Book Review: The Good Doctor of Warsaw by Elisabeth Gifford

The Good Doctor of WarsawAbout the Book

‘You do not leave a sick child alone to face the dark and you do not leave a child at a time like this.’

Deeply in love and about to marry, students Misha and Sophia flee a Warsaw under Nazi occupation for a chance at freedom. Forced to return to the Warsaw ghetto, they help Misha’s mentor, Dr Korczak, care for the two hundred children in his orphanage. As Korczak struggles to uphold the rights of even the smallest child in the face of unimaginable conditions, he becomes a beacon of hope for the thousands who live behind the walls.  As the noose tightens around the ghetto Misha and Sophia are torn from one another, forcing them to face their worst fears alone. They can only hope to find each other again one day…  Meanwhile, refusing to leave the children unprotected, Korczak must confront a terrible darkness.

This novel is based on the true accounts of Misha and Sophia, and on the life of one of Poland’s greatest men, Dr Janusz Korczak.

Format: ebook, paperback (368 pp.)      Publisher: Corvus
Published in UK : 1st February 2018     Genre: Historical Fiction

Pre-order/Purchase Links*
Amazon.co.uk ǀ  Amazon.com
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

 

Find The Good Doctor of Warsaw on Goodreads


My Review

I’ll be honest and say that when I read Elisabeth Gifford’s previous book, Secrets of the Sea House, I found the story line set in the past much more compelling than that set in the present.  So, I was delighted to learn about this book set entirely in the period of the Second World War.  The subject matter, well, that’s very far from delightful but the author delivers a powerful, compelling account of the fate of those who struggled for survival in the Warsaw ghetto.  Sadly, most of them failed in that struggle.  Of the half a million people who lived in the Warsaw ghetto, less than one percent survived to tell their story.

With the benefit of hindsight, one reads about the unfolding events in the ghetto with a mounting sense of horror.    I’ll give you an example that sums this up and which sent shivers down my spine.  News comes that some of the men imprisoned by the Nazis are to be released to carry out construction work at a site close to Warsaw. ‘It’s a new work camp called Treblinka.’

The inhabitants of the ghetto greet each new atrocity with shock; they simply cannot believe that human beings could do such things to other human beings (and who can blame them).  ‘So this is the ghetto, a square mile of hell containing half a million people slowly dying of hunger.’ Gradually the Jewish community begin to realise the objective of the Nazis is their total elimination and their focus switches to trying to ensure the survival of their children at the very least, those who represent their future.   ‘Our highest and holiest duty is to ensure that our children survive these tragic times.’

Each day becomes a daily struggle to find food with only goods smuggled in from outside the ghetto keeping people alive – and barely, at that.  Diseases, such as typhus, are rife in such squalid conditions.   Grotesquely, the presence of disease is welcomed by the Nazi regime because it will do the work of eliminating the Jews more quickly than starvation and deter any contact from the areas of Warsaw outside the ghetto.  It also feeds into their appalling belief in the Jewish people as tainted.

However, behind the harrowing depiction of the grotesque treatment meted out to the Jewish community of Warsaw, there is the wonderful love story of Misha and Sophia. ‘If he has Sophia, then he has everything.’  Despite personal tragedies and enforced separation lasting years, they never give up their belief that they will one day build a home together.

The Good Doctor of Warsaw is also a story of courage and dedication.  Those qualities are personified in Dr Janusz Korczak.  “All I can tell you is that a beautiful life is always a difficult life.”  Just when you think nothing can be worse than what you’ve already read, the children of the ghetto are rounded up and taken to the railway station.  ‘The march of the children pulls a dark cloud across the sky behind it.  Finally, the ghetto understands what the Germans intend.  If they can take the children, they will take everybody.’  Dr Korczak remains committed to the welfare of the children under his care to the very end, passing up opportunities to escape himself.  As he says, “You do not leave a child alone to face the dark.”

At times, the events in the book are almost unbearably distressing to read but then the book should be uncomfortable reading because it bears witness to one of the greatest atrocities of the Second World War.  I praise the author for shining a light on this story of, yes, cruelty and barbarism, but also of courage, resilience and hope.   As well as the history of a persecuted community, it’s also the story of real individuals.  The author’s website has fascinating photographs of Misha, Sophia, Dr Korczak and the children.

I received an advance reader copy courtesy of NetGalley and publishers, Atlantic Books/Corvus, in return for an honest review.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

In three words: Emotional, powerful, compelling

Try something similar…When It’s Over by Barbara Ridley (click here to read my review)


Elisabeth GiffordAbout the Author

Elisabeth Gifford studied French literature and world religions at Leeds University. She worked as a dyslexia specialist for several years while raising a family. After studying for a Diploma in Creative Writing from Oxford OUDCE and a Masters degree in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway College she was asked to write The House of Hope, a biography of Dr Joyce Hill who opened a rescue centre for abandoned babies in China, published by Monarch Press. She was taken on by literary agent Jenny Hewson and three historical novels followed, published by Corvus.  Secrets of the Sea House is set in the Hebrides and is a dark mystery that explores at the very real events behind the frequent mermaid sightings reported in Scotland a century ago. Return to Fourwinds is a sweeping family saga set between England and Spain between the wars. The Good Doctor of Warsaw is the shocking and ultimately inspiring true story of some of the rare survivors of the Warsaw ghetto during WW2, and features the inspiring story of Dr Janusz Korczak who defied the Nazi brutality by creating an oasis of kindness and happiness for children. A sort of Polish-Jewish Dr Barnardo, Dr Korczak helped draft the first international children’s bill of rights and his teaching on how to raise children with love and respect is still widely followed today, and where it is, it makes children’s lives happier.

Connect with Elisabeth

Website  ǀ  Facebook  ǀ  Twitter  ǀ  Goodreads

 

Advertisements

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Goals for 2018

TTT-Big2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.

The rules are simple:

  • Each Tuesday, Jana assigns a new topic. Create your own Top Ten list that fits that topic – putting your unique spin on it if you want.
  • Everyone is welcome to join but please link back to The Artsy Reader Girl in your own Top Ten Tuesday post.
  • Add your name to the Linky widget on that day’s post so that everyone can check out other bloggers’ lists.
  • Or if you don’t have a blog, just post your answers as a comment.

This week’s topic is Top Ten Bookish Goals for 2018.  This is an easy one for me because I love signing up for reading challenges and I find reading other blogs gives me lots of inspiration for what I’d like to achieve with my own.


The Classics ClubOne – Complete my Classics Club list

I signed up to The Classics Club soon after I started blogging in November 2016 and confidently set a target to read my 50 chosen books by the end of December 2018.  It seemed a long way away back then.  As it stands, I’ve only read seven from my list so this is going to have to be a real focus this year.

TBR Challenge 2018Two – Read more of the books I already own

To help with this, I’ve signed up for the 2018 TBR Pile Challenge (hosted by RoofBeamReader) and the focus seems to be helping because I’ve already read two of my twelve and I’m all part way through a third.  Who knows, I may even get to my two ‘reserve’ books as well…

Buchan of the MonthThree – Promote the books of John Buchan

I’ve been reading and collecting books by John Buchan for many years and I’ve always thought he was underrated as an author.  To try to dispel the idea that his books are dated or that he only wrote The Thirty-Nine Steps, I’ve embarked on my Buchan of the Month reading project.  To read my introduction to the first book on the list, The Power-House, click here.  Why not join me and read along?

NetGalley Challenge 2018Four – Achieve my 100 reviews badge on NetGalley

I need to read and review around 25 more titles to achieve this so to help keep my focus on this target I’ve signed up for the NetGalley & Edelweiss Challenge 2018 (hosted by Bookish Things & More).  I’m going for Silver level which should get me to my goal.  A side goal is to maintain my 80% plus feedback ratio and (a dream more than a goal) to get auto approved by a publisher.

Goodreads ChallengeFive – Read at least 156 books in 2018

I’ve set my Goodreads reading challenge target at 156, the same as last year although I actually managed 160 in 2017.  However, I think three books a week is about my limit.  Any more than this and I think I’d start to feel pressurised and risk losing the enjoyment of reading.

BookPileSix – Reduce my stack of review copies from authors

I always feel slightly guilty about the length of time it takes me to get around to reading books sent to me by lovely authors, although they are unfailingly patient and appreciative when I finally do get around to publishing my review.  This is despite the fact that I am very selective about the review requests I accept.  I made a real effort to read more from my stack of author review copies in December and I’m going to try to do the same in February (see goal nine below).  I’d really like to reduce my turnaround time for reviews to below the three to four months it is currently. (By the way, for any authors reading this, my review stack is not quite as big as in the picture.)

2018 HF Reading Challenge_GraphicSeven – Read 50 historical fiction books in 2018

This is rather a cheat because historical fiction is my favourite genre.  However, I’ve signed up for the Historical Fiction Challenge hosted by Passages to the Past because it’s always great to swap recommendations with other bloggers.  I’m aiming for Prehistoric level which means reading 50+ books.  In a similar vein, I’m also participating in the When Are You Reading Challenge 2018 (hosted by Taking on a World of Words)  It involves reading 12 books, one from each of 12 specified time periods.  I also hope to read the books longlisted for The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction. (You can read my wishlist of books to appear on the list here.)

WWWWednesdaysEight – Take part in bookish events

I already participate in a number of memes such as this one.  Other favourites are WWW Wednesdays and Throwback Thursday and I always mean to join in with the monthly Six Degrees of Separation but never seem to get around to it.  Last year, I took part in ARC August and really enjoyed it, although I wasn’t organised enough to get through all the books I’d targeted.   I’ll be looking out for events like that again this year.

Nine – Take blog tour breaks

I love participating in blog tours as it’s introduced me to some great authors, books and publishers and some amazingly professional tour organisers.   However, it is easy to sign up for more than you intend and find yourself overwhelmed by deadlines.  I know because I’ve done it.  As a newbie blogger, I was so keen to get involved, I got carried away (although, I’m proud to say I’ve never missed a tour deadline).  I took a blog tour break in December and it really allowed me to catch up with other reading in what is a busy time of the year as it is.  I shall be away for part of February so I’ve decided to take another break from blog tours then as well.

10BookBlogsILoveTen – Support other book bloggers

The book blogging community is terrific and one of the things I particularly enjoy is interaction with other bloggers.  So I want to continue making time to visit other blogs, read and comment on reviews and share their posts on Twitter and other social media.

My Week in Books – 14th January ’18

MyWeekinBooks

New arrivals  

The Secrets Between UsThe Secrets Between Us by Laura Madeleine (ebook)

High in the mountains in the South of France, eighteen-year-old Ceci Corvin is trying hard to carry on as normal. But in 1943, there is no such thing as normal; especially not for a young woman in love with the wrong person. Scandal, it would seem, can be more dangerous than war.

Fifty years later, Annie is looking for her long-lost grandmother. Armed with nothing more than a sheaf of papers, she travels from England to Paris in pursuit of the truth. But as she traces her grandmother’s story, Annie uncovers something she wasn’t expecting, something that changes everything she knew about her family – and everything she thought she knew about herself…

The Secret Life of Mrs LondonThe Secret Life of Mrs London by Rebecca Rosenberg (review)

San Francisco, 1915. As America teeters on the brink of world war, Charmian and her husband, famed novelist Jack London, wrestle with genius and desire, politics and marital competitiveness. Charmian longs to be viewed as an equal partner who put her own career on hold to support her husband, but Jack doesn’t see it that way…until Charmian is pulled from the audience during a magic show by escape artist Harry Houdini, a man enmeshed in his own complicated marriage. Suddenly, charmed by the attention Houdini pays her and entranced by his sexual magnetism, Charmian’s eyes open to a world of possibilities that could be her escape.

As Charmian grapples with her urge to explore the forbidden, Jack’s increasingly reckless behavior threatens her dedication. Now torn between two of history’s most mysterious and charismatic figures, she must find the courage to forge her own path, even as she fears the loss of everything she holds dear.

Memento MoriMemento Mori by Muriel Spark (paperback, giveaway prize)

In late 1950s London, something uncanny besets a group of elderly friends: an insinuating voice on the telephone informs each, “Remember you must die.” Their geriatric feathers are soon thoroughly ruffled by these seemingly supernatural phone calls, and in the resulting flurry many old secrets are dusted off. Beneath the once decorous surface of their lives, unsavories like blackmail and adultery are now to be glimpsed. As spooky as it is witty, poignant and wickedly hilarious, Memento Mori may ostensibly concern death, but it is a book which leaves one relishing life all the more.

Our Kind of CrueltyOur Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall (ARC, courtesy of Century) – draft cover shown

Mike knows that most of us travel through the world as one half of a whole, desperately searching for that missing person to make us complete.  But he and Verity are different. They have found each other and nothing and no one will tear them apart.  It doesn’t matter that Verity is marrying another man.  You see, Verity and Mike play a game together, a secret game they call ‘the crave’, the aim being to demonstrate what they both know: that Verity needs Mike, and only Mike.  Verity’s upcoming marriage is the biggest game she and Mike have ever played. And it’s for the highest stakes.  Except this time in order for Mike and Verity to be together someone has to die…

Fred's FuneralFred’s Funeral by Sandy Day (ebook, review copy courtesy of the author)

Fred Sadler has just died of old age. It’s 1986, seventy years after he marched off to WWI, and the ghost of Fred Sadler hovers near the ceiling of the nursing home. To Fred’s dismay, the arrangement of his funeral falls to his prudish sister-in-law, Viola. As she dominates the remembrance of Fred, he agonizes over his inability to set the record straight.

Was old Uncle Fred really suffering from shell shock? Why was he locked up most of his life in the Whitby Hospital for the Insane? Could his family not have done more for him?

Fred’s memories of his life as a child, his family’s hotel, the War, and the mental hospital, clash with Viola’s version of events as the family gathers on a rainy October night to pay their respects.

Getting HomeGetting Home by Wolfe Butler (ebook, review copy courtesy of the author)

Dealing with a past he cannot remember, a future he is not sure he wants and questioning everything from his sanity to his sexuality, Tom Jacobs feels ever more certain that the only solution is to end it all. A high level career, a perfect marriage, a power family – from the outside Tom seems to have everything he could want. Yet, try as he will, he cannot seem to escape a constant need to run. Plagued with nightmares and an ever increasing need to control his life with alcohol, Tom is spinning out of control. What begins as a mission to end it all becomes a twenty year journey to the life he was meant to live. With unexpected turns, heartbreaking revelations and unlikely allies Tom is finally on the road that leads to Getting Home.

On What Cathy Read Next last week

Blog posts

Monday – I published my review of Under an Amber Sky by Rose Alexander, a story of loss, love and starting over set in Montenegro.

Tuesday – I shared my Top Ten Books I Meant To Read in 2017, focussing on books I’ve received from authors that are still languishing in my review stack.

WednesdayWWW Wednesday is the opportunity to share what I’ve just finished reading, what I’m reading now and what I’ll be reading next.   I also published my review of Shadows on the Grass by Misha M. Herwin about three generations of women from a Polish family.

Thursday – I took part in the blog tour for The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen, Vol.1 by Collins Hemingway, an affectionate, witty reimagining of the romantic life of the famous author.

Friday – I published a list of books  – some I’ve read, some I’ve only heard about – that I’d like to see on the longlist for The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction when it’s announced in February.

Saturday – I published my review of Carol by Patricia Highsmith.  Not two but three birds with one stone because as well as being a book on my Classics Club list, it’s also part of my 2018 TBR Pile Challenge and my From Page to Screen reading project.

Challenge updates

  • Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge – 7 out of 156 books read, 4 more than last week
  • Classics Club Challenge – 8 out of 50 books read, 1 more than last week
  • NetGalley/Edelweiss Reading Challenge 2018 (Silver) – 1 ARCs read and reviewed out of 25, 1 more than last week
  • From Page to Screen– 9 book/film comparisons out of 15 completed, same as last week
  • 2018 TBR Pile Challenge – 2 out of 12 books read, 1 more than last week
  • Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2018 – 4 books out of 50 read, 3 more than last week
  • When Are You Reading? Challenge 2018 – 2 out of 12 books read, 1 more than week
  • What’s In A Name Reading Challenge – 0 out of 6 books read
  • Buchan of the Month – 0 out of 12 books read

On What Cathy Read Next this week

Currently reading

 Planned posts

  • Blog Tour/Review & Q&A: Beautiful Star & Other Stories by Andrew Swanston
  • Review: Oliver Loving by Stefan Merrill Block
  • Review: The Good Doctor of Warsaw by Elisabeth Gifford
  • Review: Nucleus (Tom Wilde #2) by Rory Clements
  • Review: The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
  • Blog Tour/Extract: The Start of Something Wonderful by Jane Lambert
  • From Page to Screen: Carol

My Week in Books – 7th January ’18

MyWeekinBooks

New arrivals  

The New Mrs CliftonThe New Mrs Clifton by Elizabeth Buchan (ebook)

As the Second World War draws to a close, Intelligence Officer Gus Clifton surprises his sisters at their London home. But an even greater shock is the woman he brings with him, Krista – the German wife whom he has married secretly in Berlin.

Krista is clearly devastated by her experiences at the hands of the British and their allies – all but broken by horrors she cannot share. But Gus’s sisters can only see the enemy their brother has brought under their roof. And their friend Nella, Gus’s beautiful, loyal fiancée, cannot understand what made Gus change his mind about their marriage. What hold does Krista have over their honourable and upright Gus? And how can the three women get her out of their home, their future, their England?

Haunted by passion, betrayal, and misunderstanding these damaged souls are propelled towards a spectacular resolution. Krista has lost her country, her people, her identity, and the ties that bind her to Gus hold more tightly than the sisters can ever understand…

KilledKilled by Thomas Enger (ebook, review copy courtesy of Orenda Books)

Crime reporter Henning Juul thought his life was over when his young son was murdered. But that was only the beginning…

Determined to find his son’s killer, Henning doggedly follows an increasingly dangerous trail, where dark hands from the past emerge to threaten everything. His ex-wife Nora is pregnant with another man’s child, his sister Trine is implicated in the fire that killed his son and, with everyone he thought he could trust seemingly hiding something, Henning has nothing to lose … except his own life.  Packed with tension and unexpected twists, Killed is the long-awaited finale of one of the darkest, most chilling and emotive series you may ever read. Someone will be killed. But who?

Song of Praise for a FlowerSong of Praise for a Flower by Fengxian Chu & Charlene Chu (ebook, review copy courtesy of the author)

For nearly two decades, this manuscript lay hidden in a Chinese bank vault until a long-lost cousin from America inspired 92-year-old author Fengxian Chu to unearth it. Song of Praise for a Flower traces a century of Chinese history through the experiences of one woman and her family, from the dark years of World War II and China’s civil war to the tragic Great Leap Forward, Cultural Revolution, and beyond. It is a window into a faraway world, a sweeping epic about China’s tumultuous transformation and a harrowing yet ultimately uplifting story of a remarkable woman who survives it all and finally finds peace and tranquillity.

Chu’s story begins in the 1920s in an idyllic home in the heart of China’s rice country. Her life is a struggle from the start. At a young age, she defies foot-binding and an arranged marriage and sneaks away from home to attend school. Her young adulthood is thrown into turmoil when the Japanese invade and ransack her village. Later her family is driven to starvation when Mao Zedong’s Communist Party seizes power and her husband is branded a ‘bad element.’ After Mao’s death in the 1970s, as China picks up the pieces and moves in a new direction, Chu eventually finds herself in a glittering city on the sea adjacent to Hong Kong, worlds away in both culture and time from the place she came from.


On What Cathy Read Next last week

Blog posts

Monday – I published my Five Favourite December Reads.

Tuesday – I shared my Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read in 2017 which included five established authors whose books I read for the first time and five debut authors.

WednesdayWWW Wednesday is the opportunity to share what I’ve just finished reading, what I’m reading now and what I’ll be reading next.   I also published my review of Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather, a book on my Classics Club list and, just as importantly, a book from my TBR pile!

Thursday –For Throwback Thursday, I shared my review of 1066: What Fates Impose by G. K. Holloway. As well as clearing another book from my stack of review copies from authors, this was also a book that counts towards my Historical Fiction Reading Challenge and the When Are You Reading? Challenge.

Friday – I published an extract from Kit Sergeant’s fascinating sounding historical fiction, 355: The Women of Washington’s Spy Ring.

Saturday –I introduced the first book in my Buchan of the Month reading project: The Power-House.  It was good to use my extensive collection of books by and about Buchan to research how the book came to be written and its reception at the time.  There’s still time to join me in my Buchan reading project.

Sunday – I published my review of Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon.

Challenge updates

  • Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge – 3 out of 156 books read, 3 more than last week
  • Classics Club Challenge – 7 out of 50 books read, 1 more than last week
  • NetGalley/Edelweiss Reading Challenge 2018 (Silver) – 2 ARCs read and reviewed out of 25, 2 more than last week
  • From Page to Screen– 9 book/film comparisons out of 15 completed, same as last week
  • 2018 TBR Pile Challenge – 1 out of 12 books read, 1 more than last week
  • Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2018 – 1 book out of 50 read, 1 more than last week
  • When Are You Reading? Challenge 2018 – 3 out of 12 books read, 3 more than last week
  • What’s In A Name Reading Challenge – 0 out of 6 books read

On What Cathy Read Next this week

Currently reading

Planned posts

  • Review: Under an Amber Sky by Rose Alexander
  • Review: Oliver Loving by Stefan Merrill Block
  • Review: Shadows on the Grass by Misha M. Herwin
  • Review: The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen by Collins Hemingway
  • Throwback Thursday/Review: Carol by Patricia Highsmith

Book Review: Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon

Three Things About ElsieAbout the Book

There are three things you should know about Elsie.  The first thing is that she’s my best friend.  The second is that she always knows what to say to make me feel better.  And the third thing… might take a little bit more explaining.

84-year-old Florence has fallen in her flat at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly. As she waits to be rescued, Florence wonders if a terrible secret from her past is about to come to light; and, if the charming new resident is who he claims to be, why does he look exactly a man who died sixty years ago?

Format: Hardcover (464 pp.)           Publisher: The Borough Press
Published: 11th January 2018 (UK) Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Purchase Links*
Amazon.co.uk ǀ  Amazon.com
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find Three Things About Elsie on Goodreads


My Review

Elsie is Florence’s best friend, has been since childhood and is the person who helps Florence to remember things.  Unfortunately, Florence needs quite a lot of help these days to remember things, not just from the past but in the present.  Although there are some things you don’t share, not even with your best friend.  Some secrets are best left tucked away where no-one can find them.   However, memory can play tricks on you so the things you most want to remember remain elusive whilst things you’d rather forget come floating to the surface unbidden.

The reader quickly learns two of the three things about Elsie, but the third thing?  Well, there are a few small clues for the careful reader.

Amongst many other themes, Three Things About Elsie explores how small actions (or inactions) may have long term consequences, how one should never underestimate the impact of small acts of kindness and that most people have hidden qualities they may not even realise they possess.

I have to say the mystery around the new resident and its resolution didn’t completely work for me as there were things I found too improbable.  However, I loved the way there were more pieces of the jigsaw (to reference the cover) than one first imagined and how the author cleverly brought these together, with small, beautifully formed and unanticipated links between events and characters.  Talking of the cover, was there ever a better use of a Battenburg cake in a story line?    Plus you may never think quite the same way again about a packet of cheese and onion crisps.

There are some wonderful nuggets of writing – too many to quote them all, but here are a few of my favourites:

‘It makes you wonder if you did have a purpose, but it floated past you one day, and you just didn’t think to flag it down.’

‘We explored pockets of the past. Favourite stories were retold, to make sure they hadn’t been forgotten.  Scenes were sandpapered down to make them easier to hold.’  

‘It’s the greatest advantage of reminiscing.  The past can be exactly how you wanted it to be the first time around.’

Although one can’t help falling in love with Florence, I grew really fond of some of the supporting characters, in particular Miss Ambrose, Simon and Jack.  So I have to take issue with Miss Ambrose when she remarks, “Most of us are just secondary characters.  We take up all the space between the few people who manage to make a mark.”

I really enjoyed the book.  Yes, there is sadness in the story (you will probably shed a little tear at the end) but there are also wonderful moments of humour, both observational and in the dialogue.  For example, when the hotel owner is asked to provide a room for interviews during a trip to Whitby:

“Maybe the television room?” said Miss Ambrose.

“That’s out of the question.  It’s Tuesday,“ said Gail, rather mysteriously, but she didn’t elaborate.  “I suppose I could you let you have the staff rest room.  Although you’ll need to be out by eight, because I’ve got a new shift coming in and I’ll need to change my slacks.”    [It’s the word ‘slacks’ that really tickled me.]

Or, decorating a room for a dance:

‘Miss Ambrose’s bunting stretched all the way around the room, except for a small gap in the corner due to an oversize painting of the Princess of Wales.  Simon and Miss Ambrose both stood with their hands on their hips, admiring their efforts.

“Shame about Diana.” Miss Ambrose looked over at the corner.

“I could get the Sellotape,” said Simon.

Miss Ambrose stared at him. “I meant passing away so young.”

I received an advance reader copy courtesy of NetGalley and publishers The Borough Press in return for an honest review.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

In three words: Emotional, tender, touching

Try something similar…The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell


Joanna CannonAbout the Author

Joanna Cannon’s first novel, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, was a Sunday Times bestseller and a Richard and Judy pick.  She worked as a hospital doctor before specialising in psychiatry, and lives in the Peak District with her family and dog.

Connect with Joanna

Website  ǀ  Facebook ǀ  Twitter  ǀ  Goodreads ǀ  Instagram