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Evocative, emotional and compelling, this historical novel may centre on a relationship, yet it throws open a door to the Second World War. Meet Spitfire pilot Eddie and painter Eva as they leave their teenage years at the onset of war. The prologue in late 1940 sets the scene for what is to come, I found myself in the clouds in the middle of a dogfight between Spitfire and Messerschmitt, the outcome of which stayed with me as I read on. Chapter one took me back to March 1939, I slid effortlessly in as Rachel Billington ensures the small and intimate elements are as well crafted as the more obvious aspects of war. The two main characters are fascinating, Eddie is self-centred yet not overwritten as unlikable, while Eva is finding her path, and both feel as real as can possibly be. Surrounding them are family and friends, all helping to create a vivid view of the times. The ending sliced into my emotions, and left me sitting for a while in contemplation. Expressive, rich and sharp, Clouds of Love and War is an engaging and worthwhile read.
A poignant and compelling story of three lives torn apart by the Battle of Gallipoli. Arthur Tarrant, an Oxford graduate headed for his uncle's law firm, changes path leaving behind his fiancee Sylvia and joins the army, destined for Gallipoli. There, his life becomes entwined with that of Fred Chaffey, a country boy from Dorset. Glory tells of the fatal errors made by the leaders of the army, the heroism of the men, and the struggles to understand the situation while nurturing relationships in the most strange and difficult of circumstances.
A sweeping historical drama, based on the true and enduring love of Thomas Cochrane and Maria Graham. Chile, June 1822. Maria Graham, a young British widow, watches as her compatriot Admiral Lord Cochrane sails triumphantly into the Valparaiso Bay, fresh from leading the Chilean fleet to victory over the country's Spanish rulers. Cochrane, a popular yet outspoken hero of the Napoleonic wars, is drawn to Maria, a woman whose intelligence and spirit of adventure rival his own. Yet their intense and extraordinary relationship must contend with a climate of uncertainty, political turmoil and civil war. Inspired by Maria Graham's own journals, MARIA AND THE ADMIRAL vividly brings to life the story of one woman who tested the limits of society, and of her enduring love for one of the most colourful figures of her age.
The disappearance of a teenage boy tears a family apart in this poignant, highly topical and searching story. Thirteen-year-old Dan hasn't returned home and his parents don't know whether he's run away, been kidnapped - or something worse. For one family the world as they know it is about to fall apart. At first Dan is sleeping rough, revelling in his independence. But with every passing day, his world is becoming darker and more frightening. A hundred thousand children run away each year. Most come back. But will Dan? Dan's mother, Eve, a drama teacher, can't focus; his father, Max, only knows how to flee his own demons; and his aunt, Martha, while trained to control difficult situations as a prison officer, struggles to hold it all together. Dan's story is told against a grown-up drama of love and shifting loyalties and two sisters who were best friends until Max came between them. Gradually, all three begin to recognise just how badly they have failed the missing boy. Rachel Billington has written a tense and emotional novel about the day-to-day existence of a contemporary family living through their worst nightmare. Anguish and hope move across the pages until the final breath-taking denouement.
An emotional, gritty family drama exploring the power of frustrated love and intense sibling rivalry - from the acclaimed author of ONE SUMMER and A WOMAN'S LIFE One cool March morning in London, MP Leo Barr is told that his brother, Charlie, is dead. He has hanged himself from a chestnut tree in the grounds of a mental hospital. His family reacts in different ways. Charlie's mother, Imogen, sees no point in pretending that life is still worth living - he was always her favourite. Leo and his lawyer brother Roland fight, as they always have over Charlie. The fourth brother Ron, a Catholic priest, must break the news to Charlie's wife, presently in HMP Holloway. In the days following Charlie's death the conflict builds among members of this diverse and complex family. Who really loves whom? What are the motives behind Roland's fixed antagonism towards Charlie? Is Leo right to put his career on the line? Above and between them all is the larger-than-life figure of Charlie. He follows no rules, not even about dying, and it becomes clear that his tragedy is only part of a web of mystery and deceit that connects them all. As well as being a powerful human drama, LIES & LOYALTIES deals with gritty contemporary issues in today's Britain. It moves from parliament to prison, from church to mental hospital and from those who conduct the law to the outcasts of society. But at the heart of the novel is one family - divided by rivalry and frustrated love and forced, at last, to learn the truth about themselves.
Ned has been sent to his Great Aunt Helen's cottage by the sea for the holidays. But nothing turns out as planned. For a start, there's no aunt, and when strange things start to happen, it's clear that Ned is no longer alone. A ghost, a girl on the run, and an old man hiding next door - all have secrets, and all the while in the lonely coast outside the waves build to a terrible storm ...
From the critically acclaimed author, a stylish and compelling novel about a woman making a new life for herself. Alice Lightfoot is far too young to be a widow and a grandmother. Perhaps she'd been too young to be a wife, although she was happy enough at the time. Now, nearly three years after her husband's death, the world suddenly seems to be changing. Her daughter expects Alice's life to revolve around her grandchild, Lily, and everyone else seems to think that Alice must be looking for a new husband - after all, she's such a WIFE. There doesn't seem to be space to decide what Alice wants for herself: does she want a man around, or would independence give her the full life she craves? Alice is a woman at a turning-point, coming out from the protection of a long marriage into the hurly-burly of the wider world. She has far-reaching choices to make and the seriously unexpected to face...
Three women, born at the outbreak of World War II, who've grown up in widely differing circumstances, form an improbable friendship that sustains them through forty years. Connie is the youngest member of a large Irish family and Ireland's too small to contain her. She is beautiful and impulsive. Men love her, while she roars through life, never looking before she leaps - sometimes onto rocks. Nina is English and middle-class, the shy, thoughtful, daughter of an army officer. She marries her boyhood love and has two children before realising how unfulfilled she is, and that painting is her true passion. Fay is American and Jewish, the granddaughter of a holocaust survivor. She's the ambitious one, who fulfils her dream of becoming a doctor before admitting a darker, more complex side to her nature. Through love, marriage, children, work, divorce and tragedy, this is a beautifully written and compelling novel of friendship.