‘Miss Millie’s Groom’ Free on Smashwords

‘Miss Millie’s Groom’ book cover

My World War One romance, ‘Miss Millie’s Groom,’ is newly-published on Smashwords and is currently free from the site and from its retailers:

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/710062

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/miss-millies-groom-catherine-e-chapman/1125994767

http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/miss-millies-groom/id1216270283

http://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/miss-millie-s-groom

I am delighted that the book recently received its first rating on Barnes & Noble and it’s 5 stars!  Here’s an extract from the review of the book that appeared on the Romantic Historical Reviews website in November 2016:

“Millicent is vivacious, endearing and determined. I truly enjoyed her character a great deal from the first page to the last. She reminded me of Sybil from Downton Abbey; in fact, this novel has other overtones from that drama.”

‘The Hangar Dance’ reviewed by Book Angel

I’m delighted that Book Angel recently reviewed my WWII romance, ‘The Hangar Dance,’ and published the review in a newspaper circulated in Croydon.  Many thanks to them for their commitment to promoting indie authors.

http://bookangel.co.uk/blog/the-hangar-dance/

My Review of Edna O’Brien’s ‘The Country Girls’

My review of Edna O'Brien's novel

My review of Edna O’Brien’s novel

I can’t remember when I bought this book (maybe in my early-twenties) but I do recall attempting to read it in the past and abandoning it pretty quickly.  I’m not sure why – maybe it wasn’t what I was expecting at the time.  Anyway, I’m really glad that I finally got around to revisiting ‘The Country Girls’ because I found it a very easy and enjoyable read.

The first thing to say is that it’s a short novel but this is no bad thing as you get into the story very quickly and the main characters are very striking.  While ‘The Country Girls’ is set in a rural Ireland belonging to a bygone age, the relationship between Caithleen and Baba seems very modern, particularly in Baba’s relentless dominance and abuse of her more socially vulnerable friend.  I enjoyed the fact that Baba was a far less sympathetic character than Caithleen.

I felt that the most intriguing aspect of ‘The Country Girls’ was the ambiguity surrounding the first person narrator, Caithleen’s point of view.  As this is the first book in a trilogy, perhaps one needs to read the later books to gain a clearer perspective on Caithleen’s real feelings about certain aspects of the past.  But from this book alone, I was left feeling unsure about Caithleen’s view of her relationship with ‘Mr Gentleman,’ an older, solvent, married man.  The relationship reads as having been exploitative and yet the narrator’s presentation of it appears naïve as Caithleen’s own adolescent interpretation of it was at the time.  So the narrator doesn’t appear to be distanced from this episode, whereas she does seem to have an adult perspective on most of the rest of the story she tells.  I don’t know whether this is a flaw or a strength of the novel but it was something that left the narrative feeling unresolved.

Overall, I would recommend ‘The Country Girls’ to anyone looking for a relatively short but absorbing read.

‘High Sea’ – Short Victorian Romance Coming Soon to Smashwords

'High Sea' will be free on Smashwords in the run up to Valentine's day

‘High Sea’ will be free on Smashwords in the run up to Valentine’s day

To celebrate St Valentine’s Day, my short Victorian romance, ‘High Sea,’ will be published on Smashwords on Thursday 5th February and will be free initially.  The story is already available on Kindle and has some good ratings on Goodreads.

To readers who have said that, whilst they’ve enjoyed my short historical romances, they wished they had been longer, I’m happy to report that I am -finally!- working on a longer-length historical romance, and I’m really enjoying the process of writing a fuller story in this genre.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Review of Charlotte Bronte’s ‘Shirley’

Review of 'Shirley' by Charlotte Bronte

Review of ‘Shirley’ by Charlotte Bronte

New Year brings a renewed dedication to reviewing books I’ve been reading.  I finished Charlotte Bronte’s ‘Shirley’ a couple of months back, but have finally got around to writing a review.  Here it is:

I feel a strong sense of relief at having discovered Shirley.  I consider myself a fan of Charlotte Bronte but have in the past abandoned her novel The Professor and found Villette hard-going (though ultimately rewarding).

Shirley is certainly not ‘standard’ Charlotte Bronte.  It reads a lot more like a George Eliot (or even Charles Dickens) novel, in being a work which is much more socially aware than Jane Eyre, with a larger cast of characters.  In contrast with Jane Eyre, the book has a third person narrator, which brings it more in line with the standard model for the Nineteenth Century novel.  Also significant is the fact that it’s her only novel to really transcend her abiding obsession with the lot of a female governess – although, latterly, a male tutor does become a significant character.

But I found it refreshing to read heroines who were not as doom-laden and self-absorbed as Lucy Snowe (Villette).  Whilst Caroline is a more sensitive character, more akin to what we expect from Bronte, the feisty Shirley herself defies our expectations and, for me, this was one of the greatest revelations of the novel.

I found the first 100 pages (one-fifth) of the book rather arduous (although, it’s here that there is social scene-setting that is interestingly atypical of Bronte) but it’s necessary for what follows.  Whilst I acknowledge that Shirley is Bronte’s most ambitious novel in terms of providing a commentary on the society of early Nineteenth Century Britain, I found it most rewarding as the story of a love triangle and, when this strand of the plot develops later on in the book, I believe it becomes a much more compelling read.  We also see in this storyline CB writing with emotional depth to challenge Jane Eyre.

So it’s for this aspect of Shirley that I would recommend the book to any fan of CB’s writing.  But I would also say that, if you’re a fan of the Nineteenth Century novel but not a fan of Jane Eyre, I would give Shirley a go – it shows a very different side to Charlotte Bronte’s writing.

Happy New Year to everyone!