Author interview: Amanda Prowse

29 Jun

What better way to start the week than by having lovely author Amanda Prowse stop by to chat about her new novel, Perfect Daughter? On Remembrance Day 2012 Amanda made headlines with her debut novel Poppy Day. She received widespread military support, celebrity endorsements and appeared in newspapers and on TV sofas everywhere. Amanda donated all her author royalties to the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal.

This was followed by four more novels and she was Writer in Residence on ITV’s This Morning in 2013. Amanda now has seven novels and a number of short stories under her belt, including the no 1 bestselling What Have I Done? Welcome Amanda!

Amanda Prowse book shot - black and whiteYour new novel, Perfect Daughter, is released this week. Please could you tell me a little about it and your inspiration for it?

Jackie Morgan’s story is set in Weston Super Mare, and shows how she struggles with the pressure cooker of life. She is caring for her kids, her ailing mum and in a marriage that has lost its sparkle. When her past comes back to haunt her, she learns a lot about herself, her family and what is important. I watched my own mum care for her grandchildren and her mum who had dementia and wanted to write about the millions of women like her in the UK that ‘sandwich generation’ looking after both kids and parents, it is tough and I wanted to write a story of hope that shows that no matter how tough things get, its important to find joy in the small things…

The novel focuses on Jacks Morgan. By way of introduction, what would Jacks’ Twitter bio say if she had one?

What a great question! Love it. Okay, it would say, ‘Wife, mum, dreamer, living by the seaside and waiting for my time…’

Perfect Daughter examines the sacrifices that people make for their families and others. What would you like readers to take away from the novel?

I think two things, firstly, you never know what’s around the corner, no matter how bad things get, tomorrow is another day and it might just bring you great things! And secondly, how time gives you a great perspective on life, things that seem impossible or unfair or make you unhappy, have an uncanny knack of altering when we look at them after a period of reflection or even a good night’s sleep!

How were you able to draw upon your own experiences in writing this book?

I am very close to my mum. She’s lovely and I have watched her put her children first and then her mum who lived with her when she was poorly and now her grandchildren! Her selfless devotion to her family is incredible and I wanted to write a story about a woman who faces challenges and has the love of her family as the foundation on which everything else is built.

You have a blog as part of your lovely website. What are your top three blogging tips?

1. Read it aloud before you post to check that flow! 2. Don’t be afraid to be yourself; it’s your unique style that will set you apart. 3. Write what you know.

What do you like to read when you have free time?PROWSE_Perfect Daughter

I wish I had more free reading time, but when I do, I love to dive into anything by Jodi Picoult, Isabel Allende, the poetry of Maya Angelou and many many more!

 And finally, what can we expect next from Amanda Prowse?

Ooh I have two more books coming out this year, ‘Three and a Half Heartbeats’ out in September; is the story of Grace and Tom who lose their little girl. It looks at how their world unravels and how they try to rebuild their lives, not knowing even if they can…

‘Christmas Café’ out in October; is Bea’s story, set in Sydney and Edinburgh, it’s the story of how lives can be entwined across the miles and how events from your youth can continue to shape you in the most unexpected of ways…

And I am writing my next two novels now, the first is Romilly’s story and it’s heartbreaking but FAB!

Thanks Amanda!

Perfect Daughter is out in Hardback and ebook formats on 2nd July.

You can connect with with Amanda on Twitter at @MrsAmandaProwse, on Facebook and YouTube and at www.amandaprowse.org.

Book review: No Place for a Lady by Gill Paul

28 Jun

no place for a ladyIN WARTIME, THE RULES OF LOVE CHANGE …

1854. Britain is fighting a gruesome war.

There has been no news of Lucy Gray since she eloped with handsome and impetuous Captain Charlie Harvington and embarked with him to the Crimea.

Dorothea Gray will risk anything to heal the rift with her little sister and bring her home safe. She determines to join Florence Nightingale and the other courageous women travelling to the battlefield hospitals as nurses.

She will not rest until she finds her sister.

Lucy, however, is on a very different journey, a journey through tragedy, trauma and true love.

But neither sister is prepared for the challenges they will face, the passion they will each taste and the simple fact that they might never see one another again …

I’m a big fan of Gill Paul’s novels; you can read my reviews of Women and Children First and The Affair to see just how much I enjoy Gill’s writing. But despite this there was a little bit of trepidation before I picked up No Place for a Lady. Why? Partly because it was the first of Gill’s books that was set in a period and place that I know very little about but mainly because the story is set in a particularly gruesome period in Britain’s military history! Of course I needn’t have worried at all; Gill brings her excellent ability to show the human and relatable side of any story to this novel and has crafted and adventure that held my attention completely with characters that were interesting, frustrating, brave and fascinating in equal measures and I couldn’t put this book down once I’d started reading.

No Place for A Lady focuses on the lives of two sisters. Lucy and Dorothea Gray are as different as sisters can be, with older sister Dorothea having taken on a parental role since the girls’ mother died. As a result she is very much the sensible, responsible and reasonable half of the siblings – to the point of being overbearing and judgmental in Lucy’s opinion. In contrast Lucy is young, carefree, romantic and prone to acting on impluse which she does to startling effect by marrying an Army Officer following a whirlwind romance and deciding to accompany him as he goes to fight in the Crimea.

The story moves between Lucy and Dorothea and is set out in such a way that the book recounts the same timeline from each woman’s point of view until the stories meet. It’s a clever way of capturing the reader in the plot. So invested was I in these characters that I actually found myself tempted to skip ahead just to check what had happened to one of them! This is something I never do and I did manage to restrain myself but it’s testament to Gill’s fab writing and vivid way of bringing her characters to life that I found this book a proper page turner!

I also learned a lot from this story – Gill is meticulous in her historical research and I was fascinated by the facts that the story threw up. I had no idea that soldiers’ wives accompanied them to the battlefields nor of the conditions endured or adventures had! Nor was I aware of the nursing history that the novel details and a visit to the Florence Nightingale Museum is now on my wish list too! Gill opened my eyes to a fascinating period of history whilst providing a wonderful story of love, romance, bravery and the special bond between sisters.

Gill has most definitely done it again and I have no hesitation in recommending that you add No Place for a Lady to your reading lists!

5/5

No Place for a Lady is out now in ebook formats and will be released in paperback on 2nd July.

Find out more about Gill and her writing at: http://www.gillpaul.com/

Author Interview: Lucy Atkins

23 Jun

I’m delighted to welcome Lucy Atkins to One More Page today as part of the blog tour for her new novel, The Other Child. Lucy is an award-winning feature journalist and author, as well as a Sunday Times book critic. She has written for many newspapers, including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, and the Telegraph, as well as magazines such as Psychologies, Red, Woman and Home and Grazia. She lives in Oxford. Welcome Lucy!

Lucy Atkins, photographed by Charlie Hopkinson © 2013.Your new novel, The Other Child has just been released; please could you tell me a little about it and the inspiration behind it?

In 2010 my husband was offered a job in the States and so we relocated, with our three children, then aged 12,10 and 7, plus the family dog, to a rental house in a leafy Boston suburb. I hadn’t realised how hard it would be to settle everybody in, and we had this long, hot, slightly traumatic summer (boston summers are sweltering!). Then, when my children did start school, I found myself alone during the day in this silent street, friendless, and spookily isolated, with only the mailman and peoples’ gardeners for company. Things improved dramatically for us all, and in the end we loved it in Boston, but it’s those early feelings of spooky solitude that stuck with me.  And I knew I had to write a book set in that house, and that street.  Poor Tess has a much worse time than me, thank goodness.

Lead character Tess is a photographer; why did you choose to give her this particular profession?

I was really interested in the idea of how a photographer can see behind the mask people put on – and also how it is possible to be invisible, in a sense, behind a camera. I wanted Tess to have that access to Greg from the moment they met – to see something in his eyes that nobody else saw, and that he has masked so well. Tess is also a reserved, shy person, and it felt exactly right for her to be behind the camera, observing people, in a creative way.

 If you had to sum Tess up in five words what would they be?

Strong, protective, shy, loyal, independent.

Tess meets Greg and relocates to America; I noticed on your website that you have lived in both England and America; how did your own experiences come to bear when writing The Other Child?

I’ve spent three periods of my life living in The States (Philadelphia, Seattle, and Boston) and it’s those early ex-pat feelings of aloneness, homesickness, isolation that are really important to the feel of The Other Child. There is also a sense, when you move to a new place, of both enormous hope – this amazing new beginning – combined with moments of acute homesickness and longing. It’s an intense experience – especially when you have children, and are worried about their happiness. I also wanted Tess to be far, far away from the familiarity of home, and her best friend Nell. That makes everything feel so much more precarious and alarming.

The Other Child is your second psychological thriller; what drew you to this genre?

I honestly have no idea! It wasn’t a conscious decision at all. When I started writing The Missing One, I knew it was going to be about mother-daughter relationships, and I became obsessed by killer whales and the Pacific Northwest, but I don’t plan out a novel, and the terrifying events just sort of unfolded, mainly when I began to create the character of Susannah, the older woman. The Missing One did really well, and I realised that I actually love the tension, and having enormous and important things at stake, so it felt natural to stick to emotional suspense. I recently found a poem I’d written at school when I was 11, about being lost in a cave and hearing echoing footsteps. It’s totally psychological suspense, and seeing it made me realise this is probably just who I am (creatively at least: I lead a delightfully safe and dull life otherwise).

When you’re not writing, what types of books do you like to read?getimage

I read widely – partly because I’m a book critic, and I get paid to read things (!) and partly because I like to read  books that people I trust recommend. My idea of heaven is a beautifully written, thoughtful, fairly literary book with a good story, where the pages keep turning. Something like Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, or Sarah Water’s The Paying Guests.

And finally … what can we expect next from Lucy Atkins?

I am just at the very early stages of thinking about another book, and for some reason I seem to find myself getting interested in female scientists, ladybirds and dung beetles….who knows!?

Thanks Lucy.

The Other Child is out now in paperback and ebook formats from Quercus.

You can find out more about Lucy and her writing at: http://www.lucyatkins.com/

Please do check out the other stops on Lucy’s blog tour for more interviews, reviews and features on The Other Child.

Ten Books to Travel With – Summer 2015

22 Jun

Whether you are jetting off to somewhere exotic or enjoying a staycation this summer there are lots of lovely books to take you on adventures around the World. Here are my top ten books to travel with this summer. I’ve listed them in release date order and highlighted the locations so you can easily decide where to visit next!

the sunriseThe Sunrise by Victoria Hislop (Cyprus) Out now from Headline

I really enjoyed this excellent new novel from Victoria Hislop and it’s my favourite of her books since The Island. Victoria expertly mixes love, ambition and family drama against a backdrop of violence and unrest based on true events – the result is a novel that you won’t forget!

In the summer of 1972, Famagusta in Cyprus is the most desirable resort in the Mediterranean, a city bathed in the glow of good fortune. An ambitious couple open the island’s most spectacular hotel, where Greek and Turkish Cypriots work in harmony. Two neighbouring families, the Georgious and the Özkans, are among many who moved to Famagusta to escape the years of unrest and ethnic violence elsewhere on the island. But beneath the city’s façade of glamour and success, tension is building.

When a Greek coup plunges the island into chaos, Cyprus faces a disastrous conflict. Turkey invades to protect the Turkish Cypriot minority, and Famagusta is shelled. Forty thousand people seize their most precious possessions and flee from the advancing soldiers. In the deserted city, just two families remain. This is their story.

 

The Little Paris Book Shop by Nina George (Paris and Provence, France) Out now LITTLE PARIS BOOK SHOPfrom Abacus

This is a must read for book lovers  – a beautiful novel that examines the power of books and reading to change lives. I loved Jean Perdu’s ‘literary apothecary’ and wished I could pay it a visit! With a quirky cast and a love story with a difference, this is an excellent book to escape with this summer.

On a beautifully restored barge on the Seine, Jean Perdu runs a bookshop; or rather a ‘literary apothecary’, for this bookseller possesses a rare gift for sensing which books will soothe the troubled souls of his customers.

The only person he is unable to cure, it seems, is himself. He has nursed a broken heart ever since the night, twenty-one years ago, when the love of his life fled Paris, leaving behind a handwritten letter that he has never dared read. His memories and his love have been gathering dust – until now. The arrival of an enigmatic new neighbour in his eccentric apartment building on Rue Montagnard inspires Jean to unlock his heart, unmoor the floating bookshop and set off for Provence, in search of the past and his beloved.

 

summertimeSummertime by Vanessa La Faye (Florida, USA) Out now from Orion

A gripping historical fiction debut that swept me up from the first pages and didn’t let go. No surprise that this novel is one of Richard and Judy’s Summer Book Club picks. Read my interview with Vanessa to find out more!

In the small town of Heron Key, where the relationships are as tangled as the mangrove roots in the swamp, everyone is preparing for the 4th of July barbecue, unaware that their world is about to change for ever. Missy, maid to the Kincaid family, feels she has wasted her life pining for Henry, who went to fight on the battlefields of France. Now he has returned with a group of other desperate, destitute veterans, unsure of his future, ashamed of his past.

When a white woman is found beaten nearly to death, suspicion falls on Henry. As the tensions rise, the barometer starts to plummet. But nothing can prepare them for what is coming. For far out over the Atlantic, the greatest storm ever to strike North America is heading their way…

 

The Umbrian Thursday Night Supper Club by Marlena de Blasi (Umbria, Italy) Out umbrian thursdaynow from Hutchinson

I was constantly hungry whilst reading this lovely book – it is packed full of mouthwatering descriptions of food and also includes wonderful recipes. This is a true story and I enjoyed getting to know each of the women as they cooked and ate and discussed their lives. With beautiful descriptions of both food and scenery, I really did feel transported to Italy as I read.

Pull up a chair for the true story of the Umbrian Thursday night supper club.

Every week on a Thursday evening, a group of four Italian rural women gather in a derelict stone house in the hills above Italy’s Orvieto. There – along with their friend, Marlena – they cook together, sit down to a beautiful supper, drink their beloved local wines, and talk.

Here, surrounded by candle light, good food and friendship, Miranda, Ninucia, Paolina and Gilda tell their life stories of loves lost and found, of ageing and abandonment, of mafia grudges and family feuds, and of cherished ingredients and recipes whose secrets have been passed down through the generations. Around this table, these five friends share their food and all that life has offered them – the good and the bad.

sunlit nightThe Sunlit Night by Rebecca Dinerstein (Norway) Out now from Bloomsbury)

A quirky and very enjoyable fiction debut from Rebecca Dinerstein. As well as being beautifully described, this novel is a captivating look at the nature of families and love.

Shortly after her college graduation, Frances flees a painful breakup and her claustrophobic childhood home in Manhattan, which has become more airless in the aftermath of two family announcements: her parents’ divorce and her younger sister’s engagement. She seeks refuge at a Norwegian artist colony that’s offered her a painting apprenticeship. Unfortunately, she finds only one artist living there: Alf, an enigmatic middle-aged descendant of the Sami reindeer hunters who specialises in the colour yellow.

Yasha, an eighteen-year-old Russian immigrant raised in a bakery in Brighton Beach, is kneading bread in the shop’s window when he sees his mother for the first time in a decade. As he gains a selfish and unreliable parent, he loses his beloved father. He must carry out his father’s last wish to be buried ‘at the top of the world’ and reconcile with the charismatic woman who abandoned them both.

And so Frances’s and Yasha’s paths intersect in Lofoten, a string of five islands ninety-five miles above the Arctic Circle. Their unlikely connection and growing romance fortifies them against the turmoil of their distant homes, and teaches them that to be alone is not always to be lonely, and that love and independence are not mutually exclusive.

heavenly italien ice creamThe Heavenly Italian Ice Cream Shop by Abby Clements (Amalfi Coast, Italy) Released on 2nd July by Simon and Schuster

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of Abby Clements’ previous novels so am really looking forward to reading this one!

Anna and her husband Matteo are ready to embark a delicious Italian adventure. After a year and a half running their ice cream shop on Brighton beach and raising their baby Isabella, Matteo is starting to miss Italy. A shared passion for ices means it’s easy to settle on a new business idea – they’ll open a shop in the town’s cobbled square, a short walk from the sparkling blue sea. For a while, life is sweet; but then Matteo’s overbearing family get involved…

Anna’s younger sister Imogen feels like things are finally coming together – she’s living with boyfriend Finn in a beach house in Brighton, and her photography is taking off. Then her career stalls, and the lure of Capri – and a man from her past – prove difficult to resist.

Join Anna and Imogen and share a summer on the Amalfi Coast that you’ll never forget.

 

Enchanted August by Brenda Bowen (Maine, New England, USA) Released on 2nd enchanted augustJuly by Vintage)

I saw the cover for this book on Twitter earlier in the week and had to find out more. Once I’d read the blurb this book went straight on my summer reading wish list – it sounds like a great read.

Everyone needs a place like Hopewell Cottage – a romantic holiday rental on a small, sunny island.

For Rose and Lottie, it’s a refuge from the frenzy of the school gates.

For Beverly, it’s a chance to say goodbye to two lost loves.

And for disgraced movie star Caroline, it offers the anonymity she craves.

But on tiny Little Lost Island, with its cocktail parties, tennis matches and Ladies’ Association for Beautification, will they really find the answers to their very modern problems?


the blueThe Blue by Lucy Clarke (The Philippines) Released on 30th July by HarperCollins 

I’m such a big fan of Lucy Clarke’s books! Having loved The Sea Sisters and A Single Breath I can’t wait to read The Blue!

They had found paradise.
What would they do to keep it?

With a quick spin of the globe, Kitty and Lana escape their grey reality and journey to the Philippines. There they discover The Blue – a beautiful yacht, with a wandering crew.

They spend day after languorous day exploring the pristine white beaches and swimming beneath the stars, and Lanadrifts further away from the long-buried secrets of home.

But the tide turns when death creeps quietly on deck.

A dangerous swell of mistrust and lies threatens to bring the crew’s adventures to an end – but some won’t let paradise go…whatever the price.

The Sea Between Us – Emylia Hall (Cornwall and beyond!) Released on 27th Augustsea between us by Headline

Having recently been on a brilliant holiday to Cornwall, I stumbled upon this book while I was looking for novels set there. I’ve not read any of Emylia’s books before but this sounds like an excellent place to start and I love the gorgeous cover!

In a remote Cornish cove, on one of the last days of summer, Robyn Swinton is drowning. She is saved – just – by local boy Jago Winters, and it is a moment that will change both of them forever.

Over the next seven years, Robyn and Jago’s paths lead them in different directions, to city streets and foreign shores. Will the bond forged that day Jago dragged Robyn in from the sea be strong enough to bring them back to one another, or has life already pulled them too far apart?

tea planters wifeThe Tea Planters Wife by Dinah Jeffries (Ceylon – now Sri Lanka) Released on 3rd September by Penguin

Another beautiful cover and intriguing premise from Dinah Jeffries whose excellent debut The Separation came out last year. I can’t wait to escape with it!

Nineteen-year-old Gwendolyn Hooper steps off a steamer in Ceylon full of optimism, eager to join her new husband. But the man who greets her at the tea plantation is not the same one she fell in love with in London.

Distant and brooding, Laurence spends long days wrapped up in his work, leaving his young bride to explore the plantation alone. It’s a place filled with clues to the past – locked doors, a yellowed wedding dress in a dusty trunk, an overgrown grave hidden in the grounds, far too small for an adult…

Gwen soon falls pregnant and her husband is overjoyed, but she has little time to celebrate. In the delivery room the new mother is faced with a terrible choice, one she knows no one in her upper class set will understand – least of all Laurence. Forced to bury a secret at the heart of her marriage, Gwen is more isolated than ever. When the time comes, how will her husband ever understand what she has done?

The Tea Planter’s Wife is a story of guilt, betrayal and untold secrets vividly and entrancingly set in colonial era Ceylon.

Where are your literary travels going to take you this summer? I’d love to hear your recommendations.

Book review: A Summer Promise by Katie Flynn

21 Jun

summer promiseGrowing up in the Yorkshire Dales, Maddy Hebditch can’t imagine the changes that war will bring when she joins the ATS.

1938: Maddy Hebditch has been living in poverty with her cantankerous grandmother since she was orphaned when she was just five, and it’s a constant struggle to stay out of the workhouse.

However, though life is hard, Maddy has her friends Alice, Marigold and Tom to help her. Together the four spend their summers exploring the Dales and making plans for the future.

Until war breaks out and everything changes.

As the four go their separate ways, Maddy joins the ATS, where she is recruited for one of the most dangerous jobs a woman could do in wartime: the Ack Ack sites.

All four face dangers as the war worsens, but when Tom is terribly injured, Maddy’s world falls apart…

Today I’m delighted to welcome my very special guest reviewer back to One More Page – my Mum, Sue :-) Mum has been reading Katie Flynn’s new release that was published on 18th June and she loved it. Read on to find out why!

————————————————

Set in Yorkshire in 1938, the story unfolds of a young orphaned girl who through tragic circumstances has to face a very different life, to that she knew to be planned by her parents. Taken in by her elderly Gran, to live at the family farm in the Yorkshire Dales, Maaddy Hebditch quickly has to adapt to survive and although her Gran speaks harshly and is forever complaining, she knows in her heart that the bark is worse than the bite (or the prod of the walking stick!)

Maddy appreciates the wonderful countryside that surrounds the run down farmstead – and although she has all the chores to see to as well as her Gran’s care, she happily loses herself whilst walking near the brook. I grew up in Yorkshire and I very much enjoyed being back there and reading the descriptions of the countryside.

Katie cleverly introduces the character of Alice Thwaites, a young girl with an almost parallel life to that of Maddy and even though her surroundings are much more affluent she desperately seeks friendship and support. Maddy gives Alice a gift that money can’t buy and the two become best friends.

I think Katie deals with many of the issues of life just before the second world war, in a very human and ordinary way – which matches how folks dealt with their problems and challenges at the time. There are times when I chuckled at the reactions of the friends – Ginger Tom and Marigold , who are introduced into the story as their teenage school years unfold, and times when I thought ‘and these are supposed to be friends?’

The reader is gently but firmly manoeuvred through the story with all its dreams and hopes, but then war rips into the friends lives and needs bring serious problems both emotionally and practically. As the book progressed I found myself nearer and nearer the edge of my seat – to the point where this book was the first thing I picked up in the morning and the last thing I put down at night.

There are many twists to the tale but well done Katie – you kept me guessing!!

A lovely story – 5/5

Giveaway winners! The Ballymara Road and Hide Her Name by Nadine Dorries

21 Jun

DORRIES_Hide Her Name_PBDORRIES_03_Ballymara Road,The

 

The winners are …

Alex Hale, Deborah Tomkins and Suze

Congratulations! I have sent you all an email. Thanks to everyone who entered. Look out for more giveaways very soon!

Giveaway winner! Too Many Cooks by Dana Bate

21 Jun

too many cooks cover

 

The winner is …

Harps

Congratulations! I have sent you an email. Thanks to everyone who entered. Look out for more giveaways very soon!

Character profile: Katie from More Than Enough by Liza Hoeksma

21 Jun

Liza Hoeksma’s new novel, More Than Enough is out not and follows the fortunes of two sisters as they tackle marriage and motherhood. Today I’m delighted to introduce you to Katie, one of the sisters in the book.

more than enoughWhen does a friendship become an affair? 

Katie is pregnant. Again. She loves being a mum but having three kids under the age of three may be more than she can handle. Thankfully her marriage is solid enough to withstand the blast. Or is it? With husband Anthony working long hours and Katie fearful of letting him see she’s struggling to cope, could someone else become a shoulder to cry on? What line does a seemingly innocent friendship have to cross to jeopardise a family’s future? 

Meanwhile Katie’s sister Amy has problems of her own. Her 20s are fast disappearing with no sign of romance when along comes Charlie, an up and coming actor. Amy is smitten by Charlie (not to mention the world of celebrity he draws her into) and he seems to be falling head over heels too. But as Charlie’s star rises their relationship begins to change and Amy must work out if they want the same things. Will Charlie prove to be her perfect match? 

Katie is like many mums: she loves her kids but finds motherhood can be overwhelming. Especially when she finds out she is unexpectedly pregnant with her third child while her first two are just 18 months and six months old.

Katie couldn’t wait to be a mum and happily gave up her job as a primary school teacher, caught up in the romance of being at home with her new baby. She wanted to have her kids close together so was delighted when she quickly became pregnant with her second child. But she found pregnancy much harder the second time round with a baby to care for and having two under 18 months was way more than she bargained for. Now she’s constantly juggling both of their needs and feeling permanently guilty for letting one of them down.

She doesn’t like to whinge so rarely tells people when she’s struggling even her husband Anthony and her younger sister Amy. She thinks she just needs to get her head down and get on with it, especially as Anthony seems happy about the pregnancy and she doesn’t want to burst his bubble with her doubts about how she’ll cope.

They have a strong marriage having been together since they met at university over 14 years ago. Katie was brought up by traditional parents and it was drilled into her that marriage is for life. She would never dream of having an affair and would be horrified at the thought of either her or Anthony cheating. He’s a kind man and loves her and the kids but he’s not brilliant at picking up on hints or offering to help around the house. Now he’s swamped with work anyway and often stays late at the office or is glued to his emails in the evenings.

Katie is good at putting other people’s needs ahead of her own but what she needs is someone to see that she’s not coping, someone to help her process the chaos of her thoughts about her third pregnancy, and someone there to help with the day to day juggling of the children’s needs. So what if someone was there? Someone who noticed Katie and took the time to give her the emotional support that’s lacking while her husband is distracted by work? What line would that friendship have to cross before it became a threat to Katie’s family?

More Than Enough follows Katie as she discovers how a friendship can become an affair and her sister Amy who is wondering if she has met her perfect match in actor Charlie. It is available in all ebook formats from Amazon, ibooks, Nook and Smashwords. It recently received the ‘Mumsnet Best’ award based on reader reviews.

Connect with Liza on Twitter @LizaHoeksma

Author interview: Ella Griffin

19 Jun

Today I’m delighted to welcome Ella Griffin to One More Page to chat about her beautiful new novel, The Flower Arrangement. Ella was born and grew up in Dublin. She always wanted to be a writer, but before she got around to it she was a waitress, an extra, a pickle-factory worker, an award-winning advertising copywriter and travel writer. Ella lives in County Wicklow, Ireland, with her husband, Neil, and an incredibly large dog called Haggis. Her debut novel Postcards from the Heart was published in 2011. Welcome Ella!

Ella Griffin-detailYour new novel, The Flower Arrangement was released yesterday; please could you tell us a little about it and the inspiration behind it?

Flowers are woven into all the happiest and saddest moments in my own life.  From falling in love with my husband, to finishing my first book, to saying a last goodbye to my mother. And I realised that it’s the same for everybody.

We might text and tweet and email a dozen times a day. But we still turn to flowers when we want to express our deepest emotions. They are part of every love affair and celebration. Of every birthdays and wedding day and funerals.

I wanted to write all those stories and to weave them through the life of a florist who is as lovely as her flowers.


The story focuses on Lara, Katy and Ciara – please could you introduce each lady?

Lara’s marriage is empty so she pours all her love into her flower shop.  She can heal her customers through the flower arrangements she makes for them, but she doesn’t seem to realise that she needs healing too.

Katy has escaped her high maintenance mother and she’s ready to start a family with her long-term boyfriend. But there’s one small problem. He doesn’t want to sleep with her.

Ciara is feisty and smart. But not so smart that she could see the end of her marriage coming. Her husband is gone but she can’t seem to let him go.

Readers may have met these characters before as they all feature in your summer short story collection A Little Bit of Summer; what made you decide to give them a full novel to themselves?

Once I opened that flower shop in my head, it was hard to close it. I kept thinking about those three characters and imagining all the other characters that might walk through the door of Lara’s flower shop!

 Lara owns a flower shop, the wonderfully named, Blossom and Grow; how did you come up with the name?flower arrangement

I spent a long time finding the right name and when this one came up, it just felt absolutely right.  It’s the perfect name for a flower shop but it says something about life too.  All of us hope that we can blossom and grow through all the things that life brings to our door. The love, the sadness, the challenges.

Each chapter of the book has a different flower and its meaning as a title; how did you go about your research into floristry and what was the most surprising fact that you found?

I loved researching the book. I spent time in my some of my favourite Dublin flower shops. I actually worked behind the counter for a day in one! There were lots of things that surprised me.  Believe it or not, some men openly buy flowers for their wives and mistresses in the same shop! The most useful tip I picked up was that even the limpest roses will perk up if you stand them overnight in a mug of boiling water.


If you were a flower, what would you be?

I soaked up flower meanings like a sponge when I was writing The Flower Arrangement. So I’d like to be jasmine. It’s a symbol of cheerfulness, grace and elegance and it has huge significance in my life. I met my husband in Greece. We were strangers on a writing course together and he showed up at my door with a bowl of water filled with jasmine. It only takes one tiny flower to change a whole life.

And finally … what can we expect next from Ella Griffin.

I’m working on book four right now.  Watch this space!

Thanks Ella!

Follow Ella on @EllaGriffin1 and https://www.facebook.com/EllaGriffinAuthor

 

Giveaway: Three copies of The Brethren by Robert Merle to be won!

16 Jun

Today, lovely publisher Pushkin Press has given me three copies of Robert Merle’s The Brethren to give away to lucky readers. The Brethren is first book in the thirteen-book Fortunes of France series of which more than 5 million copies have sold worldwide to date.

brethren

 

Consisting of 13 books written across 26 years, the adventure-filled epic Fortunes of France is one of France’s best-loved historical fiction series. The Brethren is the first installment.

Two veteran soldiers retire to a castle in the wildly beautiful Périgord of sixteenth century France. But the country is descending into chaos, plagued by religious strife, famine, pestilence, bands of robbers… and, of course, the English.

A sprawling, earthy tale of violence and lust, love and death, political intrigue and dazzling philosophical debate, The Brethren is the first step in an engrossing saga to rival Dumas, Flashman and Game of Thrones.

The second book in the Fortunes of France series, City of Wisdom and Blood, will be published in September 2015.

This would make a great gift for Fathers Day! To enter this giveaway just leave a comment in the box below and I’ll draw three winners using Random.org after the closing date.

This giveaway is open to UK residents only and will close at midnight on Saturday 20th June.

Good luck!