Blog Tour and Extract: The Man on the Middle Floor by Elizabeth S. Moore

the man on the middle floor

It’s my stop on the blog tour for The Man on the Middle Floor today, and I have an extract to share with you.  But first, here’s what it’s all about:

Despite living in the same three-flat house in the suburbs of London, the residents are strangers to one another. The bottom floor is home to Tam, a recent ex-cop who spends his days drowning his sorrows in whisky. On the middle floor is Nick, a young man with Asperger’s who likes to stick to his schedules and routines. The top floor belongs to Karen, a doctor and researcher who has spent her life trying to understand the rising rates of autism. They have lived their lives separately, until now, when an unsolved murder and the man on the middle floor connect them all together. Told from three points of view, The Man on the Middle Floor is about disconnection in all its forms; sexual, physical, parental and emotional. It questions whether society is meeting the needs of the fast growing autistic section of society, or exacerbating it.


PROLOGUE

Tomorrow, my laundry will come. I know that because it always comes, every week, on a Tuesday. Hanging on the door, no creases. No metal hangers, only wooden. In my cupboard I have seven pairs of beige trousers and I have seven white T-shirts, four white buttoned shirts, ten pairs of socks and ten pairs of underpants. Every week I wear them and then they are all put in the laundry basket and I leave it outside my door to be taken away when the clean ones come back, but my jacket and my coat stay here because they are dark and only go over clean clothes so they only get washed every two weeks, but I have a spare for each of those too. My shoes are in the cupboard. My mother told me you should never wash shoes. I keep them here safe. I once heard some people on a bus laughing because one of them had a husband who got drunk and urinated into her shoes. In a cupboard. People are disgusting. I get new ones if mine get smelly. I don’t want smelly shoes and even if you have three showers your feet have to be on the ground for you to go anywhere and there is nothing you can do about it. The ground is covered with dirt and germs and spit. I shiver right up my back when I think about the stuff on the pavement.

On the back of my door, stuck with Blu Tack right in the middle facing me, I have a list. It’s a list of all the things people do if they are functioning normally. I have made it myself by watching other people and by getting advice from my mother and some instructions from my grandpa. I read it before I go out and try to stick to it and if it goes wrong I just get into bed and wait for the next day to come and I make a new start. I used a new pad and very neat writing, all capitals. From the top it says:

WHEN SOMEONE GIVES ME SOMETHING, SAY THANK YOU AND SMILE.

WHEN SOMEONE SAYS HELLO TO ME OR ASKS ME A QUESTION, REPLY POLITELY AND TRY TO MAKE EYE CONTACT OR JUST LOOK NEAR TO WHERE THEY ARE.

WASH OFTEN. BE CLEAN, SMELL NICE. WASH MY HANDS AND FEET AND PRIVATE PARTS MOST.

MAKE MY BED NEATLY AFTER BREAKFAST.

TAKE SHOES OFF OUTSIDE FLAT AND CARRY THEM INSIDE.

SPEND NO LONGER THAN TWO HOURS ON THE COMPUTER IN ONE SESSION (OR NO MORE THAN FOUR HOURS IN ONE DAY).

EXERCISE WITH MY DUMBBELLS. A HEALTHY BODY MAKES A HEALTHY MIND.

LAY THE TABLE BEFORE I EAT, TO PRACTISE MY TABLE MANNERS.

There are a lot of rules if you want to look like a functioning adult and I need to concentrate on that all the time. It’s a BIG responsibility living by yourself and if I want to be independent this is the way I can do that. I hate living in shared accommodation and I can’t live with my mother any more, with her watching me, looking worried, and everything dirty and untidy. I like to be alone, and I like to decide what I should do with my days. I will follow all the rules if it makes sure I can live here.

I can communicate on my computer without actually having to meet anyone. I hate meetings, people looking at me, staring at me. It makes me uncomfortable and I feel their eyes turn towards me, and my body reacting in all kinds of ways, sweating or getting excited. I know how I look to other people, and I don’t like it one bit. I am white. Pasty, my mother calls it, but she likes to be outside. Pasty means you don’t go in the sun enough. I should put that on my list: GO OUTSIDE. I sit down too much and my grandpa says I am three-quarters legs: from my head to my hips I am a dwarf and once he made me stand still and he measured that with his hands, putting germs all over me. When he remembers that day it always makes him laugh. At least I’m not fat. I watched a programme about the fattest man in the world, and I couldn’t eat my dinner. Watch your weight. Keep yourself to yourself. Those are some of my grandpa’s wise words.

Breakfast time, I hate crumbs and crunchy food that can scratch your mouth, so I have the toaster on thirty-five and that is out of a hundred which must make completely black toast which can also give you cancer which I don’t want to get. My toast has to be soft and just a little bit pale brown – don’t give me hard burnt toast. When I was at home I had hard butter and hard toast and I got thinner and thinner from not putting it in my mouth. I don’t have enough spit to make it soft quick enough. Tidy up the crumbs, wipe the side, don’t make the toaster crooked and put the plate on the mat. All done. I sit with my soft butter in front of me, and my glass of water for hydration, eight glasses a day, no drips. Breakfast.

Today is Monday, so tomorrow is Tuesday and the day after that is Wednesday. Wednesday is visit day and my grandpa is coming. He always comes on Wednesdays even when I ask my mother to tell him not to. At least my clothes will be clean and my flat will be tidy so he shouldn’t be cross, and I might not have to be corrected. I hate being corrected and even though Grandpa said I should be used to it by now, I’m not, and that is why we have to have it as a secret or I will have to go back and live with my mother for my own good, and Grandpa is trying to help me stay independent. Now that I have my lists and put out my rubbish and have a routine I must nearly not need correcting, but there is always something I need to add, because life is very complicated. If you don’t want to be corrected, then plan ahead, he says to me, so I always make a plan and today I will go for a long walk, which might make him think I have learned everything now. I think again about adding GO OUTSIDE to the list, but it isn’t a list thing. I might just go out and never come in again, or forget how often, or where to go. I like definite things on that list. It could go on my other list, which is stuck with Blu Tack by my bed, but I already have a walk in for today. I am going to the bank.

I look at it to check.

MONDAY: GO TO GET FRESH MILK AND SHOPPING AND THROW AWAY ALL FOOD OVER ITS SELL-BY DATE. GO TO BANK IN TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD AND COLLECT ALLOWANCE FOR THE WEEK.

TUESDAY MORNING: PUT OUT DIRTY CLOTHES AND TAKE IN CLEAN CLOTHES.

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: GO FOR A WALK IN THE PARK.

WEDNESDAY MORNING: SEE GRANDPA AND MAKE PLANS.

WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON: DE-STRESS AND DO EXERCISES AND HAVE AN EARLY NIGHT.

THURSDAY: CLEAN THE FLAT, PHONE MY MOTHER BEFORE SIX PM.

FRIDAY BUT NOT EVERY FRIDAY: SEE MOTHER.

I start to feel panicky going through my whole week. I like to do my week a day at a time. Today I am going to the bank, because it is Monday. I will make a new plan, but not now.

Making conversation is also very important; Grandpa says that you never know when you will need to be ready to answer things, or when things are spiralling out of control. Grandpa says they are spiralling more and more in the modern world, which is worrying for him, so that is another reason that he has to correct me, for my own good. What Grandpa does to teach me how to be tough and strong hurts quite a lot, and the things he is trying to prepare me for might never happen so I would rather he just waited and I could just learn the lessons if I ever need to, not every single visit day on Wednesday just in case, but I can’t seem to make him understand and I don’t want to be in trouble.

I itch. I rub my arms with each other, as I hate the idea of skin under my nails and I hate the feel of clothes on my skin. It isn’t just pasty, it’s covered in little red bumps and they make me feel a bit sick; they catch on material and the more I try and rub them off in the shower the more bumpy they get. I should go outside. The fresh air will help … my mother says it will help and it will stop me thinking about Grandpa’s visit; I will just go now. City air is not very clean, it has pollution, and the tube is dirty, but I am going to the park tomorrow which will clean my lungs with fresh air.

Grandpa says that a cat would help too, not with the bumpy skin, but I would look responsible, and have company, and all the things that my family talk to me about. Even when I am happy they see a problem to be fixed. I want to be by myself and I can’t really see what a cat is going to do to help anything, but Grandpa says you have to try these things to look more in control and I think that if I agree then he might not have to visit any more, I’m not sure but it must be worth getting one just for that. I don’t know why people worry but if you want to be independent you have to take everyone’s feelings into consideration. That’s what my grandpa says.


The Man on the Middle Floor was published on 12 April by Red Door Publishing.  Make sure you check out the other stops on the blog tour!

the man on the middle floor blog tour poster

Advertisements

Drift Stumble Fall by M. Jonathan Lee

drift stumble fall

I really enjoyed Broken Branches by Jonathan M. Lee’s, and I was thrilled when independent publisher Hideaway Fall sent me a copy of his latest novel, Drift Stumble Fall, to review.

Richard feels trapped in his hectic life of commitment and responsibility.  From the daily mayhem of having young children, an exhausted wife and pushy in-laws who frequently outstay their welcome, Richard’s existence fills him with panic and resentment.  The only place he can escape the dark cloud descending upon him is the bathroom, where he hides for hours on end, door locked, wondering how on earth he can escape.

Often staring out of his window, Richard enviously observes the tranquil life of Bill, his neighbour living in the bungalow across the road.  From the outside, Bill’s world appears filled with comfort and peace.  Yet underneath the apparent domestic bliss of both lives are lies, secrets, imperfections, sadness and suffering far greater than either could have imagined.  Beneath the surface, a family tragedy has left Bill frozen in time and unable to move on.  As he waits for a daughter who may never return, Bill watches Richard’s bustling family life and yearns for the joy it brings.

As the two men watch each other from afar, it soon becomes apparent that other people’s lives are not always what they seem.

Drift Stumble Fall is a surprising and clever novel which sees neighbours Richard and Bill observing each other’s lives from across the street and wishing that their own life could be more like the one they are observing.  As is so often the case, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and neither one knows exactly what the other is going through.

Richard, the main character in the novel, is a married father of two.  Working as an accountant, he finds his life monotonous and feels trapped in his humdrum existence.  Drift Stumble Fall is mostly told from Richard’s perspective, and whilst the focus on his domestic life might sound a little dull, Lee imbues it with a surprising amount of tension, and I found that the short chapters just fell away I read on to find out whether or not he would go through with his plan.  If I have any slight criticism of the novel, it’s that I would have liked a little more of Richard’s backstory, given that he is the main character, and it is told largely from his perspective.  I felt as though I didn’t really know what he was looking for in life, only that he didn’t have it.  This is a minor point, however, and may represent that we don’t always know exactly what it is that we want.

Bill, who has fewer chapters dedicated to him, is stuck in limbo, and as he watches Richard with his young family, he wishes for nothing more than to be able to experience that himself.  Again, Bill’s story, which is rather different to Richard’s, was fascinating, and I really wanted to know the outcome of his situation.  I found it interesting that both men would have swapped lives in a heartbeat, neither fully knowing what the other was going through, and it struck me that you never really know what is going on in someone else’s life, even those people that you see and interact with on a daily basis.

My simple, misguided perception of their life.

Whilst it’s not a fast-paced novel, Drift Stumble Fall is one that pulls you in and keeps you reading to find out what happens.  I loved the atmosphere, which is tense despite the domestic focus, a tension which is enhanced by the snow which keeps them largely trapped indoors for the duration of the novel.  Recommended for those looking for something a little different from their next read.

Drift Stumble Fall is published today (12 April) – many thanks to the publisher, Hideaway Fall, for the review copy.

This Week in Books – 11-04-18

TWIB - logo

This Week in Books is a feature hosted by Lipsy at Lipsyy Lost and Found that allows bloggers to share:

  • What they’ve recently finished reading
  • What they are currently reading
  • What they are planning to read next

bring me back

The last book I finished reading was Bring Me Back by B. A. Paris which I won in a giveaway from the lovely Eva @ Novel Deelights.  This was a fun read, although I did guess the twist quite early on…

The Disappearance

Twelve years ago Finn’s girlfriend disappeared.

The Suspicion

He told the police the truth about that night.

Just not quite the whole truth.

The Fear

Now Finn has moved on.

But his past won’t stay buried…

 


the man on the middle floor

My current read is The Man on the Middle Floor by Elizabeth S. Moore.

Despite living in the same three-flat house in the suburbs of London, the residents are strangers to one another.  The bottom floor is home to Tam, a recent ex-cop who spends his days drowning his sorrows in whisky.  On the middle floor is Nick, a young man with Asperger’s who likes to stick to his schedules and routines.  The top floor belongs to Karen, a doctor and researcher who has spent her life trying to understand the rising rates of autism.  They have lived their lives separately, until now, when an unsolved murder and the man on the middle floor connect them all together.  Told from three points of view, The Man on the Middle Floor is about disconnection in all its forms; sexual, physical, parental and emotional.  It questions whether society is meeting the needs of the fast growing autistic section of society, or exacerbating it.

 


keeper

My next read is likely to be Keeper by Johana Gustawsson.

Whitechapel, 1888: London is bowed under Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror.

London, 2015: actress Julianne Bell is abducted in a case similar to the terrible Tower Hamlets murders of some ten years earlier, and harking back to the Ripper killings of a century before.

Falkenberg, Sweden, 2015: a woman’s body is found mutilated in a forest, her wounds identical to those of the Tower Hamlets victims.  With the man arrested for the Tower Hamlets crimes already locked up, do the new killings mean he has a dangerous accomplice, or is a copy-cat serial killer on the loose?

Profiler Emily Roy and true-crime writer Alexis Castells again find themselves drawn into an intriguing case, with personal links that turn their world upside down. Following the highly acclaimed Block 46 and guaranteed to disturb and enthral, Keeper is a breathless thriller from the new queen of French Noir.


And that’s my week in books! What are you reading this week?  Let me know in the comments!

The Boy on the Bridge by M. R. Carey

the boy on the bridge

I LOVED The Girl with All the Gifts, and so it was with a mix of excitement and nerves that I read The Boy on the Bridge, unsure as to whether a return to the same world would work.

Once upon a time, in a land blighted by terror, there was a very clever boy.

The people thought the boy could save them, so they opened their gates and sent him out into the world.

To where the monsters lived.

I’ve used the “official” blurb here, but for me this is a misrepresentation of what the novel is about.  Yes, Stephen – the titular boy – is very clever.  But, as with many individuals who don’t conform to social norms, he is largely misunderstood and often underestimated.  So whilst the people did send him out into the world, it wasn’t because they thought he could save them.  I think that a more accurate blurb would be:

Once upon a time, in a land blighted by terror, there was a very clever boy.

This boy, with his eidetic memory and undeniable intelligence, was largely misunderstood by those around him, and only one person, Dr Samrina Khan, had any faith in him.

When Khan was picked for a scientific mission outside the relative safety of Beacon, she ensured that the boy was a part of the mission.

And what he discovers out in the world is nothing short of astonishing.

Stephen Greaves is a teenager when Dr Khan and the team of scientists and soldiers set off on their journey and he is given a wide berth by most of his travelling companions.  This suits him perfectly, as social interaction is extremely difficult for him, and physical contact is to be avoided at all costs.  What makes Stephen different to those around him isn’t labelled in the novel – something that I think was deliberate.  To me it seemed that it didn’t matter why he was different, and that the labels weren’t important, it just matters that he is different.  I thought that Carey handled this character sensitively, exploring what makes Stephen different as well as how these differences put Stephen in a unique and advantageous position, enabling him to study the hungries and to make a new discovery.

Because of the nature of their journey, the team of scientists is accompanied by an armed military escort, and I did find that the minor characters weren’t particularly well defined, and I did occasionally get them mixed up to start with.  It did get easier as the novel progressed, however, and I thought that the main characters and their complex backstories were brilliant.  With twelve people from quite different backgrounds living in such close proximity for an extended period of time, it didn’t take long for factions and hidden agendas to emerge, and I loved the tension that this added to the novel.

The Boy on the Bridge is set in the same world as The Girl with All the Gifts, but I think that this is a prequel despite being the second novel published.  I say I think because the relative timing of the two wasn’t entirely clear to me, although that might just be because it’s a while since I read The Girl with All the Gifts.  Whether a prequel or a companion novel, I do think that there is benefit in reading The Girl with All the Gifts first.  I felt that The Boy on the Bridge assumed the reader’s familiarity with the world in which the novels are set, and I wonder if the lack of context might be off-putting to new readers.  It’s difficult to say for sure, but I felt that the world building wasn’t as strong in this novel.  Whichever you start with, I definitely recommend these novels for those looking for a spin on the zombie tale.

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Blog Tour: The Lido by Libby Page

the lido

I absolutely loved The Lido, and I’m delighted to be able to share my review as part of the blog tour!

Meet Rosemary, 86, and Kate, 26: dreamers, campaigners, outdoor swimmers…

Rosemary has lived in Brixton all her life, but everything she knows is changing. Only the local lido, where she swims every day, remains a constant reminder of the past and her beloved husband George.

Kate has just moved and feels adrift in a city that is too big for her. She’s on the bottom rung of her career as a local journalist and is determined to make something of it.

So when the lido is threatened with closure, Kate knows this story could be her chance to shine. But for Rosemary, it could be the end of everything. Together they are determined to make a stand, and to prove that the pool is more than just a place to swim – it is the heart of the community.

The Lido is an uplifting novel about the importance of friendship, the value of community, and how ordinary people can protect the things they love.

I absolutely loved the characters of Rosemary and Kate, who, given the age difference, make something of an unlikely pair, although their friendship is so perfectly portrayed that it’s no stretch of the imagination to picture it. Rosemary is an absolute gem – she has a kind word for everyone, and everyone looks out for her in turn. And I loved her memories of her late husband George. Brockwell Lido played a significant role in their relationship both in the first tentative steps of getting to know each other, as well as being somewhere they went together throughout their married life. It’s partly down to this that Rosemary is so invested in the lido’s fate, and it makes her a strong advocate and campaigner, despite the council’s best attempts to ignore her as a little old dear. Rosemary had me cheering from the side lines, and there are some real laugh out loud moments that stem from Rosemary and her actions, as well as a tear or two.

Kate is a very different character, a little shy and timid when we first meet her, she soon shows her strengths as she devotes herself to the campaign to save the lido, which she only came across through her job as a reporter. I really felt a lot for Kate, who feels very alone in the city at the outset, having not made any friends in her two years there and who struggles with occasional panic attacks, which I thought were accurately portrayed. The campaign to save the lido introduces Kate to a whole host of people many of whom she comes to consider as close friends. Additionally, it was thoroughly refreshing to meet a character who isn’t physically perfect but comes to accept herself as she is – I really don’t think that there are enough characters like this.

I also loved the sense of community portrayed here, with everyone finding a way to do their bit in the campaign, and with all age groups and people from all walks of life represented. Some of their actions are quite amusing, and I absolutely loved the rubber ducks! I don’t think I’ve ever become so invested in the fate of a place that I’ve never actually visited. It seems that barely a day goes by when we’re not hearing about another cut to funding that results in the ever-diminishing services to our towns and cities, be it lidos, libraries etc. Whilst a work of fiction, people CAN make a difference in these situations, and there’s a message in this novel about protecting the facilities you’ve got access to, although it’s all too often a case of you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.

The Lido is beautifully written, and Libby Page has delivered a stunning first novel that is amusing and incredibly poignant. The Lido will be published by Orion on 19 April. Many thanks to Rebecca Grey for providing a copy for review.

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐


Make sure you check out the other stops on the tour:

Lido blog tour (002)

This Week in Books – 04-04-18

TWIB - logo

This Week in Books is a feature hosted by Lipsy at Lipsyy Lost and Found that allows bloggers to share:

  • What they’ve recently finished reading
  • What they are currently reading
  • What they are planning to read next

the boy on the bridge

I have recently finished reading The Boy on the Bridge by M. R. Carey, which is set in the same world as The Girl With All the Gifts.

Once upon a time, in a land blighted by terror, there was a very clever boy.

The people thought the boy could save them, so they opened their gates and sent him out into the world.

To where the monsters lived.


drift stumble fall

I’ve just started Drift Stumble Fall by M. Jonathan Lee.

Richard feels trapped in his hectic life of commitment and responsibility. From the daily mayhem of having young children, an exhausted wife and pushy in-laws who frequently outstay their welcome, Richards existence fills him with panic and resentment. The only place he can escape the dark cloud descending upon him is the bathroom, where he hides for hours on end, door locked, wondering how on earth he can escape.

Often staring out of his window, Richard enviously observes the tranquil life of Bill, his neighbour living in the bungalow across the road. From the outside, Bills world appears filled with comfort and peace. Yet underneath the apparent domestic bliss of both lives are lies, secrets, imperfections, sadness and suffering far greater than either could have imagined. Beneath the surface, a family tragedy has left Bill frozen in time and unable to move on. As he waits for a daughter who may never return, Bill watches Richards bustling family life and yearns for the joy it brings. As the two men watch each other from afar, it soon becomes apparent that other peoples lives are not always what they seem.


the earlie king and the kid in yellow

My next read *might* be The Earlie King and the Kid in Yellow – we’ll see!

Ireland is flooded, derelict. It never stops raining. The Kid in Yellow has stolen the babba from the Earlie King. Why? Something to do with the King’s daughter, and a talking statue, something godawful. And from every wall the King’s Eye watches. And yet the city is full of hearts-defiant-sprayed in yellow, the mark of the Kid.

It cannot end well. Can it? Follow the Kid, hear the tale. Roll up! Roll up!


And that’s my week in books! What are you reading this week?

Dear Mrs Bird by A. J. Pearce

dear mrs bird

Dear Mrs Bird is a novel that I’ve been hearing a lot about recently, and I was thrilled to be able to read and review this title ahead of its publication.

London, 1941. Emmeline Lake and her best friend Bunty are trying to stay cheerful despite the Luftwaffe making life thoroughly annoying for everyone. Emmy dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent and when she spots a job advertisement in the newspaper she seizes her chance – but after a rather unfortunate misunderstanding, she finds herself typing letters for the formidable Henrietta Bird, the renowned agony aunt of Woman’s Friend magazine.

Mrs Bird is very clear: letters containing any form of Unpleasantness must go straight into the bin. But as Emmy reads the desperate pleas from women who may have Gone Too Far with the wrong man, or can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she decides the only thing for it is to secretly write back . . .

Irresistibly funny and enormously moving, Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce is a love letter to the enduring power of friendship, the kindness of strangers and the courage of ordinary people in extraordinary times.

Dear Mrs Bird is a wonderfully warm and funny novel, but one that also includes its share of heartache.  Set during the Second World War, Emmy lives with her friend Bunty in London, trying to get on with life as best she can whilst the Luftwaffe drop their bombs, and managing two jobs – one working as a typist at a solicitor’s office whilst volunteering for the local fire brigade, answering calls and dispatching the fire crews to where they are needed.  I thought that Pearce captured the period perfectly, including wonderful details about how life was for those living in London during the war, trying to go about their lives as best they can whilst friends and family are fighting on the front line.  The difficulties in making ends meet, and the desire to remain optimistic, which goes beyond the stereotype of the British stiff upper lip, all brought the period to life brilliantly.

Emmy is a fantastic character, and I loved her feistiness, and her refusal to take on the role of housewife once her fiancé, Edmund, returns from the war.

I loved Edmund but I wasn’t going to be a doormat about things.

What Emmy really wants to do is be a journalist, specifically a lady war correspondent, and she jumps at the chance to join what she believes to be The London Evening Chronicle, convinced that this is the first rung of the ladder in this new career.  She devastated when she realises that there was a mix up, and her role is actually working for the “cantankerous” Henrietta Bird, resident agony aunt of Women’s Friend.  Emmy is determined to make the best of the situation, but is further disheartened when she realises that Mrs Bird doesn’t even read most of the letters sent to her, refusing to deal with any “unpleasantness”.  The women (and occasionally girls) that write in really needing advice are turned away, their problems unheard.

And the headstrong Emmeline can’t resist trying to help them herself.  It starts small, as these things often do, but soon escalates as Emmy realises that she can sneak her own replies into Women’s Friend with Mrs Bird none the wiser.  I loved the tension as both Emmy and the reader expect her to be caught out at any moment, cringing at her cover stories as she attempts – often in a mild panic – to cover her tracks.  Whilst her methods are a little suspect, her heart is at least in the right place, and I felt that she trying to do a good thing.

Dear Mrs Bird is an absolute joy to read, and I can see this being a big hit over the summer.  Often amusing and occasionally sad, this is a wonderful read that depicts a woman ahead of her time, yet one that also portrays life during the Blitz, celebrating the efforts of those who supported the war effort from Blighty who sometimes seems to be overlooked.

Dear Mrs Bird is published on 5 April by Picador.  Many thanks to Camilla Elworthy for the early review copy.

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐