The Black Dress by Deborah Moggach – Review- Blog Tour

Pru is on her own. But then, so are plenty of other people. And while the loneliness can be overwhelming,
surely she’ll find a party somewhere?

Pru’s husband has walked out, leaving her alone to contemplate her future. She’s missing not so much him,
but the life they once had – picnicking on the beach with small children, laughing together, nestling up like
spoons in the cutlery drawer as they sleep. Now there’s just a dip on one side of the bed and no-one to fill it.
In a daze, Pru goes off to a friend’s funeral. Usual old hymns, words of praise and a eulogy but…it doesn’t
sound like the friend Pru knew. And it isn’t. She’s gone to the wrong service. Everyone was very welcoming,
it was – oddly – a laugh, and more excitement than she’s had for ages. So she buys a little black dress in a
charity shop and thinks, now I’m all set, why not go to another? I mean, people don’t want to make a scene
at a funeral, do they? No-one will challenge her – and what harm can it do


The Black Dress by Deborah Moggach is bloody marvelous. Why? Prue, that’s why!

At the start of the novel her husband has left her, at the age of sixty-nine she is cut adrift, lonely, terribly, terribly lonely in fact. So much so, after going to the wrong funeral, she buys a little black dress, because she quite liked how welcoming everyone was and comes up with the idea of hitting on a man at his own wife’s funeral!

Now bear with me, because I know that sounds weird, but it works and it is both heartbreakingly sad, yet very funny and haunting as well. Prue is as the novel starts, is lost, desperate, but she is not going to slide into old age quietly, even though her heart is breaking and that is why I love her so much. She has characteristics that slowly reveal themselves as the novel progresses, now some will shock you, some might actually make you wonder if she is sane, but I defy you not to cheer her on, even when you know you shouldn’t. She is a creation of such cleverness that I was sad to leave her behind when the novel ended! She crashes in and out of peoples lives, falls in love, loses, wins and yet when you sit back, you can’t help wondering, if happiness will ever be within her reach and that is why Prue is one of my very favorite characters of all time! She gets depressed just like you and me, but she bounces back and each time, she will shock you a little or a lot, depending how sensitive you are to the odd moment of what could best be described as slightly borderline psychopathic behavior.

Now, novels often rely on one central character to carry the story, sometimes it works, sometimes it all goes horribly wrong, in The Black Dress it is a utter triumph! The novels humor is dark, deliciously so and it centers around Prue, who is like a black hole, because she has a gravitational pull that it is impossible to escape from and frankly I didn’t want to. I could happily have stayed in her company for many, many more chapters. She will make you laugh out loud, she will also make you look at that quiet old lady in the charity shop in a whole new light, with a whole new appreciation of not growing old gracefully or quietly.

Oh and if that older lady stood next to you in the charity shop is buying a very stylish black dress, smile and give her a copy of Deborah Moggach’s book.

The Black Dress is so far, my book of the year!

You can buy The Black Dress Amazon and Waterstones. But why not order it from one of the many wonderful independent bookshops we are blessed with

About the author

Deborah Moggach, OBE, is a British novelist and an award-winning screenwriter. She has written twenty novels, including Tulip Fever, These Foolish Things (which became the bestselling novel and film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), and The Carer. She lives in London.

Girls Who Lie by Eva Bjorg Aegisdottir – Review- Blog Tour- Orenda Books.

When single mother Maríanna disappears from her home, leaving an apologetic note on the kitchen table, everyone assumes that she’s taken her own life … until her body is found on the Grábrók lava fields seven months later, clearly the victim of murder. Her neglected fifteen-year-old daughter Hekla has been placed in foster care, but is her perfect new life hiding something sinister?

Fifteen years earlier, a desperate new mother lies in a maternity ward, unable to look at her own child, the start of an odd and broken relationship that leads to a shocking tragedy.

Police officer Elma and her colleagues take on the case, which becomes increasingly complex, as the number of suspects grows and new light is shed on Maríanna’s past – and the childhood of a girl who never was like the others…

Breathtakingly chilling and tantalisingly twisty, Girls Who Lie is at once a startling, tense psychological thriller and a sophisticated police procedural, marking Eva Björg Ægisdottir as one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.


I just know within a few pages of a novel that it is going to be a stunner, clever, beautifully written, perfectly plotted and unbearably tense. I knew within a few paragraphs that Girls Who Lie by Eva Bjorg Aegisdottir was going to be one of my stand out books of 2021 and as I read the last few pages, I was proved right!

We all wax lyrical about how a great thriller has twists and turns, how excited we get when an author manages to catch us of our guard and actually surprise us, but it feels increasingly rare, the more thrillers I read! One of the reasons I adored Girls Who Lie was that it did surprise me, it actually made me sit up and go f**k I didn’t see that coming and it made my reading week. So many thrillers rely on a cascade of seemingly never ending curve balls that often leave me feeling nonplussed by the end of the book, like I have been battered by a juggernaut of over the top twists in the tale, so much so I switch off before the reveal actually happens.

Eva Bjorg Aegisdottir is far to clever a writer for this approach and as a result she delivers a cleverly crafted tale, in which the identity of the killer is revealed slowly, making the shock all the sweeter and all the better for the lingering impact it had on me the reader. I sat back in bed, in the dark and played events over and over in my mind, wondering how she had managed to fool me and adoring that she had. The flow of the story felt seamless, the clues to solving the murder of Maríanna swirling around within the narrative like a gentle breeze until the final reveal. Clever is not shouty, it’s not bells toiling, crowds shouting, it is subtle, driven by character and this is why Girls Who Lie is such an utter triumph for me, it treats the reader like the intelligent person they are, plays with their assumptions, but never panders to them.

Girls Who Lie is the second in the Forbidden Iceland series and the very welcome return of Icelandic Detective Elma and her team. Intelligent, perceptive, dedicated and flawed, she is the perfect character for this intelligently written thriller! You are not overly distracted by the drama of her life, but find yourself caring about her, because of all she has been through. You share in her life, because you like her, her intelligence and being able to spend more time with her, is a unmigrated pleasure. She is allowed to develop in this second installment, to begin to heal and move forward, she makes mistakes as we all do, but you get glimpses of how her keen intelligence drives forward the investigation. But Elma is not a single character, like any police investigation, she is part of a team and her sometimes obsessive nature, is balanced out by Saevar, more laid back, so they work in almost perfect harmony. The simmering attraction between them that was evident in book one, becomes more tangible in Girls Who Lie and it adds a layer of connection, that I hope becomes a continuing thread in this series.

I read a quote that sometimes the dead have a lot to hide and that is very true here. Match that with a killer who has as much to bury, with a chillingly disturbed mind and a life shrouded in lies and you have the creation of an almost perfect storm. One moment, one decision made by them, not only damages lives of those around them, but affects the lives of the next generation and it is around this pretext that the story in Girls Who Lie is formed. It’s genius lies in the fact, that no one, certainly not the victim is perfect and sometimes, the killer and the victim are more alike than you would like to think.

Girls Who lie is superb, chillingly so.

You can buy this novel directly from the publisher at Orenda Books.

From Amazon and Waterstones.

You can also order from one of the many fantastic indepedant bookshops.

About the author

Born in Akranes in 1988, Eva moved to Trondheim, Norway to study my MSc in Globalisation when she was 25. After moving back home having completed her MSc, she knew it was time to start working on her novel. Eva has wanted to write books since she was 15 years old, having won a short story contest in Iceland.

Eva worked as a stewardess to make ends meet while she wrote her first novel. The book went on to win the Blackbird Award and became an Icelandic bestseller. Eva now lives with her husband and three children in Reykjavík, staying at home with her youngest until she begins Kindergarten.

You can follow Eva on Twitter @evaaegisdottir.

About the translator

Victoria Cribb studied and worked in Iceland for many years. She has translated more than 25 novels from the Icelandic and, in 2017, she received the Orðstír honourary translation award for services to Icelandic literature.

The Book Of Echoes by Rosanna Amaka – Review – Blog Tour.

Brixton 1981. Sixteen-year-old Michael is already on the wrong side of the law. In in his community, where job opportunities are low and drug-running is high, this is nothing new.

But when Michael falls for Ngozi, a vibrant young immigrant from the Nigerian village of Obowi, their startling connection runs far deeper than they realise.

Narrated by the spirit of an African woman who lost her life on a slave ship two centuries earlier, her powerful story reveals how Michael and Ngozi’s struggle for happiness began many lifetimes ago.

Through haunting, lyrical words, one unforgettable message resonates: love, hope and unity will heal us all.


It is unusual to find a book that feels both original, yet familiar and as readers we are forever searching for that novel that feels unique! The Book Of Echoes by Rosanna Amaka is that book, it delivers a story that is thought-provoking, filled with a series of connections from the past to the present and a love of the written word, which brings the beautiful narrative to life effortlessly.

In her tale of the connections that flow from the moment a young women is dragged by slave gangs into the hold of a ship destined for the Jamaican slave plantations, to the lives of Michael in 1981 Brixton and Ngozi a young immigrant from Nigeria, we become a part of their story, of how each journey they take, is connected with that original event two centuries earlier. I found the narrator to be fascinating, a quite wonderful way to show the reader how our pasts, often shape our present and the lives we lead. She gives the story it’s central narrative, how poverty and racism in modern Britain and Africa have their roots firmly in the forced enslavement of the African people and the continued discrimination faced by so many in modern day Britain. Michael has known loss, racism and discrimination all his life and feels shaped by them and as a result he makes decisions that potentially wreck his hopes for a better future. Ngozi, comes from poverty, abuse and discrimination in her own country, yet strides into what I as a reader hoped, was a better future despite all of this. Tying their stories together, is the an ancestor, who endless search for stolen children, means she floats through the story, a restless soul, watching over both characters and reminding us of the repercussions of slavery that still affect modern Britain.

Now this may all seem dark and depressing, but it is not. This is a story about actions and consequences, but it is also a tale about the power of the human spirit to endure and thrive. Both Michael and Ngozi are affected by poverty and discrimination, but they are also watched over by a voice from the past, who heartache, has never dimmed her spirit and determination to find those stolen from her. As a result, it felt intuitive to me, that her bravery, her resilience, would find a home in them to and give them the strength to succeed. Love is the central tenant of The Book of Echoes, as is its power to redeem, meaning that despite all that they go through, we and they never lose hope, even in the face of endless challenges. I am shaped by the actions and decisions made by my ancestors, their decision to leave Ireland and travel to Wales, as are Michael and Ngozi, by the narrators decision in one moment, centuries before they were born. Those decisions sometimes take them down the wrong path, as in the case of Michael, but if we listen to the voices from our past, any path can be altered and this is why The Book of Echoes is a novel of our times. It contains hope, is written with language that conveys both the crushing pain of discrimination, but shines a light on the humanities greatest gift, love.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon and Waterstones, as well as all good independent bookshops.

About the author

ROSANNA AMAKA began writing The Book of Echoes twenty years ago to give voice to the Brixton community in which she grew up. Her community was fast disappearing – as a result of gentrification, emigration back to the Caribbean and Africa, or simply with the passing away of the older generation. Its depiction of unimaginable pain redeemed by love and hope was also inspired by a wish to understand the impact of history on present-day lives. Rosanna Amaka lives in South London. This is her first novel. Meet her at @RosannaAmaka.

Book covers as works of art

I had a series of posts awhile ago about the book covers I love so much, I consider them works of art, as worthy to be hung on my walls as any traditional painting. Recently, I have read a number of books and purchased others, I feel fall into this category and so I have decided to bring this series back for a while!

The first, has to be the stunning sequel to Raynor Winn’s The Salt Path. The cover of The Wild Silence evokes the beauty of or coast and the haunting quality of the writing and story within. When I look at it, I can almost feel the wind caressing my face, hear the waves as they hit the beach and gulls as they call to each other. Raynor Winn’s writing is lyrical and she gives us a story that brings to life, the painful and yet often redemptive path they have been on since they lost the home they loved and the news her husband had developed a debilitating and incurable disease.

I had been left after reading the Salt Path desperate to know about the rest of their journey and this stunning book, answered all my questions and proved to be a moving and beautifully written sequel to The Salt Path.

The illustrator Angela Harding is incredibly talented and managed to capture the essence of the story perfectly. I am a firm believer that a book cover is a window into the soul of the story being told and this one, captures it to perfection. I would be happy and proud to have it gracing the walls of my home.

‘It was the land, the earth, the deep humming background to my very being’

In 2016, days before they were unjustly evicted from their home, Raynor Winn was told her husband Moth was dying.

Instead of giving up they embarked on a life-changing journey: walking the 630-mile South West Coast Path, living by their wits, determination and love of nature.

But all journeys must end and when the couple return to civilisation they find that four walls feel like a prison, cutting them off from the sea and sky that sustained them – that had saved Moth’s life.

So when the chance to rewild an old Cornish farm comes their way, they grasp it, hoping they’ll not only reconnect with the natural world but also find themselves once again on its healing path

You can purchase this book from Amazon and Waterstones and all our wonderful independent books shops.

About the author

Since travelling the South West Coastal Path, Raynor Winn has become a regular long-distance walker and writes about nature, homelessness and wild camping. She lives in Cornwall. The Salt Path was her first book and became a Sunday Times bestseller in hardback and paperback. It was shortlisted for numerous prizes including the Costa, the Wainwright and the Stanfords Travel Writing awards.

You can follow the writer on Twitter

About the illustrator

Angela Harding is a fine art painter and illustrator based in Wing, Rutland who is inspired by British birds, nature and countryside.

You can take a look at her stunning work on her website

She can be followed on Twitter

Review – The Secret Keeper of Jaipur by Alka Joshi

Henna artist Lakshmi arranges for her protégé, Malik, to intern at the Jaipur Palace in this tale rich in
character, atmosphere, and lavish storytelling.

It’s the spring of 1969, and Lakshmi, now married to Dr Jay Kumar, directs the Healing Garden in
Shimla. Malik has finished his private school education. At twenty, he has just met a young woman
named Nimmi when he leaves to apprentice at the Facilities Office of the Jaipur Royal Palace. Their
latest project: a state-of-the-art cinema.

Malik soon finds that not much has changed as he navigates the Pink City of his childhood. Power
and money still move seamlessly among the wealthy class, and favours flow from Jaipur’s Royal
Palace, but only if certain secrets remain buried. When the cinema’s balcony tragically collapses on
opening night, blame is placed where it is convenient. But Malik suspects something far darker and
sets out to uncover the truth. As a former street child, he always knew to keep his own counsel; it’s a
lesson that will serve him as he untangles a web of lies.


When I started The Secret Keeper of Jaipur by Alka Joshi I hadn’t realized it was the sequel to her first book The Henna Artist and I became worried I would lose something important in the story having not read the first book. I was partly right, but I am glad to say, I both enjoyed the story and the characters.

The Secret Keeper Of Jaipur is a novel that brings to life a world and culture very few of us have any experience of, India, in all of its glorious complexity. I felt that if I closed my eyes just for a moment, I could imagine stepping out of its pages into 1950s India. Streets full of colour, where power and poverty, honesty and corruption, secrets and lies, mix together in a sumptuous tale about love and family.

So many books lack a sense of place and having watched the BBCs adaption of Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy, I wanted the same connection with India within The Secret Keeper of Jaipur and I am happy to say, I was granted my wish. She brings to life not just the culture in which Malik and Lakshmi live and work, but creates a tapestry, that weaves together a story that is complex, exciting and also uplifting. She pitches corrupt officials against her two main characters, but does so in such a way, that it manages to feel both light in touch, but complex in the story we are reading.

Both Malik the former street child and Lakshmi are wonderful characters, who are easy to love. They are written in such a way that you can imagine them walking the streets of Jaipur with little effort. Malik’s past has created a young man who knows that keeping your own counsel is both a safety net and a survival mechanism and it makes him the perfect character to solve the mystery behind the collapse of the stunning new cinema and the subsequent search for those responsible, because he understands corruption and greed, but is willing to stand up against it. His guide and mentor Lakshmi, having been part of this world and having experienced how it rejects and judges those that they deem to have stepped out of their ‘place’, is willing to fight to protect those she loves and she is quietly magnificent. Both can work across cultural divides, having lived briefly within both and they work within this story, because of that. Even those characters we deem dishonest, are multi layered and capable of redemption and as a result the story feels vibrant, with a touch of realism that runs throughout the story.  The broad cast of characters creating a story that you find yourself lost within and enjoying, because they are so rich and diverse.

Weaving in sections of their past, it almost doesn’t matter that I had not read The Henna Artist, because she fills in the gaps for me, without disrupting the storyline. I still think I should have read the first book, but you don’t have to and you will still love this one.  Yet part of me feels that The Secret Keeper of Jaipur would have been an even more enjoyable read, if I had read the Henna Artist first. So my recommendation is you by both, because I can’t help feeling, you are going to love them.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon and Waterstones

About the author

Alka Joshi is a graduate of Stanford University and received her MFA from the California College of the Arts. She has worked as an advertising copywriter, a marketing consultant and an illustrator. Alka was born in India, in the state of Rajasthan. Her family moved to the USA when she was nine, and she now lives on California’s Monterey Peninsula with her husband and two misbehaving pups. The Secret Keeper of Jaipur is her second novel.
Visit her website and blog at

My Wonderful Reading Year – June 2021- The Journey Continues.

As summer arrives, the number of books I read my slow as our world begins to open up a little more and I slowly leave the safety of my home. But it will remain an integral part of me and I am looking forward to some fantastic reads.

I am continuing to try to balance reading simply for pleasure, with book reviewing and have found some absolute gems that have patiently sat on my bookshelf waiting to be read.

What follows are the books that I read in June 2021.

The month started on a high with Everything Happens For A Reason, the stunning debut by Katie Allen. This is the moving story of Rachel after her son is stillborn and it is quite frankly wonderful.

Then came the bloody marvelous coming age story, Mary Jane A Novel by Jessica Anya Blau.

After this journey to 1970s Baltimore, I read Louise Beech’s moving and compelling This Is How We Are Human.

Note To Boy by Sue Clarke, a comedy about a boy looking for a home and a old lady, looking for a friend.

My next finished read was Uncoupling by Lorraine Brown. A gentle and uplifting read, which a very much enjoyed.

Next came a book I had been looking forward to read for some time after loving her first book The Salt Path! Raynor Winn’s The Wild Silence is a moving sequel and answered all the questions I was left with after finishing The Salt Path. Her writing is stunning and deeply moving.

Peter Ross’s A Tomb With A View is a stunning read. I loved both his writing and his fascination with our graveyards. During the first lockdown, I found a local church with a stunning view across to England and I took comfort from the silence and peace. It became my happy place, an odd thing to say I know, but it’s true and Peter Ross understands this and delivers a book about the stories and history of many of our glorious graveyards.

My final fiction read is by a writer I have always loved and I am glad to say I thought her latest offering a triumph. Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell is a beautifully written tale of loss and grief.

Well that was my reading for June 2021 and yet again, I was lucky to read some amazing books. We are only a few days into July and that trend is already set to continue.