I have gathered a small selection of my favourite books from 2019 for you. You may find something you haven’t read, you may find a new genre to try out, or you may simply just enjoy reading reviews. I feel 2019 really was the year I got my reading mojo back. Reading brought me much joy, and I will continue to lise myself in pages in 2020.
1..The Nanny at Number 43 by Nicola Cassidy
Nicola Cassidy’s second historical novel arrived on bookshelves this month. Following in the footsteps of her debut, December Girl, this book will leave the reader looking forward to more from the Irish author. This is a synopsis of my full review.
Bereaved William D. Thomas places an advertisement in his local paper for a nanny to care for his newborn daughter. When a young woman with appropriate experience arrives at his door, 43, Laurence Street, he hires her. Her presence will relieve housekeeper Mrs McHugh of the extra duties she’s been carrying out and perhaps bring a sense of calm to the household.
Mrs McHugh is very wary of the new Nanny. Something isn’t right, though she can’t quite put her finger on it. She visits her dear friend Betty, where she can confidentially air her grievances about The Nanny. Betty is bed-bound by her window which overlooks Laurence Street. She can keep an eye on the comings and goings at number 43.
The Nanny, a quiet unassuming character one may initially think. She comes with experience and has settled the baby so well. As we learn of her past, it’s not difficult to comprehend why she has arrived at her current situation. Despite her coldness, there were times where I felt some empathy for the young girl she was. The Nanny harbours dark secrets and has arrived on Laurence Street with a determined purpose.
The Nanny at No.43 is another gem from Nicola Cassidy. She has perfected her craft and writes historical fiction with extensive knowledge of her subject matter.
2..Rosie by Lesley Pearce
Rosie Parker’s mother left when she was a very young child, leaving her with her father and her two older brothers, who are brutish, with little thought for her. When her father Cole, brings Heather Farley into the fold, things get better, for a while.
When Heather disappears, leaving her young son, Rosie assumes the mother role and things go downhill once again. It is only when Thomas Farley, Heather’s brother, arrives in search of his sister that the truth emerges and Rosie sees her family in a whole new light.
Making a life for herself, Rosie takes up position in Carrington Hall, where she bears witness to harrowing deeds. Following her time in Carrington Hall, Rosie’s life finally takes a path for which she seems destined, surely this young woman has finally found the happiness she has long awaited.
I adored this book, I loved Rosie. She was a vulnerable soul with a steely determination. I missed her once I closed the final chapter on her tale.
3..I Found My Tribe by Ruth Fitzmaurice
Simon Fitzmaurice was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease aged 34. This book is his wife Ruths journal of the following nine years.
It’s hard to put into words, my thoughts and feelings about this memoir. I don’t want to do it an injustice.
Ruth is a beautiful writer and she puts her feelings on paper in a most eloquent manner. This book is raw, it’s gritty, it’s emotional. The love that flows from the pages is immeasurable. Home is chaos; children, pets, nurses, medical equipment, it’s never-ending. The sea and her tribe, her dear friends, these are where and with whom Ruth finds peace amidst the pandemonium that has become her life.
Her memoir is so deeply personal, written almost like a collection of essays, with glimpses into her life with Simon prior to MND. The honesty within these pages as Ruth literally bares her soul is heart-wrenching. I cried, I laughed and I sat on that beach in Greystones with Ruth as I read this book.
This isn’t a recommended read, it is without question a must-read. It’s one that will stay with me forever.
4..The Family Secret by Tracy Buchanan
A NetGalley Review
In the present day, Amber is doing her best. She lost her child ten years ago, her marriage broke down, she is trying to run a seasonal business under the watchful eye of her Mother & Auntie. Amber is trying to live, When a young girl, who has suffered some kind of trauma, appears on the beach near her shop. The girl has no idea who she is or where she has come from. Amber takes it upon herself to help her which leads her on a journey of her own.
We go back to the nineties with Gwyneth. She is a well-travelled wildlife documentary maker. When she has an accident in the Scottish Highlands at Christmas, she is rescued by Dylan McClusky. The McClusky family welcome her into their home and she becomes part of their lives. Will she ever learn of the family secret that bubbles under the seemingly happy surface within the McClusky family.
This book is full of twists and turns, heartache and adventure. I didn’t see the outcome coming at all. I loved it.
5..A Thousand Roads Home by Carmel Harrington
‘Where is home?’ DJ asked.
‘Wherever the people you love are.’ Ruth replied.
‘When you’ve met one person with Autism, you’ve met one person with Autism’ Never has a truer word been written.
Ruth has always felt like an outsider and now more than ever. She has found herself homeless and is fearful for her and her son DJ’s future. Finding themselves in emergency accommodation, Ruth and DJ’S relationship is put to a very difficult test.
Dr O’ Grady, weighed down with the burden of his past, is sleeping on the streets. Ignored by most, not given a second glance, Tom as he is now called, has his dog Bette Davis looking out for him and giving him comfort.
This book carries so many messages, like the Autism reference at the start. It highlights homelessness, drug use, teenage pregnancy, mental health stigma, grief and so much more. I read it over a weekend, finding it hard to put down. Naturally, I loved the Wexford references and delighted in taking Ruth’s steps through her home county with her.
The author’s portrayal of Ruth was compassionate. So much of her and her behaviour resonated with me, as an Autism parent.
There’s so much more I could say about this but I really don’t want to give anything away. It really is a wonderful read and I highly recommend it.
6..The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor
A Novel of the Titanic
Inspired by true events, The Girl Who Came Home tells the tale of a number of people from Ballysheen in Ireland who board the Titanic in search of a new life.
For 17-year-old Maggie Murphy, it’s a somewhat reluctant journey as while she travels with her Aunt following the loss of both her parents, her heart lies with Séamus, who is unable to leave his ailing father.
In 1982, Grace Butler is struggling following the death of her Dad. Seeing her so lost, her great Grandmother Maggie shares with her, the painful account of that fateful night aboard Titanic and the realisation that she was one of few survivors. Her revelations lead to unexpected encounters and reignite the light within Grace.
7..Behind A Closed Door by Adele O’ Neill
In Dublin, Jill Ryan is trying her best to keep the secrets of her past hidden. As her past haunts her, it has a huge impact on her relationship with Ben.
In Kilkenny, Heather Martin is living in fear of her husband. She wants to leave the volatile relationship but as she is losing her father to dementia and wishes to be near him she is torn.
Detective Tony Kelly is a colleague of Heather’s husband, his partner Louise is transferred to Dublin where her case there becomes entwined with Tony’s in Kilkenny.
This was a good book, however, I felt the ending was a bit rushed, leaving questions unanswered.
8..Forget Me Not by Claire Allan
A NetGalley Review
It’s six in the morning during the hottest summer on record when Elizabeth O’Loughlin, out walking her dog, comes across Clare, a victim of a horrific knife attack, clinging onto life at the side of the road.
As Elizabeth sits with Claire in her final moments on that fateful morning, she hears two words from the dying woman, ‘Warn them’
Claire’s family are devasted by her murder, as are her friends, Julie and Rachel. Who would want to harm their friend, and why?
As the investigation progresses, it soon becomes apparent that Julie and Rachel’s lives are also in danger. And Rachel is next in line!
I am reluctant to say any more about ‘Forget Me Not’, it is such a page-turner of a book, I couldn’t put it down! Highly recommend it.
Check out what I read alongside Behind A Closed Door and Forget Me Not here.
9..Arthur’s Garden by Pam Rhodes
Up the garden path, down memory lane
In Arthur’s Garden, Pam Rhodes collates a heart-warming collection of songs and poems, advice and tidbits about the glorious, very ordinary, English garden – told through the life of her Uncle Arthur. This is a gardening book, with a story.
I absolutely adored this book. We meet Arthur who inherits his garden, and his home, from his late father Tom. Tom & Emily raised Arthur and his 10 siblings, the garden being the heart of the home, bringing them food when they needed it and comfort too. We travel through many decades with Arthur, and it is such a lovely journey.
10..Dead to Me by Lesley Pearce
In 1935, two young girls meet by chance. Ruby is a poor, dishevelled girl in need of a good wash. Verity, on the other hand, is very smartly dressed, comes from one of the grande houses in Hampstead Heath and has impeccable manners. Despite their differences, the two girls become the best of friends.
As Britain prepares for war, circumstances lead to the girls’ worlds turning upside down. Ruby finds herself in Devon, living a whole new life, whilst Verity finds herself a million miles away from the life she knew.
The girls’ friendship is the one constant that remains, until one day, one os forced to make a decision that changes everything…..
I loved this book, I’d never read anything by Lesley Pearce before this and I immediately sought more by her when I finished this.
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Disclaimer: Unless otherwise stated, all of the books I mention in these monthly posts are bought and paid for by myself or borrowed from the Library. Anyone can join NetGalley and provide reviews in exchange for books.