Blog Tour/Book Review: Monopoli Blues by Tim Clark & Nick Cook

Monopoli Blues BT Poster

I’m delighted to be hosting today’s stop on the blog tour for  Monopoli Blues by Tim Clark & Nick Cook which recounts a son’s journey to uncover the story of his parents service in war-time special forcesThanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for inviting me to participate and to Unbound for my review copy.

Watch the trailer for Monopoli Blues here

Praise for Monopoli Blues:

‘Lucidly written, deeply researched and extremely well-structured … a remarkable act of imagination and filial homage’ William Boyd, New Statesman

‘Powerful … this is the reality of war behind the headlines’ Jonathan Dimbleby

‘A gripping tale of wartime exploits, an unlikely love story, and a son’s journey to discover his father’s secret war’ Joshua Levine, author of Dunkirk

Monopoli BluesAbout the Book

In November 1944, Sub Lt Bob Clark, a twenty-year old agent with Britain’s top-secret Special Operations Executive, parachuted into northern Italy.

He left behind the girl he had fallen in love with, Marjorie, his radio operator. Captured by the enemy, Bob’s fate hangs in the balance and Marjorie won’t know for six months whether he is alive or dead…

Monopoli Blues recounts the story of Tim Clark’s journey to uncover the story of his parents’ war – and the truth behind the betrayal of his father’s Clarion mission to the Nazis.

Format: Paperback (288 pp.)    Publisher: Unbound
Published: 13th June 2019  Genre: History, Non-Fiction

Purchase Links*  ǀ  ǀ (supporting UK bookshops)
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

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My Review

The book is clearly the product of painstaking research involving the piecing together of facts from a myriad of sources: contemporary accounts, personal interviews, archive records and historical works. And an unexpected treasure trove that provides a touching insight into the relationship between Tim Clark’s mother and father. I found the accounts of the trips made by Tim in an effort to recreate his father’s journeys particularly compelling.

Along the way, there are portraits of remarkable and colourful characters who served with the SOE; singular individuals whose former experiences ranged from big-game fishing, managing a rubber plantation manager or competing as a world-class athlete. Often the success of operations seems to have been determined by nothing more than charm, ingenuity and bravado – along with, of course, remarkable courage. There’s also fascinating information about the setting up of the SOE and the training of its operatives.

The authors create a compelling picture of the contrast between periods of boredom whilst waiting for operations to commence and intense moments of danger once they’d begun. Often these took place under cover of darkness never very far from the possibility of running into enemy troops and with dire consequences if captured. Not to mention the very chaotic situation they often found on the ground with rival factions of partisans competing for supplies. And one can’t forget the information vacuum endured by those waiting for news of their loved ones.

Monopoli Blues is a touching portrait of a loving relationship, a compelling account of wartime bravery and a fitting commemoration of, as Paddy Ashdown writes in his foreword to the book, ‘perfectly ordinary people’ who did extraordinary things. In its detailed account of SOE operations in Italy the book makes fascinating reading for anyone with an interest in military history and the events of WW2. However, the personal nature of the story makes it accessible to anyone.

I received a review copy courtesy of publishers, Unbound, and Random Things Tours.

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In three words: Painstakingly-researched, inspiring, compelling

Tim Clark and Nick CookAbout the Authors

Tim Clark spent a large part of his career working as a lawyer at one of the world’s leading firms specialising in M+A and corporate work in the UK and internationally, ultimately becoming Senior Partner. Since retiring as a lawyer, Tim has taken on board positions on a number of corporate, arts and charitable organisations, and senior advisory roles at a number of international think tanks.

Nick Cook is an author, journalist, broadcaster and entrepreneur. In 1986, he joined the world-renowned Jane’s Defence Weekly, initially as a reporter, rising quickly to become Aviation Editor, a position he held until 2005. His first novel, Angel, Archangel, was published in 1989 to critical acclaim. In 2001, Cook’s first non-fiction title, The Hunt For Zero Point, was published, reaching Number 1 in Amazon’s Non-Fiction charts. He has also written, hosted and produced two documentaries about the world of aerospace and defence – Billion Dollar Secret and an Alien History of Planet Earth . He lives and works with his wife and two children in London.


Blog Tour/Guest Post: The Spitfire Girl in the Skies by Fenella J Miller

I’m delighted to be hosting today’s stop on the blog tour for The Spitfire Girl in the Skies by Fenella J Miller, the second book in her ‘The Spitfire Girls’ series.  You can read Fenella’s fascinating guest post about why she became a writer below.

Thanks to Vicky at Aria for inviting me to take part in the tour.  Do check out the tour banner at the bottom of this post to see the other great book bloggers taking part.

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The Spitfire Girl in the SkiesAbout the Book

The ATA training base, Hampshire, 1940.

Ellie Simpson is attached to an Air Transport Auxiliary base in Hampshire. Life as an ATA pilot is tough, but despite the long hours and danger, Ellie can think of nowhere she’d rather be. Not only does she love flying, but doing important war work, alongside new-found friends, provides a welcome distraction from worrying about loved ones fighting on the front line.

Being an ATA girl is definitely exciting, but as Ellie soon finds out wearing the distinctive blue uniform also means putting her life on the line every time she takes to the skies. It will take friendship and a strength she didn’t know she possessed to help her county – and those she loves – to survive.

An inspiring story of an incredible girl going above and beyond during World War II.

Format: Paperback, ebook (334 pp.)    Publisher: Aria
Published: 2nd April 2019  Genre: Historical Fiction

Purchase Links*  ǀ
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find The Spitfire Girl in the Skies on Goodreads

Guest Post: ‘Why I Am A Writer’ by Fenella J. Miller

I was always an avid reader. By the time I was ten years old I’d read every book in the children’s section of the library and was allowed to borrow from the adult section. Leslie Charteris, Georgette Heyer, Margery Allingham – I read everything they wrote. I was also addicted to school stories and pony books. Lorna Hill was the writer I wanted to emulate. When I was about twelve, I wrote a 30,000-word book in her style. It would be called fan fiction now. This was when I decided I wanted to be writer.

I didn’t write anything else apart from essays and dissertations until I wrote a contemporary romance whilst trapped at home with a four-year-old in a remote country cottage and not able to drive. I was in my twenties then and knew one day I would be a published writer.

Decades passed and my goal was still to write, but life got in the way. I wrote five modern romances which are languishing somewhere in a box in the loft, before realising I should be a historical writer, not a contemporary one.  I was offered early retirement from teaching and finally achieved my dream of being published by the time I was sixty.

Thirteen years later I have around sixty books out. I write because I have to – I am a writer first and a wife/mother/sister/friend second.  If I couldn’t lose myself in my writing, I would not be able to cope with my home life. I have been my husband’s carer for years and after breaking first one and then the other hip he is now in permanent care. This is so hard for both of us. He has vascular dementia and no speech but is still aware of his surrounding and the people around him.

As long as I can write everyday life doesn’t seem to bad. Writing can be a lonely business but over the years I’ve been lucky to build up a large circle of both online and actual friends who are a constant support. I would advise anyone who dreams of being a writer one day to follow that dream and never give up.      © Fenella J Miller

Fenella MillerAbout the Author

Fenella J Miller was born in the Isle of Man. Her father was a Yorkshire man and her mother the daughter of a Rajah. She has worked as a nanny, cleaner, field worker, hotelier, chef, secondary and primary teacher and is now a full time writer. She has over thirty eight Regency romantic adventures published plus four Jane Austen variations, three Victorian sagas and seven WW2 family sagas. She lives in a pretty, riverside village in Essex with her husband and British Shorthair cat. She has two adult children and three grandchildren.

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The Spitfire Girl in the Skies blog tour poster