Posted in Blog Tours, Historical Fiction

#TheOperator

10th March 2020

It’s 1952. The switchboard operators in Wooster, Ohio, love nothing more than to eavesdrop on their neighbours’ conversations, and gossip about what they learn.

Vivian Dalton is no different (despite her teenage daughter’s disapproval), and always longs to hear something scandalous. But on the night of December 15th, she wishes she hadn’t. The secret that’s shared by a stranger on the line threatens to rip the rug of Vivian’s life from under her.

Vivian may be mortified, but she’s not going to take this lying down. She wants the truth, no matter how painful it may be. But one secret tends to lead to another . . .

This moving, heart-felt and ultimately uplifting novel brilliantly weaves together an irresistible portrayal of a town buzzing with scandal, and an unforgettable story of marriage, motherhood and the unbreakable ties of family.

Published by Headline on 10 March 2020, Contemporary Fiction, 352 pages

This is the story of Vivian, her family and some of the other people in her small town, where everyone knows everyone’s business especially since the women that work on the switch board listen into other peoples telephone conversations!

I enjoyed that there were lots of little stories woven in to the main characters tale and that these all connected in someway throughout.

This book really reminded me of an episode of revenge (you all remember that TV show from 2011 right, with Emily Thorne in?) just without the murders. I kept thinking I had it all figured out and then what I thought was going to happen over 100+ pages was revealed over the next 5 or 6 pages which then had me mystified as to where it was going and this happened several times throughout the book!

I did find this rather slow but by no means was it less enjoyable, it just wasn’t one that I wanted to sit and devour in one go.

Thanks to Random Things Blog Tours – Anne Carter & Headline

Gretchen Berg grew up in the US Midwest and now lives in Oregon. She has always been curious about history and family dynamics, and has a personal family tree of over 16,000 people. Her family research started with her own grandmother’s little brown notebook full of details, and it was the story of her grandmother – herself a switchboard operator in Wooster, Ohio, in the 1950’s – that inspired this book and partly provides an authenticity to the narrative.

THE OPERATOR is her astonishingly accomplished first novel with a vibrant narrative full of brilliantly portrayed characters, surprise plot twists, and a deftly handled exploration of the issues of class and race relations in 1950’s America.

Posted in Blog Tours, Historical Fiction

#TheLostLightsofStKilda

1927: When Fred Lawson takes a summer job on St Kilda, little does he realise that he has joined the last community to ever live on the beautiful, isolated island.

Only three years later, St Kilda will be evacuated, the islanders near-dead from starvation. But for Fred, that summer – and the island woman, Chrissie, whom he falls in love with – becomes the very thing that sustains him in the years ahead.

1940: Fred has been captured behind enemy lines in France and finds himself in a prisoner-of-war camp. Beaten and exhausted, his thoughts return to the island of his youth and the woman he loved and lost. When Fred makes his daring escape, prompting a desperate journey across occupied territory, he is sustained by one thought only: finding his way back to her.

The Lost Lights of St Kilda is a sweeping love story that will cross oceans and decades. It is a moving and deeply vivid portrait of two lovers, a desolate island, and the extraordinary power of home in the face of darkness.

Published by Corvus on 5th March 2020, 278 pages

This is a the story of Chrissie, Fred and Archie. The story spans decades, a war and a lost way of life.

It follows Chrissie from her childhood on the island where life was still lived as it had been for hundreds of years until the end of the second world war. It is a story of love, betrayal and loyalties.

Although there is no suspense or twists in this story I found I couldnt put it down and I got completely lost in it. It is beautifully written and brings the Island of St Kilda alive, I could picture the landscapes and the wildlife exactly as it was written and felt emotionally involved in Chrissie’s life. The difference between modern life and life on the island was fascinating especially as it wasn’t that long ago.

The author created characters that seemed very real but also used actual people that played vital roles in the second world war that had me reading up about them as soon as I had finished the book.

I would definitely recommend this to historical fiction fans.

Thanks to @annecater at Random Things Tours and @CorvusBooks for my copy in exchange for review.

Elisabeth Gifford grew up in a vicarage in the industrial Midlands. She studied French literature and world religions at Leeds University. Her bestselling novel, Secrets of the Sea House, was shortlisted for the Historical Writers’ Association’s Debut Crown for Best First Historical Novel in 2014. She is married with three children, and lives in Kingston upon Thames.

Posted in Blog Tours, Historical Fiction

#TheBeeKeeperOfAleppo

21st Feburary 2020
Featured as One to Watch for in 2019 across Sunday Express, Irish Independent, Belfast Telegraph, Sunday Independent, Woman’s Way and Culturefly “This is a novel of international significance. Courageous, provocative, haunting, it will open your eyes”


In the midst of war, he found loveIn the midst of darkness, he found courageIn the midst of tragedy, he found hopeNuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo – until the unthinkable happens. When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape.

But what Afra has seen is so terrible she has gone blind, and so they must embark on a perilous journey through Turkey and Greece towards an uncertain future in Britain. On the way, Nuri is sustained by the knowledge that waiting for them is Mustafa, his cousin and business partner, who has started an apiary and is teaching fellow refugees in Yorkshire to keep bees.

As Nuri and Afra travel through a broken world, they must confront not only the pain of their own unspeakable loss, but dangers that would overwhelm the bravest of souls. Above all – and perhaps this is the hardest thing they face – they must journey to find each other again.

This book was heart wrenchingly wonderful. The story tells of a husband and wife’s journey from Aleppo to find sanctuary in the UK with snippets of the past that show why they are fleeing.

It was beautifully written, I loved the technique Lefteri employed where some chapters ended on the same word that the new chapter started, it really drove home how something so simple can have two completely different meanings and can live in two completely separate worlds. This theme continues as we are given a glimpse at the ways in which grief and trauma affect the two main characters who, have ultimately shared the same experience.

I, as most of you will, have seen the stories in the news but nothing hit home for me as hard as this book.  I cried within the first 20 pages and then again throughout. The way Lefteri writes the horrors of the past whilst ultimately sharing that there is always hope is extremely moving.

Although this is a work of fiction, there is truth behind it. People are undertaking the same journey daily and whilst I feel very fortunate to be where I am it left me deeply unhappy that this is happening around me. There are some amazing charities out there that are helping the refugees and there really is one run by a former beekeeper from Syria called ‘The Buzz Project’.

I would definitely recommend this book and have already bought and given a copy to a friend.

Thank you so much to @Tr4cyF3nt0n and @ZaffreBooks for letting me be part of this blog tour to promote the release of the paperback edition.

Brought up in London, Christy Lefteri is the child of Cypriot refugees. She is a lecturer in creative writing at Brunel University. The Beekeeper of Aleppo was born out of her time working as a volunteer at a Unicef supported refugee centre in Athens, and draws on her own personal experiences getting to know those escaping harrowing war torn regions. Everything in the book; dark or beautiful has come directly from people she has met.