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Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes

Published: December 9th, 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Romance Novel, Humorous Fiction, Family Saga
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook, Hardcover

Welcome to my review of Rachel’s Holiday, which was published yesterday in a special 25th anniversary edition. Thank you to Rhiannon at FMcM for the invitation to take part in this tour and to Michael Joseph for the gifted book.

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SYNOPSIS:

A MUST-READ FOR FANS OLD AND NEW, THIS STUNNING 25TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION IS THE PERFECT WAY TO REDISCOVER THE 1.5 MILLION COPY, NO. 1 BESTSELLING PHENOMENON
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Meet Rachel Walsh.

She’s been living it up in New York City, spending her nights talking her way into glamorous parties before heading home in the early hours to her adoring boyfriend, Luke.

But her sensible older sister showing up and sending her off to actual rehab wasn’t quite part of her plan.

She’s only agreed to her incarceration because she’s heard that rehab is wall-to-wall jacuzzis, spa treatments and celebrities going cold turkey – plus it’s about time she had a holiday.

Saying goodbye to fun and freedom will be hard – and losing the man who might just be the love of her life will be even harder.

But will hitting rock bottom help Rachel learn to love herself, at last?

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MY REVIEW:

“How did I end up like this? Surely I was living in New York, young, independent, glamorous, successful? And not twenty-seven, unemployed, mistaken for a drug-addict, in a treatment centre in the back arse of nowhere with an empty valium bottle in my knickers?”

Before I start I have an admission. Even though I own a number of Marian Keyes books and have had them on my shelf for years, I had never read one of them until I picked up Rachel’s Holiday for this blog tour, runs to hide in the corner in shame. And now that I have experienced my first book by Ms. Keyes, I am so mad at myself for waiting so long to read them.

After being hospitalised following an accidental overdose, Rachel Walsh’s family bring her back to Ireland and send her off to rehab. But Rachel doesn’t mind. After all, the Cloisters is a place where celebrities go, and she’s looking forward to doing some celeb spotting while enjoying spa treatments. It will be like a much-needed holiday. Or so she thinks.

Uproarious, heartfelt, scathing and sexy, Rachel’s Holiday is an exploration of addiction and journey of self-discovery. Rachel is a deeply flawed and troubled character. In deep denial about her addiction, she is sure this is all a mistake and she is nothing like the others at the Cloisters. She is selfish, self-serving and lacks self-awareness, caring only how things affect her and nothing about the impact her actions have on others. She is the kind of person that would be a nightmare to have in your real life, but Ms. Keyes manages to make her someone that you care about and root for. As she tells her story she moves between rehab in rural Ireland and her life in New York, and it is soon apparent that the wild shenanigans that she finds hilarious are a smokescreen for the deep pain and self-loathing she feels. Everyone around her can see the truth, and I desperately wanted her to see clearly and accept the help she needed so she could begin to heal.

As I said earlier, this was my first foray into Marian Keyes’ books and I found that her overwhelming talent is evident on every page. I loved how she makes you laugh while telling the most heartbreaking stories and how she’s able to make a heroine you shouldn’t like into someone you can’t get enough of. It’s easy to see why this story is considered a modern classic and Ms. Keyes a national treasure. I’m sold. And I can’t wait to read more.

So if you’re looking for some uplit that is razor-sharp and thought-provoking while being wonderfully entertaining, then pick up this book.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

TW: Addiction

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Marian Keyes is one of the most successful Irish novelists of all time. Though she was brought up in a home where a lot of oral story-telling went on, it never occurred to her that she could write.

Instead she studied law and accountancy and finally started writing short stories in 1993 “out of the blue.” Though she had no intention of ever writing a novel (“It would take too long”) she sent her short stories to a publisher, with a letter saying she’d started work on a novel. The publishers replied, asking to see the novel, and once her panic had subsided, she began to write what subsequently became her first book Watermelon, published in 1995.

To date, the woman who said she’d never write a novel has published 13 of them: WatermelonLucy Sullivan is Getting MarriedRachel’s HolidayLast Chance SaloonSushi for BeginnersAngelsThe Other Side of the StoryAnybody Out ThereThis Charming ManThe Brightest Star in the Sky , The Mystery of Mercy CloseThe Woman Who Stole My Life, and The Break Her books have all been bestsellers around the world, with a total of over 30 million of her books sold to date in 33 languages. Anybody Out There won the British Book Awards award for popular fiction and the inaugural Melissa Nathan Prize for Comedy Romance. This Charming Man won the Irish Book Award for popular fiction. Marian’s latest book Grown Ups is publishing in hardback and eBook in February 2020.

The books deal variously with modern ailments, including addiction, depression, domestic violence, the glass ceiling and serious illness, but always written with compassion, humour and hope.

In 2009, Marian experienced the start of a major depressive episode, and had to stop any work. Eventually she found that baking cakes helped her survive; and in 2012, she published Saved by Cake, which combines recipes with autobiography.

As well as novels she has written short stories, and articles for various magazines and other publications. She has published three collections of her journalism, titled Under the Duvet  and Further Under the Duvet, now collected in one volume under the title Under the Duvet: Deluxe Edition, and donated all royalties from Irish sales to the Simon Community, a charity which works with the homeless. In 2016 Marian published a new collection of essays, Making It Up As I Go Along.

She was born in Limerick in 1963, and brought up in Cavan, Cork, Galway and Dublin; she spent her twenties in London, but is now living in Dún Laoghaire with her husband Tony. She includes among her hobbies reading, movies, shoes, handbags and feminism.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Bookshop.org*| Amazon*| Apple Books| Kobo
*These are affiliate links

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Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Book Features Emma's Anticipated Treasures First Lines Friday Uncategorised

First Lines Friday: Flashback

Welcome to First Lines Friday: Flashback, where on the first Friday of the month I share the first lines from one of the older books on my shelves and try to tempt you to add it to yours.

“The morning one of the lost twins returned to Mallard, Lou LeBon ran to the diner to break the news, and even now, many years later, everyone remembers the shock of sweaty Lou pushing through the glass doors, chest heaving, neckline darkened with is own effort. The barely awake customers clamored around him, ten or so, although more would lie and say they’d been there too, if only to pretend that this once, they’d witnessed something truly exciting. In that little farm town, nothing surprising every happened, not since the Vignes twins had disappeared. But that morning in April 1968, on his was to work, Lou spotted Desiree Vignes walking along Partridge Road carrying a small leather suitcase.”

Today’s first lines are taken from The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, which is one of the books shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021. It’s been on my shelf since it’s release in June last year and is one of the 21 books I’ve committed to reading from my backlist this year.

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SYNOPSIS:

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ story lines intersect?

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passingLooking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

You can buy the book here*
*This is an affiliate link

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Have I tempted you to add this one to your shelves? Or have you already read it? Let me know in the comments.

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Thank you to Dialogue Books for the gifted copy of the book.

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles, Emma xxx

Categories
book reviews

Review: ‘The Girl at the Window’ by Rowen Coleman ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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SYNOPSIS:

A house full of history is bound to have secrets…

Ponden Hall is a centuries-old house on the Yorkshire moors, a magical place full of stories. It’s also where Trudy Heaton grew up. And where she ran away from…

Now, after the devastating loss of her husband, she is returning home with her young son, Will, who refuses to believe his father is dead. 

While Trudy tries to do her best for her son, she must also attempt to build bridges with her eccentric mother. And then there is the Hall itself: fallen into disrepair but generations of  lives and loves still echo in its shadows, sometimes even reaching out to the present…

A hauntingly beautiful story of love and hope, from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Memory Book and The Summer of Impossible Things.

MY REVIEW:

Rowan Coleman blends fact and fiction to create a breathtaking novel that captivated my soul. A story that is part non fiction, part gothic fiction, part historical fiction and part family saga, the writing is atmospheric, eloquent, lyrical and poetic with just the right amount of goosebump-inducing terror.

Told by multiple narrators over three timelines, this is the story of Ponden Hall and some of the many people who have occupied its walls. Built by the Heatons in 1540, the family have lived there ever since. It is also the place that Emily Bronte would come to use the library and where she wrote her classic novel, Wuthering Heights. The infamous house felt like a character in its own right, and it when it spoke it gave me chills. 

Trudy has always been fascinated with her ancestral home and with the Brontes – Emily in particular. As a young girl she would whisper her secrets to her, imagining her walking the halls as she did. Though Trudy is reluctant to live with her estranged mother Mariah, she is happy to be back at Ponden Hall as its always been home. She immediately feels a peace upon returning and, once again, speaks to it like an old friend. One day, Trudy makes a startling discovery – two pages of writing bound in leather, one of which she instantly recognises as being written by none other than Emily Bronte. The other was written by a girl named Agnes who says she used to live in the house two hundred years before Emily visited. What is Agnes’ story? And could this lead Trudy to the infamous and elusive second manuscript of Emily Bronte? 

This is the second novel I’ve read by this author. I fell in love with Rowan’s writing style when I read The Summer of Impossible things last year and after reading this book I know that it wasn’t a one off. Her prose is a joy to lose myself in every page is filled with heart and emotion. In this book there was the addition of the stunning scene setting – everything from the descriptions of the house and landscape to her mother’s appearance was vivid and immersive. 

The author’s love of Ponden Hall, Wuthering Heights, and the Brontes shines through every page of this novel. I’m ashamed to say I’ve never got around to reading Wuthering Heights but have since bought it, as well as another based on Heathcliff, and can’t wait to read them and learn more. Her passion is contagious.

Having three narrators from different timeline was a choice I loved. I really liked each of them and thought each woman brought something important to the story. Though each was born hundreds of years apart and lived very different lives, they were also similar in many ways. Both of the older timelines were well researched and felt authentic. I felt like I was actually reading things that Emily Bronte and a girl from the 1600s had written and experienced. The supporting characters were all just as well written as the narrators. I loved young Will particularly and enjoyed the honesty he brought to the story in a way that only a child of that age can. He was unafraid to ask difficult questions or say things adults avoided and never doubted that the things he saw and experienced were real. He gave Trudy a reason to carry on after Abe’s death and a reason to return to Ponden Hall. Without these things she may never have made her discoveries.

I also really enjoyed the flashbacks that told Trudy and Abe’s love story. I liked the fact that Abe was a real character we got to know and not just Trudy’s late husband or Will’s late father. Those stories also gave us greater insight into who Trudy is, why she hadn’t returned to Ponden Hall in so many years, and why she and her mother are estranged. I have wondered about the author’s inspiration for how they fell in love as it was so romantic, wistful and funny. 

In The Girl at the Window the author has blended fact with fiction to create a haunting and enchanting story. It was a book where I relished every word and never wanted it to end. I don’t think I can do more to describe how much I love this book or how exquisitely written it is, so I’m going to finish by saying that you should go read this book now! Just be prepared to fall in love. 

Thank you to Ebury Press and Penguin UK for my gifted copy of this book.

Out now.  

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rowan Coleman lives with her husband and five children in a very full house in Hertfordshire. She juggles writing novels with raising her family. She longs to live at Ponden Hall.

She is the bestselling author of THE MEMORY BOOK, WE ARE ALL MADE OF STARS and the critically acclaimed THE SUMMER OF IMPOSSIBLE THINGS. 

Find out more about Rowan at http://www.rowancoleman.co.uk, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter: @rowancoleman.