Published by Black and White Publishing

Ebook and Paperback : 4 July 2017

288 pages


It really is a delight to be taking part in the publisher blog tour for this lovely book.  I had already bought Ann’s two previous books and they have been waiting on my Kindle for some time. After enjoying the Ludlow Ladies’ so much, I now really want to bump them up the reading pile.  For my turn today, I have both a guest post from the author along with my review at the end.

 

My road to publication

by Ann O’Loughlin

 

There is one thing for certain for most writers, the road to publication is a long, winding and often lonely road. My journey on that road was no different.

Now, as my third book The Ludlow Ladies’ Society is stacked on book shelves across the country, I sometimes pinch myself to make sure it is all for real. With two bestsellers under my belt and my books translated in to several languages, it has all been a wonderful whirlwind which may never have happened but for a good sprinkling of luck. When I finished writing my first book The Ballroom Café, I thought it would take some time, but I never knew it would take such a long time to publication.

My first battle was to find the right agent for my work. I had nearly given up, was fed up of sending out submission after submission, when Lady Luck finally smiled down on me. I was nearly at the last throw of the dice, when I decided to get a submission ready and send it to Jenny Brown of Jenny Brown Associates, Edinburgh, Scotland. Everything I read about this dynamic agent, I liked. What I had not noticed until I had the email submission ready to send was Jenny Brown’s list was closed to submissions. I wavered, unsure what to do, but decided what had I to lose. Thankfully for me, I had a whole lot to gain.

This is where Lady Luck stepped in.

Jenny Brown was returning to Edinburgh by train from a crime festival. Her laptop had not charged the night before and she was stuck with only her phone for company. Scanning through her emails, in popped mine. With time on her hands, Jenny began to read the first three chapters of The Ballroom Café.

It was not long after that she rang me requesting the full manuscript. Straight away I sent over the completed manuscript. Jenny was back within a day suggesting changes and edits. I dived in to those edits and with that came the offer of representation. I was lucky, I had taken a chance on sending the submission and Lady Luck ensured that Jenny Brown noticed it. It was the start of a great author agent relationship and a friendship which now sees us celebrating my third book, The Ludlow Ladies’ Society, make its way out in to the world.

But I am rushing on. Back to that debut novel The Ballroom Café. With Jenny’s help, Black and White Publishing came on board. The Ballroom Café by the time it was published in paperback was already a kindle bestseller and has now been published in Germany, the US, Italy, Norway with other countries set to publish in the coming year. My second book The Judge’s Wife was in the Irish bestseller charts for seven weeks and has also been translated and will be published in the US, Germany, Norway and Italy next year.

Lady Luck smiled own on me that day all those years ago. Since then it has been a whirlwind of writing, editing, publishing, translations and book events, all the time with my agent Jenny Brown by my side. I feel very lucky indeed as The Ludlow Ladies’ Society wings its way out in to the world.

 

| About the Book  |

Connie Carter has lost everybody and everything dear to her. To help nurse her grieving heart and to try and find answers, she moves from her home in America to Ludlow Hall, deep in the Irish countryside. All she knows about Ludlow is that her late husband spent all their money on the house – without ever mentioning it to her. Now Connie needs to know why.

At Ludlow Hall, Connie befriends Eve and Hetty and is introduced to the somewhat curious Ludlow Ladies’ Society. But can Connie ever reveal her hurt? And, more importantly, can she ever understand or forgive? As the Ludlow Ladies stitch patchwork memory quilts to remember those they have loved and lost, the secrets of the past finally begin to surface.

The Ludlow Ladies’ Society is a story of friendship, resilience and compassion, and how women support each other through the most difficult times.

 

|  My Review  |

 

American Connie Carter is the new owner of the repossessed and boarded-up Ludlow Hall, not through choice but by way of inheritance. Life has not been kind to her at all and in trying to find a way to deal with her pain she moves from America to Rosdaniel in Ireland intending to live in Ludlow Hall, a property bought by her husband and which she knew nothing about. Preferring to be alone with her memories she initially shuns company and tries to avoid the gossips but her private and sometimes aloof manner doesn’t go down well with some of the locals and it is down to some of the Ludlow ladies to hold out the hand of friendship.

The Ladies Society are a diverse group of women – the rather bossy and forceful Chair Kathryn tries to keep them in line – some of her emails are hilarious and provide a great source of humour. Widow Eve Brannigan, (known by some as ‘Mrs Ludlow’ as the former chatelaine of Ludlow Hall) has also had a poor hand dealt to her but despite this she can find the capacity for much empathy and compassion for others. Eve was one of my favourite characters and I was longing for her to find some happiness. Her button box resonated with me. My late grandmother used to have a tin full of buttons which I remember playing with as a child (and which I still have). Hetty, who runs the local guesthouse is another of the women whose public and private lives were very different. Eve and Hetty do their best to befriend Connie and try to get her to start living again, rather than just existing.

It is whilst the ladies are making memory quilts for an exhibition to be attended by Michelle Obama that the full extent of their history and secrets are revealed. Each square of material on the quilts has come from fabric or clothing that has a special meaning for the person who donated it. As they sew they are putting their heart and memories into the quilt and they use it as a way of exorcising their sadness.

There is much heartache here but at the same time it is such an uplifting story of friendship. The storyline covers some darker issues – all subjects which are not readily talked about but which nevertheless cause so much pain and anguish to those involved. Their inclusion is not gratuitous by any means but gives substance and depth to the characters, all of which are so well drawn. You can’t help but hope that life has something better in store for them once you know their history. There are some surprises in store for the reader and I certainly wasn’t expecting the way that some threads linked together.

Many years ago, I used to devour novels by the late Irish writer, the fabulous Maeve Binchy. The Ludlow Ladies’ Society very much reminded me of Maeve’s books – for that wonderful community setting, its strong female characters and humorous and emotional storylines. I thoroughly enjoyed this lovely story; it’s fairly short chapters make it a book that you can fly through and the characters are a joy to get to know. Definitely recommended.

Finally I just want to say a word about the cover.  The designer should take a huge bow.  My review copy had a completely different cover so I haven’t yet seen this in the flesh, but I love it. It looks stunning and unlike so many covers, it actually reflects the story so well.

 

My thanks to Sophie at FMCM for the invitation to take part in the tour and also to the publisher for the review copy.

 

At the time of this post, The Ludlow Ladies’ Society can be downloaded from Amazon UK for just 98p.  What are you waiting for – Go!

 

 

|  About the Author  |

 

A leading journalist in Ireland , Ann O’Loughlin has covered all major news events of the last three decades. Ann spent most of her career with Independent Newspapers where she was Security Correspondent at the height of The Troubles, and a senior journalist on the Irish Independent and Evening Herald. She is currently a senior journalist with the Irish Examiner newspaper. Ann has also lived in India. Originally from the west of Ireland she now lives on the east coast with her husband and two children. The Judge’s Wife has been shortlisted in the Epic Romantic Novel category of the 2017 RoNA awards.

 

 

|  Author Links  |

Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook   |  Amazon UK   |   Goodreads 

 

 

Published by Orenda Books

Ebook:18 May 2017  |  Paperback: 3 July 2017

250 pages


About the book:

When India falls to her death from a bridge over a railway, her sister Poppy returns home to Brighton for the first time in years. Unconvinced by official explanations, Poppy begins her own investigation into India’s death. But the deeper she digs, the closer she comes to uncovering deeply buried secrets. Could Matthew Temple, the boyfriend she abandoned, be involved? And what of his powerful and wealthy parents, and his twin sister, Ana? Enter the mysterious and ethereal Jenny: the girl Poppy discovers after hacking into India’s laptop. What is exactly is she hiding, and what did India find out about her? Taking the reader on a breathless ride through the winding lanes of Brighton, into its vibrant party scene and inside the homes of its wellheeled families, The Other Twin is startling and up-to-the-minute thriller about the social-media world, where resentments and accusations are played out online, where identities are made and remade, and where there is no such thing as truth…

 

My Review:

When Poppy is told that her younger sister India has committed suicide by jumping off a railway bridge, she returns to the family home in Brighton in a state of shock. Some five years before, something happened in Poppy’s life which made family relationships difficult but India’s death has totally floored her and disbelief mixed with feelings of guilt, make her determined to discover the truth. India had an online blog and her blog posts have an unsettling feel to them and it’s these, together with some accompanying comments, which give Poppy cause for concern.

There are a lot of characters here to be suspicious of – both family and friends. A separate and, rather concerning, strand interrupts the chapters. How this fits into the story does become clear but this adds weight to Poppy’s belief that there is some other explanation behind her sister’s death.

Both personal and family relationships are under the spotlight and it seems that almost everyone has something to hide. Poppy’s investigations lead her into Brighton’s LGBT community as well as having to come to terms with her own actions in the past.

The Other Twin is a very complex and confidently written debut and the subject nature of the story certainly gives it an edgy and relevant feel.  The short chapters (which I am always a huge fan of) make for a fast read.   The author clearly knows Brighton well and was able to provide an atmospheric sense of place both for the well known and also the seedier parts of town. Whilst I found the first part of the story to have a slower pace, it does pick up and becomes an intriguing and twisted read that surprises with each new revelation.  I was really excited to read this especially after reading the blurb and the cover is stunning but I have to admit that I didn’t love it as much as I expected to. It has received many enthusiastic and positive reviews and I can understand why as the writing is very good. I think for me part of the issue was that I didn’t feel there was enough information about India to make me really care about her and for me she seemed a rather shadowy figure. I would have liked to have known more about her as a person and about her life.  My other problem was with Poppy. For some reason I just didn’t gel with her and for much of the story I felt she was an immature and at times annoying character; acting more like a truculent teenager than a grown woman, although I did start to revise my opinion of her at the end. I’m sure the Other Twin is going to be a huge success and deservedly so. I just think that here it’s a case of its not you, it’s me!

 

My thanks to Karen at Orenda for the paperback copy to review and to Anne Cater for the invitation to take part in the blog tour

 

About the author:

Lucy V. Hay is a novelist, script editor and blogger who helps writers via her Bang2write consultancy. She is the associate producer of Brit
Thrillers Deviation (2012) and Assassin(2015), both starring Danny Dyer. Lucy is also head reader for the London Screenwriters’ Festival and has written two non-fiction books, Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays, plus its follow-up Drama Screenplays.  She lives in Devon with her husband, three children, six cats and five African Land Snails.

 

Author Links:  Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook   |   Amazon UK   |  Goodreads

It’s a pleasure to welcome Neven Carr to the blog with a guest post.  Neven’s debut novel ‘Forgotten‘ was published on 11 August last year and is available in ebook and paperback.

 

The Importance of the Word ‘Blah’

by Neven Carr

 

  • The definition of ‘BLAH’ according to the Oxford Dictionary:

          ‘Used to refer to something which is boring or without meaningful content.’

  • The definition of the word ‘BLAH’ according to me:

           ‘A highly meaningful word used to refer to a multitude of words/phrases when, as a writer, you hit a blank.’

My favourite part of writing is the initial creating. You know the feeling, when you find yourself in deep conversations with your characters, when you sadistically throw them head first into a gruelling plot to see how they handle it, when you have so many ideas exploding in your brain, your home, your car and your workplace becomes a wallpaper of sticky notes.

Yep, just love it. I believe it is the best, craziest, painful, exuberant time in a writer’s life. It’s when I feel alive the most. However, when I am hastily scribbling ideas, I can’t always think of the right word. Call it writer’s… um… ‘blah’. [I know the word I want; it’s on the tip of my tongue!].

Chapter One of my book, Forgotten, is an example of this. I had already mapped out the basic story in my head but I knew the first chapter needed to grip readers from the start. [Small note: If you haven’t read The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman, I highly recommend it. It is an easy read and full of great advice for writers.] Anyway, the first chapter also had to be relevant, introduce my major character, Claudia Cabriati, and throw her into a challenging situation where readers can get an immediate sense of her persona.

Ideas grew like mould in my mind, not discriminating where I was or what I was doing. I knew I had to jot the thoughts down immediately, before dementia kicked in and I lost them entirely. Thus, I would grab the nearest object to me, the television guide, the phone book, the serviette at the restaurant, the street directory in the car, the tissue box, oh so many tissue boxes and… well… blah… blah… blah. I think you get the picture. As it was usually when I had very little time, I would jot down the main thought only; the rest fell under my loyal sidekick… ‘blah’.

Now, I am sure many of you have your own similar similes of ‘blah’. However, on the off chance you don’t, you are most welcome to use it. [I wish I had copyright on the word, but I don’t!]

As a result, I think my first chapter achieved my goals. I am certainly very happy with it. If you choose to read my debut novel, Forgotten, I promise that all ‘blah’s have been accounted for and replaced with seriously considered alternatives.

What is your ‘blah’ word when suddenly hit by a great idea?

Drop a line in the Comments Box below, I would love to hear it!

Happy reading, writing and ‘blah’…ing!

Love Neven

 

About the book:

Araneya Publishing

11 August 2016

431 pages

Every family holds a secret.
How far would yours go to keep it?

Twenty-eight year old schoolteacher, Claudia Cabriati, has no memory of her life before the age of eight. This is not something she thought unusual, until a strangely familiar woman possessing knowledge of that life, is shot and killed in the grounds of Claudia’s home.

Another brutal murder follows, along with the heartbreaking revelation of an unimaginable family conspiracy. Claudia crumbles into a world driven by fear and the irrational need to run and hide.
Why were people suddenly dying around her? Were any of her family, particularly her much-beloved Papa, involved in their deaths? More importantly, would her life be next?

With her trust challenged by those she loves, Claudia turns to the mysterious and enigmatic Saul Reardon. Together they embark on a dangerous journey in search of answers.

But is the past sometimes better left buried?

Set amongst the natural beauty of Australia’s eastern coastline and its richly forested hinterland, Forgotten is a fast-paced mystery thriller that explores the controversial nature of family love and protection, loyalty and self-preservation.

 

At the time of writing this post, Forgotten is available to download from Amazon UK for 99p

 

About the author:

Neven Carr lives in what she terms is an author’s haven; a quaint fishing village on the east coast of Queensland, Australia, called Toogoom. Her former years as a Primary School teacher provided her with many life experiences, some treasured, some not so treasured, but ones she continually draws upon when writing her novels. Neven Carr now devotes her time to her four passions, her family, reading, writing and watching Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and as many BBC mystery thrillers that her Foxtel subscription will allow.
Forgotten is her debut novel.

 

Author Links:  Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook   |  AmazonUK   |   Amazon.com  |   Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

Published by Picador

Ebook & Hardback | 27 July 2017

320 pages


When the invitation came to be part of the blog tour for this, I jumped at the chance.  It really does look like the type of book I would enjoy, I have a copy from Netgalley to read which I am saving for my holiday. In the meantime, for my turn on the tour, I’m delighted to welcome Kate Murray-Browne to the blog, who has kindly agreed to answer a few questions.

It’s a pleasure to welcome you to the blog Kate, would you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?

I’m a writer, artist and editor from London – I was born in Islington and moved further and further north-east until I ended up in Clapton. I worked in publishing until I decided that I wanted to prioritise my own creative work, which at the time was painting. Then I started writing and The Upstairs Room came into being.

Without giving away too much information, can you please tell us a little about your debut novel, The Upstairs Room? Where did the inspiration for the story come from?

The Upstairs Room is a ghost story set in contemporary London: it’s about a young family and their lodger who move to a Victorian townhouse in Hackney and find it has strange physical effects on them… The inspiration came from a colleague, who told me she’d had to move out of her house because it was making her and her family ill. I was fascinated by her story, not least because I was buying a house of my own at the time and thinking a lot about what a charged space the home is, that peculiar mix of the emotional and functional, the fanciful and concrete. A house that made people ill was my starting point – my first ‘character’ – then I found people to live in it, and then the story took shape and I ended up in quite a different place from where I’d started.

How useful was your publishing experience to you in writing the book? Did it give you a different perspective, particularly from an editing point of view?

It was useful in some ways but not others. I had to learn to switch off the editing side of my brain: you have to write badly in order to write well and it was very tough to allow myself to do that, to let the first draft be a first draft, and nurture the kind of fancies and curiosities that an editor might stamp out. That said, my job meant I’d had years of thinking about prose and narrative and character, and spent a lot of time talking to authors. I’m sure all of that helped.

When it came to trying to get published, it was helpful to have some understanding of how the industry worked (as much as anyone can understand a world as mysterious and opaque as publishing), but working in a job for ten years is quite a laborious way to get that information – I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it.

Do you research and plan in detail beforehand or do you just ‘write and wing it’?

I was very much winging it. It was my first sustained attempt at writing; I learnt on the job and the curve was steep. My subject was close to home, in all sorts of ways, so research wasn’t difficult: I could just step outside my house or have a conversation with a friend. Sometimes I wonder if I ought to have thought a bit more about what I was doing beforehand – the reshaping process ended up taking far longer than the actual writing – but then, it might have lost some of the excitement and urgency in the planning.

What is the best writing advice that you have received? And what advice would you give to anyone trying to get their novel published? Is there anything that you wished you had done differently?

I think there is really only one piece of writing advice: to write. So many sticking points – lack of inspiration, failure of nerve – can work themselves out just in the act of writing. It’s simple but not easy: I have always found getting into the mental space where I can sit down and make work much harder than actually doing it.

My advice to anyone trying to get published is to persevere: every writer, no matter how successful, experiences some form of rejection and you only need one yes. I was lucky enough to have a very smooth path to publication, so I don’t really wish anything had been different, except perhaps that I’d had more confidence. I wince when I think about the times I nearly scuppered myself by being too timid. When I first met the agent who ended up representing me, I almost didn’t mention that I was writing a novel because I was too embarrassed; for obvious reasons, I’m very glad that I did.

Is there any part of the writing process which you enjoy (or find the most difficult) – i.e. researching, writing, editing?

I enjoy it all. Having the germ of an idea is thrilling, but also nerve-wracking because you don’t know how it’s going to pan out. Getting towards the end of something is satisfying, but a little bit deadening because you now know how it panned out and it isn’t as perfect as the novel in your head. I remember a particularly lovely moment during the rewrites when I felt so comfortable with my fictional world that I could conjure up new scenes effortlessly – perhaps that was the perfect midpoint.

Do you have any favourite books or authors which may have inspired you? What type of book do you enjoy reading for pleasure, and what are you reading now?

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters was a direct influence: I loved the ambiguity around the haunting and the way the characters’ emotional states become entangled in the physical reality of the house. I re-read it during the writing process, as well as a lot of other spooky books, from classic ghost stories – M R James and The Woman in Black – to the more subtly unsettling: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson and The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

I like all kind of books, but I’m wary of writing that is too self-consciously clever or anything that leans on plot more than character. My favourite books tend to be character-driven and the kind you really savour your time with – for me, that’s Curtis Sittenfeld, Nick Hornby, Junot Diaz, Zadie Smith, Tana French.

I’m currently reading and enjoying The Power by Naomi Alderman: it’s an amazingly complete vision.

When you’re not working or writing, what do you do to relax?

Right now, I don’t do much working, writing or relaxing because I have a five-month-old daughter! But pre-baby, swimming (ideally outdoors) and cycling – I worked through a lot of plot ideas on my bicycle.

Finally

If you could take 3 books to a desert island, which ones would it be and why

The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James – I first read this when I was seventeen and haven’t stopped thinking about it really. I also think island life would be the right pace for savouring all those clauses.

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters – I love this book and I’d be happy to spend serious amounts of time in the emotional world of the characters, as well as having time to work out how she managed the incredibly clever construction.

Right Ho, Jeeves, by P. G. Wodehouse – I’d need probably need cheering up on the island, particularly if I’d just finished Portrait and The Night Watch, and I can’t imagine a scenario where I wouldn’t find the prize-giving scene at Market Snodsbury Grammar School funny.

 

About the book:

The Upstairs Room is a thrilling, atmospheric novel from debut author Kate Murray-Browne.

Eleanor, Richard and their two young daughters recently stretched themselves to the limit to buy their dream home, a four-bedroom Victorian townhouse in East London. But the cracks are already starting to show. Eleanor is unnerved by the eerie atmosphere in the house and becomes convinced it is making her ill. Whilst Richard remains preoccupied with Zoe, their mercurial twenty-seven-year-old lodger, Eleanor becomes determined to unravel the mystery of the house’s previous owners – including Emily, whose name is written hundreds of times on the walls of the upstairs room.

A brilliant observed and darkly witty ghost story for the house crisis, with echoes of The Little Strangers by Sarah Waters and Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

 

About the author:

Kate Murray-Browne was born and lives in London. She studied English at Cambridge University and worked in publishing for ten years, previously at Faber & Faber, before becoming a freelance editor. She is also a visual artist and has exhibited work in a number of different galleries. The Upstairs Room is her first novel.

 

Author Links:  Website   |   Amazon UK   |   Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

Published by Headline Review

Ebook & Paperback | 13 July 2017

304 pages


This book really does look gorgeous and I must thank Millie Seaward of Headline for including me on the blog tour and for the review copy which I will be reading and reviewing soon. For my turn on the tour, I have the most mouth-watering guest post for you. Enjoy!

 

The Food of My Novel

by Emylia Hall

‘To know how to eat is to know how to live,’ said French culinary legend Auguste Escoffier. While working on The Thousand Lights Hotel I couldn’t help feeling that to know how to eat was to know how to write. With main characters of a chef, an hotelier, and a travel writer raised on passionate home cooking, food was always going to be a major part of the novel. That it also became a significant part of my writing process was down to a desire to experience the world I was creating, as well as, in all honesty, my personal gluttony and capacity for procrastination. For this is a novel raised on wedges of Torta della nonna and oozing Burrata and voluminous bowls of pasta. Marinated artichokes forked straight from the jar. Sweet and soft almond biscuits, warm from the oven, and served with the strongest coffee. It was, by far, my tastiest novel to write.

On days when the words weren’t flowing I found solace in cookery books; downed tools and made a duck ragu, or prepared a salad of mozzarella, roasted tomatoes, and peaches, twists of prosciutto and scatterings of mint. I reveled in the words of others; the rich, exuberant, writing of Marlena de Blasi in A Thousand Days in Tuscany, and Tamasin Day-Lewis’s wonderfully celebratory Where Shall We Go For Dinner? I savoured the introductions and notes and preambles of recipe books, Nigella Lawson’s warm and ebullient prose, Nigel Slater’s crisp, glorious descriptions. I turned to the classics, Anna Del Conte’s Gastronomy of Italy, and Elizabeth David’s Italian Food. My collection of Italian recipe books grew and grew as I added the beautifully designed Phaidon tomes The Silver Spoon, Tuscany, and Recipes From an Italian Summer, and Emiko Davies’ gorgeous Florentine. At two, my little son – a fellow food lover – was calling them ‘Yummy Books’, and we’d pore over them together, me getting in some sly research while seemingly on motherly duty. While The Thousand Lights Hotel was still little more than scribbles in a notepad I could, in this way, feel like I was doing something constructive towards its development. I read, cooked, and ate; and I could never get enough.

Cooking is never just cooking. To me, it’s conjuring a sense of place, and travelling from your kitchen. It’s looking after people, and making them happy through small gestures; and it’s doing the same for yourself, a delectable dinner for one. It’s a creative process, a journey of discovery – if I add this ingredient to this, what will it become? I grew up in a home where the kitchen was the heart, with a mum who rarely took off her pinny, and if I look back through my teenage diaries there are more details of the meals I ate than the boys I kissed. I once worked for a winter season as a chef (well, a cook, really, I wasn’t expertly trained) in a chalet in the French Alps, and it turned what had always been a pleasure into an even more enjoyable sense of duty. I liked being the one in the apron, responsible for dinner. I liked feeling part of a social gathering, but one step removed. Even now, with my little family, I feel most at home in the kitchen. I feel useful, there: employed. And creative, even when all I’m doing is chopping onions, oil heating in a pan behind me. For the most part I’ve lived in houses and flats with small kitchens, and while I might bemoan the lack of surfaces, I’ve always enjoyed the sense of cocoon. For me, cooking has always been a happily solitary activity. Now my son loves getting involved, and I encourage it – I adore tying the strings of his little apron, equipping him with a wooden spoon – but in the main, I prefer not to chat as I’m slicing and dicing. I like being lost in my own thoughts, and, although I consider myself fairly deft, I want to concentrate on what I’m doing. Music playing. Surrounded by pleasing paraphernalia – an apple green coffee pot, turquoise painted bowls, postcards from travels, and more aprons than anybody ever needs hanging from a hook.

When I went to Elba for a research trip, I ate my way around the island. Highlights were the pistachio ice cream from a family-run gelateria, its delicate flavour unexpected after the deep green colour. Tagliatelle with scallops and almonds, enjoyed overlooking the water, a dish that tasted so unctuous yet included no cream. Clam linguini, my old favourite, whipping the pasta around my fork at speed, considering how pretty a necklace the shells might make, as all the while my mouth fizzed with garlic and parsley and white wine. In my hotel I was something of an oddity as a solo diner – it was a holiday spot, there were no business travelers – and I rather enjoyed the speculative looks I drew at dinner. When asked, I said I was a writer, but I didn’t offer more. If they imagined me a hard-nosed restaurant critic would I get a bigger slice of pie? An extra fistful of prawns? I returned home full of Italian food, and full of inspiration.

In The Thousand Lights Hotel, food is far more than just what’s served at mealtimes. It’s a unifier; of people, and conflicted selves. It’s how some characters have found their purpose in life. For others it’s how they communicate, express generosity. It’s a link to the past, a pleasure in the present, and a hope for the future. It’s Valentino offering a salad of sunflower petals, a dish delicate and beautiful, to a treasured guest: assuming nothing, wanting only to please. It’s Oliviero, full of anticipation and desire, hurrying across the sun-scorched lawn carrying a bowl of ice-cold lemon granita for a wounded person. It’s Kit, standing on her balcony, eating a slice of Torta della nonna, not knowing if she’s coming or going, only that this taste is achingly familiar, and – despite everything – delicious. It’s food as kindness and bounty and connection. Altogether, it’s food as love.

 

 

About the book:

THE THOUSAND LIGHTS HOTEL is the gorgeous new novel from Emylia Hall, author of Richard & Judy Summer Pick THE BOOK OF SUMMERS. Set in idyllic Italy, it’s the perfect holiday read, for fans of Louise Douglas and Hannah Richell.

When Kit loses her mother in tragic circumstances, she feels drawn to finally connect with the father she has never met. That search brings her to the Thousand Lights Hotel, the perfect holiday escape perched upon a cliff on the island of Elba. Within this idyllic setting a devastating truth is brought to light: shaking the foundations upon which the hotel is built, and shattering the lives of the people within it.

A heartbreaking story of loss, betrayal, and redemption, told with all the warmth and beauty of an Italian summer.

 

 

About the author:

Emylia was born in 1978 and grew up in the Devon countryside, the daughter of an English artist and a Hungarian quilt-maker. After studying English and Related Literature at the universities of York and Lausanne, she spent five years working in a London ad agency, before moving to the French Alps. It was there that she began to write. Emylia now lives in Bristol with her husband, the comic-book writer and children’s author, Robin Etherington. Her first novel, The Book of Summers, was a Richard & Judy Bookclub pick in 2012.

 

Author Links:    Website  |   Twitter  |  Facebook   |   Amazon UK   |   Goodreads