Chasing the Sun with Henry is a novel I probably would not have chosen and for a quite embarrassing reason. It is written by a man and written in the first person with a man as the protagonist. I would normally go for a female author which is ridiculous because some of my favourite authors are men but there you have it. I may as well be honest.

Chasing The Sun With Henry

I read the blurb on the back of the novel which was sent to me for review. I was told that Eddie was a children’s entertainer and close hand magician who was bored in his marriage. I still did not feel inspired thinking from the look of the fact that he meets a beautiful stranger this would be just about some affair.

The novel starts with a familiar enough scene as Eddie returns from a dog walk on the beach with his Collie-Spaniel cross, Henry. His wife Sally moans and he takes it in stride for once as he is excited having met a woman whilst out. The marriage seems to be stale perhaps and also troubled but it is not clear why but I sensed something big would be revealed in due course. I liked both Eddie and Sally and also enjoyed how the affection and memories between them are still there although threatened by a number of things including domestic irritations, family dynamics and stress.

We are introduced to the couple and their friends quite quickly. All are drawn really well including Henry the dog. I was interested in each and every one of them and not quite sure where their stories would take them. The book held my attention and I was keen to return to it regularly.

The woman on the beach who attracts Eddie’s interest remains an enigma to the reader and to Eddie for that matter until about halfway through the book when their paths cross again although this time Cerys’ dog is missing and this is going to tie different aspects of the book together.

I am about halfway through the book and I love it. I would want to return to the same author again and look forward to sharing more of my thoughts with you soon.

The author comments:

“My novel portrays the various guises of love that we encounter in life; from parental, platonic and sexual, to a love of nature and the natural world. The story offsets the positive influences we gain from such relationships against the losses we are also forced to face,” says Gary.

So far, I think that is a good description and these themes surely would appeal to most of us.

Family Fever

I was offered The Confirmation by L G Dickson to review. I do love a book to review and love the thrill of receiving them through the post. If you ask me, a Kindle or screen can never compete with the pleasure of a good old-fashioned book.

This is not a complete book review but I wanted to share my initial thoughts as I am now about halfway through the book.

Confirmation Book Review

The characters

Our leading character is Annie who we meet as a single lawyer in Edinburgh in 1990. She has four close friends who make up two settled couples. There is Kirsty who came across as a leader in some ways and her husband Duncan who has drink issues possibly triggered by a challenging relationship with his father. In contrast we have Virginia and Gordon who have a passion for sustainable living. It is at a gathering of the friends that Annie meets James who becomes her lover despite all of the group including Annie finding him rude on that first night.

The story

James has a keen interest in crofting and not long after they get together takes off to help a community project. Little does he know that Annie will soon be facing challenging times with a family bereavement which exposes secrets including the existence of an unknown child.

My initial thoughts

This is not a book that I rush back to keen to know what happens next. Having said that it is a pleasant enough read but I can leave it for hours unlike my favourite books.

I also had a strange feeling that I have never had in a book before in that I was far more interested in the side characters of Kirsty and Duncan than I was in Annie and James. I could not really get a grip on Virginia or Gordon at all or not yet anyway.

The author L G Dickson comments:

“The idea of writing about a woman who finds strength at points in her life when it can be so easy just to crumble really appealed to me,” reflects Dickson. “I think we’ve all been there at some point in our lives.”

As I say I am have not finished reading this book and have some way to go. I like the premise of the author in reflecting on a woman who keeps on keeping on through life’s twists and turns over 15 years and I can see I am quite early in her story. I just wish I could care about her more. I would also like more scene-setting around the issues of crofting in Scotland but that might come later in the book.

Thoughts having finished the book

I was hoping to report back in a more favourable light after finishing this book. Sadly, I was surprised to find even more things I did not like as the novel continued. After quite a gentle pace, suddenly we were flying through years at breakneck speed. I still did not really care about the main characters at all. As my frustration with the book continued, I also lost interest in the side characters to an extent.

Lots happened. Characters who could have been interesting appeared but were not made the most of. I remember reading about good writing and how authors should show rather than tell. I felt that in the latter half of the book in particular there was more telling than showing. There were so many potential good stories in the book – the development of a sibling relationship after years apart, the revival of crofting, the healing of a difficult relationship between father and son and more. All of these were hinted at but not developed enough for me to work up an emotional connection.

If pushed to give a mark out of ten, I would give six.

ISBN: 9781788035736 Price: £7.99

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Family Fever

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The Apple Tree by Daphne Du Maurier is the latest short story I have read.

Apple Tree By Daphne Du Maurier

In the book, we meet a man who has recently lost his wife. Daphne Du Maurier must have a thing about death and loss methinks.

The couple’s marriage is described and whilst not without affection, seems stale. In Fact, as the wife was described I recognised some rather uncomfortable aspects of myself and started to feel sorry for my poor husband. I can be a bit of martyr at times whingeing rather than stating clearly what I want and how.

It is clear that the man is of the landed gentry variety and he has staff.

One night as he stands at a window, one of the apple tress he sees takes on a strange character. Over the course of the story, it is clear that whether through grief or paranormal activity, the tree is becoming his wife in some way. He is enjoying his new freedoms and does not like that apple tree’s reminders one bit.

He tries to destroy the tree but a series of events make the tree inescapable again perhaps reflecting his long marriage.

He prefers another apple tree which comes to take on the character of a young woman he had a very brief fling with many years ago.

Will he get rid of the tree? Will his memories be as easy to erase? What happened to the woman who gave him new life all those years ago?

You will have to read it to find out.

I felt the book was very clever as you really bought into the idea that the wife was coming back to haunt him in some way.

Once again as in so many short stories, the ending seemed rushed but overall, this was a great read.

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Don’t look now by Daphne Du Maurier is short story and described as macabre.

In it we meet Laura and John who are on holiday in Venice. It all starts out light-hearted enough but is a very good reminder that as in real life, things are not always what they seem.

The apparently happy couple on first glance are grieving for the loss of a child with each handling this situation in their own individual ways.

The couple encounter some strange ladies one of whom is blind. The talk to Laura and appear to suggest they can deliver messages from her dead child. Can they, are they psychic or a pair or charlatans?

Despite John’s best efforts the ladies will keep turning up and tell the couple that they must get out of Venice and quickly.

A call from home results in Laura heading home to care for her son with John planning to follow on soon. He starts out on the journey but something makes him turn back. Was the reason for this real or an apparition? Suffice to say, whatever it was it causes John a great deal of stress as he struggles to make sense of it all. Is he going mad?

Will the ladies be proved right? Should both of the couple have left Venice after all and if one of them doesn’t, what will be the consequences?

I really enjoyed this short story even though it is not the usual type of thing I would choose. It was difficult to guess whether the strange ladies had good or bad intentions.

My only criticism that as so often in short stories, the ending seemed rushed and I was not surprised by it.

Overall Don’t Look Now by Daphne Du Maurier is a good story and a great read for the holidays.

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Cuddle Fairy