Category Archives: book reviews

#BookReview ‘Lucy by the Sea’ by @LizStrout #contemporary #literary

Elizabeth Strout never writes a bad novel. When I started to read Lucy by the Sea, her latest, I was taken aback to find it is set during the pandemic; something I have avoided. But I was soon immersed in the life of Lucy Barton and her relocation from New York to a small seaside town in Maine. Elizabeth StroutMy misgivings about lockdown were reduced because this is a Strout novel. She doesn’t write about the pandemic – apart from occasional mentions of masks and vaccines – she writes about people. This is a finely-judged story about ageing, about grief [new and long-lived], about secrets within families and self-denial of difficult truths. Lucy moves into a large house outside the town of Crosby, not because she planned it, but because her ex-husband William persuades her it will be safer than the city. There they discover new and old acquaintances and reacquaint themselves with each other. William is recently separated; Lucy was widowed a year earlier. Both feel their age and are anxious about the subtle changes, but don’t like admitting it to themselves or anyone else.
Through Lucy’s eyes as she reflects on her own life, and that of her children and family, we see how childhood poverty never leaves you even if you leave that poverty behind. How marriage turbulence is sometimes negotiable, and sometimes terminal. How education saved her but didn’t save her sister or brother, and how she was for years blind to that inequality. It is thought-provoking stuff. Honest. Painful. It makes you consider your own life and how you see it through blinkers gained through your personal experience.
Strout’s novels are all inter-twined through character and place, but always with a light touch. If this is the first Strout book you pick up, please read it. This is not a series, there is no first and last book to be read in order. It is an ensemble. If it were theatrical, it would be a repertory company. The pandemic-forced move to Crosby takes Lucy out of her comfort zone, away from friends, and she rubs shoulders with people she wouldn’t normally meet. As we see Lucy age from novel to novel, Lucy by the Sea highlights her new vulnerability and anxiety as she and William work out how to handle the awkward elements of getting old.
This is a more political novel than any of Strout’s previous work. The pandemic setting makes this inevitable. There is a shadow of mask v anti-mask, resident v incomer, plus brief mentions of George Floyd and storming of the Capitol on January 6. But this is not overt and always put into Lucy’s context. Strout places her characters in a time of disruption, fear and death. For everyone who lived through it, the surreal isolation forced by pandemic lockdown was an opportunity for consideration, re-evaluation and truth. A gift for a novelist with the powers of Elizabeth Strout.

Read my reviews of these other books by Elizabeth Strout:-

If you like this, try:-

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LUCY BY THE SEA by @LizStrout #bookreview via @SandraDanby

Frances Brody

#BookReview ‘Stone Blind’ by @officialnhaynes #mythology #fantasy

Stone Blind is the first novel by Natalie Haynes I’ve read and I came to it without expectations or pre-conceived ideas. Billed as the story of Medusa, the mortal raped by a god and turned into a Gorgon with a writhing head of snakes, this is in fact a much broader tale of Greek gods, goddesses and myths. Medusa is featured but is not prominent until the final third. A fleeting appearance and a disappointment I didn’t recover from. Natalie HaynesA story of the abuse of power and privilege, of trickery and arrogance, mostly of men against women, this heaviness is leavened with wit and a modern feminist voice. It is the tale of assorted women, goddesses and mortals and their places in their worlds alongside men. In a complex weaving of many stories and narrators, this is a novel to read with your full attention. I felt it drag in the middle, perhaps my concentration wavered, perhaps the thin presence of Medusa began to weigh on me. Oh how I wanted more about Medusa and her Gorgon sisters, Euryale and Stheno, and less squabbles, battles and jealousies of so many immortals and their offspring.
Haynes examines the question, what makes a monster and who decides. She updates the relevance of Medusa and Perseus and questions the very idea that the Gorgons were monstrous. So, an ambitious tale in breadth – perhaps too ambitious – but with some feminist lines to remember. ‘So to mortal men, we are monsters. Because of our teeth, our flight, our strength. They fear us, so they call us monsters.’
There are so many books out there that are fictionalised re-tellings of the Greek myths that we’re spoilt for choice. Will I read another by Haynes? I’m not sure, not for a while.

If you like this, try:-
The Silence of the Girls’ by Pat Barker
The Women of Troy’ by Pat Barker
Circe’ by Madeline Miller

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
STONE BLIND by @officialnhaynes #bookreview via @SandraDanby


#BookReview ‘The Cornish Wedding Murder’ by @fkleitch #cosycrime

Jodie ‘Nosey’ Parker, former Metropolitan Police officer, has moved home to Cornwall with daughter Daisy. When she agrees to do the catering for an ex-boyfriend’s wedding, she doesn’t expect to find herself involved a murder investigation. The Cornish Wedding Murder is first in the Nosey Parker cosy crime series by Fiona Leitch. A while ago I stumbled on the second book in this series and enjoyed it so much I decided to start at the beginning. Fiona LeitchDoes Jodie find murder and mayhem, or does trouble find her? When Tony Penhaligon’s fiancé disappears on the eve of their wedding, and his ex-wife is found dead in the grounds, he is arrested. Jodie, who has taken an instant dislike to the flashy bride-to-be Cheryl, becomes peacemaker as Mel, Tony’s ex, publicly accuses her successor of marrying him for his money. Never one to stand on the sidelines, Jodie steps in to calm the situation.
This is an enjoyable, easy read. Perfect for when you want something to sink into and forget the world outside. Yes, it’s a murder story. But it’s also funny, full of twists, turns and a main character who is impossible not to like. Jodie is the sort of friend everyone wants. Meddling, well-meaning, gung-ho and giggly, she has a sensitive nose for wrongdoing and a clear idea of what’s right and wrong. Aided by an adopted fluffy white dog and loaded down with leftover wedding food that must be eaten, Jodie is determined to uphold the concept of ‘innocent until proven guilty.’
A well-written mystery that introduces the setting and characters of the future books. Jodie is likeable. Flawed, but in a nice way that makes her seem a real person. Ably supported by her Mum and daughter Daisy, everywhere Jodie turns in the village someone remembers her as the daughter of respected and much-missed Chief Inspector Eddie Parker. That’s quite a reputation to live up to. Looking for a peaceful life, a new start with her daughter away from London, she manages to find trouble around every corner. She pursues every clue she finds, instead of telling local detective DCI Withers who despairs [or pretends to] at her interference.
Close to the end, I was still guessing the identity of the murderer. The conclusion of the romantic sub-plot is also unsure. A nice mixture of amateur sleuthing and romance. You’ll finish it wanting to read more.


If you like this, try:-
Murder at Catmmando Mountain’ by Anna Celeste Burke
The Art of the Imperfect’ by Kate Evans
Magpie Murders’ by Anthony Horowitz

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THE CORNISH WEDDING MURDER by @fkleitch #bookreview via @SandraDanby

Natalie Haynes

#Bookreview ‘All the Broken Places’ by @john_boyne #literary #WW2

John Boyne is a fine writer. All the Broken Places, his sequel to The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, examines the nature of grief and guilt, of living a long life of secrets. Its some years since I read The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas but All the Broken Places stands on its own and can be read independently. John BoyneGretel Fernsby is ninety-one. It is London 2022 as she nervously awaits the new neighbours expected to move into the downstairs flat. She likes familiarity, routine, being anonymous. Gretel carries the guilt of something that happened in the war and which she has hidden, and lived with, for eighty years. The opening sentence sets up the story succinctly. ‘If every man is guilty of all the good he did not do, as Voltaire suggested, then I have spent a lifetime convincing myself that I am innocent of all the bad.’ Boyne explores the concepts of individual and collective guilt, of the sin of inaction, of the culpability of children and the offence of looking away.
Gretel’s younger brother was The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, their father commandant at Auschwitz. She buried all memories of her brother, unable to speak his name or say it silently in her own head, but is unable to forget him. We follow her life after the war, to France and Australia and finally to England. Always, she lives a life of secrets. Until the past comes bursting forth when nine-year old Henry moves in downstairs and Gretel sees his tears, his bruises, his silences. The memories come flooding back. As she considers whether to step in and defend Henry, she must risk revealing what she has hidden for eighty years. Will Gretel find a kind of peace?
It’s the best book I’ve read so far in 2023. There are surprises at the end, some beautiful detail. Emotional but never sentimental, Boyne doesn’t shy away from the horror of the Holocaust. Powerful and uncomfortable.

Read more about THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PYJAMAS here.

Click the title to read my reviews of these other novels by John Boyne:-

If you like this, try:-
‘The Aftermath’ by Rhidian Brook
Inflicted’ by Ria Frances
The Bird in the Bamboo Cage’ by Hazel Gaynor

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ALL THE BROKEN PLACES by @john_boyne #bookreview via @SandraDanby

Fiona Leitch

#BookReview ‘Listening Still’ by @AnneGriffin_ #Irish #contemporary

When All is Said the debut novel by Anne Griffin was one of my favourite books of 2019. Listening Still is Irish writer Griffin’s second novel. It focusses on Jeanie Masterson, an undertaker who can hear the last words of the newly deceased. She finds herself a juggler of truth, obfuscations and lies as she tries to balance her commitment to the dead person to pass on a message to the ones left behind, with her own emotional need to soften harsh words that may hurt the recipient. This shaky balance of truth and lies is the theme of the book set in the small community of Kilcross. Anne GriffinIt took me a while to get into this book, to care. Unlike Maurice Hannigan in When All is Said who is a character whose head and being I immediately slipped into, I found Jeanie more difficult to reach and less sympathetic. Starting with the shock announcement by Jeanie’s parents that they are retiring and leaving her and husband Niall to run the family undertakers, the novel quickly widens out to encompass Jeanie’s childhood and teenage years and how she came to terms with her unusual gift. This return to the past became frustrating as I wanted to hear more about the voices of the dead and their stories, rather than the ups and downs of Jeanie’s love life. My fault, I was hoping for a community ensemble story in the style of Marilynne Robinson and Elizabeth Strout.
Jeanie’s difficulties with taking over the family firm are inextricably linked to her relationship with her husband. In order to move forward, something has to give. But what? As she seeks the answers, Jeanie’s travels take her to London, Norway and France. I particularly enjoyed the section with Marielle and Lucien. Seventy-five year old Marielle can also hear the dead. Her neighbour and boyfriend Lucien digs graves for Marielle’s clients while rescuing the pieces of furniture she rejects, he stashes them in a shed knowing that she will regret throwing them away.
After the brilliance of When All is Said, perhaps my expectations of a second novel were unrealistically high. Yes I was disappointed but this is still is a well-written, enjoyable novel by an author who is on my to-watch list. And it left me thinking of that old chestnut – can a well-meant lie hurt more than the difficult truth?

Read my review of WHEN ALL IS SAID.

If you like this, try:-
Unsettled Ground’ by Claire Fuller
Elizabeth is Missing’ by Emma Healey
Something to Hide’ by Deborah Moggach

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
LISTENING STILL by @AnneGriffin_ #bookreview via @SandraDanby

#BookReview ‘The Queen’s Lady’ by @joannahickson #historical #Tudor

The Queen’s Lady by Joanna Hickson is a delightful read about a key woman behind the scenes of the Tudor crown, trusted and loved by two queens. Second in the ‘Queens of the Tower’ series, it follows Lady Joan Guildford nee Vaux who we first met in The Lady of the Ravens. Joan is now lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth, wife of Henry VII and mother of Prince Arthur and Prince Henry. Joanna HicksonIt is 1502 and the story starts as Arthur, Prince of Wales, marries Princess Katherine of Aragon. There are worries for Arthur’s health and when a messenger knocks on the door late one night, he brings a request that ‘Mother Guildford’ should rush to the side of the Queen. Loyalties change overnight and friendships disappear. The storyline of the Tudors is well-known but this book shows the history from the point of view of courtiers, the way the court worked and the fragility of such positions in the gift of the king. After Arthur’s death, followed quickly by that of his queen, Henry VII becomes insular and paranoid, he listens to new advisors and fears those closest to him are treacherous. Joan’s husband Richard is accused of fraud and, despite Joan’s history as governess to countless princes and princesses, the family lose their position at court.
When reading some historical novels, I find myself questioning the history and noticing the heavy use of historical fact. Hickson’s writing is a delight, she conjures the period with a light touch. Joan is present at a series of critical events of the period – the meeting with the French king at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, the coronation of Henry VIII and marriage to Katherine of Aragon, Princess Mary’s journey to Scotland and marriage to King James, and the journey to France with Princess Margaret to marry Louis XII.
There is romance, hardship, fear, grief and new love. The ravens are still there but are not central to this story, as they were the first. It’s not clear if this is simply the sequel to the first Joan Vaux book, or whether Hickson will continue with a third.
Joan Guildford died in 1538 at the age of 75, eighteen years after the ending of this novel. So plenty more years for Hickson to imagine the life of this fascinating woman.
Don’t miss it.

Click the title to read my review of THE LADY OF THE RAVENS, first in the Queens of the Tower series.

If you like this, try:-
Winter Pilgrims’ by Toby Clements
The Forgotten Sister’ by Nicola Cornick
Cecily’ by Annie Garthwaite

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE QUEEN’S LADY by @joannahickson #bookreview via @SandraDanby

#BookReview ‘The Bone Fire’ by @SD_Sykes #historical #mystery

I read The Bone Fire by SD Sykes in three days. Fourth in the Oswald de Lacy 14th century series, it’s a classic closed room murder mystery set at the time of the plague in Britain. A disease that everyone feared but no-one understood. SD SykesThirteen years after the Black Death the plague has returned to Britain. Oswald, now married with a son, decides to take his family to a castle on an isolated island in the Kent marshes. When the gates are closed for the duration of the winter, he hopes, they will be safe from infection. But one by one, the inhabitants of the gloomy, isolated castle, are killed. Murdered. And with each death, Oswald’s suspects reduce in number. The winter of 1361 turns out to be a long one. The castle is cold, the air is fetid, the food supplies are dwindling, and the temptation to venture beyond the walls into the fresh air of the marshes and woodland are overwhelming. But the risk of infection from plague, even in this empty place, are enormous.
Oswald is a complex detective. He is an uncompromising interviewer, persistent in his questioning, unafraid to threaten. But he is quick to jump to possible conclusions. At the same time he has empathy for all creatures, weak and vulnerable, human and animal, and this a strength and a weakness. Wanting to do the right thing, he brings danger to those closest to him.
This series is improving with every book. The characters are settled, the risks are higher for Oswald now he is a father and husband. There is less scene setting, the action is quicker. Sykes mixes familiar characters – Oswald’s curt selfish mother and son Hugh from Oswald’s first marriage, plus his wife and valet – with the other occupants in the castle on the Isle of Eden. Each brings their own counsel and assistance to Oswald’s investigations, sometimes useful, sometimes misguided. But one of them is a murderer.
I raced through The Bone Fire, a much quicker read than the preceding novels. The teenage Oswald has matured into a complex, mature man living through one of the most difficult times in our history who invariably chooses to take the right path rather than the easy one.
A page turner.

Click the title to read my reviews of the first three books in this series:-

If you like this, try:-
The Swift and the Harrier’ by Minette Walters
The Key in the Lock’ by Beth Underdown
The Ashes of London’ by Andrew Taylor

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE BONE FIRE by @SD_Sykes #bookreview via @SandraDanby


#BookReview ‘The Hidden Palace’ by @DinahJefferies #WW2 #Malta

The Hidden Palace by Dinah Jefferies, second in the ‘Daughters of War’ trilogy, wasn’t quite what I expected. I felt disconnected from the first book which means it’s perfectly possible to be read as a standalone novel. Dinah JefferiesFlorence Baudin, one of the three Baudin sisters featured in Daughters of War, first in the series, has fled France leaving her sisters behind. It is 1944 and she is in England at the isolated Devon cottage of Jack, the English SOE agent who led her through France and Spain to safety. Florence is finally reunited with her mother Claudette who had stayed in England for the war. As sharp and feisty as ever, Claudette doesn’t make her daughter feel welcome but has a surprising request. Will Florence find her younger sister Rosalie who ran away from the family home in Paris in 1925? Florence, desperate to be closer to her mother, agrees despite the absence of clues, despite it being wartime.
This is a dual timeline story. 1944 with Florence, and 1925 with Rosalie Delacroix who flees Paris and goes to Malta where she finds work as a dancer. Rosalie is a more dynamic character than Florence, she makes things happen. Rosalie swaps career from dancer to journalist, publishing editor to campaigner, not all of which felt natural for her character. This is a novel of two separate stories – of aunt and niece, two decades apart – linked by genes but not impacting on each other.
Basically this tells of the search for a missing person. From the book blurb I anticipated a story set during the WW2 siege of Malta but it was late coming; at 70% through the novel Rosalie was still in 1930s. When war does come, I wanted to know more about Malta at this time. It was such a dramatic period in history and is seldom written about in fiction. Rosalie’s work as a plotter in the underground control centre during the defence of Malta is good, but slim pickings. Jefferies contrasts well the beauty of Malta with a darker underlying menace, prostitution, trafficking of women. This is an island invaded and settled by foreigners over many centuries with the looming threat of another world war. The hidden palace of the book’s title is a mesmerising maze of a building, like something out of an exotic Mary Stewart suspense novel. Is it a sanctuary or a prison. It’s a mysterious setting I was hoping would be used as a sanctuary during the war or perhaps a secret military headquarters.
The theme of unity and divisions between sisters shows how misunderstandings, if not addressed, can become impenetrable division. The deepest of bad feelings are better aired and faced, than deeply buried. Running away does not leave the old trouble behind, but also causes new problems.
I like to be immersed in characters and prefer long sections so I become emotionally involved. This story jumps around a lot between timelines which can be disorientating. The use of a cliffhanger at the end of each chapter is meant to add tension to keep the reader reading, but there needs to be a worthy pay-off each time. When chunks of years were skipped in Rosalie’s story, I wanted to know what was missing. It was like looking at a family photo album with pages torn out.
So, a bit of a curate’s egg. It didn’t advance the story of the three Baudin sisters, as I was expecting. But Rosalie’s story in Malta kept my attention.

Click the title to read my review of DAUGHTERS OF WAR, first in this trilogy.

And here are my reviews of some of Dinah Jefferies’ other novels:-

If you like this, try:-
The Gabriel Hounds’ by Mary Stewart
The Postcard from Italy’ by Angela Petch
The Last Hours in Paris’ by Ruth Druart

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE HIDDEN PALACE by @DinahJefferies #bookreview via @SandraDanby


#BookReview ‘The Night Ship’ by @JessKiddHerself #historical #Batavia

The Night Ship by Jess Kidd is a strange compelling story about two orphaned children separated, but connected, by 361 years. Each thinks they see ghosts, learns legends and fights monsters. Both want to be scared, to seek out the unknown. Jess KiddIn 1628, nine-year old Mayken is aboard the magnificent Batavia, one of a fleet of ships heading from Holland to Batavia in Dutch East India (now Indonesia). She travels with her nursemaid Imke. Mayken’s mother has died of ‘the bloody flux’ and she travels to live with her father, a senior executive in the Dutch East India Company. Mayken has never met him but knows he grows red and white roses at his marble mansion, has chestnut stallions and dapple mares.
In 1989 after the death of his mother, nine-year old Gil goes to live with his grandfather who is a fisherman on the remote Beacon Island off the coast of Australia. It’s a stark place. Gil, who has only the vaguest childhood memories of both his grandfather Joss and of Beacon Island, has never known his father.
Both children explore their new surroundings, making adventures in their limited worlds. The warning ‘don’t go there’ or ‘don’t do that’ becomes an invitation to do exactly that. Both are explorers, brave in the face of the unknown, outsiders living in worlds limited in space bounded by the sea. When brutality strikes, how can they escape. Both are haunted by legend and scary stories, both make unlikely allies and enemies. Mayken discards her rich dress and wears breeches to venture below decks and, as ship’s boy Obbe, assumes a new identity. There she makes friends and enemies amongst the soldiers and sailors; these connections are vital later in the story. Gil knows he cannot leave the island without his grandfather’s permission. He finds a friend in his tortoise Enkidu and dresses up in clothes from Granny Ada’s wardrobe. When he finds a boat, inspired by stories about a shipwreck many years ago and the finds by an archaeological team digging on the island, he dreams of escape.
I loved the fond relationship between Mayken and Imke, particularly the recurring question about how Imke lost her fingertips as Mayken’s suggestions get more bizarre and gruesome. This is a welcome distraction from the bizarre and gruesome things that begin to happen aboard. Is someone making mischief, is it simply sailor’s superstitions or is there a monster aboard? Gil struggles to connect with his silent, brusque grandfather, and becomes the target of the island’s bullies. Each storyline is told only from the child’s viewpoint. Are Mayken and Gil to be trusted as reliable witnesses or has the real world become lost in their imaginations.
The Night Ship is based on the real seventeenth-century story of the voyage, shipwreck and mutiny aboard the treasure-laden ship Batavia. The fictional accounts of Mayken’s life aboard ship and then on the island they call Batavia’s Graveyard and Gil’s life on Beacon Island, the same place, explore community within and the social breakdown of small groups of people.
Slowly, slowly, this story grew on me. First, it seemed simply strange. But then the echoes in the lives of the two children begin to build and I wanted to know their endings. Beautifully-written and born from a wild imagination. This is the third book by Jess Kidd that I’ve read, each so different and impossible to predict. Sometimes a difficult read, this is also a hopeful, magical story with ultimately a positive message about the resilience of human love and kindness in the face of violence, evil and exploitation.

Read my reviews of two other novels by Jess Kidd:-

If you like this, try:-
Dangerous Women’ by Hope Adams
The Ship’ by Antonia Honeywell
Devotion’ by Hannah Kent

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
#BookReview THE NIGHT SHIP by @JessKiddHerself via @SandraDanby


#BookReview ‘The Dance Tree’ by Kiran Millwood Hargrave #historical

The Dance Tree by Kiran Millwood Hargrave is compelling and emotional. I read it in two long sittings, unwilling to put it down. Kiran Millwood HargraveBased on a true historical event in Strasbourg in 1518 when, one hot summer, one woman started to dance and didn’t stop. Others followed. Set at a time of extreme heat, hunger, intense religious belief and superstition, The Dance Tree takes the historical event and tells the story of a group of women and their secrets.
Lisbet, heavily pregnant with her thirteenth child, having lost the previous twelve, lives on the family farm with husband Henne and mother-in-law Sophey. They scratch a living from their bees, selling honey and beeswax. They await the arrival of the baby, and of Henne’s sister Agnethe returning from seven years of punishment at a nunnery. Many things are unspoken. Lisbet, feeling secrets are kept from her, finds support with her best friend Ida. But always she feels as if the Wilers blame her for bringing bad luck to the farm, bad luck because Lisbet was born on the day of a comet, a comet which bought bad luck and starvation to the land.
So many things are unspoken. What happened before Lisbet married Henne and joined the Wiler family. What shame did Nethe commit to deserve her banishment and, now she is returned, why is there such hatred between her and Ida. Lisbet, feeling estranged from her husband and mother-in-law, struggles to make sense of what is happening. What is the family hiding from her, and why. The family has so many secrets, including the secrets Lisbet is hiding about her mother’s death.
The power balance at the Wiler house changes as the three women are left alone. Henne travels to Heidelberg to give evidence in court that their bees are free creatures in nature and are not wilfully stealing nectar from the wildflowers at the monastery. Meanwhile in town women begin dancing. First one, trance-like, hearing music that those watching cannot hear. More join in, at first a spectacle for the town’s inhabitants. But then, as more people join in, fear begins to circulate. Are they ill, are they mad. And how will the church control the hysteria.
Into the Wiler home come two lodgers, two musicians paid by the church to play music to drive the devil from the dancing women. And so the power balance shifts again in the Wiler household, especially as one of the men is a Turk, an infidel. The power of religious belief and superstition is overwhelming. Heat, poverty, hunger all increase the pressure to conform. Judgement against those who do not fit in or whose behaviour is judged sinful or simply different is uncompromising. Those wielding the power, the Twenty One, are strong men filled with pomposity and arrogance. They are quick to judge and will not hear evidence or allow people to make witness. Women’s voices are not heard.
Lisbet’s place of sanctuary is a linden tree, hidden deep in the forest in an impenetrable tangle of bushes. There she can be herself, remember her mother and grieve for her lost babies. Her mother had a tree like this near Lisbet’s childhood home, it was called a dance tree. When Lisbet visits her tree she finds peace in its solitude. At every visit she leaves a small offering, a pebble, a feather, a flower. She feels safe there but in truth there is safety nowhere. When the Twenty One sees the dancing women, decisions about what to do – to punish the women or care for them – are made individually according to the woman’s standing and position in society, obedient or sinner.
Like Hargrave’s previous novel The Mercies, this is a powerful mesmerising novel tight with tension, betrayal and threat leavened by snatches of love and togetherness. Excellent.

Click the title to read my review of THE MERCIES, also by Kiran Millwood Hargrave.

If you like this, try:-
Orphans of the Carnival’ by Carol Birch
The Wicked Cometh’ by Laura Carlin
Gone are the Leaves’ by Anne Donovan

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE DANCE TREE by Kiran Millwood Hargrave #bookreview via @SandraDanby

Jess Kidd