The Good Servant by Fern Britton, Orphans of the Storm by Celia Imrie and One Last Secret by Adele Parks
Janet Gordon, who lives in Takeley, reviews bestsellers and early fiction for India…
My God, that’s a big stack of fantastic hardcover novels I have for you this week.
If you pack one in your vacation suitcase — assuming your plane isn’t canceled, of course — one will probably suffice.
But which one to choose?
The Good Servant by Fern Britton (HarperCollins £14.99)
Well, first off, a wonderful new read from former TV presenter Fern Britton, for whom this is her 10th bestseller.
Fern broke away from her usual Cornish stories to write about a character from royal history who has long fascinated many people, myself included.
After reading The Little Princesses by Marion Crawford many years ago, Fern delved into the historical records and after much research wrote a compelling and compelling account of Marion’s long years of service as governess to the princesses. Elizabeth and Margaret.
Crawfie, to give her the nickname given to her by young princesses, was devoted to her royal family. So much so that when her mother, who was determined to marry off Marion, introduced her to a much older man, they courted for more than 10 years before Marion could even think of a romance.
You must feel really sorry for the naive Crawfie and a lovely but ultimately determined queen who really didn’t want Crawfie gone if it might cause any inconvenience to the royal family.
And when Crawfie finally succumbed to her gentleman friend’s flattery, she was at least given the sweetest ‘grace and favor’ cottage within the grounds of Kensington Palace.
But then Crawfie was tricked into posting ‘harmless little stories’ about her time with the Royal Family which eventually became a bestseller but angered the Royal Family and resulted in Crawfie becoming persona non grata for the rest of his life.
This isn’t the first book I’ve read on the subject – over the past couple of years there have been several faction-type novels on the subject – but it’s definitely one of the best governess novels I’ve read. ‘ve read, if not the best.
It’s a real departure from previous Fern novels and I look forward to many more exciting sagas like this.
Orphans of the Storm by Celia Imrie (Bloomsbury Publishing £14.99)
And yet another personality/actress turned author is next. Celia Imrie is such a familiar face on the box, especially for those of you who love watching all the old sitcoms. Dinnerladies and Absolutely Fabulous anyone?
This is Celia’s fifth novel and is a beautifully gripping story of young seamstress Marcela, who wanted to be an opera singer but became a seamstress and was somehow drawn into marriage with her husband Michael.
Having had two children whom she adores, Marcela is fed up with the cruel and controlling man that her husband has become.
Here I have to raise my hand and say I’m only halfway through this one, so I haven’t yet reached the part where socialite Margaret’s path intersects with Marcela and Michael’s on the unfortunate Titanic and I can’t wait to see how it plays out.
Once again, it’s a great gripping and wonderfully written fact-based saga.
One Last Secret by Adele Parks (HQ £14.99)
The latest novel by the wonderful Adele Parks is a simply undeniable domestic thriller.
Dora is an escort. Ultra careful with her customers, all vetted and vetted and working through a facilitator, Dora is on her way home from one of her regulars when she is asked to stop and visit a new one. customer who came with a recommendation.
Dora really doesn’t want to, but lets herself be convinced. It doesn’t go as planned, so she’s forced to keep a low profile for a while.
And then she is booked for a sun break with her regular. Her loving boyfriend, off to a conference, wouldn’t approve, but Dora thinks this latest job will save her money and enjoy a week away.
However, once at the castle, it becomes apparent that this vacation is not what it should be and Dora, far from being in a safe environment, is in mortal danger.
Once again, the marvelous Adele Parks has written a captivating and readable novel that will keep you guessing at every chapter.
I would have such a hard time choosing which of these three novels to take on vacation that I would have to take them all, much to my husband’s chagrin!
Awesomely Austen (Hachette Children’s Books £6.99 each)
This is such a bright and brilliant idea. Jane Austen’s novels (and of course you’ll probably realize that I’m a huge Austen fan) are generally hard for young people to understand, but here each one has been told by well-known children’s authors in a language suitable for young people without losing wit and humor.
Not only that, they’re beautifully illustrated in a cartoonish style and there’s a glossary on the back with all sorts of Regency-type goodies.
Since there were six Jane Austen novels, there are obviously six to collect, but one lucky independent reader can win the entire collection.
To try your luck, simply answer this question: in which Jane Austen novel does Mr Darcy appear? Is it a) Emma, b) Northanger Abbey or c) Pride & Prejudice.
Send your entries to the Book Competition, Bishop’s Stortford Independent, 12 North Street, Bishop’s Stortford CM23 2LQ or email email@example.com with ‘Book Competition’ in the subject line. Registration closes at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, August 2. The winner will be asked to pick up their prize at the Indie office.