Another Heartbeat In The House-nominated for The Irish Book Awards Best Popular Fiction Category

AnotherHeartbeatInTheHouse
What they say:

Two women living a hundred years apart. One home that binds them together.

When Edie Chadwick travels to Ireland to close up her uncle’s lakeside lodge, it’s as much to escape the burden of guilt she’s carrying as to break loose from the smart set of 1930’s London.

The old house is full of memories – not just her own, but those of a woman whose story has been left to gather dust in a chest in the attic: a handwritten memoir inscribed with an elegant signature . . . Eliza Drury

As she turns the pages of the manuscript, Edie uncovers secrets she could never have imagined: an exciting tale of ambition, hardship, love and tragedy – a story that has waited a lifetime to be told. . .

‘A delightful story, rich, engrossing and vividly told’ Rachel Hore

‘A compelling, atmospheric story brimming with period detail about two feisty, independent heroines who will steal your heart’ Cathy Kelly

‘With a marvellously evocative setting, strong and believable lead characters and a pacey plot, Another Heartbeat in the House is a thoroughly compelling love story’ Liz Trenow

 

The Book:

When I received a request to inform readers of the presence of this book among the other gems in The Irish Book Awards 2015 in The Best Popular Fiction category, I was very excited as I’d noticed it when I first rummaged through the contents of the Awards (I’m a big fan and vote and look forwards to them every year). I had previously heard of Liberty Silk, and the gorgeous cover of ‘Another Heartbeat in the House’ was so beautiful that, coupled with the eloquent blurb, I downloaded to my Kindle for future reading straight away!

You can vote for it in the Best Popular Fiction category here
Note: Voting closes at midnight 20th November 2015. Only one vote per email address is accepted.
About the author
Kate Beaufoy

 

Kate Beaufoy has an MA in French and English literature from Trinity College, Dublin.  She began her career as a professional actor – winning a Dublin Theatre Festival Best Actress award – before becoming a full time writer. As Kate Thompson she has had a dozen novels published, including the Number One bestseller The Blue Hour, which was shortlisted for the RNA award.

Kate’s novels have been translated into French, German, Greek, Italian, Czech and Dutch. She has contributed to numerous newspapers and magazines in Ireland and the UK, written and broadcast for RTE, and is regularly invited to participate in literary events across the media.

As Kate Beaufoy her first novel – the critically acclaimed Liberty Silk – spent four weeks on the Irish Times bestseller chart.   Another Heartbeat in the House – charted last summer and, inspired by William Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, it tells the story of the woman who became governess to his children and who may have been the prototype for literature’s most enduring and engaging heroine, Becky Sharp.

Kate lives some of the year in Dublin and some on the West coast of Ireland. She is an advanced-level scuba diver, a wild swimmer, a keen practitioner of Bikram yoga, and the fond keeper of a bewitching Burmese cat.

 

Bride Without A Groom by Amy Lynch

Bridewithoutagroom

 

What they say: Single, coupled-up or married, this laugh-out-loud summer read is the perfect anecdote for the wedding season!

Rebecca has chosen the most luscious, five tiered, wedding cake. The engagement ring that she has selected is celebrity inspired. The wedding singer is on speed dial. He doesn’t usually do Michael Bolton, but as it’s for a first dance he’ll make an exception. Father Maguire is checking dates for the parish church as we speak. The deposit on the white sand honeymoon is paid for in full on Barry’s card. She has fallen for an ivory lace couture gown that is to die for. The down payment may require her to sell a left kidney, but it will be worth it. Isn’t that why you have two?

There’s one teeny tiny problem. It’s nothing, really. No need to panic! It’s just that Barry has yet to propose. Says he’s not ready! He can be a bit of a kill joy that way. It’s time to face the harsh reality – Rebecca is a bride without a groom!

 

The Review: To start, I promise I will try to get through this without too much gushing, as I really, really enjoyed this book. So here we go! Bride Without A Groom starts with the pre-empting of a proposal that doesn’t come, followed by the dramatics of one who believed their happy ever moment had arrived only to have their hopes shot down and stamped out. We quickly find out that one of the reasons for the hysterics is that our lead, Rebecca Browne, has already organised the planning of the bulk of the wedding, down to the tiniest details.

Rebecca reminds me of a mixture of Elle (Legally Blond), Becky Bloomwood (Confessions of a Shopaholic) and Cher (Clueless), in that she’s what would traditionally what would be viewed as selfish, and yet you can’t not like her (see note *), you just clickety clack along with her (my impression of high heels there, NOT a train), as aghast as her when things don’t go her way.

Her boyfriend, Barry, is what some people may call gutless (I would be one of those people) and yet you can easily jump between empathizing (sympathising!) with him and not liking him at all. This is consistant with the characters in Bride Without a Groom which are generally done very well, and play their part in leading you to various conclusions or just surprising you.

This book felt like it was made for me, or maybe it was just built for my generation. It is set in Dublin and so we quickly hear names such as Brown Thomas’ (large exclusive department store) and Dundrum Town Centre (large exclusive shopping centre). On the entertainment front we hear of Fair city (Irish version of Eastenders which is a british soap opera where nothing goes the way of the always unhappy residents of Albert Square), Legally Blonde, Dirty Dancing, Patrick Swayze and Michael Bolton and Top Gear (Barry not Rebecca), with a hilarious letter sent when she realises The Young and The Restless is due to be cancelled. A point to note is that although the settings and backdrops are mostly Irish, this book is definitely translateable, I think it could be popular anywhere in the world.

One thing I would say to you would be in terms of character development, as in the journey the character goes through to get to a point whre ethey might figure something out that changes themselves. There is none. None at all. But, before this bothers you, look at the bottom of this review. I’ll give you a hint, the rating I gave it was 4.75/5. So I took off .25/5 for that fact, because I was waiting for a certain something to happen and it didn’t, and it bothered me just a little but I would assume that there will be a sequel and if there is it doesn’t really matter (if there isn’t, yes, it will continue to bother me just because I’m like that!). To date this is possibly one of my standout books for 2015. When someone’s looking for a commercial, light read that will make them laugh and keep them interested, this is a serious contender (for the right person, mind, again, see my note marked *)

Rating: 4.75/5

*This is a marmite one. If you look at the reviews on this you’ll see it’s a love it or hate it type of book and people seemed to find Rebecca to be a love her or hate her type of character. The people who didn’t like it/ her went for it tooth and nail, but to be honest if you take a look at the cover, blurb and the first few pages you’ll know. I love it. I cannot gush about it enough and as I read it I had at least three people in mind who would flip for it. It is pure unadulterated chick lit at its best!

 

 

Make a Christmas Wish by Julia Williams

make a christmas wish

What they say: A HILARIOUS and JUST-A-LITTLE HEARTBREAKING FESTIVE TREAT for anyone who’s looking for a little bit of MAGIC this CHRISTMAS TIME!

Last Christmas, when Livvy was knocked down in the supermarket car park she certainly wasn’t ready to actually be dead! For months now she’s floated on the edge of the afterlife, generally making a nuisance of herself.

And she’s not ready to go just yet! She’s furious about the new woman in her husband’s life and she’s worried about her beloved son who doesn’t seem to be adjusting to life without her at all.

This Christmas, Livvy is given one last magical chance to make everything right. Will she take it and give her family the perfect Christmas?

Perfect for fans of CAROLE MATTHEWS, TRISHA ASHLEY and JENNY COLGAN.

 

The review: First off thanks to Netgalley for this book in return for an honest review. I had heard a lot about this book before I started, there were big fans out there so that would be something to bear in mind here.

In Make A Christmas Wish we’re introduced to Livvy, who has died in an accident after hearing about her husband having an affair. The way things work is explained to her by her spirit guide Malachi, who appears in the form of a black cat. She is told that she has unfinished business and so cannot pass over to the other world. The unfinished business is seemingly obvious but, in a nice touch, the glaringly obvious is turned on its head throughout the book. Livvy was a strong character and though her faults were plenty, you still had to feel for her, especially in finding out HOW she died. If you are looking for something along the life of ‘The Dead Wife’s Handbook’ by Hannah Beckerman, which was more of a mother looking in to her family’s new life, with no say in what was happening, then this is not it. Livvy is bitter and resentful and rather than watching her family to see what’s happening she’s doing her best to turn things upside down so she can get back to them and to what she remembers her old life to be. There are some hilarious moments in this, with the hauntings very well done. We see her life as flashbacks and meet their son, Joe, who had Asbergers initially through a series of notebook entries, which was a lovely touch.

We also meet her husband, Adam and his new girlfriend, Emily, and I think this was where my problem with the books started. As I said the book was in flashbacks, mostly to show how Adam ended up having the affair. The wish to keep us surprised meant that I empathized with the ‘wrong’ characters here. I couldn’t take a liking to Emily and Adam and continued to feel bad for Livvy. Whatever happened they both still came off as selfish to me. As well as this, somewhere along the line the book which, already out of the ordinary, turned a little bit too wacky and beetlejuicy for my liking. In a converse way, if you like things turning a bit crazy and spooks and beings everywhere, then go for this book! It’s also quite a funny book and had I liked the characters more, there’s a chance I could have loved it.

All in all a tough one to judge. I wasn’t a fan, and watched the percentages go by on my Kindle (never a good sign) but plenty more will love it, and it is a different type of Christmas book.

Rating: 3/5