Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for Finding Edith Pinsent by Hazel Ward. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour and for my digital review copy. Do check out the posts by my tour buddies for today, Madeleine at Ramblingmads and Preena at Bookshortie.
About the Book
Netta Wilde has a task to complete. She’s agreed to go through the late Edith Pinsent’s diaries and possessions personally. The problem is, she’s been busy sorting out her own life. But she’s in a better place now. She’s free of her manipulative ex, has a new love in neighbour, Frank and has reunited with her kids. What better time to begin Edie’s story?
But the path to discovery is not easy. There are missing diaries to contend with, boxes of memories to uncover and revelations that turn everything on its head. Revelations that make Netta question if her own life really is sorted. Delving deeper into Edith’s history, Netta is overtaken by a need to revisit her own past and put things right, but to do that she has to find the two people who once meant everything to her.
As her two challenges intertwine, Netta realises that Edith had a purpose for her. One that she must fulfil. Bit by bit, the house yields a lifetime of secrets and the real Edith Pinsent begins to emerge. But will it be the Edith everyone thought they knew?
Format: Paperback (402 pages) Publisher: Hope St Press
Publication date: 9th January 2022 Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Find Finding Edith Pinsent (Netta Wilde #2) on Goodreads
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Finding Edith Pinsent is the follow-up to the author’s earlier book, Being Netta Wilde. I haven’t read the first book and, although I think this would have given me a better understanding of Netta’s character, the author includes enough references to earlier events in Netta’s life to make it possible to read Finding Edith Pinsent as a standalone.
The book has a dual timeline structure with the reader witnessing events in Netta’s life in the present day (2019) whilst at the same time following her as she discovers more about Edith’s life, including why Edith (known as Edie) was so determined someone should reveal her story. Although Netta’s life and house (which was Edie’s former home) is filled with family and friends, at times she feels rather alone despite her lovely neighbour, Frank. Netta is still carrying some emotional baggage from previous relationships and is pondering on her future.
As Netta reads Edie’s journals she begins to feel a connection with her; that, in a way, she and Edie are ‘kindred spirits’ because of what they have both experienced. Indeed, as the book progresses, more and more parallels between the two women’s experiences become apparent. As Netta reflects, ‘Their stories were different but the themes were the same. Love, loss, grief and shame.’
Although I found myself becoming more engaged with Netta’s story as the book went on, the heart of the book – at least for me – was Edie’s story. It’s a story of gaining independence, experiencing first love and, like so many others during wartime, suffering loss. The prejudice encountered by those who found themselves in the position that Edie does is vividly described and I found Edie’s ostracism by her family and her struggle to cope alone heart-breaking. Edie comes across as a person with a great capacity for love, with an open heart and a trusting nature. At times this makes her vulnerable. As a result, she suffers disappointment when she discovers others do not feel as deeply or as sincerely as she does. As a result she finds herself separated from those she loves the most and searching for some meaning in her life in other ways.
By the end of the book it’s clear there was much more to the old lady introduced to us in the opening chapter than we might have imagined. Indeed, to quote the title of the book’s final chapter, we discover that she did indeed lead ‘an extraordinary life’ witnessing many changes in society and its attitudes.
Finding Edith Pinsent cleverly combines two stories that, if told separately, might have appealed to different types of reader. Blending the contemporary storyline with the historical storyline provides something for everyone I think. I particularly admired the author’s ability to create characters who, despite their flaws and sometimes dubious decisions, you really grow to care about. A third book in the series is due to be published later this year.
In three words: Heart-warming, touching, insightful
Try something similar: The Girl From Bletchley Park by Kathleen McGurl
About the Author
Hazel Ward was born in inner city Birmingham. By the time the city council packed her family off to the suburbs, she was already something of a feral child who loved adventures. Swapping derelict houses and bomb pecks for green fields and gardens was a bit of a culture shock but she rose to the occasion and grew up loving outdoor spaces and animals.
Strangely, for someone who couldn’t sit still, she also developed a ferocious reading habit and a love of words. She wrote her first novel at fifteen, along with a lot of angsty poems, and was absolutely sure she wanted to be a writer. Sadly, it all came crashing down when her seventeen-year-old self walked out of school in a huff one day and was either too stubborn or too embarrassed to go back. It’s too long ago to remember which.
Against all odds, she somehow managed to blag her way into a successful corporate career until finally giving it all up to do the thing she’d always wanted to do. Shortly after, she began to write her debut novel, Being Netta Wilde.
Hazel still lives in Birmingham and that’s where she does most of her writing, although she spends a lot of time in Shropshire or gadding about the country in an old motor home. Not quite feral anymore but still up for adventures. For updates on Hazel’s books, freebies and various other bits of stuff you can join Hazel’s Reader’s Club here.