Book Haul: 1950’s Martini Swigging, Pill Popping Housewives.

I realise that the title of this blog post is very niche but bear with me….

After watching and LOVING The Queens Gambit on Netflix recently, I had a hankering after books set in the 1950’s/60’s which include repressed, boozie, pill popping suburban housewives (think Beth’s Mum).

I put a quick tweet out asking for recommendations and those guys over there killed it! Some absolutely stellar suggestions which I immediately purchased. I have to tell you that I don’t think I’ve been more excited for a stack of books in a good while. So excited in fact that I have already read 2 of them and have started a third. I am positively eating these books up!

Not only do they all sound perfect, there are some bloody gorgeous covers in here (and some pretty bangin’ fonts too……come on we all have a favourite font right?)

So without further ado, let’s get right on with the books.

The Long, Long Afternoon by Inga Vesper – Manilla Press (4th Feb 2021)


It’s the summer of 1959, and the well-trimmed lawns of Sunnylakes, California, wilt under the sun. At some point during the long, long afternoon, Joyce Haney, wife, mother, vanishes from her home, leaving behind two terrified children and a bloodstain on the kitchen floor. While the Haney’s neighbours get busy organising search parties, it is Ruby Wright, the family’s ‘help’, who may hold the key to this unsettling mystery. Ruby knows more about the secrets behind Sunnylakes’ starched curtains than anyone, and it isn’t long before the detective in charge of the case wants her help. But what might it cost her to get involved?

This is the only book in the stack that hasn’t been published yet. Forgive me for that. I’d had my eye on this one anyway but my lovely Bookish pal Clare from Years Of Reading Selfishly suggested it on the Twitter thread and the lovely Francesca Pearce offered to send me a copy. This is actually the book I’ve just picked up despite saying that I’m not reading 2021 proofs until January. I just couldn’t wait! It sounds so good!

The Corrections By Jonathan Franzen – 4th Estate


After fifty years as a wife and mother, Enid Lambert is ready to have some fun. Unfortunately her husband, Alfred, is losing his sanity, and their children have long since fled for the catastrophes of their own lives. As Alfred’s condition worsens and the Lamberts are forced to face their secrets and failures, Enid sets her heart on one last family Christmas.

This one is a chunky one (with a very pleasing on the eye font…..ok, ok i’ll stop now). I like the sound of Enid…..she sounds like my kinda character! But I’m sensing there may be some heartbreak in this one too…..we shall see.

Valley Of The Dolls by Jacqueline Susan- Virago


Dolls – red or black; capsules or tablets; washed down with vodka or swallowed straight. For Anne, Neely and Jennifer, it doesn’t matter, as long as the pill bottle is within easy reach. These three beautiful women become best friends when they are young and in New York, struggling to make their names in the entertainment industry. Only when they reach the peak of their careers do they find there’s nowhere left to go but down – to the Valley of the Dolls.

This was another recommendation from the lovely and very knowledgeable Clare from Years Of Reading Selfishly. I’d heard of this one but I wasn’t aware of what it was about. I didn’t know ‘Dolls’ meant pills and that is precisely what I’m after. I love this minimalist but very effective cover.

Tigers In Red Weather by Liza Klaussman – Picador


Liza Klaussmann’s Tigers in Red Weather tells the story of Nick and her cousin Helena who have grown up together, sharing long hot summers at Tiger House. With husbands and children of their own, they keep returning. But against a background of parties, cocktails, moonlight and jazz, how long can perfection last? There is always the summer that changes everything.

This is one of the books I’ve already read and to be honest I have a feeling it may make it into my books of the year list. It’s a sultry and secretive look at a relationship between two cousins Nick and Helena, their troubled marriages and their experiences with motherhood. But there was also a little surprise thread of mystery running through which was a real treat. It’s atmospheric, it’s soaked in martini and whisky and it was a real gripping read.

On Green Dolphin Street by Sebastian Faulks – Vintage


America, 1959. With two young children she adores, loving parents back in London, and an admired husband, Charlie, working at the British embassy in Washington, the world seems an effervescent place of parties, jazz and family happiness to Mary van der Linden. But the Eisenhower years are ending, and 1960 brings the presidential battle between two ambitious senators: John Kennedy and Richard Nixon. But when Frank, an American newspaper reporter, enters their lives Mary embarks on a passionate affair, all the while knowing that in the end she must confront an impossible decision.

This is the second book in the pile that I’ve already read and it’s another corker. This one is a little bit different in that the roles are reversed and it’s the husband who struggles with alcohol and pill addiction. There’s a melancholy vibe with this one but the central relationship between Mary and Charlie is touching and startlingly honest. Mary is a fascinating character, she’s a strong woman who can handle most of what life throws at her whilst her husband falls apart before her eyes. Again there’s lots of tossing back the booze and clandestine rendezvousing in dark bars….I loved it.

Rabbit, Run by John Updike – Penguin


It’s 1959 and Harry ‘Rabbit’ Angstrom, one time high school sports superstar, is going nowhere. At twenty-six he is trapped in a second-rate existence – stuck with a fragile, alcoholic wife, a house full of overflowing ashtrays and discarded glasses, a young son and a futile job. With no way to fix things, he resolves to flee from his family and his home in Pennsylvania, beginning a thousand-mile journey that he hopes will free him from his mediocre life.

This book was suggested by a few people. I’ve never read any John Updike but this one sounds like it fits the bill perfectly with the ‘fragile alcoholic wife’. Have any of you read any John Updike before? I’ll report back with my thoughts on this one when I get to it.

The Hours by Michael Cunningham – Harper Perennial


In 1920s London, Virginia Woolf is fighting against her rebellious spirit as she attempts to make a start on her new novel.A young wife and mother, broiling in a suburb of 1940s Los Angeles, yearns to escape and read her precious copy of ‘Mrs Dalloway’ And Clarissa Vaughan steps out of her smart Greenwich village apartment in 1990s New York to buy flowers for a party she is hosting for a dying friend.Moving effortlessly across the decades and between England and America, this exquisite novel intertwines the stories of three unforgettable women.

Again, this was a suggestion which cropped up a few times so I had to buy it. I don’t know much at all about Virginia Woolf so I’m intrigued by this one. I’m not usually a huge fan of ‘real people’ on book covers but this one really draws me in. I’m hoping the contents will be just as compelling.

So there we have it. As I said I’m hugely excited by this pile of books and I can’t wait to get to them all and report back for you. Have you read any of them? Do you fancy reading any of them? Let me know!

I’m taking a little blogging break in December to recharge my bookish batteries so this is my last post until New Years Eve when I’ll be back with my Best Books Of 2020 post.

See you all then and I hope you all have a safe, happy and book filled Christmas.

Amanda – Bookish Chat xx


Browse My Bookshelves: The Husband Edition

Hello! How are you all bearing up?

For today’s post I thought I’d let my non-reading husband loose on my bookshelves with the instruction of just browsing and seeing which books took his fancy. It could be an eye catching cover, an author he knows of of a blurb that intrigues him.

Off he went on his little book browsing mission and back he came with the following ten books that piqued his interest for one reason or another. So let’s take a look at his choices shall we?

Fates And Furies by Lauren Groff (Windmill)


Every story has two sides. 
Every relationship has two perspectives. 
And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. 

At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love and destined for greatness. A decade later, their marriage is still the envy of their friends, but behind closed doors things are even more complicated and remarkable than they have seemed.

His thoughts: This book was the first book he was drawn to purely for the hugely colourful spine. Actually when he picked it up he wasn’t all that fussed about the blurb and that leads me neatly on to ….

My Thoughts: I have had this secondhand copy of Fates And Furies on my shelf for a couple of years now. I very nearly got it out of the library quite a few times but something always held me back. I’ve also come perilously close to unhauling this one a number of times but something always stops me….I’ve heard great things but each time I think I might fancy reading it, I pick it up and read the blurb and I’m distinctly underwhelmed! Have you read it? Should I keep it? Let me know!

Unnatural Causes by Dr Richard Shepherd (Penguin Michael Joseph)


Meet the forensic pathologist, Dr Richard Shepherd.

He solves the mysteries of unexplained or sudden death.

He has performed over 23,000 autopsies, including some of the most high-profile cases of recent times; the Hungerford Massacre, the Princess Diana inquiry, and 9/11. 

He has faced serial killers, natural disaster, ‘perfect murders’ and freak accidents.

His evidence has put killers behind bars, freed the innocent, and turned open-and-shut cases on their heads. 

Yet all this has come at a huge personal cost. 

Unnatural Causes tells the story of not only the cases and bodies that have haunted him the most, but also how to live a life steeped in death. 

His Thoughts: He was drawn to this one purely out of grim fascination. He thought that the premise sounded fascinating.

My Thoughts: this is another book I’ve had in my shelves for a good long while! I think I picked it up with the same grim fascination but I have yet to gather the courage to read it. I can veer one of two ways with books like this one, I can either throw myself in and become completely absorbed or I get scared of even dipping into it incase I get affected too much by what I’m reading. It wholly depends on my mental state at the time. The fact that this book has remained unread on my shelves for a number a years now perhaps speaks volumes about my mental state!

The Chalk Man by C.J Tudor (Penguin Michael Joseph)


You can feel it in the woods, in the school and in the playground; you can feel it in the houses and at the fairground. You can feel it in most places in the small town of Anderbury . . . the fear that something or someone is watching you. 

It began back in 1986, at the fair, on the day of the accident. That was when twelve-year-old Eddie met Mr Halloran – the Chalk Man. 

He gave Eddie the idea for the drawings: a way to leave secret messages for his friends and it was fun, until the chalk men led them to a body. 

Thirty years later, Ed believes the past is far behind him, until an envelope slips through the letterbox. It contains a stick of chalk, and a drawing of a figure. 

Is history going to repeat itself? 

Was it ever really over? 

Will this game only end in the same way?

His Thoughts: He chose this one initially because he was drawn to the interesting little chalk drawings on the eye catching spine but actually was really intrigued once he’d read the blurb. We both enjoy watching scary films together (although we do watch through our fingers and screwed up eyes a lot of the time! Him more than me because I’m hardcore of course!), so this seemed like a good choice to him.

My Thoughts: I absolutely know that I will enjoy this book but I haven’t read it yet purely because lots of people have read it and raved about it. Do you ever get that with a much publicised and praised book? I almost have to leave it until a good long while after the hype has died down before I pick it up and judge for myself (I’m currently feeling this way about Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell). So this book has (perhaps stupidly) remained unread on my shelf.

The Resident by David Jackson (Viper)



Thomas Brogan is a serial killer. Having left a trail of bodies in his wake, and with the police hot on his heels, it seems like Thomas has nowhere left to hide. That is until he breaks into an abandoned house at the end of a terrace on a quiet street. And when he climbs up into the loft, he realises that the can drop down into all the other houses on the street through the
shared attic space.

That’s when the real fun begins. Because the one thing that Thomas enjoys even more than killing, is playing games with his victims. And his new neighbours have more than enough dark secrets to make this game his best one yet…

Do you fear The Resident? Soon you’ll be dying to meet him.

His Thoughts: He was drawn to the premise of this one, plus that eye on the cover is…..well……eye-catching!

My Thoughts: I have to be very honest (as I always am) and say that since the choosing of these books I have actually tried to read this book and didn’t really get on with it. I’ve seen lots of people singing it’s praises though, it just wasn’t for me I’m afraid. You can’t win ’em all!

American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis (Picador Classic)


Is evil something you are? Or is it something you do?

Patrick Bateman has it all: good looks, youth, charm, a job on Wall Street, reservations at every new restaurant in town and a line of girls around the block. He is also a psychopath. A man addicted to his superficial, perfect life, he pulls us into a dark underworld where the American Dream becomes a nightmare . . .

His Thoughts: If he’s honest, he’s only really chosen this one because of the controversy and the the fact that we’ve in recent months watched the film (loved it). Since writing this post he’s started reading this book and has made good headway.….watch this space.

My Thoughts: I read it. I watched it. I enjoyed it (if ‘enjoyed’ can be the right word to use!).

There Were No Windows by Norah Hoult (Persephone)


This 1944 novel is about memory loss and is the only book we know of, apart from “Iris about Iris Murdoch” (and arguably “There Were No Windows” is wittier and more profound), on this subject. Based on the last years of the writer Violet Hunt, a once- glamorous woman living in Kensington during the Blitz who is now losing her memory, the novel’s three ‘acts’ describe with insight, humour and compassion what happens to ‘Claire Temple’ in her last months.

His Thoughts: He chose this one based on a memory of me buying it. We went to London in 2018 (wow was it really that long ago!?) for me to attend a judging meeting for The Sunday Times Young Writer Of The Year Award

My Thoughts: This is my first and only Persephone book which is heinous! I also haven’t read it yet! 2 years it’s been languishing on my shelf and I really should get around to reading it! (Ps it also has beautiful end papers).

Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson (Pandora)


This is the story of Jeanette, adopted and brought up by her mother as one of God’s elect. Zealous and passionate, she seems destined for life as a missionary, but then she falls for one of her converts. 

At sixteen, Jeanette decides to leave the church, her home and her family, for the young woman she loves. Innovative, punchy and tender, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is a few days ride into the bizarre outposts of religious excess and human obsession.

His Thoughts: This was a pick based on the fact that he’d seen the television show. Nothing more, nothing less!

My Thoughts: I remember (vaguely) the television show back in the 1980’s, and I recently read Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal by Jeanette Winterson which I really enjoyed. But for me I bought this book because I just loved the edition. I’ve still not read it!

Chatterton by Peter Ackroyd (Penguin)


What is the mystery of Thomas Chatterton? A young poet and elderly female novelist try to decode the clues found within an 18th-century manuscript, only to discover that their investigation is disclosing other secrets for which there is no solution.

His Thoughts: well……Chatterton is our surname…….that’s it. Very superficial.

My Thoughts: I don’t even think I had a hand in the purchase of this one! Will I ever read it? Probably not. Will he ever read it? Highly doubtful. But there we go!

Eggshells by Catriona Lally (The Borough Press)


Vivian is an oddball.
An unemployed orphan living in the house of her recently deceased great aunt in North Dublin, Vivian boldly goes through life doing things in her own peculiar way, whether that be eating blue food, cultivating ‘her smell’, wishing people happy Christmas in April, or putting an ad up for a friend called Penelope to check why it doesn’t rhyme with antelope. But behind her heroic charm and undeniable logic, something isn’t right. With each attempt to connect with a stranger or her estranged sister doomed to misunderstanding, someone should ask: is Vivian OK?

His Thoughts: He’s actually reading this one at the moment. When I say ‘reading this one’ I mean he started reading it around 18 months ago, really loved it, laughed his little head off then put it down and didn’t pick it up again despite only having a few chapters left! Infuriating? Why yes.

My Thoughts: I absolutely adored this book and it made my best books of 2018 list. Vivian is a character I will never ever forget.

Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk (Vintage)


Cassie Wright, porn princess, intends to cap her legendary career by breaking the world record for serial fornication. On camera. With six hundred men. Snuff unfolds from the perspectives of Mr 72, Mr 137 and Mr 600, who await their turn on camera in a very crowded green room…

His Thoughts: He’s watched Fight Club, the film adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s book of the same name so this is why he was drawn to this one……nothing to do with the porn of the sexy lady on the cover……honest guv.

My Thoughts: I read this one a while back and knew what I was getting myself into after reading Chuck Palahniuk’s short story ‘Guts’. If you have a strong constitution look it up online. Snuff was equally disturbing in its own way. It was certainly a reading experience.

There we have it. Those were his choices. I think it’s quite interesting to see what a self-confessed ‘non-reader’ is drawn to.

Do you let other people browse your shelves?

See you all again soon.

Amanda – Bookish Chat xxx

The Swallowed Man By Edward Carey – A Review

Publisher: Gallic Belgravia

Publication Date: 5th November 2020

Edward Carey’s Little was one of my favourite books of 2018. The story of Madame Tussauds was such an absolute treat with its swarthy characters and it’s amazing illustrations. You should check out my review here.

I’d had The Swallowed Man on my radar for such a long time and had been desperate to get my hands on it. Luckily the lovely folk at Gallic Belgravia sent me a copy and here we are!

‘I am writing this account, in another man’s book, by candlelight, inside the belly of a fish. I have been eaten. I have been eaten, yet I am living still…..’

Surely everyone knows the story of Geppetto and the boy he carved out of wood who came to life and became his son. Everyone knows Pinocchio! The Swallowed Man tells the story of how Geppetto ended up in the belly of a whale on a mission to find his only son.

Set completely inside the whale, Geppetto writes a diary in the one notebook he has found onboard a ship the whale has swallowed. Keeping himself alive inside the beast using the various items he finds onboard the ship, including boxes of candles.

Through the words in the diary we learn of how Pinocchio came into existence and how he and Geppetto forged a tentative ‘father/son’ relationship before he goes missing. If you’re thinking this tale is akin to the cutesy Disney story you couldn’t be more wrong! In fact there’s quite a sinister and dark edge to how Pinocchio comes to life and how Geppetto is frightened by what he has created, even calling Pinocchio ‘the thing’ and at times wishing he hadn’t brought him into existence.

‘I flinched; I shuddered. But it was too late to stop. I was in a passion of creation – I was under command of the wood – and so I carved on. I gave him legs. Feet. And the feet, on divining life kicked with life. Kicked, that is, my shins. This terrible thing! You are an object I cried. Behave like one! And it kicked once more, for it was loathe to follow the rules of objects. Rather, it threw down the book of rules and stamped upon it. Oh god! I said to myself, for I was quite alone in my room. What have I done! The thing moved. I screamed in terror…..

There’s somewhat of a power struggle between the two but they settle into their roles and start to develop a bond. However, this strange father/son bond is broken when Pinocchio runs away and Geppetto in the search for his boy ends up swallowed by the huge sea creature.

During his isolated existence deep in the belly of the whale, Geppetto can only comfort himself with thoughts of his past. We get a whistlestop tour of the handful of women he has loved as he reminisces about each of the important relationships in his life. We also learn about his childhood and family life.

All the while he is trapped inside the whale he is pining for his son. Hoping he gets to see him again but conversely dreading him being swallowed up too. His note taking in the book becomes ever more erratic and we witness what can only be described as a descent into a madness of which he cannot escape. Brought on by loneliness, isolation, loss and grief.

He experiences strange occurrences on the swallowed ship and we as the reader cannot gauge whether they are borne of his delusions as we sink further with him.

There is such a great ending which I won’t spoil but will say I was very relieved that it all tied together so nicely. A wonderful denouement very befitting of this wonderful book.

Edward Carey sure knows how to make familiar characters jump off the page. His writing is fairytale-esque with a dark edge, shot through with a wry humour.

The illustrations and imagery in this book are just brilliant and lend so much more atmosphere to the story. I was always so excited to turn the page and see what treat awaited me next…..such a joy!

If you’re expecting the original Pinocchio story then buckle up and adjust your expectations. You’re in for quite a ride!

Another Edward Carey triumph that I would absolutely recommend treating yourself to.

Thank you so much to the publisher for my review copy.

See you all soon.

Amanda – Bookish Chat xxx

A Spooky Book Haul

You lot know me well enough by now to know that I love a dark, spooky or twisted read. I have kept my eyes and ears to the ground recently in terms of picking up spooky book recommendations and trying to extend my ghostly reads well past the Halloween season.

So today I’m bringing those books to you before I make a start on scaring myself witless. Maybe you’ll see something that tickles your fancy, maybe you don’t like being scared (in which case you better leave this post now and I’ll see you next time) but for those of you with strong nerves, let’s crack on!

The Haunting Of Alma Fielding by Kate Summerscale (Bloomsbury Circus)


London, 1938. Alma Fielding, an ordinary young woman, begins to experience supernatural events in her suburban home. Nandor Fodor – a Jewish-Hungarian refugee and chief ghost hunter for the International Institute for Psychical research – begins to investigate. In doing so he discovers a different and darker type of haunting: trauma, alienation, loss – and the foreshadowing of a nation’s worst fears. As the spectre of Fascism lengthens over Europe, and as Fodor’s obsession with the case deepens, Alma becomes ever more disturbed.

A bit of non-fiction for my first choice. I love a good real life haunting and this book looks corking! I’m drawn to the fact that it’s from the 1930’s, I’m drawn to the poltergeist element and I’m drawn to an investigation. This book has my name written all over it. I have a feeling it’ll be a good ‘un!

Hag – Forgotten Folk Tales Retold (Virago)


Here are sisters fighting for the love of the same woman, a pregnant archaeologist unearthing impossible bones and lost children following you home. A panther runs through the forests of England and pixies prey upon violent men. From the islands of Scotland to the coast of Cornwall, the mountains of Galway to the depths of the Fens, these forgotten folktales howl, cackle and sing their way into the 21st century, wildly reimagined by some of the most exciting women writing in Britain and Ireland today.

I can’t tell you how excited I am to get stuck into this one. Some of the authors in this short story collection are amongst my most favourite. Daisy Johnson, Naomi Booth, Kirsty Logan, Imogen Hermes Gowar….YES PLEASE. I love a dark folktale and apparently this collection has a ‘feminist tang’ which I am here for! Let’s not even get me started on that cover! Stunning!

The Invited by Jennifer McMahon (Anchor Books)


In a quest for a simpler life, Helen and Nate have abandoned the comforts of suburbia to take up residence on forty-four acres of rural land where they will begin the ultimate, aspirational do-it-yourself project: building the house of their dreams. When they discover that this beautiful property has a dark and violent past, Helen, a former history teacher, becomes consumed by the local legend of Hattie Breckenridge, a woman who lived and died there a century ago. With her passion for artifacts, Helen finds special materials to incorporate into the house–a beam from an old schoolroom, bricks from a mill, a mantel from a farmhouse–objects that draw her deeper into the story of Hattie and her descendants, three generations of Breckenridge women, each of whom died suspiciously. As the building project progresses, the house will become a place of menace and unfinished business: a new home, now haunted, that beckons its owners and their neighbors toward unimaginable danger.

I saw this one being discussed on Booktube and I was interested in the premise which kind of turns the traditional ‘old haunted house’ story on its head a little. This house is a new build and the ghostly aspects are actually brought into the building from the outside. I don’t think I’ve ever read a haunted house book without it being an old gothic mansion steeped in history. This time it’s items brought in that hold the mystery. It also starts with this killer paragraph: ‘It has started when Hattie was a little girl. She’d had a cloth bodied doll with a porcelain head called Miss Fentwig. Miss Fentwig told her things – things that Hattie had no way of knowing, things that Hattie didn’t really want to hear…’ I’ve never read any Jennifer McMahon but I have heard good things about The Winter People too. I’ll give The Invited a whirl and maybe visit her backlist.

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones (Titan Books)


Ricky, Gabe, Lewis and Cassidy are men bound to their heritage, bound by society, and trapped in the endless expanses of the landscape. Now, ten years after a fateful elk hunt, which remains a closely guarded secret between them, these men and their children must face a ferocious spirit that is coming for them, one at a time. A spirit which wears the faces of the ones they love, tearing a path into their homes, their families and their most sacred moments of faith.

Again this was a Booktube recommendation which I was drawn to by the idea of a vengeful spirit targeting specific men after an incident in the past. I recently read The Nesting by C.J Cooke which had elks in and I think this drew me in too.

The Grip Of It by Jac Jemc (Titan Books)


A chilling literary horror novel, Jac Jemc’s THE GRIP OF IT tells the story Julia and James, a young couple haunted by their new home. The move – prompted by James’s penchant for gambling, his inability to keep his impulses in check – is quick and seamless; both Julie and James are happy to leave behind their usual haunts and start afresh. But the house, which sits between lake and forest, has plans for the unsuspecting couple…The architecture becomes unrecognisable, decaying before their eyes. Stains contract and expand, mapping themselves onto Julie’s body in the form of bruises; mould taints the water that James pours from the sink. As the couple search for the source of their mutual torment, they become mired in the history of their peculiar neighbours and the mysterious previous residents of the house.

Again this was another booktube recommendation (you gotta love Booktube!). I love the idea of a house having physical affects on the residents and almost becoming a dark living thing. The only other book I’ve read that involved a house having an effect on someone’s health is The Upstairs Room by Kate Murray Browne, which I would highly recommend. Also ‘peculiar neighbours’ was an instant hook for me too. Sign me up! Looking forward to this one.

Florence & Giles by John Harding (Borough Press)


1891. In a remote and crumbling New England mansion, 12-year-old orphan Florence is neglected by her guardian uncle and banned from reading. Left to her own devices she devours books in secret and talks to herself – and narrates this, her story – in a unique language of her own invention. By night, she sleepwalks the corridors like one of the old house’s many ghosts and is troubled by a recurrent dream in which a mysterious woman appears to threaten her younger brother Giles. Sometimes Florence doesn’t sleepwalk at all, but simply pretends to so she can roam at will and search the house for clues to her own baffling past. After the sudden violent death of the children’s first governess, a second teacher, Miss Taylor, arrives, and immediately strange phenomena begin to occur. Florence becomes convinced that the new governess is a vengeful and malevolent spirit who means to do Giles harm. Against this powerful supernatural enemy, and without any adult to whom she can turn for help, Florence must use all her intelligence and ingenuity to both protect her little brother and preserve her private world.

Someone recently asked on Twitter for the most scary books people had read. I offered up Naomi’s Room by Jonathan Aycliffe (honestly, look into it), and then I sat back and watched other people’s suggestions in the thread. Florence & Giles by John Harding was a suggestion that came up and the comparison to The Turn Of The Screw was enough for me. Gothic house? Tick. Dead governess? Tick. Strange phenomena? Tick tick tick. Yes please!

The Lost by Jonathan Aycliffe (Constable)


British born Michael Feraru, scion of a long line of Romanian aristocrats, leaves his country of birth and his love, to reclaim his heritage – a Draculian castle deep in the heart of Transylvania. He plans to turn his inheritance into an orphanage in the new post-Ceausescu, post-communist country. There he enlists the help of a young local lawyer, Liliana Popescu, to search for the missing Feraru millions, and battle through the complex maze of old bureaucracy in the scam-rich, newly-born state. Feraru describes his journey into the heart of the Romanian countryside, wasted by years of neglect and caught in a time-warp, as though the twentieth century had never reached it. When he eventually arrives at his inheritance, he finds the castle of the Ferarus, in a sunless valley in the Carpathian Mountains, is home to much more than memories…

I really wanted to try more of Jonathan Aycliffe’s work after he scared me witless with Naomi’s Room. The Lost was suggested on the spooky book Twitter thread I mentioned above so I thought I’d give it a go. To be honest after reading the blurb it probably wouldn’t be a book I would naturally pick up but I’m willing to trust other people’s judgement on this one and give it a whirl!

So there we have it. Have you read any of these? Do any of them tickle your fancy? And perhaps more importantly, can any of you recommend some more dark and spooky reads to me? I’m all ears!

Until next time…..don’t have nightmares.

See you soon.

Amanda – Bookish Chat xxx