Literary Tube Map from @inthebookwith

tube map central

Although I’ve been really busy with the Deepings Literary Festival recently, I have had time to catch a few glimpses of a wonderful new literary Tube map of London underground from In the Book. It so intrigued me I had to find out a bit more so I asked Tom Matthews from In The Book to tell me a bit more about it.

The Literary Tube Map of London can be found here where it’s so much easier to see and navigate than on the blog!

tube map central

Hi Tom. Thank you so much for agreeing to feature on Linda’s Book Bag. Please would you tell me a little bit about the map you’ve all come up with?

Thanks Linda. The map was designed to act as a definitive virtual book tour of London for both locals and tourists. Literature has the wonderful ability to colour a certain area like nothing else, and while everyone recognises Baker Street as Sherlock’s home and King’s Cross as the place Harry boards his train to Hogwarts, the lesser known works are what helps make London’s literary history so diverse: wonderfully named titles such as Lawless and the Devil of Euston Square and The Wimbledon Poisoner are prime examples of this.

Oh I agree. I love the concept of literary landscapes and I’m lucky enough to live in an area where the poet John Clare was a local man.

We also found it fascinating how certain genres and authors “owned” certain parts of the map: Dickens’ London dominates the Central Line, while gothic Victorian works Dracula, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Picture of Dorian Gray can be found haunting the Piccadilly Line. Zadie Smith takes the Jubilee Line to the northwest while Martin Amis is more prominent around West London.

How fascinating! Thanks so much Tom. I need to have a proper look at the map and visit the areas with new insight.  Seeing  Infernal Devices on the same line as The Da Vinci Code made me smile!

Could you tell me a bit about In The Book Too before you go?

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In The Book publish personalised children’s books in the UK and US and hold a passion for getting kids to read. We recognise books as not only worlds where one can lose oneself but as a means to develop cultural understandings, social skills and help us affect positive changes in the world around us.

As an ex-literacy consultant and English teacher I couldn’t agree more Tom! Thanks so much for telling me more about the company. I wonder how many ‘stations’ on your Literary Tube Map Linda’s Book Bag readers have visited? 

You can find out more about In The Book by visiting their website, finding them on Facebook and following them on Twitter @inthebookwith.

What’s in a name? A Publication Day Guest Post by Colette McCormick, Author of Not My Brother’s Keeper

Not My Brother's Keeper cover

It’s a very welcome return for Colette McCormick to Linda’s Book Bag today because I’ve been privileged to ‘stay in’ with Colette to chat all about her novel Ribbons in Her Hair in a post you can read here as well as host a smashing guest post here from Colette called What Happened Next when she explained all about her journey to publication for Things I Should Have Said And Done.

Today we are celebrating Colette’s brand new novel Not My Brother’s Keeper and I’m delighted that Colette has agreed to write a post all about how the title for her latest book came about.

Not My Brother’s Keeper is published today, 30th May 2019 by Accent Press and is available for purchase here.

Not My Brother's Keeper cover

My brother, not my responsibility

Robert and Tom are practically identical – same height, same hair, equally good looking – but Tom never had the same confidence as his older brother, and for that reason, he is in awe of him.

When Robert’s girlfriend, Michelle, tells him that she’s pregnant, Robert disappears leaving Tom to clean up his mess. As Tom spends time with Michelle, reassuring her that she is not alone in this, the both begin to fall in love.

But is Michelle settling for second best?

Is Tom losing himself in what should have been his brother’s life?

Sixteen years later, without warning, Robert comes home and Tom has to find the courage to stand against the brother he idolized.

What’s in a name?

A Guest Post by Colette McCormick

I clearly remember when the title Not my Brother’s Keeper came to me. It was years and years ago and I was in the cellar of the building that I worked in. The stockroom was in the cellar so I used to spend a lot of time there and it was a great ‘thinking place.’ I didn’t have a story in mind but the title popped int my head and stuck with me. It would be a long time before the story came.

When my eldest son left home, he loaded what he needed into the back of his car and left the rest.  I said that I was going into his room to tidy away what had been left in his wake but his brother stopped me and said that he would ‘clear up the mess,’ suggesting that I shouldn’t have to do it. He got no argument from me as I didn’t relish what I might have found under the bed.

But, as often happens my mind started to wander. What if his brother had left more than a room full of ‘stuff ‘that he had accumulated over the years? What if he had just disappeared rather than moved a few miles away? What would make someone just run away from everything that they had ever known? The more I thought about it, the more a story started to form. Then I remembered the title that had sat at the back on my brain for years. I put the two things together and Not My Brother’s Keeper is the result.

But as I was writing about two brothers and being the mother of two sons, I had to be careful that the lines between the real and the fictional didn’t become blurred. My sons are my sons and the fictional brothers are just that. Fictional. I was careful not to give Robert or Tom any of my sons’ characteristics. If by some miracle either of them reads it, I didn’t want them to recognize themselves. My sons aren’t great book readers although the eldest one did buy my first book. As yet he hasn’t felt the need to read it.


(I think it’s hard to separate ourselves from our writing Colette. Congratulations on having done so and happy publication day for Not My Brother’s Keeper!)

About Colette McCormick


Originally a city girl, Colette has made her home in a one of the many former mining villages in County Durham. When not working as a retail manager for a large children’s charity she will more than likely be writing, even if it’s only a shopping list. She also enjoys cooking, gardening and taking the dog on long walks in the countryside near her home. She has been married for almost forty years and has two grown up sons.

To find out more, follow Colette on Twitter @colettemcauthor, or find her on Facebook and Instagram or visit her blog.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

Not My Brother's Keeper blog tour

The Liar in the Library by Simon Brett

The Liar in the Library

My grateful thanks to Charlotte Cooper at Midas PR for a copy of The Liar in the Library by Simon Brett in return for an honest review.

The Liar in the Library will be published in paperback on 6th June 2019 by Black Thorn Books and is available for purchase here.

The Liar in the Library

The Liar in the Library

Fethering has everything a sleepy coastal town should: a snug English pub, lots of cosy cottages, a little local library – and the occasional murder . . .

Bestselling author Burton St Clair, complete with soaring ego and wandering hands, has come to town to give a talk. But after his corpse is found slumped in his car, he won’t be leaving.

Jude is the prime suspect; she was, after all, the last person to see Burton St Clair alive.

If she is to prove her innocence, she will have to dust off her detective skills and recruit her prim and proper neighbour (and partner-in-sleuthing) Carole to find the real culprit.

My Review of The Liar in the Library

Burton St Clair’s visit to Fethering Library may not turn out quite as he planned!

I read The Liar in the Library at a time that couldn’t have been more apt, finishing it just before heading off to my local library to interview an author for the Deepings Literary Festival so it had particular resonance (though thankfully we had no murders) and I found Simon Brett’s writing hugely entertaining.

There’s a cracking plot in this slim book that romps along. I have to admit that I suspected everyone of having committed the murder and was frequently wrong-footed so that The Liar in the Library is a perfect example of a traditional who-dunnit with frequent dead ends and red herrings. At times there is a stereotypical and almost self-conscious aspect to characters, attitudes and events but which feels entirely deliberate and all the more appealing for it, adding to my pleasure in reading. These conventions mean that not only does The Liar in the Library refer to the Golden Age of crime fiction, it adds to the body of work perfectly. This is such an ingenious conceit that made me smile as I read. There’s also a wonderfully pithy representation of the publishing world; the jealousies and practices that authors suffer and employ, that frequently made me laugh aloud.

I loved the prickly relationship between Jude and Carole. Their self imposed rules about accepted behaviour reminded me of so many people I know that I felt Simon Brett had captured the social mores of middle class England perfectly in Fethering. Add in some Polish immigrants and a gossipy pub and all life is laid bare in the precise and carefully crafted prose.

I don’t usually make comparisons between writers but the sharp observational prose reminded me of Conrad’s The Secret Agent, with the crime conventions of Agatha Christie and the wit of P.G. Wodehouse so that The Liar in the Library felt diverting and entertaining. The Liar in the Library is acerbic, tongue-in-cheek and beguiling. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

About Simon Brett

simon brett

Simon Brett worked as a producer in radio and television before taking up writing full-time. He was awarded an OBE in the 2016 New Year’s Honours ‘for services to literature’ and also was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. In 2014 he won the CWA’s prestigious Diamond Dagger for an outstanding body of work.

You can find out more by visiting Simon’s website.

After The End by Clare Mackintosh

after the end

I’ve been sitting on this blog post for weeks and I can’t wait any longer to share my review of Clare Mackintosh’s After The End!

I so enjoyed Clare Mackintosh’s I Let You Go, reviewed here, that when I was given the opportunity to be in a special advanced reader group for Clare’s latest book After The End, I jumped at the chance. I cannot thank Clare enough for making sure I received an ARC of After The End.

Published by Little Brown imprint Sphere on 25th June 2019, After The End is available for pre-order through these links.

After The End

after the end

Max and Pip are the strongest couple you know. Only now they’re facing the most important decision of their lives – and they don’t agree.

As the consequences of an impossible choice threaten to devastate them both, nothing will ever be the same again.

But anything can happen after the end . . .

My Review of After the End

One decision for Pip and Max leads to very different outcomes.

That’s it.

I am officially, irreparably, broken.

I can’t think of another book that has affected me emotionally quite as much as Clare Mackintosh’s After the End. It’s going to be hard to write a coherent and objective review because I feel too involved with the narrative, with Pip and Max, and so grief stricken that I don’t think I can convey my thoughts accurately.

Firstly, I have to comment on the elegant, intelligent and completely surprising plot structure. I can’t say more without spoiling the read but this is plotting at its most sophisticated and effective. It’s perfect for this story. I experienced physical jolts at some points and finished the book stunned. It truly is perfect.

The characterisation is a masterclass in writing. Max and Pip are not mere characters on the page, but rather two grieving, desperate individuals who could be any one of us had life thrown the same dice our way. They invaded my life completely and still catch me unawares at times, sliding into my thoughts and reinvoking all the emotions I felt when reading their story. I genuinely can’t bear what happens to them. I’m reduced to tears every time I think about them.

The subject matter of After The End is all too relevant to today’s society when private decisions and grief are appropriated by public and social media. We all have an opinion, a voice; except perhaps for those who really need it, like Dylan. It was only after I read the author’s note at the end of the book that I realised the author has experienced first hand the decisions Pip and Max have to make and this impacted on me further. Clare Mackintosh’s After The End made me examine my own potential behaviour – indeed my very soul – and I fear I found it wanting.

After The End isn’t a book I read. It’s a book I experienced intellectually, emotionally and so physically that it actually hurt at times. I give up trying to review it except to say I have been altered by reading it and will never be the same again. Simply choose your own superlative and apply it to After The End. It’s utterly wonderful and my book of the year to date.

About Clare Mackintosh

clare mackintosh

Clare Mackintosh spent twelve years in the police force, including time on CID, and as a public order commander. She left the police in 2011 to work as a freelance journalist and social media consultant and is the founder of the Chipping Norton Literary Festival. She now writes full time and lives in North Wales with her husband and their three children.

Clare’s debut novel, I Let You Go, was a Sunday Times bestseller and the fastest-selling title by a new crime writer in 2015. It was selected for both the Richard and Judy Book Club (and was the winning title of the readers’ vote for the summer 2015 selection) and for ITV’s Loose Women’s Loose Books. It is a New York Times bestseller, with translation rights sold to more than 30 countries.

Her second psychological thriller, I See You, was a number 1 Sunday Times bestseller and Audible’s best selling psychological thriller in 2016. Translation rights have been sold to almost 30 countries.

Clare is the patron of the Silver Star Society, an Oxford-based charity which supports the work carried out in the John Radcliffe Hospital’s Silver Star unit, providing special care for mothers with medical complications during pregnancy.

You can find out more on Clare’s website. You’ll also find her on Facebook and can follow Clare on Twitter @claremackint0sh.

Spices and Seasons: Simple, Sustainable Indian Flavors by Rinku Bhattacharya


Having traveled to India last year and loving spicy Indian food I simply couldn’t resist breaking my blog tour sabbatical to support Rachel’s Random Resources in bringing you Rinku Bhattacharya’s Spices and Seasons: Simple, Sustainable Indian Flavors. Admittedly my husband does most of the cooking these days, but I can always pass on a recipe or two to him!

Spices and Seasons: Simple, Sustainable Indian Flavors is available for purchase on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Spices and Seasons: Simple, Sustainable Indian Flavors


Rinku Bhattacharya combines her two great loves―Indian cooking and sustainable living―to give readers a simple, accessible way to cook seasonally, locally, and flavorfully. Inspired by the bounty of local produce, mostly from her own backyard, Rinku set out to create recipes for busy, time-strapped home cooks who want to blend Indian flavors into nutritious family meals.

Arranged in chapters from appetizers through desserts, the cookbook includes everything from small bites, soups, seafood, meat and poultry, and vegetables, to condiments, breads, and sweets. You’ll find recipes for tempting fare like “Mango and Goat Cheese Mini Crisps,” “Roasted Red Pepper Chutney,” “Crisped Okra with Dry Spice Rub,” “Smoky Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Puree,” and “Red Harvest Masala Cornish Hens,” to name a few.

As exotic and enticing as these recipes sound, the ingredients are easily found and the instructions are simple. Rinku encourages readers to explore the bounty of their local farms and markets, and embrace the rich flavors of India to cook food that is nutritious, healthy, seasonal and most importantly, delicious.

My Review of

Spices and Seasons: Simple, Sustainable Indian Flavors

A celebration of Indian cooking.

There’s quite a bit more to enjoy than simply the recipes in Spices and Seasons: Simple, Sustainable Indian Flavors. Rinku Bhattacharya has a lovely conversational tone as she describes her attitude to food and cooking, to New York and India so that I actually  found the non-cooking parts of the book just as interesting as the recipes. The introductory passages at the start of each section evoke images of India that bring the country to life whether you’ve visited there or not.

There’s a wonderful feeling of wholesomeness across the whole of Spices and Seasons with an emphasis on the seasons and fresh ingredients that I found quite inspiring. The colour photographs enhance an already attractive book so that I found myself drawn to all the recipes, even those involving ingredients I know wouldn’t entirely be to my taste.

So many recipes attracted me but I loved the soup section the most as I am always attracted to soups on menus. That said, every section has a super format with vibrant pictures showing a cook what the finished dish should look like, clear method instructions and tips to substitute items or make a dish healthier, for example, that I found very useful. I grow a lot of beetroot but I’d never thought of making them citrussy when I roast them.

I really recommend Spices and Seasons: Simple, Sustainable Indian Flavors and I’m off to plant some corriander at my allotment and check to see if the pears have set so that we can make pear chutney with roasted fennel seeds and raisins, but in the mean time I’m passing the book to my husband so he can get cooking because there’s plenty in this smashing selection from Rinku Bhattacharya to inspire him!

About Rinku Bhattacharya

Spices and Seasons - Bhattacharya_pic

Rinku Bhattacharya was born in India, and now lives in a house with a vibrant backyard in Hudson Valley, New York with her husband, an avid gardener, and their two children. Rinku’s simple, sustainable approach to Indian cooking is showcased on her blog, Spice Chronicles, and in her Journal News column “Spices and Seasons.”

Rinku has been teaching recreational cooking classes for the past nine years, and works extensively with local area farmer’s markets on seasonal demonstrations and discussions. Rinku is also the author of The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles (Hippocrene Books, 2012), winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2013 for Best Indian Cuisine. She writes for the Poughkeepsie Journal, the Journal News, and several online sites, and is a frequent guest on CT Style TV.

You can visit Rinku’s website, follow her on Twitter @Wchestermasala and find her on Facebook and Instagram or Pinterest for more information.

Spices & Seasons

The String Games by Gail Aldwin

String games

I’m delighted to be starting off the launch celebrations for Gail Aldwin’s The String Games today. Gail kindly ‘stayed in’ with me to chat about another of her works, Paisley Shirt, last year and you can see what happened here.

Published by Victorina PressThe String Games is available for purchase here.

The String Games

String games

When four-year-old Josh is abducted and murdered during a family holiday in France, Nim, aged ten, becomes an only child.

To cope with the tragedy, Nim reinvents herself but continues to carry a burden of unresolved grief. As an adult, she returns to France determined to find out more about the circumstances of Josh’s death.

How will she deal with this new information and what are the implications for her future?

My Review of The String Games

A holiday in France will change Nim forever.

I have to admit, The String Games was not the book I was expecting to read. I had anticipated a crime thriller but instead I found a comprehensive exploration of the manner in which one young woman has to come to terms with her past in order to live her future. Identity is key here and Gail Aldwin paints an absorbing picture of Nim’s life.

What a perfectly entitled book The String Games is. Nim plays literal games with coloured string, making shapes and patterns, but more importantly, string games are played metaphorically through the characters who have tangled and untidy lives and who experience the knotted feelings of grief, guilt and love in their very beings. There are tangled sexual feelings as Nim begins to experience an awakening with Maxime and Jez, and the complexity of relationship between her parents and Dee adds to the tension and the reality of the book. As Nim transforms herself into another identity and tries to untangle to web of the past, the title The String Games gains even more relevance.

In keeping with that title, Nim’s personality as a child, a teenager and then as a woman cannot be disentangled from the strings of her past, making The String Games an intense portrait of her life as well as an interesting story. I found Nim’s narrative voice strong and clear  – which meant I really didn’t like her much in her teenage years, even though I understood her completely.

Gail Aldwin has an eye for the smallest detail that brings her prose alive so that the reader can picture her settings very clearly. More importantly, however, is her ability to contrast the mundane aspects of life with dramatic events so that there is even greater impact. The change of tense from past to present in the third part of the novel, for example, feels absolutely right for the stage Nim, or Imogen, has reached in her life. I thought the string illustrations running through the book added to this feeling of careful detail and complexity.

The String Games may not have been the book I thought I was going to read, but I found it a story with an astute and lucid understanding of what it means to be a female growing up in a world of adversity and loss. Although Nim’s experience is unique to her, so much of what she encounters can be recognised and understood by Gail Aldwin’s readers, making The String Games a relatable and engaging story. It’s an interesting book to read.

About Gail Aldwin

gail aldwin 1

Gail is a prize-winning writer of short fiction and poetry. Her work can be found online at Ink, Sweat & TearsSlamchop and Words for the Wild and in a range of print anthologies including Flash Fiction Festival One (Ad Hoc Fiction, 2017), Gli-ter-ary (Bridge House Publishing, 2017) and Dorset Voices(Roving Press, 2012).

As Chair of the Dorset Writers’ Network, Gail works with the steering group to support the skills and confidence of writers across the county by connecting creative communities. She is also a visiting tutor to undergraduates of creative writing at Arts University Bournemouth. In 2017, Gail co-wrote Killer Ladybugs a short play that was staged by Cast Iron Productions (Brighton). Paisley Shirt, Gail’s collection of short fiction is published by Chapeltown Books.

You can follow Gail on Twitter @gailaldwin, visit her blog and find her on Facebook.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:


Deepings Literary Festival May 2019


I love attending literary events, but I’m always so frustrated that they seem to be so far from where I live in south Lincolnshire. However, the Deepings are setting out to change all that and we intend to rival the big cities and literary festivals as we set out to rule the world!

Two years ago I was delighted to be asked to interview Alison Bruce for the first ever Deepings Literary Festival. You can read more about that and other sessions I attended here.

Lit fest cover

This year I was invited to be part of the planning committee for the second Deepings Literary Festival which will take place between 23rd and 26th May 2019.


We have already had an event to whet the appetite with Alison Bruce kindly returning and you can see what happened at Crime Around the Fireside here.

alison bruce

i did it for us

I thought I’d share with you some of the events coming up from a personal point of view featuring those authors I’ll be directly involved with during the festival. All the details are available on the Deepings Literary Festival website and a few tickets are still available for purchase for some (but not all) of our events here.



Firstly I’m thrilled to be interviewing Guinevere Glasfurd Brown at the Deepings Library on Thursday afternoon. Her book The Words In My Hand is utterly wonderful and you’ll find my review here. Guin has promised to tell us a bit about her research too.


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On Friday morning I’ll be at the Deeping Stage Hotel to introduce million copy selling author Louise Jensen in conversation with international bestseller Darren O’Sullivan. Knowing them both as I do I hope Louise is prepared to keep Darren in order!


On Friday afternoon I’ll be off to The Boundary Fish and Chip Shop to take my mum to a fish and chip meal with the fabulous Milly Johnson.


Mrs Mayhew

Milly has appeared on Linda’s Book Bag numerous times, most recently when I reviewed her latest book, The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew, here. She has had so many best sellers I think it best simply to direct you to her wonderful website where you can find out more. I’m rather thrilled that I’ll be with Milly again, although as a steward this time rather than a guest, on Saturday morning at the Coronation Hall.

Straight after my fish and chips with Milly I’ll be scampering across the road to Godsey Lane Coffee so that I can introduce and interview author Lucien Young.


Lucien ‘stayed in’ with me in a post you can read here. We’ll be chatting all about his books and modern Shakespearean sonnets and I’ll quiz him about his writing for television too!


I have a feeling there might be quite a bit of interest in one of Lucien’s books in particular!

barbara copperthwaite

Saturday will be a particularly busy day for me. I’ve already said I’ll be with Milly Johnson in the morning at the Coronation Hall and immediately after that event I’m delighted I’ll be welcoming friend and author Barbara Copperthwaite to the same venue. Barbara will tell us all about landscape, and that of Lincolnshire in particular, in her writing before subjecting herself to my questions and those from the audience.

the darkest lies

Again, Barbara has featured on the blog many times, but you might like to read my review her The Darkest Lies (set in Lincolnshire) here.

elly griffiths

After a quick break for lunch, Saturday afternoon will start up with a bang as one of our library’s most borrowed authors, Elly Griffiths, is coming along to be grilled about her writing. I can’t wait to ask her all about her books, having just reviewed her latest Ruth Galloway Series The Stone Circle here on the blog.  I shall be wanting to know more about the latest news that Elly’s The Stranger Diaries (which is firmly on my TBR) is a Richard and Judy Book Club summer pick!

stranger diaries

Following Elly’s event there will be a quick dash home to shower and change on Saturday evening before I’m off with my husband to the festival gala dinner at the Deepings Secondary School. Our guest speaker will be none other than broadcaster and journalist (and Strictly Come Dancing’s) John Sergeant.


I have a feeling John will have some interesting tales to tell and it will make a wonderful change for me to get my glad rags on rather than my gardening gear too!

Carol Drinkwater c Michel Noll

After a packed day on Saturday you’d think I’d be taking Sunday off but not a bit of it. On Sunday morning I’m hotfooting it across to the beautiful setting of The Granary to interview actress and author Carol Drinkwater. Carol’s latest book, The House on the Edge of the Cliff was only released on Thursday 16th May and so we will be amongst the first to hear all about it and to hear Carol read from it. You can read my review of the book here.

The House on the Edge of the Cliff

I’m so looking forward to this event – especially as there will be bacon butties too!

Julie stock

Last, but by no means least, for me is a return to the Coronation Hall on Sunday afternoon for some music, a slice (or maybe two) of apple pie and some stewarding for two super independent authors, Julie Stock and Lizzie Lamb, talking about their writing.

author photo (3)

Julie has appeared on Linda’s Book Bag here chatting about The Vineyard in Alsace and Lizzie here telling me all about Girl in the Castle. They are both such lovely ladies that I’m sure this will be an engaging afternoon.

Following all of this on Sunday evening I think I’ll be soaking in the bath with a glass of Bailey’s and, it goes without saying, a good book.

I can’t believe what an exciting and interesting week ahead I have. This is just a taster of what we have on offer and the events I’m personally involved with. Other authors, performers and artists attending include Judith Alnatt, Cathy Bramley, Mimi Anderson, Dr Patricia Fara, Susie Boyt, Greg Morse, Gerald Dickens (yes a relation;  great-great-grandson!), Sophie Hannah and Nick Tearle.

Although there are only a few tickets available for those events that haven’t quite sold out yet, do take a look here and see if there’s something that takes your fancy too.

In addition to our paid events there is a super free Read Dating event at the library on Saturday afternoon at 2PM where you have the chance to meet some wonderful authors, many of whom have featured on the blog like Eva Jordan, Tony J Forder and Ross Greenwood. You can find out more about the authors you can meet by accessing the Read Dating leaflet here.

It’s not often a small collection of villages in sleepy Lincolnshire can boast such a fabulous event involving so many local businesses, great food and, above all, fabulous authors. I’m honoured to be a part of it and I hope I’ll see some of you at one of the events too.

#IDTP19 Shortlist Evening


Back in February I was delighted to blog about the 2019 International Dylan Thomas Award longlist in a post you can read here.

Yesterday I was honoured to attend an evening at the British Library in London where, along with attendees like former Archbishop of Canterbury Rt. Hon Dr Rowan Williams, I listened to the six shortlisted authors reading from their books and answering questions about their writing. I would like to thank Midas PR and Kate Appleton in particular for the invitation.


The evening began with a superb performance by Guy Marsterson of Dylan Thomas’ Holiday Memory taken from Quite Early One Morning. It made me remember why I love Thomas’s work so much and Guy’s wonderful Welsh accent brought the words to life beautifully. My Welsh husband (whose shining head can be seen in the photo below) said afterwards that he now understood the power of Dylan Thomas and wondered why he’d never studied his works at school in South Wales.

DT panel

We were then treated to wonderful readings from each of the shortlisted authors with Sarah Perry in a recorded message from Aukland. If you click on the book titles you’ll find more about them and buy links.


First was American-Ghanaian writer Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah (27) with his debut short story collection Friday Black (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (US) and Riverrun (UK)) which explores what it’s like to grow up as a black male in America, and whose powerful style of writing has been likened to George Saunders.

IMG_2636 (1)

Next Zoe Gilbert (39) read from Folk (Bloomsbury Publishing) which was developed from her fascination in ancient folklore and the resurgence of nature writing. She has previously won the Costa Short Story Award in 2014.


Then we were then treated to British-Sri-Lankan debut novelist, Guy Gunaratne (34) reading from In Our Mad and Furious City (Tinder Press, Headline), longlisted for The Man Booker Prize and shortlisted for The Goldsmiths Prize, The Gordon Burn Prize as well as the Writers Guild Awards.


Louisa Hall (36) read next from her fascinating book Trinity (Ecco) which tackles the complex life of the Father of the Atomic Bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer through seven fictional characters.


With a recording from Aukland we then heard Sarah Perry (39) who has been shortlisted for the Prize this time for Melmoth (Serpent’s Tail), one of The Observer’s Best Fiction Books of the Year 2018, and a masterpiece of moral complexity, asking us profound questions about mercy, redemption, and how to make the best of our conflicted world.


Last, and by no means least, came Zimbabwean debut novelistNovuyo Rosa Tshuma (30) with her wildly inventive and darkly humorous novel House of Stone (Atlantic Books) which reveals the mad and glorious death of colonial Rhodesia and the bloody birth of modern Zimbabwe.

A question and answer session followed and I was delighted to get the chance to ask the authors how writing their books had affected them as individuals.

I have no idea who will win the International Dylan Thomas Award tonight when Swansea University announce the result but I certainly have a favourite amongst the books after last night. I’m not telling you which one though!

Good luck to all six brilliant nominees.

The House on the Edge of the Cliff by Carol Drinkwater

The House on the Edge of the Cliff

I’m absolutely thrilled to be starting off the launch celebrations for The House on the Edge of the Cliff by Carol Drinkwater, not least because I shall be interviewing Carol all about the book at my local Deepings Literary Festival in just over a week’s time! My enormous thanks to both Carol and Sriya Varadharajan for inviting me to take part in this blog tour. This was one book I had to break my blog tour sabbatical for!

It has been my pleasure to review Carol’s The Forgotten Summer here. I also loved her story The Lost Girl which I not only reviewed here, but about which I was delighted to interview Carol on Linda’s Book Bag here.

The House on the Edge of the Cliff is published today, 16th May 2019, by Penguin and is available for purchase through the publisher links here.

The House on the Edge of the Cliff

The House on the Edge of the Cliff

No one else knows what happened that summer. Or so she believes . . .

Grace first came to France a lifetime ago. Young and full of dreams of adventure, she met two very different men.

She fell under the spell of one. The other fell under hers.

Until one summer night shattered everything . . .

Now, Grace is living an idyllic life with her husband, sheltered from the world in a magnificent Provençal villa, perched atop a windswept cliff.

Every day she looks out over the sea – the only witness to that fateful night years ago.

Until a stranger arrives at the house. A stranger who knows everything, and won’t leave until he gets what he wants.

The past and present spectacularly collide in this gripping story of love and betrayal echoing across the decades. 

My Review of The House on the Edge of the Cliff

Grace’s past may not be as far behind her as she thought.

Gosh. What a textured and multi-layered story Carol Drinkwater has wrought in The House on the Edge of the Cliff. The story tracks back and forth in time making its structure remind me of the ebb and flow of the tide that so mesmerises Grace in the south of France. The structure and time scale are fascinating because there is a real sense of the way the past makes us who we are in the present so that there’s a compelling sociological element to the story. I loved the fact that I had no idea how The House on the Edge of the Cliff might finally resolve itself and Carol Drinkwater kept me guessing throughout. Her writing is seductive so that I had to keep reading to see what happened next.

With a sweeping love story at its heart, The House on the Edge of the Cliff explores the nature of obsession, guilt, betrayal and history in a manner that scoops up the reader and makes them wonder just what might happen if their own past reappeared. I found the Parisian setting of 1968 fascinating and Grace’s theatrical background allowed me to experience a world completely unfamiliar to me in a vivid and captivating manner. I thought the iterative image of drama and theatre was so fitting to a book where identity is fluid, unsettling and complicated. In addition, the cultural references to contemporary history, people, music and politics made The House on Edge of the Cliff a truly immersive activity. Indeed, I found reading The House on the Edge of the Cliff felt a bit like lifting the lid on an animated memory box, bringing all kinds of connotations and experiences into the effect it had on me.

I love the multi-faceted quality of Carol Drinkwater’s writing style. A smattering of French lends authenticity to The House on the Edge of the Cliff, but it is her attention to detail, the descriptions of nature, heat, the sea and food that make the narrative sensuous and luxurious. The author’s love for France shines through her writing. The house and France are as much characters as any of the people.

The portrait of Grace is superb. Her development from selfish sybarite to mature woman feels completely natural so that whilst I didn’t much like her to begin with, I felt an affinity with her. Grace’s narrative voice is so affecting and very conversational as if she is speaking directly to the reader. There’s a wistful, melancholic tone that makes her story feel confessional and draws in the reader so that they experience her emotions with her. I can’t say too much about some of the other characters without revealing the plot; the men in Grace’s life have an important impact on her but you’ll have to read the book for yourself to find out why!

The House on the Edge of the Cliff feels mature, complex and atmospheric. I thought it was sinuous and compelling. I thoroughly enjoyed it and really recommend it.

About Carol Drinkwater

Carol Drinkwater c Michel Noll

Carol Drinkwater is a multi-award-winning actress who is best known for her portrayal of Helen Herriot in the BBC television series All Creatures Great and Small. She is also the author of over twenty books, both fiction and non-fiction. Her quartet of memoirs set on her olive farm in the south of France have sold over a million copies worldwide and her solo journey round the Mediterranean in search of the Olive tree’s mythical secrets inspired a five-part documentary film series, The Olive Route.

You can follow Carol on Twitter @Carol4OliveFarm and visit her website.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

The House on the Edge of the Cliff (1)

The Path to the Sea by Liz Fenwick

the path to the sea

I’m thrilled to have received a surprise copy of The Path to the Sea by Liz Fenwick in return for an honest review and would like to extend my enormous thanks to Joe Thomas at Harper Collins for sending me a copy. Liz has been a favourite author for years and I can’t believe this is the first time I’ve reviewed one of her books since I began blogging.

Published by Harper Collins imprint HQ on 6th June 2019, The Path to the Sea is available for pre-order through the links here.

The Path to the Sea

the path to the sea

Sometimes going home is just the beginning…

Boskenna, the beautiful, imposing house standing on the Cornish cliffs, means something different to each of the Trewin women.

For Joan, as a glamorous young wife in the 1960s, it was a paradise where she and her husband could entertain and escape a world where no one was quite what they seemed – a world that would ultimately cost their marriage and end in tragedy.

Diana, her daughter, still dreams of her childhood there – the endless blue skies and wide lawns, book-filled rooms and parties, the sound of the sea at the end of the coastal path – even though the family she adored was shattered there.

And for the youngest, broken-hearted Lottie, heading home in the August traffic, returning to Boskenna is a welcome escape from a life gone wrong in London, but will mean facing a past she’d hoped to forget.

As the three women gather in Boskenna for a final time, the secrets hidden within the beautiful old house will be revealed in a summer that will leave them changed for ever.

My Review of The Path to the Sea

Secrets of the past echo in the present as Diana and Lottie head home to Joan.

The Path to the Sea is just fabulous. I loved every word. Liz Fenwick held me entranced throughout to the extent that I thought about the characters and events when I wasn’t reading, couldn’t wait to get back to the story and yet didn’t want it to end. This is glorious storytelling at its very best.

I love the manner in which Liz Fenwick evokes a sense of place. Cornwall and Boskenna House are as much a living presence as any of the people so that there is a cinematic feeling. Everything from sea salt on skin, through agapanthus flowering in borders, to the taste of brandy adds richness and texture to an already captivating read. The attention to detail is so deftly written that it feels as beautifully smooth and polished as the sea-glass on the beach, bringing The Path to the Sea alive in the reader’s mind.

I thought the plot was wonderful. There’s deep, deep love, intrigue and guilt beating at the very heart of the narrative in a way that I found spell-binding. The blending of events in 1962 and 2018 is superb, with a sense of history and politics underpinning a very personal and touching story so that I could feel the emotions physically in my own body. I’m desperate to say more about the imagery but I can’t spoil the story for other readers. Just believe me when I say Liz Fenwick transports the reader to her time and place completely. It’s the poise of her writing that has such an incredible effect. The party at Boskenna has a glamour that is balanced and complemented by the more ordinary aspects of life in 2018. There are surprises too that make The Path to the Sea such a satisfying and riveting read.

Much as I thought the plot was outstanding, it is the characters who entranced me most. Joan, Diana and Lottie are so distinct and yet in many ways are so similar that what happens to them touched my heart. Their interactions, their guilt, their omissions – all combined to sweep me into their lives so that now I’ve finished reading The Path to the Sea I can’t let them go. They are reverberating in my mind.

I don’t feel I’ve done justice to The Path to the Sea. It is a phenomenal read that I adored because Liz Fenwick transported me to her world so completely I forgot my own time and place. I didn’t just read The Path to the Sea, I lived it and feel bereft now I’ve finished reading it. It is, quite simply, wonderful.

About Liz Fenwick

liz fenwick

Liz Fenwick was born in Massachusetts and after nine international moves she’s back in the United Kingdom with her husband and a mad cat. Liz made her first trip to Cornwall in 1989 and bought her home there seven years later. Her heart is forever in Cornwall, creating new stories.

You can follow Liz on Twitter @liz_fenwick, visit her website and find her on Facebook.