Book Review: The Woman in the Photograph by Stephanie Butland

This book has been on my radar for a while so I was pleased when I had a gap in the blog tours to read something purely for me. It was stunning, and left me reeling with emotion by the time I closed the book. Scroll down to find out why.

Book Review: The Woman in the Photograph by Stephanie Butland

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The Woman in the Photograph

Title: The Woman in the Photograph

Author: Stephanie Butland

Genre: General fiction (it is classed as Women’s Fiction but should be aimed at all genders)

Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre

Release Date: 11th July 2019

Blurb:

1968.

Veronica Moon, a junior photographer on a local paper in an Essex town, is frustrated. She never gets good assignments, and no one takes her seriously. And then she visits the picket line at Dagenham Ford Factory. At the front line of the fight for equal pay for women workers she meets Leonie – a privileged, angry activist, ahead of her time and prepared to fight for equality with everything she has. Veronica is captivated. She breaks off her engagement and moves to London with Leonie to begin a game-changing career and an intoxicating friendship.

Fifty years later and Leonie is gone. Veronica is a recluse with a crippling degenerative disease. For a while she was heralded as a pioneer, leading the charge for women everywhere. But her career was shockingly and abruptly ended by one of the most famous photographs of the twentieth century. It is a photograph she took of her best friend’s death.

Now, as that controversial picture hangs as the centrepiece of a new feminist exhibition curated by Leonie’s niece, long-repressed memories of Veronica’s extraordinary life and tumultuous, passionate and – at times toxic – friendship begin to stir.

It’s time to break her silence and step back into the light. And she will no longer hide from the truth about that dark time . . .

My Thoughts

This book blew me away. It is intelligent, thought-provoking, emotional (to the point I sobbed in front of my in-laws) and got under my skin.

It is a retrospective look on the second wave of feminism through the eyes of Veronica Moon, a photographer as she becomes involved in an exhibition of her work over the previous fifty years. Set in 2018, the interaction between her and the exhibition’s organiser, Erica drew me in and highlights the differences in attitude between generations and how feminism has evolved from the 1970’s marches to the #MeToo movement.

Veronica, Vee did not know anything about feminism until she met bolshie, educated and opinionated Leonie in 1968. Through the relationship and Leonie acting as a mentor, Vee evolves and learns about her place in the world and the fight for equality ahead. Vee’s learning curve became my own because it made me realise how little I knew beyond the suffragettes and Dagenham. It was eye opening to read about the restrictions on women at the time, many I did not know about such as needing a guarantor to take a mortgage out on your own. There are many things we take for granted that the older generation had to fight for. Likewise in the present day, Vee becomes Erica’s mentor who until then saw feminism much like did.

The novel as the title suggests revolves around photographs; Stephanie Butland’s talent for describing them brought the images alive adding to the depth of the story. Throughout the story, there is a mystery of a particular image of Leonie which made me keep turning the pages.

Feminism plays a large role in this novel but at it’s heart is the journey of women, and an exploration of the relationships between them, their families, spouses and wider world.

Would I recommend?

Yes, it is one I would like to shout about and if I was still working in the library I would be urging people to give it ago. I have read some of Stephanie Butland’s books before and loved them, especially Lost in Words but this is special; Leonie, Vee and Erica will remain in my heart. Their voices will continue speak to me urging me to follow their lead, keep fighting to make a difference, be proud of who I am and what I achieve, support fellow sisters and always question the world around me. It left me feeling empowered and I am not the same person I was when I read the opening paragraph. This is definitely one for my forever shelf.

This book has encouraged me to read some books exploring feminism. I would love some recommendations so feel free to comment below.

Love

 

Blog Tour and Book Review: The Forgotten children by Isabella Muir

Last year I read about the disturbing child migration scheme in The Vanished Child  where children in children homes were sent to Australia and Canada. When I read the blurb of The Forgotten Children I knew I had to read it so I was excited to be invited on this blog tour by Rachel Random Resources and given a copy to read. Scroll down for my review and a giveaway for a signed copy.

Book Review: The Forgotten Children by Isabella Muir

 

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The Forgotten Children by Isabella Muir

Title: The Forgotten Children

Author: Isabella Muir

Genre: General fiction, historical

Release Date: 29th November 2018

Blurb

A woman’s search to find her son uncovers the shocking truth about one of Britain’s darkest periods

Struggling with the demons of her past, Emily is a children’s author with a dark secret, and a guilt that threatens to consume her.  For twenty years she has lived in Brighton, England, trying to forget the day they took her baby from her, just hours after he was born.  But now, in the summer of 1987, she decides to begin the search for her son. 

Emily takes refuge in a small town on the Isle of Anglesey to plan the search, where she meets Walter, a gentle stranger, who helps her with his words of wisdom and kindness.  But it is when she decides to return home to Hastings, that she really has to face her demons. 

Estranged from her parents when she was just sixteen, Emily is shocked by what her mother has to tell her about events that occurred before Emily was even born.

Beside her, throughout her search, is Emily’s beautiful Irish friend, Geraldine, recovering from her own sad experiences.  Together they uncover a truth that shocks them all.

The Forgotten Children draws the reader into lives affected by narrow-minded beliefs and blinkered thinking at the highest level. Children who weren’t allowed to be born, children who were abandoned, and children who were taken, forced to lead a life thousands of miles away from everyone and everything they knew – leaving scars that may never heal.

At its heart, The Forgotten Children is a story of survival, but the journey that Emily has to take is painful.  Even more so because she knows it was allowed to happen by individuals, religions and governments, who should have known better.

Purchase Links:

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Forgotten-Children-chilling-inspired-events-ebook/dp/B07GZYHLKV

US – https://www.amazon.com/Forgotten-Children-chilling-inspired-events-ebook/dp/B07GZYHLKV

My Thoughts

Children’s author, Emily brims with anger and despair as she struggles to come to terms with a recent miscarriage which stirs her memories of her first child who she was forced to give away. I connected to her even when she made decisions I could not understand including the one which leads her to Anglesey. This a place I long to visit and Isabella Muir’s descriptions of the landscape and area increased my desire to visit. The environment and people Emily meets leads her to make the decision to search for her son. Walter, a character I loved, acts as a welcome calming influence for Emily anger and balances out the book. Reading about the heartbreaking act of migrating children to Australia and Canada is still shocking despite reading about it in a few books now and is unbelievable it is in our recent history and not something from a century ago. The focus on the families searching for their children rather than the experience of the adopted child works well because you discover the horrors with the main character. It is a well researched and emotional. The complex feelings of estranged families, high expectations and grief is tackled sympathetically and pulled at my heart-strings. A box of tissues was required.

The story takes place in 1987 so sent me down memory lane with telephone boxes and not being able to do a quick internet search for information. It is amazing how much has changed in the last three decades.

Would I recommend?

Yes, it is emotional read which reveals the haunting actions of the British government of that time and highlights the turmoil the regime caused for all involved.

Author Biography

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Isabella Muir

Isabella Muir has been surrounded by books her whole life and – after working for twenty years as a technical editor and having successfully completed her MA in Professional Writing – she was inspired to focus on fiction writing.

As well as her newest title, The Forgotten Children, Isabella is the author of the Sussex Crime Mystery series.  These Agatha Christie style stories are set in the sixties and seventies and feature a young librarian and amateur sleuth, Janie Juke, who has a passion for Agatha Christie. All that Janie has learned from her hero, Hercule Poirot, she is able to put into action as she sets off to solve a series of crimes and mysteries.

Aside from books, Isabella has a love of all things caravan-like. She has spent many winters caravanning in Europe and now, together with her husband, she runs a small caravan site in Sussex. They are ably assisted by their much-loved Scottie, Hamish.

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/IsabellaMuirAuthor/

https://twitter.com/SussexMysteries

https://isabellamuir.com/

Giveaway

I am pleased to share the chance to win a signed copy of The Forgotten Children ( UK only -sorry).

Click here to enter

 

Why not visit other blogs on this tour to find out more on this book and author.

Thank you Rachel giving me the chance to read this book.

Happy Reading!

Love

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