Re-Read: The Colour of Magic

The Colour of Magic

The beginning of July was a busy time for me as I got my portfolio of work ready to hand in for my college course; which left me with little time and brain power left for reading. With that in mind I picked up The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett, the first in his epic Discworld series, for a comforting  and easy re-read. With its blend of fantasy and humour I thought it the best medicine for my stretched mind.

In The Colour of Magic we are first introduced to Pratchett’s magic, weird and fantastical Discworld; a flat disc world which stands on the back of four elephants who themselves stand on the shell of giant turtle who swims through the universe. I never cease to be amazed and amused by Pratchett’s wonderful imagination. The story of The Colour of Magic takes us to the ancient city of Ankh-Morpork that see’s the arrival of naïve and rich tourist Twoflower; a small man with four eyes from the Agatean Empire. Only thing is the citizens of Ankh-Morpork have no idea what a tourist is. Fearing trouble the city’s Patriarch charges Rincewind the wizard with escorting and keeping Twoflower from coming to harm. Sadly Rincewind is a poor excuse for a wizard. After kidnap threats, fights and a devastating fire Twoflower and Rincewind are forced to flee the city setting them on the path of an unexpected adventure.

The protagonists of The Colour of Magic are Rincewind, Twoflower and his magical walking chest; who even though it can’t speak really does seem to have its own personality and way of communicating. Rincewind is clever but is utterly lacking any bravery, confidence or magic which all in all makes for a very poor wizard. It is very funny to read about his many miss-adventures and forced moments of heroism. Then we have Twoflower the first tourist who longs to see the sights regardless of his health or his safety. Twoflower is not necessarily brave though he is just naïve and far too trusting but things have a way of working out for him. The combination of Rincewind, Twoflower and his magical walking chest makes for a hilarious read before you add any of the other characters and creatures they meet along the way.

Terry Pratchett is a well loved author of mine but scandalously I haven’t read one of his novels since 2012! To make up for that and to refresh my memory I decided to go back to where it all started. The Colour of Magic is the first instalment of Pratchett’s epic Discworld series. This is not a series you necessarily have to read in order as the stories are usually short, fun and simple which also follow many different characters/sets of characters. I felt it would be nice to read the first novel again though so I could have the chance to focus on Pratchett’s first descriptions of the actual world itself to get better sense of it before going on to reading some new adventures. I really enjoyed this re-read not just for the familiar comfort it brought but also for remembering well loved jokes and noticing extra details. It has reminded me all over again why I love Pratchett and how I should get a move on reading more of his Discworld series.

The Colour of Magic is a wonderfully fun and colourful adventure. I highly recommend to those who enjoy fantasy and comedy.

Have you read Discworld? Have a favourite instalment?

New Read: A Lifetime Burning

A Lifetime Burning

I don’t generally read a great deal of chick lit or women’s literature but I make an exception for Linda Gillard who is rapidly becoming one of my favourite authors. I had read four of Gillard’s novels but I haven’t read one since last year so I thought it was high time I read another. Luckily for me A Lifetime Burning one of Gillard’s earlier novels was handily waiting for me on my kindle.

A Lifetime Burning follows the Dunbar family, in particular the Dunbar twins Flora and Rory. The twins were born to their parents later in life, seen almost as miracle babies, as both parents had long believed they were never to have children after so many years of marriage. From the start blonde and blue-eyed Flora and Rory were intensely close. We watch as they play and grow but while their personalities and interests begin to differ, Rory being musical while Flora immerses herself in stories and dramas, they are still as close as ever. So close that when they are split by Rory being sent to boarding school Flora refuses to sleep and Rory escapes from school and arrives home on foot weeks later. Both Flora and Rory leave home to study and eventually marry but nothing seems to fill the gap being apart seems to create. They are each other’s other half they feel incomplete without each other. A feeling which is to impact on them, their parents, spouses and even their children.

I think the main protagonist of A Lifetime Burning is Flora as she narrates the majority of the novel and the fact I think I connected with her the most. Flora is beautiful, often naïve and starts out with the best of intentions however Flora is not strong and when she leaves home the reality of life outside in the world seems to corrupt and ultimately destroys her. Rory is also beautiful but he is more worldly and selfish with Flora and his music career being the only two things he really seems to love. While I found him interesting I didn’t like Rory. Flora I had much more sympathy for. Flora and Rory are joined in this tale by their elderly parents and aunt, Flora’s spouse Hugh an older handsome vicar, Rory’s spouse love struck music student Grace, Flora’s son Theo, and Rory’s children Colin and Charlotte. This really could be described as a family drama and as it spans over four decades it could also be described as a family saga too.

I am no stranger to Gillard’s work I have now read five of her novels. Each new read I am not disappointed either. I think Gillard’s writing is beautiful, detailed, but also comfortable and down to earth which is why I enjoy reading her work so much. I always feel her characters and story are realistic and interesting. I especially love all the history she puts into her stories too. A Lifetime Burning was different in the sense that the history was contained to the Dunbar family history really not bigger country or world history. I think this was a pleasant change and over four decades I thought we got some really detailed history of the family; good and bad. I also loved the detail Gillard added to Flora and Rory’s interests. Flora was often discussing the novels, plays and dramas she is reading or has been in. While Rory as an adult becomes a world-renowned pianist and there is plenty details about music and composers. I think this drama and music detail helped create a rich and interesting underlying mood to the story which could be often sad and bleak. The story is told in a disjointed manner flicking backwards and forwards in time which compliments the confused mind of Flora well but also helps to break up the bleakness and builds the mystery. I think A Lifetime Burning  is both heart-breaking and beautiful in equal parts.

A Lifetime Burning is another beautiful tale of the love, life, and death from Linda Gillard. I highly recommend to those interested in women’s literature and family history. I can’t wait to read more of Gillard’s work.

Thank you to the author for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read Linda Gillard? What should I read next?

New Read: The Revenant of Thraxton Hall

The Revenant of Thraxton Hall

June is another busy month for me with college coursework and my placement at college which scarily will be coming to an end in July! While my previous comfort go to has been fantasy this year as the weather has begun to warm up I found myself hankering for a good mystery. So I reached for The Revenant of Thraxton Hall by Vaughn Entwistle which has been on my Kindle for a while.

The Revenant of Thraxton Hall joins Arthur Conan Doyle the legendary creator of Sherlock Holmes in the days after he infamously kills off his creation and the nation’s beloved sleuth. Doyle is shocked by the angry and the some times violent backlash he has received from the general public who believe he is a murderer with many wearing black bands of mourning as if a real person has been killed. While Doyle is trying lay low he receives a most intriguing invitation to join the newly formed Society for Psychical Research (SPR) for a four day retreat at Thraxton Hall. This is not the first time in the last few days that Doyle has heard the name of Thraxton Hall. Earlier in the week Doyle was approached by a renowned spiritual medium who has foreseen their own murder which they believe will happen by them being shot in the chest during a séance at Thraxton Hall. At first Doyle was not inclined to believe this claim but now he has received this invitation he beginning to rethink his first thoughts. Doyle and his close friend Wilde pack their bags and head off to Thraxton Hall to see if they can solve this mystery like Doyle’s fictional sleuth.

Arthur Conan Doyle was the real life creator of the famous private sleuth Sherlock Holmes however this novel is a fictionalised view of Doyle and a period of time in his life. I really liked Doyle he came across as honest, loyal, sensible and kind. Doyle is joined on his adventure by his close friend Wilde which if hadn’t already guessed is the famous poet and playwright Oscar Wilde. If I like Doyle I loved Wilde he is flamboyant, emotional and totally fabulous; and because of the film Wilde (1997) all I could picture him as was Stephen Fry. Together Doyle and Wilde make a great pairing they reminded me of an opposite pairing to Holmes and Watson. While Holmes is an over the top protagonist supported by sensible Watson. Here the sensible protagonist Doyle is supported by the flamboyant Wilde.

The Revenant of Thraxton Hall is the first novel I have read by Vaughn Entwistle. I took a chance on this novel because I have been making my way through Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes short story collections and novels; and I thought this might be an interesting spin-off story from them. I had always heard that Doyle was as interesting a character as his creation Sherlock Holmes. I thought Entwistle drew an interesting and realistic portrayal of this real life author. Some of the other characters and some of the events were also based on real life. Entwistle very usefully gave a brief summary of his research, inspirations and real life characters and events; giving details about any changes he had made and why. I thought The Revenant of Thraxton Hall was a well written novel with a great mystery and some wonderful passages of description. I could really imagine the dark and brooding wreck of Thraxton Hall and what it would be like to be there with all the interesting members of Society for Psychical Research (SPR). Drafty bedrooms, dusty suits of armour, creepy family portraits, séances and guttering candles. With this sort of detail I found myself gripped after only a few chapters into this novel managing to polish this novel off in only a few sittings.

The Revenant of Thraxton Hall is a well written mystery full of murder, twists, turns and the supernatural. I highly recommend this to fans of mystery, the supernatural and Sherlock Holmes.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for providing a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read this? Are you a fan of Sherlock Holmes?

New Read: The Rev. Diaries

The Rev Diaries

During the busy months of April and May I have been laughing and soothing my soul by watching the third series of BBC’s wonderful comedy Rev. . I think this last series is perhaps the best of all of them so far; at the end of which I found myself wanting more. Luckily for me I had a copy of BBC’s tie-in book The Rev. Diaries by the Reverend Adam Smallbone.

The Rev. Diaries follows the Reverend Adam Smallbone an Anglican priest who has moved from his small country parish church to the hustle and bustle of an inner London church, St Saviour in the Marshes…although the hustle and bustle is London not the church where Adam is lucky to get more than ten in his service on Sunday. While the move to the city sees Adam’s wife career as a lawyer flourish Adam himself has what feels like a nigh-on impossible task to raise money and numbers to keep St Saviour’s alive. Adam is to face many adversities, find help in the oddest places and have some funny and downright cringe worthy adventures along the way with his wife Alex, Nigel the up tight and in the closet lay reader, faithful congregation members Colin a homeless drunk and smothering Adoha, and the scathingly sarcastic Archdeacon Robert.

The Reverend Adam Smallbone the protagonist of The Rev. Diaries is an Anglican priest who came to the calling after a beautiful…drug induced epiphany. Even after the unexpected calling to the church Adam really does believe in God and really tries his hardest to make St Saviour in the Marshes a success even though it might be a lost cause. I love Adam and I think most people who read this or watch the TV series will love him too. He is certainly not perfect he makes mistakes, sins and loses faith but at heart he is a good guy. I think Adam gives a more human face to the Church of England.

As I mentioned above I been watching the BBC’s wonderful comedy series Rev. which stars Tom Hollander and Olivia Coleman for which The Rev. Diaries by the Reverend Adam Smallbone is a tie-in book. I am really pleased I requested to read this because I thought it was really good and it is my second BBC tie-in book I have enjoyed this year. I previously read and loved A Very British Murder by Lucy Worsley. Like the TV series The Rev. Diaries is told entirely from Adam’s perspective often in the flow of his thoughts to God. In the TV series and this book I love hearing Adam’s thoughts to God as he can be so honest in those moments. I felt the first part of the book was almost a carbon copy of the TV series as if they had just transposed the TV script into book form but as I read on I didn’t have that same feeling whether because they did add more detail or because I become comfortable and lost in Adam’s life I’m not sure but it worked either way. While I felt both the TV series and book were as equally as funny as each other I did find myself enjoying the closer intimacy the book seemed to offer me as a solo reader. My only wish is that there had been more! As this book does not cover series 3 that I have just finished watching perhaps that means they’ll do another book. We can but hope!

The Rev. Diaries is a funny and touching look into the life and thoughts of an inner city vicar of a failing church. I highly recommend to those who are fans of comedy and diaries.

Thank you to Penguin Books (UK) for providing a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you watched the BBC’s comedy series Rev.?

New Read: A World Apart

A World Apart

May was a busy month for me with college coursework and my placement at college, and when the rain and storms returned to the UK all I wanted to do in the evening was tuck myself in bed with a fantasy read that would transport me somewhere else. To do this I chose A World Apart by David M Brown  part of The Elencheran Chronicles which had been languishing on my kindle gathering dust for too long.

A World Apart takes us to the island state of Himordia which is ruled by the all powerful Order. All citizens of Himordia are born, work, marry, reproduce, fight and die for the Order. In the quiet town of Dove’s Meadow the legendary war hero Granicus settled down and started a successful farm and wool business which his son Lacuna will inherit. Unlike him though Lacuna is no fighter and prefers the solitary life in the hills with the sheep. His quiet life is to be unexpectantly changed when he has brush with a woman and the crew of the infamous pirate the Black Iris that leaves him with his own son Demetrius. Things are never to be the same again. Demetrius has his grandfather’s strength, Lacuna’s hardworking nature and a taste of adventure from his unknown mother. Demetrius becomes fast friends with Halcyon and Eleyna. The three grow up together playing dares, having adventures and planning their glorious futures. As adults Demetrius goes off to join the army while Halcyon and Eleyna settle down to lives of work and marriage; all for the Order. But things are not to turn out as they all planned. I really got into this book when Demetrius, Halcyon and Eleyna grew up and set off on their own paths which were to lead to murder, betrayal, death, imprisonment, magic, the highs seas, new lands and the infamous pirate the Black Iris.

The three protagonists of A World Apart are Demetrius, Halcyon and Eleyna. Even when they aren’t all together anymore their lives are inextricably linked and they are always in each other’s minds. Demetrius is a good blend of Granicus, Lacuna and his unknown mother. Of the three I found Demetrius the most likeable as he is honest and loyal but he is naïve especially to the corruption of the Order and to the true natures of people. Always seeing the best in people will lead him into a lot of trouble. Halcyon on the other hand is cocksure, loud and mischievous boy who will also lead him as a man into a lot of trouble. Then we have the girl of the group Eleyna who is beautiful, clever and fiercely loyal but she has an image and strength complex from having two boys for best friends which (if you haven’t guessed) will lead her into trouble but also massive changes. I thought all three were interesting characters and liked hearing about them and their adventures. Now being best friends the three have similar language and ideas. So similar though that I found I was often unsure whose point of view I was looking from until their name was mentioned. I know it can be hard for authors but I would have preferred if they had their own unique voices.

A World Apart is the first novel I have read by David M Brown and while it is part of The Elencheran Chronicles I was assured that he can be read as a stand alone novel. When I read a fantasy novel I am looking for magic, adventure and an intricate new world to find out about. Brown delivered all of this in bucket loads in A World Apart. I found Himordia and the Order were well explained and fleshed out with detail, people, culture and its own history. I also found the secondary countries, islands and the ships on the high seas were detailed and realistic; I found I could picture everything perfectly. Trying to be as detailed as possible though I did find Brown had a tendency to a little excessive use of adjectives and to repeat details such as character’s thoughts and feelings. This I think is my personal taste though it might not bother other people. The element of magic is a smaller but integral part to the latter half of the novel which I thought was handled well and didn’t overpower the other elements of oppressive rule, adventure and piracy. I spent most of May immersed in A World Apart as it is a long novel and I wanted to take my time over it.

A World Apart is an adventure on the high seas filled with corruption, suffering and magic. I recommend to those who like their fantasy a little on the dark side.

Thank you to the author for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read this? Enjoy darker fantasy?

I’m counting A World Apart as Fantasy for the Once Upon a Time VIII event hosted by Carl V @ Stainless Steal Droppings.

The Classics Club: Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe

My result for The Classics Club’s last wonderful Spin feature was Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. I can’t say I was pleased or displeased with this choice as I have neither been excited about or dreading reading Robinson Crusoe. This did at least give me a push to finally pick up it up though.

Robinson Crusoe follows Robinson an Englishman who defies his parents wishes to embark on a life on the sea as a merchant which will have varying degrees of success. On his first trip Robinson is successful but then greed leads him into another journey that leads him into being captured and enslaved, escaping that he becomes a plantation owner, and he then finally tries to turn slaver himself. On his journey from South America to Africa his ships flounders and Robinson is left the sole survivor on a tropical island. With only the ship’s dog and cat for company Robinson must eek out a life on this island learning to hunt, build, farm and bake as he goes along. He will also have plenty of time to reflect on his past conduct, search his soul and find faith in God but always in the back of his mind his has ideas of how to escape this island of purgatory.

The only character you really get to know in Robinson Crusoe is Robinson himself seeing as he’s trapped on an island and the tale is told from his perspective. At the beginning of the novel I found Robinson arrogant and rather naïve. As he begins his life on the sea and as a plantation owner I disliked Robinson he came across as ambitious and a little foolish seeming to happen upon fortune rather than having worked for it. Then Robinson tries to turn slaver after having suffered being a slave himself! I think he is right when he believes that God leaves him the sole survivor of his ship on the island; and I also think he rather deserves it. Don’t think me too harsh though because I do believe Robinson’s time on the island changes him for the better. He learns to become hardworking, logical and learns to plan ahead rather than rushing foolishly into things. His faith also helps to make him a more grounded and grateful human being, although he can still be a little arrogant and foolish at times.

Robinson Crusoe is the first novel I have read by Daniel Defoe. I am pleased that The Classic Club Spin chose this book for me because I think it would have taken a long time for me to pick it up of my own steam. I found Robinson Crusoe to be well written with a personal style as the tale is told from Robinson’s perspective at first in a novel style and then in a diary entry style. Sadly I found the switch between the two styles a little awkward though and the switch also caused some information and events to be repeated. I preferred the diary entry style and as this was used for Robinson’s time on the island which is the majority of the novel this was preferable to me. I found the description of Robinson’s adventures, feelings and the island itself believable and adequate but I would have preferred just a bit more detail especially of the island as I didn’t ever truly feel I could picture it. The pace of the novel was quicker at first and then slowed down for Robinson’s time on the island a change which I again preferred. I found the solitary, repetitive and methodical diary entries rather comforting.

Robinson Crusoe is a classic tale of adventure and isolation with a moral twist. I recommend to those interested in reading the Classics. This is my 23rd read off my Classics Club list.

Have you read this?

Re-Read: Mere Christianity

Mere Christianity

I am a relatively new Christian having come to faith in my late teens. Now in my twenties I like to read Christian literature to help with the growth of my faith and to hear what other Christians have to say. I like always having a piece of faith non-fiction on the go so after having finished Why Your Weirdness is Wonderful by Laurie Wallin I was keen to pick something else. Instead of being drawn some of the new books on my kindle though I was drawn to Mere Christianity by C S Lewis which I read two or three years ago now.

Mere Christianity is a collection of Lewis’s notes for talks that he hosted on the radio and other thoughts on his faith and beliefs. Lewis had been an atheist and converted to Christianity later in life. In Mere Christianity Lewis sets out to explain the reasoning behind his conversion and the ideals that keep him strong in his faith. Lewis does this through four books firstly looking at the universe and human nature how they show us there must be something bigger than us. Next he discusses what Christians believe, then how Christian’s behave and finally he discusses the holy trinity and what truly it means to be a believer and disciple. There is some deep stuff here and Lewis doesn’t shy away from difficult or hard truths. As a relatively new Christian myself and having become a Christian (not having been necessarily brought up a Christian) I find it fascinating to read about someone else who was in a similar position to me. Not having always had that faith or being surrounded by people who do it can sometimes be a little hard to identify exactly what I do believe.

I am a huge fan of C S Lewis and have been since I was a child when I devoured his magical and allegorical children’s series The Chronicles of Narnia (which I have not long finished re-reading). After re-reading this series it seemed like the next logical step was to re-read Mere Christianity too. I read this two or three years ago previously. I enjoyed it but I was interested to see if I would react differently or pick up anything new now I am a more mature Christian. I don’t think I necessarily picked anything new up but I certainly understood and appreciated parts of this book more on this second read especially those referring to the holy trinity and Jesus’s resurrection. This is not an easy read there are some truths in here people may not want to hear. The style is also very different to that Lewis used in The Chronicles of Narnia not only is it more grown up but it is more convoluted too. I am really pleased I re-read this though I think it is a thought-provoking and rather comforting work. It will be interesting to see what I think of it in another couple of years.

Mere Christianity is a thought-provoking glimpse into the thoughts and beliefs of a great writer and Christian advocate. I highly recommend to Christians and those interested in faith non-fiction.

The Classics Club: Spin #6 Result

The Classics Club

A quick update for you fellow bookworms the result for The Classics Club Spin is in!

The number randomly selected is: 1

Which means I will be reading: Robinson Crusoe

I can’t say I’ve been excited or likewise been dreading Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe but I haven’t had the greatest motivation to pick it up either similar to my last spin result Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne so perhaps the spin will also give me the push I need to read this too.

What has the spin chosen for you?

The Classics Club: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Wizard of Oz

For a lighter tone after The Beautiful and Damned by F Scott Fitzgerald I picked another American classic The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum off my Classics Club list. I had a copy of it waiting on my Kindle and it is a nice short novel which I thought would make an easy read for my busy mind.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz joins little Dorothy as a tornado sweeps her away from her aunt, uncle and the life she knows in Kansas off on a magical adventure to a wonderful new land named Oz. As wonderful as this new land is to Dorothy it isn’t home and so she must make the journey to the Emerald City to ask the Wizard of Oz to send her back to Kansas. Along the way she will meet many magical creatures and have many dangerous adventures all with her dog Toto and her new friends a man of straw, a tin woodsman and a cowardly lion. It is very hard not to know this story what with the huge success and continued love of the film The Wizard of Oz (1939) starring the wonderful Judy Garland. Now having read the novel I think the film is a good adaptation but like most films has cut out a lot of the detail and simplified the tale. I was pleasantly surprised to discover more creatures and places that Dorothy visited.

Dorothy the protagonist of this adventure is young, bright, kind and open-minded which she will need to be in this new and unusual land. There are many things in the land of Oz that are unusual and contradict the life that she knew back in Kansas. While Dorothy is a nice character and liked reading about her she is a little two-dimensional. What really made the novel for me were the new friends that she made along the way. First we have the man of straw that Dorothy releases from a field in munchkinland he isn’t very bright but he is friendly and brave. Next we have the tin woodsman who they rescue from the woods where he has frozen solid with rust he isn’t loving but he is strong and clever. Then finally they are joined by the cowardly lion he isn’t brave but he is loyal and kind-hearted. All three want something too so they travel with Dorothy to ask the Wizard of Oz for help.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is the first novel I have read by L Frank Baum after reading this though I would like to read more of his Oz series. I thought The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was well-written with a realistic childlike voice and wonder. I loved all the magical characters and colourful places of Oz. I felt I really got to know Oz and many of its inhabitants on this journey. The pace of the journey was good I only wished that sometimes I could have spent more time in some of the locations but that is only a small personal niggle.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a short and magical children’s classic. I highly recommend to those who enjoy the classics and fantasy novels. This is my 22nd read off my Classics Club list.

Have you read this? Enjoyed the film?

I’m counting The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as Fantasy for the Once Upon a Time VIII event hosted by Carl V @ Stainless Steal Droppings.

New Read: The May Bride

The May Bride

With my recent busy timetable I was pleased to reach the Easter two week break. While I have still had plenty of college work to do I have also tried to take the chance to read some more fiction as well. With that in mind I reached for The May Bride by Suzannah Dunn hoping to escape into the past.

The May Bride joins the Seymour family at Wolf Hall as the eldest son and heir Edward brings home his new bride Katherine for the first time. Katherine is young, beautiful and spirited and brings with her a burst of fresh air to the hall and the family in particular for the fifteen year old Jane. The Seymours are a large family of traditional and simple tastes. For the first year Jane and Katherine become fast friends with Katherine encouraging Jane to break some of the family’s restricting behaviours and opinions. While Jane had been perfectly happy before she now feels that life is better. After just a year though the friendship falters and the first signs that Edward and Katherine’s marriage is also in trouble become noticeable. Katherine’s free spirit while refreshing at first is now to bring scandal and the winds of change upon the Seymours and Wolf Hall.

The May Bride is narrated by fifteen year old Jane the fourth child and eldest daughter of Sir John Seymour and his wife Margery. Even if you only know a little of English history you will probably know the name Jane Seymour as the third wife of Henry VIII. The Jane we hear about in this book though is far from the lady of court and future queen she will become. Instead we are introduced to the gangly and awkward young girl with obedience and a fierce loyalty but little confidence in her own actions and opinions. Then the beautiful and confident Katherine sweeps into Jane’s life. I could sympathise with how Jane was swept up in the excitement of change but I was never as enamoured with Katherine as she was. As a reader I think it is easier to spot her weaknesses from the start. Through the troubles and scandals to come Jane is the one to rise a stronger and wiser person who you could imagine as a queen. Jane is not the only Seymour to play an important role in Tudor history there is also her older brothers Edward and Thomas. I was so drawn into Jane’s narration and immediate circumstances though that I didn’t pay them that much mind until later in the book.

I had heard of Suzannah Dunn before but The May Bride is the first novel I have read by her. Yet when I started reading I felt like I had always known her. I found Dunn’s writing style comforting and familiar which instantly swept me off into the past. I also enjoyed that the story was told by Jane in the past tense as if we were sitting with her as a lady and future queen while she confided in us about her childhood and past secrets. I felt I knew Jane and was invested in finding out about those few years when Katherine lived with her and the disastrous ending of it all. I found I thought little of Jane’s present but was completely embroiled in her past. I thought this was clever of Dunn as we already know about Jane as lady and queen but we don’t know about her as a young woman. What I really found myself loving was the simple but detailed descriptions of Jane’s everyday life at Wolf Hall; stripping the beds, picking fruit, morning prayers, preserving food and sewing by the fire in the evening. I found myself totally absorbed and fascinated by this past world. While Dunn has obviously filled in some historical gaps in this novel I thought it was well done and she references the historical characters, facts and documents she took inspiration from.

The May Bride is a well written and beautiful glimpse through the eyes of a young woman into a past world long gone. I highly recommend to those interested in historical fiction and English history. I would really like to read more of Suzannah Dunn.

Thank you to Little, Brown Book Group UK  for providing a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read Suzannah Dunn? Any recommendations?