#BlogTour #BookReview How To Save a Life by Clare Swatman

How To Save A LifeI’m delighted to welcome you to the opening day of the blog tour for How To Save a Life by Clare Swatman which is published today. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour and to Boldwood Books for my digital review copy via NetGalley. Do check out the posts by my tour buddies for today, Sheri at My Reading Getaway and Jo at Captured on Film.

How To Save a LifeAbout the Book

One night in December, twenty-two year old Ted Green makes his way to Waterloo Bridge determined to end his life. Lonely, despairing and utterly hopeless, it seems the only choice to make.

That same night in December, Marianne Cooper is running away from a party. Having found her boyfriend in a passionate clinch with someone else, Marianne can’t get away fast enough. But as she makes her way along London’s South Bank, a figure catches her eye on top of the bridge.

Then she sees him, a man ready to jump.

When Marianne saves Ted’s life, this night in December becomes one they’ll never forget, but as Ted watches Marianne leave in a black taxi, all he can think is he should have asked her name.

In a story spanning twenty years, join Ted and Marianne as they navigate life’s twists and turns, joys and heartbreaks, while all the time wondering – will fate ever bring them together again…

Format: Paperback (328 pages)   Publisher: Boldwood Books
Publication date: 8th June 2022 Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Find How To Save A Life on Goodreads

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Hive | Amazon UK
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My Review

In How To Save a Life, the author brings the same warmth, mix of light and dark moments, and gentle exploration of human flaws as she did to her previous book, Before We Grow Old, which I read in January 2022.

The book is told in alternating chapters from the points of view of Marianne and Ted. Sometimes the reader gets to see the same event from their respective point of view, meaning some repetition is inevitable. It also means, at times, the reader can see an event coming.

Of the two characters, it was Ted who I thought had the most depth and whose story I became most invested in.  His traumatic experiences whilst on active service in Kuwait have left psychological wounds, a profound sense of guilt and a feeling that his life lacks any structure or direction. This has manifested itself in a dependence on alcohol. And, as much as Marianne’s actions on Waterloo Bridge on that fateful night saved his life, I thought the steadfastness and loyalty of his friend, Danny, did too.

Although Marianne and Ted’s initial meeting is fleeting, the significance of its circumstances provoke a change of life direction for them both: Marianne pursues a career as a counsellor and Ted studies to become a doctor. It’s significant that both roles entail helping others. Marianne and Ted both find themselves thinking about the other over the course of the years and during that time there are a number of ‘near misses’ in which their paths almost cross. Thinking of the film Casablanca, it’s not so much a case of ‘Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine’ as  ‘Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine… but I happen to have left five minutes ago’.

Despite the passing years, Ted and Marianne have become lodged so deep in each other’s mind that it becomes difficult for any other partner to displace them. I have to say I couldn’t blame those who try for eventually acting they way they do. After all, how can you compete with a fantasy? And I found it quite difficult to forgive some of Marianne’s and Ted’s actions.

Whether you consider the way the book ends the stuff of Hollywood movies, it demonstrates saving a life can occur in many ways and sometimes we don’t just get second chances but perhaps third, even fourth opportunities to get it right.

In three words: Tender, romantic, engaging

Try something similar: One Day in December by Shari Low

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Clare SwatmanAbout the Author

Clare Swatman is the author of three women’s fiction novels, published by Macmillan, which have been translated into over 20 languages. She has been a journalist for over twenty years, writing for Bella and Woman & Home amongst many other magazines. She lives in Hertfordshire.

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#BlogTour #BookReview Love in a Time of War by Adrienne Chinn @rararesources @OneMoreChapter_

Love In A Time of WarWelcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for Love in a Time of War by Adrienne Chinn which is published on 3rd March. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour and to One More Chapter for my digital review copy via NetGalley. Do check out the post by my tour buddies for today, The Page Ladies.

Love in a Time of War final revisedAbout the Book

Three sisters
The Great War
The end of innocence…

In 1913, in a quiet corner of London, the three Fry sisters are coming of age, dreaming of all the possibilities the bright future offers. But when war erupts their innocence is shattered and a new era of uncertainty begins.

Cecelia loves Max but his soldier’s uniform is German, not British, and suddenly the one man she loves is the one man she can’t have.

Jessie enlists in the army as a nurse and finally finds the adventure she’s craved when she’s sent to Gallipoli and Egypt, but it comes with an unimaginable cost.

Etta elopes to Capri with her Italian love, Carlo, but though her growing bump is real, her marriage certificate is a lie.

As the three sisters embark on journeys they never could have imagined, their mother Christina worries about the harsh new realities they face, and what their exposure to the wider world means for the secrets she’s been keeping…

Format: Paperback (480 pages)     Publisher: One More Chapter
Publication date: 3rd March 2022 Genre: Historical Fiction

Find Love in a Time of War (The Three Fry Sisters #1) on Goodreads

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Disclosure: If you buy a book via the above link, I may earn a commission from Bookshop.org, whose fees support independent bookshops

Hive | Amazon UK
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My Review

I was first introduced to the writing of Adrienne Chinn when I read The English Wife in 2020 and I remarked then on the author’s ability to enable the reader to navigate multiple timelines. Love in a Time of War is a little more straightforward, moving between events in the years 1913 to 1919, with occasional trips back to the 1890s.

Love in a Time of War is the first book in a trilogy featuring the Fry sisters – Cecilia (Celie) and non-identical twins, Jessica (Jessie) and Etta – and their mother, Christina. The author has created distinct personalities for the three sisters. Celie, the eldest, is clear-headed, thoughtful and has a strong sense of justice particularly when it comes to the question of women’s suffrage.  Etta is more headstrong, fired up by the desire to become an artist and willingly immersing herself in a bohemian lifestyle.  Jessie is the most serious of the sisters, determined to put her nursing skills to use and resist the pressure to follow the conventional path of marriage and motherhood.

The latter is the path their mother Christina is determined they should follow.  She appears almost puritanical in that respect, indeed one might say hyprocritical given what the reader learns about her early life.  Being more generous, perhaps her actions are driven by a genuine desire to prevent her daughters making the same unwise decisions that she did in allowing her heart to rule her head. Whatever her motivation, it seems to have the opposite effect to that she intended as both Celie and Etta become involved in relationships with men who do not make ideal husband material in the eyes of Christina. Even Jessie, who was my favourite character, eventually embarks on a relationship with a man who for many reasons would probably not be welcomed with open arms in the Fry household. (I’d have welcomed him in any day!)

A character I’ve not mentioned so far is the sisters’ father, Gerald. He was the character with whom I empathised the most. Having done his best to provide a stable home for his daughters, encourage their interests and be a devoted husband, I was intensely moved by his discovery that all is not what it seems in his marriage. In keeping secrets from her family, I was reminded of the quotation from Marmion by Sir Walter Scott, ‘O what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.’

Although the First World War provides the backdrop to many of the events in the book and transports the reader to a number of locations including Italy and Egypt, another constant element is the campaign for women’s suffrage.  All three sisters reflect the ideals of the movement, albeit in different ways. Celie’s is the most obvious, becoming involved in organising marches for Millicent Fawcett’s National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies and, later, writing newspaper articles and taking photographs to publicise the vital contribution of women to the war effort, such as those working in munitions factories.  Etta’s unconventional lifestyle is a challenge to social conventions that sees her hobnobbing with leading lights in the Bloomsbury Group such as artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, and writer Virginia Woolf.  Jessica’s determination to forge her own path in life and be judged on her ability rather than her gender, represents the independence that many women were fighting for.

Those who love the idea of chance encounters will be rewarded by some coincidences that conjure up that famous line from the film Casablanca, ‘Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world she walks into mine’. Indeed at one point, when a family connection is discovered between two strangers, one of them remarks, ‘Small world, isn’t it?’. Quite.  However these encounters are pivotal to the storyline, on occasions in quite deadly ways. They also serve to demonstrate that, in war, soldiers on both sides experience the same level of fear and anxiety and face the same moral dilemmas.

As might be expected from the first instalment in a trilogy, Love in a Time of War ends at significant moments in the lives of the sisters. With the war finally ended, what new horizons await them? There will be plenty of readers eager to find out.

In three words: Romantic, dramatic, expansive

Try something similar: Daughters of War by Dinah Jeffries

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Love In a Time of War - Adrienne_Chinn_24_6_21_210lo_res_OnlineAbout the Author

Adrienne Chinn was born in Grand Falls, Newfoundland, grew up in Quebec, and eventually made her way to London, England after a career as a journalist. In England she worked as a TV and film researcher before embarking on a career as an interior designer, lecturer, and writer. When not up a ladder or at the computer writing, she often can be found rummaging through flea markets or haggling in the Marrakech souk.

Her second novel, The English Wife – a timeslip story set in World War II England and contemporary Newfoundland – was published in June 2020 and has become an international bestseller. Her debut novel, The Lost Letter from Morocco, was published by Avon Books UK in 2019. Her latest novel, Love in a Time of War, set during WWI, is the first in a series of three books based around the changing lives of three English sisters and their half-Italian mother, with a timeslip to 1890s Capri and London.

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