Monday 22 March 2021

Reading Round Up 2021 #12

 Here we are, another week has passed and this of course means that it is about time for another reading round up.

I started last week in a bad way, had to phone in sick and spent the day attached to my sofa, the next day I didn't feel entirely myself still so I lost what I feel is a lot of reading time (disappointed face).

But by mid-week I got over the hump and decided to pull up my reading pants and now I have some short reviews for you all to peruse ...


Love Letters of Kings & Queens by Daniel Smith 4 out of 5 stars 

From Henry VIII's lovelorn notes to Anne Boleyn and George IV's impassioned notes to his secret wife, to Queen Victoria's tender letters to Prince Albert and Edward VIII's extraordinary correspondence with Wallis Simpson - these letters depict romantic love from its budding passion to the comfort and understanding of a long union (and occasionally beyond to resentment and recrimination), all set against the background of great affairs of state, wars and the strictures of royal duty.

Here is a chance to glimpse behind the pomp and ceremony, the carefully curated images of royal splendour and decorum, to see the passions, hopes, jealousies and loneliness of kings and queens throughout history. By turns tender, moving, heartfelt and warm (and sporadically scandalous and outrageous too), these are the private messages between people in love. Yet they are also correspondence between the rulers of nations, whose actions (and passions) changed the course of history, for good and bad.This is a book that if you love history (and of course adore a bit of romance) you will definitely want to read.


Edited well by Daniel Smith, I found myself thoroughly engrossed with it all.

With each set of love letters comes a brief biography of those Royals that are being mentioned, giving the reader a real insight into what might have been happening at the time when those love letters were being composed.

I'll admit that I had to google certain words from the past as I wasn't sure what they meant but I also found myself narrating to myself in my head as I read the letters in a 'dear diary' sort of way.

Beautiful and touching.

I feel as though I could easily flick back through and read the letters again from time to time.

The Making of Robert Mooney by Jane Gilley 4 out of 5 stars

Robert has no friends. His mother invited herself to stay with him for a few months and has never left. He hates his job and is beginning to wonder what life REALLY has in store for him.


But a shocking act of mistaken identity is about to change Robert’s life forever, proving that friends can be found in the most unlikely of places . . .This is a relatively short, fast-paced, quirky tale.

Honestly it was just what I needed to be reading right about now.

It is comedic and uplifting in its delivery and when I reached the end I was smiling inside and out.

We follow Robert Moony as he goes from a sort of loner who lives with his mum, someone who in the beginning lacks confidence and an element of get up and go.

What follows is hilarious because it seems so unlikely yet what transpires provides a platform for Robert to change his life in the most bizarre of ways.

The Making of Robert Moony is a hopeful tale that shows us that no matter how stuck in a rut you might be, life is always there for the taking!

The Gardener's Wife by Jane Allison 4 out of 5 stars

Emma Holt has been happily married for many years to the gardener of the local Quaker school. Headmaster Philip Manners, on the other hand, has been unhappily married to the Bishop’s daughter for just as long.

When Philip finds Emma in the school library, he can’t help but be intrigued by her. Emma, dealing with her two eldest sons going off to war, is overloading herself with work to keep her mind focused. Philip, meanwhile, is trying to understand how his students could enlist when he teaches them pacifism, but is also struggling with his conscience: is he really falling in love with another man’s wife?

When conscription finally arrives and all the eligible men are called up, Emma and Philip find themselves unavoidably tangled up in each other’s lives more and more. Emma is pushed to her limits with worrying about her sons and trying to juggle all her new duties, while Philip, invalided out of the fighting, can’t help but rush to comfort her when the worst happens overseas.

With Emma torn between the loyalty she has for her husband and the passion she’s been missing for so long with Philip, will she fight to hold on to Philip or stand back when events conspire to rip them apart for good?


Historical fiction has never been my number genre of choice but when you add in a little love story well.....

The Gardener's Wife is what I'd describe as a simple yet tender romance. Quick and easy to read.

This is a book written by a debut novelist and I have to say the setting and language used were idyllic. I definitely felt as though I was being transported back through time.

There was a certain depth to the tale but not so much that you had to overly concentrate on the plot and where it was leading to.

This is a story that is perfect for times when you just want to switch off from the world for a little while. 

All Girls by Emily Layden 5 out of 5 stars

An all-girls boarding school in a hilly corner of Connecticut, Atwater is a haven for progressive thinking and feminist intellectuals. The students are smart, driven and worldly; they are also teenagers, learning to find their way. But when they arrive on campus for the start of the fall term, they're confronted with startling news: an Atwater alumna has made a troubling allegation of sexual misconduct against an unidentified teacher. As the weeks wear on and the administration's efforts to manage the ensuing crisis fall short, these extraordinary young women come to realise that the adults in their lives may not be the protectors they previously believed.

All Girls unfolds over the course of one tumultuous academic year and is told from the point of view of a small cast of diverse, interconnected characters as they navigate the social mores of prep school life and the broader, more universal challenges of growing up. The trials of adolescent girlhood are pitched against the backdrop of sexual assault, consent, anxiety and the ways that our culture looks to young women as trendsetters, but otherwise silences their voices and discounts their opinions. The story that emerges is a richly detailed, impeccably layered, and emotionally nuanced depiction of what it means to come of age in a female body today.I was intrigued by this novel for the title alone.


All Girls.

Having attended a same sex school myself during my teen years, I suppose I had predetermined what I thought this novel would be about, how it would possibly be presented.

But Emily Layden managed to I guess startle me, and that was a very good thing. Having expected a certain type of story what I got was something so much better. 

A sex scandal seems to be at the centre of this tale but surrounding it is was an abundance of other secrets and lies.

Told over the course of a school year, the setting, a prestigious New England boarding school but this isn't some simple teenage coming of age story. What we are instead caught up in, is something much darker, much grittier.

Told from varying points of view, different students providing us with an outlook of just what it is like to be a girl, to mature in quite a diverse environment. The pressures of growing up, to conform to how society deems acceptable. The opportunity to gain a piece of independence whilst at the same time remaining under the control of adults who think they know best.

This is an intelligent tale, one that slowly simmers with each turn of the page. The wants and desires of these fairly privileged young women pitted against those outdated rules and regulations to be which they are judged against.

All Girls is a refreshing novel, with not one but many protagonists who's experiences all felt real and raw. This is a story that I feel holds appeal to all ages.

Now I'm currently reading Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner, what have you read recently?

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