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This week I will be taking part in Abbey Clancy’s blog tour for her debut novel Remember My Name.

Remember My Name is about young starlet wannabe Jess from Liverpool and how she is thrust into the limelight but soon learns that living the popstar lifestyle isn’t as glamorous as it may seem.

Make sure you visit all of the bloggers on this tour!

Lisa x

The People We Were Before Book CoverThe Blurb

If war is madness, how can love survive?

Yugoslavia, summer 1979. A new village. A new life. But eight-year-old Miro knows the real reason why his family moved from the inland city of Knin to the sunkissed village of Ljeta on the Dalmatian Coast, a tragedy he tries desperately to forget.

The Ljeta years are happy ones, though, and when he marries his childhood sweetheart, and they have a baby daughter, it seems as though life is perfect. However, storm clouds are gathering above Yugoslavia.

War breaks out, and one split-second decision destroys the life Miro has managed to build. Driven by anger and grief, he flees to Dubrovnik, plunging himself into the hard-bitten world of international war reporters.

There begins a journey that will take him ever deeper into danger: from Dubrovnik, to Sarajevo, to the worst atrocities of war-torn Bosnia, Miro realises that even if he survives, there can be no way back to his earlier life. The war will change him, and everyone he loves, forever.

The Review

Wow. What can I say about The People We Were Before by Annabelle Thorpe? My mind has been blown apart by this novel.

Ok, let’s start here:

I was born in 1983. I was raised in Liverpool and I have spent my years trying to consume as much information and knowledge as I could. Yet I knew nothing about the war in Kosovo. Sure I had heard about it on the news but I was too little to comprehend what was happening. This book, The People We Were Before, has changed that somewhat. I’m shocked at my ignorance of a genocide that took place in my lifetime and I knew absolutely nothing about it. Nothing.

The People We Were Before could be described in many ways: a family saga, a romance, a thriller, historical fiction, war story. It cannot be pigeonholed into just one category.

Thorpe’s story focuses on Miro, a young boy whose family has just moved to the Dalmatian Coast with his family amidst the stirrings of political strife. The story develops along with Miro’s change from boy into man; the trials and tribulations that grown up life bring shakes Miro’s world to the very core and his life mirrors the chaos of the warzone that is developing in Dubrovnik.

Thorpe’s character development is tremendous. I truly felt the familial ties between Miro and his brother Goran, I enjoyed the friendships that Miro developed and I fell hopelessly for his love story with Dina. I became part of the story with them. When an author can so seamlessly transport me to another world I know that I am reading something pretty special.

Whilst normally I am a character driven reader it was the descriptions of the abject horrors of war that really packed a punch with me. The panic and the mayhem that Thorpe portrays in The People We Were Before is astounding. My heart was beating wildly throughout most of the book as I felt true panic for Miro and co.

The People We Were Before by Annabelle Thorpe is the most ambitious debut I have read in a long time and fortunately for Thorpe she delivers.

The People We Were Before by Annabelle Thorpe is available now.

5 Stars

The People We Were Before Tour Poster

Christmas Jumper blog tour banner (2)

Catch up with some lovely book bloggers – blogging their bottoms off about the fabulous new Debbie Johnson Christmas novel – Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Jumper.

A letter from Mick to Betsy

01.02. 2011

Dear Betsy,

I’m writing you this letter in a rare moment of clarity. As you well know, these don’t come so often these days. It’s a bit like trying to listen to the radio in the car when the reception’s bad. All those precious memories just flicker on and off.

I hope you’ll actually get to read this.

It’s possible I will put it down somewhere and the fog will descend. I’ll forget I even wrote it, and that will be that.

Still, if that happens, I’m sure you’ll find it one quiet weekday afternoon, just like you still find the remains of the cheese and pickle sandwiches I leave behind the bookshelves sometimes. I’m sorry about that, I know it makes you cross.

Perhaps you’ll uncover this letter, long after I’m gone and you’re moving house. You will have removed the curtains and the blinds, light will pour through the kitchen windows and you’ll spot it, taped to the back of the fridge. You’ll make a cup of tea, and you’ll sit down read it, and you’ll be reminded of just how much I loved you.

I hope you’ll feel free, and happy when I’m gone. I’d never want you to be sad.

Do you feel free, Betsy?

When we married all those years ago, the vicar was droning on, reading this and that from the bible and I didn’t half start to zone out, love. I remember you squeezing my hands and giving me a look and so I tried harder to listen.

He went on to say some nice things about being together for the rest of our lives, in health and sickness, for better and for worse. Do you remember? I know we were all just desperate to get to the pub for a good old knees up.

We were so young then. We half listened, and wholly agreed. We made those promises in front of our family and friends, but they never meant too much until recently.

I was a healthy, young lad back then – ‘fit as a butcher’s dog’ my father used to say. But look at me now. I’m a mere sliver of what I used to be. Many of my best qualities have fled, one by one like thieves out the back door – taking parts of me and hoping we wouldn’t notice.

I wonder sometimes… if you knew of all that you’d have to handle, with this horrible illness, would you have still gone through with it?

I’m sure you would. I’d like to think you would. I can’t see you having walked away, leaving me standing there by the altar, my heart exploding with love.

Thank you for everything. For not just seeing me as my illness, and looking past all that to the man you fell in love with all those years ago. I couldn’t have asked for a better wife. You, with all your kindness and patience, you’ve never let me down once.

Sometimes, when I look at you and I can’t quite place your name, it feels like my heart is breaking. A smudge appears, more fragments slip away and memories are gone forever, like in iceberg slipping into the sea. You and I become shards of broken glass. A puzzle I cannot piece together.

But when the focus comes back, so do technicolour souvenirs of the happiest days of our life, and it’s glorious. I’ll never forget when Jake was born, and how peaceful he looked as he slept. We leant over his cot in the darkness, looked up at each other and smiled, your hand in mine. When that happens, when those memories return, I cannot feel sad about how things turned out.

How can I feel sad Betsy Bruce, when I’ve been able to love you every day for the past fifty or so years?

I hope you’ll feel free and happy when I’m gone.

I hope you go into town whenever you can, and eat great slabs of your favourite cake (is it carrot? I’m sorry, it’s happening again and I can’t remember…) in that café you love so much. I hope you spend hours in the library leafing through the books, and walk in the park when the sun shines.

Do you feel free Betsy?

Yours, always and forever,

Your husband Mick