My Week in Books – 23rd January 2022

MyWeekinBooksOn What Cathy Read Next last week

Monday – I published my review of Red Is My Heart by Antoine Laurain with illustrations by Le Sonneur

Tuesday – This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic was 2021 Releases I Was Excited To Read But Didn’t Get To.

Wednesday – I published my review of Before We Grow Old by Clare Swatman as part of the blog tour. And WWW Wednesday is my weekly opportunity to share what I’ve just read, what I’m currently reading and what I plan to read next… and to take a peek at what others are reading. 

Thursday – Another day, another reading challenge! I published my sign-up post for the Bookbloggers 2022 Fiction Reading Challenge

Friday – I shared my review of Resistance – Book 1 Liberty by Eilidh McGinness as part of the blog tour. 

Saturday – I published my review of historical novel, The Queen’s Lady by Joanna Hickson.

As always, thanks to everyone who has liked, commented on or shared my blog posts on social media.


New arrivals

Crow CourtCrow Court by Andy Charman (eARC, Unbound)

Spring, 1840. In the Dorset market town of Wimborne Minster, a young choirboy drowns himself. Soon after, the choirmaster – a belligerent man with a vicious reputation – is found murdered, in a discovery tainted as much by relief as it is by suspicion. The gaze of the magistrates falls on four local men, whose decisions will reverberate through the community for years to come.

So begins the chronicle of Crow Court, unravelling over fourteen delicately interwoven episodes, the town of Wimborne their backdrop: a young gentleman and his groom run off to join the army; a sleepwalking cordwainer wakes on his wife’s grave; desperate farmhands emigrate. We meet the composer with writer’s block; the smuggler; a troupe of actors down from London; and old Art Pugh, whose impoverished life has made him hard to amuse.

Meanwhile, justice waits…

The BirdcageThe Birdcage by Eve Chase (eARC, Michael Joseph via NetGalley)

Some secrets need to be set free…

When half-sisters Kat, Flossie and Lauren are unexpectedly summoned to Rock Point, the remote Cornish house where they spent their childhood summers, it is the first time they have been there together since their artist father painted them in the celebrated Girls and Birdcage. Since then they have drifted apart into wildly different lives, each one determined to forget the fateful summer of twenty years ago.

But when they arrive at Rock Point it is clear they are not alone. Someone is lurking in the shadows, watching their every move. Someone who remembers what they did, and has been waiting for their return.

As the events of that summer rise closer to the surface, will the three sisters escape unscathed for a second time? Or are some secrets too powerful to remain under lock and key?

Dark Tides by Philippa Gregory (Simon & Schuster)

Midsummer Eve 1670. Two unexpected visitors arrive at a shabby warehouse on the south side of the River Thames. The first is a wealthy man hoping to find the lover he deserted twenty-one years before. James Avery has everything to offer, including the favour of the newly restored King Charles II, and he believes that the warehouse’s poor owner Alinor has the one thing his money cannot buy – his son and heir.

The second visitor is a beautiful widow from Venice in deepest mourning. She claims Alinor as her mother-in-law and has come to tell Alinor that her son Rob has drowned in the dark tides of the Venice lagoon. Alinor writes to her brother Ned, newly arrived in faraway New England and trying to make a life between the worlds of the English newcomers and the American Indians as they move toward inevitable war. Alinor tells him that she knows – without doubt – that her son is alive and the widow is an imposter.

Set in the poverty and glamour of Restoration London, in the golden streets of Venice, and on the tensely contested frontier of early America, this is a novel of greed and desire: for love, for wealth, for a child, and for home.

Circus of Wonders Dark Tides

Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal (Picador)

1866. In a coastal village in southern England, Nell picks violets for a living. Set apart by her community because of the birthmarks that speckle her skin, Nell’s world is her beloved brother and devotion to the sea.

But when Jasper Jupiter’s Circus of Wonders arrives in the village, Nell is kidnapped. Her father has sold her, promising Jasper Jupiter his very own leopard girl. It is the greatest betrayal of Nell’s life, but as her fame grows, and she finds friendship with the other performers and Jasper’s gentle brother Toby, she begins to wonder if joining the show is the best thing that has ever happened to her.

In London, newspapers describe Nell as the eighth wonder of the world. Figurines are cast in her image, and crowds rush to watch her soar through the air. But who gets to tell Nell’s story? What happens when her fame threatens to eclipse that of the showman who bought her? And as she falls in love with Toby, can he detach himself from his past and the terrible secret that binds him to his brother?

Moving from the pleasure gardens of Victorian London to the battle-scarred plains of the Crimea, Circus of Wonders is an astonishing story about power and ownership, fame and the threat of invisibility. 

A Terrible KindnessA Terrible Kindness by Jo Browning Wroe (Faber & Faber)

Tonight nineteen-year-old William Lavery is dressed for success, his first black-tie do. It’s the Midlands Chapter of the Institute of Embalmers Ladies’ Night Dinner Dance, and William is taking Gloria in her sequined evening gown. He can barely believe his luck.

But as the gentlemen sip their whiskey and smoke their post-dinner cigarettes a telegram delivers news of a tragedy. An event so terrible it will shake the nation. It is October 1966 and a landslide at a coal mine has buried a school: Aberfan.

William decides he must act, so he stands and volunteers to attend. It will be his first job, and will be – although he’s yet to know it – a choice that threatens to sacrifice his own happiness in his desire to help others.

Latchkey LadiesLatchkey Ladies by Marjorie Grant (ARC, Handheld Press)

Latchkey Ladies was first published in 1921, the first novel by the Canadian writer Marjorie Grant Cook. The novel opens in 1918 in the Mimosa Club, a women’s hostel in central London where young women office workers and ladies on declining incomes find refuge from the tedium of war work and the chilliness of impending poverty.

Anne Carey is twenty-five, and works in an office where she is annoyed by soldiers harrassing her. She is engaged to a young lieutenant in the army, but she is bored of him and bored of the war. Her Mimosa Club friends take her to Bohemian parties where she meets models and artists, and then she meets Dampier. He is unlike anyone she has ever met before, and they begin an affair. Then, when he is holidaying with his wife and children at Easter, Anne realises that she is pregnant. What will she do?


On What Cathy Read Next this week

Currently reading

Planned posts

  • Book Review: The Man in the Bunker (Tom Wilde #6) by Rory Clements
  • Book Review: The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr.
  • Blog Tour/Book Review: Storytellers by Bjørn Larssen
  • Blog Tour/Book Review: Late City by Robert Olen Butler

#BookReview The Queen’s Lady by Joanna Hickson @HarperFiction

The Queen's LadyAbout the Book

Can she tread a dangerous line between love and duty?

Raven-haired and fiercely independent, Joan Guildford has always remained true to herself.  As lady-in-waiting and confidante to Queen Elizabeth, wife of Henry VII, Joan understands royal patronage is vital if she and her husband, Sir Richard, are to thrive in the volatile atmosphere of court life.

But Tudor England is in mourning following the death of the Prince of Wales, and within a year, the queen herself. With Prince Henry now heir to the throne, the court murmurs with the sound of conspiracy. Is the entire Tudor project now at stake or can young Henry secure the dynasty?

Drawn into the heart of the crisis, Joan’s own life is in turmoil, and her future far from secure. She faces a stark choice – be true to her heart and risk everything, or play the dutiful servant and watch her dreams wither and die. For Joan, and for Henry’s Kingdom, everything is at stake…

Format: Hardcover (464 pages)         Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: 20th January 2022 Genre: Historical Fiction

Find The Queen’s Lady (Queens of the Tower, Book 2) on Goodreads

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My Review

The Queen’s Lady is the second in the author’s Queens of the Tower series, the follow-up to The Lady of the Ravens which I read in 2020.

The Queen’s Lady continues the story of Joan Vaux, now Lady Joan Guildford, lady-in-waiting to the wife of Henry VII, Queen Elizabeth.  Her position in the Tudor court gives her an insight into many of the significant events of the period: the death of Prince Arthur and the replacement of Prince Henry (the future Henry VIII) as heir to the throne, and the attempts of Queen Elizabeth to produce another son. The reader also witnesses the effect of Henry VII’s increasing paranoia, the growing factional infighting and general air of distrust which eventually has personal consequences for Joan’s family, especially her husband, Sir Richard Guildford.

As well as providing an ‘insider’s view’ of historical events, such as the marriage of Henry VII’s daughter Margaret to King James IV of Scotland, Joan’s experiences shed light on many social issues such as the dangers of childbirth, the frequent death of children in infancy, the plight of the poor and women’s diminished position in society. It also demonstrates that political intrigue and a system based on preferment and patronage has been with us for centuries!

I liked the sections of the book that focused on Joan’s personal life even if, sadly, her beloved ravens are not as much in evidence as in the previous book. Although a life not without tragedy, later in life Joan is rewarded with love, companionship and a degree of independence. The Queen’s Lady is a must-read for those who like their historical fiction rich in detail and full of period atmosphere, from the lavish apartments of royal residences to the squalor of London’s Fleet prison.

I received a review copy courtesy of HarperCollins via NetGalley.

In three words: Well-researched, authentic, absorbing

Try something similar: Cecily by Annie Garthwaite

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Joanna HicksonAbout the Author

Joanna Hickson was born in England but spent her early childhood in Australia, returning at thirteen to visit her first castle and fall in love with medieval history. During a twenty-five year career in the BBC, presenting and producing News and Arts programmes for TV and Radio, Joanna also published a children’s historical novel Rebellion at Orford Castle but now she is writing adult fiction full-time, indulging her passion for bringing the medieval past and its characters to life.

First inspired by Shakespeare’s history plays she began researching Catherine de Valois, Henry V’s ‘Fair Kate’, who is the subject of The Agincourt Bride and The Tudor Bride and now her interest has progressed into the Wars of the Roses which form the background to Red Rose, White Rose and the eventful life of Cicely Neville, Duchess of York and will also feature in her next two novels. As a result Joanna warns that she spends much of her life in the fifteenth century and even her Wiltshire farmhouse home dates back to that period. She is married and has an extensive family, some of which boomerang her back to Australia for visits! (Photo/bio: Publisher author page)

Connect with Joanna
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