Cover Reveal: The Lost Heir by Jane Cable

I can’t believe it’s two and a half years since I reviewed Jane Cable’s Endless Skies in a post you’ll find here. It gives me enormous pleasure to be part of the launch for Jane’s latest book The Lost Heir and help reveal the cover today. My thanks to Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to participate.

Let’s find out all about The Lost Heir which will be published by Sapere and is available for pre-order here:

The Lost Heir

Cornwall, 2020

At the beginning of lockdown, teacher Carla Burgess needs to make some changes to her life. She no longer loves her job, and it’s certainly time to kick her on-off boyfriend into touch. But then, while walking on the cliffs she meets Mani Dolcoath, a gorgeous American with a dark aura.

Mani is researching his family history, and slowly their lives and their heritage begin to entwine. The discovery of a locked Georgian tea caddy in the barn on her parents’ farm intrigues Carla, but then she starts to see orbs, something that hasn’t happened since her grandmother died. They terrify her and she’ll do anything to outrun them, but will she lose Mani’s friendship in the process?

Cornwall, 1810

Harriet Lemon’s position as companion to Lady Frances Basset (Franny) perfectly conceals the fact they are lovers. But when Franny is raped and falls pregnant their lives are destined to change forever.

The one person who may be able to help them is Franny’s childhood friend, William Burgess, a notorious smuggler. But he has secrets of his own he needs to protect. Will his loyalties be divided, or will he come through?


Doesn’t that sound brilliant?

About Jane Cable

Jane Cable writes romance with a twist and its roots firmly in the past, more often than not inspired by a tiny slice of history and a beautiful British setting.

After independently publishing her award-winning debut, The Cheesemaker’s House, Jane was signed by Sapere Books. Her first two novels for them are contemporary romances looking back to World War 2; Another You inspired by a tragic D-Day exercise at Studland Bay in Dorset and Endless Skies by the brave Polish bomber crews who flew from a Lincolnshire airbase.

Jane lives in Cornwall and her current series, Cornish Echoes, are dual timeline adventure romances set in the great houses of the Poldark era and today. She also writes as Eva Glyn.

You can follow Jane on Twitter @JaneCable, visit her website and find her on Facebook. Eva Glyn is on Instagram too.

Summer at Green Valley Vineyard by Lucy Coleman

Despite hearing such good things about them, and having several on my TBR waiting for me, I’ve never read one of Lucy Coleman’s books so I’m delighted to rectify that by sharing my review of her latest Summer at Green Valley Vineyard today. My thanks to Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for inviting me to be part of the blog tour.

Summer at Green Valley Vineyard was published by Embla on 25th May 2023 and is available for purchase here.

Summer at Green Valley Vineyard

A beautiful vineyard. A new beginning. A summer that will change their lives forever…

Linzi arrived at Green Valley Vineyard nine years ago, in need of a fresh start. In the lush emerald countryside and ripening grapes, she finally has a place to call home.

But Linzi’s world is rocked when the owner announces he is retiring, and his grandson is taking over.

When Elliot Montgomery first sets foot at Green Valley, Linzi’s worst fears are realised. He’s stepped straight out of the boardroom in shiny shoes and a tailored suit. How will a numbers man like him ever understand the magic of what they do here?

Elliot has his own demons, carrying the grief of his father’s death. Despite their differences, he has come to the vineyard for a new beginning, much like Linzi once did.

As the summer unfolds, Elliot and Linzi find themselves in an uneasy alliance while old secrets threaten to be revealed.

Could more be about to bloom here among the twisting vines than they ever thought possible?

My Review of Summer at Green Valley Vineyard

Linzi’s life is about to change.

Summer at Green Valley Vineyard is a smashing book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

There’s a lovely conversational tone so that, whilst Linzi is wary of sharing confidences with others, it feels as if she is speaking directly to the reader. This has the effect of drawing in the reader so that they care about Linzi and the vineyard and they feel part of the narrative.

As a result of Lucy Coleman’s style, Summer at Green Valley Vineyard is an effortless read, but it contains several themes that engage the reader and immerse them in life at the vineyard. As well as a satisfying insight into how a small vineyard functions, there’s a smashing overarching theme of trust as well as a hint of mystery as Linzi’s reasons for leaving Italy and hunkering down in the Welsh valleys are gradually uncovered. Add in a smattering of romance, a touch of grief and some highly tricky family relationships and there really is an aspect for any reader to enjoy. 

I thought the characters were very well drawn. What Lucy Coleman does so well is to illustrate that people’s lives and innermost feelings might not be exactly as they present them to others. Summer at Green Valley Vineyard is a compassionate as well as an entertaining book because it makes us understand why people behave as they do. 

The exploration of viticulture and the role of nature within it has been so meticulously researched that it adds authentic depth to the story. I loved the presentation of the outside, natural world as a balm for troubled minds because it felt like a gentle reminder to make the most of each day and, like Linzi, to learn to be true to yourself. Summer at Green Valley Vineyard sets the scene of a Welsh Valley vineyard to perfection.

Summer at Green Valley Vineyard is charming, entertaining and interesting. I thought it would be a perfect summer read and thoroughly recommend it.

About Lucy Coleman

Image courtesy of Huw Fairclough

Lucy Coleman always knew that one day she would write, but first life took her on a wonderful journey of self-discovery for which she is very grateful. Family life and two very diverse careers later she now spends most days glued to a keyboard, which she refers to as her personal quality time.
‘It’s only when you know who you are that you truly understand what makes you happy – and writing about love, life and relationships makes me leap out of bed every morning!’
If she isn’t online she’s either playing with the kids, whose imaginations seem to know no bounds, or painting something. As a serial house mover together with her lovely husband, there is always a new challenge to keep her occupied!

For further information, follow Lucy on Twitter @LucyColemanauth, visit her website or find Lucy on Facebook and Instagram.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

Jana’s Brightly Coloured Socks by Sally Fetouh

It’s my pleasure to join the Book Birthday Blitz for Jana’s Brightly Coloured Socks by Sally Fetouh, illustrated by Alexis Schnitger. My thanks to Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to participate.

Jana’s Brightly Coloured Socks is available for purchase here or directly from the author.

Jana’s Brightly Coloured Socks

Cheerful text and whimsical illustrations bring alive this heart-warming story of kindness and inclusion featuring a character with Down syndrome.

When young Jana receives heaps of beautiful socks from her parents after learning how to put on socks all by herself, she can’t wait to show her friends at school. They are always kind and patient with Jana when they play together. Jana decides to share a pair of her new socks with each and every friend. This calls for a school sock parade! All of the children had so much fun showing off their colourful socks together that they gave a very special and huge gift for their kind and generous friend, Jana, a box of more socks!

Author Sally Fetouh was inspired to write this touching story by her own daughter who has Down syndrome, feeling it was important for her and other children like her to be able to see themselves in literature. Two years ago, after reading a different story about a girl with Down syndrome to her daughter’s preschool class, Sally says, “The children were so engaged in the story and asked questions. They were very accepting and loving of their friend—my daughter. I left with a heart overflowing with emotion and that inspired me to write my story.”

My Review of Jana’s Brightly Coloured Socks

Jana has Down syndrome and loves socks.

What an absolutely lovely book. Jana’s Brightly Coloured Socks is the perfect book for children because it encompasses positivity for all regardless of race, colour, intelligence or the number of chromosomes they might have. I loved the way the beautiful illustrations enhanced this effect through the range of children depicted, children of different colours and race, wearing glasses or being in a wheel chair perhaps. The inclusivity and the generosity of spirit as Jana shares her beloved brightly coloured socks and is rewarded with kindness in return is just wonderful.

There’s a perfect balance of illustration to text so that independent and emergent readers can enjoy the story as well as those who might need adult input too. With socks of all designs as a metaphor for people, the concept is highly relatable. Most children where the book might be shared in the home, school or other institutions will find socks familiar so that they can understand the message clearly and effectively.

The font style is also accessible and the sentence structure would be fabulous for use with young writers as it models writing really well. I think the diminishing socks as Jana gives them away would be great to reinforce numeracy and counting too.

I thought Jana’s Brightly Coloured Socks was a beautiful book – in both message and illustration – and I thoroughly recommend it.

About Sally Fetouh

Writing is very much a part of who author Sally Fetouh is as a human being. As a child, writing was a way for her to express herself and all of the stories and ideas she had in her head. Now, as an adult, she has been inspired to write a beautiful story of kindness and friendship, Jana’s Brightly Coloured Socks, a heart-warming picture book loosely based on her daughter who has Down syndrome.

It was important to Sally that her daughter and other children like her were able to see themselves represented in literature. The idea came to Sally when she visited her daughter’s preschool to read a story about a girl with Down syndrome. The loving, accepting, and inquisitive responses from her daughter’s classmates inspired her to write a story reflecting these caring friendships.

Sally believes a great book is one that has impactful characters and a story that provides a new experience or perspective to the reader that stays with them long after the book is closed. She hopes that her young readers with disabilities or those who are different in some way will be able to relate to the main character and see a little bit of themselves, while also aiming for other readers to gain insight into the world of Down syndrome and the importance and impact of kindness and friendship.

When she isn’t writing thought-provoking children’s books, Sally works as a lawyer and a photographer. She enjoys being in nature, hiking, and horse riding. She lives with her family in Sydney, Australia. Jana’s Brightly Coloured Socks is her debut picture book.

For further information, find Sally on Instagram and Facebook.

Arthur and Teddy Are Coming Out by Ryan Love

It’s an absolute pleasure to present details of my latest My Weekly online review. On this occasion I’m sharing my thoughts on Arthur and Teddy Are Coming Out by Ryan Love.

Published by Harper Collins’ imprint HQ on 13th April 2023, Arthur and Teddy are Coming Out is available for purchase through the links here.

Arthur and Teddy Are Coming Out

When 79-year-old Arthur Edwards gathers his family together to share some important news, no one is prepared for the bombshell he drops: he’s gay, and after a lifetime in the closet, he’s finally ready to come out.

Arthur’s 21-year-old grandson, Teddy, has a secret of his own: he’s also gay, and developing serious feelings for his colleague Ben. But Teddy doesn’t feel ready to come out yet – especially when Arthur’s announcement causes shockwaves in the family.

Arthur and Teddy have always been close, and now they must navigate first loves, heartbreak, and finding their place in their community. But can they – and their family – learn to accept who they truly are?

My review of Arthur and Teddy Are Coming Out

My full review of Arthur and Teddy Are Coming Out can be found on the My Weekly website here.

However, I can say that Arthur and Teddy Are Coming Out is a heart felt story about life, love and being true to yourself – however challenging that may be.

Do visit My Weekly to read more of my review here.

About Ryan Love

Born and raised in the island town of Enniskillen in Northern Ireland, Ryan is a NCTJ-qualified journalist. He was the first Showbiz Editor at Digital Spy and has written for publications including the Independent, the Telegraph, Attitude, Radio Times and Yahoo. After moving into music PR, Ryan worked on campaigns for global superstars including Britney Spears, Shakira, Usher, John Legend and OneRepublic. Ryan is passionate about mental health and enjoys speaking and writing about his own experiences. When he isn’t writing, Ryan can be found tweeting, watching – and playing – Countdown or enjoying cuddles with his two golden retrievers. Arthur and Teddy Are Coming Out is his debut novel.

For further information, follow Ryan on Twitter @RyanJL74 or find him on Instagram.

An Extract from No Easy Answers by Robert Crouch

It’s a pleasure to welcome Robert Crouch back to Linda’s Book Bag to celebrate his new book No Easy Answers. It’s my privilege to host an extract from No Easy Answers today. If you’d like to see other posts featuring Robert Crouch and his books please click here.

No Easy Answers is available for purchase here.

No Easy Answers

Confronting the past can be deadly.

As Christmas approaches, murder is the last thing on Kent Fisher’s mind.

When contractors employed by local entrepreneur Stephen Fox discover the remains of a woman on the site of Kent’s original animal sanctuary, old family secrets come to light, threatening those closest to him.

Fox believes it’s his missing wife. Despite intense pressure and a lucrative fee, Kent still refuses to investigate, having promised not to take on more cases.But when the police launch a murder inquiry, can he keep his promise?

Or will he investigate?

If he does, he risks interfering with a criminal investigation and losing the woman he loves.

If he doesn’t, the wrong person could be accused of murder.


‘A fantastic series that just gets better and better.’

An Extract from No Easy Answers


Fifty-two days since the wedding.

Thirty-nine days since the abduction.

Twenty-four days since the funeral.

Twelve minutes since I left Meadow Farm Animal Sanctuary to walk to St Andrew’s Church.

Maybe it’s time to stop counting and start living again.

But I don’t want to talk to Stephen Fox on this chilly Monday morning in early December.

He stands on the path to the graveyard, gripping the tapsel gate with both hands. He swings it back and forth on its central pivot, as if weighing up choices. The uncertainty undermines the swagger of a self-made man, keen to show off his success. He promotes himself as an entrepreneur, processing unwanted resources to protect the environment and combat climate change. But in reality, he’s a builder in an expensive Italian suit. His Hollywood suntan, white teeth and gelled back grey hair can’t disguise his rough hands and bitten fingernails.

While he still runs the building company he started thirty years ago, he makes his money processing the waste builders leave behind. He has machines to crush concrete and produce hardcore. His fleet of vehicles move anything from skips to redistributing shingle from one end of Eastbourne beach to the other to bolster coastal defences. He’s recently opened a state of the art recovery facility for sorting and recycling domestic and commercial waste.

It doesn’t make him an environmental champion, or someone I want to work for.

“Mr Fisher, I want you to find the person who killed my wife.”


Brilliant opening Robert. It really makes me want to know more. 

About Robert Crouch

Robert Crouch and Harvey

Robert Crouch brings something familiar but different to the traditional murder mystery.

Drawing on his experiences as an environmental health officer, he created amateur sleuth, Kent Fisher. Being neither a police officer nor a private investigator, Kent brings a fresh and original twist to the classic whodunit.

When he’s not writing most complex murder mysteries, Robert enjoys roaming the gentle hills and beautiful coastline of the South Downs with his wife. Armed with a camera or two, he likes to capture the wildlife and settings that play such a big part in his novels.

You can find out more on Robert’s website, and if you sign up to Robert’s reader’s group you’ll receive a free copy of Fisher’s Fables. You can also follow Robert on Twitter @robertcrouchuk and find him on Facebook.

Mamaloaf by Shirley Armitage

My grateful thanks to Chloe of Integrity Media for sending me a copy of children’s book Mamaloaf by Shirley Armitage and illustrated by Maria Ivanchenko in return for an honest review. It’s a pleasure to share that review today.

Mamaloaf was published by Integrity Media on 1st April 2023 and is available for purchase here.


Join Bapsy, a small bread loaf whose curiosity leads her to question how she came to be. With the help of Mamaloaf’s enchanting story of how she grew from small grain to wonderful bread, Bapsy learns the importance of transitioning and the challenges that can come with it. This beautiful story, accompanied by vivid illustrations, prompts parents and caregivers to begin a conversation with children about the way major changes can help a child adapt and thrive in any situation.

My Review of Mamaloaf

Bapbsy is cooking!

As usual when I review children’s books I like to assess their physical attributes because they need to withstand some challenging handling at times and Mamaloaf is smashing. It’s a good size for home or school sharing with a robust cover and it’s beautifully illustrated on glossy paper that gives it a sensation of quality in the hands.

The Mamaloaf story is surprisingly lengthy for a children’s book and whilst it’s targeted at 4+ I think it might be better for six year olds. That said, there’s a good balance of text to image and a good variety of sentence length so that there’s plenty to retain children’s attention.

Mamaloaf’s story for Bapsy is a really detailed and interesting presentation of how bread is made from grain to loaf, but more importantly, the narrative is a clever metaphor for life as Bapsy and her Mum are in an oven being turned from raw dough to loaves. Bapsy experiences a range of emotions including impatience and anxiety so that the book provides ample opportunity for children to voice their own concerns and to consider different possible stages in their own lives. Mamaloaf engenders a sense of self-worth and pride as well as a feeling of belonging that small children will find reasuring as the book illustrates that it is acceptable to be anxious or to ask questions when we’re not sure.

I thought Mamaloaf could be approached in many ways. It can be enjoyed as an entertaining story but it could also, for example, be the springboard to researching more about the food chain and how bread gets to our homes as well as prompting practical activities like baking. Mamaloaf would be highly useful for PHSE discussions too as a prompt for mental health discussions and how children might deal with troubling situations.

Discovering Travels With My Grief by Susan Bloch

Two days before I was due to travel back to India in 2020, Covid forced the county to close her borders and I didn’t go. Now thanks to Matthew Smith of Exprimez, I’m able to travel there vicariously by finding out about Susan Bloch’s Travels With My Grief.

Travels With My Grief was published on 6th April and is available for purchase here.

Travels With My Grief

When Susan Bloch lost her partner John far too early, she faced her grief with courage – and what many would term a moment of madness.

Giving up her successful career in the UK, she moved overnight to India, facing not just the uncertainties and worries of a new life in a strange land – and being one of the only white women in a high-powered corporate role – but coping with her own very real grief at the death of her husband.

Susan’s brave – and some might say unconventional – approach to tackling her grief provides a compelling and very human insight into loss of a loved one, and at the same time delivers a beautifully written love letter to India in all its vibrant, chaotic, life-affirming glory.

Refreshingly honest and highly emotive, Travels With My Grief is as engaging as it is inspiring, and is more than a simple self-help manual or travelogue. This book is a genuinely life-changing read, and one that should be read by anyone who wants an insight into the joys, belief, spirituality and hope that living can bring us all.

‘Emotionally raw, endearingly wry, and sweetly seductive.’ – Kim Barnes, Pulitzer finalist and author of In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country

‘A savoury, sensual, sparkling memoir you won’t forget.’ – Dori Jones Yang, author of When the Red Gates Opened: A Memoir of China’s Reawakening

‘Heart-wrenching and gorgeous. Travels with my Grief is a marvellous, dazzling memoir.’ – Priscilla Long, author of Fire and Stone: Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?


Let’s find out more:

A Journey to India

A Guest Post by Matthew Smith

This evening Susan invites us to join her on a roller coaster journey beginning with the trauma of losing her beloved husband, John under heavy, grey, London skies to healing under the thunder and lightning of India’s monsoon rains.

Wallowing in despair and sadness Susan moved house, job, and country, rocketing her stress levels on any stress measurement scale. Some thought she was courageous, others told her she was crazy.

How would she cope in an unknown world as the only senior white woman in a multi-billion Indian company, in a country where, for some traditional managers, widowhood remains a stigma?

Our journey begins as we enter a bustling world of teeming streets, animated chatter and incessant mobile phone ringtones; where markets expel aromas of celery, parsley, mangoes and bananas and where baskets of onions sleep side by side with street dwellers; where designer sunglasses, diamond-studded saris and air-conditioned chauffeur-driven limousines are close neighbours with malnourished families and children defaecating in the gutters; where the ever-present holy cow ambles unperturbed.

This is not an easy journey as we feel Susan’s grief. Even at midnight, like her, we might feel suffocated by the incessant noise of shrieking trains and chugging buses. Soon we will be laughing at the blaring horns, squealing tyres and spirited slaps on the back as we inhale the heady scent of Brylcreem mixed with sandalwood. We won’t even notice the clouds of black exhaust fumes.

We’re invited to a four-day Indian wedding. But before the ceremony we’ll change out of our beige T-shirts and black trousers. We will buy jasmine, jade, magenta and lime green saris. Please bring your best jewellery so we can fit in with the other women guests who will wear emeralds, diamonds, rubies, gold necklaces and bracelets that gleam against flesh and fabric.

We will join a wedding parade as the groom rides his white horse on a red carpet to his bride’s home. After the wedding ceremony we will enjoy a splendid banquet where silver platters adorn crisp white cloths on long trestle tables laden with spicy paneer, made with Indian-style cheese melt in our mouths. I promise you’ll be mopping up up the curried beans with garlic naan bread take a second helpings of potatoes fried with mustard seeds and vegetable biryani.

One evening our personal chef, Radha ,an Omar Sharif look-alike will greet us with the aroma of garlic, coriander, lemon and harissa; banquet fresh chapatti, masala potatoes, bitter gourd with chopped carrots, and curried cauliflower.

On our last evening we will meet on The Queen’s Necklace promenade in South Mumbai twirling gold bangles in circles about our heads. As a parting gift you will receive two silk gift bags. In the one made of gold thread are bottles of fenugreek, cumin, curry leaves, cinnamon and green mango chutney, In the hand embroidered purple bag you will find bottles of orange and lemon perfumes, and sandalwood fragrances. Keep these haunting fragrances in your memory closet and open each at will.

What I love about this book is that Susan immerses her readers in a sensual journey as she vividly describes the sights, the colours, and the smells, of India; blessings of a priest and imam with holy water; her role as counselor to an orthodox Jewish family during the Mumbai massacre; as well as the challenge of walking on shards of glass and hot coals; and the challenges of navigating the traffic of Mumbai. You feel as though you are there with her. I particularly loved the emotional arc of the story as we struggle to move on from loss and pain to recovery and hope.


Sold! You’ve drawn such a vivid picture of Susan’s writing Matthew that I cannot wait to read Travels With My Grief.

About Susan Bloch

Executive coach and author, Susan has lived and worked in five countries; South Africa, North America, Israel, the UK, and India, and worked extensively in Europe. Susan recently spent three and a half years working for two global Indian Conglomerates, is now an independent consultant. Before moving to India she was Partner and Head of Thought Leadership at Whitehead Mann in London, as an executive coach, and conducting board effectiveness reviews. A Chartered Psychologist, Susan has co-authored, The Global You, How to Manage in a Flat World, (published in 8 languages) Employability and Complete Leadership, and has produced a number of research publications. She also blogs for the Huffington Post. Susan currently lives in Seattle.

For further information, follow Susan on Twitter @monsue8, or visit her website.

About Matthew Smith

Matthew Smith is a publishing professional with nearly 30 years experience of discovering, developing, producing and selling books and delivering valuable content.

For further information, follow Matthew on Twitter @urbaneless, visit the Exprimez website or find Matthew on Instagram.

The Forgetting by Hannah Beckerman

My enormous thanks to Hannah Beckerman for sending me a copy of her latest book, The Forgetting, in return for an honest review. I’m delighted to share my thoughts today – albeit later than I’d hoped!

The Forgetting was published by Lake Union on 1st April 2023 and is available for purchase here.

The Forgetting

When Anna Bradshaw wakes up in a hospital bed in London, she remembers nothing, not even her loving husband, Stephen. The doctors say her amnesia is to be expected, but Anna feels cut adrift from her entire life.

In Bristol, Livvy Nicholson is newly married to Dominic and eager to get back to work after six months’ maternity leave. But when Dominic’s estranged mother appears, making a series of unnerving claims, Livvy is sucked into a version of herself she doesn’t recognise.

A hundred miles apart, both women feel trapped and disorientated, and their stories are about to collide. Can they uncover the secret that connects them and reconstruct their fractured lives?

My Review of The Forgetting

Anna has been in a road accident.

The Forgetting is an incredibly good read. I found it exciting, unsettling and brilliantly crafted so that it becomes one of those narratives that resonates long after it has been read. Hannah Beckerman gives the reader intense food for thought and makes them consider afresh what they think they know about not only the story, but the people in their real lives. What I found so effective was the underlying sensation of menace, even when lives seem ordinary and plausible. 

I found the characterisation so convincing. Throughout, whilst mistrusting Dominic from the start whom I loathed unreservedly, I was unsure about Stephen. His character is so well depicted that I couldn’t decide if he were genuine or manipulative. I frequently found myself responding very strongly to both Anna and Livvy, mentally berating them for being too accepting or passive and yet understanding completely, because of the quality of the writing, why they responded as they did to Dominic and Stephen. This had the effect of helping me empathise with others in similar situations in real life, making The Forgetting a powerful read..

As the two very different marriages are described, I was unsure how the dual strands of the story would be drawn together. I thought I had the plot pretty well worked out but was wrong footed and entertained in equal measure. I loved the way the two narrative threads merged in an enormously satisfying conclusion that made my pulse race. 

But The Forgetting is far, far more than mere entertainment, as excellent as that is. What Hannah Beckerman does is to explore dark and plausible themes so that contemplating the story after it us read enhances the experience further and becomes unnerving. The effect of nature and nurture, control and coercion, family, amnesia and identity all swirl through the pages in a manner that makes the reader realise that what happens in the lives of these people here is replicated in so many real lives. 

I thought The Forgetting was a superb read. I found it intelligent, carefully crafted, tautly plotted and thought provoking as well as thoroughly entertaining. I cannot recommend it highly enough. 

About Hannah Beckerman

Hannah Beckerman is a bestselling author and journalist whose novels have been translated into more than a dozen languages worldwide. She is a book critic and features writer for a range of publications including The Observer and the FT Weekend Magazine, and has appeared as a book pundit on BBC Radio 2 and Times Radio. She chairs literary events across the UK, interviewing authors and celebrities, and has judged numerous book prizes including the Costa Book Awards. Prior to writing her first novel, Hannah was a television producer and commissioning editor for the BBC, Channel 4 and the Discovery Channel, and for two years lived in Bangladesh, running a TV project for the BBC. She now lives in London where she writes full-time.
For further information, visit Hannah’s website, follow her on Twitter @hannahbeckerman and Instagram or find her on Facebook.

Mature Characters: A Guest Post by Allie Cresswell, Author of The Widow’s Weeds

Lovely Allie Cresswell and I are the same age and so I’m delighted that Allie has agreed to write a guest post on mature characters for Linda’s Book Bag to celebrate her new book, The Widow’s Weeds. As The Widow’s Weeds has been getting rave reviews from my fellow bloggers, I’m equally delighted that it’s waiting for me on my TBR pile!

The Widow’s Weeds is available for purchase on Amazon US and Amazon UK.

The Widow’s Weeds

One evening, Viola goes missing.

The explanation—a visit to her son—seems doubtful and her women friends’ messages go unanswered. A spiky, caustic woman, Viola’s heavy drinking makes her tiresome company, but they know nothing of her troubled past.

Yet, Maisie misses Viola. Recently, their shared love of gardening has almost blunted Viola’s barbs, and Maisie is much in need of a close friend. Her house is a building site, her daughter’s wedding is looming. Most worrying is her friendship with handsome, formidable Oliver Harrington. She cannot work out what he wants from it, nor, really, what she wants, either. She barely has time to wonder where Viola has gone.

As Maisie grapples with her present-day preoccupations, Viola’s tale unfolds: a dark landscape of tragedy and suffering. Their two stories collide in an explosive finale. Can the two women rescue each other?

This third book in the Widows series stands alone. A story of weeds and wildflowers, tenacity and tenderness, and containing potentially upsetting details of domestic abuse, alcoholism, and bereavement, this is ultimately an affirmation of the strength and power of women’s friendships.

Mature Characters

A Guest Post by Allie Cresswell

Why writers who ignore more mature characters are a making a big mistake.

Liking or identifying with a book’s main character seems to be readers’ number one requirement. The reason most often cited for non-enjoyment of a book is indifference for the protagonist. When you establish that Britain’s keenest readers tend to be older, with 34% of people over 55 claiming to read at least once a day, compared to just 7% of 18 –24-year-olds, it goes without saying that authors need to populate their books with some characters who are in that older age group. Older readers were young once, but that doesn’t mean they want to revisit their youth in every novel they read. Not every older person is in mourning for their adolescence and not every reader uses books as escapism. Some of us use fiction to help us understand the real world.

Of the genders, over a quarter (27%) of women read daily, compared to only 13% of men[1].Books featuring female characters, including older ones, provide the most familiar and readily identifiable environment for the majority of readers.

Why is it, then, that so many writers serve up young and impossibly beautiful protagonists, when the majority of their readers are demonstrably not young? So often, I find that older people, and especially older women in contemporary books are mere caricatures. These shampoo-and-set, hapless-and-helpless, prim-and-sexless, small-sherry-drinking, Monday-is-washday-fixated, Marks-and-Spencer’s-girdle-wearing, Barbara Pym-inspired matriarchs might have been relevant fifty years ago but these days they are obsolete.

It is a mistake to marginalise older people just because they are old, either as readers or as characters. They are wise, informed, experienced, canny and interesting. They have back-story, secrets and traumas; rich lodes for a writer to mine. What’s more, they’re at a time and place in their lives where they are increasingly ceasing to give a damn about what people think. That makes them attractive and exciting as character-material. And here’s a thing that might surprise you: they have romances, they kiss and have sex. They have happy endings. These things are not the preserve of young people anymore.

My Widows series, The Hoarder’s Widow, The Widow’s Mite and The Widow’s Weeds features a group of older single women, bereaved, but finding in each other’s company some compensation for their lost spouses or in some instances something a great deal better. Some of them are still working, some are retired professionals. Some  of them, yes, I admit it, are escapees from a Barbara Pym novel emerging, blinking, from the obscurity of their gloomy kitchens into the light and opportunity of the twenty-first century. That’s the point: they have escaped and are now living fulfilled, exciting, independent lives, although not ones by any means without baggage. I’m rather smugly pleased that my books will tick the statistical box (above), but that isn’t the reason I’ve written them. I’m an older women myself, not bereaved, but keen to write about real women of all ages in these modern days; women I know or feel I would like to know, women with whom I can identify.

[1] According to a poll by YouGov, 2020.


Hurrah for older women Allie, be they readers like me, writers like you or characters in books!

About Allie Cresswell

Allie Cresswell was born in Stockport in the northwest of England and has been writing fiction since she could hold a pencil.

She studied English Literature at Birmingham University and did an MA at Queen Mary College, University of London.

She was a pub landlady, a print buyer, ran a B & B and a group of holiday cottages before training to teach literature to lifelong learners.

Now she writes full time. Her historical and contemporary fiction has been flatteringly compared to Alice Munroe, Daphne du Maurier and Jane Austen. She has been the recipient of several Readers’ Favourite awards.

She lives in Cumbria. The Widow’s Weeds is her fourteenth novel.

For further information, visit Allie’s website, or follow Allie on Twitter @Alliescribbler, Facebook and Instagram.

Lyrics for the Loved Ones by Anne Goodwin

My grateful thanks to Anne Goodwin for sending me a copy of her latest book Lyrics for the Loved Ones in return for an honest review. It’s my pleasure to share that review today.

Lyrics for the Loved Ones is published today, 15th May 2023 by Annecdotal Press and is available for purchase here.

Lyrics for the Loved Ones

After half a century confined in a psychiatric hospital, Matty has moved to a care home on the Cumbrian coast. Next year, she’ll be a hundred, and she intends to celebrate in style. Yet, before she can make the arrangements, her ‘maid’ goes missing.

Irene, a care assistant, aims to surprise Matty with a birthday visit from the child she gave up for adoption as a young woman. But, when lockdown shuts the care-home doors, all plans are put on hold.

But Matty won’t be beaten. At least not until the Black Lives Matter protests burst her bubble and buried secrets come to light.

Will she survive to a hundred? Will she see her ‘maid’ again? Will she meet her long-lost child?

Rooted in injustice, balanced with humour, this is a bittersweet story of reckoning with hidden histories in cloistered times.

My Review of Lyrics for the Loved Ones

Matty is heading towards her hundredth birthday.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Anne Godwin’s writing and I did find settling into the narrative and working out the initial relationships took me some time to distinguish. I think it would be best to read Stolen Summers and Matilda Windsor Is Coming Home before Lyrics for the Loved Ones

However, I was immediately impressed by the author’s ability to convey exactly what her characters are thinking and feeling. Equally skilful is the use of dialect to create both setting and character. I thought it was inspired to include a glossary of Cumbrian words, although they are woven so brilliantly into the book that their meaning is actually clear without it. I loved the way details provide vivid settings too, especially though Matty’s eyes.

From the very beginning Anne Goodwin presents vibrant personalities whose voices resonate with the reader. This has the effect of enhancing the reader’s own response and there were moments where I felt rather emotional. I think it’s the social and political aspects such as the effect of the Covid pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement with the murky historical background of slavery and racism peppering Matty’s life that felt so raw and occasionally too close to today’s supposedly enlightened reality for comfort. I found that whilst Matty’s personality adds a lightness, especially when she is contemplating her  perceived servants and the other ‘rezzies’ in the home, the echoes of real life around her add depth and resonance too. I felt that at the heart of Lyrics for the Loved Ones was a real sense of the need to belong and make meaningful relationships.

I haven’t read the first two books outlining Matty’s life, but Lyrics For The Loved Ones has made me want to find out more because this book is a mature, sensitive portrayal of a life equally squandered and well lived, so that Anne Goodwin makes you take a long hard look at your own achievements and what you might want to do in your remaining time. Be prepared; there are light and humorous moments, but Lyrics for the Loved Ones lays bare humanity and provides much food for occasionally uncomfortable thought and it’s all the more rewarding as a result.  

About Anne Goodwin

Anne Goodwin’s drive to understand what makes people tick led to a career in clinical psychology. That same curiosity now powers her fiction.

Anne writes about the darkness that haunts her and is wary of artificial light. She makes stuff up to tell the truth about adversity, creating characters to care about and stories to make you think. She explores identity, mental health and social justice with compassion, humour and hope.

A prize-winning short-story writer, she has published three novels and a short story collection with small independent press, Inspired Quill. Her debut novel, Sugar and Snails, was shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize.

Away from her desk, Anne guides book-loving walkers through the Derbyshire landscape that inspired Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.

Subscribers to her newsletter can download a free e-book of award-winning short stories.

For more information about Anne visit her website, follow her on Twitter @Annecdotist, or find her on Instagram or Facebook.