Friday, 23 August 2019

Release Day Review: The Last Letter From Juliet by Melanie Hudson

The Last Letter from Juliet: An absolutely gripping and heartbreaking World War 2 historical novelThe Last Letter from Juliet: An absolutely gripping and heartbreaking World War 2 historical novel by Melanie Hudson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An emotional and bitter-sweet dual timeline novel about two women and their adventures in Angels Cove, Cornwall.

With an offer of gin, Katherine decides to accept her Uncle Gerald's invitation to spend Christmas with him in Cornwall rather than be home alone during the festive period. On arrival, all the best-laid plans go pear-shaped but she finds comfort within her surrounds; a cottage which once belonged to an old lady. Whilst settling in she finds a journal written by the once owner and begins to read about her life and escapades before and during WWII.

The residents of Angels Cove quickly embrace their new temporary resident during the run-up to Christmas as Katherine finds both purpose and comfort as she befriends and helps out the colourful characters who live within this small coastal village. Yet, it's the thrill of getting to know who Juliet was which drives her enthusiasm during what is ordinarily a difficult time of year for her.

The writing smoothly alternates between the past and the present timelines as we re-live Juliet's life as a pilot through her journals and learn about the struggles Katherine is dealing with. Finding out the exploits and bravery of the A.T.A. girls (Air Transport Auxiliary) is thrilling in its own right but I like how Katherine embraces Juliet's handling of situations to give her a new perspective on life and how she can move forward with a new sense of optimism and purpose.

Not everything within this enticing narrative is about these women, there's a dashing hero who stole Juliet's heart and an equally handsome gentleman who is Juliet's nephew. His zest for life equals his aunt's although we learn his background isn't what Katherine expected.

For me, the highlight is Katharine's realisation the woman she has come to admire is still alive and has an opportunity to meet her. It's a poignant and uplifting moment to give pause for thought and shed a few tears.

To sum up, if you enjoy uplifting novel laced with fascinating historical facts, heart-warming characters with a Christmassy Cornish backdrop, You'll love The Last Letter From Juliet.

4.5 stars

***arc generously received courtesy of the publisher One More Chapter via NetGalley***

View all my reviews

**Paperback editions publishing 14th November in AmazonUK, 7th January 2020 in Amazon US

'The Last Letter from Juliet' is a moving and powerful novel of friendship, love and resilience.

A daring WWII pilot who grew up among the clouds, Juliet Caron’s life was one of courage, adventure – and a love torn apart by war. Every nook of her Cornish cottage is alive with memories just waiting to be discovered.

Katherine Henderson has escaped to Cornwall for Christmas but she soon finds there is more to her holiday cottage than meets the eye. And on the eve of Juliet’s 100th birthday, Katherine is enlisted to make an old lady’s final Christmas wish come true…

New Release Spotlight: The Oshun Diaries by Diane Esguerra

The Oshun Diaries by Diane Esguerra

High priestesses are few and far between, white ones in Africa even more so. When Diane Esguerra hears of a mysterious Austrian woman worshipping the Ifa river goddess Oshun in Nigeria, her curiosity is aroused.
It is the start of an extraordinary friendship that sustains Diane through the death of her son and leads to a quest to take part in Oshun rituals. Prevented by Boko Haram from returning to Nigeria, she finds herself at Ifa shrines in Florida amid vultures, snakes, goats’ heads, machetes, a hurricane and a cigar-smoking god. Her quest steps up a gear when BeyoncĂ© channels Oshun at the Grammys and the goddess goes global.
Mystifying, harrowing and funny, The Oshun Diaries explores the lure of Africa, the life of a remarkable woman and the appeal of the goddess as a symbol of female empowerment.

Readers can order the book from the Lightning Books website at 30% off (with free UK p&p) if you enter this code at checkout – BLOGTOUROSHUN
Amazon UK      Amazon US 

The following extract is from the opening chapter of The Oshun Diaries:

Memory is visceral. All I can recall, about the drive into the southern Nigerian town of Oshogbo that November afternoon in 1986, is the screech of worn tyres on khaki-coloured roads, the all-pervading dust, the torrid heat and the rivulets of sweat trickling down the back of the albino driver’s neck. After the 150-mile drive from Lagos on a gridlocked highway I was desperately thirsty and dying for a pee. So intent was I on finding somewhere to satisfy my bodily needs that I scarcely took in my surroundings. Victorian explorer Henry M Stanley used ‘dark’ in the title of his book Through the Dark Continent to describe that which is mysterious and unknown. Little did I realise, that day, that this would be the start of my journey into a dark, hidden Africa.
Pulling up outside her home – if you could call it a home – was a different matter. After all these years the image of that baroque, semi-dilapidated Portuguese-colonial edifice with alien-like carvings clinging to its walls remains soldered to my brain.
Something in me hesitated before knocking on her front door; a crisis of confidence, I suppose. I’d given no thought as to how I was going to present myself to the woman I’d travelled all this distance to meet. As an English writer and performance artist with a keen interest in anthropology? The ex-wife of an architect working in Lagos? The truth of the matter is that on that first visit my motive for wanting to meet her was essentially a monetary one. I was broke. I hoped that this woman whose door I was now banging on would be a worthy enough subject to merit a documentary proposal.
Come away. Your persistence may anger her,’ Ebis advised, leading me gently back to the car. ‘Let us take some refreshment and return later.’
In the windowless, earthen-floored bar with its ineffective plastic fly-screen and unwiped tables we sipped Fanta and chewed on stale Lincoln biscuits.
I let out a sigh. ‘I can’t believe I’ve come all this way for nothing.'
Ebis smiled. ‘No journey is ever wasted.’

Diane Esguerra is an English writer and psychotherapist. For a number of years she worked as a performance artist in Britain, Europe and the United States, and she has written for theatre and television. She is the recipient of a Geneva-Europe Television Award and a Time Out Theatre Award. She is previously the author of Junkie Buddha, the uplifting story of her journey to Peru to scatter her late son’s ashes.
She lives in Surrey with her partner David.
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