Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Entertaining Mr. Pepys - review and giveaway

Entertaining Mr. Pepys by Deborah Swift

Publication Date: September 12, 2019
Hachette Book Group
eBook. Paperback, Audiobook; 400 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

London 1666 Elizabeth 'Bird' Carpenter has a wonderful singing voice, and music is her chief passion. When her father persuades her to marry horse-dealer Christopher Knepp, she suspects she is marrying beneath her station, but nothing prepares her for the reality of life with Knepp. Her father has betrayed her trust, for Knepp cares only for his horses; he is a tyrant and a bully, and will allow Bird no life of her own.

When Knepp goes away, she grasps her chance and, encouraged by her maidservant Livvy, makes a secret visit to the theatre. Entranced by the music, the glitter and glamour of the surroundings, and the free and outspoken manner of the women on the stage, she falls in love with the theatre and is determined to forge a path of her own as an actress.

But life in the theatre was never going to be straightforward - for a jealous rival wants to spoil her plans, and worse, Knepp forbids it, and Bird must use all her wit and intelligence to change his mind. 

Based on events depicted in the famous Diary of Samuel Pepys, Entertaining Mr Pepys brings London in the 17th Century to life. It includes the vibrant characters of the day such as the diarist himself and actress Nell Gwynne, and features a dazzling and gripping finale during the Great Fire Of London.

The third in Deborah Swift's atmospheric trilogy, bringing to life the women in Pepys' Diary. Each novel features a different character and can be read as a stand-alone book.

'A remarkably beguiling read. It transported me to the glitter and filth of seventeenth century London' - Martine Bailey, author of The Almanack

'The fusion of historical facts and fiction is so flawless that it is hard to know where reality ends and fiction begins' - Readers Favourite Review

Amazon | Book Depository

Praise for the Pepys Trilogy

'Swift is a consummate historical novelist, basing her books on immaculate research and then filling the gaps between real events and real people with eloquent storytelling, atmospheric scene setting and imaginative plot lines' - The Visitor

'A novel that transports readers with astonishing and engrossing detail' - Readers Favorite 5*

'Pepys and his world spring to vibrant life… Gripping, revealing and stunningly imagined' -Lancashire Evening Post

My Take:

Entertaining Mr. Pepys is the third book in Deborah Swift's trilogy telling the stories of the lives of women that appear in Samuel Pepys's famous diary. The novel also works as a stand alone. I haven't read the other two books and I was still able to thoroughly enjoy the novel.

Elizabeth "Bird" Carpenter is the main focus of Entertaining Mr. Pepys. When the novel begins, she is a young woman with a beautiful singing voice about to be married off so that her father and his new much-younger-wife can be alone to enjoy their new marriage. While Bird has ideas about what her husband should be like, her father is much more interested in getting her out of his house and make her someone else's responsibility. Sadly, her new husband, Mr. Knepp, married her simply to be his servant and to give him children. She must adjust to a life of hard work, scrambling to feed the yard hands on a pittance and avoiding her abusive husband.

Eventually Bird will be introduced to the theater by Livvy, her new friend and servant to her husband. Livvy introduces her to some of the women performing in the theater and Bird is stricken by a strong desire to sing and perform on stage. It is through her performances that she encounters Mr. Pepys. 

Swift does a wonderful job of bringing the time period to life. I really appreciated how she brings the details of working-class life into the story. It helps the reader appreciate the vast differences of a woman's life today and during the 1600's. Swift also examines the issues of slavery as it was viewed at the time. The novel manages to explain the various conflicts that were causing tensions in England as well as the religious politics that play a large role in the era.

Entertaining Mr. Pepys is mostly about Bird and a few other women - Mr. Pepys himself is not a main focus. I really liked that Swift uses Pepys's diary as a jumping off point to imagine what Elizabeth Carpenter Knepp's life might have been like. I found the novel to be beautifully imagined with a cast of interesting and (mostly) likable characters. Mr. Knepp is not a sympathetic character for most of the novel, but Swift manages to allow even him to grow by the end.

Another character that is hard to like at first is an actor named Stefan. He had built his life in the theater playing women - before the change that allowed women to act on stage. Stefan isn't suited to playing the leading male roles and takes his frustrations out on Bird. However, as the reader learns more about his life, his motivations, and his secrets, he slowly becomes at least a person that can be sympathized with. He is allowed to grow as a person and has some interesting adventures.

There is something for everyone in this entertaining novel - from history buffs to theater lovers. Entertaining Mr. Pepys is definitely a book that I can recommend. I loved all the history - especially the amazing imagery of the Great Fire of 1666. I really enjoyed Entertaining Mr. Pepys and I look forward to reading the other books in the trilogy.

About the Author

Deborah Swift is the author of three previous historical novels for adults, The Lady’s Slipper, The Gilded Lily, and A Divided Inheritance, all published by Macmillan/St Martin’s Press, as well as the Highway Trilogy for teens (and anyone young at heart!). Her first novel was shortlisted for the Impress prize for new novelists. 

She lives on the edge of the beautiful and literary English Lake District – a place made famous by the poets Wordsworth and Coleridge.

For more information, please visit Deborah Swift’s website. You can also find her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Thursday, November 21
Excerpt at The Lit Bitch
Review at Reading the Past

Friday, November 22
Review at Gwendalyn's Books
Guest Post at The Writing Desk

Monday, November 25
Review & Excerpt at Book Reviews from Canada

Tuesday, November 26
Review at A Book Geek

Wednesday, November 27
Guest Post at Short Book and Scribes

Thursday, November 28
Feature at To Read, Or Not to Read

Friday, November 29
Review at Locks, Hooks and Books
Guest Post at What Is That Book About

Monday, December 2
Review at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, December 3
Excerpt at Broken Teepee

Wednesday, December 4
Interview at Passages to the Past

Friday, December 6
Excerpt at Donna's Book Blog

Monday, December 9
Review at Red Headed Book Lady

Tuesday, December 10
Excerpt at Words and Peace

Wednesday, December 11
Review at Hopewell's Public Library of Life

 Thursday, December 12
Feature at Coffee and Ink


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a signed copy of Entertaining Mr. Pepys! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on December 12th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen. Entertaining Mr. Pepys

Friday, November 8, 2019

Distant Signs by Anne Richter - Blog Tour

Distant Signs by Anne Richter

Publication Date: November 7, 2019
Neem Tree Press
Hardcover; 240 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance/Saga

Distant Signs is an intimate portrait of two families spanning three generations amidst turbulent political change, behind and beyond the Berlin Wall. In 1960s East Germany, Margret, a professor's daughter from the city, meets and marries Hans, from a small village in Thuringia. The couple struggle to contend with their different backgrounds, and the emotional scars they bear from childhood in the aftermath of war. As East German history gradually unravels, with collision of the personal and political, their two families' hidden truths are quietly revealed. An exquisitely written novel with strongly etched characters that stay with you long after the book is finished and an authentic portrayal of family life behind the iron curtain based on personal experience of the author who is East German and was 16 years old at the fall of the Berlin Wall. Why do families repeat destructive patterns of behaviour across generations? Should the personal take precedence over the political? Can we rise above our histories and political identities to forge a new understanding of the past and to welcome change?

Available on Amazon

My Take: 

Distant Signs tells the story of two families over three generations. There is so much that really impressed me about the book. The time span covered in the book is really important - I feel that most Americans are not very familiar with what Germany was like during these years after WWII and before the Berlin Wall came down. 

While the novel does provide some very useful information about the various institutions of government, education, etc., I felt the insight into the generational differences was even more interesting. The author manages to show the reader a bit more about each character as the book progresses. I feel Richter does a great job of bringing to life the experiences of each generation and really demonstrates the reasons for their beliefs and world views. One doesn't have to agree with a particular worldview to empathize with the person. This is demonstrated throughout the novel. The examination of the families and the way they hurt each other, try to fix their errors, pull away from each other and try to heal and pull together felt really authentic and resonated. 

 I have a hard time finding the words to describe the book, but I feel strongly about it. It really made an impression on me. At times it is heartbreaking, at others it is hopeful and filled with love, but Distant Signs is a beautifully written novel that will stick with the reader long after closing it.

About the Author

Anne Richter was born in 1973 in Jena, in the former German Democratic Republic. Her degree in Romance languages and English included study periods in England, Italy and France. In 2011, Anne was nominated for the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize, a highly regarded German-language literary award. Her debut novel, Distant Signs, was published in Germany in 2013. Anne is currently writing her second novel.

Douglas Irving is Scottish. He studied German and Spanish at Aberdeen University. In 2014 he completed a Masters in Translation at Glasgow University. His first translation, Crossing: A Love Story by Anna Seghers was published in 2016 in the US to positive reviews. His translation of Anna Seghers’ last work published in her lifetime, Three Women from Haiti, is set to follow.

Blog Tour Schedule

Thursday, November 7
Review at Broken Teepee
Review at Comet Readings

Friday, November 8
Review at A Book Geek

Sunday, November 10
Excerpt at A Darn Good Read

Tuesday, November 12
Review at Books In Their Natural Habitat

Wednesday, November 13
Excerpt at To Read, Or Not to Read

Thursday, November 14
Feature at Lost_in_a_book_reviewer

Friday, November 15
Review at Red Headed Book Lady

Monday, November 18
Review at Gwendalyn's Books

Tuesday, November 19
Review at Locks, Hooks and Books

Wednesday, November 20
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Thursday, November 21
Review at Peaceful Pastime

Friday, November 22
Feature at What Is That Book About

Saturday, November 23
Review at Impressions In Ink

Monday, November 25
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Tuesday, November 26
Excerpt at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, November 27
Feature at Just One More Chapter

Friday, November 29
Feature at Coffee and Ink


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a copy of A Distant Signs by Anne Richter! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules
- Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on November 29th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
- Paperback giveaway is open internationally.
- Only one entry per household.
- All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
- The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen. Distant Signs

A Man of Honor Blog Tour and Review

  A Man of Honor, or Horatio's Confessions by J.A. Nelson Publication Date: December 9, 2019 Quill Point Press Paperback, eBook & ...