Book review: Miss Marley + competition

By Vanessa Lafaye with Rebecca Mascull
Published by HQ

Synopsis: Orphans Clara and Jacob Marley live by their wits, scavenging for scraps in the poorest alleyways of London, in the shadow of the workhouse. Every night, Jake promises his little sister ‘tomorrow will be better’ and when the chance to escape poverty comes their way, he seizes it despite the terrible price.

And so Jacob Marley is set on a path that leads to his infamous partnership with Ebenezer Scrooge. As Jacob builds a fortress of wealth to keep the world out, only Clara can warn him of the hideous fate that awaits him if he refuses to let love and kindness into his heart…

How did this book end up in my hands? I received a gorgeous proof copy from the publisher in exchange of my honest opinion. And I am so glad I did.

Was it a page-turner? With age, I have sadly lost the ability to stay up late with a book, no matter how much I am loving it. It was with great sadness that I put this novel down to sleep but I didn’t want my …

In conversation with... Björg Arnadottir and Andrew Cauthery

Hi Björg and Andrew! Thank you for joining me today. I have just finished reading And the Wind Sees All, which you translated from the Icelandic to English, and I’d like to ask you a few questions both on this specific book and more generally on translation. So let’s begin…

How did you get started in literary translation?

Björg: Ever since I moved to England around forty years ago, I have always done some translation. I can’t really remember how it all started, but the fact is that not many people speak Icelandic and there are times when people need translators. There certainly were not many of these about when I first came here, and I was often asked to do translations – I guess that’s how it all started. I have always been a linguist and so it kind of evolved naturally. In the early years I translated quite a few children’s books into Icelandic, my favourite one was The Wind in the Willows, which I translated and read for the Icelandic radio. Through my contacts among Icelandic publis…

Book review: Don't Close Your Eyes + competition

By Holly Seddon Published by Corvus Books
Synopsis: Robin and Sarah weren't the closest of twins. They weren't even that similar. But they loved each other dearly. Until, in the cruellest of domestic twists, they were taken from one another. 
Now, in her early 30s, Robin lives alone. Agoraphobic and suffering from panic attacks, she spends her days pacing the rooms of her house. The rest of the time she watches - watches the street, the houses, the neighbours. Until one day, she sees something she shouldn't…
And Sarah? Sarah got what she wanted - the good-looking man, the beautiful baby, the perfect home. But she's just been accused of the most terrible thing of all. She can't be around her new family until she has come to terms with something that happened a long time ago. And to do that, she needs to track down her twin sister.
But Sarah isn't the only person looking for Robin. As their paths intersect, something dangerous is set in motion, leading Robin and Sarah…

In conversation with... Rebecca Mascull

Hi Rebecca! I have just finished reading Miss Marley, the final work by the late Vanessa Lafaye, which you so seamlessly completed, and I am delighted to have you here to talk about it! Can you please briefly tell us what it is about?

A: Miss Marley tells the story of how Jacob Marley came to be punished so severely that he should end up wandering in chains for eternity. Vanessa was fascinated in the idea of how this came about. What on earth had he done that would lead to such a fate? She decided to come up with another character to help explain this turn of events and thus his sister Clara Belle Marley was created.

What did you and Vanessa find so fascinating about A Christmas Carol that you thought there should be a dedicated appreciation society?

A: Vanessa and I both adored Dickens as a writer. And that’s the key thing – as a writer. I love the film and TV versions and watch many of them often, but I love him most as a prose stylist. His way with language is just extraordinary, just…

Book review: The Remains of the Day

By Kazuo Ishiguro

Synopsis: A contemporary classic, The Remains of the Day is Kazuo Ishiguro's beautiful and haunting evocation of life between the wars in a Great English House.

In the summer of 1956, Stevens, the ageing butler of Darlington Hall, embarks on a leisurely holiday that will take him deep into the English countryside and into his past.

How did this book end up in my hands? My best friend is reading it with her book club in Italy and I thought I’d read along!

Was it a page-turner? This is not a fast-paced novel as there is no mystery to solve but I found it so incredibly fascinating that I could hardly put it down.

Having read the synopsis, did the book meet my expectations? I didn’t have any expectations as the synopsis didn’t reveal much so this book was a pleasant surprise. I enjoyed every moment of it.

Did I like the ending? [no spoilers] Yes. A sombre ending, very much in keeping with the general feeling of this novel.

Three words to describe it. British. Humorous. Nost…

Blog tour: Distortion + competition

It is no secret that I adored Ascension by Victor Dixen, which was published in June this year. If you follow me on Twitter, you will have seen me gushing over it again and again. If you only follow my blog, you might have noticed my enthusiasm when I tracked down and interviewed both the English translator and the book cover designer of the series!

Despite brief interactions on Twitter, the idea of approaching Victor Dixen himself seemed too daunting so you can imagine my excitement when I was recently offered the opportunity to join the Phobos Distortion blog tour and… wait for it… interview the author! I’m still pinching myself.

Ouch! I can confirm I’m not asleep and it is with great pleasure that I welcome you to my stop along the awesome space journey below:
And without further ado, I give you Victor Dixen…

Hi Victor! First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the publication of Distortion, the second book in the Phobos series! Can you please briefly tell us what it is about?


In conversation with... Holly Seddon (#2)

Hi Holly! I have just finished reading your second novel, Don’t Close Your Eyes, which was first published in the UK in July 2017. I came late to the party but I’m glad not to have missed it because I loved it! Can you please briefly tell us what it is about?

A: Don’t Close Your Eyes follows the story of Robin and Sarah, non-identical twins split apart in childhood through their parents’ actions, and now living fractured and frightening lives away from each other. Robin is housebound, terrified as someone tries desperately to get inside, while Sarah is reeling from unbearable loss. After years of separation, the sisters are each other’s only hope.

I’m so glad you liked it! 

Did you have the plot entirely figured out when you started writing or did it take an unexpected turn as the characters suddenly did something that you were not expecting?

A: I had a two page outline but it changed a lot, especially as I fell in love with one particular character – Callum – and he took me in some diffe…