#BlogTour #BookReview Finding Edith Pinsent by Hazel Ward @rararesources

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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.

Finding Edith PinsentAbout 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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My Review

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

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Hazel WardAbout 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.

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Finding Edith Pinsent

BlogTour #BookReview The Ends of the Earth by Abbie Greaves @centurybooksuk

Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for The Ends of the Earth by Abbie Greaves which was published in paperback on 6th January 2022. My thanks to Laura O’Donnell at Penguin UK for inviting me to take part in the tour and for my review copy.

The Ends of the Earth PBAbout the Book

Some love stories change us for ever.

For the last seven years, Mary O’Connor has waited for her first love. Every evening she arrives at Ealing Broadway station and stands with a sign which simply says: ‘Come Home Jim’.

Commuters might pass her by without a second thought, but Mary isn’t going anywhere. Until an unexpected call turns her world on its head.

It will take the help of a young journalist called Alice, and a journey across the country for Mary to face what happened all those years ago, and to finally answer the question: where on earth is Jim?

Format: Paperback (404 pages)       Publisher: Century
Publication date: 6th January 2022 Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Find The Ends of the Earth on Goodreads

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Hive | Amazon UK
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My Review

The book alternates between 2018 and the six years from Mary and Jim’s first meeting in 2005 and his disappearance.

I don’t think I’m alone in being touched by Mary’s determination to continue her nightly vigil, holding her handwritten, and by now rather tattered, sign or by her conviction that ‘love is nothing if not patient’. ‘She will not give up. No. She will wait and wait and then wait some more.’ Alice Keaton, a young journalist on the local newspaper, is certainly struck by Mary’s story. ‘COME HOME JIM. Who knew that three little words could be suffused with such yearning, such pain?‘ It’s a pain Alice can identify with because of her own experiences and this, along with her journalistic ambitions, is what motivates her to befriend Mary and then embark on the search for Jim.  In the process, Alice hopes to lay to rest some personal ghosts and perhaps find some peace of mind through helping Mary.

As we learn, it was love at first sight for Mary and Jim, and their early years together were idyllic. Although every couple have their ups and downs, there are soon signs that everything is not quite right with Jim. Mary can’t – or won’t – see the warning signs because she’s so in love with Jim and so grateful she’s found someone who says she is the centre of his world, someone who would go ‘to the ends of the earth’ for her. For a long time, Mary believes it was Jim who rescued her from an otherwise lonely life but in fact it’s the other way around and it was she who rescued him.

When the evidence of Jim’s struggles can no longer be ignored, Mary is determined to help him through it. After all, as she tells herself, ‘Love wasn’t about the moments when you were dancing on the ceiling, it was about picking one another up from the floor‘.  And Mary does try, even blaming herself for Jim’s low mood, and seizing on the brief moments when he seems like the ‘old Jim’ as a sign things are getting better.  But they’re not. Mary’s guilt only increases following Jim’s sudden disappearance and it is this that fuels her lonely vigil, placing her life effectively on hold.  As she remarks to Alice, sometimes not knowing is better than knowing.

The Ends of the Earth is described as ‘at once a love story and a mystery’ but the way those two elements play out may be not quite what you were expecting. As the author demonstrates, sometimes there are no easy answers and life must go on, albeit on a different path than you might have hoped for.

In three words: Tender, insightful, poignant

Try something similar: Lost Property by Helen Paris

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Abbie GreavesAbout the Author

Abbie Greaves studied at Cambridge University before working in a literary agency for a number of years. She was inspired to write her first novel, The Silent Treatment, after reading a newspaper article about a boy in Japan who had never seen his parents speak to one another before. Abbie lives in Brighton.

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