Author Kerri Turner’s Favourite Comfort Reads: The books of Georgette Heyer

While it feels like the world is going mad right now it’s even more important than ever to take the time to lose yourself in a book. I bet I’m not the only one finding it difficult to concentrate on reading, even though I know I really do need to sit down, take a break and forget about what’s happening, so I’ve decided to put together a list of books that are perfect for comfort reading with the help of some of my favourite authors.

Today’s comfort read is brought to you by Kerri Turner, author of The Last Days of the Romanov Dancers and The Daughter of Victory Lights.     (My Review)

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Confession: I have a comfort author as opposed to a comfort book. I developed the habit of turning to her in times of stress without even realising it. It was Kate Forsyth, an author I greatly admire, who once pointed out to me that I’d been reading a lot of Georgette Heyer’s regency romances over the span of a few weeks. She herself found comfort in Georgette Heyer’s novels, and suspected my binge might mean I was struggling in my day-to-day life. Her suggestion proved insightful, because I promptly burst into tears. Without realising it, that was exactly my situation.

Thankfully, I was able to adjust what I could in my life to alleviate the stress. But I kept the habit of turning to Georgette Heyer’s romances whenever I need comfort. For there’s something to be said about escaping into a world that guarantees you a happy ending when everything in your own world feels uncertain.

But why Georgette Heyer, when all romance promises a happy ending? For me, there’s an added escapism to her regencies, with the gentle mockery yet simultaneous loving embrace of a long-gone world of set manners and flamboyant dress codes. I love watching the characters try to work within the rigid, often ridiculous rules of their societies to work out their happy endings. Love how Heyer plays within these lines but also pushes them to their very edges of humorous believability, such as the crossdressing hijinks in The Masqueraders, the switched-at-birth scandal of These Old Shades, or the involvement of a hot air balloon in Frederica (a particular favourite of mine).

I love the way her characters are audacious, witty, stubborn, disaffected, reckless, loyal, adventurous, flawed, wilful, intelligent, and silly.

I love the gentle nature of the words she uses that are so little seen nowadays. Words like flummery, fribble, egad, and alack have a nostalgic rhythm to them that lulls me into a sense of peace.

I love that while remaining true to the tropes of the genre, she still manages to flip things on their head in a way that surprises and delights, like the gradual shifting of the love interest from one man to another in Cotillion (another of my personal favourites).

I love her unique ability to create an insult like no other, her characters slinging phrases like ‘buffleheaded clunch’ or ‘irreclaimable ninnyhammer’ in a manner designed to make the reader laugh instead of feel the cut of them.

For me, a comfort read is about getting lost in a colourful world with touches of whimsy, guaranteed laughs, and a neat ending that brings about the kind of peace and certainty that real life lacks. Georgette Heyer provides all of these with every one of her romances. And anyone who doesn’t think so must be an irreclaimable ninnyhammer.

 

Kerri Turner is the author of The Last Days of the Romanov Dancers and The Daughter of Victory Lights

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Kerri Turner

With a background in ballet, I have always had a strong love for storytelling. All my favourite ballets tell some of the most timeless stories, from fairytales to interpretations of classic literature. I’ve also always loved reading, writing, and history. I have combined these things into my historical fiction writing.

In 2017 I signed with literary agent Haylee Nash of The Nash Agency. The Last Days of the Romanov Dancers, my debut novel, was released with HQ, an imprint of HarperCollins Australia, in January 2019. A second historical fiction novel, The Daughter of Victory Lights, was released in January 2020. I am always working on my next book, so hopefully there will be many more to come.

In prior years, my short stories have been published by Reflex Fiction, Boolarong Press, Catchfire Press, Stringybark, Underground Writers, and as part of the Dangerous Women Project.

My author influences include (but are not limited to) Kate Forsyth, Sara Gruen, Belinda Alexandra, Hazel Gaynor, Ken Follett, Eli Brown, and Kate Morton. I also have a special fondness for Lorna Hill, particularly her ‘Sadler’s Wells’ series, which I have collected since childhood.

When not writing or reading, I can usually be found teaching ballet and tap dancing, baking sweet treats, or spending time with my husband and my miniature schnauzer Nelson.​

 

 

New Release: Queen of Spades Trilogy by E.J. Dawson

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Queen of Spades Trilogy by E.J. Dawson: Awakening, Darkening, Reckoning 

The first book in the Queen of Spades Trilogy, Awakening, will be available 10th of April 2020 and the pre-order is only 99 cents!

A scifi action with a side of romance, it has all the violence, banter, and tension of great character driven scifi with psychic abilities giving it an edge that keeps the story on its toes.

Ayla is a villain. With a gift that allows her to see when anyone will die, she’s remorseless in her profession as the perfect assassin. When she wakes up in a cryo-tank three thousand years in the future, and no idea how she came to be there, all that matters is survival.

Rescued by Leith and the crew of the Nuria, Ayla discovers a far evolved world of space ships and galactic colonization. But everything comes with a price, and though Ayla is no princess locked in an icy tower, she still has to pay for the rescue she didn’t know she needed.

Given over to Leith, a darkly handsome man who reads Ayla far easier than she’d like, they must work together if Ayla is to repay her debt. As the pair come to learn how dangerous one another are, so too grows a lustful bond that comes with rules of its own. Fighting to learn why she was frozen, Ayla’s dragged into Leith’s past with a criminal organization seeking to take over this sector of the galaxy. In order to survive, Leith will need Ayla’s help, but Ayla doesn’t know if she’s willing to pay what it will cost her…

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Book Review: Postscript by Cecelia Ahern

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Postscript by Cecelia Ahern

“There’s always one more thing to say…”

My Review

Uplifting tearjerker about grief and love. Postscript is Cecelia Ahern’s eagerly anticipated  sequel to P.S. I Love You, and it is just as beautiful.

Postscript picks up seven years after Holly Kennedy’s husband dies too young and left her a series of letters to read after his death. She feels as though she has moved on very nicely, and is even in the process of selling the home she shared with Gerry, until she reluctantly agrees to discuss Gerry’s letters on her sister’s podcast.

Not only does the podcast reopen old wounds and make things difficult with her new boyfriend, now she is being hassled by a group of terminally ill people who want her to help them write their own letters.

Postscript is obviously a sad read given the subject matter, but it is also heartwarming and uplifting novel with plenty of humour to balance out the sad bits. Sequels often struggle to live up to expectations, but I thought Postscript was a wonderful followup and a joy to read.

5 stars!

Synopsis

Sixteen years after Cecelia Ahern’s bestselling phenomenon PS, I Love You captured the hearts of millions, the long-awaited sequel follows Holly as she helps strangers leave their own messages behind for loved ones.

Seven years after her husband’s death — six since she read his final letter — Holly Kennedy has moved on with her life. When Holly’s sister asks her to tell the story of the “PS, I Love You” letters on her podcast — to revisit the messages Gerry wrote before his death to read after his passing — she does so reluctantly, not wanting to reopen old wounds.

But after the episode airs, people start reaching out to Holly, and they all have one thing in common: they’re terminally ill and want to leave their own missives behind for loved ones. Suddenly, Holly finds herself drawn back into a world she’s worked tirelessly to leave behind — but one that leads her on another incredible, life-affirming journey.

With her trademark blend of romance, humor, and bittersweet life lessons, Postscript is the perfect follow-up to Ahern’s beloved first novel.

Details

Author: Cecelia Ahern

Published: September 19th 2019 by HarperCollins

Source: Publisher

Read: Paperback, 368 pages, 2019

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Book Review: Love and Other Battles by Tess Woods

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Love and Other Battles by Tess Woods

“Three generations of women.

Three heartbreaking choices.

One unforgettable story.”

CW: Love and Other Battles deals with issues of self-harm and suicide. Please contact your local support lines if required.

My Review

Love and Other Battles by Tess Woods spans across three generations of women, each one faced with her own heartbreaking decisions. This story will take you from the horrors faced by Jess during the Vietnam war in 1969, her daughter Jamie’s brush with a wild musician in 1989, and her teenage daughter CJ’s infatuation with the cool new boy in school in 2017.

I actually read this book last year, so you may remember me shouting about it a while ago. I absolutely loved this story just as much as I have a loved every single one of Tess Woods’ beautiful novels. She really excels at exploring difficult and messy subjects sensitively. I was spell bound by this book and fell in love with all of the characters, although I think I have a bit of a soft spot for Jess, the free-spirited hippie who was an unwilling victim of the Vietnam War.

5 stars!

Synopsis

1969: Free-spirited hippie Jess James has no intention of falling for a soldier … but perhaps some things are not in our power to stop.

1989: Jess’s daughter, Jamie, dreams of a simple life – marriage, children, stability – then she meets a struggling musician and suddenly the future becomes wilder and complex.

2017: When Jamie’s daughter, CJ, brings home trouble in the form of the coolest boy at school, the worlds of these three women turn upside down … and the past returns to haunt them.

Spanning the trauma of the Vietnam War to the bright lights of Nashville, the epidemic of teenage self-harm to the tragedy of incurable illness, Love and Other Battles is the heart-wrenching story of three generations of Australian women, who learn that true love is not always where you seek it.

If you loved The Notebook, this is a novel for you.

Details

Author: Tess Woods

Published:  June 17th 2019 by HarperCollins – AU

Source: Publisher

Read: Paperback, 336 pages, 2019

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Book Review: THE TIGER CATCHER (END OF FOREVER #1) by Paullina Simons @paullinasimons

THE TIGER CATCHER  is the long awaited first novel of THE END OF FOREVER TRILOGY by romance writer extraordinaire Paullina Simons, author of THE BRONZE HORSEMAN and TULLY.

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THE TIGER CATCHER by Paullina Simons 

“A timeless love story…and the adventure of several lifetimes”

Paperback Edition: 464 pages

Published: May 28th 2019 by HarperCollins – AU

ISBN: 0732294924 (ISBN13: 9780732294922)
Series: END OF FOREVER #1

Source: HarperCollins Publishers Australia

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“The first novel in a beautiful, heartbreaking new trilogy from Paullina Simons, the international bestselling author of Tully and The Bronze Horseman.

Can true love ever die?

Julian lives a charmed life in Los Angeles. Surrounded by friends, he is young, handsome, and runs a successful business. Everything changes after he has a fateful encounter with a mysterious young woman named Josephine. Julian’s world is turned upside down by a love affair that takes him—and everyone else in his life—by storm. For the two new lovers, the City of Angels is transformed into a magical playground.

But Josephine is not what she seems and carries secrets that threaten to tear them apart—seemingly forever.

A broken man, his faith in tatters, Julian meets a mysterious stranger who tells him how to find Josephine again if he is willing to give up everything and take a death-defying trip from which no one has ever returned.

So begins Julian and Josephine’s extraordinary adventure of love, loss, and the mystical forces that bind people across time and space. It is a journey that propels Julian toward an impossible choice which will lead him to love fulfilled…or to oblivion.

The Tiger Catcher takes readers from the depths of despair to the dizzying heights of joy in the first novel of an unforgettable trilogy of love lost and found. For all fans of Outlander, The Time Traveler’s Wife, and Jojo Moyes. “

My Review 

Julian is a slightly bored and cynical young man living an apparently charmed life in contemporary Los Angeles.  His perfect life is turned upside down after a series of chance encounters with a beautiful actress. Within a matter of days Julian has dumped his girlfriend and is head over heals for the mysterious Josephine.

Their relationship hits some not entirely unexpected speed bumps and when tragedy strikes Julian does whatever it takes to be with the love of his life.

The only issue I had with this book is that I found Josephine to be really difficult to relate to and found it difficult to believe that Julian was so in love with her based on her actions throughout the novel. Hopefully her character will be explored more fully in the rest of the series.

THE TIGER CATCHER is a bit of a departure from Paullina Simons’ other books. It’s still an epic romance story and the same brilliant writing is evident throughout the novel, but there is definitely a new mystical element to this book. I don’t wan’t to provide too many spoilers, but I really enjoyed these mystical elements and love this new direction that Simons is taking.

4 stars!

 

 

 

Fabulous multi-generational fashion themed family saga DRESSING THE DEARLOVES by Kelly Doust (@KellyDoust) #BookReview

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DRESSING THE DEARLOVES by Kelly Doust

Goodreads Description

One crumbling grand manor house, a family in decline, five generations of women, and an attic full of beautiful clothes with secrets and lies hidden in their folds. Kelly Doust, author of Precious Things, spins another warm, glamorous and romantic mystery of secrets, love, fashion, families – and how we have to trust in ourselves, even in our darkest of days. One for lovers of Kate Morton, Belinda Alexandra, Fiona McIntosh and Lucy Foley. Failed fashion designer Sylvie Dearlove is coming home to England – broke, ashamed and in disgrace – only to be told her parents are finally selling their once-grand, now crumbling country house, Bledesford, the ancestral home of the Dearlove family for countless generations. Sylvie has spent her whole life trying to escape being a Dearlove, and the pressure of belonging to a family of such headstrong, charismatic and successful women. Beset by self-doubt, she starts helping her parents prepare Bledesford for sale, when she finds in a forgotten attic a thrilling cache of old steamer trunks and tea chests full of elaborate dresses and accessories acquired from across the globe by five generations of fashionable Dearlove women. Sifting through the past, she also stumbles across a secret which has been hidden – in plain sight – for decades, a secret that will change the way she thinks about herself, her family, and her future.Romantic, warm, and glamorous, moving from Edwardian England to the London Blitz to present day London, Dressing the Dearloves is a story of corrosiveness of family secrets, the insecurities that can sabotage our best efforts, and the seductive power of dressing up. 

400 pages
Published August 20th 2018 by HarperCollins
ISBN 1460705645 (ISBN13: 9781460705643)
RRP $16.99 AU (Kindle) $26.99 AU (paperback)

My Review 

Fabulous multi-generational fashion themed family saga! DRESSING THE DEARLOVES the second fashion themed novel by Australian author Kelly Doust, and you can really tell that she has a great love for vintage fashion and the stories they hold.

Sylvie Dearlove failed spectacularly in the cut-throat New York fashion design world. With her company bankrupt and her reputation in tatters she has no choice but to return to her family’s upper crust ancestral home in the English countryside. She is shocked to discover that Bledesford is even more run down than she remembered, her grandmother and family matriarch, Lizzie, is terribly ill and her parents seem to have no choice but to sell up and make way for boring and generic sub-divisions.

While helping her parents clean out the overflowing attic with the help of her best uni girlfriends Sylvie discovers more than just the high fashion of  five generations of her enigmatic and successful female ancestors. She also stumbles across a shocking family secret that  changes the way she feels about her family, what it means to be a Dearlove, and will alter her future plans irrevocably.

I loved the way that Doust tied the stories of the Dearlove ladies in with their clothing. I think it’s so true that the clothes we wear for special occasions do hold onto our stories and the way Doust writes about vintage fashion with such love is a wonderful reminder of the power of dressing up. 5 stars!

About the Author 

 

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Kelly Doust, author of DRESSING THE DEARLOVES

 

Kelly Doust is author of the novels Dressing the Dearloves (September 2018) and Precious Things, both published by HarperCollinsAlso A Life in Frocks, vintage fashion bible Minxy Vintage: how to customise & wear vintage clothing and The Crafty Minx series of craft books.

With a background in book publishing and publicity, Kelly has worked in the UK, Hong Kong and Australia, and has freelanced for Vogue, Australian Women’s Weekly and Sunday Life Magazine. She lives in Sydney with her husband and daughter, and works as a Lifestyle Publisher for Murdoch Books.

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BURNING FIELDS by Alli Sinclair @allisinclair 5 Star #BookReview

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BURNING FIELDS by Alli Sinclair featuring Ziggy the cat

Goodreads Description

1948. The world is struggling to regain a sense of balance after the devastation of World War II, and the sugar cane-growing community of Piri River in northern Queensland is no exception.

As returned servicemen endeavour to adjust to their pre-war lives, women who had worked for the war effort are expected to embrace traditional roles once more.

Rosie Stanton finds it difficult to return to the family farm after years working for the Australian Women’s Army Service. Reminders are everywhere of the brothers she lost in the war and she is unable to understand her father’s contempt for Italians, especially the Conti family next door. When her father takes ill, Rosie challenges tradition by managing the farm, but outside influences are determined to see her fail.

Desperate to leave his turbulent history behind, Tomas Conti has left Italy to join his family in Piri River. Tomas struggles to adapt in Australia—until he meets Rosie. Her easy-going nature and positive outlook help him forget the life he’s escaped. But as their relationship grows, so do tensions between the two families until the situation becomes explosive.

When a long-hidden family secret is discovered and Tomas’s mysterious past is revealed, everything Rosie believes is shattered. Will she risk all to rebuild her family or will she lose the only man she’s ever loved?

My Review 

Set in the northern Queensland sugar cane fields in 1948 BURNING FIELDS by Alli Sinclair beautifully tells the love story of Rosie Stanton and Tomas Conti. Rosie is struggling to settle back into to life in Australia after serving during World War II, and trying to convince her father to allow her to help out on the family sugar cane field is next to impossible. Tomas is trying to become accustomed to life in Australia after suffering through Mussolini’s terror of Italy and Tomas’ hometown of Sicily.

I fell in love with Tomas from the very first chapter! He was perfectly mysterious but also gentlemanly and kind, just like I imagine many Italian men of his era to be. I could also very well relate to Rosie and her frustration at being expected to fall back into the sexist role expected of females in Australia back then after working so hard during the war. Post-war Australia really is a fascinating period of history, and I think Sinclair has perfectly captured many of the issues everyday Australians and immigrants faced during that time. 5 stars!

 

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Alli Sinclair

 

An adventurer at heart, Alli Sinclair is a multi-award winning author who has lived in Argentina, Peru, and Canada. She’s climbed some of the world’s highest mountains, worked as a tour guide in South and Central America, and has travelled the globe, immersing herself in array of exotic destinations, cultures, and languages. Australia has always been close to Alli’s heart as she loves the diverse landscapes and the rich multicultural heritage of this wonderful land.

Alli’s books explore history, culture, love and grief, and relationships between family, friends and lovers. She captures the romance and thrill of discovering old and new worlds, and loves taking readers on a journey of discovery.

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#BookReview A PLACE TO REMEMBER by Jenn J. McLeod @jennjmcleod

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A PLACE TO REMEMBER by Jenn J. McLeod  featuring Ziggy

Goodreads Blurb

A man loses five years of his life. Two women are desperate for him to remember.

Running away for the second time in her life, twenty-seven-year old Ava believes the cook’s job at a country B&B is perfect, until she meets the owner’s son, John Tate. At twenty, the fifth generation grazier is a beguiling blend of both man, boy and a terrible flirt. With their connection immediate and intense, they begin a clandestine affair right under the noses of John’s formidable parents.

Thirty years later, Ava returns to Candlebark Creek with her daughter, Nina, who is determined to meet her mother’s lost love for herself. While struggling to find her own place in the world, Nina discovers an urban myth about a love-struck man, a forgotten engagement ring, and a dinner reservation back in the eighties. Now she must decide if revealing the truth will hurt more than it heals…

My Review

A PLACE TO REMEMBER is a sweet Australian romance story spanning two generations. Ava takes a job as a cook for the B&B on a remote northern Queensland cattle station, Ivy-May owned by the Tate family, in the 1980s. She is running away from a troubled childhood and plans to stay just long enough to save enough money to travel overseas. She doesn’t plan on falling in love with the only son of the Tate family, John. Tragedy separates Ava and John until thirty years later in the present day when both Ava and her daughter, Nina, travel to Ivy-May to seek answers about the past.

I really enjoyed the remote and quintessentially Australian setting and characters of A PLACE TO REMEMBER. I’ve visited this area before and McLeod has perfectly captured the scenery and Aussie characters through her vibrant and descriptive writing style. Ava and John’s tragic romance story filled with long-buried family secrets and betrayal was beautifully told.

 

About the Author

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Jenn J. McLeod

Jenn J McLeod was fifty when she started ticking things off her bucket list. So far she’s made that sea change, written that bestseller, and downsized her life to hit the road full time. Since 2014, home for Jenn (and her partner) is a 3-tonne, 25-foot caravan named Myrtle the Turtle. Selling her slice of suburbia and every stick of furniture was liberating (as was saying goodbye to the glut of kitchen gadgets and swapping a wardrobe of classy clothes and shoes for rubber Crocs, T-shirts, and shorts). (Check out my blog post on that.)

With her Seasons Collection of four novels already adored by readers in her home country, April 2018 will see her fifth novel released by the UK’s 2017 Independent Publisher of the Year, Head of Zeus, and distributed worldwide. Best described as heart-warming tales of Australian country life, friendship, family, love and contemporary issues, readers who enjoy family and friendship stories in the style of Monica McInerney, Mauve Binchy and Liz Bryski, will enjoy Jenn’s small town stories.

In addition to her novels, Jenn is published in short form and in industry magazines (including the Australian Literature Review’s ‘Novel Writing in Australia’ education series). She also maintains her own blog and loves connecting with readers online

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Scatterbooker reviews ‘That Girl’ by Kate Kerrigan

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That Girl  by Kate Kerrigan

Goodreads Synopsis

You can escape a place. But you can’t escape yourself.

Hanna flees the scene of a terrible crime in her native Sligo. If she can just vanish, re-invent herself under a new name, perhaps the police won’t catch up with her. London seems the perfect place to disappear.

Lara has always loved Matthew and imagined happy married life in Dublin. Then comes the bombshell – Matthew says he wants to join the priesthood. Humiliated and broken-hearted, Lara heads to the most godless place she can find, King’s Road, Chelsea.

Matthew’s twin sister, Noreen, could not be more different from her brother. She does love fiance John, but she also craves sex, parties and fun. Swinging London has it all, but without John, Noreen is about to get way out of her depth.

All three girls find themselves working for Bobby Chevron – one of London’s most feared gangland bosses – and it’s not long before their new lives start to unravel.

 

My Review

‘That Girl’ is a romance with a twist, set in the fascinating world of London during the swinging sixties.

Three girls leave Ireland to start lives in London where they get caught up in the grimy underworld of the sleazy gangster,  Bobby Chevron where they discover that no matter how far you run your past will always catch up with you in the end.

Hanna is trying to escape from a horrifying crime, Lara is running away from a broken heart, while Noreen is looking for a final fling before she settles down to married life in her small Irish town. These three main characters were completely different, but they complemented each other perfectly. They all had their reasons for heading to London and dealt with the adversity they were faced with in different but equally strong ways. ‘That Girl’ really is a story of strong female characters getting stuff done no matter what.

I am a sucker for good historical fiction and Kate Kerrigan always does a brilliant job of setting the scene. I almost felt as though I was walking down King’s Street in its heyday and my feet were stuck to the floor of Bobby Chevron’s gangster nightclub. Five out of five stars!

Thank you Head of Zeus and Harper Collins Australia for providing me with a review copy.

Links

Kate Kerrigan

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The Scent of You by Maggie Alderson Book Review @MaggieA

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“A sweet romance and relationship focused novel set in the world of perfumery”

4/5 stars

Synopsis

Perfume blogger Polly is in crisis. Will her husband’s absence break her … or make her? A novel of perfumes, exploring life, love, loss and forgiveness – Maggie Alderson’s new bestseller.

Are you still married if you haven’t seen your husband for months?

Polly’s life is great. Her children are away at uni, her glamorous mother – still modelling at eighty-five – is happily settled in a retirement village, and her perfume blog is taking off. Then her husband announces he needs some space and promptly vanishes.

As Polly grapples with her bewildering situation, she clings to a few new friends to keep her going – Shirlee, the loudmouthed yoga student; Guy, the mysterious, infuriating and hugely talented perfumer; and Edward, an old flame from university.

And while she distracts herself with the heady world of luxury perfume, Polly knows she can’t keep reality at bay forever. Eventually she is forced to confront some difficult truths: about her husband, herself and who she really wants to be.

My Review

The Scent of You is a sweet romance and relationship focused novel set in the world of perfumery. Polly is a part-time yoga teacher and successful English perfume blogger. Her professor husband, David, abruptly left their home under mysterious circumstances leaving strict instructions not to look for him. Polly copes with the stress of David’s disappearance and her mother’s failing health with the help of her two children, Shirley, the blunt yoga student, Guy, the mysterious perfumer, and Edward (Chum), an old university boyfriend.

I enjoyed the detailed descriptions of all the lovely perfumes interspersed throughout the novel and loved Polly’s blog posts which linked perfumes with memories. The characters were all well-developed and likable, except for Polly’s husband and occasionally Polly herself. I couldn’t help but wonder how Polly had no idea of the issue David had been facing for so many years!

4/5 stars

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