Songbird by Karen Heenan #BlogTour #GuestPost (@karen_heenan) @RaRaResources #RachelsRandomResources #Songbird

Songbird

I’m happy to be taking part in the blog tour today for Songbird by Karen Heenan. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity to read and review this book for you, but instead I have a fantastic guest post from the author. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for my place on the tour and to the author for providing the guest post for me to share with you.

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Bess has the voice of an angel, or so Henry VIII declares when he buys her from her father.

As a member of the Music, the royal company of minstrels, Bess grows up with in the decadent Tudor court, navigating the ever-changing tide of royals and courtiers.

Friends come and go as cracked voices, politics, heartbreak, and death loom over even the lowliest of musicians. Tom, her first and dearest friend is her only constant but as Bess becomes too comfortable at court, she may find that constancy has its limits.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Now, Let me share with you Karen’s experiences and advice on the publishing process.

‘Get out of your own way’ by Karen Heenan

I’ve been a writer for most of my life. I learned to read young, because I had mother who, if interrupted when she had her nose in a book, would say, “Unless you’re bleeding, it can wait until I finish this chapter.”

It made me desperate to know what was inside those covers. Not long after I learned to read, I realized someone wrote those books, and unlike my aspirations to ballet, which required toe shoes and lessons and talent, I could learn to be a writer. It still took talent, but more than that, it took hard work, and lots and lots of reading, which was no hardship.

For a long time, writing was something I did in secret, for me, that got me through my early teens and then kept me going during years of office work that drained the light from my soul. I don’t know who I would be if I hadn’t had the outlet of writing during those times, but I don’t think I’d be happy.

The idea of writing for publication was scary. It was unnecessary; I wrote for myself. Letting other people—strangers—read my writing seemed like being naked in public. I didn’t need the exposure. I did it for myself. That was enough.

Until one day, it wasn’t. I decided to submit my book (an earlier version of Songbird) to see if I could get an agent. In 2015, after a period of rejection—I didn’t keep count of how many times I heard the word “no”, but it was a lot—I got an offer. The agent suggested changes to improve the book, and I made them, all the while thinking, “How dare you!”  because obviously, in my eyes, my book was perfect.

It wasn’t. After a year, the agent and I parted ways, Songbird returned to my hard drive, and I spent a few years licking my wounds. In the fall of 2018, I rewrote the entire book, realizing—surprise!—that the agent’s comments were not only valid, but she’d gone nowhere near far enough in her suggestions. I cut 15,000 words without losing a character or a scene, and even added an epilogue.

One more try, and I then would give up. 

While I was working on the dreaded query letter, I saw something interesting on Twitter: there were a lot of book pitches in my feed. It was a pitch contest. Pitch your book in 280 characters or less. Agents and publishers like your tweet to express interest.

Hmm, I thought. Interesting, but I’m not ready. I don’t even have a query letter. I’ll try again next time.

I went upstairs to clean the bathroom, then came right back down, typed a quick pitch into my phone, and closed my eyes. What was the worst thing that could happen? I did it twice more before the end of the day, resolutely not looking at responses until it was over.

And there were responses. Only three, but still. Two were agents, and one was a small publisher. I responded to each, sending a query letter (which I quickly finished), and the requested samples. One agent still hasn’t responded, another wanted rewrites I wasn’t comfortable with (changes that would have altered my style and voice too much), and the publisher was interested in the book as it was, with only standard, non-painful copy edits and tweaks. 

I signed a contract in February, 2019, and my book came out in November.

The moral of the story: get out of your own way. What’s the worst thing that can happen?

Thank you for sharing that, Karen, good advice for those fledgling writers amongst us!

If you would like to read Songbird for yourself, it is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Make sure you visit the rest of the blogs taking part in the tour for more great content and reviews:

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About the Author

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Karen Heenan was born and raised in Philadelphia. She fell in love with books and stories before she learned to read, and has wanted to write for nearly as long. After far too many years in a cubicle, she set herself free to follow her dreams – which include gardening, sewing, traveling and, of course, lots of writing.

She lives in Lansdowne, PA, not far from Philadelphia, with two cats and a very patient husband.

Connect with Karen:

Website: http://www.karenheenan.com

Facebook: Karen Heenan Writer

Twitter: @karen_heenan

Instagram: @karen.heenan

Lady Edith’s Lonely Heart by Audrey Harrison #Spotlight #BlogTour (@AudreyHarrison2) @RaRaResources #RachelsRandomResources #LadyEdithsLonelyHeart

Lady Ediths Lonely Heart

I’mdelighted to be taking part today fin the blog tour today for Lady Edith’s Lonely Heart by Audrey Harrison with this spotlight post. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for asking me to take part in the tour.

Lady Edith

She is under pressure to find a husband she doesn’t want. He keeps to the fringes of society because of family constraints. Will the written word be enough to bring two lost souls together?

Lady Edith Longdon is an heiress, in danger of being classed a spinster, and disillusioned with the fops, dandies, and fortune hunters surrounding her in society. Deciding it’s time to take her future into her own hands, she devises a foolproof way of finding someone she can love. She’s convinced nothing could go wrong…

Lord Ralph Pensby, overwhelmed by a sense of obligation, and with no one he can turn to, is adrift from those around him…

Two people drawn together, both on a journey which will affect them in ways they could never have foreseen. Secret correspondence, mistrust and confusion, not to mention cads of the highest order, make this novel a fast-paced, heart-warming story.

I am not a big reader of Regency romance but I know there are a lot of fans out there who will love this book and I am thinking that it is a genre I should explore more!

Lady Edith’s Lonely Heart is out now and you can get your copy here.

Make sure you check out the rest of the blogs taking part in the tour for reviews of the book and other great content:

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About the Author

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AMAZONUK KINDLE STORYTELLER COMPETITION FINALIST 2018!

Audrey was born about two hundred years too late. She wants to belong to a time when men were men and women were dressed in gowns and could float, simper and sigh.

In the real world she has always longed to write, writing a full manuscript when she was fourteen years old. Work, marriage and children got in the way as they do and it was only when an event at work landed her in hospital that she decided to take stock. One Voluntary Redundancy later, she found that the words and characters came to the forefront and the writing began in earnest.

So, although at home more these days, the housework is still neglected and meals are still late on the table, but she has an understanding family, who usually shake their heads at her and sigh. That is a sign of understanding, isn’t it?

Website: http://www.audreyharrison.co.uk

Facebook: Audrey Harrison Author

Twitter: @AudreyHarrison2

Instagram: @audrey.harrisonauthor

The Devil’s Bride by Emma S. Jackson #BookReview #BlogTour (@ESJackson1) @darkstrokedark @crookedcatbooks @RNATweets #PNR #paranormalromance #romance #TheDevilsBride

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England, 1670

No one goes near Edburton Manor – not since the night in 1668, when demons rose from the ground to drag Lord Bookham’s new bride to a fiery death. Or so the locals say.

That’s what makes it the perfect hideout for the gang of highwaymen Jamie Lorde runs with.

Ghost stories have never frightened her. The living are a far more dangerous prospect, particularly to a woman in disguise as a man. A woman who can see spirits in a time when witches are hanged and who is working hard to gain the trust of the most ruthless, vicious man she has ever known because she intends to ruin and kill him.

But when the gang discovers Matthew, Lord Bookham’s illegitimate brother, who has been trapped by a curse at the Manor ever since the doomed wedding, all Jamie’s carefully laid plans are sent spiralling out of control.

I am over the moon today to be celebrating the publication of my fellow RNA New Writers’ Scheme member, Emma Jackson’s new paranormal romance, The Devil’s Bride. My thanks to Emma for inviting me to take part in the tour, and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Look, I’m going to admit that this book is in a genre I wouldn’t normally read. I’m not someone you will find wandering the aisles of the paranormal romance section of my local bookstore, eagerly sniffing out my next read. But when someone you know writes a book and is kind enough to mention you in the acknowledgements (thank you, Emma, that was a lovely surprise!), the least you can do is check it out.

I made the mistake of starting this very late at night, straight after I had finished another book, and I was way too tired at that point to give the opening chapters the attention they deserved , so it took my a little while to get into the story. This is entirely down to the fact that this book steps outside my normal genre choices and is so rich in detail and atmosphere that it required some concentration from me to get into the groove of the writing style. This is absolutely no reflection on the author at all, because when I came back to it fresh the next morning and started again, I was absolutely hooked and devoured it in a single sitting. I was so completely absorbed in the book that my OH was complaining that I wasn’t listening to him while he was trying to talk to me (he was right, I wasn’t, the book was way more interesting!)

Despite the fact I am not a connoisseur of Gothic romance, I can appreciate good writing in any genre when I come across it, and this book is just fabulous. From the opening chapters, we are whisked to a sumptuously drawn, all-enveloping world which you can feel, hear, touch, taste and smell from the very first page. Honestly, I felt like I was putting on a period costume and wearing it for the duration of the book; it was so vivid, I was living it. Imagine  yourself in a dense, dark forest surrounding a crumbling and sinister house, haunted by heaven knows what or who. Imagine you are approaching this house in the company of some bloodthirsty and merciless highwaymen, and at the same time, you are pretending to be something you are not and are desperate not to be found out. Can you feel the suspense and the tension? Well, you don’t have to imagine it if you pick this book up because the author will take you right there and plonk you in the middle of the action, then keep you there, straining every nerve from first page to last.

I loved the premise of this book, and inhabited fully the character of Jamie throughout. I was with her through every tense moment, every risky decision, every moment of strain between her and the other characters. Jamie is a brilliant protagonist to carry this book, a strong, independent woman of the day, fighting against the circumstances she finds herself in and determined to carry through with her plans. She is headstrong and passionate and, to a degree, ruthless, but with a seam of compassion that allows her to be  likeable. In short, she is my kind of woman and I absolutely adored her.

Matthew was also a great character, and Fielding, and Emma has built a beautiful, detailed and complete world here. In fact, it gave me a whiff of one of my favourite books of all time, Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier, with a strong woman falling in amongst rogues and having to hold her own, and I can’t really think of a better compliment to pay than that. We’ve got pistols and punches and curses and ghosts and romance and the supernatural, all described in exquisite detail. What could there possibly be not to love about this book?

I was left at the end exhilarated, breathless and totally shocked by the turn the plot had taken, and with a million questions that need answering. The author has very cleverly written a satisfying book on its own, but with the door left open for a sequel and a desperate compulsion in the reader to know WHAT COMES NEXT, which will mean the success of a sequel is already guaranteed. Where is the next book, I need it! I am in awe, Emma, truly, you have done the most magnificent job on this book, I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it.

The Devil’s Bride is out now in paperback and ebook and you can buy a copy here.

Make sure you follow the rest of the tour for more reviews:

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About the Author

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Emma Jackson is the best-selling author of A MISTLETOE MIRACLE, published by Orion Dash. A devoted bookworm and secret-story-scribbler since she was 6 years old, she joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association on their New Writers’ Scheme at the beginning of 2019, determined to focus on her writing. Her debut novel was published in November 2019.

When she’s not running around after her two daughters and trying to complete her current work-in-progress, Emma loves to read, bake, catch up on binge-watching TV programmes with her partner and plan lots of craft projects that will inevitably end up unfinished. THE DEVIL’S BRIDE is her second novel, published by DarkStroke as Emma S Jackson. She hopes to continue working across sub-genres of romance, as she believes variety is the spice of life. 

Connect with Emma:

Website: https://esjackson.co.uk

Facebook: Emma Jackson Author

Twitter: @ESJackson1

Instagram: @emma_s_jackson

 

Rocks and Flowers in a Box by Cynthia Hilston #Spotlight #BlogBlitz (@cynthiahilston) @RaRaResources #RachelsRandomResources #RocksAndFlowersInABox

Rocks and Flowers in a Box

I’m joining in the one day blog blitz today for Rocks and Flowers in a Box by Cynthia Hilton with this spotlight post. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for asking me to take part in the blitz.

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The wedding bells for Lorna and Tristan Blake toll doom right as the honeymoon begins with an unexpected turn in Tristan’s health. While World War II winds down, Lorna receives a letter from the War Department informing her that the brother she thought killed in action is still alive. She is overjoyed, but his return will dredge up a devastating secret about their parents’ tragic death –a secret that could destroy her new marriage and threaten her husband’s physical and mental well-being. What unfolds is balancing act of keeping the faith and shattering the pieces of the life she’s worked so hard to put back together.

Sounds like a good one for fans of World War II set romances.

Rocks and Flowers in a Box is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Make sure you check out the other blogs taking part in today’s blitz for more great content.

About the Author

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Cynthia Hilston is a thirty-something-year-old stay-at-home mom of three young kids, happily married. Writing has always been like another child to her. After twenty years of waltzing in the world of fan fiction, she finally stepped away to do her debut dance with original works of fiction.

In her spare time – what spare time? – she devours books, watches Doctor Who and Game of Thrones, pets her orange kitty, looks at the stars, and dreams of what other stories she wishes to tell.

Connect with Cynthia:

Website: https://cynthiahilston.com

Facebook: Cynthia Hilton Author

Twitter: @cynthiahilston

Instagram: @authorcynthiahilston

Cupidity by Lucinda Lamont #Extract #BlogTour (@lucindalamont7) @NextChapterPB @damppebbles #Cupidity #NextChapterPub #damppebblesblogtours

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Britain, World War Two. After newly widowed Martha is invited to live with her wealthy confidante, Mae, she finds herself attracted to her husband.

Meanwhile, an escaped convict is targeting women close to Martha’s new home. After several women are murdered, they realize the danger is closer than they could have ever thought.

As Martha’s passion threatens to unravel her friendships, paths cross with devastating consequences.

I am delighted to be taking part today in the blog tour for Cupidity by Lucinda Lamont. My thanks to Emma Welton of damp pebbles blog tours for inviting me to take part.

I am thrilled to be able to bring you an extract from the book today to whet your appetite. Here we go:

Extract

“‘Come on, Willy, do your coat up. This is going to be the start of a new adventure for us. You’ll get to live with Charlie. I wish I could have lived with a friend when I was your age.’

Martha pulled his zip up as far as his big woolly scarf would allow and pulled his little hat over his ears to make sure as much of his young, delicate skin was covered as could be. She stood up and looked around her. Taking it all in one last time. One last breath in this house. One last smell. The last time she would smell the scent that they had created as a family. The faint scent of John’s boot polish. A whiff of Willy’s talcum powder, and whilst everyone else might not smell it, the sweat and tears of Martha with a slight pang of her royal jelly moisturiser. She could hardly bear to leave this house. Once she shuts the front door for the last time, she shuts out the life she had with John. She shuts out the memories. The plans. Willy’s first few years. The happy times. The struggles.

 Martha had accepted Johnny’s death. She had no other choice. All she had now were the memories.

Every day he was serving in the army she would worry. So many people had lost their lives. So much heartbreak and families torn apart, but he would always come back. Most times with no warning. He would bound in through the front door, dump his bags on the floor, and call out to his family. Firstly, he would pick up Willy in his arms and give him a tight squeeze and plant a big kiss on his little rosy cheek. Willy’s eyes would light up, and he would giggle with pure delight. His little laugh would fill the room with happiness, changing the normally nervous atmosphere instantly. Then Johnny would put Willy down next to his toys and look up at Martha who was watching them. Martha looked beautiful as always. She would be wearing her apron most of the times he came back, with her immaculate victory rolls set in her deep brown, bouncy hair. She had winter-like clear blue eyes and always had her signature slick of red lipstick on.

No matter what the occasion, she always looked glamorous and beautiful, and what made her most beautiful was that she had no idea quite how captivating she was. Johnny would forever be in awe. Everything that had happened, everything he had seen, all the trauma he had experienced, it would disappear when he saw her. She was his everything. She was what drove him when he felt weak. When he was scared, he would be brave for her and his son too. He would do everything in his power for those two. The apples of his eye, and boy, was it good to be home. He would take a step closer to Martha, and she would look at him.

Her stomach flipped every time she saw him. Twelve years together and he still made her weak at the knees; but every time he left, she felt sick to the stomach and would stay that way until he got back. She would finish drying her hands with the tea towel, a household item which had almost become like a comforter for her.

Like clockwork, the emotion would rise in her. She would try to fight it back; but the more she did, the stronger it would get. Her big blue eyes would start to fill quickly with salty tears, and then the first big tear would leak from her perfectly lined, doe-like eye and roll down her cheek; and then another and then another until she was crying uncontrollably. She would fling her arms around him and sob. He would pull her in, one arm around the top of her back and shoulders and the other at the bottom of her back, and gently rub his hand up and down her slight frame, soothe her and tell her it was ok. He was back now.

She hated doing this, and every time promised herself she wouldn’t the next time, but she knew that was a promise she couldn’t keep. She didn’t want him thinking she couldn’t cope, she didn’t want to make his job any harder for him than it was, but the relief to have him home every time was a feeling that would never grow old.

Those memories, for Martha, were to be just that. On April 22nd, 1943 life changed. It was one of those life events whereby people say you will never forget it, but it hadn’t been that way for her, she was already beginning to forget. It was one big blur, and that blur lasted for months.

Cupidity is available now and you can buy a copy here.

Please do make sure you visit the rest of the blogs taking part in the tour for more reviews and other great content:

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About the Author

Lucinda Lamont

Lucinda is 31 years old in lives in Hampshire. Born in Aberdeenshire, she spent the early years of her life in a small fishing town before relocating with her mother to the South Coast.

She is the middle child and only girl with four brothers.

Lucinda began her higher education in studying Performing Arts and then began a degree in Law (but dropped out). She is a qualified hairdresser but the arts always drew her back in and she took up an interest in writing which she now plans to continue to make a career out of.

Mother of one, a baby boy, she works part time for a Business publication and spends her spare time soaking up the Hampshire countryside and plotting her next stories.

Connect with Lucinda:

Facebook: Lucinda Lamont Author

Twitter: @lucindalamont7

Instagram: @lucinda_lamont-author

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The Lady of the Ravens by Joanna Hickson #BookReview #BlogTour (@JoannaHickson) @HarperFiction @annecater #RandomThingsTours #LadyOfTheRavens

The Lady of the Ravens Cover

Two women, two very different destinies, drawn together in the shadow of the Tower of London:

Elizabeth of York, her life already tainted by dishonour and tragedy, now queen to the first Tudor king, Henry the VII.

Joan Vaux, servant of the court, straining against marriage and motherhood and privy to the deepest and darkest secrets of her queen. Like the ravens, Joan must use her eyes and her senses, as conspiracy whispers through the dark corridors of the Tower.

Through Joan’s eyes, The Lady of the Ravens inhabits the squalid streets of Tudor London, the imposing walls of its most fearsome fortress and the glamorous court of a kingdom in crisis.

I am delighted that it is my turn on the blog tour for The Lady of the Ravens by Joanna Hickson, set during my favourite historical period. Huge thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part, and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I was delighted to be invited to read this book because it covers my absolute favourite period of history, but during a window of time where my reading has been sorely lacking. The Wars of the Roses are my historical obsession, and I have read a myriad of books about the reign of Henry VIII, but period immediately following the Battle of Bosworth and the early reign of Henry VII is a time period which has largely slipped through my  historical fiction net, until now.

Despite the fact that the author clearly does not share my love of Richard III, I absolutely adored this novel. It ranks up there with the best historical fiction I have read by my favourite authors in the genre and I completely lost myself in the text, transported back to the fifteenth century and the Tower of London. The selection of the central character to tell the story, Joan Vaux, a commoner risen high in the fledgling Tudor court, is inspired, as it allows her a to look in on the court from slightly outside it and give us a more rounded view of what life was like in the country at that time, than would the use of someone who was confined entirely within the royal family at that time. Aside from which, she is a fascinating character in her own right, and quite extraordinary for a woman of that time. I loved reading of the intimate relationships between Joan and the young Queen Elizabeth, and Joan and her mother. A fascinating insight into the difficulties faced by women at the time who had little personal power and were largely treated as valuable chattels to be traded for power and favour, and their ingenuity in finding ways to influence events regardless.

This is a time of great turmoil in the country, as the newly founded Tudor dynasty tries to cement its hold on England through marriage between Henry Tudor and the Yorkist daughter of Edward IV, Elizabeth of York, whilst challenges to the throne continue to come from Yorkist rebels who are unwilling to admit defeat. The ongoing mystery surrounding what happened to the ‘Princes in the Tower’ gives additional credence to rumours that boys with a better claim to the throne than Henry may still be alive, and the importance of the children that Elizabeth bears for Henry and the alliances that can be made with the noble houses of Europe through marriage cannot be stressed enough. It was a time of great tension, which the author makes us relive throughout the pages and it makes for a riveting tale.

I find the minutiae of life, both in and out of court, at this time endlessly fascinating and the author peppers the book with the luscious details of how families were arranged, households run, children raised and the court operated. As well as an entertaining story, this novel is a great history lesson and this fact great enriches the reading experience; indeed it is my primary joy in reading historical novels. This one really brings it all to life and transports the reader right into the heart of the period, the sights, sounds, smells, textures, medicines, ailments, food, drink, farming, battle, building, property ownership, titles, protocol – it is all here in riveting detail, but in ways that enhance the story and do not in any way impede the pace of the writing. The author’s voice is modern and refreshing and easy to read, and carries an obvious passion for the period. I thoroughly enjoyed every page of the book and, on reaching the end, was already wanting to move to the next title.

All lovers of historical fiction, especially the Tudor period, should buy this book. As well as being rich in period detail, and a stonking good story, the book itself is beautiful. I loved it so much, I had to buy a hardback copy to grace my shelf, as I know I will read it again. It is hard to tell from my photo, but it has sumptuous gold detailing on cover. I am already planning on buying another copy to give my Tudor-mad mother for her birthday. Already on my favourites of the year list. I may even forgive the author for her disdain for my beloved Richard…

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The Lady of the Ravens is out now and you can buy a copy here.

There are lots more fabulous blogs taking part in the tour, so make sure you visit them too:

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About the Author

Joanna Hickson Author Photo

Joanna Hickson spent twenty-five years presenting and producing News and Arts programmes for the BBC. Her first published book was a children’s historical novel Rebellion at Orford Castle, but more recently she has turned to adult fiction, concentrating on bringing fifteenth century English history and some of its fascinating principal characters to life. She is married with a large family and gets inspiration from her Wiltshire farmhouse home, which dates back to her chosen period. 

Connect with Joanna:

Facebook: Joanna Hickson

Twitter: @joannahickson

Dear Mrs Bird by A. J. Pearce, Narrated by Anna Popplewell #BookReview #Audiobook (@ajpearcewrites) @picadorbooks @MacmillanAudio @audibleuk @AnnaPopplewells

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London, 1940. Emmeline Lake and her best friend, Bunty, are trying to stay cheerful despite the Luftwaffe making life thoroughly annoying for everyone. Emmy dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent, and when she spots a job advertisement in the newspaper she seizes her chance – but after a rather unfortunate misunderstanding, she finds herself typing letters for the formidable Henrietta Bird, the renowned agony aunt of Woman’s Friend magazine. 

Mrs Bird is very clear: letters containing any form of Unpleasantness must go straight into the bin. Emmy finds herself dismissing problems from lovelorn, grief-stricken and morally conflicted readers in favour of those who fear their ankles are unsightly or have trouble untangling lengths of wool. But soon the thought of desperate women going unanswered becomes too much to bear, and Emmy decides the only thing for it is to secretly write back…. 

I know, I am SO late to the party with this book. I have had the hardback version sitting on my TBR forever, and I had never got round to reading it for some reason, mainly pressures of all the blog tours I took on last year. I finally gave in and bought the audiobook with one of my monthly credits and, it was obviously fate that had stopped me reading it because I absolutely adored the audio version.

I just have to say from the off that Anna Popplewell does the most amazing job of narrating this book. Any of you who have read it will know that the author captures the patterns and peculiarities of speech from the era perfectly and, hearing this spoken aloud rather than reading it, really brings it to life. I could picture Mrs. Bird so clearly in my mind’s eye through the narration, it gave the novel an extra dimension and I would highly recommend listening to this in audio format. Not every book lends itself equally well to audiobook, and so much of the success depends on the narrator, this one is just beautiful.

Moving on from the format, I fell completely in love with this book. The premise was what drew me to it in the first place, the magical idea of a repressed wartime agony aunt refusing to deal with any Unpleasantness from her readers and a sympathetic young woman who relates only too well to the messes that women found themselves in during wartime. It was a genius way of demonstrating the perils of war in a completely fresh manner with a unique approach and it worked like magic. I have to say, I am not personally a fan of wartime books, I often find them quite traumatic, so the fact I loved this one so much is testament to the skill of the author.

The book is a delightful blend of gentle comedy and pathos. The situation the girls find themselves in is dire, but their friendships and love for those around them bolster them and pull them through, so when that is threatened, it puts their whole world into more peril than the war itself, and this is the real core story of the book. Our personal relationships are the things that hold us solid through the direst of times and anything that threatens those are the things that are truly dangerous. I absolutely adored the approach that the author took to this whole topic, it spoke to me on a really fundamental level and was the main reason that this book got under my skin.

The main character of Emmy was totally relatable as a modern young woman dealing with extraordinary circumstances. Flawed but wonderful, any reader would fall in love with her and be riding the highs and lows of her experience through every page. My twelve-year-old daughter, who listened to portions of this book while we were in the car, was fascinated by the name Bunty (which is ‘not a real name, Mummy’), and kept asking me what had happened during the portions of the book she had missed. Anything which can capture the imagination of a modern tween like this must be something special.

And what to say about the titular Mrs. Bird? Only that the author has created a character so much larger than life that anyone who reads this will never forget her. A Lady Bracknell for a new age.

I loved this book so much that I have given a copy to every one of my friends who hasn’t yet read it, nominated it as my Secret Santa book in my book club swap and gifted the audiobook to my writer buddy. I know it wasn’t published this year, but it is my read of the year for 2019, and I know I will come back to it again and again. Pure joy on the page, as close to reading perfection as you are ever likely to find.

Dear Mrs Bird is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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AJ Pearce was born in Hampshire, UK. Her favourite subjects at school were English and History, which now (finally!) seems to be making some sense.

She majored in American History at the University of Sussex, spending her Junior Year at Northwestern University in Illinois, USA.

She began writing as a hobby in 2005. In 2012 she came across a 1939 copy of a weekly women’s magazine and had the idea of writing a novel set in wartime London.

In 2016, following a seven-publisher auction in the UK, Dear Mrs Bird was acquired by Picador, and in the USA by Scribner after a similarly competitive auction.  Dear Mrs Bird was published in hardback in the UK in April 2018, becoming a Sunday Times Top 10 Bestseller two weeks later. It has been sold for translation in thirteen other countries.

AJ was one of The Observer’s New Faces Of Fiction Debut Novelists 2018, and was shortlisted in the Breakthrough Author category in the UK’s 2018 Books Are My Bag Readers Awards. Dear Mrs Bird was chosen as one of NetGalley UK’s Top Ten Books of 2018, and shortlisted in the US LibraryReads Favorites of Favorites 2018.

In 2019, Dear Mrs Bird was a Richard and Judy Book Clubpick. It was shortlisted for the Debut of the Year at the 2019 British Book Awards as well as the Royal Society of Literature Sir Christopher Bland Prize, and long listed for the inaugural Comedy Women in Print award.

In July 2019 it was further longlisted for the Goldsborough Books Glass Bell Award, and the Historical Writers’ Association’s Debut Crown 2019 for the best historical debut.

AJ is currently writing her second novel, the sequel to Dear Mrs Bird.

Connect with A. J. Pearce:

Website: https://www.ajpearce.com

Facebook: A J Pearce Writes

Twitter: @ajpearcewrites

Instagram: @ajpearcewrites