Tag Archives: Ebooks

Miss Christie Regrets by Guy Fraser-Sampson – Review

Title – Miss Christie Regrets
Author – Guy Fraser-Sampson
Genre – Mystery/Crime
Length – 320 Pages
Publication – Jan 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

The second in the Hampstead Murders series opens with a sudden death at an iconic local venue, which some of the team believe may be connected with an unsolved murder featuring Cold War betrayals worthy of George Smiley. It soon emerges that none other than Agatha Christie herself may be the key witness who is able to provide the missing link. As with its bestselling predecessor, Death in Profile, the book develops the lives and loves of the team at ‘Hampstead Nick’. While the next phase of a complicated love triangle plays itself out, the protagonists, struggling to crack not one but two apparently insoluble murders, face issues of national security in working alongside Special Branch. On one level a classic whodunit, this quirky and intelligent read harks back not only to the world of Agatha Christie, but also to the Cold War thrillers of John Le Carre, making it a worthy successor to Death in Profile which was dubbed ‘a love letter to the detective novel’.

Review

This book is the 2nd book in the Hampstead Murders series. I read the first book in the series Death in Profile recently and loved it so much I jumped at the opportunity to read this one.

The book starts of slowly but with a clear purpose as the author reminds us about the characters from the previous book, building on them but also giving enough information that you could read this book as a standalone.

So the tale itself is a brilliant whodunit. After a body is found the suspects are interviewed nothing concrete can be found. As more evidence comes to light the attention moves from one suspect to another and then for good measure a few twists are thrown in along the way to really put you off the scent.

One of the twists has links to the past and the very well-known Agatha Christie and this just added to the already intriguing tale.

What I really enjoyed about this tale is that until all the evidence is laid out the real killer could have been anyone, motives aplenty and no solid alibi’s leave you guessing.. then bang..the author has teased you long enough and finally fills in the blanks. The last twist I must admit I loved. I understood the motive but really didn’t see it coming.

The author’s style of storytelling is what really makes a good read, easy following, sharp informative chapters keep you gripped as little by little things are pieced together.

I also really liked that the author made this book much more than just a police procedural book, he gives the characters depth. Their own lives feature heavily in the story and this influences the way they tackle the case at times. This gave realness to the tale and really does make me hope the series continues as I’m invested in the team.

A special mention has to go to the cover on this one. This is the kind of cover that would make me buy the book regardless of the subject. It’s just looks so damn good in my opinion.

My thanks to the author and Urbane Publications for a copy of this book.
To find out more head to Amazon or Goodreads.

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The Gift-Knight’s Quest by Dylan Madeley – Review

Title – The Gift-Knight’s Quest
Author – Dylan Madeley
Genre – Fantasy
Publication – March 2015
Pages – 289 Pages
My Rating – 4/5 Stars

Synopsis

When a young woman named Chandra takes the throne under suspicious circumstances, she has to solve the deaths of the King and Queen before those responsible get to her. She has to maintain peace in an empire where people consider her the number one suspect.

Derek is summoned by an official letter and his people’s tradition to be Chandra’s personal guard. He’s immediately suspicious given that her family ruined his once-noble ancestors, but if there’s no way to escape the world’s largest empire, what might he do to turn the tables?

Interwoven with Derek and Chandra’s story is the history of their ancestors, infamous and famous, that lead them to confrontation. A new world is built before the reader’s eyes, and key groundwork is laid for the impending sequels, leading to a highly detailed narrative.

Review

The Gift-Knight’s Quest follows two main characters, Derek and Chandra. Both have led very different lives and a family feud from years past has the potential to resurface.

I felt the plot was strong, I liked the idea of these two meeting, the trust issues that would ensue thanks to the family history. Blood is thicker than water so they say..

This isn’t the fantasy tale I’m used to, it’s more of a fiction tale but you are teased with little bits about powers we’ve not yet witnessed which hopefully will appear in the next book in the series to give it the fantasy kick.

Chandra’s tale for me was the stronger. I particularly liked the political issues covered in the book. I won’t spoil it but as you can imagine when a young girl is thrust upon the throne not everyone is happy, some want rid of her altogether.

This is where Derek comes in. He’s actually sent to serve the new queen and protect her. Given the family history you’d think they would send someone else but I really liked how the author explains why Derek is the one sent.

The story is told from different perspectives so I don’t think the relationship between Derek and Chandra really had the chance or time to develop, thus leaving plenty for the author to work with as the series continues.

Something that I really liked was the history, the author explores past events that led to the family feud. My only issue was it bounced around without warning sometimes and changed character perspective so I was left reading a paragraph before things made sense to me.

My favourite character had to be Jan Donde, Captain of the Guard. I loved the relationship that formed between him and the new queen. I hope he gets more page time in the next installment. I think he’s got more to bring to the story.

The pace of the book is steady and you get the history thrown in to give the plot some depth and to slow the tale down about, it worked well and I was left at the end looking forward to the next book to see where things go.

In all honesty it’s a good read, decent pace and has set the next book up nicely. I’ll be keeping an eye out for it that’s for sure as the twist towards the end of the tale does leave me excited for more.

My thanks go to the author for the chance to read/review their work.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon

12 days of Clink Street Christmas Event: Review & Guest Post! – The Learn by Tony Halker

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As part of the 12 days of Clink Street Christmas blog tour I’m very happy to bring you a guest post from Tony Halker author of The Learn who will give us a bit of an insight into his work..but first.. here’s my review of the book. 🙂

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Here’s the book blurb –

Blending reality, history and legend, about a time when women were considered as important as men, taking power in an oral society that worships the Goddess. A whole Celtic Druid world is laid out before us, incorporating beliefs, technology and the natural environment.
A Celtic boy, a beach scavenger, is pledged to the Learn, a life of endurance, a path to become sworn Druid: scholar and warrior.  Young women and men progress, becoming Priests and Druidii. Friendship, affection, passion and care develop as novices mature, confidence emerging.
Seasonal battles of winter and summer bring rich festivals when seeds of men are taken by women in pleasure to prove fertility. Small damaged, hurt peoples on the margins of Celtic society blend in and out of vision.
At frontiers with Nature, dependent for everything on what the earth gives or takes, an emotional response to the natural environment defines who people are and the values they live by.
A lyrical novel resonating with modern readers through portrayal of character, language and history; arising from a landscape of today, yet centred in the Celtic Bronze Age of North Wales.

Review 

The Learn follows Owayne on his journey from being a boy, a local beach scavenger to that of a priest.

What i really enjoyed about this book was that the author really made me think about development, growth and learning within the human race. We take so much for granted but at one point humans didn’t have things such as paracetamol, cars, bricks even..the list is endless.

It was really good to see the author show different views to learning. As you could imagine some people would be open to new ideas but even in this day and age some people are stuck in there ways and don’t see things as progress.

My personal view is Owayne’s journey is one of  enlightenment as he opens his mind and his eyes to all the possibilities out there in the world..all the wonders waiting to be shared.

For me the pace of the tale was a little 0n the slow side..i like a fast paced tale after all, but the pace did offer the chance for you to see the spiritualistic or even sometimes simplistic and differing views on knowledge and development.

This book isn’t a hard read as such but it needs your time and focus to really understand and enjoy the tale. The language used takes time to digest to fully immerse yourself  in “The Learn”.

Overall The Learn is a very creative and interesting tale about knowledge and development along with the dangers surroundings it. The final few chapters of the tale really had me hooked with the injection of action right when you needed it.

The tale really does make me think about what it must have been like when things were discovered.. and would have i been one of those scared, or would i have embraced it?

It’s a calm story for the most part and the book would be really suited for those who have the time to devote to it, to embrace the tale like  Owayne must embrace “The Learn”

For me it’s a solid 4* 🙂

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon

My thanks go to Authoright for the chance to read/review the book and to Tony who shares with us his insight to “The Learn” below.

 


“The Learn”

“The Learn” is about technology change, the values and beliefs that emerge in us from technology, the confidence or fear those changes engender; the angst that emerges in us when we perceive we have lost or will lose some control or power. It is also about belief, blasphemy, equality, power and authority and our reactions to those things

My canvas is the bronze age, it enables me to add a dimension that is Nature, the environment, what it gives, takes and threatens. Some readers have wanted to say that “The Learn” is about the bronze age. I prefer to express that it is simply set there because that age offers real places that are fertile territory and lend other dimensions to a rich story. That context lets me challenge on issues of interest.

I love the mountain beach landscape of “The Learn”, I can wander there today. It is full of stone age and bronze age artefacts, remnant dwellings and even jewellery of skill and imagination. I envision peoples who emerged from the land, were formed by its gifts and pressures, yet faced the same comforts and fears as we do now. I think they were like us, laying foundations for us to build on in many areas of technology, values and beliefs.

I wanted to write a book that is not a quick fix; that draws people in with effort, that is not sensational; is as much about landscape, place, voice, nature and atmosphere as about particular events. I want a reader to live within my novel. I hope that a few may grieve a little when a character joins his or her ancestors or just slips from view. I hope at the end of the story I am leaving questions about the people and their future developments that will have readers seeking out a sequel, the next stage of The Learn

We have so much folklore to build on to make a rich story. We know the names of Celtic/Druid Deities, we have the Romans’ view of their defeated enemies that they clearly feared. I have taken the festivals of summer and winter, their transition and what we know about them today and tried to re-imagine them in the place where they were first formed, performed and meant so much for the coming season, harvests, weather and the goodwill of The Deities.

We know the Romans twice tried to eliminate the seat of Druid power in North Wales. It was not just people they feared but power, culture and values, a belief system to challenge that of Rome; where women ruled alongside men and Druids controlled belief and trade.  Societies and cultures, tribes and families prosper or fail based upon cohesion, shared values and joint vision, as well as effort and purpose. I wanted to weave that into “The Learn”, since I hoped to form a historical novel that considers the issues we face today and acknowledges that our forebears so far back were intelligent, worthy ancestors whose spirit and blood runs in our veins.

I wanted my characters to be ordinary, yet interesting. There are damaged small people whose bodies are malformed, by poor diet, over work in the dark, the challenges of nature and the ill will of superstition. There are lonely souls of uncertain gender whose purpose of being has been taken by time and technology change, but who find some comfort and will to live by fulfilling the purpose they were taught, even though that no longer has merit or use to society.

Nature, Anu the Goddess looks down on all of this. She challenges in order to see the development of Knowledge of human peoples. She values fortitude.

We are here because we have struggled and survived through hunger, cold, heat, climate change and competition for resources. We are the ones who made it this far, yet as a species we have lived for only a couple of million years, (the Dinosaurs lived for about 180 million years). Our spirit needs to be on edge, alert to threats, planning how to manage, to fight or flee. We need daily challenge and purpose if our biology is not to shut down. I wanted to write about that and how our ancestors may have acknowledged these issues and managed them.

Purchase from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Learn-Tony-Halker-ebook/dp/B01JQVQKSE/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1473955705&sr=1-1&keywords=tony+halker

Purchase from Foyleshttp://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/fiction-poetry/the-learn,tony-halker-9781911110576


About Tony Halker

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Born in London, Tony Halker studied geology at Leeds University after which he worked as a geologist, travelling extensively overseas. Following an MBA at Cranfield School of Management, he became a manager in hi-tec business and later a businessman and entrepreneur. His writing is inspired by powerful natural landscapes and his interest in the people and technologies emerging from those hard places. His two daughters were born in North Wales. He lives with his wife there and in Hertfordshire.

Website – http://www.tonyhalker.com/

Blog – http://www.tonyhalker.com/blog

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The Dead God’s Shadow by @LeeCarlon – Review

Title – The Dead God’s Shadow
Author – Lee Carlon
Genre – Science Fiction
Publication – July 2013
Pages – 160 Pages Approx.
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Avril Ethanson has left Frake’s Peak and Lord Obdurin’s schemes behind. He hopes to find a member of his cadre at mysterious Lancity which was unaffected by the Cleansing. Unknown to Avril, there are forces waiting for him–Valan the Wolf and the Dead God’s priesthood–intent on using him and his connection to Lord Obdurin and Rhysin.

The Dead God’s Shadow is the third story in the Bastard Cadre series and continues where The Godslayers’ Legacy ended.

Review

This is book 3 in The Bastard Cadre series and for me it’s the best yet.

Yes I’m late to the party with this being released 3 years ago but these tales are absolute gems that need to be read.

We are back with Avril as he set outs from Frake’s Peak to get away from Lord Obdurin. I’m not sure Avril really knows what the plan is but he ends up heading towards Lancity where I can feel the connection of one of his cadre mates.

Lord Obdurin split Avril’s cadre up many years ago, the hope was to make them stronger when they eventually came together but with so many players in the game Avril really doesn’t know who to trust.. or what he really wants out of this whole mess of a situation.

I think the complex plot and motivations is really want makes this book as good as it is. You never know who to trust and with crazy Death Priests lurking in Lancity things aren’t looking good for Avril.

I really enjoyed the basic idea behind the series. Gods exist but pick a chosen one to manifest their will through. This chosen, like Lord Obdurin seem to know that the gods will does affect them but it’s not clear if they truly know how much. These chosen then have their cadre’s to serve and protect them and the loyalty they show just enforces the bonds created.

So far this is the best in the series. It develops Avril so much as the main focus is on him and it’s exactly what i was after.

This tale isn’t perfect and that’s what I love about it.. let me explain. A lot of books I read have a clear/perfect path set out, you may not know the ending when you start reading but by the end you find you’re not that surprised with the outcome.. with this series it’s so different.. it’s a true pleasure to read as you really don’t have any idea where the author will take things.. a refreshing dark, post-apocalyptic tale that has me hooked.

If I remember correctly the author billed this series as Science Fiction without the word count and I couldn’t agree more. The author packs so much into the tale, everything seems well covered and you are given such a good plot that quite frankly I couldn’t believe was under 200 pages.

I said it after I read the first book and I’ll say it again. For me this is a very highly underrated series that ticks all the boxes.

The only thing that could be improved on is the cover. While i like the simplicity of it, it doesn’t convey anything to the reader at first glance and without that hook you might just pass this beauty by.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Smashwords.

A Song of War – A Novel of Troy – Review

Title – A Song of War
Author – Kate Quinn, Christian Cameron, Libbie Hawker, Vicky Alvear Shecter, Russell Whitfield, Stephanie Thornton, S.J.A. Turney, Glyn Iliffe (Foreword)
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length –   444 Pages
Publication – 18th October 2016
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Troy: city of gold, gatekeeper of the east, haven of the god-born and the lucky, a city destined to last a thousand years. But the Fates have other plans—the Fates, and a woman named Helen. In the shadow of Troy’s gates, all must be reborn in the greatest war of the ancient world: slaves and queens, heroes and cowards, seers and kings . . . and these are their stories.

A young princess and an embittered prince join forces to prevent a fatal elopement.

A tormented seeress challenges the gods themselves to save her city from the impending disaster.

A tragedy-haunted king battles private demons and envious rivals as the siege grinds on.

A captured slave girl seizes the reins of her future as two mighty heroes meet in an epic duel.

A grizzled archer and a desperate Amazon risk their lives to avenge their dead.

A trickster conceives the greatest trick of all.

A goddess’ son battles to save the spirit of Troy even as the walls are breached in fire and blood.

Seven authors bring to life the epic tale of the Trojan War: its heroes, its villains, its survivors, its dead. Who will lie forgotten in the embers, and who will rise to shape the bloody dawn of a new age?

Review

After reading A Year of Ravens I just knew there would be more to come from those talented authors and I couldn’t be happier that this book would focus around Troy.

Truth be told I know the story..ish and also what Hollywood has told so was very eager to get to grips with this one

First of I must commend the authors on this one. You can clearly tell after working on previous projects that they work together well. It was surprising how easily each of the individual sections of the story fitted together so well. Kate Quinn has clearly worked her magic at the editing stage along with the other authors to make this work as well as  it does.

There are 7 individual sections to the novel each told by one of the authors and each focusing on different characters. This unique way of storytelling had me gripped and had the strange effect on me that my opinion of characters changed throughout the book as the authors would explore the motivations of such characters as Agamemnon who i came to see in a completely different light

From my limited knowledge of the characters I always felt the tale of Paris and Helen was a love story.. how wrong was i..i loved having my eyes opened to how political things would have been at the time and that not every marriage would come about because of love

This tale is so much more than I ever imagined.. there are so many people involved in the downfall of Troy I just didn’t know about. Andromache and Cassandra were two I really enjoyed reading about

A couple bits of the story stood out for me, firstly the duel between Hector and Achilles. The chariot sequence was so brilliantly written that I couldn’t help being excited reading it. The second thing that really stood out was Achilles.. his downfall.. you really get to see him fall apart as the war continues

Looking back at my notes on this book the first thing a highlighted was a character named Hellenus.. how I loved him and how well he developed throughout the tale. Hellenus appears in more than one section of the tale but it was great to see even when another author took control it still felt like the same person when Hellenus could have easily lost his charm if another author portrayed him differently

The other two characters I just have to mention are Philoctetes and Odysseus, I really felt that were portrayed perfectly

You might have guessed but overall the character development in this book is amazing, I think this is because the authors each took their own section of the story and characters within it to tell the tale. This gave them the time to really help the reader get to know the character and they did it so well you weren’t overwhelmed with information

I can’t recommend books like this enough, it gives you not only a great story but also insight into authors you might never have heard of. While reading the author notes I was surprised to find out Libbie Hawker wasn’t as familiar with the history as the other authors, I must say she did a brilliant job!

This was once again a wonderfully written and edited book by a selection of very talented and versatile authors. Each has a real talent for hooking the reader. If like me you’re looking to learn more but don’t fancy tackling The Iliad & The Odyssey first then this is the book for you.. you’ll love it and you’ll be left with a thirst for more.

The book is out today!!!! To find out more head to Goodreads, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Bloodwalker by L.X. Cain – Review

Title – Bloodwalker
Author – L.X. Cain
Genre –  Dark Fantasy
Length –  284 Pages
Publication – 4th October 2016
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Lightning flashes. Another child disappears…

Zorka Circus’s big top roars with laughter and cheers, but when it moves on, children vanish.

Circus Security Chief Rurik suspects a killer hides among the performers, but they close ranks—they’ve always viewed lightning-scarred Rurik as the monster. He must find the culprit before anyone else disappears and his home is destroyed by the murders.

Into Zorka Circus comes the Skomori clan, despised as gravedigging ghouls. A one-day truce allows bloodwalker Sylvie to marry. Instead, she finds a body. Alerting others will defy her clan’s strict code, break the truce, and leave her an outcast.

When more bodies turn up, the killer’s trail becomes impossible to ignore. Rurik and Sylvie must follow the clues—even if they lead to something unimaginable…

Review

I can honestly say this one surprised me… the synopsis only scratches the surface of the tale and the twists that played out definitely had the shock factor

Two stories collide in this tale. The first being Sylvie, she’s a bloodwalker..although not a very good one. By some bloodwalkers would be classed as special but others look down on them. They help deal with death and I just loved how each chapter started with a quote from the bloodwalker handbook.

Rurik on the otherhand is a security guard working for the circus. When we are introduced to him you quickly learn he’s not an average man. He manages to put together the pieces to learn someone involved with the circus has been kidnapping children and he sets out to put a stop to this

Sylvie and Rurik meet when Sylvie and two other bloodwalkers are due to be married. The wedding takes place at the circus as one of the clans elders is married to the owner

From here things start going wrong fast..

Sylvie makes a ghastly discovery but has no time to tell anyone..Rurik is so driven he sees guilt everywhere and can’t risk confiding in anyone so goes it alone at first to find out who is committing the kidnapping

The author takes their time to reveal the truth of the tale..adding twist after twist to throw you off the truth. The plot was superb.. I couldn’t fault it..

These twists and turns meant there was a great chance to develop the characters which I really felt the author did well. Development is probably the most important thing for me.. I want to feel like I know the character and  I definitely felt like I knew what motivated the main players in this tale

This is dark fantasy at its best for me, right up until the end I had no idea how the tale would play out which kept me hooked in page after page.

Major plus point for this tale has to be the very unique plot. I won’t spoil it but this author has a brilliant imagination..i can’t even put into words how unusual and fascinating the tale is.

Overall a cracking dark and gruesome tale that held a lot of surprises. I don’t think I’ll forget this book in a hurry. 100% would read again

My thanks go to the author for the chance to read/review their work

The book is out today! to find out more head to Goodreads, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

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Blog Tour – Katharina Luther: Nun, Rebel, Wife by Anne Boileau – Review

Title – Katharina Luther: Nun, Rebel, Wife
Author – Anne Boileau
Genre –  Historical Fiction
Length –  224 Pages
Publication – 4th October 2016
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

On 31st October 1517 Martin Luther pinned ninety-five theses on the Castle Church door, Wittenberg, criticizing the Church of Rome; they were printed and published by Lucas Cranach and caused a storm. Nine young nuns, intoxicated by Luther’s subversive writings, became restless and longed to leave their convent. On Good Friday 1523 a haulier smuggled them out hidden in empty herring barrels. Five of them settled in Wittenberg, the very eye of the storm, and one of them – Katharina von Bora – scandalised the world by marrying the revolutionary former monk. Following a near miscarriage, she is confined to her bed to await the birth of their first child; during this time, she sets down her own story. Against a backdrop of 16th Century Europe this vivid account of Katharina von Bora’s early life brings to the spotlight this spirited and courageous woman. Anne Boileau lives in Essex. She studied German in Munich and worked as an interpreter and translator before turning to language-teaching in England. She also holds a degree in Conservation and Land Management from Anglia University and has written and given talks on various aspects of conservation. Now she shares, writes and enjoys poetry; her work has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines; she has also won some awards, including First Prize with Grey Hen Press, 2016. She translates modern German poetry into English with Camden Mews Translators and was Chair of Suffolk Poetry Society from 2011 to 2014.

Review

The tale of Katharina & Martin Luther is something I knew nothing of before reading this book and it opened my eyes to what must have been a very difficult period to live through.

Martin Luther was a monk many years ago now. He spoke out against the Church and helped bring the bible to the masses by translating the book from Latin.

Truth be told religion is just the background of the book.. the real tale is how Katherina and Martin came to be married and let me tell you… it’s a engrossing read

The background of Katharina and how she became a nun was interesting but the story really kicked off when Katharina started to read the works of Martin Luther. Inspired by the man she decides the life of a nun is no longer for her and writes to the man himself for help

With Martin’s help Katharina and a number of other nuns forge new lives for themselves.

Katharina was clearly a strong minded woman and ultimately ends up being married to Martin (I won’t spoil how this comes about). At first more out of respect more than anything else but both agree they hope love will flourish. I loved the honesty of these two.

What I really enjoyed about this tale was seeing how two such strong characters came together to be one and worked with each other..loved each other… they each gave the other what they needed.

The book also shows how attitudes have changes over the years. How Katharina being a woman meant at times she didn’t have a say.. her views didn’t count. It was fascinating to see how she handled this and ultimately showed her worth to the man she came to love

There is so much depth to this book, I just loved it from start to finish

I’m a big fan of women is history and this is another wonderful example of someone who might easily be overlooked. Yes Martin initiated the Reformation but Katharina was an essential part of that in her own way and it was a joy to read things from her perspective

Overall this was a very beautifully written book which gave life to Katharina. Very moving at times and educational for myself which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Inspiring is the word I’d use for this book. What Katharina must have been going through I can’t imagine but I certainly wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of her. She knows what she wants and is perfectly matched with Martin Luther

I’d love to read more

Fascinating tale, take a look. The Book is released tomorrow!!!

To find out more head to Goodreads, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

My thanks go to Authoright and Anne Boileau for the chance to read/review the book

As a bonus i’m also able to bring you a little background on the author who very kindly took the time to share the insight into her life with me.. enjoy


Anne Boileau

I was born in Boxford, Suffolk, England, where my parents had a small mixed farm. We had two hundred laying hens, six breeding sows, some arable land and two horses.

 

I watched the sows feeding their piglets. On the inside walls of the pig sties were some drawings of elegant ladies with large hats; my father told me they were made ten years before by German prisoners of war. Well, I knew there had been a war because grownups used to say things like  “since the war” or “before the war” But they never actually talked about the war itself or what it was about.

 

I was happy at my school, and I loved my friends, our animals and village life.  But when I was six my father fell ill and died. It was just after the Coronation. My mother was devastated and moved us up north to a remote farmhouse on the edge of Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire. At my new school the other children thought I was foreign because of my Suffolk accent and I had trouble understanding them; so I became solitary and learnt to watch and observe; and I wrote little illustrated stories about animals and their adventures.

 

When I was ten I went to a lovely boarding school. We were not allowed to telephone home, but every Sunday we had to write at least two sides to our parents. To this day I love writing letters to friends and family.

 

My schooling was erratic and my exam results poor, so instead of university I travelled to the USA and Canada, doing various jobs. Eventually, I enrolled in the Language School in Munich and studied German.  I was then able to get work as a translator and interpreter.

 

I met a wonderful man, we married and raised two daughters; I taught languages in Colchester, Essex. I then went back to college and studied for a BSc degree in Rural Resource Development at Anglia University, Chelmsford.

 

This led to my working for various conservation organisations. I wrote articles for local magazines, and gave talks, campaigning for environmental causes. But in 1999 my life was turned upside down a second time, when my beloved husband fell ill and died, aged only 57. Our daughters had recently left home and we were thrown into grief and confusion.

 

Writing became my survival kit. I wrote a book about my husband called Simple Symphony.  I wrote poems, read poems, studied poetry and joined a group who translate German poems into English. Through poetry I have made some wonderful friends. I wrote a book about my early childhood, called White Sand Grey Sand. My  pamphlet Shoal Moon was published by Grey Hen Press in 2014.

I have had several poems published in magazines and anthologies and won a few commendations. And ten years after encountering Katharina, I began to research and write her story.

 

What drew me to this woman? Was it my Lutheran great-great-grandmother, from Königsberg in East Prussia, from whom we had inherited German part songs, handed down mother to daughter? Or was it my Huguenot refugee ancestor on my father’s side, Charles Boileau, who arrived in England with nothing but his charm, and married a farmer’s daughter in Barnes?  Or was it the fact that in both my parent’s families there has been a tradition of Anglican country parsons over several generations? Whatever it was, I was drawn to her story, which in some ways resonated with my own.

 

With Camden Mews Translators we translate German poetry to throw light upon what is good about German culture. We British know and love German composers and their music is frequently performed and enjoyed. But how much do we know about German history and literature?  JS Bach took Luther’s simple but poetic version of the New Testament to write his unparalleled works of the St Matthew and St John Passions, sung and celebrated by so many choirs at Easter. And yet, if you Google the name Martin Luther, (or ask a library assistant) the response usually comes back: Do you mean Martin Luther King? No I don’t.  I mean the rebellious monk in Wittenberg who defied the Pope and translated the Bible into vernacular for the common people; who changed the course of European History and became known as the Nightingale of Wittenberg.

 

That is why I have written this story; and it is told not by him but by the woman who was at his side, in the very eye of the storm.

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