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A Sarah’s Vignettes Book Review: The Family Gift by Cathy Kelly (@cathykellybooks) ~ @orionbooks ~ @Tr4cyF3nt0n ~ #TheFamilyGift #BlogTour

Welcome to Sarah’s Vignettes stop on the blog tour for The Family Gift by Cathy Kelly.

Thank you to Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Readers for inviting me to take part and to Orion for sending me a proof copy of the book in return for my honest review.

Before I share my review with you, here’s what The Family Gift is about.

~ Publisher’s Description ~

Freya Abalone has a big, messy, wonderful family, a fantastic career, and a new house.

But that’s on the outside.

On the inside, she’s got Mildred – the name she’s given to that nagging inner critic who tells us all we’re not good enough.

And now Freya’s beloved blended family is under threat. Dan’s first wife Elisa, the glamorous, manipulative woman who happily abandoned her daughter to Freya and Dan’s care and left the country, has elbowed her way back into their lives.

But Freya knows that when life gives you lemons, you throw them right back.

Can Freya put her family – and herself – back together? Find out in Cathy Kelly’s warmest, wisest and funniest book yet…

~ My thoughts ~

Oh poor, sweet Freya. She’s a mum to 3, a wife, a daughter, a TV chef and she’s not handling life well when we meet her. She’s trying to juggle it all as well as silently dealing with the effects of being mugged 4 months previously. 

Although The Family Gift is Cathy Kelly’s 20th novel, it is the first one by this author I have read. I really like how Cathy Kelly has written a book about real life. In Freya, she has written a woman with whom I think most readers will be able to relate to in one way or another: trying to be someone to everyone, worrying about weight, being the one that holds everything together. In Freya’s mum, she has written a woman who is trying to care for her husband after he has had a stroke as well as for his father and her mother. All of this whilst dealing with the grief that inevitably comes from a loved one who is slipping away from their former self. In one of Freya’s sisters, she has written a woman who is desperately to trying to have a baby with her husband and the effects that IVF can have on a marriage. There are more characters I could talk about but I’ll leave that for you to discover.

It took me a while to get into the book as I felt that Freya was as closed to us as she is with her family. However, slowly and surely, she let us in. I became really fond of her. I actually warmed to all of the characters, particularly Teddy, Freya’s 4-year old daughter. She is wonderful! She is a diva and going on 24 years old. She knows her own mind and provides laugh out loud moments in the story.

And then there is Mildred. Mildred is Freya’s inner voice that happily pops up to let her know when she has done something wrong. I think, from time to time, we all have one of those, except Mildred is with Freya 24/7 as she tries to sort her life out.

I really enjoyed The Family Gift and would recommend it.

~ Where to find The Family Gift ~

The Family Gift by Cathy Kelly

The Family Gift was published in the UK by Orion on 17 October 2019. It can be found in all good bookshops, on Amazon UK, Amazon US and on Goodreads.

~ About Cathy Kelly ~

Born in Belfast but raised in Dublin, Cathy initially worked for thirteen years as a newspaper journalist with a national Irish Sunday newspaper, where she worked in news, features, along with spending time as an agony aunt and the paper’s film critic. However, her overwhelming love was always fiction and she published her first international bestseller, Woman To Woman, in 1997. She did not become a full-time writer until she had written another two books (She’s The One and Never Too Late) and finally decided to leave the world of journalism in 2001, moving to HarperCollins Publishers at the same time.

Someone Like You and What She Wants followed in successive years. Her sixth novel, Just Between Us, was her first Sunday Times number one bestseller, while her eighth novel, Always and Forever, topped the UK bestseller lists in October 2005, displacing Dan Brown and J. K. Rowling. In 2007, Past Secrets in was also a number one paperback bestseller.

Lessons in Heartbreak was shortlisted for the Eason Irish Popular Fiction Book of the Year at the Irish Book Awards in April 2009. In September 2009, Once in a Lifetime topped the UK bestseller lists for three weeks. In March 2011, Homecoming achieved the same feat. Her latest novel is It Started With Paris, published by Orion in 2014.

In Autumn 2011, Cathy headlined a search for a new writer on ITV’s The Alan Titchmarsh Show.

Cathy’s trademark is warm story-telling and she consistently tops the bestseller lists around the world with books which deal with themes ranging from relationships and marriage to depression and loss, but always with an uplifting message and strong female characters at the heart.

Cathy also has a passionate interest in children’s rights and is an ambassador for UNICEF Ireland. Her role for UNICEF is a Global Parent, which means raising funds and awareness for children orphaned by or living with HIV/AIDs.

She lives with her husband, John, their twin sons, Dylan and Murray, and their three dogs in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow.

W: www.cathykelly.com ~ T: @cathykellybooks ~ I: @cathykellybooks ~ F: @cathykellybooks

~ Follow the tour ~

Be sure to drop by the other stops on the The Family Gift blog tour!

The Family Gift Blog Tour Part 1
The Family Gift Blog Tour part 2
A Week in Books · Advanced Review Copy · Books · Daniel Mason · Fliss Chester · Juliet West · Lisa Jewell · Literary Lowdown · Ronnie Turner · Seni Glaister · Shelf Control · WeFiFo

Sarah’s Vignettes Literary Lowdown ~ 22/09/2019

Welcome to this week’s round-up of what’s been going on here at Sarah’s Vignettes, on social media, the books I’ve been adding to my shelves and other bookish delights. Keep scrolling to get the lowdown.

~ On the blog ~

Shelf Control

On Wednesday, I took part in a meme run by fellow book blogger Lisa over at Bookshelf Fantasies called Shelf Control. The idea is to choose a book on your bookshelf that you haven’t read yet and talk about when you got it and why you want to read it.

This week, I chose The Faithful by Juliet West.

The Faithful by Juliet West

~ On social media ~

For #ThrowbackThursday, I shared the link to my review for Lies Between Us by author and fellow book blogger, Ronnie Turner. It’s a brilliant read!

~ On my bookshelf ~

I added 2 fiction books to my shelves this week.

On Tuesday, I received a review copy of The Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason from Picador. Book related post is my favourite kind of mail 🙂

The Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason

The Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason

From the bestselling author of The Piano Tuner, comes Daniel Mason’s The Winter Soldier, a story of love and medicine through the devastation of the First World War.

Vienna, 1914. Lucius is a twenty-two-year-old medical student when World War I explodes across Europe. Enraptured by romantic tales of battlefield surgery, he enlists, only to find himself posted to a remote field-hospital ravaged by typhus. Supplies have all but run out, the other doctors have fled, and only a single nurse remains, from whom he must learn a brutal, makeshift medicine.

Then one day, an unconscious soldier is brought in from the snow, his uniform stuffed with strange drawings. He seems beyond rescue, until Lucius makes a fateful decision that will change the course of his life.

From the gilded ballrooms of Imperial Vienna to the frozen forests of the Eastern Front, The Winter Soldier is the story of finding love in the sweeping tides of history, and of the mistakes we make and the precious opportunities to atone.


Fliss Chester and Seni Glaister

On Thursday night, I went to a supper with author Fliss Chester. As part of Horsham District Year of Culture, WeFiFo is hosting a series of monthly Culture Clubs. Fliss chatted with WeFiFo founder and author Seni Glaister about her 3 novels: Snowballs: Winter Fun on the Slopes, Summer at the Vineyard, Meet Me at the Riviera, how she got into writing and what’s next. We all then enjoyed a delicious 3-course meal cooked for us by Ina from Tanamerah. There was much laughter, chatting and eating. It’s such a joy when you bring books, food and people together in one gorgeous place.

Meet Me at the Riviera by Fliss Chester

Meet Me on the Riviera by Fliss Chester

It’s all about millionaires, Monaco and mega-yachts as Jenna Jenkins starts her new job as a party planner in glamorous Monte Carlo. Not always a fan of the fabulously wealthy – Jenna surprises herself and finds she has a real knack of helping the super-rich go overboard at glittering events held on the decks of the amazing yachts.

Little does Jenna know, however, that behind her back there’s a tussle going on for her affections and her loyalty to her darling boyfriend, gorgeous Angus Linklater, is about to be tested by the mysterious – and oh so hot – billionaire who’s used to getting exactly what and who he wants.

With Max and Bertie’s wedding to plan, old friends Hugo and Sally bursting with news of their own and a lot of champagne to drink, it’s going to be a very interesting summer. So, drop anchor, glam up and meet me on the Riviera…

~ On my bedside table ~

As my tweet earlier on said, I’m gravitating towards thrillers at the moment and I am currently reading The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell. There are a lot of secrets unravelling!!


What have you been reading and buying this week? Let me know by leaving a reply in the box below.

Until next week, happy reading!

A Week in Books · Adele Parks · Liz Fenwick · Non-Fiction · Tom Michell · Virginia Woolf

Sarah’s Vignettes Literary Lowdown ~ 15/09/2019

Welcome to this week’s round-up of what’s been going on here at Sarah’s Vignettes, on social media, the books I’ve been adding to my shelves and other bookish delights. Keep scrolling to get the lowdown.

~ On the blog ~

Shelf Control

On Wednesday, I took part in a meme run by fellow book blogger Lisa over at Bookshelf Fantasies called Shelf Control. The idea is to choose a book on your bookshelf that you haven’t read yet and talk about when you got it and why you want to read it.

This week, I chose The Penguin Lessons by Tom Michell.

The Penguin Lessons by Tom Michell

~ On social media ~

For #ThrowbackThursday, I shared the link to my review for The Cornish House by Liz Fenwick. The tweet below says it all 🙂

~ On my bookshelf ~

It’s been a quiet week for adding books to my bookshelf but I did add 1 to my digital bookshelf.

When I came across the complete writings of Virginia Woolf on Apple Books for 99p, I couldn’t resist downloading them. I much prefer reading a physical copy of a book but this is perfect for dipping in and out of.

Virginia Woolf's writing lodge at Monk's House.

Last year, I visited Monk’s House, Leonard and Virginia Woolf’s 16th-century country retreat in East Sussex. The house and gardens are fascinating but I adored Virginia Woolf’s writing lodge in the garden. It overlooks the South Downs and I can see why she chose to wrote most of her great works there.

Virginia Woolf's desk
Virginia Woolf's desk

Virginia Woolf: The Complete Collection by Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf: The Complete Collection by Virginia Woolf

This volume collects the complete writings of Virginia Woolf: 8 novels, 3 ‘biographies,’ 46 short stories, 606 essays, 1 play, her diary and some letters.

Contents:

THE NOVELS
The Voyage Out
Night and Day
Jacob’s Room
Mrs. Dalloway
To the Lighthouse
The Waves
The Years
Between the Acts

THE ‘BIOGRAPHIES’
Orlando: a biography
Flush: a biography
Roger Fry: a biography

THE STORIES
Monday or Tuesday
A Haunted House, and other short stories
Mrs Dalloway’s Party
The Complete Shorter Fiction

THE ESSAYS
The Common Reader I
A Room of One’s Own
On Being Ill
The London Scene
The Common Reader II
Three Guineas
The Death of the Moth, and other essays
The Moment, and other essays
The Captain’s Death Bed, and other essays
Granite and Rainbow
Books and Portraits
Women And Writing
383 Essays from newspapers and magazines

AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL WRITING
A Writer’s Diary
Moments of Being
The Diary Vols. 1–5
The Letters Vols. 1–6
The Letters of V.W. and Lytton Strachey
A Passionate Apprentice. The Early Journals 1887-1909

THE PLAY
Freshwater: A Comedy (both versions)

~ On my bedside table ~

Lies, Lies, Lies by Adele Parks

Since last week’s lowdown, I have read Lies, Lies, Lies by Adele Parks. Crikey, it kept me on my toes right from Page 1 until the very end. It’s a super read and I will pop a review on here once my thoughts are in a coherent order. It’s left me with such a book hangover that I haven’t started reading anything else yet.


What have you been reading and buying this week? Let me know by leaving a reply in the box below.

Until next week, happy reading!

A Week in Books · Advanced Review Copy · Blog Tours · Book Post · Books · Cathy Kelly · fiction · Giveaway · Hans Fallada · Kathleen McGurl · Linn B. Halton · Literary Lowdown · Lucy Foley · Rosanna Ley · Rowan Coleman · Stacey Halls · Sylvia Day

Sarah’s Vignettes Literary Lowdown ~ 1/09/2019

Welcome to this week’s round-up of what’s been going on here at Sarah’s Vignettes, on social media, the books I’ve been adding to my shelves and other bookish delights. Keep scrolling to get the lowdown.

~ On the blog ~

The Stationmaster's Daughter by Kathleen McGurl

On Monday, I shared my review for The Stationmaster’s Daughter by Kathleen McGurl, as part of the blog tour. It’s a poignant story set between 1936 and present day. I love a time slip novel!


Shelf Control

On Wednesday, I took part in a meme run by fellow book blogger Lisa over at Bookshelf Fantasies called Shelf Control. The idea is to choose a book on your bookshelf that you haven’t read yet and talk about when you got it and why you want to read it.

This week, I chose Last Dance in Havana by Rosanna Ley.

Last Dance in Havana by Rosanna Ley

On Friday, it was Sarah’s Vignettes stop on the blog tour for Butterfly in Frost, the latest novel by Sylvia Day. I didn’t have time to read this one for a review so I hosted a giveaway to win a copy of the book.

Butterfly in Frost by Sylvia Day

~ On social media ~

Last weekend, author Rowan Coleman asked readers who had reviewed her latest novel The Girl at the Window if they would be brave enough to film a few words to be included in a promotion video for social media. I and a few others summoned up the courage and did it. Here’s the final version:


For #ThrowbackThursday, I shared the link to my review for The Secrets of Villa Rosso by Linn B. Halton. This is a great story and Linn has a way of writing characters that I connect deeply with.

~ On my bookshelf ~

I added 3 books to my shelf this week.

In October, I am taking part in the blog tour for Cathy Kelly’s 20th novel, The Family Gift . On Tuesday, I received a little gift from Orion: a proof copy of the book and a some chocolate.

The Family Gift by Cathy Kelly

The Family Gift by Cathy Kelly

The Family Gift by Cathy Kelly

Freya Abalone has a big, messy, wonderful family, a fantastic career, and a new house.

But that’s on the outside.

On the inside, she’s got Mildred – the name she’s given to that nagging inner critic who tells us all we’re not good enough.

And now Freya’s beloved blended family is under threat. Dan’s first wife Elisa, the glamorous, manipulative woman who happily abandoned her daughter to Freya and Dan’s care and left the country, has elbowed her way back into their lives.

But Freya knows that when life gives you lemons, you throw them right back.

Can Freya put her family – and herself – back together? Find out in Cathy Kelly’s warmest, wisest and funniest book yet…


I may have been lured into my local Waterstones yesterday – it doesn’t take much at all!! I bought a gorgeous hardback copy of The Familiars by Stacey Halls and another of Penguins Modern Classics to add to my growing collection : Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada.

The Familiars by Stacey Halls

In a time of suspicion and accusation, to be a woman is the greatest risk of all . . .

The Familiars by Stacey Halls

Fleetwood Shuttleworth is 17 years old, married, and pregnant for the fourth time. But as the mistress at Gawthorpe Hall, she still has no living child, and her husband Richard is anxious for an heir. When Fleetwood finds a letter she isn’t supposed to read from the doctor who delivered her third stillbirth, she is dealt the crushing blow that she will not survive another pregnancy.

Then she crosses paths by chance with Alice Gray, a young midwife. Alice promises to help her give birth to a healthy baby, and to prove the physician wrong. 

As Alice is drawn into the witchcraft accusations that are sweeping the north-west, Fleetwood risks everything by trying to help her. But is there more to Alice than meets the eye? 

Soon the two women’s lives will become inextricably bound together as the legendary trial at Lancaster approaches, and Fleetwood’s stomach continues to grow. Time is running out, and both their lives are at stake. 

Only they know the truth. Only they can save each other.


Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada

Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada

Inspired by a true story, Hans Fallada’s Alone in Berlin  is the gripping tale of an ordinary man’s determination to defy the tyranny of Nazi rule. This Penguin Classics edition contains an afterword by Geoff Wilkes, as well as facsimiles of the original Gestapo file which inspired the novel.

Berlin, 1940, and the city is filled with fear. At the house on 55 Jablonski Strasse, its various occupants try to live under Nazi rule in their different ways: the bullying Hitler loyalists the Persickes, the retired judge Fromm and the unassuming couple Otto and Anna Quangel. Then the Quangels receive the news that their beloved son has been killed fighting in France. Shocked out of their quiet existence, they begin a silent campaign of defiance, and a deadly game of cat and mouse develops between the Quangels and the ambitious Gestapo inspector Escherich. When petty criminals Kluge and Borkhausen also become involved, deception, betrayal and murder ensue, tightening the noose around the Quangels’ necks …

~ On my bedside table ~

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

In last week’s round-up, I mentioned that I had just started reading The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley. I finished it in 3 days! It’s a great read and I’ll be sharing my review on here soon.


FRANCE magazine, NB, Writing magazine

I sometimes take a bit of a break when I’m in between books so I have been dipping in and out of the latest issues of FRANCE magazine, NB, and Writing magazine.


What have you been reading and buying this week? Let me know by leaving a reply in the box below.

Until next week, happy reading!

Books · Liz Fenwick · Q&A · Recommended Reads

One Cornish Summer Publication Day Interview & Giveaway with Liz Fenwick (@liz_fenwick) @orionbooks

I am thrilled to welcome back Liz Fenwick and her sixth book One Cornish Summer to Sarah’s Vignettes today. I have another great interview with Liz to share with you and there are details of a fun giveaway Liz is running over on her social media pages.

I read One Cornish Summer back in March and found it beautiful and poignant (read my review here). I really hope it does well because it deserves to.

~ Publisher’s Description ~

Against the beauty of Cornwall, a story of two women struggling with their past: one cannot remember hers, the other cannot forget…

When Hebe receives a life-changing diagnosis at only 53, she struggles to make sense of what it will mean for her, her job and the man she loves. With memories slipping away by the day, she flees to the one place she has always felt safe and peaceful – Cornwall, and the house her family spent so many summers in.

Lucy is having her own crisis, and seizes the chance to follow her aunt to Cornwall. Curious about what has driven Hebe there after so many years, she also has to battle with the secret she has kept since her family’s last summer there more than ten years ago.

Both women will learn that memories live in our hearts and that sharing secrets can set you free… But can they find their way back to the things that are truly important to them?

~ Interview with Liz Fenwick ~

Welcome back to Sarah’s Vignettes, Liz!! I’m delighted to have you answering more questions about One Cornish Summer, your writing, and Cornwall. Continue reading “One Cornish Summer Publication Day Interview & Giveaway with Liz Fenwick (@liz_fenwick) @orionbooks”

Advanced Review Copy · Books · Liz Fenwick · Q&A · Recommended Reads · Reviews · The Riviera Woman

One Cornish Summer by Liz Fenwick (@liz_fenwick) ~ Recommended Read ~ The Riviera Woman

I regularly share my top reads from this blog over at The Riviera Woman.The Riviera Woman

The Riviera Woman, run by Anna Fill, helps women living or working on the Riviera live life to the full with it’s inspirational people and interesting articles.

For May, I have chosen One Cornish Summer by Liz Fenwick. You can read both my review and a great interview with Liz here. Continue reading “One Cornish Summer by Liz Fenwick (@liz_fenwick) ~ Recommended Read ~ The Riviera Woman”

Books · Liz Fenwick · Recommended Reads · Reviews

Review: The Cornish House by Liz Fenwick (@liz_fenwick) @orionbooks

~ Publisher’s Description ~

When Maddie inherits a house in Cornwall shortly after the death of her husband, she hopes it will mean a fresh start. Maddie is enchanted by it and is keen to learn as much as she can about its past. As she discovers stories of generations of women who’ve lived there before, she feels her life is somehow intertwined within its walls.

~ My thoughts ~ 

I am writing this review having only finished The Cornish House about 15 minutes ago. It is very rare for me to do so as usually I need some time to allow my thoughts to order in my head, especially when I have felt such a deep connection with a book, as I did with this one. So, this review runs the risk of sounding like a series of ramblings rather than well thought out. What makes this one different? The effect that this particular book has had on me and how I needed to write my thoughts down straight away. Continue reading “Review: The Cornish House by Liz Fenwick (@liz_fenwick) @orionbooks”