'The minute I saw the letter, I knew it was hers. There was no mistaking it: the salutation, the tiny, precise handwriting, the date, the content itself, all confirmed its ancient status and authorship…
Samantha McDonough cannot believe her eyes - or her
luck. Tucked in an uncut page of a two-hundred-year old poetry book is a letter she believes was written by Jane Austen, mentioning with regret a manuscript that "went missing at Greenbriar in Devonshire." Could there really be an undiscovered Jane Austen novel waiting to be found? Could anyone resist the temptation to go looking for it?
Making her way to the beautiful, centuries-old Greenbriar estate, Samantha finds it no easy task to sell its owner, the handsome yet uncompromising Anthony Whitaker, on her wild idea of searching for a lost Austen work--until she mentions its possible million dollar value.
After discovering the unattributed manuscript, Samantha and Anthony are immediately absorbed in the story of Rebecca Stanhope, daughter of a small town rector, who is about to encounter some bittersweet truths about life and love. As they continue to read the newly discovered tale from the past, a new one unfolds in the present--a story that just might change
both of their lives forever.'
A novel within a novel, ‘The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen’ tells the fictional story of Samantha McDonough, an American librarian on holiday in England, who finds a letter seeming to be written by Jane Austen. This discovery is amazing in itself, but more is yet to come: in the letter Jane mentions a manuscript she wrote and lost whilst staying at a house called
Greenbriar. Travelling to Greenbriar, Samantha meets its owner, Anthony. Though a little crabby to begin with, Anthony’s soon caught up in Austen fever, and helps Samantha search for the document. What they discover is ‘The Stanhopes’, the tale of a young woman named Rebecca, who experiences somewhat of a pilgrimage in her search for love.
Syrie James does her best to get around the issue of her writing a novel supposedly penned by the mighty Ms Austen, by making it clear that what is found is a first draft. Clearly ‘The Stanhopes’ is much shorter than one of Austen’s completed works, and so contains much less detail, but I enjoyed the
tale and there are a couple of places where James emulates Austen’s humour
As is quite typical of me, I preferred Rebecca’s storyline to that of Samantha’s. Rebecca is strong and opinionated, and is determined to stand by her beloved father. Samantha had many of the same qualities, but perhaps in a woman from an earlier era they stand out more and seem more impressive?
The ending to Samantha and Anthony’s tale came a little quickly for me, and I wasn’t completely convinced by their attraction to one another, perhaps because their scenes were broken up a lot by long episodes of ‘The Stanhopes’. However, I liked Samantha, and definitely agreed with her about what should happen to the now found manuscript, despite also being able to understand Anthony’s point of view.
This interesting book, whilst perhaps not perfectly executed, certainly held my interest. I was most enamoured by Rebecca Stanhope’s tale, and found I was eager to return to that whenever the focus shifted to the modern day and what was going on with Samantha. Syrie James has produced a charming homage to Austen, and I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for copies of her other books.
3 and a half stars
'On a crystal clear Mediterranean day, Briony McAllister sits playing with her four-year-old daughter, Katie, while she waits for her mother, Valerie, to join them. Valerie has recently moved to a picturesque town in southern Spain to finally leave behind her turbulent past and find a peace that has always eluded her. Briony has no idea that in a few moments' time her relationship with her mother will change irrevocably. As Katie plays, Briony pulls from her bag an old photo album, found in a box in her mother's new home. As she begins to study the faded photos, a letter falls to the ground. It is addressed to her. My Darling Briony, it begins. As Briony reads the words with mounting shock, realisation dawns. Her mother lied to her about what happened with her beloved grandmother Tessa all those years ago - and denied Briony that most precious of relationships, the type of relationship Valerie now enjoys with Katie. The lives of three generations of women are set to change forever as the past is revisited and the truth unfolds through the undelivered letters Tessa wrote to Briony over the years. Secrets, lies, betrayals and sacrifices - the complex bonds between mothers, daughters and granddaughters are intricately explored as Patricia Scanlan takes us into the hearts and homes of a family at war.'
Whilst mum-of-one Briony is visiting her mother, Valerie, in Spain, she discovers a letter from her beloved paternal grandmother Tessa. Briony had been led to believe that after her father died, Tessa and her husband Lorcan decided they wanted nothing to do with Briony or her mother. However, upon reading the letter, she discovers that her mother had lied to her – Tessa and Lorcan had been distraught when Valerie moved away from the small Irish seaside town where they lived, taking Briony with her and refusing to allow them any contact with their precious granddaughter.
In her anger, Briony threatens to treat her mother just as Tessa was treated, but of course there are two sides to every story, and if Briony will just listen to what her mother has to say, maybe she can start to forgive her for what she did so many years ago.
As the novel started with Briony very much at the forefront, I assumed the story would continue following her, but it soon swapped to Valerie, with Scanlan taking the reader back to when Valerie was seventeen and met
Briony’s father, Jeff. Following Valerie’s adventures, and her sometimes tempestuous relationship with Jeff, we see the beginnings of Valerie and Tessa’s animosity towards each other from their very first meeting.
Over the years, as things go from bad to worse between the two women, I felt myself sympathising with both of them, and wishing they could find a way to get along better. Scanlan does a very good job of ensuring that both get to put their points of view across to the reader.
I have to say that I didn’t find this the most enthralling story I’ve ever read: the settings of Dublin and the little Irish town have been done many, many times before, as has the young unmarried Irish girl suddenly discovering she’s pregnant. However, I liked the characters and did get quite involved with them particularly after Briony was born.
Scanlan’s latest gentle tale is full of family drama and becomes a bit of a tearjerker at times. I especially liked how the author cleverly manages to give all her heroines the chance to have their say, whilst retaining the main focus on Valerie. I imagine it’s a book that will appeal to a wide variety of female readers as the heroines have such widely differing ages and outlooks on life. Heart-warming and packed full of great female characters, ‘With All My Love’ is most definitely one for girly girls who like a traditional character-focussed story.
3 and a half stars
‘At 3.10pm every weekday, parents gather at Featherstone Primary in Denbury to collect their children. For a special few, the friendships forged at the school gates will see them through lives filled with drama, secrets and sorrows. When Yummy Mummy Alana reveals the identity of her love-child's father, she doesn't expect the consequences to be quite so extreme.
Ex Czech au-pair Earth Mummy Dana finds happiness in
her secret sideline, but really all she longs for is another child. Slummy Mummy Mo's wife-beating husband leads her down a path she never thought possible, and
Supper Mummy Joan has to cope when life deals her a devastating blow. And what of Gay Daddy Gordon? Will he be able to juggle parenthood and cope with his broken heart at the same time?
Four very different mothers. One adorable dad. And the intertwining trials and
tribulations that a year at the primary school gates brings.’
‘The School Gates’ follows five parents of children attending their local school, Featherstone Primary, in Denbury. First is single working mum Alana, who’s unsure of how to deal with the consequences when the secret of who the father of her little girl is finally gets out. Next is Dana, a stay-at-home mum who’s desperate to earn her own money and not be a glorified au-pair to her husband and son. Then there’s Mum of four Joan, who has a shock in store for her, but needs to remain strong to help support her friend Mo, who’s alcoholic husband is making her and her daughter’s life a misery. Lastly, there’s Gordon, a gay dad devastated when his partner leaves him; can he manage his twin daughters by himself?
As the school year progresses, the parents become closer as they make often unexpected friends and deal with what life has thrown them all as best they can.
From reading the blurb to this novel, I thought it would be right up my street, and I was looking forward to it. When I settled down into the story I found that I enjoyed following the lives of May’s characters, but that the novel was a little on the short side for the moment of action and people packed into it! I would have liked more depth to the storylines, particularly when it came to Mo and her husband, a relationship that I found very interesting. My favourite of the protagonists was undoubtedly Gordon, who was just lovely; I was really routing for a happy ending for him.
What I relished about this story was that the characters were believable, yet entertaining; I especially liked how Joan and Mo helped each other out whenever they could. Having said this though, I was a bit disappointed by something that Joan does, which was so out of character that it didn’t ring
true at all.
Unfortunately, there were a couple of little inaccuracies in the novel, Joan’s baby for example is 11 months old on one page and 10 months old a couple of pages later. There were also several places where the book was quite poorly formatted and line spaces weren’t correct: this could get quite confusing as there were sometimes spaces missing when the break would have been indicating a change in character being followed. There was also some pretty strong language littered throughout the book, which was unexpected and
surprised me a little. I didn’t feel that it was always necessary and it may offend some readers.
‘The School Gates’ was quite a quick read with some very engaging characters, whom I liked following. May is clearly a good storyteller and is very good at keeping excellent pace going throughout her books, which keeps the
action going and makes it hard to put her writing down. Some better editing and formatting would have made this book even more enjoyable.
3 and a half stars
‘How do you hold on to a love that is slowly slipping away from you? Can you let go of the past when you know what is in the future? And how do you cope when you know that every kiss is a countdown to goodbye? This is the story of a love affair, of Ryan and Molly and how they fell in love and were torn apart. The first time Molly kissed Ryan, she knew they'd be together forever. Six years and thousands of kisses later she's married to the man she loves. But today, when Ryan kisses her, Molly realises how many of them she wasted because the future holds something which neither of them could have ever predicted...’
‘The Last First Kiss’ is Harris’ second novel and follows the lives of Molly and Ryan, a couple who met whilst growing up in their hometown of Leigh on Sea. As Molly prepares to move on after their relationship ends, she reminisces about their love from their first kiss, when she was just fifteen, to its sad conclusion many years later.
I suppose Molly and Ryan’s relationship could be described as very honest: they do love each other, but they’re very different people in many ways, and particularly in the early years of their love, really aren’t all that well suited. Ryan is a homebody, he adores his family and Leigh on Sea, whereas Molly’s main aim in life is to get out of the same place! Molly also isn’t close to her own parents, and can’t understand why Ryan wants to see as much of his as he does.
To be honest I found Molly and Ryan a little bit boring, I didn’t particularly think they should be together and they just seemed to plod along most of the time, bickering whenever Molly wasn’t happy, which was pretty often. Particularly in the first years the couple are together, Molly came across as very demanding at times and quite ungrateful to both Ryan and his parents for all they do for her. Despite this, I liked her character: she wasn’t a bad person, just young and feeling like she was being pushed into a mould she wasn’t ready for.
Harris flits back and forth through the couple’s history as Molly reminisces. I got used to this, but found it quite confusing to begin with, she jumped around so much that I didn’t really feel like I had a grip on the novel, and I kept having to readjust and try to work out whereabouts in their relationship we were and whether certain things I’d already read about previously had happened yet. Some of the lead-ups to the events Molly remembers seemed a bit contrived, and I couldn’t help but feel that a straightforward, chronological narrative might have worked better.
I like Ali Harris’ writing style, which is light and very easy to escape into, and her stories and characters definitely aren’t clichéd, although I didn’t enjoy this quite as much as her debut ‘Miracle on Regent Street’. Molly and Ryan’s life together certainly wasn’t sugar-coated, so much so that I was at a loss a lot of the time to work out why they stayed together. They do become a much better fit when Molly grows up a bit however, and I enjoyed the latter part
of their relationship more as a result of this: I could care more about them,
and what they were going through as a couple, when I didn’t feel quite so
strongly that they’d be better off apart!
3 and a half stars
‘Why tell the truth...if you know it's going to hurt? Hannah has known Ellen and Barbara since they shared
student digs. So when Ollie, the father of her daughter Cleo, unexpectedly walks out, who better to turn to than her best friends? The reunion takes place in Ellen and husband Mark's converted farmhouse in France, where Hannah slowly becomes reacquainted with nature - the white-back pigs, the rooster with the mental health issues - and, more importantly, what she really wants out of her life. Then something shocking happens, which threatens not only her recovery, but the very bonds of her friendship with Ellen and Barbara. Her loyalty is put
to the test - if she does the right thing, will it blow Ellen's marriage out of the water? And why does she find herself turning to Ollie, of all people, for advice...?’
Dubliner Hannah knows just where to turn when her partner of ten years, Ollie, walks out: her two oldest friends, Ellen and Barbara. Assembled around their 'Table of Moans' in Ellen's remote French farmhouse, Hannah feels safe and can perhaps even begin to heal. But when Hannah finds herself in charge of a devastating secret which, if it gets out, will most likely destroy her friendships, she’s at a loss as to what to do for the best.
I thought this book sounded really promising from its blurb, and I was looking forward to reading about the Dublin ladies in a remote French farmhouse. Unfortunately, I must admit that I was a little disappointed. Whilst I quite enjoyed the parts of the story set in the farmhouse, I didn’t feel that the other setting of Dublin was utilised as well as it could have been.
I liked Hannah, and I enjoyed the scenes between her and her friends, but I did judge her a little though for leaving her daughter for so long towards the end of the book. I was also at a loss to understand Ollie’s behaviour, and why Hannah was so understanding of it. He treated Hannah and their daughter Cleo absolutely appallingly, and with no good reason. Hannah was naturally upset, but was nowhere near as angry as I would have expected her to be given the circumstances.
Overall I enjoyed Dowling’s writing, particularly the comic moments: some of the arguments between Ollie’s warring parents were just hilarious – how they managed to stay married for as long as they did was a mystery to me! However, I became a bit frustrated by the almost teasing manner that the author employed for the first part of the book; she kept giving little hints as to her protagonists’ ‘secrets’, this was particularly the case with Barbara and the mysterious Sergei. The novel was strong enough not to need this type of treatment and Dowling should have trusted her story and characters more.
‘Would I Lie To You?’ was light and well-written, with some great funny moments. Hannah and her pals were likeable, and I liked following the ups and downs of their friendship as it was tested to its limits in this enjoyable tale.
3 and a half stars
‘What happens when the one that got away comes back? Find out in this sparkling debut from Mhairi McFarlane. 'Think of the great duos of history. We're just like them.' 'You mean like Kylie and Jason? Torvill and Dean? Sonny and Cher?' 'I think you've missed the point, Rachel.' Rachel and Ben. Ben and Rachel. It was them against the world. Until it all fell apart. It's been a decade since they last spoke, but when Rachel bumps into Ben one rainy day, the years melt away. They'd been partners in crime and the best of friends. But life has moved on: Ben is married. Rachel is not. Yet in that split second, Rachel feels the old friendship return. And along with it, the broken heart she's never been able to mend. Hilarious, heartbreaking and everything in between, you'll be hooked from their first 'hello'.’
Though inseparable at university, best friends Rachel and Ben haven’t seen each other for years and things have certainly changed a lot for both of them since their student days; most importantly, Ben is now married. When the pair meet up again, old feelings immediately re-emerge and Rachel soon realises that, try as she might, she’s yet to mend the broken heart Ben left her with.
I liked the flashbacks to Rachel’s university days, and the fact that these were spaced out throughout the novel worked really well for me. The truth about Rachel and Ben’s past was uncovered slowly, which meant that I got a chance to know the characters well and understand how they managed to get in the
mess they did!
Rachel was a very likeable heroine, and I warmed to her immediately. I really sympathised with her at the beginning of the book when she breaks up with her fiancé, and I thought their whole relationship was dealt with very well throughout the novel – there were several points where I didn’t know whether they’d get back together again or not. I wasn’t quite so sure about Ben as a protagonist – he came across as a bit of a wimp at times, never going for what he wants, and when he does stand up for something he appears to regret it straight afterwards.
There’s a fair amount of comedy within the story, and the book did make me laugh several times: I particularly liked the scenes between Rachel and her friends, who were a great bunch of characters and played off each other well and with very amusing results.
The resolution to Rachel and Ben’s dilemmas came together a little too quickly at the end of the book for my liking; particularly as Ben had seemed very set on a certain course of action only a few pages before. In fact I found it a bit
of a let-down after all the build-up, and their conclusion wasn’t as satisfying
as I’d hoped it would be.
Rachel and Ben’s story kept me interested and turning the pages, although I was a little disappointed by the novel’s final chapters. McFarlane’s writing style was fresh and enjoyable, and ‘You Had Me At Hello’ is certainly a
promising debut. I look forward to seeing what this author produces next.
3 and a half stars
‘Welcome to The Three Captains. A charming bijou guesthouse on the Maine coast which is a haven of calm for guests and owners alike. When Lolly summons home her nieces, Isabel and June - one recovering from a broken heart, the other struggling to bring up her young son singlehandedly - they assume she's going to sell The 3 Cs, the place they called home after they lost their parents in a car accident. But the truth is much more heartbreaking than that. Along with Lolly's daughter Kat - also at a crossroads in her life - the women spend their first summer together in years and home truths and long-buried secrets begin to emerge. Then movie buff Lolly invites her three offspring to attend her legendary movie nights and what at first seems like a few hours of distraction from their tumultuous lives becomes so much more. What they discover shakes them to the core, brings them together after years of discord, and provides them with the inspiration that they need to truly connect with each other and find happiness.’
Despite being brought together by a tragedy in their past, Lolly Weller, her daughter, Kat, and nieces, June and Isabel, aren’t particularly close. In fact Isabel and June barely speak to each other unless they have to. However, when Lolly Weller makes a devastating announcement, the women are forced to put aside their differences and work together as a family. Staying at the guesthouse Lolly runs in Boothbay Harbour, on the Maine Coast, they bond over Meryl Streep films every Friday night. Coming together properly as a unit for the first time, the women learn to trust and rely upon each other to get through the tough times ahead.
The book is written in the third person, with each of the heroines taking turns to star. I grew to like all four of the women central to the story, although I did find Lolly a very prickly customer. They all had their own, very different problems, and I enjoyed seeing them gradually becoming closer. I particularly liked June’s storyline, and felt for her as she tried her best to find her little boy’s father. It certainly kept me gripped, and didn’t pan out as I’d predicted.
To begin with I wasn’t too sure about the idea of a Meryl Streep movie club, but it certainly didn’t take over the book, and you don’t need to be a Meryl Streep fan to enjoy the story. I think the point of the film night was to have a fixed time when the family could just be with each other, without having to discuss their various problems. However, as it turned out, the films lead to discussions that worked to bring the women closer together, and helped them to discover more about themselves, and what they really wanted from their lives.
Overall I enjoyed Mia March’s debut. It perhaps wasn’t the most original of books, but it held my interest and I liked its characters. The setting of Maine was pleasant, and Boothbay Harbour had a lovely small town America feel. The storyline was certainly sad in places, but overall, ‘The Meryl Streep Movie Club’ is a positive story about a family coming together and realising just how much they need each other.
3 and a half stars
‘Passion, Treachery, Betrayal. The virgin queen has arrived...Uncovering the love triangle between Queen Elizabeth I, Robert Dudley, and his wife Amy, and her mysterious death, A Court Affair is an unforgettable story of ambition, lust and jealousy. The future of the realm is in her hands...Accused of conspiring with rebels to steal the throne, Princess Elizabeth is confined to the Tower of London by her half-sister, Queen Mary. There she finds solace in the arms of fellow prisoner - her childhood friend, Robert Dudley. But with Elizabeth's ascension to the crown, Robert returns to his wife and the unhappy union he believes cheated him of his destiny to be king. As Anne Boleyn's daughter, Elizabeth knows the cruelty of marriage and roundly rejects her many suitors - with the exception of the power-hungry Robert. But their relationship carries a risk that could shake the very foundations of the House of Tudor...A Court Affair is a fascinating portrait of both the rise of Elizabeth I and one of the most compelling periods in history.’
‘A Court Affair’ follows the fortune of two women: Queen Elizabeth I and Amy Dudley – the wife of Elizabeth’s favourite Robert Dudley. Elizabeth and Robert became close when they were both imprisoned in the Tower of London by Elizabeth’s sister, Queen Mary.
Robert’s ambitions to rule alongside Elizabeth lead to him regretting his early nuptials. He neglects Amy in favour of spending as much time as possible at Court. But regardless of Robert’s wishes, Amy won’t just disappear, so just how far will he go to end his marriage and clear the way for him to wed Elizabeth and become King?
I love historical fiction, but whilst I do enjoy the Tudor period, I do feel that it’s been a little over done in recent years. However, by bringing Amy Dudley into the mix, Purdy has introduced something a little different. I found Amy’s story very engaging, and actually preferred her parts of the novel to those focussing on Elizabeth.
I liked Purdy’s writing style, which was fresh and relaxed, and enjoyed her descriptions of the fashions of the period – a subject she clearly has a strong interest in. An unexpected bonus was that the story taught me plenty about medical practices during the Tudor period, and in particular the treatment of breast cancer. The postscript completed the story nicely and was a useful addition.
Robert was a devilishly awful character, and was great to read about. He was completely self-absorbed and treated Amy terribly. His ambitions controlled his life completely, and I couldn’t wait for him to meet his downfall.
One thing that I found very frustrating for Amy’s character was the extent to which she was controlled by Robert – he could just sell her family’s property and demand that she go to live with complete strangers, and there really wasn’t much she could do about it.
By investigating the story behind the love triangle involving Queen Elizabeth and Robert and Amy Dudley, Purdy has produced a very readable piece of historical fiction which, thanks to the details of Amy’s medical treatment, really stands out from the crowd of Tudor-based novels. Nicely written, and full of lust, greed and intrigue, this is a book sure to earn Emily Purdy many new fans.
3 and a half stars
‘Love is in the air in Talyton St George, Devon's most romantic town.
Glamorous GP Nicci (aka the galloping doctor), and Matt, the very handsome equine vet, have caught each other's eyes. On paper it looks like a match made in heaven.
There are problems, however: Matt's jealous ex-girlfriend being one of them. But the main trouble is Nicci's determination to qualify for the Badminton horse trials. Because although Matt treats horses for a living, a tragedy in his past makes him terrified every time Nicci competes.
So when Nicci has a terrible accident, a devastated Matt gives her an ultimatum: it's either him or the riding.
Nicci can't believe he means it. But can she risk putting him to the test?’
Horse mad GP Nicci adores her horse Willow, and is determined to compete in the Badminton Horse Trials. Nothing can come between Nicci and her dream, until that is she falls for Matt, Willow’s new vet.
Matt and Nicci seem perfect for each other, apart from the fact that a tragic accident years ago has made Matt hate the idea of Nicci competing. When Nicci has an accident of her own, Matt gives her an ultimatum: either she stops competing or they have to break up. Will Nicci choose her old dream of Badminton, or her new one of being with Matt?
‘Vets in Love’ is the latest in Woodman’s series of books set in the fictional Devon town of Talyton St George. I’ve read some of the other volumes in the series, and I enjoyed revisiting favourite characters, but must admit I still get a little confused by the many townsfolk mentioned, often just in passing.
I liked Nicci, and thought she and Matt made a good couple. I could understand their different points of view regarding Nicci’s riding, but was a little disappointed by the storyline’s resolution, which seemed a little too easy for my liking.
Nicci’s job as a GP was interesting to read about, and her interactions with her patients were often entertaining and gave some very good insight into Nicci’s character. The excitement of the horse trials Nicci rides in made a lovely contrast to the scenes in the quiet, rather sedate, town she lives in. These parts of the story were particularly well-written, and certainly kept me on the edge of my seat.
Nicci’s family were a funny lot, and I found it hard to bond with them. This was particularly the case with her sister, Cheska, who was a total nightmare! The conclusion of Cheska’s storyline was another place in which I thought too simple a route was taken in the storytelling, a lot more could have been made of her problems.
Fans of this series will find lots to enjoy in this latest visit to Talyton St George. With plenty of favourite characters popping their heads in, as well as the addition of a great heroine and hero in Nicci and Matt, there’s plenty to keep the pages turning.
3 and a half stars
‘In "The Girl in the Flammable Skirt" Aimee Bender has created a world where nothing is quite as it seems. From a man suffering from reverse evolution to a lonely wife who waits for her husband to return from war; to a small town where one girl has a hand made of fire and the other has a hand made of ice. These stories of men and women whose lives are shaped and sometimes twisted by the power of extraordinary desires take us to a place far beyond the imagination.’
‘The Girl in the Flammable Skirt’ is a selection of short stories by Aimee Bender, the very talented authoress of ‘The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake’ and ‘An Invisible Sign of My Own’.
The anthology is divided into three sections, each containing either five or six stories. There is a great deal of variety in both tone and setting within the collection, and Bender’s characters span all walks of life.
My favourite of the stories was probably the first, called ‘The Rememberer’, which describes a woman’s feelings as she discovers her lover is experiencing reverse evolution. A truly bizarre idea, but it made good reading!
I’ve read two of Bender’s previous novels, but hadn’t tried her short stories before. To be honest, short stories aren’t something I naturally veer towards. Perhaps this is because characterisation is so important to me, and you just can’t explore a character in as much depth in a few thousand words as you can in a full length novel.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed other works by Bender. One of the things I really like about this author’s writing is how unusual her ideas are. Her work is completely original. However, in this case, I found the majority of the tales in the anthology to be a little too strange for me, although I liked many of the concepts behind the stories.
Whilst very beautifully written, and often captivating, these stories are just not really my cup of tea.
3 and a half stars