Betsy and Lilibet by Sophie Duffy

betsy and lilibet cover

My enormous thanks to Lucy Chamberlain at Legend Press for inviting me to be part of the launch celebrations for Betsy and Lilibet by Sophie Duffy and for sending me a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

I have been privileged to feature Sophie Duffy here on Linda’s Book Bag before when The Generation Game was released and Sophie wrote a smashing guest post that you can read here.

Betsy and Lilibet was published by Legend Press on 4th October 2018 and is available for purchase here.

Betsy and Lilibet

betsy and lilibet cover

London, 1926. Two baby girls are born just hours and miles apart. One you know as the Queen of England, but what of the other girl – the daughter of an undertaker named in her honour? Betsy Sunshine grows up surrounded by death in war-torn London, watching her community grieve for their loved ones whilst dealing with her own teenage troubles… namely her promiscuous sister Margie. As Betsy grows older we see the how the country changes through her eyes, and along the way we discover the birth of a secret that threatens to tear her family apart.

Sophie Duffy dazzles in her latest work of family/historical fiction. A tale which spans generations to explore the life and times of a family at the heart of their community, the story of a stoic young woman who shares a connection with her queenly counterpart in more ways than one…

My Review of Betsy and Lilibet

Born on the same day as the future Queen of England, Betsy Sunshine’s life will be equally as dramatic in its own way.

Betsy and Lilibet is a warm, affectionate and wonderfully written portrait of two interwoven lives and I loved it!

What is so wonderful about Betsy and Lilibet is Sophie Duffy’s brilliance in creating Betsy Sunshine’s persona. A modern philosopher, Betsy is, quite frankly, perfectly drawn. I could hear her first person voice so clearly because it has a direct approach to the reader and I fell in love with her immediately. I think she might be one of the most vivid individuals I have ever read about. She’s witty, sometimes spiteful with a wry, dark humour and frequently able to articulate what every one of us has thought at some point. By no means angelic, Betsy is capable of great love and enormous sins, so that I’d defy anyone reading Betsy and Lilibet not to be able to find something in her character to relate to. I was dazzled by her.

There’s a gorgeous symmetry in the quotations from Queen Elizabeth II and the more prosaic parallels in Betsy’s life so that one of the effects of reading Betsy and Lilibet was to give me a greater understanding of our recent social history and of our Queen as an individual. I can honestly say that this book gave me far more of a sense of belonging to, and affinity with, our culture than almost 60 years of living it has done. For that element alone Betsy and Lilibet deserves to be lauded and acclaimed.

The plot is a corker too. There’s several elements of mystery that are brilliantly satisfying – especially as they are the kinds of mysteries any of us might have in our lives, once again making for a sense of accord in the reading. The themes of love, honesty, war, loss, family and relationships are handled by Sophie Duffy with complete elegance.

Betsy and Lilibet is a jewel of a book. It is unique, sparkling with warmth and wit. I adored every word.

About Sophie Duffy


Sophie Duffy is the author of The Generation Game (2011), The Holey Life (2012) and Bright Stars (2015). Her work has won the Yeovil Literary Prize and the Luke Bitmead Bursary, and has been nominated for the Guardian Not the Booker and the Harry Bowling Prize. She is a writer and creative writing tutor and mentor for CreativeWritingMatters, as well as an administrator for the Exeter Novel Prize and other literary competitions

She lives by the seaside in Devon.

You can follow Sophie on Twitter @sophiestenduffy, vist her website and find her on Facebook.

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Betsy and Lilibet tour poster

Staying in with A.J. Tamko

Daughter of the Sun

Regular blog readers know I have a particular soft spot for young adult fiction and I’m so pleased to discover a new book today from A.J. Tamko as A.J. stays in with me to tell me all about it.

Staying in with A.J. Tamko

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me A.J. 

Thank you for having me! It’s a pleasure.

Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it? 

Daughter of the Sun

I’ve brought along Daughter of the Sun, my epic YA fantasy. It’s my first and thus far only published novel. I’m working hard on books 2 and 3 of the trilogy, but they are not yet complete.

(How exciting to have a whole new series underway.)

What can we expect from an evening in with Daughter of the Sun?

You can expect a really great coming of age story. I had been wanting to write this book ever since I first read The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin, which to me was the ultimate coming of age story within the fantasy genre.

(That takes me back. I used to teach The Wizard of Earthsea many moons ago.)

But I wanted my book to not just be a coming of age story in the sense that a young boy or girl is learning to become a man or woman; I wanted it to be the kind of coming of age that can happen to a person at any point in their life. Though my main character Gabriella is age 15 for most of the book, the kind of thing she experiences could happen to someone in their 20s, 30s, or heck, even 50s or 60s. I wanted it to be relatable to anyone of any age.

(I think that is true of young adult fiction in general actually A.J. The messages can be applied at any age.)

And what Gabriella experiences is a kind of self discovery based on an awakening of what’s happening in the world around her. Now it is a fantasy so part of that is her learning about mystical creatures and magical powers that she either didn’t know existed, or misunderstood in some way. But there is also the more practical side to her journey, as Gabriella learns about different races and cultures, and people from distant island countries she barely even knew existed, and what life is like for them on a daily basis. She has some really eye opening experiences throughout this book.

Also, you know, I just wanted to really write a good ol’ fashioned fantasy epic. I feel like I don’t see as many of those anymore. Everyone seems to want to write these dystopian or urban fantasies, which I also love, but I wanted to write something that took place entirely in a fantasy world but at the same time was very reflective of ourselves and our own world.

(I love that. Never mind write what you know, but write what you want!)

What else have you brought along and why? 


I brought this horse with me. Because in Astadia, where my book takes place, horses are hard to come by, especially for the poorer folks. Many of them have to travel around dragging their stuff around in carts. Gabriella, as a Princess, is wealthy. However she is forced to leave her castle abruptly and is unable to take a horse with her. And she is constantly being hunted or chased down by people on horses. It’s a huge disadvantage for her until she finally gets one. So the lesson is if you are traveling through Astadia, always be sure to bring a horse with you. It will come in very handy.

(It’s a while since I’ve been on a horse A.J. I think I might need a few lessons first!)

I think Daughter of the Sun sounds a wonderful book for readers of all ages. Thank you so much for staying in with me to tell me all about it A.J..

Daughter of the Sun

Daughter of the Sun

Princess Gabriella of Astadia enjoys nothing more than talking to the stars. They have voices but they do not use words, or at least not in any conventional sense. She never understood how or why this was possible, until one day she receives a visit from Ja-Ded, an unusual wizard from the mysterious distant eastern island of Dinia. His only possessions are a dirty old cloak and a crooked staff with an unremarkable brown rock dangling at its end. He tells her of a mysterious force from the heavens known as Ra, from which one can create something called Light Magic. He promises to teacher her all this, as well as the secrets of the stars themselves. But before he can complete his lessons, he vanishes in a flash of light.

Gabriella must search for Ja-Ded in a town no one seems to have heard of. Along the way she must confront a witch who would offer her great power, a circle of faery who would trap her in their music for all of time, and an eerie red-eyed shadow creature who whispers creepy chants into her ear late at night. Worst of all, she will have to confront the Asura, a horrific, six-armed, winged beast who aims to enslave all of human kind by turning their own hatred and lust for violence against them. But in order to succeed, Gabriella must first find herself, her true self, before it is too late…..

Daughter of the Sun is available for purchase here.

About A.J. Tamko


A.J. Tamko was born in Washington D.C. and raised in Annapolis, Maryland. Currently he lives in the Mt. Hood area just outside Portland, Oregon. He has been a lover of the fantasy genre in all its forms since he was a small child, and has been a student of writing for most of his life.

Daughter of the Sun is his first completed full-length novel, with two sequels on their way. He is an avid hiker and backpacker, and as a day job, he is a Special Educator for students with autism between the ages of 18 and 21. He also has a youtube channel under the name Akton Tamko, in which he reviews television and movies primarily in the genre of sci-fi and fantasy, including Game of Thrones, Westworld, Star Trek, and others.

You can find out more on A.J. Tamko’s website, follow him on Twitter @AJTamko, or find him on Facebook.

When I’m Sixty: A Guest Post by Hannah Lynn, Author of Peas, Carrots and an Aston Martin

Peas Book Cover

Being of a certain age and fast approaching a ‘big’ birthday, I’m delighted to welcome Hannah Lynn to Linda’s Book Bag today. As part of the launch celebrations for Peas, Carrots and an Aston Martin, Hannah has written a wonderful guest post for me to share with you today for when she’s approaching the same birthday as me.

There’s also a super giveaway from Hannah that you can enter at the bottom of this blog post.

Peas, Carrots and an Aston Martin is available for purchase here.

Peas, Carrots and an Aston Martin

Peas Book Cover

When George Sibley dies, his only son, Eric, has no idea that his inheritance will come with conditions. Now, if Eric is to ever get his hands on his father’s treasured Aston Martin, he must somehow juggle his hectic career and family life in the city, with regular visits to the small riverside town of Burlam.

Life for Eric quickly becomes a chaotic kaleidoscope of grumpy pensioners, wellington boots and vintage auto-mobiles, fraught with heavy machinery mishaps, missed deadlines and drug raids, the result of which leave his marriage, job and sanity hanging in the balance.

Peas, Carrots and an Aston Martin is a light-hearted and humorous tale of a man who reluctantly goes digging amongst the weeds in order to discover his roots.

When I’m Sixty

A Guest Post by Hannah Lynn

I look forward to writing guest posts. I like opportunity to interact with readers through a medium other than my books, I feel it gives them a chance to know a bit more about me as a person. That said, some posts are definitely easier to write than others. When Linda suggested I write and tell you three things I will do when I am a grumpy old pensioner, to link in with the release of my third novel, Peas, Carrots and an Aston Martin I was instantly in love; the hard part was going to be stopping at three.

The first one was easy.

I will wear whatever I want, whenever I want. To be fair, age has not restricted me to much in this matter so far. The first time I went wakeboarding I was wearing a dress, and wore similar attire when zip-lining through the jungle in my twenties, but when I am older, I will take it to the extreme.

I will wear a ball-gown in my garden and head to the takeaway in elbow high gloves and tiara. I will wear ripped jeans to meetings, will change my hair colour on a monthly basis, if not more, and will own every shade of lipstick in the spectrum, some of which I will wear at the same time. Nothing will be too casual or too formal. As long as the clothes suit my mood, I will always be perfectly dressed.

I will go to restaurants and order triple desserts. I have a sweet tooth, I’m not going to deny it. I’m one of those people who struggles to find a single thing on the main menu because I’m too busy eyeing up the desserts. Banoffee or creme brulee? Chocolate brownie or cashew cheesecake? Right now my only really options are to try and persuade my husband or friends to order differently and hope I don’t end up with a major case of food envy. When I’m old I will refuse to adhere to the shackles or culinary constraint. Those days will be over. I will order double desserts, triple even, as many as I want. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days a week if that’s what I want.

I will sing everywhere. If you were to talk to my family, I suspect that they would tell you this is already the case. (My father-in-law once said visiting us was like stepping into a musical only you didn’t know when the next song was about to start and generally had no idea was going on with the plot. I think that was a compliment. I definitely took it as a compliment.) However, I feel there is much more room for spontaneous outbursts of song. Ordering my desserts — see above — would be even better if done in song. Singing while paying for shopping would act as a welcome distraction to the money spent. Even walking the dog (or in my case cat. Don’t ask.) could be made all the more jovial with a sprightly tune accompanying our footsteps. Don’t expect a quiet time if you drop in to visit me in my golden years, that’s for certain.

There you have it, three things I will do when I’m old. The thing is, while writing this post I came to the decision that life might be a little sunnier if, rather than waiting until I’m older, I started doing those things now.  So, with that in mind, I’m off to get my ball-gown on and go order myself a sticky toffee pudding. I only hope they can decipher my order in song.

Absolutely wonderful Hannah! I agree with each of your choices completely. The thing is, I’m rather nearer the ‘old’ bit than you are so I’m going to take your advice and start now – with the triple desserts!

About Hannah Lynn


Hannah Lynn is an award-winning, genre-defying novelist. Publishing her first book, Amendments – a dark, dystopian speculative fiction novel, in 2015, she has since gone on to write The Afterlife of Walter Augustus – a contemporary fiction novel with a supernatural twist – which won the 2018 Kindle Storyteller Award and the delightfully funny and poignant Peas and Carrots series.

While she freely moves between genres, her novels are recognisable for their character driven stories and wonderfully vivid description.

She is currently working on a YA Vampire series and a re-imagining of a classic Greek myth.

Born in 1984, Hannah grew up in the Cotswolds, UK. After graduating from university, she spent ten years as a teacher of physics, first in the UK and then around Asia. It was during this time, inspired by the imaginations of the young people she taught, she began writing short stories for children, and later adult fiction Now as a teacher, writer, wife and mother, she is currently living in the Austrian Alps.

For more information you can follow Hannah on Facebook, Twitter @HMLynnauthor, Goodreads and Bookbub.

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Peas BT2 (1)


Peas Banner (1)

Hannah Lynn is celebrating the publication of Peas, Carrots and an Aston Martin by running a super giveaway to win a $50 Amazon voucher. To enter, click here.

Please note this giveaway is independent of Linda’s Book Bag!

Crikey! How Did That Happen? by Ian Strathcarron

Bertiee Wooster

My grateful thanks to Aimee at Bookollective for a copy of Crikey! How Did That Happen?: The [Refreshingly Unauthorised] Biography of Sir Bertram Wooster, KG by Ian Strathcarron in return for an honest review and for inviting me to be part of this blog tour.

Crikey! How Did That Happen?: The [Refreshingly Unauthorised] Biography of Sir Bertram Wooster, KG is available for purchase here.

Crikey! How Did That Happen?:

The [Refreshingly Unauthorised] Biography of Sir Bertram Wooster, KG

Bertiee Wooster

Up until now we have only known Bertie Wooster in his mid-twenties; this is his first whole life biography, told in ten short stories at seven year intervals.

Thus we first meet Bertie aged seven, in 1907, at Malvern House prep school, then follow him to Eton aged fourteen and Oxford at twenty-one. We meet Jeeves when Bertie is twenty-eight and then they go their separate ways: Jeeves to the Royal Household at Buckingham Palace and Bertie to the French Riviera at its most glamorous, causing havoc with Somerset Maugham and Alfred Hitchcock, before being accidentally captured by the Italian fascists and spending Christmas Day 1942 with Mussolini.

After WWII Bertie resumes his career in musical cabaret, headlining the Royal Variety Performance in 1949, before being pitched into the machinations of Hollywood at its prime in 1956. In 1963, Bertie, caught up in the zeitgeist, finds himself in the Himalayas with the Maharishi and then we say goodbye to a very much alive Sir Bertram in 1970 in Mustique, where he becomes involved in a murder mystery with many of the leading tax exiles and celebrities of the day.

My review of Crikey! How Did That Happen?: 

The [Refreshingly Unauthorised] Biography of Sir Bertram Wooster, KG

Ten stories giving insight into Bertie Wooster’s life from 1907 to 1970.

By rights I shouldn’t enjoy Crikey! How Did That Happen? as it occasionally exemplifies an era of politically incorrect attitudes, but I really did! Ian Strathcarron has captured the essence of the original P.G. Wodehouse style with alacrity and aplomb so that it was very much like reading the original stories. The authorial voice is incredibly effective. I could hear it clearly in my head.

The stories themselves are very amusing and present a fuller insight into Bertie as a character, (I loved Private Eye‘s renaming of him!) but what I really enjoyed was the presentation of Britain’s social history behind them. There’s a vivid picture of the upper middle classes in the twentieth century that, whilst being stereotypical in faith with the original stimulus books, also presents an evocative image of bygone eras. I was surprised by some of the real people referred to as not all the references were entirely favourable and you’ll have to read the book to find out who they are!

Behind the jolly japes and ‘what-ho’ dialogue making up the entertaining stories are actually some poignant and thought provoking elements too, particularly in the WW1 deaths announced at Bertie’s school. There’s often a sly vindictiveness or deceitfulness  in the behaviours presented and I found myself feeling guilty at laughing at thefts, deaths and adultery so that I was surprised by how much this book made me think as well as entertained me.

I found Crikey! How Did That Happen? amusing, entertaining and jolly good fun. I think it’s a must read for all Wodehouse fans.

About Ian Strathcarron


Lord Strathcarron is a travel writer, publisher, mediator and counsellor. He lived in the Orient for many years.

When not writing, he owns the art book publisher Unicorn Press Ltd.

You can follow Lord Strathcarron on Twitter @ianstrathcarron.

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Staying in with Mark Bowsher

Time - final cover.png

Today I’m feeling a little bit cross with myself. I have Mark Bowsher staying in with me to tell me about his book and I so wish I had said I’d squeeze in a review as I love the sound of it. Sadly, I just didn’t have time – but there’s always the future! See what you think!

Staying in with Mark Bowsher

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Mark and thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.

Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it? 

Time - final cover.png

I’ve chosen The Boy Who Stole Time. It’s a real slice of escapism that I hope will fill people with excitement in the same way that The Chronicles of Narnia did when I was a child or as an adult reading His Dark Materials. I really wanted to create something dark but with lots of humour (every time I try and write something serious I end up adding lots of jokes!).

(The Boy Who Stole Time sounds wonderful. I really must add it to my TBR.)

What can we expect from an evening in with The Boy Who Stole Time?

Adventure! It’s a fantasy for everyone over the age of 8. I really wanted to keep guessing, for you to feel you’re really there. I used a lot of my own travel experiences in the book, particularly a trip to north Africa. I hope it’ll be something where people can escape into Ilir and be hooked for the evening. People often say to me that they can’t understand how I dreamed up things like the Black Palace, a living, breathing structure made entirely of people, but the truth is that the real world is weirder than you might think! The Black Palace was inspired by a documentary on ants who create similar structures out of their workers. The person in one chapter drawing a picture with a magnifying glass, burning the image onto a piece of wood, is something I actually saw in Morocco. The real world is strange and wonderful beyond what you might imagine.

(I couldn’t agree more Mark. Travel really does broaden the mind and is my favourite thing after books!)

What else have you brought along and why?

bob the builder

I’ve brought the Bob the Builder rucksack I bought in Alice Springs when I went travelling. My rucksack had broken and I was skint. A kids’ rucksack was the cheapest I could find and everywhere I went people asked why I had it. It started conversations when I was travelling all on my own. The Boy Who Stole Time is a book all about travelling so very far from home all on your own and a friendship with a stranger, the razor-tongued young girl-wizard Balthrir, is at the core of the story. I don’t want people to get to the end of the book, sigh and feel like they could never go to a magical world like Ilir. I want them to realise that Ilir is based the real world.  I’d love people to put down the book and feel like they should pack their bag and set off to explore somewhere they’ve always dreamed of going to. There are so many places to visit on our tiny planet and most are far less scary than you might think and everywhere you go you’ll meet amazing people.

Oh yes! I agree completely. I’ve met fantastic people on my travels from Antarctica to Zanzibar and I can’t wait to go travelling again soon. Thanks so much for staying in with me to tell me all about The Boy Who Stole Time Mark. I think it sounds absolutely brilliant.

The Boy Who Stole Time

Time - final cover.png

When 12-year-old Krish finds out his mum is dying, he is desperate to give her more time to live. This leads to a deal with a devil-like creature to travel to another realm, Ilir, and collect the Myrthali – the essence of time itself.

Ilir is a tiny desert world where the days are a handful of hours long and there is magic and treachery on every corner. Here Krish is set three impossible challenges by the brutal King Obsendei to win from him the Myrthali. He joins forces with the razor-tongued, young girl-wizard Balthrir, who hopes to free her parents from the Black Palace; a living, breathing structure built entirely out of those subjects who have incurred the wrath of the King.

But as Krish battles these impossible tasks he may be about to learn that there is more than his mother’s life at stake as he gets embroiled in a blood-thirsty fight for power in Ilir that will push his friendship with Balthrir to its limits.

Published by Unbound, The Boy Who Stole Time is available for purchase here.

About Mark Bowsher

mark bowsher

Mark is a proudly dyspraxic writer and filmmaker who has made over 100 book promos for a certain publisher named Unbound. He wrote and directed his first full-length play, Not the Story of Me, at 20 and went on to make three shorts which won Best Short awards (plus one Best Screenplay award) at festivals in the UK and the US. The last of these, Only One Person Will Like This Film, was picked by the BFI as one of their ’10 to try’ out of over 300 films at LSFF 2013.

He has written short fiction (The Pitch and I Killed Tristan Metcalf and Here’s How I Did It… ) for Lionsgate’s Fright Club ezine as well as articles for Den of Geek and Cult TV Times.

Since going freelance in 2013 he has created video content for Santander, Pearson, Choice Support, The Big Issue and MyLex as well as music videos (all based on concepts he pitched to the artists) for Nisha Chand, Ekkoes, Good Work Watson, Morgan Crowley and Go-Zilla. He recently wrote and directed the pilot episode for a sitcom based on his previous career in film marketing entitled It’s All Lies. He isn’t married and doesn’t live in Surrey but he did once climb a mountain dressed as Peter Pan.

You can follow Mark on Twitter @MarkBowsherFilm. You’ll also find him on Facebook.

Giveaway and Review: The Swarm That Swarmed by Fernanda Lazzaro

swarm that swarmed

My grateful thanks to the author Fernanda Lazzaro for a copy of her children’s book The Swarm that Swarmed in return for an honest review.

I’m thrilled that Fernanda has allowed me to offer a copy of The Swarm that Swarmed as a giveaway too. You can enter at the bottom of this blog post.

The Swarm that Swarmed is available for purchase through these links.

The Swarm that Swarmed

swarm that swarmed

Join twins Vivian and Fil, along with best friend Tia, on their first day of summer break.

What happens when they discover runaway bees?

See how the threesome get into mischief, not save the day, and learn a few sticky lessons along the way.

My Review of The Swarm that Swarmed

Tia rushes over to her friends’ house on the first day of the holidays.

The Swarm that Swarmed is a lovely children’s book. It is totally appropriate for children in KS1 or 2 as it has so many layers that can be explored on both an educational and enjoyable level. Firstly, it’s an amusing and entertaining story with a clear setting and the type of events that will be familiar and engaging to children such as getting dirty and eating ice-cream. The beautifully presented illustrations add an extra dimension to the story too. The contrast between north American and British English (such as curb and kerb) could also lead to some very interesting discussions about language use if this book were to be read in schools.

I enjoyed meeting the children in the story and Tia in particular is extremely well created with a personality that jumps from the page. I really appreciated the fact that the friends are from different ethnicities so that tolerance and friendship are portrayed very clearly.

In fact, The Swarm that Swarmed has so many worthwhile messages about healthy eating, getting out in the fresh air and not just sitting in front of the television, friendship and nature especially. With bees so precariously surviving at the moment I think The Swarm that Swarmed would encourage and enthuse children to be environmentally aware and responsible. I adored the fact that the children actually go to a library to do some research about the bees and the information they find is another educational aspect to the book. It’s also a very valuable lesson to find that they can’t make the bees behave as they want. We aren’t always successful in life and this is an important aspect to accept.

The Swarm that Swarmed is everything a children’s book should be; it’s educational, entertaining and fun and I really recommend it.

About Fernanda Lazzaro


Fernanda Lazzaro has also worked as a reporter for a local TV station; and as a producer/co-host for a Canadian fitness lifestyle program. Her love of bees began in the concrete jungle of her elementary school yard in Toronto. The only flowers that existed bordered the school fence and there she was, a lonely honey bee going about her business. It captured Fernanda’s attention. She has since become a beekeeper. Fernanda is still fascinated with bugs and how their small existence has a huge importance on our eco-system. ​​​​

You can visit Fernanda’s website for more information.

Giveaway – A copy of The Swarm That Swarmed by Fernanda Lazzaro

swarm that swarmed

For your chance to win a copy of The Swarm that Swarmed by Fernanda Lazzaro, click here.

Giveaway closes at UK midnight on Tuesday 23rd October 2018. Once a random winner has been selected please note that I will not retain your personal details and that the prize will be sent directly from the author so may take a while to arrive!

Literary Landscapes Edited by John Sutherland

LiteraryLandscapes lo res

My enormous thanks to Alison Menzies for inviting me to be part of the launch celebrations for Literary Landscapes by John Sutherland. I’m delighted to be involved having so enjoyed Literary Wonderlands. You can read my review of Literary Wonderlands here.

Today I have a little bit from the book that relates to my favourite author, Thomas Hardy, as well as my review to share.

Literary Landscapes will be published by Modern Books on 25th October 2018 and is available for purchase here.

Literary Landscapes

LiteraryLandscapes lo res

The anticipated follow-up to the book lovers’ favorite, Literary Wonderlands, Literary Landscapes delves deep into the geography, location, and terrain of our best-loved literary works and looks at how setting and environmental attributes influence storytelling, character, and our emotional response as readers. Fully illustrated with hundreds of full-color images throughout.

Some stories couldn’t happen just anywhere. As is the case with all great literature, the setting, scenery, and landscape are as central to the tale as any character, and just as easily recognized. Literary Landscapes brings together more than 50 literary worlds and examines how their description is intrinsic to the stories that unfold within their borders.

Follow Leopold Bloom’s footsteps around Dublin. Hear the music of the Mississippi River steamboats that set the score for Huckleberry Finn. Experience the rugged bleakness of New Foundland in Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News or the soft Neapolitan breezes in My Brilliant Friend.

The landscapes of enduring fictional characters and literary legends are vividly brought to life, evoking all the sights and sounds of the original works. Literary Landscapes will transport you to the fictions greatest lands and allow you to connect to the story and the author’s intent in a whole new way.

Thomas Hardy’s Wessex

Anyone who knows me well also knows that Thomas Hardy has a special place in my heart, being the first ‘classic’ author I really fell in love with and whose writing prompted my entire adult career. Consequently, I’m delighted to share an image of Hardy’s Wessex from Literary Landscapes and a tiny snippet from the book.

Map of Thomas Hardy's Wessex, 1912 (litho)

Map of Thomas Hardy’s Wessex, 1912, the fictional setting of all Hardy’s major novels, described by him as ‘a partly-real, partly dream-country’.

The place-word ‘Wessex’ is indivisible from Hardy’s fiction. It is an Anglo-Saxon name for what weather forecasters blandly nowadays call the ‘south-west’, but Hardy exhumed the word and made it entirely his own to describe the place he was born, lived most of his life, and revered.

The Return of the Native, Hardy’s  sixth published novel, is the subject for one of the essays in Literary Landscapes: the Real-Life Settings of the World’s Favourite Fiction. Hardy’s darkly imagined Egdon Heath in Wessex provides a fulcrum for the tragic love story between the ‘native’ Clym Yeobright and the outsider Eustacia Vye.

My Review of Literary Landscapes

Travel the world vicariously through Literary Landscapes.

This is a book that EVERY book lover must have in their life. I adored it. First I went through all the references to the authors I have read, beginning with Thomas Hardy whose writing launched my entire career. Next I read the sections with books based in places I’ve been to, like Natsushiko Kyogoku’s Tokyo, followed by places I have yet to see in real life but are on my wish list such as Joyce’s Dublin and I still had a wonderful tapestry of delights to dip in to after that. The only negative of reading Literary Landscapes I can find is that it can make the reader feel dissatisfied. I wanted to have read every book featured and to have visited every place described and because of the incredible number of entries in the four sections I know I’m never going to see them all. I will just have to indulge in the delights of the pages of Literary Landscapes instead!

I thought the quality of the book was just wonderful. Pages are smooth under the hand, the book is weighty and the illustrations frequently sumptuous so that Literary Landscapes is a delight for art as well as literature lovers. The depth of knowledge, the incredible detail in each section and the cross referencing with contemporary sociology and history all contribute to making Literary Landscapes a real joy to read.

Not only are the entries about literary landscapes, but they are themselves literary; stylishly penned, accessible and intelligent. There really is enough material in Literary Landscapes to keep a book lover entertained, happy and intrigued for several months. I cannot recommend this book highly enough – even if it has increased my TBR pile dramatically!

Literary Landscapes Giveaway

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For those of you in the UK who would like the chance to own Literary Landscapes for themselves, there is a change to win a copy. All you need to do is follow @modernbooks and tweet your own favourite #LiteraryLandscape for a chance to win a copy of Literary Landscapes.

This giveaway is independent of Linda’s Book Bag and closes on 31st October 2018.

About John Sutherland

John Sutherland is an English lecturer, emeritus professor, newspaper columnist and author.

Now Emeritus Lord Northcliffe Professor of Modern English Literature at University College London, John Sutherland began his academic career after graduating from the University of Leicester as an assistant lecturer in Edinburgh in 1964. He specialises in Victorian fiction, 20th century literature, and the history of publishing.

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