#BookReview Kezia and Rosie by Rebecca Burns

Kezia and RosieAbout the Book

When sisters Kezia and Rosie arrive at their grandparents’ house in the summer of 1986 they aren’t sure when they’ll see their Mum and Dad again.

While her younger sister Rosie is content playing on the allotment gate and having picnics in the garden, Kezia begins to realise that things aren’t quite what they seem. While embraced in Granddad and Grandma’s loving care, it’s not long before seven-year old Kezia begins to notice strange looks between them, hushed whispers, and secret phone calls. She realises she must step into the frightening adult world if she is to make sense of her parent’s troubled marriage.

Format: Paperback (128 pages)       Publisher: Dahlia Publishing
Publication date: 26th March 2022 Genre: Historical Fiction

Find Kezia and Rosie on Goodreads

Purchase link
Amazon UK
Link provided for convenience only, not as part of an affiliate programme

My Review

Although described as a linked short story collection, I would characterise Kezia and Rosie as more like a novella.  There is a narrative thread that runs through the book which means that, in my opinion, the ‘stories’ are best read in sequence rather than dipping in and out in the way you might do with a short story collection.

Narrated from the point of view of seven-year old Kezia, the author really captures the experience of being at an age where you start to understand things you hear whilst not understanding others. In just one of the imaginative metaphors in the book, ‘Words give answers and are windows but sometimes the glass is glazed’. Her mind is full of questions: just why has their mother gone away, and to another country, why do her grandparents need to talk to Roy’s son, and why is their grandmother so antagonistic towards their father? There are also memories of an incident that she tries to push away.

As someone with a younger sister, whom of course I love, I could appreciate Kezia’s occasional frustration with her sister’s maddening antics and the way she is indulged by their grandparents. Sometimes a two year age gap can seem much more and the role of elder sibling can feel like an unwelcome burden especially when her grandfather reminds her ‘there are things that can’t be said around Rosie’. No wonder Kezia comes to think of the adult world as a ‘maze… a lattice of things that can and cannot be said’. Her frustration occasionally comes out in little acts of vandalism, such as the tearing to pieces of a flower.

The girls’ grandfather and grandmother are beautifully drawn characters. Although they find themselves in the unexpected position of looking after the two girls with their established domestic routine disrupted, their love and care for Kezia and Rosie is quite wonderful to witness. And, as we learn, they too have experienced sadness in their lives.

Whilst many scenes in the book are touching and funny, there’s a persistent sense of unease. Something not quite right has occurred in the family but for a long time we don’t know what. Kezia feels she has been thrust into an adult world she can’t understand. ‘The summer has been a mosaic of hints and overheard remarks. They gather around Kezia like stepping stones.’  However, whatever happens, Kezia and Rosie can rest assured they have the love and support of their grandparents. ‘For now, it’s enough to slip underneath Grandma’s arm and wedge into the warm space of her armpit, and elbow Rosie gently to tell her she loves her. And for Grandad to giggle to himself and head over to the allotment to fetch raspberries for tea.’

I really liked how the time period of the 1980s was evoked. Anyone old enough to remember that period will recognise the references to shopping in Fine Fare, or watching television programmes together such as The Generation Game, The Dukes of Hazzard or (Kezia and Rosie’s grandmother’s favourite) Wogan. Those of a certain age will experience a real sense of nostalgia and perhaps give a wry smile at the girls’ excitement at watching the wedding of Prince Andrew and Fergie.

I really enjoyed Kezia and Rosie. It’s a delightful, beautifully written book. My thanks to the author for my digital review copy.

In three words: Tender, insightful, heartwarming

Try something similarOnly May by Carol Lovekin

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Rebecca BurnsAbout the Author

Rebecca Burns is an award-winning writer of short stories. Her story collections, Catching the Barramundi (2012) and The Settling Earth (2014) were both longlisted for the Edge Hill Short Story Award. Her debut novel, The Bishop’s Girl, was published by Odyssey Books in September 2016, followed by a third short story collection, Artefacts and Other Stories (2017). Beyond the Bay, a sequel to The Settling Earth, was published in 2018. Her first novella, Quilaq, was published by Next Chapter in 2020. (Photo: Author website)

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#Promo Notes of Change by Susan Grossey

Book StackIt’s frustrating when an author gets in touch about a book that really appeals to you but you just can’t fit it into your reading schedule, especially when the author is self-published and can do with all the support they can get. Such is the case when Susan Grossey contacted me about Notes of Change, the latest – and final – book in her Sam Plank historical crime series. Regular followers of this blog will know how much I love finding new historical crime series so I’m gutted I can’t find time to read Notes of Change at the moment. However, I have a feeling this might just be a series I read from the beginning. Watch this space!

The books are set in consecutive years in the 1820s – just before Queen Victoria came to the throne and in the policing period after the Bow Street Runners and before the Metropolitan Police – and feature magistrates’ constable, Sam Plank.  Here’s how the author sums up each book:

  • Fatal Forgery takes place in 1824 and looks at a banker stealing money from his clients
  • The Man in the Canary Waistcoat is set in 1825 and deals with investment fraud involving the thrilling new technology of the day – gas lighting
  • Worm in the Blossom takes place in 1826 and concerns rather unsavoury bribery and extortion
  • Portraits of Pretence is set in 1827 and examines the world of art fraud
  • Faith, Hope and Trickery is set in 1828 and explores religious fraud
  • Heir Apparent is set in 1829 and concerns inheritance fraud.

Sam Plank Series

Notes of ChangeAbout the Book

In the autumn of 1829, the body of a wealthy young man is found dumped in a dust-pit behind one of London’s most exciting new venues. Constable Sam Plank’s enquiries lead him from horse auctions to houses of correction, and from the rarefied atmosphere of the Bank of England to the German-speaking streets of Whitechapel. And when he comes face to face with an old foe, he finds himself considering shocking compromises…

The new and highly organised Metropolitan Police are taking to the streets, calling into question the future of the magistrates’ constables. Sam’s junior constable, William Wilson, is keen, but what is an old campaigner like Sam to do when faced with the new force and its little black book of instructions?

Format: ebook (290 pages)            Publisher:
Publication date: 20th April 2022  Genre: Historical Fiction, Crime, Mystery

Find Notes of Change on Goodreads

Purchase links
Amazon UK
Links provided for convenience only, not as part of an affiliate programme

Susan GrosseyAbout the Author

Susan writes: ‘I graduated from Cambridge University in 1987 with a degree in English, and then taught secondary English for two years before realising that the National Curriculum was designed primarily to extinguish every spark of creativity in its teachers.  I then became a technical author, and reached the pinnacle of this profession when I was asked to document the workings of a choc-ice wrapping machine in Cardiff, while wearing a fetching blue hairnet (which I forgot to remove until it was pointed out by a cashier in a petrol station on the M4).

From this unbeatable high point I moved into technical training, and one day was asked to help with a staff manual on fraud prevention.  As I wrote the chapter on money laundering, I realised that here was a topic that could keep my interest for years – and so it has proved.  Since 1998, I have been self-employed as an anti-money laundering consultant, providing training and strategic advice and writing policies and procedures for clients in many countries.  As part of my job, I have written several non-fiction books with exciting titles like Money Laundering: A Training Strategy, The Money Laundering Officer’s Practical Handbook and Anti-Money Laundering: A Guide for the Non-Executive Director.

However, even this is not enough financial crime for me, and in my spare evenings and weekends I write fiction – but always with financial crime at the heart of it.’ (Bio: Author website/Photo: Goodreads author page)

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