The Foundling’s Daughter by Ann Bennett book review

 

the foundlings daughter

The Foundling’s Daughter written and self-published by Ann Bennett is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.  The ebook is also included in the kindleunlimited scheme.

To buy link: https://amzn.to/2UC1iC6

Book Blurb

Three Women connected down the decades by a mystery from the 1930s, with its roots in British India and an orphanage in Berkshire.
In 1934, Anna Foster, the wife of a British Army Officer, privately harbouring pain and remorse, sets sail from Bombay on a fateful journey home, a letter from a charismatic stranger — orphanage superintendent, Reverend Ezra Burroughs — in her pocket.
Seventy-six years later, Connie Burroughs, Ezra’s daughter, now in her nineties and in a care home, still lives in fear of her dead father. She guards his secrets loyally, but with a lifetime of regrets.
Sarah Jennings, escaping an unhappy marriage, moves to be near her ageing father. She buys Cedar Lodge, the crumbling former home of the Burroughs family, a renovation project she hopes will bring peace of mind to trying times. But she’s not prepared for the shocking secrets she uncovers. Determined to track down the past, Sarah embarks on a quest to expose the chilling events that took place at Ezra Burroughs’ orphanage in the 1930s; a quest that will ultimately change her life.

marigold posie

I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this book. All opinions are my own and no content may be copied. However, authors and publishers may use elements of my reviews for quotes.

The Foundling’s Daughter was published back in November 2018 and I’m annoyed with myself that it’s been sat in my TBR waiting to be read because it is one hell of a read and I can’t express loud enough how much I enjoyed this novel.  The Foundling’s Daughter will definitely be going into my Best of the Best in 2019 list.

This is a very beautiful, atmospheric but equally tragic and poignant story set in three different time frames.  It is a story about three women who have been linked to an event that is marred by illegal, immoral and devastating circumstances back in 1934.  It’s not until the present day that the truth is slowly unravelled and the small link between the women is lengthened.

Ann Bennett’s words completely captivated me in this story.  With her atmospheric prose depicting the sensory details of 1930’s India that Anna first experienced when she was travelling to India to escape England and the shroud of gossip surrounding her father.  Anna was excited about her future in India but it soon became a lonely existence for her.

Connie is now all alone in the world and following a fall she’s living in an elderly care home.  Struggling with her ailments both physically and mentally as she is forced to sell the family home to cover her expenses at the home.  Cedar Lodge has been her home for over 70 years and was adjacent to an orphanage.  Connie is very wary of her past in the Lodge and she is afraid of the Lodge revealing the truth.

Sarah stumbles across Cedar Lodge on her way to her father’s house following a startling discovery surrounding her husband.  Sarah is shocked and angry and very unsure of her future.  She realises the place she needs to take stock of her life is at her father’s house in a small village in Berkshire, not far from Cedar Lodge.  Cedar Lodge is up for sale and is looking a little worn and tired but it still holds a presence in the village and after her first sight of the house Sarah cannot stop thinking about it.

Stripping back the walls that have held secrets for a long time reveal a story of greed, a story of tragedy and a story of lost loves.

From the sumptuous setting in India to the chilling discoveries back in Berkshire this is a brilliant story that will appeal to historical fans, romance fans and mystery fans.  If you love the work of Dinah Jefferies you will appreciate the work of Ann Bennett and the beautiful story that is The Foundling’s Daughter.

About the Author

Ann Bennett was born in a small village in Northamptonshire, UK. She read Law at Cambridge and qualified and practised as a solicitor. During a career break, to have children, she started to write. Her father had been a prisoner of war on the Thailand-Burma Railway and the idea for Bamboo Heart came from researching his wartime experiences. The research took her to Southeast Asia, a place she loves and has returned to many times. She lives in Surrey with her husband and three sons and works in London as a lawyer.

Website: https://www.bambooheart.co.uk/

Twitter:   http://www.twitter.com/annbennett71

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Andaman-Press-297885594389742/

 

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A Rebel at Pennington’s by Rachel Brimble blogtour book review

 

A Rebel at Pennington's

A Rebel at Pennington’s written by Rachel Brimble, publisher Aria, is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.

To buy link: https://amzn.to/2t26H9R

Product Details

One woman’s journey to find herself and help secure the vote. Perfect for the fans of the TV series Mr Selfridge and The Paradise.

1911 Bath. Banished from her ancestral home, passionate suffrage campaigner, Esther Stanbury works as a window dresser in Pennington’s Department Store. She has hopes and dreams for women’s progression and will do anything to help secure the vote.
Owner of the prestigious Phoenix Hotel, Lawrence Culford has what most would view as a successful life. But Lawrence is harbouring shame, resentment and an anger that threatens his future happiness.
When Esther and Lawrence meet their mutual understanding of life’s challenges unites them and they are drawn to the possibility of a life of love that neither thought existed.
With the Coronation of King-Emperor George V looming, the atmosphere in Bath is building to fever pitch, as is the suffragists’ determination to secure the vote.
Will Esther’s rebellious nature lead her to ruin or can they overcome their pasts and look to build a future together?

A Rebel at Penningtons Full Banner

I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this book. All opinions are my own and no content may be copied. However, authors and publishers may use elements of my reviews for quotes.

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the launch of Rachel Brimble’s latest novel:  A Rebel at Pennington’s.

This was so wonderful to return to the prestigious department store of Pennington’s in Bath.  I would strongly recommend reading book 1 in the series, The Mistress of Pennington’s, as you can then get a feel for the era, the characters and the setting enabling you to fully enjoy A Rebel at Pennington’s.

Both our leading lady Esther and leading man Lawrence have emotional scars from their past and to open up these wounds and let someone else in would be a show of strength and trust and acceptance.

It’s 1911 and a political unrest is all around the country with the upcoming Women’s Vote, Esther is involved in the Cause in a small suffragists group.  Esther is clearly talented with her creative flair with the window dressings at the department store and she has a strong belief in the Cause but when she meets Lawrence Culford her heart starts to beat a tune she hasn’t felt in a very long time.

Lawrence Culford is a single parent to two young children and is the proprietor of a reputable hotel in the city of Bath.  Lawrence has been the recipient of many emotional scars in the past and has fought to take control of his life.  When his past starts to pull him back he is afraid for his own emotional wellbeing and that also of his children.  Meeting Esther has given Lawrence an insight into a future full of hope but he is afraid of his scars being ripped open revealing a side of him that he is not proud of.

Can Esther and Lawrence learn to trust in love and in their beliefs to bring forth a future full of love and hope?

I really enjoyed this second instalment in the Pennington’s Department store series, it was interesting to learn more about Esther and of the suffragists and their involvement in the Cause.  This story was full of light and dark moments and the author interwoven a political event in history around the lives of people forging new lives.

About the Author

Rachel lives with her husband and their two daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. Since 2007, she has had several novels published by small US presses, eight books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical.
In January 2018, she signed a four-book deal with Aria Fiction for a new Edwardian series set in Bath’s finest department store. The first book, The Mistress of Pennington’s released July 2018.
Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, and was selected to mentor the Superromance finalist of So You Think You Can Write 2014 contest. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.
She likes nothing more than connecting and chatting with her readers and fellow romance writers. Rachel would love to hear from you!

Website: https://rachelbrimble.com/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/RachelBrimble

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rachelbrimbleauthor/

Giveaway – Win £15/$15 Amazon Gift Certificate (Open Internationally)
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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The Other Miss Bates by Allie Cresswell blogtour book review

 

The Other Miss Bates

The Other Miss Bates written and self-published by Allie Cresswell is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.  The ebook is also included in the kindleunlimited scheme.

To buy link: https://amzn.to/2L2Z8rp

Product Details

Jane Bates has left Highbury to become the companion of the invalid widow Mrs Sealy in Brighton. Life in the new, fashionable seaside resort is exciting indeed. A wide circle of interesting acquaintance and a rich tapestry of new experiences – balls at the Assembly rooms, carriage rides and promenades on the Steyne – make her new life all Jane had hoped for.
While Jane’s sister Hetty can be a tiresome conversationalist she proves to be a surprisingly good correspondent and Jane is kept minutely up-to-date with developments in Highbury, particularly the tragic news from Donwell Abbey.
When handsome Lieutenant Weston returns to Brighton Jane expects their attachment to pick up where it left off in Highbury the previous Christmas, but the determined Miss Louisa Churchill, newly arrived with her brother and sister-in-law from Enscombe in Yorkshire, seems to have a different plan in mind.

The Other Miss Bates Full Tour Banner

I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this book. All opinions are my own and no content may be copied. However, authors and publishers may use elements of my reviews for quotes.

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the second instalment in the Highbury Trilogy, inspired by Jane Austen’s ‘Emma’: The Other Miss Bates.  I was first introduced to the work of Allie Cresswell in September when I read and reviewed the first instalment in this trilogy.  You can find my review for Mrs Bates of Highbury here.

Once again I was completely entranced by this delightful instalment in the Highbury Trilogy.  As mentioned in my review of book one I haven’t read Emma by Jane Austen but I’ve grown an appreciation of historical romances and I believe the author Allie Cresswell has written a stunning series of stories that befits the style of writing by Jane Austen and I’m sure Jane Austen would have been as equally delighted.

The Other Miss Bates follows on were we left off and we see Jane and her mother travel to Brighton in readiness for Jane to start her occupation working for a Mrs Sealy.  Brighton was to bring new adventures for Jane.  Adventures that would broaden her outlook on life, adventure that would re-light a flame in her heart that had been lit the previous year, adventures that would have her then question her heart’s desire.  The adventures in Brighton would bring danger and tragedy and life would now follow a different course.

A story filled with chivalry, an unassuming hero, a villain you want to banish, the glamorous and sometimes scandalous society circus, grief and tragedy but most of all new friendships and alliances.  My heart broke with the tragic loss of a blossoming love.  Allie Cresswell has included a wealth of characters and storyline to captivate you.

Another absolutely beautiful story that evoked many emotions in me.  I’m eager to read the third and final instalment.

About the Author

Allie Cresswell was born in Stockport, UK and began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil.
She did a BA in English Literature at Birmingham University and an MA at Queen Mary College, London.
She has been a print-buyer, a pub landlady, a book-keeper, run a B & B and a group of boutique holiday cottages. Nowadays Allie writes full time having retired from teaching literature to lifelong learners.
She has two grown-up children, two granddaughters, two grandsons and two cockapoos but just one husband – Tim. They live in Cumbria, NW England.
The Other Miss Bates is her eighth novel and the second in the Highbury series

Social Media Links:

http://www.allie-cresswell.com
https://www.facebook.com/alliescribbler/
@alliescribbler

Finding Rose by Julie Ryan blogtour book review

 

finding rose

Finding Rose written and self-published by Julie Ryan is available NOW in ebook format.  The ebook is also included in the kindleunlimited scheme.

To buy link:  https://amzn.to/2NRGR05

Product Details

When three sisters, Ginny, Sally and Molly are brought together at their father’s hospital bed, they are forced to confront not only the prospect of a future without him but also the secrets of the past that have kept them apart.
Their father, Eddie Matthews, drugged up on morphine, seems to be rambling but could he in fact be reliving previous lives as a Tudor monk and as a soldier on the Front in WW1. Struggling to speak he reveals that he has a secret and urges his daughters to ‘Find Rose’. Can the sisters put aside their differences to fulfil his last wish?

Finding Rose Full Tour Banner

I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this book. All opinions are my own and no content may be copied. However, authors and publishers may use elements of my reviews for quotes.

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the launch of Julie Ryan’s latest novel: Finding Rose.  This is my first introduction to the works of Julie Ryan and with the stunning cover and the premise of a historical mystery I was keen to learn more.

This was quite an unusual historical time slip romance as the author treated us to three different time zones in her novel: the present day, 1916 and 1532.  At first I thought the story would be a little confusing but I soon got involved with the characters from each time zone.  The book is also split into two parts, the first part delves into each of the three time zones learning about the characters and their current stories.  What I found quite interesting was that now and again we would hear little snippets or quotes of moments that had happened in one of the other time zones.  It was a little eerie and it felt like a little jigsaw piece of a puzzle being found in the most obscure places.  The second part of the book centres around unearthing a secret.  A secret that had been laid heavy on the mind of the holder for over 50 years.

The present day story was about three sisters; Ginny, Sally and Molly having to pull together to help their father during his illness.  Whilst their father was gravely ill their personal lives continued and each sister had their own little battles along the way.  This brought an extra depth to the story as we start to understand the sister’s lives more.

Back in 1916 we pick up the tragic story of Matthew who was laid in the trench at a loss with what the world had become.  All around him lay devastation and destruction and his body, heart and soul lay broken.  Matthew felt very alone and afraid.  I have to admit this was my favourite era that the author visited and I wished she had stayed a little bit longer with his story.  I’m enjoying a lot of stories centred around the two wars and I think this is why I was captivated by Matthew’s story the most.

Our third time zone was in Tudor time, 1532,  rural England when the story picks up on the life of a young monk who had had another love before his vows to God.

Each time zone was very compelling full of drama, tragedy, intrigue and romance.  Finding Rose was an imaginative historical time-slip romance full of twists and turns, tragedies, love and a mystery that spanned many, many lives.

About the Author

Julie was born and brought up in a mining village near Barnsley in South Yorkshire. She graduated with a BA (hons) in French Language and Literature from Hull University. Since then she has lived and worked as a Teacher of English as a Foreign Language in France, Greece, Poland and Thailand. She now lives in rural Gloucestershire with her husband, son and a rescue cat. She is so passionate about books that her collection is now threatening to outgrow her house, much to her husband’s annoyance, as she can’t bear to get rid of any! They have been attempting to renovate their home for the last ten years.
She is the author of the Greek Island Mystery series, Jenna’s Journey, Sophia’s Secret and Pandora’s Prophecy, each of which can be read as a standalone. Her latest book, Finding Rose, is a new departure for her as it is set against the backdrop of WW1 and has a strong link to the Tudor Court.

Social Media Links
Author Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/julieryanauthor
Website Url: http://juliesworldofbooks.blogspot.co.uk
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/julieryan18
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jewilkinson1441
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/458168.Julie_Ryan

Giveaway to win a £10 Amazon Voucher (UK Only)
*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494150/

A Ration Book Christmas by Jean Fullerton blogtour book review

 

a ration book christmas

A Ration Book Christmas written by Jean Fullerton, publisher Corvus, is available NOW in ebook, paperback and audiobook format.

The paperback is available from all good book retailers including Waterstones, WHSmith and amazon.  The ebook is available for amazon kindle, kobo and iBooks.

To buy link (amazon UK):  https://amzn.to/2S46HRW

Product Details

With Christmas approaching, the Brogan family of London’s East End are braving the horrors of the Blitz. With the men away fighting for King and Country and the ever-present dangers of the German Luftwaffe’s nightly reign of death and destruction, the family must do all they can to keep a stiff upper lip.
For Jo, the youngest of the Brogan sisters, the perils of war also offer a new-found freedom. Jo falls in love with Tommy, a man known for his dangerous reputation as much as his charm. But as the falling bombs devastate their neighbourhood and rationing begins to bite, will the Brogans manage to pull together a traditional family Christmas? And will Jo find the love and security she seeks in a time of such grave peril?

A Ration Book Christmas Full Tour Banner

I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this book. All opinions are my own and no content may be copied. However, authors and publishers may use elements of my reviews for quotes.

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the launch of Jean Fullerton’s latest novel: A Ration Book Christmas.  This is my first introduction to the works of Jean Fullerton and I have no idea why it’s taken me so long to pick one of her books up as I was enthralled, entertained and totally swept away by this story.  I will certainly be checking out Jean Fullerton’s back catalogue of novels.

I thoroughly enjoyed this family wartime saga set in World War Two.  The author set the scene and I could feel a sense of belonging within the storyline.  We were treated to charming, cheeky, charismatic, brave, heroic characters that were all down to earth and easily relatable.  I also loved how Jean Fullerton used dialect that suited the era and location and also fitted the characters perfectly.  There were some fabulous one liners from the cockneys from the east end of London and also great words of wisdom from the Irish family that had set up home in the capital city.

I felt the tension of the war.  Jean Fullerton didn’t brush away any of the sights that were very evident during the biggest bomb attacks during the blitz of the streets of London.  I could feel the tension during the nights of the blackouts with the dread of the sirens and then when the inevitable destruction happened the fight for survivals set my heart racing.  What was so special about this story was the community spirit with all generations and all classes mucking in and doing their bit with the war help, this warmed my heart that in dire times of need folk forgot their own problems and situations and pulled together.

This was the story of one family coming to terms with the onslaught of war with evacuations, the blitz, food rationing, separation, fear, making do.  It was also a story of life, a story of survival, a story of love overcoming many hurdles and finding a way through the many terrible days and nights of the conflict.  Jean Fullerton had taken me back to a pivotal moment in British history using fiction as a way of re-telling an horrific time for so many, we learn of how life literally carried on for everyone and routines of a different kind were made.

A Ration Book Christmas was one of the best historical wartime sagas that I’ve read. Jean Fullerton’s words totally swept me away with this story, it was engaging, tragically beautiful and filled me with warmth.

About the Author

Jean FullertonJean Fullerton is the author of eleven novels all set in East London where she was born. She is also a retired district nurse and university lecturer. She won the Harry Bowling prise in 2006 and after initially signing for two East London historical series with Orion she moved to Corvus, part of Atlantic Publishing and is half way through her WW2 East London series featuring the Brogan family.

Social Media Links
Website: http://jeanfullerton.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Jean-Fullerton
Twitter: @JeanFullerton_

 

The Poppy Field by Deborah Carr blogtour book review

 

The Poppy Field Cover

The Poppy Field written by Deborah Carr, publisher HarperImpulse, is available NOW in ebook format and is due to be published in paperback at the end of December.

To buy/pre-order link: https://amzn.to/2PBccWF

Product Details

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.
Young nurse, Gemma, is struggling with the traumas she has witnessed through her job in the NHS. Needing to escape from it all, Gemma agrees to help renovate a rundown farmhouse in Doullens, France, a town near the Somme. There, in a boarded-up cupboard, wrapped in old newspapers, is a tin that reveals the secret letters and heartache of Alice Le Breton, a young volunteer nurse who worked in a casualty clearing station near the front line.
Set in the present day and during the horrifying years of the war, both woman discover deep down the strength and courage to carry on in even the most difficult of times. Through Alice’s words and her unfailing love for her sweetheart at the front, Gemma learns to truly live again.

This is a beautifully written epic historical novel that will take your breath away.

The Poppy Field Full Tour Banner

I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this book. All opinions are my own and no content may be copied. However, authors and publishers may use elements of my reviews for quotes.

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the launch of Deborah Carr’s latest novel: The Poppy Field.

This is my first introduction to the work of Deborah Carr and it ticked all the boxes for me.  I love reading historical fiction and especially stories set around pivotal moments in history, events that changed the world we live in now.  2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.  During the summer I had the privilege to visit many of the war graves and commemorative monuments around Flanders Field.  I was deeply moved by the graves and the traces of a war that etched scars across the country.  My husband was a member of the armed forces and I could totally emphasise with the families and loved ones that were left behind during times of conflict.  The constant fear of the unknown was a daily battle.

The story is set in two time zones; the present day and then we travel back to 1917.  Gemma has recently left her nursing job back in the UK following a very emotional break-up.  She has agreed to help oversee the renovation of an old farmhouse that has been left to her father.  The farmhouse is in Doullens, France, not far from the Somme.  A chance to escape her life in Brighton proves to be the best medicine for Gemma.

The farmhouse is pretty derelict and Gemma has quite a job on her hands but with the help of a fellow Brit living in the French village they start the task of renovating the property.  An unexpected find is made in one of the outhouses; a tin box full of letters dating back to 1917.  Curiosity peaks Gemma’s attention with these letters and she is keen to learn about the author and recipient of them.  Gemma slowly learns from the letters the emotional, brave plight of Alice Le Breton, a young VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) originally from Jersey who worked in a casualty clearing station near the frontline in Northern France.

I was captivated by the scenes the author portrayed back in 1917: it was atmospheric and you could feel the bravado from these young volunteer girls witnessing scenes they never could have imagined.  The days in the makeshift wards were relentless and there was little escape for the VADs.  Gemma felt a kinship with Alice, they were both nurses working under extreme pressure and conditions so for Gemma to learn of Alice 100 years on must have really brought to home the differences in life in medicine back then and now.

Deborah Carr’s novel was very raw and honest at times revealing war in it’s true colours.  Alice’s story must have been very similar to many back in WWI.  Love finds a way during the dark days of conflict bringing glimpses of hope for the future.  These moments must have been cherished by many.  I adored both sides of this story, the present day with Gemma overcoming her heartache and finding inspiration in the farm and letters and to Alice’s story that was just so tragically beautiful.  Heart-breaking and utterly captivating.

About the Author

The Poppy Field - Deborah MedDeborah Carr lives on the island of Jersey in the Channel Islands with her husband, two children and three rescue dogs. She became interested in books set in WW1 when researching her great-grandfather’s time as a cavalryman in the 17th 21st Lancers.
She is part of ‘The Blonde Plotters’ writing group and was Deputy Editor on the online review site, Novelicious.com for seven years. Her debut historical romance, Broken Faces, is set in WW1 and was runner-up in the 2012 Good Housekeeping Novel Writing Competition and given a ‘special commendation’ in the Harry Bowling Prize that year. The Poppy Field is her second historical novel.

Social Media Links
Website: https://www.deborahcarr.org/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DeborahCarrAuthor/
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/DebsCarr
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ofbooksandbeaches/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/deborahcarr/

 

The Eyes That Look by Julia Grigg blogtour book review

 

the eyes that look

The Eyes That Look written by Julia Grigg, publisher Universe Publishing Group, is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.

The paperback is available from all good book retailers including Waterstones, WHSmith and amazon.  The ebook is available for amazon kindle and kobo.

To buy link (amazon UK):  https://amzn.to/2yppwGe

To buy link (Waterstones):  https://bit.ly/2Nv00Vr

Product Details

We may have eyes that look – but how clearly do we see? This compelling novel of art and adventure, Julia Grigg’s debut, is set in the feverish creativity of mid-sixteenth century Italy. Francesco Bassano wants to find out how and why an extraordinary painting was made; the story traces his quest to discover the secrets of the portrait’s past. Francesco’s journey, his coming-of-age, takes him and his questions to Venice, Verona, Maser and Florence. Encountering the High Renaissance’s masters Titian, Veronese and Vasari in the very act of creating and recording the era’s stupendous art and architecture, he is witness to astonishing achievements. Enthralled, he learns of the determination needed for innovation and the sacrifices demanded of an artist if cherished ambition is to become reality. Little by little he unravels what lies behind the painting, gaining new understanding of love, truth and beauty, and of loyalty, devotion and the unbreakable bond between a master and his dogs. However, in delving deeper, the past’s dark side reveals itself: cruelty, inhumanity and human frailty — and Francesco cannot avoid the experience of bitter betrayal. A spirited, entertaining fiction drawing on historical facts, The Eyes that Look is multi-sensual in its storytelling, inviting readers to revel in the unrivalled artistic riches of the Italian Renaissance.

the eyes that look poster

I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this book. All opinions are my own and no content may be copied. However, authors and publishers may use elements of my reviews for quotes.

I was kindly sent a paperback copy for review and it is stunning and I am most grateful to the publishers and blogtour organisers for this.  It has a glorious image of the famous Bassano’s Hunting Dogs painting on the front and in the inside cover.  The colours are rich but there’s a warm, earthiness to them.  I would strongly urge you to buy a copy of the paperback instead of an ebook due to this sumptuous cover.  Many a times I’ve just found myself mesmerised by the eyes and the facial expressions of the dogs.

I enjoy historical fiction, mainly romance I have to admit, but I loved both history and art at school and still appreciate both subjects now, however I’ve never studied Art History, the classics and their meanings.  Firstly, I was taken by this book by the cover image and I can see why this painting by Jacopo Bassano of the Hunting Dogs is so famous.  The eyes of the dogs draw you in and you can feel life within them.  I love the almost muted colours of the blue and copper.  It’s quite a simple painting with two main colours but I feel the image holds so much emotion.  The synopsis then drew me in about a mystery surrounding this painting, I wanted to find out more.

Julia Griggs novel based on facts around this classic painting was quite fascinating.  We travel back in time to Italy 1566 when Jacopo Bassano’s son, Francesco, was learning the craft from his father and he was keen to make his own mark on the art world.  Stumbling across sketches of the dogs Francesco was equally mesmerised by the images and was eager to learn more.  However, his father wasn’t keen on revealing the story behind the images and it was as if he was forbidden to disclose any further details.  Francesco was undeterred and went on a mission travelling far and wide through Italy and through the lives of many people who were linked to the painting.

The story behind the painting was to reveal much heartache and tragedy that was very dark at times to learn about.  The story also revealed glimmers of hope and of acceptance.

This is a story not to be rushed, it’s a story to read at your leisure to fully appreciate and enjoy this fictional tale based on facts around the Italian Renaissance by Julia Grigg.  The author definitely evoked many emotions within me and she captivated me to a time and event I had no knowledge of.  It’s given me an insight into a world of classical artists and paintings and it’s left me pondering about the stories behind many other classics.

Quite a beautiful telling of an almost tragic tale.  Julia Griggs words took me to rural Italy in the mid 1500’s journeying with a young man eager for his own independence with his craft but eager for the truth surrounding a picture that had spellbound many.  A painting that would stay with Francesco Bassano for the rest of his life with the lessons learned from his journey.

I’d like to share a quote from the book that I particularly enjoyed:

“You put a dog into a composition, you affirm life.  It’s like lighting a lamp in a darkening room: hold the flame to the wick and in the next instant you’re imbued with warmth and good feeling.”

About the Author

Julia Grigg started out in fashion journalism, her first job on Vogue, also writing on the arts, food and travel. She retains an abiding interest in all these but soon moved into a career with UNICEF as a writer and advocate for children’s issues, deployed to some of the world’s most demanding and complex countries.

Julia began The Eyes that Look – the secret story of Bassano’s Hunting Dogs while studying for the Bath Spa University Masters in Creative Writing. An early draft was longlisted for the Exeter First Novel Prize.

The novel was years in the making before a single word was put on the page. Writing it meant Julia could delve deep into the Italian High Renaissance, indulging a lifelong fascination with its art, music and poetry. In the research process she embraced online study, attended the Courtauld Institute summer school and the British Institute in Florence, and spent much time in Italian archives, galleries and churches as well as in trying to master the language.

Julia is working on the second novel of a planned Renaissance trilogy, involving mid 1500s Rome, Florence and Venice settings and some of the same cast of characters as The Eyes that Look.

Cornish in origin, Julia spends as much time as she can in the West Country, always thrilled to be once again crossing the Tamar. Dogs are another passion; she and her husband share their home with a pair of black and tan dachshunds.

Website:  http://www.juliagrigg.com/

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/JuliaGrigg