviour are communicated well. He is both literal and linear in his thinking, and has obsessive-compulsive traits. Often overwhelmed by his thoughts and the workings of his prodigious memory, his behaviours are sometimes bizarre, and relating to others is a daily challenge. Jackson is an appealing character who evokes empathy in the reader, but in reality would likely frustrate and annoy adults who lack such insight, as shown by the impatience of his teacher, and the reactions to his headstands in a cafe. While society in general is more accepting of diversity these days, issues remain, particularly when those differences are not physically evident, and labels fail to neatly summarise a condition.

The incident (TW: sexual assault) which sparks a crisis for the Curtis family is dealt with sensitively by Higgins. The fall out highlights the common failings of adults when dealing with a neurodiverse child. It’s also a reminder that compassion, not judgement, should be our default when dealing with children, there is more than one victim here.

The only thing I thought was out of place in the novel was the use of currently nonexistent VR technology used to underscore the vulnerability of children online. There are possibilities aplenty for the exploitation of children via the internet without the need for a ‘sci-fi’ element, and unsupervised access is not the only condition for risk.

Beautifully written with grace and humour, An Unusual Boy is a thought-provoking, tender and moving novel that explores diversity, family, and humanity.

++++++

Available from Boldwood Books

In Australia from Booktopia or your preferred bookstore

Or your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I HiveUK I Indiebound

Also by Fiona Higgins reviewed at Book’d Out

Review: Black Cloud by Sandi Wallace

 


Title: Black Cloud {Georgie Harvey and John Franklin #4}

Author: Sandi Wallace

Published: 22nd July 2020, Gumshoe Press

Status: Read October 2020 courtesy the author

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My Thoughts:

Black Cloud is the fourth book in Sandi Wallace’s crime fiction series featuring journalist Georgie Harvey and police officer John Franklin.

Wallace has been on my radar for quite some time, so I welcomed the invitation to read and review Black Cloud. Had I the time, I would have read the previous novels in the series as I think familiarity with the characters would have enhanced my reading experience, nevertheless the plot of this book works as a standalone.

Set around Daylesford in rural Victoria, Black Cloud begins with a bang, literally, as a family home explodes. Among the first responders is John Franklin who is horrified to discover two of his colleagues, and friends, were caught in the blast while carrying out a routine welfare check. One is dead, and the other badly injured, so too is a community nurse and when the blaze if finally brought under control, the bodies of all four members of the Murray family are discovered inside the home.

From its dramatic opening scenes, Black Cloud unfolds at a fast pace as the investigation into the explosion begins in earnest. Franklin exhausts himself, physically and emotionally, as he interviews the family, neighbours, and friends of the deceased, searching for evidence that may explain the tragedy.

Georgie is equally distressed by the disaster, and though distracted somewhat by her ongoing investigation related to the accidental drowning of a local farmer she considers suspicious, she makes some inquiries of her own. Unexpectedly she uncovers a link between both incidents, but she needs Franklin’s help to determine if it’s simply more than a coincidence.

Franklin and Georgie are romantic partners, but this incident places strain on their relationship with Franklin avoiding Georgie as a way of avoiding his own emotions. Wallace’s portrayal of Franklin’s grief is nuanced and authentic, as is Georgie’s concern for his well-being, and hurt feelings from being shut out. The lack of communication also affects how the case plays out, as it’s only by exchanging information that the tragedy can be solved.

With its intriguing storyline and appealing characters, Black Cloud is a great read. I’m determined to get my hands on Sandi Wallace’s backlist, and I’d recommend those who enjoy rural Australian crime fiction do the same.

+++++++

Available from your Amazon store AU I US I UK or Book Depository 

Or purchase a signed paperback from Sandi Wallace

Review: Letters From Berlin by Tania Blanchard

Title: Letters From Berlin

Author: Tania Blanchard

Published: 7th October 2020, Simon & Schuster Australia

Status: Read October 2020 courtesy Simon & Schuster

++++++

My Thoughts:

Inspired by the author’s family history, Letters From Berlin by Tania Blanchard is a heartfelt story of love, courage, betrayal and survival during World War Two.

As the Third Reich escalates its purge of the Jewish people from Germany in 1943, eighteen-year-old Susanna Göttmann’s fears grow for the safety of her beloved godparents who have raised her since childhood. While both she and her Onkel Georg are Aryan, Tante Elya is a Russian Jew, and their son, Leo, is classified a ‘mischlinge’, a halfbreed. The ability of the family estate, Gut Birkenhof, on the outskirts of Berlin, to provide goods and materials for the Nazi’s has allowed Georg to keep his wife and son safe, but as the Party rhetoric intensifies, their situation grows increasingly precarious.

Letters From Berlin unfolds from Susanna’s perspective as a reasonably wealthy, educated Aryan in Berlin who loves her country but is appalled by the actions of the Nazi Party, and their treatment of the Jewish people. Her primary concern is naturally for her Aunt Elya, and Leo, with whom she has been in love since she was a child, and to help protect them she makes some naive, brave, and dangerous choices. I liked the character of Susanna, and felt for all she endured, especially when circumstances separated her from Leo, and resulted in the loss of her child.

The plot of Letters from Berlin doesn’t offer much in the way of surprises, but the story is nevertheless engaging. There are some tense and dramatic moments and the themes of war, prejudice, injustice, family and love are inherently emotive. That it’s loosely based on real experiences adds a layer of poignancy, and I was glad Blanchard offered an epilogue of sorts.

Blanchard’s portrayal of life in Berlin during the war is interesting. In mid 1943, when the story starts, there seems to be little change in the day to day life of the wealthier of Aryan citizens, but as the country’s enemies close in, and the activities of the resistance take their toll, the privations grow. Blanchard merges fact with fiction as she writes of the forced labor camps, the failed conspiracy to kill Hitler, the bombings that set zoo animals loose in the streets, and the chaos post ‘liberation’.

A touching historical fiction novel, Letters From Berlin is a satisfying read.

++++++

Available from Simon & Schuster Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository

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