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A Cornish Summer – Catherine Alliott – Blog Tour.

 

catherine Alliott

Back of the book :

Flora’s been in love with her husband for twenty years. The trouble is, he’s been married to someone else for the past fifteen . . .

Now she’s been invited to spend the summer in the shady lanes and sandy coves of Cornwall. It should be blissful.

There’s just one small snag: she’ll be staying with her former mother-in-law, Belinda.

And Flora discovers she’s not the only one invited when her ex-husband shows up out of the blue, complete with his new wife. So now there are two small snags.

Can Flora spend the summer playing happy families with the woman who stole her husband’s heart, and the mother-in-law who might have had a hand in it?

Or will stumbling on the family secret change her mind about them all?

 

What I think :

Flora loves her husband, the only problem is that they have been divorced for fifteen years ! Her husband Hugo has remarried and has 2 more children (Flora and Hugo have a son Peter together) Flora cant seem to to be able to get over Hugo and move on. So maybe it wasn’t such a good idea for her to spend the whole summer at her ex in-laws house in Cornwall. Her ex mother in-law, Belinda has asked her to paint a portrait of Hugo’s father Roger.

She has her best friend Celia with her and they’re not going to to be staying at the main house ,but in a little holiday let down the road so it wont be too bad … Also Hugo and his new wife Christina are sailing aboard for the summer, so there’s no chance of bumping into them … what can go wrong?

A lot it would seem, as when they arrive Tommy Rochester and his latest squeeze is there (Hugo’s best friend and Flora secretly blames Tommy in part for her and Hugo’s break-up.) And then her worst nightmare happens, Hugo and his wife and two shiny new children are at the house also.

Will Flora be able to be around the man she has loved for so long unrequitedly for the whole summer ?

Then a family secret is exposed, can she finally use this time to move on from him … ?

Its seems like forever since Catherine’s last novel, but in my opinion it was really worth the wait.

This is an epic of a family saga, with loads of brilliant characters. I especially liked Flora and also Babs who I really loved. even although I  wasn’t very struck on Belinda she was marvelously written and she reminded me of a few people I’ve met over the years !

I did think however, that it wasn’t quite as the back of the book describes, hilarious wouldn’t be a word that I would choose to describe it. I found it quite serious in places if  I’m honest. But that said, I thought it was a good novel, just not something that I’d take to the beach for an easy read.

With a quite brilliant twist quite close to the end, which was something I wasn’t expecting. I give this book a 9\10 (5 Stars)

5 gold stars

Published on 13\06\19 by Michael Joseph (Penguin random House)

A big thank you to Sriya Varadharajan at Penguin for the review copy of the book in return for a honest review 🙂

 

Catherine Alliot 2

 

thumbnail_A Cornish Summer Blog Tour

The Newcomer – Fern Britton ~ Blog Tour

Back of the book :

She arrived in the village on the spring tide and hoped to be at the heart of it, knowing its secrets and weathering its storms.

It was to be a new beginning

It’s springtime in the Cornish village of Pendruggan and as the community comes together to say a fond farewell to parish vicar, Simon, and his wife, Penny, a newcomer causes quite a stir

Reverand Angela Whitehorn came to Cornwall to make a difference. With her husband, Robert, by her side, she sets about making changes but it seems not everyone is happy for her to shake things up in the small parish, and soon Angela starts to receive anonymous poison pen letters.

Angela has always been one to fight back, and she has already brought a fresh wind into the village, supporting her female parishioners through good times and bad. But as the letters get increasingly more personal, Angela learns that the secrets are closer to home.

With faith and friends by your side, even the most unlikely of new beginnings is possible.

What I think :

When Vicar Simon and his lovely wife Penny and daughter Jenna, move to Brazil for a year for Simon’s work, a new vicar is needed to fill in. Enter Angela and her husband Robert, who is a political correspondent for a newspaper (with the occasional tv appearance mixed in) in London and their daughter Faith. Along with them comes Mr Worthington the dog and Angela’s Aunt Mamie, Who in a class all of her own ! (in a nice way of course !)

Things seem to be going ok, and they’re settling in. Robert is loving being a house-husband, Faith is making friends, with boys at school and Mamie has struck up a friendship with the owner of the post office cum corner shop and they’ve even been known to sneak off to smoke a secret spliff. (to cure their aching joints of course !) Angela has been to a couple of meetings with the parish council and there’s even talk of a village project. Everything is going great, just the new start they needed after the untimely death of Angela’s mum.

But then the letters start coming and something awful happens ….

All of the wonderful characters are back for a third outing in the brilliant Pendruggan saga. There’s Queenie from the post office, lovely Helen and the mean and moody Piran. Not forgetting village busybody Audrey and her poor long suffering husband Geoffrey. It’s like meeting up with old friends after a while away.

This lovely book is just what you need after a bad day or a long day at work. It’s like a big warm hug on a rainy day.

I always love fern’s books and really look forward to them. This one is fabulous and highly recommend it.

I give it a well-earned 10/10.

Published by Harper Collins on 07/03/19

A huge thank you to Rebecca Bryant from Harper Collins for the review copy of the book in return for a honest review.

The Girl Next Door – Phoebe Morgan ~ Blog Tour.

Back of the book :

Perfect mother. Perfect wife. Jane Goodwin has spent years building her picture-perfect life in the quiet town of Ashdon.

So when the girl next door, sixteen-year-old Clare Edwards, is found murdered, Jane knows she must first protect her family.

Every marriage has a few white lies and hers is no exception. Jane’s worked hard to cover up her dark secret from all those years ago and she’ll do anything to keep it hidden

What I think :

Jane lives in one of he most expensive houses in town. It’s quite a sleepy little town, nothing bad ever happens there. She’s married to Jack, the local doctor. They have three children together, Harry who’s a teenager and Finn and Sophie who are younger. Her marriage isn’t at all what it seems to the outside world, there is much turbulence, but, Jane must NEVER let anyone know that, it’s all about appearances.

Jane isn’t particularly close to her next door neighbours, Rachel and Ian and their daughter Clare. She’s tried to be by taking round bottles of wine etc but Rachel and Ian just want to keep to themselves.

Then one night Rachel knocks on Jane’s door visibly upset. Her daughter Clare has gone missing, she’s not come home from school, she asks if her son Harry, knows where she is ? But he doesn’t because he’s out with friends having pizza.

Some hours later, Clare is found on the meadow, she’s been murdered. Hit over the head. Her phone is missing …

The local weirdo, Nathan Warren called it in to the police, is he to blame or has someone else in the town murdered Clare …

This is quite a slow-burner, the author sets the scene for quite a few chapters before getting to the story proper.

The characters are real and relatable and behave in a way that you would expect them to in that sort of situation. Some I really liked and felt sorry for and there were others that I wasn’t quite struck on, just like in real life !

It has plenty of twists and turns to get your teeth into and a few red herrings that set you down the wrong path.

Each chapter is told from a different characters perspective mainly Jane, Maddie (the police officer investigating) and Clare on the day that she’s murdered.

This one is completely different from the authors first book, which is no bad thing and I do have to admit that this one did keep me puzzling right up until the end. ( which is quite unusual for me !) talking of the end it’s pretty explosive in a twisty sort of way !!

Anyway, I thought that it was quite brilliant and I give it a well deserved 10/10.

Published on 21/02/19 by HQ

A big thanks to Lucy Richardson at HQ (Harper Collins) for the review copy of the book .

Here for your reading pleasure is an extract from the book 🙂

Extract :

Monday 4th February, 7.45 p.m.

I’m sitting in the window with a glass of cool white wine, watching as one by one, the lights in the house next door to ours flicker on. It’s dark outside, the February night giving nothing away, and the Edwards’ house glows against the gloom. Their walls are cream – not a colour I’d choose – and their front garden runs down to the road, parallel to ours. Inside, I imagine their house to be a mirror image of my own: four spacious bedrooms, a wide, gleaming kitchen, beams that date from the fifteenth century framing the stairway. I’ve never been inside, not properly, but everybody knows our properties are the most sought-after in the town – the biggest, the most expensive, the ones they all want.

There’s a creaking sound from upstairs – my husband Jack, moving around in our room, loosening his tie, the clunk of his shoes dropping onto the floor of the wardrobe. He’s been drinking tonight – the open bottle of whiskey sits on the counter, sticky drops spilling onto the surface.

Quietly, so as not to wake the children, I stand, move away from the window and begin clearing it up, putting the bottle back in the cupboard, wiping the little circle of stain off the marble countertop. Wiping away the evidence of the night, of the things he said to me that I want to forget. I’m good at forgetting. Blanking the slate. Practice makes perfect, after all.

The house is tidy and still. The bunch of lilies Jack bought me last week stand stiff on the windowsill, their large pink petals overseeing the room. Apology flowers. I could open up a florist, if it wasn’t such a tacky idea.

There’s a sound outside and, curious, I move to the front window, lift the thick, dove-grey curtain to one side so that I can see the Edwards’ front garden. Their porch light has come on, lighting up the gravel driveway, the edge of their garage on the far side, and the stone bird bath at the front, frozen over in the February chill. I’ve always thought a birdbath was a little too much, but each to their own. Rachel Edwards’ tastes have never quite aligned with mine.

We’ve never been close, Rachel and I. Not particularly. I tried, of course. When she and her first husband Mark moved in a few years ago, I went round with a bottle of wine – white, expensive. It was hot, July, and I imagined us sitting out in the back garden together, me filling her in about who’s who in the town, her nodding along admiringly when I showed her the wisteria that climbs up our back wall, the pretty garden furniture that sits around the chimera on the large flagged patio. I thought we’d be friends as well as neighbours. I pictured her looking at me and Jack wistfully, envying us even – popping round for dinner, exclaiming at the shine of the kitchen, running a hand over the beautiful silver candlesticks when she thought I wasn’t looking. We’d laugh together about the goings-on at the school, the lascivious husbands in the town, the children. She’d join our book club, maybe even the PTA. We’d swap recipes, babysitter numbers; shoes, at a push. But we didn’t do any of those things. She took the wine from me, naturally, but her expression was closed, cold even. My first thought was that she was very beautiful; the ice queen next door.

‘My husband’s inside,’ she’d said, ‘we’re just about to have dinner, so… Perhaps I can pop round another time?’

Behind her, I caught a glimpse of her daughter, Clare – she looked about the same age as my eldest son, Harry. I saw the flash of blonde hair, the long legs as she stood still on the stairs, watching her mother. She never did pop round, of course. For weeks afterwards I felt hurt by it, and then I felt irritated. Did she think she was too good for us? The other women told me not to worry, that we didn’t need her in our little mothers’ group anyway. ‘You can’t force it,’ my friend Sandra said. Over time, I let it go. Well, sort of. When Mark died, I went round to see Rachel, tried again. I thought she must be terribly lonely, rattling around in that big house, just her and Clare. But even then, there remained a distance between us, a bridge I couldn’t quite cross. Something odd in her smile. And then, of course, she met Ian. Husband number two. After that, I stopped trying altogether.

I see Clare every now and then, grown even prettier in the last few years. Jack thinks I don’t notice the way his eyes follow her as she walks by, but I do. I notice everything.

I hear footsteps on the gravel, and recoil from the window as a figure appears, striding purposely towards our front door. I open it before they can knock, thinking of my younger children, Finn and Sophie, tucked away upstairs, dreaming, oblivious.

Rachel is standing on our doorstep, but she doesn’t look like Rachel. Her eyes are wide, her hair all over her face, whipped by the wind.

‘Jane,’ she says, ‘I’m sorry to bother you, I just—’ She’s peering around me, her eyes darting into our porch, where our coats are hanging neatly on the ornate black pegs. My Barbour, Jack’s winter coat, Harry’s scruffy hoodie that I wish he’d get rid of. Finn and Sophie’s little duffels, red and blue with wooden toggles up the front. Our perfect little family. The thought makes me smile. It’s so far from the truth.

‘Have you seen Clare? Is she here?’

I stare at her, taken aback. Clare is sixteen, a pupil at Ashdon Secondary. The year below Harry, Year Eleven. I see her in the mornings, leaving for school, wearing one of those silky black rucksacks with impractically thin straps. She can’t possibly get all her books in there. Like I said, we don’t mix with the Edwards much. I don’t know Clare well at all.

‘Jane?’ Rachel’s voice is desperate, panicked.

‘No!’ I say, ‘no, Rachel, I’m sorry, I haven’t. Why would she be here?’

She lets out a moan, almost animalistic. There are tears forming in her eyes, threatening to spill down her cheeks. For a moment, I almost feel a flicker of satisfaction at seeing the icy mask melt, then squash the thought down immediately. Just because she’s never been neighbourly doesn’t mean I have to be the same.

‘She’s not with Harry or something?’

I stare at her. My son is out, a post-match pizza night with the boys from his football team. He took Sophie and Finn to school today for me; the night out is his reward. If I’m honest, I’ve always thought he might have a bit of a crush on Clare, like father like son, but as far as I know she’s never given him the time of day. Not that he’d tell me if she had, I suppose. His main communication these days is through grunts.

‘No,’ I say, ‘no, she isn’t with Harry.’

Her breath comes fast, panting, panicked. ‘Do you want to come inside?’ I ask quickly. ‘I can get you a drink, you can tell me what’s happened.’

She shakes her head, and I feel momentarily put out. Most people in Ashdon would kill to see inside our house: the expensive furnishings, the artwork, the effortless sense of style that money makes so easy. Well, it’s not totally effortless, of course. Not without its sacrifices.

‘We can’t find her,’ she says, ‘she didn’t come home from school. Oh God, Jane, she’s disappeared. She’s gone.’

I stare at her, trying to comprehend what she’s saying. ‘What? I’m sure she’s just with a friend,’ I say, putting a hand on her arm as she stands at the door, feeling her shake beneath my fingers.

‘No,’ she says, ‘no. I’ve called them all. Ian’s been up and down the high street, looking for her. She’s normally home by four thirty, school gets out just after four. We can’t get hold of her on the mobile, we’ve tried and tried and it goes to voicemail. It’s almost eight o’clock.’ She’s clenching and unclenching her fists, blinking too much, trying to control the panic. I don’t know what to do.

‘Shall I come round?’ I ask. ‘The kids are asleep anyway, Harry’s not here, and Jack’s upstairs.’ If she thinks it odd that my husband hasn’t come down, she doesn’t say anything.

‘Rachel!’ There’s a shout – Ian, the aforementioned hubby number two. He appears in my doorway, a large, oversized iPhone in his hand. His face is red, he looks a bit out of breath. He’s a big man, ex-army, or so people say. Works in the City, takes the train to Liverpool Street most mornings. I know because I see him through the window. He runs his own business, engineering, something like that. Always a jovial tie. I’ve heard him shouting at Clare in the evenings; I can never make out what he’s saying. I suppose it must be hard, being second best. I know I wouldn’t like it.

‘The police are on their way,’ he says, and at this Rachel breaks down, her body curling into his, his arms reaching out to stroke her back.

‘If there’s anything I can do,’ I say, and he nods at me gratefully over his wife’s head. I can see the fear in his own eyes, and feel momentarily surprised. It takes a lot to unsettle a military man. Unless he knows more than he’s letting on. He never did get on well with Clare.

Apple of My Eye – Claire Allen ~ Blog Tour

Back of the book :

Just how far is a mother willing to go?

When a mysterious note arrives for seven months pregnant nurse Eliana Hughes, she begins to doubt every aspect of her life – from her mixed feelings about motherhood to her marriage to Martin, who has become distant in recent months.

As the person behind the note escalates their campaign to out Eli’s husband as a cheat, she finds herself unable to trust even her own instincts, and as pressure builds, she makes a mistake that jeopardises her entire future.

Elsewhere, someone is watching. Someone who desperately wants a baby to call their own and will go to any lengths to become a mother – and stay a mother…

What I think :

Eliana has everything.

She has a lovely husband, Martin and a fabulous job as a senior staff nurse at a hospice and best of all, after months of trying, she’s pregnant. But she’s worried. Shouldn’t she be happy ? What if she can’t cope ? What if she doesn’t love the baby when it arrives, does that make her a bad mother even before the baby is here ? And the sickness, she doesn’t know how much longer she can cope with throwing up all of the time …

Then there’s her mum, who is very protective. She keeps on nagging her to move back to Belfast with her, away from the gorgeous farmhouse in Derry that her and Martin live in. Ok, so it is a little out of the way, but that has always made Eli feel safer somehow.

Then Eli starts to receive handwritten notes, saying that maybe she shouldn’t trust her husband, who has to go away a lot for work to the UK. When a brick is thrown through the window with another note attached, on a night that Martin is away, this really scares Eli. She goes to stay with her mum in Belfast and that’s when things really start to go wrong …

Meanwhile Louise is watching and waiting …

Is she responsible for what’s happening to Eli ?

Louise just knows that she needs a baby to call her own, and is prepared to go to any lengths to get one …

This book is mainly told from Eliana’s and Louises perspectives, we also hear from Angela, Eli’s mum at the end, in which we find out a bit more about the secrets from Eli’s childhood.

It’s very tense and grippy right from the start with plenty of little twists along the way. I found it very addictive, I read it in just under a day, I couldn’t put it down. I must admit I did guess what was going on about half way through, although it didn’t ruin my enjoyment of finding out how we got to that conclusion.

It has some excellent characters, but also some that I wasn’t really struck on, Angela for example, she really annoyed me. I did find Eli quite gullible, she seemed to believe everything she was told. I for one would check things out first !

I won’t say too much more as I don’t want to ruin the book for you. Just go out and buy it !!

I really loved ‘Her Name was Rose’ the authors first book, and was slightly concerned that I wouldn’t like this book as much as that one. But I needn’t have worried as this one was brilliant ! Dare I say that it was maybe slightly better, Sssh !

I give this book a well deserved 10/10 (5 Stars)

Published on 24/01/19 by Avon Books

A Huge Thank you to Sabah Khan at Avon for the review copy of the book in exchange for a honest review. 🙂

Here for you’re reading pleasure is a extract from the book :

Extract.

By the time my shift is done, I’m exhausted and I’m pretty sure my ankles have doubled in size. I can’t wait to get home, kick off my shoes and feel the cool marble floors of our living space under my tired feet.

But my car’s in the garage and I have to wait for Martin to collect me. As usual, he’s late. Probably stuck on a work call he can’t get out of.

I’m standing with my coat on, looking out at the rain falling onto the hospice car park, when Rachel asks if I need a lift.

‘It’s not on your way home,’ I tell her. ‘I couldn’t ask you to do that.’

‘You didn’t. I offered,’ she says with a smile. ‘It’ll save that husband of yours coming out on a night like this and sure, it’s not that far out of my way. The kids are at their dad’s, so it’s not like I’m in a rush to get home anyway. You’ve had a long day,’ she says, and I want to hug her.

‘If you’re sure?’ I ask. ‘I’ll just check Martin hasn’t left.’

‘I’m sure,’ she smiles.

I dial my husband, who answers after two rings, apologises and says he’ll be with me shortly. I can hear from the background noises that he’s still at home.

‘Rachel’s going to drop me over. You’ve no need to come out,’ I tell him.

He sounds relieved. ‘That’s great,’ he says. ‘I can get on with some work while dinner’s cooking. It’s been a mad day, so busy. But look, I’ll talk to you about it when you get home.’

Work has been ‘mad’ for months now. Longer hours. More trips away. A big project that could bring a lot more work his way. When he wants to talk about it, it generally means he’ll tell me about another ‘vital’ trip away. It’s a good thing I’m not the suspicious type.

Or wasn’t.

I end the call and tell Rachel I’ll take her up on her offer.

Every Breath – Nicholas Sparks ~ Blog Tour.

nick sparkes

Back of the Book :

Hope Anderson is at a crossroads. After six years with her boyfriend, she is no longer sure what she wants, and when her father becomes ill she heads to her family’s cottage at Sunset Beach in North Carolina to make some difficult decisions.

Tru Walls has been summoned across an ocean from where he was born and raised in Zimbabwe by a letter from a man claiming to be his father. In journeying to Sunset Beach, Tru hopes to unravel the mystery surrounding his mother’s life, but the letter will lead him in an unexpected direction.

When these two strangers’ paths cross, their chance encounter sets in motion a heart-breaking story – one that will transcend decades, continents and the workings of fate.

What I think : 

I would like to start by saying that I have only read one other of Nicholas Sparks books and that of course is ‘The Notebook’ (I Have also watched the film and cried buckets ! ) So I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, to be truthful I’m not really a fan of romance books (crime thrillers are more my bag !) however I’m so glad I read this little gem of a book. From the note at the start of the book by Nick himself, right through to the last page of the epilogue, this book is truly wonderful.

This novel is a beautifully woven love story that makes to you smile and cry in equal measure. There isn’t enough of these timelessly classical love stories out there.

I really loved this beautiful (True?) story and would recommend that if you only buy one Nick Sparks book then please let it be this one.

I give it a well-earned 8/10

5 gold stars

Published by Little Brown (Sphere) on 16/10/18

A huge Thank you to Eleanor Hemming at Midas for the review copy of the book.

The Liars Room – Simon Lelic ~ Blog Tour

the liars room 1

Back of the book :

ONE ROOM. TWO LIARS. NO WAY OUT…

Susanna Fenton has a secret. Fourteen years ago she left her identity behind, reinventing herself as a counsellor and starting a new life. It was the only way to keep her daughter safe.

But everything changes when Adam Geraghty walks into her office. She’s never met this young man before – so why does she feel like she knows him?

Then Adam starts to tell her about a girl. A girl he wants to hurt.

And Susanna realises she was wrong.
She doesn’t know him.
BUT HE KNOWS HER.
AND THE GIRL HE PLANS TO HURT IS HER DAUGHTER…

What I think : 

What an excellent second book from this fab author !

I absolutely loved this book ! It kept me on on the edge of my seat and guessing throughout.

Set in the consulting room of Susanna, a councillor who has a past of her own. When Adam walks into her office so begins a game of “cat and mouse”

Who’s lying ?

Who has something to hide ?

What exactly is going on ?

Where is Emily, Susanna’s Daughter ?

Why is she not answering her phone ?

It’s a race against time, who will be the winner ?

As I said at the start of this review, I loved this book and I would recommend that you go out and buy it now !

I give this fab thriller 9/10.

5 gold stars

Published on 09/08/18 by Penguin books.

A huge Thank you to Hannah Ludbrooke for the review copy of the book.

the liars room

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The Last of The Summer Moet – Wendy Holden – Blog Tour.

wendy holden

Back of the Book: 

Laura Lake, deputy editor of glossy mag Society, has been promoted to the hot seat while her boss recovers from ‘exhaustion’ in rehab. finally she’s in charge, but who can she share the free jollies with ?

Not her international glamour-puss BFF Lulu, who’s left Knightsbridge for Britain’s poshest village. Lulu’s busy living the good life at her new pile Riff’s, an ex-rock star’s ex-country mansion.

But not everything in her guitar-shaped garden is lovely ; Lulu’s attempts to join the hunt, act in the panto and grow the biggest marrow are blocked by the snobbish locals.

Who does she call on for help ? Journo extraordinaire, Laura Lake …

What I think : 

Laura Lake is back !

She’s now reached the heady heights of ‘acting’ editor of fabulous mag ‘Society’. Her boss has a few ‘problems’ and has gone into ‘rehab’ to sort them out. Laura is finally where she should be, at the top !

Sometimes however, it gets lonely at the top. Best friend Lulu is nowhere to be seen, she’s left town and is living it up in the country, in Britain’s poshest village no less !  She has a fabulous new mansion. But why are the locals so snobby and unfriendly ? why wont they let Lulu join in anything ?

It seems to Lulu like she needs a bit of help, time to call in her BFF Laura Lake ….

Well, what can I say ? It was lovely having the Lovely Laura and pals back in this newest novel, getting up to god-knows what ! Some of her antics are hilarious and she always seems to mess things up.

However I did find this last serving slightly far-fetched and not really all that true to life. I thought the village characters were OK but quite unlikable. however as usual very well written.

The book was OK, a nice bit of very light reading after all the heavy thrillers I’ve been reading of late.

I give it 7/10.

four-stars

Published on 01/02/18 by Head of Zeus.

A big Thank you to Melanie Price and Netgalley for the digital review copy of the book.

Here for your reading pleasure is a small extract of the book :

Extract : 

Chapter One

Laura Lake, deputy editor of Society magazine, returned to her desk after the daily features meeting. She felt as if she had done ten rounds with Floyd Mayweather. Glancing round at her colleagues as they slunk back to their workstations, she could tell that they felt the same.

Raisy and Daisy, the interchangeable blonde sisters who shared the job of fashion director, were looking particularly crushed. Their ideas about furry lederhosen had not got past first base, still less their suggestions for directional glittery clogs. Raisy (whose name was actually Rosie, but it had taken Laura some time to realise), was dabbing at her eyes with a sequinned Chanel hanky. The fine dark brows of Thomasella the food editor were angrily drawn as well. Her contention that Bronze Age party food i.e. Ritz crackers and cheese hedgehogs was back had been thrown on the same pile as the lederhosen. Admittedly Carinthia, Society’s mercurial editor and Laura’s boss, had always been demanding.‘ The Gaze’, her famous death stare, had always had the power to reduce her staff to rubble. This was all the more remarkable given that none of them could actually see it. The opaque black sunglasses Carinthia habitually wore were, alongside those of Anna Wintour of American Vogue, the most terrifying eye wear in journalism. But people had respected this ruthlessness. Carinthia, they knew, demanded the best. Only the cleverest ideas made the cut, which was why the magazine was so successful. Those not equal to this quest for perfection could be summarily fired, like the style editor who had said neon-pink-sprayed midges were summer’s smart garden accessory. But of late Carinthia’s demands had taken on a new, lunatic edge. Staff had been told to position their chairs exactly eight centimetres from their desk edge whether or not they were sitting in them and never, upon pain of death, hang anything on the backs. Untidy desks were photographed, named and shamed, including Laura’s. Especially Laura’s, the untidiest in the office.

More bizarrely still, according to Demelza, Carinthia’s long-suffering PA, the editor had recently started consulting an astrologer. ‘She goes up to her roof and sits under a blue plastic pyramid,’ Demelza confided .‘Then she’s told which days are to be avoided.’ Demelza had showed Laura the diary. Days to be avoided had been blacked out, and Carinthia didn’t come in on them. There had been many black days lately, leaving Laura running the ship. While Laura enjoyed being in charge, and things tended to go smoother when she was, it was irritating to have the editor come back and take credit for her efforts. Or, worse, change her arrangements and cancel the features she had commissioned. But there was one feature Carinthia would not be cancelling. One that had survived the recent meeting unscathed. Laura’s upcoming interview with Savannah Bouche, the vastly famous and stunningly beautiful Hollywood actress and humanitarian. Laura had set the interview up herself and was hugely proud of having done so. All Society’s glossy rivals had been after it too; to secure it was a coup. Laura secretly hoped she had pulled it off thanks to her growing journalistic reputation. The ‘Three Weddings and a Scandal’ story had shot her into the magazine stratosphere, and the adventures of the‘ Luxury Press Trip’ in which a billionaire businessman had been unmasked as a charlatan, had only burnished her credentials further. An in-depth report of an encounter with one of the world’s most famous women would be the perfect continuation of what was promising to be a stellar career.

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