The Geography of Friendship by Sally Piper

the geography of friendship

My enormous thanks to Lucy at legend Press for sending me a copy of The Geography of Friendship by Sally Piper in return for an honest review.

The Geography of Friendship will be published on 1st February 2019 and is available for pre-order here.

The Geography of Friendship

the geography of friendship

When three women set off on a hike through the wilderness they are anticipating the adventure of a lifetime. Over the next five days, as they face up to the challenging terrain, it soon becomes clear they are not alone.

Lisa, Samantha and Nicole have known each other since school. Lisa is a fighter, Samantha a peacekeeper and Nicole a rule follower. United they bring out the best in one another.

Only once it is too late for them to turn back do they appreciate the danger they are in. Their friendship is tested, and each of them must make a choice that will change their lives forever.

My Review of The Geography of Friendship

Old school friends Lisa, Samantha and Nicole retrace a hike they first completed years before.

Wow. The Geography of Friendship is a poignant, accomplished and tense exploration of relationships and how our past shapes us in our present. I found it a stunning read.

There’s something primeval and threatening from the outset of this story so that I felt tense and affected from the very first page. Sally Piper writes with such intelligent, poetic style that I was on the hike with Lisa, Samantha and Nicole. The physical descriptions are so beautifully crafted, evocative and accurate that I felt as if I were looking at a kaleidoscope of vivid jewels of language that kept shifting and uncovering a new perspective. There is constantly an undercurrent of imagery that made me keep thinking of nature being ‘red in tooth and claw’ so that it’s no exaggeration to say I had goosebumps at times as I read. The landscape in The Geography of Friendship is, rightly, no pastoral idyll.

It’s absolutely perfect that this is a story that involves the traditional collective power of three and what happens when that power balance fractures or is impacted by external forces. Lisa, Samantha and Nicole all have their equal place in the narrative and I found the structure of the story, with each woman being the focus in turn, with a balance of past and present events in each chapter, utterly mesmerising. I felt that not only did I understand each of the three personalities and why they were the women they had become, but that Sally Piper was holding up a magnifying glass to humanity, illustrating the potential for all of us to behave in particular ways. I don’t want to expand that point more for fear of spoiling the book for others!

The plot is shaped so cleverly. Tension builds as the past is gradually uncovered and I loved the concept of individual and collective memory that makes these three women who they are. A couple of the events are breathtakingly shocking yet utterly plausible, making me appreciate the quality of the writing still further.

The Geography of Friendship is an exploration of the literal and metaphorical geography of friendship, guilt and forgiveness. I found it menacing, atmospheric and literary. I thought it was completely wonderful.

About Sally Piper

sally piper

Sally Piper is an award-winning Brisbane based writer.  She is a former nurse and nurse educator, specialising in neurosurgical critical care, and has worked in both Australia and the UK.

Sally has had short fiction and non-fiction published in various online and print publications, including a prize-winning short story in the first One Book Many Brisbanes anthology, The Sydney Morning HeraldThe Saturday Paper, Weekend Australian and WQ plus other literary magazines and journals in the UK. She has been interviewed for radio, been a guest panellist at literary festivals and delivered many author talks and readings.

Sally holds a Master of Arts (Research) in Creative Writing from Queensland University of Technology. During her post-graduate studies she also tutored on the QUT Creative Writing program. She currently presents workshops and seminars for the Queensland Writers’ Centre and mentors on their ‘Writer’s Surgery’ program.

You can find out more by visiting Sally’s website and following her on Twitter @SallyPiper. You’ll also find Sally on Facebook.

A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee

a rising man

I’m delighted to have A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee for review today as one of the reasons I’ve been cutting back on blog tours and posts is so that I can actually read the books from the U3A book group I attend. A Rising Man is our January book.

A Rising Man is published by Vintage, a Penguin imprint, and is available for purchase through these links.

A Rising Man

a rising man

India, 1919. Desperate for a fresh start, Captain Sam Wyndham arrives to take up an important post in Calcutta’s police force.

He is soon called to the scene of a horrifying murder. The victim was a senior official, and a note in his mouth warns the British to leave India – or else.

With the stability of the Empire under threat, Wyndham and Sergeant ‘Surrender-not’ Banerjee must solve the case quickly. But there are some who will do anything to stop them…

My Review of A Rising Man

Following his time in WW1, Captain Sam Wyndham takes up a new post in India.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading A Rising Man, not least because the evocative descriptions of India transported me back there after a recent visit. I thought the use of the senses in conveying scenes and atmosphere worked especially well. Even more effective, however, was Abir Mukherjee’s fabulous research so that his attention to detail gave an unparalleled authenticity. The history, the culture, the geography woven into the story made India as much of a character as any of the people. Indeed, I found Abir Mukherjee’s style quite Dickensian at times with Calcutta as much of a presence in this story as London ever is for Dickens.

The plot is so carefully crafted that I found it spellbinding and it drew me in almost against my will. After the dramatic opening initially I found it a little slow until I attuned myself to the pace and realised it matched perfectly the speed of Indian bureaucracy and afforded the reader the opportunity to get to know Sam and Surrnder-not intimately, as they are gradually developed, with the promise of more detail in future books. I shall certainly be reading more about this duo because I enjoyed A Rising Man so much. I also found echoes of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock stories that provided huge satisfaction for me as a reader without the references ever becoming a pastiche. What I found so entertaining was that I had my theories and suspicions, but I didn’t guess the manner in which they were revealed at all. I also loved the mini cliffhangers at the end of chapters so that I was compelled to read on. Abir Mukherjee has a very tantalising style. I thoroughly appreciated the dark humour of many of Sam’s thoughts and words too.

Typical of the intelligence of the way A Rising Man is written is the title. There are so many resonances of the title throughout the narrative. I can’t mention them all as that would spoil the story, but the concept of the ordinary Indian rising up against British oppression, Sam’s recovery after the events of his past, Surrender-not’s position in society, the political and cultural hierarchy and so on, all reverberate making for a very satisfying read.

On occasion I felt quite uncomfortable reading A Rising Man. White attitudes to people of any colour, the inherent racism and sexism and, sadly at times, the feeling that not much has changed when it comes to corruption, all underpin the story, so that it feels fresh and modern at the same time as being totally historically convincing. I found the way WW1 echoes through Sam’s behaviour actually very moving, even though it isn’t a major theme of the narrative.

I’m not sure what I was expecting in A Rising Man, but what I got was a very entertaining crime story with vivid characters I believed in and cared, about alongside an authentic and evocative setting that had me hooked and wanting to read more. I really recommend Abir Mukherjee’s writing. I thought A Rising Man was super.

About Abir Mukherjee

abir

Abir Mukherjee grew up in the west of Scotland. At the age of fifteen, his best friend made him read Gorky Park and he’s been a fan of crime fiction ever since.

The child of immigrants from India, A Rising Man, his debut novel, was inspired by a desire to learn more about a crucial period in Anglo-Indian history that seems to have been almost forgotten.

A Rising Man won the Harvill Secker/Daily Telegraph crime writing competition and became the first in a series starring Captain Sam Wyndham and ‘Surrender-not’ Banerjee. It went on to win the CWA Historical Dagger and was shortlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award. Abir lives in London with his wife and two sons.

To find out more, follow Abir on Twitter @radiomukhers or visit his website. You’ll also find him on Facebook.

Puzzle Girl by Rachael Featherstone

Puzzle Girl bc

My grateful thanks to Emily Glenister at The Dome Press for inviting me to be part of the paperback launch blog tour for Puzzle Girl by Rachael Featherstone and for sending me a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Puzzle Girl is available for purchase here.

Puzzle Girl

Puzzle Girl bc

Love is a riddle, waiting to be solved…

Clued-up career girl Cassy Brookes has life under control until one disastrous morning changes everything. When she finds herself stuck in a doctor’s surgery, a cryptic message left in a crossword magazine sends her on a search to find the mysterious puzzle-man behind it.

Cassy is soon torn between tracking down her elusive dream guy, and outwitting her nightmare workmate, the devious Martin. Facing a puzzling love-life, will she ever be able to fit the pieces together and discover the truth behind this enigmatic man?

My Review of Puzzle Girl

Cassy Brookes knows the best way to deal with life is to write lists and do puzzles.

I thoroughly enjoyed Puzzle Girl. It’s light, entertaining, amusing and romantic without being saccharine. Rachael Featherstone writes with flair and realism so that the events and characters in Puzzle Girl feel fresh and believable.

My goodness Cassy has the ability to entangle herself in troubles. I loved the way in which she was so fixated on an actual puzzle book and discovering the mystery puzzle-man that she entirely missed the real life puzzle pieces around her, causing her to neglect her friends and be duped by those about whom she should know better. I didn’t much like her at times and thought the way in which Rachael Featherstone developed her character so that I learnt to care about Cassy was very skilful. The first person approach made Cassy come alive on the page. By the end of Puzzle Girl I felt she had been elevated to a convincing Everywoman so that there is much to learn from her life; particularly that we shouldn’t always jump to conclusions about others.

I found the minor characters perfectly balanced so that there were enough of them to create interest without stealing Cassy’s limelight. I know a book has worked well when I have a physical response to characters and in this case I would have been more than happy to punch Seph – hard! Of all of Cassy’s acquaintances, it was Martin I found the most intriguing, but you need to read the book to see why.

The plot races along with Cassy lurching from one, frequently self-induced, crisis to another. All the way through I kept thinking ‘what a tangled web we weave’. I’d love to see Puzzle Girl as a feature film as many of the events, particularly those surrounding the walk-in health centre would lend themselves to a rom-com. I did guess many of the elements but actually this enhanced my enjoyment of the book because I was intrigued as to how Rachael Featherstone would resolve them. The different settings add extra layers of interest too and I loved the deftly handled themes of identity, friendship and relationships.

Puzzle Girl is hugely entertaining and fun to read. It is wonderful escapism, perfect for a cold winter’s afternoon or a relaxing holiday. I thought it was enormous fun and very satisfying to read. I’d really rather like a follow up novel with some of the same characters now please, perhaps developing Dan further!

About Rachael Featherstone

rachel featherstone

Rachael Featherstone was born and raised in Woodford. Her path to writing was a little unorthodox. After reading Mathematics at Oxford University, New College, Rachael went to work in research.

When Rachael’s mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2012, Rachael decided to take a chance, quit her job, and fulfil a life time ambition to write a novel. She went back to university and completed a Masters in English Literature and had several short stories published.

Rachael now lives in Hampshire with her husband, Tim and daughter Elodie.

You can follow Rachael on Twitter @WRITERachael and visit her website for further information. Rachael is also on Facebook.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

Puzzle Girl Blog Tour Poster

Cover Reveal: The Adventurers and the Cursed Castle by Jemma Hatt

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As someone who believes sharing the love of reading with children affords them a lifelong pleasure, I’m delighted to be revealing the cover of a brand new middle grade children’s adventure series by Jemma Hatt. The Adventurers and the Cursed Castle is book one in Jemma’s The Adventurers series.

Here’s more about the book:

The Adventurers and the Cursed Castle

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A mysterious curse has stricken Kexley Castle for generations ever since Egyptian treasure was transported to Cornwall by a 19th Century explorer.

Can four young adventurers reveal the secrets that have been hidden for over a hundred years?

Join Lara, Rufus, Tom and Barney in their first exciting adventure together as they unravel the mystery and race to find Captain Jack Kexley’s hiding place.

To succeed, they must discover and solve a series of clues left by their ancestor, ahead of two unwelcome visitors from the British Museum who are determined to get there first!

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Doesn’t that sound brilliant?

The Adventurers and the Cursed Castle will be published on 29th January 2019 and is available for pre-order from Amazon, Waterstones and Barnes and Noble.

The cover design is by Andrew Smith whose website you can visit here.

About Jemma Hatt

jemma hatt author pic

Jemma Hatt was born near Sevenoaks in Kent. She grew up with a passion for reading and writing short stories, which ultimately led to a degree in English Literature from the University of Exeter. The Adventurers Series was inspired by many childhood holidays to Devon and Cornwall as well as her family’s pet border collies.

After having lived and worked in London, New York and Delaware, Jemma currently lives in Kent and is working on the sequel to The Adventurers and The Cursed Castle as well as other writing projects.

To find out more about Jemma and her new series, follow her on Twitter @jemmahatt, find her on Facebook and Instagram or visit her website.

The World of David Walliams Book of Stuff by David Walliams

The World of David Walliams

I was delighted when Burak from Books2DoorUK asked if I would be willing to review some of their titles for them and when a selection arrived within less than 24 hours of my ordering them I was extremely impressed. Their service and pricing are excellent.

Today I’m starting off by reviewing The World of David Walliams Book of Stuff which is available for purchase from Books2Door here.

The World of David Walliams Book of Stuff

The World of David Walliams

A spectacularly funny feast of all things Walliams for super-fans, new fans and anyone who likes laughing out loud a lot. In glorious colour throughout!

Welcome to the World of David Walliams. This spectacularly funny book is bursting with Walliams wonderment!

Insider sneak peeks, brilliant character quizzes, fabulous fun facts, design your own Walliams book cover and meet Raj in a brand new comic book adventure never seen before. You even get exclusive access to behind-the-scenes content from David Walliams himself.

Hours of entertainment for all the family and the perfect companion to David’s novels. Featuring colour illustrations from the iconic Sir Quentin Blake and the artistic genius Tony Ross.

My Review

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The World of David Walliams Book of Stuff

Everything you ever wanted to know about David Walliams and his books…

I have a confession. Although I’ve watched David Walliams’ books dramatised on television and thoroughly enjoyed those programmes, I have never actually read one, partly because I felt, quite erroneously, that their popularity was more to do with celebrity than quality. How wrong can you be? If The World of David Walliams Book of Stuff is representative, I’m going to have to buy them all and read them immediately, because I thought it was utterly brilliant!

Although I’m not familiar with the written work of David Walliams, my total enjoyment of The World of David Walliams Book of Stuff was unaffected. I was able to recognise and understand many of references and I’m certain that any fan of David Walliams’ work would adore every page of this vibrant and entertaining book. I so admired the effervescent style and pitch perfect tone for children.

Much of the humour is lavatorial and crude; exactly what children love and, as an adult rapidly approaching their 60th birthday, I found myself laughing aloud too. I genuinely think The World of David Walliams Book of Stuff is a book that can resonate with, and amuse, children of ALL ages. However, alongside the entertaining humour and frequent silliness, is actually a very perceptive and subtly poignant sub-text, such as in Joe Spud’s letter to Santa or a Day in the Life of the Grubb Twins, so that children could explore loneliness and bullying, for example, in a safe environment. It is this contrast between the humour and seriousness that works so well. After the Midnight Gang secret files section, the comment ‘And please, whatever you do, whoever you are, wherever you are… never stop dreaming! No one can take your dreams away from you‘ genuinely brought a tear to my eye.

The illustrations by Quentin Blake and Tony Ross are wonderful, transporting me back to those of the books I read as a child and stirring pleasurable memories as well as exemplifying this text so brilliantly. I loved the fact that children can learn to draw like Tony Ross. In fact, the interactivity of The World of David Walliams Book of Stuff is sheer genius. I now have a title of a book to write, Moody Hairdresser, and although I might well substitute suggested chocolate drops for rabbit droppings, I certainly fancy making Rabbit Dropping Roll from Mrs Trafe’s Cookery Book Range. There are quizzes, spot the difference pages, snakes and ladders, cover designs, memory challenges and loo roll modelling that will occupy and entertain children for hours.

I loved The World of David Walliams Book of Stuff. It’s amusing, entertaining and joyful so that I forgot I was a middle aged adult and felt transported back to the innocent pleasures of childhood. What I found incredibly effective was the acceptance of children, their dreams and aspirations and the credibility and guidance given to youngsters woven into the playful comedy.

The World of David Walliams Book of Stuff is glorious and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

About David Walliams

David Walliams

David Walliams is an actor, a judge on TV talent show Britain’s Got Talent and is currently the fastest growing children’s author in the UK.

Since beginning his publishing career in 2008, David Walliams has taken the children’s literary world by storm. His sixth book Demon Dentist was published in September 2013 and went straight to number one in the bestseller charts.

Previous bestsellers Ratburger and Gangsta Granny were also immediate number one hits, and the paperback of Gangsta Granny remained at number one for an incredible 22 weeks in the UK charts.

David is well known for his work with Matt Lucas. Together they created Little Britain, which has won numerous international awards including three BAFTAs and is now shown in over 100 countries. David and Matt followed Little Britain with the hugely popular spoof airport documentary series Come Fly With Me.

You can follow David on Twitter @davidwalliams and visit his website for more details. There is also a World of David Walliams Facebook page.

An Extract from Eye Can Write and an Interview with Jonathan Bryan

Eye Can Write

As you know, I’m not taking on anything new for Linda’s Book Bag for a while, but when Jonathan Bryan got in touch to ask me if I would be part of a blog tour for his book Eye Can Write, with proceeds from the book going to Jonathan’s charity Teach Us Too, I simply couldn’t refuse. I think when you find out a bit more about Eye Can Write you’ll understand why and I am delighted to have an extract to share with you today.

I have found the story behind Jonathan’s writing truly inspirational and am genuinely honoured to be part of this blog tour.

Published by Lagom, an imprint of Bonnier’s Blink Publishing, Eye Can Write is available for purchase here.

Eye Can Write

Eye Can Write

Can you imagine not being able to speak or communicate?

The silence, the loneliness, the pain.

But, inside you disappear to magical places, and even meet your best friend there.

However, most of the time you remain imprisoned within the isolation. Waiting, longing, hoping.

Until someone realises your potential and discovers your key, so your unlocking can begin.

Now you are free, flying like a wild bird in the open sky.

A voice for the voiceless.

An Extract from Eye Can Write

Song of Voice

As adept fingers point

My silent soul emerges,

Like the dawn blackbird’s song

Suddenly breaking the black.

 

Music buried in the mind

Sings melodies divine,

Of ancient tales yet untold

Unfurled to men astound.

 

Whose beauty hears my voice?

What depths saddened my pathway?

Soaring eagles spread wings

I fly to my destiny.

 

Can you imagine not being able to speak or communicate? The silence, the loneliness, the pain. Inside you disappear to magical places, but most of the time remain imprisoned within the isolation. Waiting, longing, hoping. Until someone realises your potential and discovers your key, so your unlocking can begin. Now you are free, flying like a wild bird in the open sky. A voice for the voiceless.

This is me, and this is my story.

For as long as I could remember, Mummy had read to me: Bible stories, funny stories, short stories, The Chronicles of Narnia. For days, weeks and months we had curled up in a hospital bed together and plunged ourselves into a novel. Immersing myself in a story is the most enjoyable, wonderful escapism; books have nourished my mind and prevented mental decay during my years of silence.Trapped in cerebral palsy I run within the pages:skipping, laughing, exploring. Plunging myself into the adventure of new tales, I have inhabited the scenes of authors’ pictures and woven them with my imagination. Words have been my portal to another world. And now the mantle was passing on to me.

During the nine years of being effectively locked in by my severe cerebral palsy, words and phrases had been banked while my mother read to me. Unable to develop the physical skills of my peers, maybe my mind had more room for academic learning.

Picking up the spelling board, Sarah’s finger pointed to where my eyes were looking. Sitting on Mummy’s lap, our bodies remained still as Sarah’s finger danced to the rhythm of my eyes.Following my lead, we slow-waltzed around the board, synchronised to the music of the word in my head. At first we were like clumsy teenagers trying to learn – stumbling, slow and stilted.

‘Jonathan, today you’ve written: “Tired from slaying the ships enemies they towed” – what do you want to write next?’ Mummy enquired. She had already been surprised by the word ‘slaying’,as it wasn’t even an option in the verb section of the big black folder.

As the duet continued I spelt out an ‘m’then a ‘y’. Because the process was so exacting and tiring, and because I wanted to draw out the suspense, I closed my eyes. After the usual cajoling to open them, I started to enjoy the ensuing conversation:

‘Did he put a space after the “y”?’ Mummy needed to know, as she was also typing what I wrote into the computer.

‘He hasn’t yet, but I expect he will when he opens up again. I can’t think what else he would want to write beginning “my”.’ Sarah obviously had no idea of the word I was crafting. Before they started chatting again about the fate of the near obsolete folder that brimmed with many hours of their dedicated input, I opened up –ready for play to recommence.

‘My… “r”… “i”… “a”… “d”… “s”.’ Mummy articulated each letter of the word rally, but Sarah was so engrossed in mirroring my eyes with her finger she had lost the word.‘Myriads.’ Mummy looked at Sarah, who stared back at her, stunned.

Their silence heralded the beginning of the end of mine.

It took Mummy one more day to realise that now I could spell everything I wanted to write, I could also spell everything I wanted to say.

Now it was my turn to be the custodian of the power of words. My challenge to capture delicately the image and bequeath it words that let it breathe. Like a bird let out of its cage, the picture that words can generate was free to fly in my reader’s mind and assume a new life of its own.

PMLD

We are not capable of learning

So do not tell me

There’s something going on behind the

disability.

Treated as useless handicaps

Minds with nothing in there, tragically

Stuck in a wheelchair,

Disabilities visibly crippling –

Just incontinent and dribbling,

We are not

Academically able.

You should make our minds

Stagnate in special education!

We cannot

Learn to read,

Learn to spell,

Learn to write,

Instead let us

Be constrained by a sensory curriculum.

It is not acceptable to say

We have the capacity to learn.

School should occupy us, entertain us; but

never teach us

You are deluded to believe that

Our education can be looked at another way!

NOW READ IT AGAIN BACKWARDS

Thank you, Jonathan, for sharing this extract from Eye Can Write with us. I found reading PMLD backwards quite tricky and understand your message that just because I couldn’t do it instantly, it doesn’t mean I’m stupid! (Blog readers can see the reverse poem here.)

I’ve found your story and your writing to be truly inspirational. Good luck with Teach Us Too and all your writing.

I know you’ve been influenced by Michael Murpurgo so could you tell us why you think children are so captivated by Michael Morpurgo’s writing?

When Michael writes he uses words like an artist, painting images and scenes on the mind of his reader.  As we read he moves the scene at just the right pace so that we remain immersed in the landscape as he introduces us to his very believable characters.  Getting the balance right between description and action is an art all writers aspire to.  Every story Michael has written leaves an indelible mark on the imaginations of the children who read them.

How has Michael Morpurgo influenced you as an author?

When I wrote Michael a fan letter a few years ago, I wasn’t sure I would get a reply, yet alone meet him, thanks to the Make a Wish charity.  Since then our friendship has continued to grow and his influence on me as a writer has grown with it.  Most recently Michael asked to check a short thought I was to share at a carol service – thankfully he told me not to change it, as his feedback arrived the morning after the event!

As a writer he is everything I aspire to be, and as a person he is the most genuine, kind man with whom I share thoughts on writing and banter in equal measure.

I imagine Michael would be delighted that you aspire to be like him Jonathan. I find you totally inspirational and am honoured to have been part of your Eye Can Write blog tour.

About Jonathan Bryan

Jonathan

Jonathan Bryan is the twelve-year-old author of Eye Can Write and founder of the charity, Teach Us Too (who are receiving all his proceeds from the book). Faith, family and friends sum up all that is important to him.  He also passionately campaigns for all children to be taught to read and write regardless of their educational label, for which he has been awarded a Diana Legacy Award and a Pearson Young Person of the Year Award.

You can find out more about Jonathan on his blog, follow Jonathan on Twitter @eyecantalk and find him on Facebook.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

eye can write poster

Peach by Wayne Barton @WayneSBarton

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My grateful thanks to Jon Wilson at Fish Out of Water Books for sending me a copy of Peach by Wayne Barton in return for an honest review.

Peach will be published on 15th January 2019 and is available for pre-order here.

Peach

Following the untimely passing of a close friend, British songwriter and producer, Freddie Ward, arrives in Bliss, Idaho to work on a comeback album with beloved singer-songwriter, Hal Granger. Adrift and bereft, Freddie is looking to gain a sense of perspective after a series of bad decisions–decisions that cost him his relationship and life as he knows it. However, almost as soon as Freddie arrives in Idaho, Hal drops an unexpected and devastating bombshell.

Far from the hustle and bustle of his life in England, out in the stark isolation of the northwestern U.S., with time to think, to reflect, Freddie slowly begins to rebuild his life, haunted both by the events of the recent past and his reactions to them.

Through words of wisdom from Hal and a series of meandering, existential, and profound conversations, Peach explores themes such as love, loss, loyalty, and friendship; second chances and redemption; how to make the most of your time; and, last but not least, the meaning of home.

My Review of Peach

With difficult relationships and a death behind him, Freddie Ward heads off to Idaho to write songs with Hal Granger.

If you’re looking for a fast-paced novel with multiple twists and a high body count along the way, then Peach is not the book for you. If, however, you want an intelligent, thought-provoking and profound literary read that immerses the reader in what it is that makes us who we are, then look no further.

It took me a while to attune myself to the pace of Peach, but the more I read, the more I appreciated what a beautifully crafted book this is. There’s such a wise, aphoristic, quality to Wayne Barton’s writing that I felt my own feelings and emotions were clarified by reading this narrative. It’s not overstating my response to say that whilst there is deep sadness between the pages of Peach, there is also a truth and positivity that made me feel that even in my darkest moments I am not alone in experiencing doubts and negativity. I finished the story feeling I had learnt about humanity in general, and myself in particular, so that I felt the same kind of resolution Freddie experiences. It’s no coincidence that he is emotionally lost and writing under a pseudonym when the book opens and that it takes a trip to a small town aptly named Bliss for him to accept himself.

There’s not much in the way of plot in Peach, although there are a few events along the way. Rather, this is a read of conversations and Freddie’s thoughts and introspection. Although Freddie is the central character with the story told from his first person perspective, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know him, it is Hal who steals the show. Hal’s truths and pragmatism weave a spellbinding feeling of humanity that I found helpful as well as entertaining. I’d love so many I know to read Peach and learn from it.

It’s difficult to define Peach. I don’t think it’s a book that will suit all readers. I found it emotional and affecting. And I honestly think that although it is a measured and considered creative narrative, it’s as good as any non-fiction self-help book I’ve read too. It’s about love, loss, identity and grief. It’s about the kindness of strangers. Most of all, however, I think Peach is about humanity. I really enjoyed it.

About Wayne Barton

wayne

Wayne Barton is a best-selling author, ghost writer and producer.

In 2015 he was described by the Independent as ‘the leading writer on Manchester United’. He has ghost written a number of autobiographies of former footballers.

In 2018 his critically acclaimed biography of former United assistant manager Jimmy Murphy was a number one best seller; this was followed by the December 2018 release of ‘Too Good To Go Down’ which achieved the same accolade. ‘Too Good To Go Down’ is the book of the BT Sport film of the same name, which Wayne worked on in a producer capacity.

For more information, follow Wayne on Twitter @WayneSBarton or visit his website. You’ll also find him on Instagram, Goodreads and Facebook.