Title: The Wayward Girls

Author: Amanda Mason

Pages: 480 Pages

Publisher: Zaffre

The Blurb

THEN

1976. Loo and her sister Bee live in a run-down cottage in the middle of nowhere, with their artistic parents and wild siblings. Their mother, Cathy, had hoped to escape to a simpler life; instead the family find themselves isolated and shunned by their neighbours. At the height of the stifling summer, unexplained noises and occurences in the house begin to disturb the family, until they intrude on every waking moment . . .

NOW

Loo, now Lucy, is called back to her childhood home. A group of strangers are looking to discover the truth about the house and the people who lived there. But is Lucy ready to confront what really happened all those years ago?

The Girls meets The Little Stranger in this dark and captivating debut about sisterhood, family secrets, and a dangerous game that becomes all too real.

The Review

The Wayward Girls is a surprising novel about what it means to grow up.

Loo and Bee spend the summer of 1976 bored at home with their mother and siblings. They have moved to a new house and are being homeschooled and the locals of the village think they are weird. Things do not improve when Loo and Bee claim that the house is haunted by a poltergeist.

When a local paranormal society get wind of the strange activity, then an investigation begins into trying to deal with the horrors that have befallen the family.

Alongside the backdrop of a haunted house, Loo is desperately trying to fight for position with her older siblings Bee and Dan. She tends to be influenced by their whims and often falls into line when the dominant Bee snaps her fingers.

She is also the one who is most connected to the spirit haunting the house.

Fast forward to the future and the events of that summer are still haunting Loo. Things are about to get worse when the case gets reopened.

I enjoyed reading The Wayward Girls. At times it was genuinely creepy and as a reader you were left feeling uneasy and often doubted the events that were happening. I do feel that it was a little too long and could have had a bit of it shaved off and it wouldn’t have had any major impact on the outcome of the novel. It is a good read for the upcoming autumnal months.

The Wayward Girls by Amanda Mason is available now.

For more information regarding Amanda Mason (@amandajanemason) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Zaffre (@ZaffreBooks) please visit www.bonnierbooks.co.uk.

Title: A Single Thread

Author: Tracy Chevalier

Pages: 336 Pages

Publisher: Harper Collins

The Blurb

It is 1932, and the losses of the First World War are still keenly felt.

Violet Speedwell, mourning for both her fiancé and her brother and regarded by society as a ‘surplus woman’ unlikely to marry, resolves to escape her suffocating mother and strike out alone.

A new life awaits her in Winchester. Yes, it is one of draughty boarding-houses and sidelong glances at her naked ring finger from younger colleagues; but it is also a life gleaming with independence and opportunity. Violet falls in with the broderers, a disparate group of women charged with embroidering kneelers for the Cathedral, and is soon entwined in their lives and their secrets. As the almost unthinkable threat of a second Great War appears on the horizon Violet collects a few secrets of her own that could just change everything…

The Review

I have never read anything by Tracy Chevalier before. I know she had big success with The Girl with the Pearl Earring but I never got round to reading it. When I as granted the opportunity to read A Single Thread I was glad that I hadn’t read anything previous because it gave me a chance to read it in a more pure way – without comparison to other work. I wanted to see if I liked Tracy Chevalier’s writing style.

I did. I really did.

A Single Thread is the story of Violet Speedwell. In post war Britain, Violet is trying to find her own place in the world whilst trying to come to terms with heartbreaking loss. Add on a miserable matriarch of a mother and you begin to get a sense of why Violet is feeling so suffocated in her own little corner of the world.

When an opportunity arises to spread her wings and leave her current situation Violet grabs it with both hands and refuses to let go. She makes a new life for herself and along the way makes friends at a broderers group. Although life has been cruel we see Violet – at 37 – finally start to grow up.

A Single Thread is a look at many things: post World War One and the devastation that came with it, the changing roles of women, and how we assert our independence.

I loved it.

A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier is available now.

For more information regarding Tracy Chevalier (@Tracy_Chevalier) please visit www.tchevalier.com.

For more information regarding Harper Collins (@HarperCollins) please visit www.harpercollins.com.

Title: Diary of a Bookseller

Author: Shaun Bythell

Page: 320 Pages

Publisher: Serpent’s Tail

The Blurb

Shaun Bythell owns The Bookshop, Wigtown – Scotland’s largest second-hand bookshop. It contains 100,000 books, spread over a mile of shelving, with twisting corridors and roaring fires, and all set in a beautiful, rural town by the edge of the sea. A book-lover’s paradise? Well, almost … In these wry and hilarious diaries, Shaun provides an inside look at the trials and tribulations of life in the book trade, from struggles with eccentric customers to wrangles with his own staff, who include the ski-suit-wearing, bin-foraging Nicky. He takes us with him on buying trips to old estates and auction houses, recommends books (both lost classics and new discoveries), introduces us to the thrill of the unexpected find, and evokes the rhythms and charms of small-town life, always with a sharp and sympathetic eye.

The Review

Like a lot of book lovers, my dream would be to own a bookshop, have a bookshop cat and be able to read all day. That sounds like heaven.

In Shaun Bythell’s The Diary of a Bookseller we get to see that the reality of owning a bookshop isn’t always as idyllic as the dream. Shaun Bythell owns The Bookshop – like Ronseal – the name of the store does what it says on the tin. It is located in Scotland and is a firm favourite among book lovers who annually pilgrimage to Scotland in September for the book festival.

Bythell’s book lets you know a daily account of all the humorous comings and goings of the shop along with the bizarre and rude customers who frequent the shop often choosing not to buy anything.

And whilst reading The Diary of a Bookseller I was reminded of the difficulties faced in the book-selling world I still really, really want to own a bookshop.

The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell is available now.

For more information regarding Serpent’s Tail (@serpentstail) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: Lowborn – Growing Up, Getting Away and Returning to Britain’s Poorest Towns

Author: Kerry Hudson

Pages: 256 Pages

Publisher: Chatto and Windus

The Blurb

‘When every day of your life you have been told you have nothing of value to offer, that you are worth nothing to society, can you ever escape that sense of being ‘lowborn’ no matter how far you’ve come?’ 

Kerry Hudson is proudly working class but she was never proudly poor. The poverty she grew up in was all-encompassing, grinding and often dehumanising. Always on the move with her single mother, Kerry attended nine primary schools and five secondaries, living in B&Bs and council flats. She scores eight out of ten on the Adverse Childhood Experiences measure of childhood trauma.

Twenty years later, Kerry’s life is unrecognisable. She’s a prizewinning novelist who has travelled the world. She has a secure home, a loving partner and access to art, music, film and books. But she often finds herself looking over her shoulder, caught somehow between two worlds.

Lowborn is Kerry’s exploration of where she came from. She revisits the towns she grew up in to try to discover what being poor really means in Britain today and whether anything has changed.

The Review

I want to give Kerry Hudson a massive cuddle. That is my overriding thought after reading her autobiographical look at poverty – Lowborn.

What is truly amazing about this book is that as much as Hudson’s life has been challenged by social issues she does not come across as begging for sympathy. She is not woe-is-me. She is displaying the reality of living n the breadline; a life that she is uncomfortably familiar with.

With brutal reality, Hudson makes you feel thankful. I always say that when I grew up I never needed for anything. I wanted for stuff but I never needed for anything. My two working class parents did the absolute best that they could but my youth was positively idyllic in comparison.

Everybody should read this book to make them more aware of just how bad things can get and remind them to be grateful for the things they have. I know that Lowborn has had a massive impact on me.

Lowborn – Growing Up, Getting Away and Returning to Britain’s Poorest Towns by Kerry Hudson is available now.

For more information regarding Kerry Hudson (@ThatKerryHudson) please visit www.kerryhudson.co.uk.

For more information regarding Chatto and Windus (@ChattoBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk/vintage.

Title: Mademoiselle – Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History

Author: Rhonda K. Garelick

Pages: 608 Pages

Publisher: Random House

The Blurb

Certain lives are at once so exceptional, and yet so in step with their historical moments, that they illuminate cultural forces far beyond the scope of a single person. Such is the case with Coco Chanel, whose life offers one of the most fascinating tales of the twentieth century—throwing into dramatic relief an era of war, fashion, ardent nationalism, and earth-shaking change—here brilliantly treated, for the first time, with wide-ranging and incisive historical scrutiny.

Coco Chanel transformed forever the way women dressed. Her influence remains so pervasive that to this day we can see her afterimage a dozen times while just walking down a single street: in all the little black dresses, flat shoes, costume jewelry, cardigan sweaters, and tortoiseshell eyeglasses on women of every age and background. A bottle of Chanel No. 5 perfume is sold every three seconds. Arguably, no other individual has had a deeper impact on the visual aesthetic of the world. But how did a poor orphan become a global icon of both luxury and everyday style? How did she develop such vast, undying influence? And what does our ongoing love of all things Chanel tell us about ourselves? These are the mysteries that Rhonda K. Garelick unravels in Mademoiselle.

Raised in rural poverty and orphaned early, the young Chanel supported herself as best she could. Then, as an uneducated nineteen-year-old café singer, she attracted the attention of a wealthy and powerful admirer and parlayed his support into her own hat design business. For the rest of Chanel’s life, the professional, personal, and political were interwoven; her lovers included diplomat Boy Capel; composer Igor Stravinsky; Romanov heir Grand Duke Dmitri; Hugh Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster; poet Pierre Reverdy; a Nazi officer; and several women as well. For all that, she was profoundly alone, her romantic life relentlessly plagued by abandonment and tragedy.

Chanel’s ambitions and accomplishments were unparalleled. Her hat shop evolved into a clothing empire. She became a noted theatrical and film costume designer, collaborating with the likes of Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, and Luchino Visconti. The genius of Coco Chanel, Garelick shows, lay in the way she absorbed the zeitgeist, reflecting it back to the world in her designs and in what Garelick calls “wearable personality”—the irresistible and contagious style infused with both world history and Chanel’s nearly unbelievable life saga. By age forty, Chanel had become a multimillionaire and a household name, and her Chanel Corporation is still the highest-earning privately owned luxury goods manufacturer in the world.

In Mademoiselle, Garelick delivers the most probing, well-researched, and insightful biography to date on this seemingly familiar but endlessly surprising figure—a work that is truly both a heady intellectual study and a literary page-turner.

The Review

One of the people throughout history that I have found to have one of the most fascinating lives is that of Coco Chanel.

With a life steeped in mystery and drama (mostly of her own making and legend) and with so many books have been written about her I have found out a lot of information that I never knew. I must admit that Rhonda K Garelick’s book seems to be the most comprehensive and the book that is most willing to look at Chanel’s many flaws and bad decisions. Mademoiselle is an in-depth account of the life and loves that helped shape the woman she become. It celebrates her victories along with looking at her dark and often insidious past.

Love her or loathe her, you will definitely learn about Coco Chanel and learn to respect the impact that she had on feminism and fashion

Mademoiselle – Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History by Rhonda Garelick is available now.

For more information regarding Random House (@penguinrandom) please visit www.penguinrandomhouse.com.