#LettersFromTheHeart | #BookReview | THE LOST ART OF KEEPING SECRETS by Eva Rice @EvaRiceAuthor (October 24th 2005, Plume Books @PlumeBooks) #BeatTheBacklist

THE LOST ART OF KEEPING SECRETS by Eva Rice
24th October 2005, Plume Books

Set in 1950s London The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets centers around Penelope the wide- eyed daughter of a legendary beauty Talitha who lost her husband to the war. Penelope with her mother and brother struggles to maintain their vast and crumbling ancestral home while postwar London spins toward the next decade’s cultural revolution.

Penelope wants nothing more than to fall in love and when her new best friend Charlotte a free spirit in the young society set drags Penelope into London with all of its grand parties she sets in motion great change for them all. Charlotte’s mysterious and attractive brother Harry uses Penelope to make his American ex-girlfriend jealous with unforeseen consequences and a dashing wealthy American movie producer arrives with what might be the key to Penelope’s and her family’s future happiness.

Vibrant witty and filled with vivid historical detail The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets is an utterly unique debut novel about a time and place just slipping into history.

Sometimes you buy books that you think look and sound interesting and that you would enjoy, you take them home put them on your shelf and then look at them occasionally before choosing something else to read. This was the case for me with THE LOST ART OF KEEPING SECRETS. I bought it years ago and it has done 7 house moves with me and still I never got around to reading it. Until the Beat the Backlist challenge that we were set for the blog. I finally picked up this book and BOY am I glad I did!

What a wonderful, cute story. Penelope is a shy girl of 18 trying to adapt to life in a big house after the war which caused the family to lose the head of the household and Penelope’s mother’s reason for living. Penelope’s life is pretty boring until Charlotte comes along and picks Penelope out of a line of people at a bus stop. When Penelope and Charlotte take tea with Charlotte’s aunt a friendship is formed and Penelope’s life goes in a direction she never imagined.

We are introduced to lots of different types of characters. There is Charlotte’s cousin, magician Harry, head over heels in love with an American socialite who is just a little out of reach, Penelope’s brother Inigo who is so music obsessed it is all he lives and breathes as well as Penelope’s beautiful mother who is struggling to adapt to life without her husband in a house falling to pieces around her.

As Penelope sets on a path full of adventure, we get to go along for the ride. Penelope discovers lots about herself, love and music as she embarks on a new journey. I loved how Penelope developed from a shy unsure girl into a beautiful confident woman. Watching her grow was like seeing a flower bloom throughout the seasons. Penelope was easy to like and exactly how you would imagine a girl of 18 to start out as a grown up. 

I did keep having to remind myself that the book is set in the 1950s and not earlier as the description of the house and the manners of the people reminded me of what I have read about in the 1930s. I love the way that Elvis Presley is just starting out on his career and that was interesting for me to read about. 

I loved how the story ended with Penelope finally admitting her feelings for a certain boy but left open ended for the reader decide where they go from here. I imagine that Penelope got a happy ending and became a well known writer.

I adored this book, it was such a cute lovable story and I highly recommend for people looking for something to the usual romance type of book. Me enjoying this book so much has reminded me that I need to read more of the books sitting on my shelf, who knows what other gems are hiding there!

You can buy THE LOST ART OF KEEPING SECRETS from the following booksellers (and obviously many more! Support your local booksellers where you can!)

Amazon (UK) | Amazon (US) | Amazon (AU)

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#LettersFromTheHeart | #BookReview| THE CLOCKMAKER’S DAUGHTER by Kate Morton (20th September 2018, Atria Books @AtriaBooks)

THE CLOCKMAKER’S DAUGHTER by Kate Morton
Published; September 20th 2018, Atria Books

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My real name, no one remembers. The truth about that summer, no one else knows.

In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe’s life is in ruins.

Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of an arresting-looking woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist’s sketchbook containing the drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river.

Why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie? And who is the beautiful woman in the photograph? Will she ever give up her secrets?

I have read one of Kate’s previous books and really enjoyed it so when I had the opportunity to read The Clockmaker’s Daughter I was really excited to get stuck in.

I struggled to get gripped by this book to start with. It jumps between 3 different time zones and each zone has several different characters so it was quite an adjustment to learn who everyone was although once I did I found myself engrossed in where the story was going to go.

It was different to the types of books I usually read. It was completely unpredictable with so many different paths and I found myself eager to discover where they would all lead and what the final outcome would be. I also knew that all the characters would link at some point.

The story was told from lots of different people’s point of views and I found it interesting to see how each event was perceived. I did struggle to really form an opinion of lots of characters, I feel there were just too many to really get an understanding of any which did take away from the enjoyment for me.

I was very satisfied with the ending, I think Kate did a fantastic job of pulling all the threads together and answering all the questions that built up throughout the story. I ended the book happy with the outcome which doesn’t always happen in books that have lots of different characters.

 

You can buy THE CLOCKMAKER’S DAUGHTER from the following booksellers (and obviously many more! Support your local booksellers where you can!)

Amazon (UK) | Amazon (US)

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#LettersFromTheHeart | #SeriesReview | THE POLDARK SAGA by Winston Graham (Published between 1945-2002) #Poldark

Wow! Cannot believe I have gotten to the end of the series. It has been one hell of a ride that I genuinely think will stay with me for time to come, well at least until I pick it up again.

From the moment we meet Ross and later Demelza we fall in love with both of them and their relationship. For most of the series we get to see them grow as characters as well and as in their relationship and security of knowing they have each other. The first 6 books are mainly about them and the paths their lives follow but we are also introduced to lots of new characters and see a glance into their lives. Dwight and Caroline, who also win our hearts as well as each other and become constant throughout, are just one example of the people that become entwined into our hearts.

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My favourite thing about this series was how it was always so unpredictable. Each book starts off one way and completely changes direction by the end. Even the things that happen are never what the reader expects and I was constantly on the edge of my seat eager to turn the pages.

Winston was never afraid to change things up and we lose lots of our favourite characters to death shockingly in some instances. I definitely felt some of these deaths deep in my heart and even found myself in tears at some points.

As the series progresses and become more about the younger generation of Poldarks, Ross and Demelza still very much at the helm, I was expecting to enjoy the stories less and less but I found myself still as much engrossed as the first books. All I wanted was for each person to find their happy ending, and when they did I let out a little cheer until yet something else happened to pull the rug out from under me.

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In the later books the French Revolution becomes a big part of the story and although these bits lost me a bit, it was clear to see that Winston had done his research and the element of truth really added to the story and made it feel more real.

As we draw to the end of the series I found myself needing to know how it ended but at the same time reluctant to finish. Winston was very good at making sure lots of the loose ends were tied up and I found myself with a grin like a Cheshire cat as I turned the last page.

I would highly recommend this series to fans of historical romance, it is well worth the effort and time to finish the complete series and it has definitely found it’s way onto my favourites list as well as into my heart.

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Jump into all the reviews below;

ROSS POLDARK (The Poldark Saga #1)

DEMELZA (The Poldark Saga #2)

JEREMY POLDARK (The Poldark Saga #3)

WARLEGGAN (The Poldark Saga #4)

THE BLACK MOON (The Poldark Saga #5)

THE FOUR SWANS (The Poldark Saga #6)

THE ANGRY TIDE (The Poldark Saga #7)

THE STRANGER FROM THE SEA (The Poldark Saga #8)

THE MILLER’S DANCE (The Poldark Saga #9)

THE LOVING CUP (The Poldark Saga #10)

THE TWISTED SWORD (The Poldark Saga #11)

BELLA POLDARK (The Poldark Saga #12)

 
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#LettersFromTheHeart | #BookReview | BELLA POLDARK (POLDARK SAGA #12) by Winston Graham (1st July 2002, Pan Macmillan @panmacmillan)

BELLA POLDARK (Poldark Saga #12) by Winston Graham
Published; July 1st 2002, Pan Macmillan

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Cornwall, 1818-1820

The stories of the Poldark family—Ross, the strong, independent squire and his beautiful, outspoken wife Demelza; their son Jeremy; their talented, headstrong daughter Bella; and their long-standing feud with humorless landowner Sir George Warleggan—have sold millions of copies, and in the 1970s were made into the most widely watched TV series of the decade.

Now, the twelfth and final novel brings the family story to a close—with Bella taking center stage, moving between her home at Nampara on the rugged Cornish coast and the wildly exciting world of the theater in London and Europe at the beginning of the 19th century.

After 12 books you would expect to start getting bored of a series and the characters that go with but it just was not the case for me with Bella Poldark. In fact I found myself enjoying this book so much I couldn’t wait to be able to keep reading.

The war in France now being over I found the historical references a lot less in this book which certainly added to my enjoyment. Winston writes so well that you fall deep into the lives of the characters and all the emotions that go with it. When I saw that this instalment had 688 pages I honestly did not know what to expect, our characters have been through so much can they really deal with more? but yes they can and it is not what you expect.

The thing I loved most about Bella was it was so unpredictable. To write 688 pages and be able to keep it surprising is very telling of Winston’s talents as an author. I thought I had something sussed but then discover I was completely wrong. The constant guessing kept me turning the pages that’s for sure.

I remember my friend saying to me as we began to read this “I am not sure I like new characters coming in so far in the series” and I sort of agreed with her although I said “There will be a reason for them, there always is” and sure enough by the end of the book not only are we glad to have them there we even quite like them.

Of course, a Poldark book wouldn’t be the same without people we hate and Bella is no exception. George Warleggan is still breathing of course but we also dislike and even hate other characters too which just adds to the book.

I think the most shocking thing is how Winston can dispense with people we see as main characters so easily. In Bella we lose someone that has been a big part of the last few books. We really do feel every emotion possible, from happiness to laugh out loud parts to tears and heartbreak.

Winston ties up all the loose ends and finishes the series in a way that leaves the reader satisfied and with a smile on their face. After 12 books you really couldn’t ask for more.

 

You can buy BELLA POLDARK (Poldark Saga #12) from the following booksellers (and many more!);

Amazon (UK) | Amazon (US)

 

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#LettersFromTheHeart | #BookReview | THE TWISTED SWORD (Poldark Saga #11) by Winston Graham (1st August 2011, Pan Macmillan @panmacmillan)

THE TWISTED SWORD (Poldark Saga #11) by Winston Graham
Published; August 1st 2011, Pan Macmillan (First published in 1990)

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The eleventh novel in the legendary Poldark saga. Cornwall, 1815: Demelza sees a horseman riding down the valley and senses disruption to the domestic contentment she has fought so hard to achieve.

For Ross has little option but to accept the summons – and travel to Paris with his family, as an “observer” of the French armed forces. Parisian life begins well with an exhilarating round of balls and parties.

But the return of Napoleon brings separation, distrust and danger to the Poldarks… and always for Demelza, there is the shadow of the secret she does not even share with Ross.

Eleven books into a series and you would start to imagine that they would all start to feel like the same story in different words but that just is not the case for the Poldark Series. Each book keeps me on the edge of my seat, biting fingernails completely hooked on the Poldarks.

This instalment seems to have alot about the French civil war and alot of historical references, which I have to admit, go completely over my head and the reason the book only got 4 stars, although they are needed to make the book what it was and to explain why our characters end up where they do and some of the choices they make.

This book has everything. From laughter, love, heartbreak and tears this gave me every emotion under the sun.

Picking up the Poldark books is like coming home. Winston had such a way with words that he makes me feel I am stood in the living room of Nampara surrounded by these loving and genuine people. The details are amazing and you can really tell that he did his research whilst writing The Twisted Sword.

All of our most favourite characters are back, Ross and Demelza at the helm keeping the family together. As big changes happen for them the rest of the Poldark Clan are dealing with secrets and lies. Of course a Poldark book wouldn’t be the same without the characters we love to hate so George Warleggan is back doing the things we despise as well as other slightly dubious people.

The thing I find so surprising about this series is how Winston constantly shocks me with where the story goes. What you think might happen after the 1st chapter is never the same way you think after chapter 25. There are constant twists and turns that always mean you want to keep reading and you get to the end and desperately want to start the next one.

 

You can buy THE TWISTED SWORD (Poldark Saga #11) from the following booksellers (and many more!);

Amazon (UK) | Amazon (US)

 

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#LettersFromTheHeart | #BookReview | THE LOVING CUP (Poldark Saga #10) by Winston Graham (1st June 1996, Pan Macmillan @panmacmillan)

THE LOVING CUP (Poldark Saga #10) by Winston Graham
Published; June 1st 1996, Pan Macmillan (First published in 1984)

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Cornwall 1813. A silver cup lies half-forgotten in a dank cave, amongst a pile of stolen goods. Yet the tiny vessel and its inscription Amor gignit amorem haunts the lives of the still-feuding Poldark and Warleggan families, as Ross, Demelza and the ambitious and powerful Sir George Warleggan watch their children make the decisions that will shape their destinies.

In the closing years of the wars against Napoleon, for Jeremy and Clowance, and for arrogant, cynical Valentine Warleggan, these are troubled and momentous times . . .

Book 10 of the series and I am beginning to wonder what I will do without these characters whose lives have become intwined with mine.

THE LOVING CUP starts with Geofrey Charles returning home with his new Spanish wife. As he introduces her to his friends and family we see a genuine love and affection between the pair. Although they only appear a little in this book I feel like we will see alot more of these in the last two books.

Ross and Demeleza again take a back seat to their children in this installment. As both Jeremy and Clowance try to adjust to the decisions they have made – Jeremy having to deal with the consequences of the robbery and Clowance trying to get over Stephen we do see them both settle and happy at the end of The Loving Cup.

George and Valentine both appear as usual and our hatred continues to burn and we see Valentine in a different light which does not do him any favours. I feel we will see lots more of them both in the remaining books as Stephen Carrington signed a deal with the devil.

I really enjoyed being lost inside The Poldarks lives and the Cornwall in which they reside. Being set in the 1800s we get taken back to a past that I didn’t know much about. Winston does a fantastic job of using real life historic events alongside the fiction he writes. It adds an element of truth to the story.

I love how I can never predict which path each of our characters will take. Winston constantly surprises me with each page and I am always intrigued to see where the story will end up. Although the books are long they are far from boring and I am excited to see what happens and how the stories will end.

 

You can buy THE LOVING CUP (Poldark Saga #10) from the following booksellers (and many more!);

Amazon (UK) | Amazon (US)

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#LettersFromTheHeart | #BookReview | THE MILLER’S DANCE (Poldark Saga #9) by Winston Graham (19th August 2011, Pan Macmillan @panmacmillan)

THE MILLER’S DANCE (Poldark Saga #9) by Winston Graham
Published; August 19th 2011, Pan Macmillan

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Cornwall 1812. At Nampara, the Poldark family finds the new year brings involvement in more than one unexpected venture.

For Ross and Demelza there is some surprising – and worrying – news. And Clowance, newly returned from her London triumphs, finds that her entanglement with Stephen Carrington brings not only happiness but heartache.

As the armies battle in Spain, and the political situation at home becomes daily more obscure, the Poldark and Warleggan families find themselves thrust into a turbulent new era as complex and changing as the patterns of The Miller’s Dance…

Being back in the lives of the Poldarks is always so exciting. So much seems to happen in each book. We are now on book 9 and yet again this book seems to be based more on the lives of the children Jeremy and Clowance. Both finding love and suffering for it in different ways.

Still Ross and Demelza are the back bone of the story and as they face more challenges, although not as big as previous books, their love of each other still remains.

Winston always managed to write some awful characters. In every single book I have read so far in the series there is always one person that makes me want to throw my book at the wall. It was Stephen’s turn this time. From the way he seems to pressure Clowance to how he encourages bad behavior there was something about him that made me want to punch him in the face. I spent the first half of the book willing Clowance to open her eyes and see him for what he really is. Obviously George Warleggan is still included and doesn’t redeem himself in the eyes of the reader.

Although there are a lot of historical references in the book it doesn’t take away from the story for me. I think it quite adds to it to know that people living in those times would have had to deal with similar issues. It’s good to see that Winston did lots of research when writing the novels.

As Jeremy struggles to deal with his heartbreak and goes looking for more unsavoury ways to try to make it a bit easier and I guess exact revenge, Clowance seems to grow from hers. It’s almost like her eyes are opened in a way she never expected and I hope we get to see her grow more in the coming books.

I really enjoyed this book and I cannot wait to read the remaining books in the series.

You can buy THE MILLER’S DANCE (Poldark Saga #9) from the following booksellers (and many more!);

Amazon (UK) | Amazon (US)

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#LettersFromTheHeart | #BookReview | THE ANGRY TIDE (Poldark Saga #7) by Winston Graham (1st June 2008, Pan Macmillan @panmacmillan)

THE ANGRY TIDE (Poldark Saga #7) by Jay Asher
Published; June 1st 2008, Pan Macmillan

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The seventh novel in the acclaimed Poldark series. Cornwall, towards the end of the 18th century: Ross Poldark sits for the borough of Truro as Member of Parliament – his time divided between London and Cornwall, his heart divided about his wife, Demelza.

His old feud with George Warleggan still flares – as does the illicit love between Morwenna and Drake, Demelza’s brother. Before the new century dawns, George and Ross will be drawn together by a loss greater than their rivalry – and Morwenna and Drake by a tragedy that brings them hope…

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After taking a break from reading this series I loved getting stuck back in. I didn’t struggle to get into this one as much as I did books 5 and 6, straight away I found I was hooked and wanted to keep reading.

 

The Angry Tide doesn’t start out being about Ross and Demeleza but about the other characters we know and love. It didn’t spoil the story at all, Ross and Demeleza do come back into the story and I really enjoy the side stories too. We meet new charaters of which we dislike.

 

As I have come to expect with Poldark books there are births, deaths and marriages as well as gun battles, sarcasm and of course the usual battle of wits. There are times when you really feel like Ross and Demeleza need their heads banging together as yet again they mis communicate on so many occasions.

 

The thing that I love about the Poldark books are when I feel there is just no where to go with the story Winston manages to shock and surprise me. Each book in the series has been full of adventure and takes me on a ride of ups and downs.

 

I can’t wait to see where the next 5 books lead us and ultimately where Ross and Demeleza will end up.

 

You can buy THE ANGRY TIDE (Poldark Saga #7) from the following booksellers (and many more!);

Amazon (UK) | Amazon (US) | Book Depository | Waterstones

 

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#LettersFromTheHeart; WARLEGGAN (Poldark #4) by #WinstonGraham (Pan Macmillan, June 2008 – Original Publication 1953)

As per the previous 3 books I was completely sucked in by the lives of Ross & Demelza as we read about the trouble and adventures they were involved in this time.

The reason for 4 stars is that there was a tiny part of this book that I really disliked and struggled with. We begin to dislike a favourite character as we see a new side to this person, but the people we love are back and of course the people we love to hate too.

As per usual there was never a dull moment with things happening on the first page and as always there were births, deaths and marriages.

A fabulous installment of the Poldark series and I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

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