Monday, 31 January 2022

The Mrs Tabor by Kimberly Burns

Reviewer's Choice

Fictional Drama
US History

"Every age has its iconic blonde bombshell. In the 1880s, it’s Baby Doe, America’s original gold digger. At a time when genteel ladies could politely starve to death, Baby Doe seeks her fortune the best way she knows how—marrying a rich man. She joins the rush to the Colorado silver bonanza and meets millionaire mine owner Horace Tabor. Baby Doe enjoys the high life as his paramour, but Tabor’s wife and his business manager plot to get rid of the new girl. Baby Doe, however, has schemes of her own to upend Horace’s old relationships and become the one and only Mrs. Tabor.
But fate sweeps in and avalanches Baby Doe’s dreams. What price will she pay for becoming The Mrs. Tabor?
Based on a true story, The Mrs. Tabor seduces with a scandalous tale of love and fortunes found and lost."

Being part of a review team means getting to try books we wouldn’t ordinarily pick up and I picked this up not so much because of the subject matter but because the opening pages sang to me. The author is clearly enjoying herself and in fact, the whole book is joyous. It’s deliciously wry, and there is a distinct author’s voice/style of narrative: it’s a perfect mixture of show AND tell, and this means the story whizzes along. The pace suits Baby Doe’s 'can do, will do' attitude. The story is often delivered with the author's tongue firmly in cheek, with Ms Burns showing us what the characters themselves can’t see, and there is a lot of enjoyable irony there. 

There were several moments where I couldn’t help but smile as the characters remained gloriously lacking in self-awareness. There were also moments of real poignancy and Baby’s losses were hard to bear. Did she learn from her mistakes? I’m not so sure, but that wasn’t Baby’s style and I’m glad that she remained true to her incorrigible self. 

The detailed description of the booming mining towns, and their deterioration, was skilfully depicted, as was the behaviour of Baby’s enemies who displayed all their haughty superiority in grand style. There is also a more serious theme and that concerns the choices available to women at this time. Baby may be at times delusional but she's never wrong when she says that there are limited ways in which women can get by in the world, and she never apologises for the routes she's taken. Neither does she ever give way to self-pity. All in all, great fun and a rollicking good read.

I must add that this is a debut novel and Discovering Diamonds reviewed an early edition where the narrative was, unfortunately, marred by a number of typos and grammatical errors, (and I also questioned whether it was Bill Cody who called himself 'Wild' as I think that was Bill Hickok?). We therefore strongly suggested a thorough re-edit and reprint - and are delighted that Ms Burns took our advice, re-edited and republished. Unable to re-read the new text (time limitations and newly submitted books to review) we hope and are confident that this new edition is now improved to the standard it deserves.

The Mrs Tabor is a great page-turner of a story told with flair, and so we have awarded it the accolade of Reviewer's Choice because - even with the original errors -  it was still a wonderful read.

Ms Burns is definitely an author to watch out for.

Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds 

© Lucy Townshend
 e-version reviewed

Friday, 28 January 2022

The Last Daughter of York by Nicola Cornick (Published in some areas as The Last Daughter)

Reviewer's Choice

Amazon UK
Amazon US
Amazon CA
Amazon AU

duel timeline / fictional drama
1400s/ 21st century

Nicola Cornick writes masterful historical dual timeline novels, and The Last Daughter of York is her best yet – a creatively refreshing take on one of England’s greatest historical mysteries, and a modern-day narrative that guides us to resolution with all the twists and allure of a Cotswold country lane. The enchanted setting of Minster Lovell adds a magical attraction to Ms Cornick’s novel, with lyrical descriptions of a charming England village…and a hint of menace that forewarns that not all is as it appears.

Both stories weave through the novel with equal import, and this is especially commendable given the familiarity of the story of the missing princes in the Tower; Ms Cornick’s deft hand brings a whole new perspective to their mystery, while introducing us to a parallel modern day disappearance of a young girl. The women’s voices in the narrative are excellent – although at times the young fifteenth-century Anne Lovell does sound overly mature, her precociousness can be forgiven in the bigger picture of storytelling. I really enjoyed Serena Warren’s twenty-first-century investigative role and the evolving story of her own growing strength, self-awareness, and acknowledgment of the tragedy of her missing sister. Sometimes, radical acceptance is the only way to move forward from a catastrophic event, and within the lines of this beautifully written novel, we discover life lessons that endure through the centuries.

An uplifting, riveting, and exquisitely crafted novel, I loved The Last Daughter of York, and will certainly be re-reading for the pure pleasure of spending time in Ms Cornick’s totally immersive world. Highly recommend.

Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds 

© Elizabeth St John

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

John Brown’s Women by Susan Higginbotham


Amazon UK
Amazon US
Amazon CA
Amazon AU

Fictional Drama / Fictional Biography

My mother gave me two great gifts: she introduced me to the world of books at a very early age and she taught me to sing in harmony at about the same time. One of the first songs she taught me to sing was John Brown’s Body lies a mouldering in his grave… –most à propos, given that this gentleman is the central character in Ms Higginbotham’s excellent novel, John Brown’s Women.

Some books—or rather some characters—hook you immediately. Young Mary is one of those. Shy and naïve, this seventeen-year-old joins the household of the recently widowed John Brown to help her older sister with all the duties that go with managing a home and five children. Mary has few expectations of life: she knows she is not particularly pretty, nor is she well-educated or witty or charming. She definitely does not expect Mr Brown to take any interest in her—he’s a handsome man who, by all accounts, was very fond of his deceased wife. So she joins the household determined to do what she does best, namely quietly get her work done.
But John Brown does notice Mary. When she does not hesitate to help one of the runaway slaves Brown helps smuggle north, something sparks between them. And he quickly realises that Mary may be innocent, but she is also  loyal and resourceful. To Mary’s surprise, he proposes. He also offers to help pay for extra tuition for her to fill in some of the blanks in her so far very sketchy education. I think that is the moment when Mary starts falling in love with him, even if she never thinks of it as love: to her, marrying John Brown is the sensible thing to do—albeit all those children are a bit daunting.

Ms Higginbotham paints a wonderful portrait of Mary Brown. She is naïve yet wise, she is at times full of insecurities but also quite certain of what is right and what is wrong. Like most women of the time, Mary’s life is one of making do, of coping with her husband’s bankruptcies, of making ends meet, of somehow setting one foot before the other. And John, well he is there too...

Ms Higginbotham’s John Brown is not only a devoted and tender husband. He is also a loving, if demanding, father. He sits through nights at the bedside of his sick children, he prays for them, takes care of them. His religious views are stark—he has quite the Puritan streak—but he is also a man filled with love for his fellow man, no matter the colour of his skin. For John Brown, slavery is an abomination and it is his hope that somehow he will be given the opportunity to rid the world of it. Mary agrees: like John, she has black friends and feels almost more at home with them than among her peers.

There are few heroics in Mary’s life—beyond that of coping with the sheer weight of tasks that everyday life consists of in the 19th century, especially with a dozen or so children. There are no action scenes, no nail-biting scenes—beyond realising that at some point things will end badly for John and Mary, what with the body that lies a mouldering in the grave. And yet Ms Higginbotham’s prose is so addictive it requires an effort to set the book down to do mundane things like cooking or taking the dog out. I find myself thinking about Mary all the time. I am overcome with a desire to find out more about her and her world, be it the life of Fredrik Douglass who pops by in a cameo portrait or the water cure Mary takes to restore her health.
 John Brown is fortunate in that he has more than one woman in his life, hence the book’s title. Other than Mary, John’s daughter-in-law Wealthy (who shocks Mary by describing, rather casually, that she and her husband, John Jr., are planning on having only three children. Mary doesn’t even know one can plan such things…) is given a voice as is Annie, one of his daughters. Ms Higginbotham breathes life into both these young women—and in particular to the harrowing events in Kansas in the 1850s as witnessed by Wealthy. John Brown’s daughter-in-law is an educated, modern woman, brave enough to stand by her husband when the life they’ve built for themselves in Kansas crumbles into bloody dust. Wealthy is as convinced as her husband and her father-in-law that slavery is wrong, a vile evil that must be stamped out. In difference to Mary, who also shares these opinions, Wealthy will see first-hand what happens when those who have financial interests in upholding slavery resort to violence to keep the abolitionists at bay. In Kansas, they succeed—for a while.

Like Wealthy, Annie becomes directly involved in John Brown’s activities. Wealthy and Annie may be in the thick of things in a way that Mary never is but despite this, to me it is Mary’s voice that lingers. It is her stoic acceptance of the tragedies that befall the family, her constant belief in her husband’s cause—and in him—that carries the book.

Eventually, a frustrated John Brown concludes that if he wants to do away with slavery, he’ll need to do more than fight back against those who advocate slavery. He will need to take the fight to the slaveowners, using violence to show them the errors of their ways. John Brown in Ms Higginbotham’s depiction manages to hold on to his dignity and his faith right up to the bitter, bitter end.

As I close the book, I can’t stop myself from singing the song my mother taught me:
John Brown’s body lies a mouldering in his grave, 
John Brown’s body lies a mouldering in his grave,
 John Brown’s body lies a mouldering in his grave
but his soul goes marching on.
And what a soul it is! 

Thank you, Ms Higginbotham, for introducing me to John Brown and his women. Most of all, thank you for what must count as one of my best reading experiences in 2021. I will never hum that song again without thinking of John, of Mary, of all their children, their travails, all the loss and pain they suffered, and, perhaps most of all, their burning conviction that what John was doing was the right thing to do, no matter the risks. 

Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds 

© Anna Belfrage
 e-version reviewed

Monday, 24 January 2022

Writ in Blood by Julie Bozza

Amazon UK
Amazon US
Amazon CA
Amazon AU

Fictional Drama / Western

Described by the author as a ‘Queer Weird West novel’, Writ in Blood is a retelling of the story of the men of Tombstone legend: the Earp brothers, Doc Holliday, the Clantons, Johnny Ringo. But what a retelling!

The historic events drive the timeline and the action of the novel, with few deviations from fact in this regard. But those events serve as the incitement for a deep dive into the complexities of character, into the subtle layers of love and its expression, into personal meanings of courage and honour, and even into what the mind can conjure when trauma and memory need an outlet.

Johnny Ringo is a man who is sure he has lost his soul. Abused sexually as a boy, he has turned his anger and shame both inward and outward; his sexual partners are not always willing either. When a beautiful, winged figure, Lucifer’s son, presents himself to Johnny as a willing partner, he welcomes the visitation. Is it real? He doesn’t know. He doesn’t really care, either.

Johnny is seeking redemption and love, and his metaphysical search frames the experiences of the rest of the major characters, although theirs are caught up in the material world. None are without experiences in their early years that have shaped their philosophies, even if they cannot articulate this. None are wholly good, or wholly bad; Bozza creates multidimensional characters from the stock names of Western USA legend. These are men troubled by the choices they have made, worried for their families, concerned that their actions as lawmen are making things worse in Tombstone, not better. Complex, thinking men.

Doc Holliday, slowly dying of tuberculosis, intent on living what life he has left without boundaries, guides the reader through the deepening complexities of both plot and character arcs. As his loyalties change and deepen, we see the effect of choice and consequence on the characters. 

Writ in Blood will not be a book for everyone. Sexually explicit, speculative about the sexuality of legendary characters, not always grounded in corporeal reality, it has the feel of Greek myth, an examination of how the eight Greek definitions of love* shape the actions and the souls of men.  I loved it, and recommend it highly. 

* Agape: universal love; Eros: sexual love; Philia: friendship; Philauta: self-love; Storge: enduring love; Pragma: enduring love; Ludus: playful love; Mania: obsessive love.

Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds 

© Marian L. Thorpe
 e-version reviewe

Friday, 21 January 2022

Murder Isn't Easy: The Forensics of Agatha Christie by Carla Valentine

Crime/ forensics / police procedure
Agatha Christie

I’m new to writing ‘cosy mysteries’ although I watched many murder mystery dramas on TV (preferring the more detailed series like Lewis, Foyle’s War, Vera... Morse is OK, but the character is somewhat dour). Then there’s the printed world of fiction, and I must admit I do tend to stick to the lighter cosy mysteries, which are more Miss Marple in style than Rebus, Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford or Adam Dalgliesh. My favourite series is Debbie Young’s Sophie Sayers Mysteries. Cosy Mysteries are usually about amateur sleuths who stumble upon unexpected mysteries (a murder) and solve the case before the professionals do. Often, but not always, the cosy does not have detailed gruesomeness – we get a glimpse of the body only. There’s very little police procedure (well, these are amateur sleuths after all) with the plot being character driven, with a touch of romance also involved.

Even with an amateur sleuth the author needs a certain amount of ‘professional’ knowledge to keep the narrative believable, and of course Agatha Christie is the Queen of Crime for that very reason: she worked as a nurse during WWI so saw more than her fair share of amputated limbs and ghastly injuries. She then went on to work in the pharmacy – and learned all about poisons. Which stood her in good stead for her many best-selling crime novels.

Murder Isn't Easy makes a superb ‘how to do a whodunit’ reference book for new or established mystery writers. Apart from being extremely interesting in the area of modern day and 'historical' forensics, it delves into Miss Christie’s life and her writing in an entertaining and informative way. The author delves into giving away insider information about all manner of ‘essentials’ where the accuracy of writing crime is concerned – did you know that the term is ‘blood spatter’ not ‘blood splatter’? 

 The book illustrates Christie’s knowledge, her ability to observe people and create ingenious plots. It was Christie who first used the term ‘scene of crime’ not the police! 

But what is particularly useful for the historical fiction writer is that most of this book is concerned with the era between the Great War and WWII – so a must for that period crime writer researching the facts.

It is also jolly interesting, especially if you are an Agatha Christie fan!

My only grumble is that the e-book, as always with mainstream publications, is priced at £9.99 while the hardback is available at £10.42 (although the RRP is higher) - so a few pennies more for printing, paper, shipment... Why do these publishers put such high prices on their e-books?

Highly recommended

Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds 

© Helen Hollick
 e-version reviewed

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

A Discovering Diamonds Review of Over the hedge by Paulette Mahurin


"During one of the darkest times in history, at the height of the German occupation of the Netherlands in 1943, members of the Dutch resistance began a mission to rescue Jewish children from the deportation center in Amsterdam. Heading the mission were Walter Süskind, a German Jew living in the Netherlands, Henriëtte Pimentel, a Sephardic Jew, and Johan van Hulst, principal of a Christian college. As Nazis rounded up Jewish families at gunpoint, the three discreetly moved children from the deportation center to the daycare across the street and over the backyard hedge to the college next door. From the college, the children were transported to live with Dutch families. Working against irate orders from Hitler to rid the Netherlands of all Jews and increasing Nazi hostilities on the Resistance, the trio worked tirelessly to overcome barriers. Ingenious plans were implemented to remove children’s names from the registry of captured Jews. To sneak them out of the college undetected past guards patrolling the deportation center. To meld them in with their new families to avoid detection. Based on actual events, Over the Hedge is the story of how against escalating Nazi brutality when millions of Jews were disposed of in camps, Walter Süskind, Henriëtte Pimentel, and Johan van Hulst worked heroically with the Dutch resistance to save Jewish children. But it is not just a story of their courageous endeavors. It is a story of the resilience of the human spirit. Of friendship and selfless love. The love that continues on in the hearts of over six hundred Dutch Jewish children."

1940: Johan van Hulst, Deputy Principal of the Reformed Teachers’ Training College in Amsterdam, decided he couldn’t sit on the fence. Every day, across the road at a converted theatre, he watched truckloads of Jews arrive. People were beaten and traumatised, families separated, and then trucked out to unspeakable destinations.

Next door to the college was a Jewish kindergarten; the Nazis turned it into a holding pen for young children before shipping them out to the camps with their parents. Christian Johan at the college, Jewish Walter at the theatre, Jewish Henriëtte at the kindergarten and other associates, colleagues and students of all faiths became part of a secret network to smuggle the smallest children away to safety. Think of the anguish of each parent, hoping against hope that a stranger somewhere would cherish their beloved child, otherwise heading to a certain death.

How they did it under the noses of the watching Nazis, and the price many of them paid for their bravery, is inspiring. It is estimated they saved the lives of between 500 and 1,000 tiny babies and children, whisked away in baskets, parcels and other secret methods.

You’ll hold your breath in fear as the story shares the events of this dark period of Dutch history and the sacrifices made by people who daily put their lives on the line. 

However, at times the writing style gets a bit bogged down on description, rather than being a well-paced narrative - I have to be honest, the story-telling gets a little hard-going at times because of the somewhat inflexible writing style is a short read, only 176 pages, is free to download on Kindle Unlimted or less than£1/$1 to buy, the true-life events are dramatic enough to keep you reading and this story of courage and sacrifice does need to be told and heard. So overall, I give it 4 stars.

Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds 

© Robyn Pearce
 e-version reviewed

Monday, 17 January 2022

A Discovering Diamonds Review of The Warring Heart by Ros Rendle


The Warring Heart is a gentle romance set in England during WWI. The focus is on Pretoria, who after navigating a mildly scandalous relationship, finds herself without a beau and so agrees to marry Nathaniel, a well-established local farmer and a man completely devoted to her but for whom she initially feels little.

At its heart, this novel is a romance. Foremost are Pretoria’s burgeoning feelings for her husband and the steady love he offers her despite the challenges of gossip, distance, and war. An unexpected twist halfway leaves the reader curious as to how a resolution might be found; at the same time, the characterization is such that it was easy to predict that all would end as it did, even as there was some question as to the capitulation of one particular character. That aside, readers will enjoy watching Pretoria's and Nathaniel’s relationship grow over time. It is a love story at its core.

The novel takes place over the four years of WWI and is centered on the home front where Pretoria manages the farm with hired help. Other chapters focus on the war itself, and while the war provides a compelling backdrop, it is also in this that something is lacking. For example, Nathaniel leaves to serve in the trenches, but the letters that he writes home are remarkably mild. There was an opportunity to not only acknowledge the brutality of the war but also to explore how it might have changed Nathaniel. As such, the horror of the war is downplayed and Nathaniel himself seems largely unaffected.

While the graphic nature of war is minimized, the book itself is rich in historical details. For instance, references are made to the Women’s Land Army, a group made up of women that during WWI volunteered to work in the fields in order to keep soldiers fed. The novel also explores to some degree the anti-German sentiment which would have been widespread. Small details like the inclusion of pinafores, carriages, corned bully beef, and even Royal Vinolia Toothpaste not only added to the story, but also allowed the reader to be completely immersed in WWI Britain.

Inevitably, the war ends. Nathaniel comes home. Pretoria reaches a place where she understands her own heart. Each character stays true to who they are and what they hope for, and the story ends on a satisfying note.  Those who appreciate a sweet romance with a comforting resolution will enjoy The Warring Heart.

Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds 

© Mary Cluff

 e-version reviewed

Friday, 14 January 2022

Imperilled by Kristina Freer


Biographical Fiction
Russia /Poland

"Marisha... The daughter of a Polish Political settler from the Eastern Polish borderlands is snatched by Stalin's henchmen at the start of WWII. Along with her family, they transport her to a Gulag in Arctic Russia to be worked and starved to death.
Having been parted from the boy she loves, she strives for a new purpose and a reason to live. Emerging emaciated two years later as Stalin frees them after Hitler embarks on Operation Barbarossa, Marisha fights her way alone across the war-torn Soviet Union in search of him.
This is a true story of loss and recovery re-affirming the immutable human spirit, testing people of courage to recreate themselves in the face of total devastation.
But will she succeed... ?"

This is the second time I've read this book* and it is no less powerful upon revisiting. We have a promising debut novel from author Kristina Freer, a natural storyteller who has turned a real-life family experience into a tale that works as fiction. The fact that the author is related to the main character is almost an irrelevance as the events are written as a novel, and that's a hard trick to pull off successfully when you are writing what is essentially a memoir. It's done really well and yet the background must still have required a great deal of research. The story doesn't sensationalise, nor is it overly-sentimental, and is all the more hard hitting because of it. Marisha is a reliable narrator who is well aware when she is impatient or unkind, and doesn't flinch from showing herself in the occasional bad light, nor does she excuse herself, even though anyone in those appalling circumstances would struggle to behave well all the time. 

The pacing is superb and the development of the timeline and the effects of the ordeal are shown in varying ways. I especially liked the way the stages of the ordeal are measured by the attitude to possessions, from the early scenes at the farm when they gather what they can't bear to leave behind, to the scenes at the end when a pillow and a tablecloth mean everything, and at the same time, nothing, because to keep them might mean not being allowed on a ship.

The descriptions of the natural world - especially of sunsets and weather - are extraordinary, as is the scene-setting. This 'painting with words' seems to come naturally to the author and never feels contrived; indeed it seems effortless. I can still clearly picture everything: the shacks, the layout of the 'village', the walk to the station, and the railway wagons. When Marisha had to leave her mother at the railway station, I saw every moment and movement. The descriptions are sometimes the more brilliant for their simplicity: the gypsy women arrive 'barefoot and uninvited' into the kitchen, and Marisha describes how she and her fellow travellers 'blundered forward into the haze of our own spent breath.'

Along with the imagery there is a nice sense of continuity and symbolism, such as when Marisha looks back at her home and realises that in her hurry to pack she has forgotten to blow out the lamp and she can see it burning in the window as they ride away.

Inevitably, there is not much joy in the story, there are few moments of levity. At times it makes for deeply upsetting reading, the more so because it is true. Yet there is a spark of hope throughout, and moments where faith in humanity is, if not restored, bolstered at least.

Ms Freer is to be congratulated on this remarkable debut. Turning a relative's memories into such compelling drama is no mean feat.

*When first submitted to Discovering Diamonds, this book was hampered by a lack of stringent copy-editing and proofreading, resulting in far too many uncorrected typos and errors. Rather than reject it out of hand (recognising a good book and a potentially talented writer) DDRevs suggested to Ms Freer that she undertake a thorough re-edit, and to her great credit she has revised, edited, and polished what was a 'good' book so that it now gleams. There are a few remaining punctuation issues, but the author's beautiful prose and lyrical writing far outweigh any very small 'niggles'. That the author realised the importance of undertaking the revisions only adds to my conviction that here is definitely an author to watch and I look forward to reading more of her work. Brava.

Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds 

© Lucy Townshend
 e-version reviewed

cover designed by
exempt from Designer's Choice Cover of the Month

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

A Feigned Madness by Tonya Mitchell


Fictional Drama / Fictional Biography
19th century 
New York

"Elizabeth Cochrane has a secret. She isn’t the madwoman with amnesia the doctors and inmates at Blackwell’s Asylum think she is. In truth, she’s working undercover for the New York World. When the managing editor refuses to hire her because she’s a woman, Elizabeth strikes a deal: in exchange for a job, she’ll impersonate a lunatic to expose a local asylum’s abuses. When she arrives at the asylum, Elizabeth realizes she must make a decision—is she there merely to bear witness, or to intervene on behalf of the abused inmates? Can she interfere without blowing her cover? As the superintendent of the asylum grows increasingly suspicious, Elizabeth knows her scheme—and her dream of becoming a journalist in New York—is in jeopardy. A Feigned Madness is a meticulously researched, fictionalized account of the woman who would come to be known as daredevil reporter Nellie Bly. At a time of cutthroat journalism, when newspapers battled for readers at any cost, Bly emerged as one of the first to break through the gender barrier—a woman who would, through her daring exploits, forge a trail for women fighting for their place in the world."

An outstanding story and brilliant research. It’s 1887 and Elizabeth Cochrane is fighting to get a job as a reporter for New York’s World newspaper, one of the city’s top dailies. However, she has a problem—her gender. In the Golden Age, very few women could get employment in newsrooms. Of those who achieved it, almost all had to write about ‘womanly’ topics such as fashion, flower galas and home decorating. 

Elizabeth was only interested in meaty topics and prepared to put herself in harm’s way to prove her ability. The editor of the World challenged her to get admitted as a patient to infamous Blackwell’s Island Insane Asylum for ten days, then write an exposé. If she succeeded, he’d consider employing her.

How she tricked people into accepting that she was unhinged, and her experiences at Blackwell’s Island, make a dramatic story. The place was filthy, the staff were sadistic, and the patients suffered terrible abuse. Elizabeth ended up fighting for not only her own dream of independence and acceptance in a man’s world, but also the rights of those powerless and unable to fight for themselves. The flashbacks to her earlier life give a skilful contrast to the build-up of tension, danger, and terror she experiences at the asylum. 

This masterful and tightly constructed story is based on the true-life experiences of ‘Nellie Bly’, the pseudonym given Elizabeth by a previous editor. It is powerful and sometimes distressing, but also inspiring and unputdownable. The characters are skilfully portrayed, including minor ones, and from the opening page to the end, the narrative never lost pace. The end notes and bibliography are a welcome addition for anyone interested in reading more. 

Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds 

© Robyn Pearce
 e-version reviewed

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