Tag Archives: women fiction

#Bookreview ‘The Shadow Sister’ by Lucinda Riley @lucindariley #romance

Lucinda Riley Star d’Aplièse, the third of the six adopted sisters in Lucinda Riley’s dual-timeline adoption mystery series is the subject of The Shadow Sister. Riley excels at combining a contemporary mystery with a related historical story and so far in the series Star has been something of an enigma. Almost twinned to CeCe, her nearest sister in age, she is the quiet unassuming one in this flamboyant family. In The Shadow Sister, she steps out of the shadows and discovers a past involving Beatrix Potter, Mrs Keppel and the King of England.

When their adopted father Pa Salt dies, he leaves each girl a letter and clue about their birth. Star’s journey takes her first to Kensington, London, to an eccentric rare bookseller where, Star, grieving and feeling adrift in life, takes a job as bookshop assistant. She soon proves herself irreplaceable to shop owner Orlando who invites her to his family home in Kent. There she meets his surly brother Mouse – who Star thinks of as ‘The Sewer Rat’ – and delightful nephew Rory. As Star becomes caught up in the turmoil of the Vaughan family, distance grows between herself and CeCe. Slowly Star recognises that in order to work out who she is, she must be separate from her sister.

This novel is not just the contemporary story of Star ‘finding herself’ it is also the story of her ancestry. The historical strand takes us back to 1909 to Flora MaNichol who lives at Esthwaite Hall in the Lake District, and is a neighbour to Beatrix Potter. Flora’s family life is enigmatic, although she is the older sister it is the younger Aurelia who is given a London season and engagement to Archie, destined to be Lord Vaughan, encouraged. Flora would rather run wild on the fells, drawing animals and plants, avoiding her censorious father. Her life takes a turn when she too must live in London, at the house of Mrs Keppel, notorious mistress to the King. Star’s clue hints at a wealthy inheritance, a small onyx animal figurine named ‘Panther’. How can this be connected to Flora; why is she feted as a guest by Mrs Keppel, and what are the connections to Star a century later?

One issue I have with the series is that rather than actually being about the sisters’ mysterious parentage and how Pa Salt came to adopt them, they tell a historical story set two or three generations earlier. So far I have enjoyed all three of the historical stories; I am reading the series in order. The historical strands are linked to each relevant sister, but I am left feeling slightly short-changed about the truth of their birth. I want to know more about the birth parents and how Pa Salt came to adopt them. However in this book, more than the first two, his shadow is more evident so perhaps his story will be unveiled in the seventh book of the series.

Next in the series is The Pearl Sister, the story of CeCe.

Read my reviews of the first two novels in the series:-
The Seven Sisters
The Storm Sister

… plus standalone novels by Lucinda Riley:-
The Love Letter
The Girl on the Cliff

If you like this, try:-
The Faerie Tree’ by Jane Cable
In Another Life’ by Julie Christine Johnson
Fair Exchange’ by Michèle Roberts

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE SHADOW SISTER by @lucindariley #books https://wp.me/p5gEM4-3XO via @SandraDanby

My Porridge & Cream read… Sue Featherstone @SueF_Writer #books #humour #chicklit

Today I’m delighted to welcome chick lit novelist Sue Featherstone. Her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is Sad Cypress by Agatha Christie.

“It’s hard to pin down a single Porridge & Cream read because there are a number of old favourites that fit into my comfort-read category. Georgette Heyer’s Regency novels, for instance, Noel Streatfield’s children’s stories and Josephine Tey’s whodunits. But I’m going to choose Sad Cypress by Agatha Christie, which I first read in my early teens in the late 1960s when I sneaked it off my dad’s bookcase.

Sue Featherstone

Sue’s copy

“What appealed to me then is what still appeals today – nostalgia for a bygone age, a murder mystery with lots of red herrings, and a gently unfolding love story. When it first appeared in 1933 Sad Cypress was considered ground-breaking. The murder takes place about a third of a way into the story – giving plenty of time to establish characters and plot – and Poirot doesn’t make an appearance until almost halfway through. Unusually, too, much of the drama takes place in the courtroom.

“The plot is classic Christie: wealthy heiress Elinor Carlisle is heartbroken when her fiancé Roddy breaks off their long-standing engagement to pursue Mary Gerrard, a protégé of Elinor’s recently deceased aunt. And when Mary is poisoned almost everyone, including Roddy who has known Elinor since childhood, believes she must be the murderer.

“When I grew up and left home, Sad Cypress was one of the first books on my new book shelves and my battered 1979 Pan edition is testament to multiple re-readings. Why? Because even though Poirot is a strange little fellow, Elinor’s story – a woman betrayed by the man she loved – has a timeless resonance. Will she forgive Roddy’s betrayal? Or will she find happiness with the local doctor, who has believed in her innocence throughout?

“Truly, Christie is the queen of crime fiction.”

Sue Featherstone


Sue Featherstone’s Bio

Sue Featherstone is a Midlander, who has spent most of her life living and working in Yorkshire. Her debut novel A Falling Friend, co-authored with Susan Pape, was published by Lakewater Press in 2016 and a sequel A Forsaken Friend followed in March 2018. The pair, who have also written two journalism text books together, are currently working on the final book in their Friends trilogy. Sue was a journalist and public relations practitioner before moving into academia 20 years ago to teach news and magazine journalism at Sheffield Hallam University. Married with two grown-up daughters, she recently welcomed her first granddaughter Iris who is ‘the most beautiful baby in the whole world’. 

Sue Featherstone’s links


Twitter @SueF_Writer

Sue Featherstone’s latest book

Sue Featherstone

A Forsaken Friend is the second instalment in a Yorkshire-based trilogy that follows best friends Teri Meyer and Lee Harper as they juggle men, careers and family. Their friendship is tested when Teri discovers her ex-husband is in love with Lee. And, to make things even worse, she’s just lost her job and is running out of money. Fast. It’s not all plain sailing for Lee either. Her love life might be looking up – not that she meant to fall for Teri’s ex – but her family life is a car crash. Her Catholic mother isn’t happy she’s dating a divorced man and her father has been given some bad news about his health…Described as a warm, funny and entertaining read, A Forsaken Friend is an intelligent and sassy look at the friendship between two women on the cusp of middle age.


What is a ‘Porridge & Cream’ book? It’s the book you turn to when you need a familiar read, when you are tired, ill, or out-of-sorts, where you know the story and love it. Where reading it is like slipping on your oldest, scruffiest slippers after walking for miles. Where does the name ‘Porridge & Cream’ come from? Cat Deerborn is a character in Susan Hill’s ‘Simon Serrailler’ detective series. Cat is a hard-worked GP, a widow with two children and she struggles from day-to-day. One night, after a particularly difficult day, she needs something familiar to read. From her bookshelf she selects ‘Love in A Cold Climate’ by Nancy Mitford. Do you have a favourite read which you return to again and again? If so, please send me a message.

Discover the ‘Porridge & Cream’ books of these authors:-

Rhoda Baxter’s choice is ‘The Nightwatch’ by Terry Pratchett

Jane Lambert chooses ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne du Maurier

‘Please Don’t Eat the Daisies’ by Jean Kerr is chosen by Carol Cooper

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:

Why does chick lit novelist @SueF_Writerre-read SAD CYPRESS by Agatha Christie? #books via @SandraDanby