1942, Suffolk. Irene is desperate to earn enough money to leave her small village and is determined that she will not marry local farmer Norman. She falls in love with a black American GI but the pair face opposition from everyone. 2022, Ruby returns to Suffolk to sort through her late grandmother Irene’s house and discovers a set of diaries from the war years.
The Locket is a dual timeline book set during WW2 and the present day.
I was instantly swept up in the lives of Irene and Ruby. It is immediately clear that Irene didn’t get her happy ending with Theo as she ended up married to Norman who is Ruby’s grandfather. Ruby’s journey of discovery is therefore ours as well as we wait to find out what happened to the love story of Irene and Theo.
Ruby has her own emotional issues and healing to do as she has split from her boyfriend and also lost her job. She has huge guilt that she wasn’t able to see her grandmother at the end of her life due to covid and I liked this modern reference.
I had mixed feelings about Norman’s sister Philippa in both the past and present: in some ways I was so sad for her as she is always unwanted and seen as a burden. However, her behaviour is spoilt and selfish with a mean streak.
The racism that Theo faces is awful. The author does not use the worst derogatory words but they are implied. It seems incredible that segregation still existed yet it was fine for ethnic minorities to risk their lives for the war effort. Theo endures hardship from every angle and it is relentless. I think the author has researched the era well and addresses the stigma that used to be associated with mixed race relationships.
The Locket is a warm and emotional historical novel.
England, 1942. ‘It has to stay secret,’ he whispers, placing the locket around her neck. ‘If they find it, they’ll send me away.’ As she holds the locket, glinting in the moonlight, she can’t hold back the tears. ‘I just wish we didn’t have to hide…’
When farmer’s daughter Irene meets Theodore at a village dance, sparks fly instantly. The war has brought him all the way from Louisiana to build a US airbase just across her father’s fields, but as they sway together, there is nothing else in the world. Only his gentle touch and his deep brown eyes.
But being together comes at a price. As Theodore is Black, the might of the US Air Force is against them, and all the members of the little village community disapprove of their relationship. And they will all go to terrible lengths to tear the two young lovers apart…
Decades later, heartbroken Ruby is back at her family’s crumbling farmhouse for the first time in years, after the loss of her beloved grandmother Irene. The roof has fallen in, family photographs are damaged – and her grandmother’s jewellery is nowhere to be found.
When Ruby uncovers her grandmother’s waterlogged diaries, she discovers that Irene treasured one piece of lost jewellery above all. A locket from a man called Theodore. And the missing locket holds the key to unravelling a heartbreaking secret that changed her grandmother’s life…
Is someone in the village hiding the locket to keep the truth about Irene and Theodore buried? And can Ruby find a way to honour her grandmother’s memory –or in digging up the pain of the war, will she tear her family apart?
An absolutely breathtaking World War Two story about the power of love in the face of adversity, and how the tragic consequences of war can echo through generations. Fans of Fiona Valpy, The Nightingale and All the Light We Cannot See will be addicted to this incredible read.
Natalie is a RITA nominated, USA Today Bestselling author of six novels: The Dress Thief, The Milliner’s Secret (re-titled “The Girl who Dreamed of Paris”), The Wardrobe Mistress, Summer in the Vineyards, The Secret Vow and The Paris Girl that feature sisters, Katya and Tatiana. Since then, Natalie has released Into the Burning Dawn and The Italian Girl’s Secret, books set in the lucious Bay of Naples during the second world war. Now, the latest novel is available and it is called The Girl with the Yellow Star. The story takes place in Cornwall on the glorious north coast, and is a heart-wrenching story of loss, love and challenging choices.
Lady Eleanor Swift is involved in the planning of a community celebration for King George V’s birthday. But the plans go awry when the chair of the committee is found strangled to death by bunting…
Murder by Invitation is the 15th book in the Lady Swift series of cosy historical murder mysteries. Each book has a standalone case but the personal relationships have developed over the course of the preceding books.
Eleanor and her wonderful butler Clifford are working hard on a village event when they receive news that Mr Prestwick-Peterson has been killed. Along with Ellie’s new fiance Chief Inspector Hugh Seldon, the trio begin to investigate the death. Fans of the series will be delighted by the village’s excitement at their engagement and this provides light relief from the topic of murder.
As usual in this series, there are plenty of suspects and motives for Eleanor and Clifford to expose and unpick. She throws herself into situations while he provides the steadying support. I enjoyed being back at Henley Hall with the other staff as well, and seeing Eleanor and Clifford’s relationships with the other villagers.
There is little detail about the body or any violence, as you would expect from the genre of cosy murder mystery. I liked the historical aspects to the book and the atmosphere of village life that is created.
Murder by Invitation is an enjoyable addition to this entertaining series.
Lady Swift has been cordially invited to a huge royal celebration in Little Buckford to toast the King’s birthday… but wait, is that a body in the village hall?
Lady Eleanor Swift and her loyal butler Clifford are busy lending a hand with preparations for the big day. The grand dining room at Henley Hall is overflowing with home-sewn flags, paint and royal rosettes. Even Gladstone the bulldog and his new friend Tomkins the ginger cat are invited!
But just days before the event Mr Prestwick-Peterson, the chairman of the celebrations committee, is found dead in the village hall: strangled with handmade red, white and royal blue bunting.
With the village hall in total disarray and a key part of the decorations missing, Eleanor wonders if someone dastardly is sabotaging the King’s birthday celebrations?Teaming up with her handsome beau Detective Hugh Seldon to question the local butcher, baker, and pub landlord it becomes clear that the meddlesome busybody Mr Prestwick-Peterson was not universally liked in charming Little Buckford. Indeed, the only mystery is why he wasn’t murdered before…
Searching Mr Prestwick-Peterson’s pristinely organised rooms, Eleanor is surprised to find a faded photograph of a beautiful young woman hidden within the pages of a novel. Could this be the key to untangling this very village murder? And can Eleanor catch the killer before the party is over for her, too?
A totally charming, unputdownable Golden Age murder mystery with characters readers will adore. Perfect for fans of Agatha Christie, T.E. Kinsey and Lee Strauss.
Verity Bright is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing partnership that has spanned a quarter of a century. Starting out writing high-end travel articles and books, they published everything from self-improvement to humour, before embarking on their first historical mystery. They are the authors of the fabulous Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery series, set in the 1920s.
Back in March I became a guinea pig mum and now eagerly awaiting becoming a guinea granny! This week is Guinea Pig Awareness Week (25th-29th September 2023) so I thought I would spread the word about the fabness of guinea pigs!
The guineas are so excited every morning and what a racket they make! Rustle a bag of salad and they yell for attention. Of course, try and handle, stroke or pick them up and they will run away…!
I would recommend rehoming and rescuing guinea pigs and this is the theme of this year’s Guinea Pig Awareness Week. All of our guinea pigs have been rehomed from other families who could no longer commit to their needs.
Guinea pigs are actually quite a lot of work. They poo 100 times a day so need to be cleaned out daily. They need their nails clipped once a month or more often if required, plus regular grooming depending on their coat/fur. But they are so cute and spending time with them is very rewarding, especially watching them popcorning with happiness!
We have two guinea pigs who are currently pregnant (planned!) but this is a dangerous time. 20% of guinea pigs die in pregnancy or birth and this risk significantly increases after the age of 7 months. Guinea pigs should be bred before this age due to the fusion of pelvic bones.
Guinea Pig Awareness Week aims to highlight 5 areas which are key to keeping your guineas happy: diet, behaviour, health, companionship, environment.
Diet: guinea pigs’ main food source is hay and this should be unlimited. They also use hay to burrow and play so lots is needed! Daily fresh veggies should be provided alongside vitamin C rich pellets. Guinea pigs also eat their own poo to extract even more nutrients.
Behaviour: guinea pigs are prey animals so should be treated gently. You should also be mindful of keeping them safe from other pets such as cats and dogs. As mentioned above, guinea pigs love to burrow in hay for warmth and to feel secure. Guinea pigs are awake for about 20 hours a day so need entertainment or ‘boredom busters’ as well as company.
Health: dental health is very important and chewing helps to control tooth growth. Correct sexing is important to avoid unwanted pregnancy. Look out for bumblefoot which sounds cute but is actually deadly. Be aware of ringworm, fleas, mites, flies and tics. It is important to regularly groom longer haired breeds and claws should be clipped monthly.
Companionship: in Norway it is illegal to keep single guinea pigs. They thrive in pairs and females can live in larger herds. Bonding is a gradual process so it is important to take it slowly an watch our for signs of aggression.
Environment: guinea pigs should spend an hour outdoors each day. Their home should be large enough and have enough space for the guinea pigs to spend time together whilst also having opportunities to stay separate.
I hope Guinea Pig Awareness Week celebrates these wonderful creatures while educating us humans!
Daisy and Hazel set up a detective agency at their boarding school but cases are few and far between. Until the two school girls discover a body and begin to investigate the murder of one of their teachers…
Murder Most Unladylike is a children’s book aimed at ages 9-12. It is a murder mystery but there is no graphic detail; even so, I would advise the content is more appropriate for the upper end of the age range.
A boarding school for girls, two wannabe sleuths, teenage angst, MURDER! This book has so many layers and I enjoyed it as an adult but would also like to share this with my kids. Murder mysteries are one of my favourite genres and this is a fab introduction for younger readers.
I found it difficult to work out when the book is set. The girls seem quite modern in their thinking and outlook on life but there are mentions of deportment and gymslips which made me realise it has an historical setting in the 1930s.
The book is written from the first person perspective of Hazel. She does experience some racism as she comes from Hong Kong. I enjoyed the narration of this audiobook by Gemma Chan. Her delivery evoked the teen characterisation of Hazel and I felt easily drawn into the plot. Daisy has a much more forthright personality and is clearly the dominant force in the pairing.
Murder Most Unladylike is an interesting and intriguing murder mystery aimed at older children.
When Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong set up their very own deadly secret detective agency at Deepdean School for Girls, they struggle to find any truly exciting mysteries to investigate. (Unless you count the case of Lavinia’s missing tie. Which they don’t, really.)
But then Hazel discovers the Science Mistress, Miss Bell, lying dead in the Gym. She thinks it must all have been a terrible accident — but when she and Daisy return five minutes later, the body has disappeared. Now the girls know a murder must have taken place… and there’s more than one person at Deepdean with a motive.
Now Hazel and Daisy not only have a murder to solve: they have to prove a murder happened in the first place. Determined to get to the bottom of the crime before the killer strikes again (and before the police can get there first, naturally), Hazel and Daisy must hunt for evidence, spy on their suspects and use all the cunning, scheming and intuition they can muster. But will they succeed? And can their friendship stand the test?