• Book Review for The Enigma Game by Elizabeth Wein with blog title and image of the book on a wooden background
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    The Enigma Game by Elizabeth Wein

    When her mother is killed in the Blitz, and her father’s ship goes down, Louisa Adair feels she has lost everything. The country she has called home since her family left Jamaica is not a friendly place for an orphaned girl with brown skin, and she badly needs money and a roof over her head. Finally she finds work looking after an old lady at a pub near an airfield in Scotland. There she meets Ellen, a driver for the RAF, and Jamie, a pilot – two other young people just as exhausted by the toll the war has taken on their loved ones, and just as desperate for a…

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    Poppy – Mary Hooper

    “Poppy sat, bolt upright and uncomfortable, on one of the carved, wooden chairs in the blue drawing room of Airey House in the village of Mayfield. In front of her, looking equally out of place, sat Molly, the other parlourmaid. They were winding wool.” In December of 1914 its all change. Airey House is all about the war effect but the family are up in arms as one son goes off to fight in a way while the other claims to be needed on the estate. Poppy is greeted by an old teacher who tries to convince her to become a VAD nurse to help the war effort. There are…

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    The Madness – Alison Rattle

    “By the time she was fourteen years old, Marnie Gunn could swim like a fish. Hardly a day went by when her flannel shift was not hung out by the fire to dry. Often as not, it was still damp in the morning when she pulled it back on and went to the beach with Ma to at ten to Smoaker Nash’s bathing machines. It was Ma that’d made Marnie go in the sea everyday to begin with. ‘The best cure in the world,’ she said.” Marnie Gunn has liked the past 9 years as a cripple, lame in one leg following a bout of polio she is regarding as…

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    The Devil in the Corner – Patricia Elliott

    “‘What shall I do, Miss Caseborne? I am penniless. I have nowhere to go.’ I was dry-eyed but my voice faltered. We were sitting in the drawing room of Miss Caseborne’s Boarding Seminary for Young Ladies, surrounded by a press of empty chairs and heavy mahogany furniture. ‘Come, come,’ said my headmistress. She patted her neatly coiled hair. ‘We shall find a position for you. I shall write a reference myself.'” When Maud Greenwood’s father dies suddenly she is forced to start work as a governess. Left with no money and no known family she starts her working life. Two years later she has walked out of two jobs and…

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    Sawbones – Catherine Johnson

    “Mr Charles Finch closed his eyes and winced as the knife dug into his skin. He bit down hard on the handkerchief and tried to think of good things: his daughter, Loveday, entering the vanishing cabinet with a flourish; the crowd at the Alhambra, Paris, cheering, on their feet. The heat of from the floodlights, the smell of the tallow and rouge. A crescendo of applause.”  Amongst the open surgeries and dissections in London is the heavy stench of crime. Illegal trading in corpses is rife due to the flourish of people interested in medical science and at the dissection table of his master Ezra McAdam learns that every body…

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    Debutantes: In Love – Cora Harrison

    “Poppy and Baz had been playing New Orleans rhythms for an hour, but now there was silence in the little cottage. They sat gazing into the fire, sitting side by side together on the large, old sofa – threadbare, but beautifully soft and deep. Baz propped his bass against the table, there Poppy had lid her clarinet. Music was Poppy’s security. Music had rescued her when the world had swirled into chaos on the death of her mother; it had brought order into that turmoil. Music had given her courage, but it was jazz that had set her free.” Its 1924 and the Derrington twins are hoping for their season.…

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    Frost Hollow Hall – Emma Carroll

    “’The Combe Vale Chronicle Tuesday 7th February 1871 A Terrible Tragedy A most terrible incident has occurred at Frost Hollow Hall, the country estate of Viscount Barrington near the village of Frostcombe.  Lord Barrington’s only child, Christopher, died tragically yesterday afternoon whilst skating alone on a frozen lake in the grounds. It appears that he fell through ice too weak to bear his weight, an came to grief in the cold water.’” It is the cold winter of 1881 and Till is dared by the butcher’s boy to go ice skating, little does she know his desired destination for this is a frozen lake in the grounds of the villages…

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    Belle Epoque – Elizabeth Ross

    “‘Perfect, just perfect,’ days the stout man. He scrutinizes me, his suit pinching across his rotund torso, and I assume that this is Monsieur Durandeau, but he doesn’t introduce himself. Instead he walks around me in a circle as I stand still and awkward in the middle of the sitting room. A faint perfume lingers in the air.  Perfect: no one has ever described me like that before.” When Maude runs away from her fathers house to escape he fate as the old butcher’s wife she expects to get to Paris and for everything to fall into place. However with no letters of recommendation, no shops will take her on…

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    The Disgrace of Kitty Grey – Mary Hooper

    “Suddenly nervous about why the two young ladies had asked to meet me in secret, I hurried through the kitchen, went up the servant’s stairs and stood waiting in the hallway between the drawing room and the front parlour, just as Miss Sophia and Miss Alice had requested.” Kitty was a milkmaid, perfectly happily working in the dairy of Bridgeford Hall. She was carefree and loved her job, and had her eye on Will, the river crossing man. The sweethearts seemed to be made for each other so when Will’s older sister falls on hard times and Will asks Kitty to watch out for his younger sister Betsy, Kitty has…

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    Debutantes – Cora Harrison

    “The girl’s face was perfectly framed by the russet beech leaves. The early spring sunlight lit creamy-white skin, a grecian nose, violet-blue eyes fringed with long black lashes, and a curtain of shimmering black hair.  The camera clicked and clicked again.”  The four Derrington sister – Violet, Poppy, Daisy and Rose – are used to not having it all. Following the death of their mother, their father left them under the charge of their Great-aunt Lizzie and when he lost a lot of his money in an Indian business venture that went wrong the girls were forced to live a lower class of life than their fathers Earl title suggests. …