#BookReview The Cornish Captive by Nicola Pryce @ReadersFirst1 @CorvusBooks

The Cornish CaptiveAbout the Book

Cornwall, 1800. Imprisoned on false pretences, Madeleine Pelligrew, former mistress of Pendenning Hall, has spent the last 14 years shuttled between increasingly destitute and decrepit mad houses. When a strange man appears out of the blue to release her, she can’t quite believe that her freedom comes without a price. Hiding her identity, Madeleine determines to discover the truth about what happened all those years ago.

Unsure who to trust and alone in the world, Madeleine strikes a tentative friendship with a French prisoner on parole, Captain Pierre de la Croix. But as she learns more about the reasons behind her imprisonment, and about those who schemed to hide her away for so long, she starts to wonder if Pierre is in fact the man he says he is. As Madeleine’s past collides with her present, can she find the strength to follow her heart, no matter the personal cost?

Format: Paperback (464 pages)       Publisher: Corvus
Publication date: 6th January 2022 Genre: Historical Fiction

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My Review

The Cornish Captive is the sixth novel in the author’s Cornish Saga series. I have only read one previous book in the series – The Cornish Lady – but although some characters feature in more than one book it’s not essential to have read all the earlier books in order to enjoy this one. Don’t be put off by the list of characters at the beginning of the book either as some appear only briefly or are not key to the plot. However the family trees are very useful, especially as a few of the surnames are similar.

The book’s focus is Madeleine’s attempts to bring to justice the person she believes to be responsible for her false imprisonment. However the backdrop is the French Revolution. (Cleverly, the book is divided into three parts – Liberté, Équalité and Fraternité.) As a member of an aristocratic French family, Madeleine’s sympathies are Royalist but Pierre de la Croix, the French captain she meets is a Republican, a prisoner of the British and someone who should be a sworn enemy. However, who can blame Madeleine for being drawn to the handsome Pierre, especially when he has the knack of being conveniently on hand whenever Madeleine’s safety is threatened. But given her previous experience of men and her conviction that ‘All men lied’, can she learn to trust again?

The author captures with insight Madeleine’s feelings following her release from imprisonment. Yes, she is relieved to be free but she finds herself overwhelmed by the physical sensations of open skies and fresh air after so long in darkness and confinement. ‘To be free… The air was so fresh it almost hurt to breathe, yet I gulped lungfuls of the salty air, laughing, crying, blinded by the brilliance of the sun’s reflection.’ She also bears the physical and emotional scars of her ill treatment.

With Britain at war with France, Madeleine finds herself drawn into the world of spies and secret agents. I’ll be honest I got a bit confused about who was spying for which side and their various aliases. However, it all gets wrapped up neatly at the end of the book.

A heart-warming side story is that of Rowan, the young girl who was the only person to show Madeleine any kindness during her time in the mad house and who accompanies Madeleine to Fosse after she makes her escape. A nice touch later in the book is how the community of Fosse come together to support a character who, because of their nationality and political allegiance, should provoke hostility. Instead kind acts and generosity of spirit overcome the prejudice that might have been expected. A lesson there for us all.

Having visited Cornwall on many occasions, I’m always drawn to books set in that lovely county. The author skilfully conveys the rugged beauty of the Cornish landscape with descriptions of coastal meadows covered in wildflowers. I enjoyed the scenes of the bustling quayside of Fosse which reminded me of Fowey, with Polruan only a ferry ride away.

Combine a beautiful location with a romantic storyline, add spies, subterfuge, a secret diary, some close escapes, the reunion of long lost family members and an engaging, feisty heroine and you have all the ingredients you need for an enjoyable historical novel.

In three words: Romantic, well-crafted, absorbing

Try something similarScandalous Alchemy by Katy Moran

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Nicola PryceAbout the Author

Nicola Pryce trained as a nurse at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. She has always loved literature and completed an Open University degree in Humanities. She is a qualified adult literacy support volunteer and lives with her husband in the Blackdown Hills in Somerset. Together they sail the south coast of Cornwall in search of adventure. (Photo credit: Goodreads author page)

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#BlogTour #BookReview The Girl from Bletchley Park by Kathleen McGurl @rararesources @KathMcGurl @HQStories

The Girl From Bletchley Park Full Tour Banner

Welcome today’s stop on the blog tour for The Girl from Bletchley Park by Kathleen McGurl. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour and to HQ Digital for my review copy via NetGalley. The Girl from Bletchley Park is available now as an ebook and will be published in paperback in January 2022.

The Girl from Bletchley ParkAbout the Book

A country at war. A heartbreaking betrayal.

1942.Three years into the war, Pam turns down her hard-won place at Oxford University to become a codebreaker at Bletchley Park. There, she meets two young men, both keen to impress her, and Pam finds herself falling hard for one of them. But as the country’s future becomes more uncertain by the day, a tragic turn of events casts doubt on her choice – and Pam’s loyalty is pushed to its limits…

Present day. Julia is struggling to juggle her career, two children and a husband increasingly jealous of her success.Her brother presents her with the perfect distraction: forgotten photos of their grandmother as a young woman at Bletchley Park. Why did her grandmother never speak of her time there? The search for answers leads Julia to an incredible tale of betrayal and bravery – one that inspires some huge decisions of her own..

Format: ebook (326 pages)                  Publisher: HQ Digital
Publication date: 3rd November 2021 Genre: Historical Fiction, Dual Time

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My Review

I really enjoyed The Stationmaster’s Daughter when I read it back in 2019 so my interest was immediately piqued when I learned Kathleen McGurl had a new book coming out.

There is a continuing fascination with the work carried out at Bletchley Park during World War 2, work which we now know proved of great significance to the war effort. The author takes us “behind the scenes” at Bletchley Park through the story of Pamela, a promising student of mathematics who is persuaded to defer her place at university and instead put her skills to work in the service of her country. During her time at Bletchley Park, Pamela makes friendships that will last a lifetime but also learns in the most dramatic way possible that not everyone is quite what they seem, the author deftly playing with the reader’s doubts and suspicions.

Interwoven with Pamela’s experiences is the present day story of Julia, Pamela’s granddaughter. As the book progresses the similarities between the situations the two women face become increasingly apparent. For example, a neat touch is that Julia runs her own IT business whilst Pamela worked on what could be considered an early version of a computer. In different ways, both Pamela and Julia experience betrayal by those they have come to trust but also find help from unexpected quarters. Along the way ties of friendship and affection are tested and both women have to summon up all their strength to protect those they care about.

I really liked the way Julia’s relationship with her two sons, Oscar and Ryan, was portrayed and how they progress from being stroppy teenagers to showing signs of becoming fine young men. Julia’s brother, Bob, and Drew, the husband of Julia’s business partner, act as counterpoints to other less than admirable examples of the male species. And, in the earlier timeline, Clarissa proves a steadfast friend to Pamela whose warnings, as it turns out, Pamela would have done well to heed.

The Girl from Bletchley Park will appeal to fans of dual timeline stories with an element of mystery, and those with an interest in the contribution, often largely unsung, of women to the war effort.

In three words: Engaging, emotional, intriguing

Try something similarThe Sea Gate by Jane Johnson

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The Stationmasters Kathleen McGurl author photoAbout the Author

Kathleen McGurl lives near the coast in Christchurch, England. She writes dual timeline novels in which a historical mystery is uncovered and resolved in the present day. She is married to an Irishman and has two adult sons. She enjoys travelling, especially in her motorhome around Europe.

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The Girl From Bletchley Park