I’m delighted to be on the blog tour for Amelia Henley’s The Art of Loving You, publishling on July 22nd, 2021 by HQ.
Life isn’t always beer and skittles.
To be honest, when I first started reading this book, I didn’t know if I could finish it because of the subject matter. Having been diagnosed with a life-threatening disease and tumor in the last year, some of this hit way too close to home for me, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read a book that delves into the way that we experience grief and loss. Emotionally, it didn’t seem to be the right time, or that’s what I told myself.
But I soldiered on with it, and I’m glad I did. So many of us have had to deal with unexpected grief in the last year, whether it be via illness or a sudden catastrophe that this book could not be more timely, nor more beautifully written. Ms. Henley’s honest, realistic portrayal of the many stages is grief is sometimes a sucker punch to the gut, because it’s so beautifully raw, it eeks out every bit of emotion out of you.
I found great comfort and relief in the characters of Sid and Norma, especially in their relationship. Although the primary relationship is of Libby and Jack, Sid and Norma taught me so much, and Norma’s Book of Kindness reminded me that indeed, life isn’t always beer and skittles but we can do things, small things, to help brighten the day of someone else.
In times past I’ve always heard that helping someone else out can sometimes make your own troubles seem easier, and truthfully, this is hard to put into practice, as is illustrated by Libby as she deals with what so many of us are dealing with right now: the unexpected and sometimes cruel changes of life.
Yet thank goodness there are the Jacks and Sids and Norma’s of this world who try to make life more beautiful one painting, one square, one page at a time. Simply breathtaking.
A must-read for everyone. I cannot rate this book highly enough.
Today on my blog I’m pleased to welcome the lovely Clare Flynn as she discusses her novel Storms Gather Between Us, partially set in Liverpool.
Welcome, Clare! Please tell us all about your book and why you chose Liverpool as a setting.
The book is an indirect sequel to my first novel, A Greater World, which has its opening chapters in the North of England, including Liverpool, but then transfers to Australia. Storms Gather Between Us focuses on one of the secondary characters whose career in the merchant navy brings him to Liverpool – where he becomes involved with other characters who were in the back story of the first book.
It’s a book about loss, domestic violence, the oppressive nature of religious bigotry but most of all about the redeeming power of love. It’s set in the late 1930s up to the outbreak of World War Two. It’s possible that at some time I may return to the characters and write another novel to take them through the war. I always endeavour to make my books work on a stand-alone basis and to complete the story arc – but that doesn’t stop people asking for more though – sometimes quite forcefully!
I was born in Liverpool but left as a child. I came from a large extended family so throughout my childhood we went back frequently for holidays – something I kept doing even through my years at university, often escaping to the Pool for weekends. As someone born in the mid-fifties, my childhood memories were tinged by the relics of the war – there were still empty plots on street corners where bombs had fallen, lots of ruin and decay and smoke-blackened buildings. Yet it felt magical and exciting to me as a child. Some of my favourite memories were taking the ferry across the Mersey to Birkenhead and New Brighton from the Pier Head, shopping in the big department stores especially Lewis’s and going to the seaside at Crosby and Formby. I have been able to draw on these memories in my writing.
Yet Storms Gather Between Us isn’t all pre-war Liverpool – the book also pays brief visits to Naples, Lisbon and Zanzibar – I’ve never been able to resist the lure of romantic locations.
Fascinating! What’s it all about?
Since escaping his family’s notoriety in Australia Will Kidd has spent a decade sailing the seas, never looking back. Content to live the life of a wanderer, everything changes in a single moment when he comes face to face with a ghost from his past on a cloudy beach in Liverpool.
The daughter of an abusive zealot, every step of Hannah Dawson’s life has been laid out for her… until she meets Will by chance and is set on a new path. Their love is forbidden and forces on all sides divide them, but their bond is undeniable. Now, they will have to fight against all the odds to escape the chains of their histories and find their way back to one another.
About the Author:
Clare Flynn writes historical fiction with a strong sense of time and place and compelling characters. She is the author of ten historical novels and a collection of short stories. Her books often deal with characters who are displaced – forced out of their comfortable lives and familiar surroundings. She is a graduate of Manchester University where she read English Language and Literature.
Born in Liverpool she is the eldest of five children. After a career in international marketing, working on brands from nappies to tinned tuna and living in Paris, Milan, Brussels, London and Sydney, she ran her own consulting business for 15 years and now lives in Eastbourne where she writes full-time – and can look out of her window and see the sea.
When not writing and reading, Clare loves to paint with watercolours and grabs any available opportunity to travel – sometimes under the guise of research.
Clare’s latest novel, The Pearl of Penang, was published in late 2019.
Where can we buy your books and follow you on social media?
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Rating: Five stars
There is historical fiction, and then there’s Ellie Midwood. No Woman’s Land is a superb novel that brings the Minsk Ghetto to life in all of its harsh cruelty with a sense of hope and grace. Reading a story of the dour conditions of the Holocaust can be difficult on a reader, but Ms. Midwood has crafted a powerful story of the meaning of loyalty, friendship, and love in the bitterest of conditions.
One can’t help but cheer on ghetto occupants Ilse , Rivka, and Liza as they navigate the treacherous dog eat dog world of the ghetto while still holding on to the ultimate thing that keeps them alive: love. Although these three women, and others in the ghetto, come from diverging backgrounds, they form a solidarity as they keep each other together and the hope for freedom alive. Through this narrative, they discover the only thing that keeps one alive is love during the harshest of conditions. I appreciate Ilse Stein’s character arc as we meet her as a timid, sheltered Jewish girl who arrives in Minsk after she and her sisters are resettled into the ghettos. There she meets women like Rivka and Liza, savvy leaders who lost husbands as the winds of war rage over the eastern front. Isle learns just how strong she is as she vows to survive and keep her sisters safe. Although disillusioned and jaded, she learns to trust as she meets Willy Schultz, an officer in the Luftwaffe who befriends her. Their love story is sweet, tender, and real as they let their guards down while coming to terms with being from opposing sides. This book left me wanting to know more of what becomes of Ilse, Willy, Liza, and all of their friends after the book ended, especially because these people existed during World War II. Highly recommended.