Sunday, 22 October 2017

How To Build A Home Library. Feature from TheGloss.ie & Irish Times by Sophie Grenham






How To Build A Home Library


BLEACH HOUSE LIBRARY was built from scratch by MARGARET MADDEN in her Co. Louth home
Photograph by Eoin Rafferty
Margaret Madden, blogger and reviewer, quite literally lives in her books. The extraordinary Bleach House Library was built from scratch by the flamed-haired mother of five in her listed 18th-century, seven-bedroom pile in Collon, Co Louth.
Madden immediately zoned in on the sprawling ground floor space, before moving in eleven years ago. “I ear-marked it as my library because it has double doors into the garden, it has a fireplace and it’s a big room,” she explains. “It’s away from the hubbub of the house, slightly isolated in its own wing. When you have as many kids as I have, it’s nice to escape without being too far away.” Looking around the light-filled haven, punctuated with pastels, I can’t imagine feeling anything but peaceful in here.
That’s only the beginning, for I quickly discover that Madden’s collection of roughly 5,000 books occupies nearly every single room in the house, bar the bathroom. While very neatly curated, her treasured literary cargo travels from the flagship library, up the staircase and into the master bedroom.
How does one manage this many books and stay sane? Madden admits that while she regularly donates to charity shops and libraries, more volumes typically find their way back in exchange. Books are alphabetised so she can locate desired titles quickly.
In her experience, what key elements make a decent library, should one embark on such a mission?
“There has to be a mix of old and new with a great non-fiction section,” she says. “Definitely have all different genres in a library. Add a good mixture of novels written by people of colour, from different perspectives and religions, translated fiction. I would be surprised if there was no Jane Austen or Dickens. Although they’re curriculum reads now, there are people who still want to read them for pleasure – not just for exams.”
Despite the seemingly complete appearance of Bleach House Library, this labour of love will continue.“Some people are passionate about their cars and some go horseracing,” she says, smiling. “This is my addiction and it just happens to be literary, so having a room of one’s own that is basically a giant book is just heaven! It is literally a dream since I was a child – and it’s come true.”

Monday, 9 October 2017

LMFM October #LateLunchBookclub



Another month, another great selection of recommended reads, for LMFM's #LateLunchBookclub
I was in with Gerry Kelly, on Friday 6th Oct and revealed which books I thought listeners may enjoy. Once again, there is a nice mix of genres and hopefully something may appeal to you. You can listen to our #LateLunchBookclub broadcast via the soundlink below:




BOOK OF THE MONTH


Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen, the creators of the much-loved Aisling character and the popular Facebook page 'Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling', bring Aisling to life in their novel about the quintessential country girl in the big smoke.

Aisling is twenty-eight and she's a complete ... Aisling. She lives at home in Ballygobbard (or Ballygobackwards, as some gas tickets call it) with her parents and commutes to her good job at PensionsPlus in Dublin.

Aisling goes out every Saturday night with her best friend Majella, who is a bit of a hames (she's lost two phones already this year - Aisling has never lost a phone). They love hoofing into the Coors Light if they're 'Out', or the vodka and Diet Cokes if they're 'Out Out'.

Ais spends two nights a week at her boyfriend John's. He's from down home and was kiss number seventeen at her twenty-first.

But Aisling wants more. She wants the ring on her finger. She wants the hen with the willy straws. She wants out of her parents' house, although she'd miss Mammy turning on the electric blanket like clockwork and Daddy taking her car 'out for a spin' and bringing it back full of petrol.

When a week in Tenerife with John doesn't end with the expected engagement, Aisling calls a halt to things and soon she has surprised herself and everyone else by agreeing to move into a three-bed in Portobello with stylish Sadhbh from HR and her friend, the mysterious Elaine.

Newly single and relocated to the big city, life is about to change utterly for this wonderful, strong, surprising and funny girl, who just happens to be a complete Aisling.

HISTORICAL FICTION


1993, Key West, Florida. When a Ku Klux Klan official is shot in broad daylight, all eyes turn to the person holding the gun: a 96-year-old Cuban woman who will say nothing except to admit her guilt.

1919. Mixed-race Alicia Cortez arrives in Key West exiled in disgrace from her family in Havana. At the same time, damaged war hero John Morales returns home on the last US troop ship from Europe. As love draws them closer in this time of racial segregation, people are watching, including Dwayne Campbell, poised on the brink of manhood and struggling to do what's right. And then the Ku Klux Klan comes to town...

Inspired by real events, At First Light weaves together a decades-old grievance and the consequences of a promise made as the sun rose on a dark day in American history.

THRILLER


It's been twenty years since Lindsey has seen her best friend Rachel.

Twenty years since she has set foot in Thornbury Hall - the now crumbling home of the Bagenal family - where they spent so much time as teenagers. Since Patrick Bagenal's 18th birthday party, the night everything changed . . . for good.

It's time for a reunion

Patrick has decided on one last hurrah before closing the doors of his family home for good. All of the old crowd, back together for a weekend.

For the secrets to come out

It's not long before secrets begin to float to the surface. Everything that Lindsey shared with her best friend at sixteen . . . and everything that she didn't . . .

Some secrets should never be told. They need to be taken to the grave. While others require revenge at any cost.


NON-FICTION/MEMOIR


‘Painfully funny. The pain and the funniness somehow add up to something entirely good, entirely noble and entirely loveable.' - Stephen Fry

Welcome to 97-hour weeks. Welcome to life and death decisions. Welcome to a constant tsunami of bodily fluids. Welcome to earning less than the hospital parking meter. Wave goodbye to your friends and relationships . . .

Welcome to the life of a junior doctor.


Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, comedian and former junior doctor Adam Kay’s This Is Going to Hurt provides a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line. Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking by turns, these diaries are everything you wanted to know – and more than a few things you didn't – about life on and off the hospital ward. And yes, it may leave a scar.

CLASSIC FICTION


Told in Sebastian Barry's characteristically beautiful prose, "A Long Long Way" evokes the camaraderie and humour of Willie and his regiment, the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, but also the cruelty and sadness of war, and the divided loyalties that many Irish soldiers felt. Tracing their experiences through the course of the war, the narrative brilliantly explores and dramatises the events of the Easter Rising within Ireland, and how such a seminal political moment came to affect those boys off fighting for the King of England on foreign fields - the paralysing doubts and divisions it caused them.

Gerry Kelly & Margaret Madden
  

Myself and Gerry Kelly hope that there is something here that listeners will love. All these titles are available from your local bookshop or library, but should you have any problems, just ask your bookseller, or librarian, to order a copy in for you. Happy Reading!

Please feel free to let us know what you thought of the books. You can leave a comment on this page, or contact me via twitter @margaretbmadden or via facebook  page Bleach House Library.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Keep You Safe by Melissa Hill. Review and Giveaway.





As the HPV vaccination debate heats up in Ireland, there is a very timely new release from Irish author, Melissa Hill. Every parent has their own views on vaccines and no matter which side of the debate you are on, this is a novel that will drag you in to its story and may even introduce doubts that you never had. The MMR vaccine has saved million of lives and introduced the concept of herd immunity. But what happens when your child is not vaccinated and then contracts measles? Hill explores this idea in Keep You Safe, and it is a page-turning experience.




 I have five copies of this book, in a hat trick of giveaways: Two copies here on the blog (just leave a comment below); Two copies on twitter @margaretbmadden (see pinned tweet) and a copy over on the facebook page of Bleach House Library, (see pinned post). The giveaways end on 1st October and are open INT. Good Luck!


Photo from @MelissaHillBks



My Review

(originally posted in The Sunday Independent, 11 Sep 2017)


Kate's five-year-old daughter Rosie could not be vaccinated because of an intolerance to the gelatine used in live vaccines. Her classmate Clara was not vaccinated either - her mother Madeleine chose not to, fearful of its side-effects. Neither women anticipated the outcome of their decision, and Melissa Hill's new novel examines how both their worlds are turned upside down when their children are hit by the measles virus.

It is not against the law to refuse the childhood vaccination programme in Ireland, and Madeleine and her husband Tom genuinely believe they are protecting their daughter by refusing it: "They'd been hugely uncomfortable about the vaccine's link to autism, and while the original research paper suggesting the connection had long been discredited, it was very difficult to ignore the multitude of real-life anecdotal experiences that were so prevalent". On the other hand, nurse Kate, who thoroughly researched her decision, would gladly have vaccinated Rosie were it not for her allergy. While she is now widowed, her husband had approved her decision: "We had no choice but to opt Rosie out of the standard childhood vaccination programme and hope against hope that herd immunity would prevail".

Kate finds herself in a terrifying situation when Rosie is hospitalised. Meanwhile, Clara recovers from her illness but parenting blogger Madeleine is feeling the pressure in another way: "The public loved to express an opinion - never more so than on the internet - and right now, the full force of those primarily negative opinions was heading directly her way". The two women find themselves embroiled in a legal battle which seeks to assign blame. The media are having a field day with sympathy leaning toward Kate and Rosie while Madeleine and Tom are not being afforded the same respect: "It wasn't just her and Tom's decision on vaccination that was on trial here - it was their parenting".


Kate is homely, medically trained and dealing with the long-term effects of her daughter's illness; Madeleine - wealthy and media-savvy, is judged more for her personality than for her decision. Told from both mothers' perspectives, Keep You Safe is both astute and divisive and Hill (pictured left) has addressed the vaccine debate in a fictional tale of fear, judgement and choice. A topical, timely read.


Keep You Safe is published by HQ and is available in HB, TPB and ebook format. You can order your copy, with Free Worldwide Postage, HERE. The ebook can be ordered via amazon link below:



Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Book Review: The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor.



Yorkshire, England 1917: When cousins Frances and Elsie take pictures, at the bottom of the garden, they have no idea that the photographs will take on a life of their own.  Their determination to make their parents believe in fairies turns in to a national fascination, with Arthur Conan Doyle falling under the spell of the photographs. In a time of war, people truly want to believe in something.

Ireland, 2017: Olivia Kavanagh inherits her grandfather’s quirky bookshop. Discovering a manuscript and a copy of a 1917 fairy photograph, she reaches back one hundred years to find out the truth surrounding the Cottingley story. How could so many people be fooled by two young girls, with no photographic expertise? Why would an Internationally acclaimed author place his stamp of approval on such controversial documents? Could there be any truth in the girls claims?

Spanning one hundred years, The Cottingley Secret is a story of dreams, hopes and how a little white lie can turn into something much, much bigger…



Francis Griffiths
Hazel Gaynor has taken the true story of Francis Griffiths and Elsie Wright and weaved it with a fictional tale of grief and challenges in modern-day Ireland. By providing a link between the past and present, she introduces the concept of a desperate need for positivity and hope in times of war and uncertainty.  Her research is meticulous and brings Frances to life, page by page. The small town of Cottingley is lovingly described and is juxtaposed against the coastal village of Howth, Dublin. The world of much-loved, used books is where the reader finds Olivia: her bookshop, Something Old sounding like an oasis in a land of chain-store commercial ventures. Early editions of Peter Pan, The Water Babies and The Flower Fairies all get a mention, instilling a longing for any book-lover/collector.  Escaping from London, Olivia turns her back on her old life, instead choosing to walk in her Grandfather’s shoes. She takes a chance on a dream. Dipping into the Cottingley story helps bring her dream closer than she ever anticipated.

The innocence of the two 18C girls is one that rarely exists today, except in the very young or extremely sheltered: the belief in complete goodness, in dreams coming true, in fairies, unicorns and magic. It is almost unbelievable that the photographs were not revealed as hoaxes until the 1980s. Such is the power of trust surrounding photographic ‘evidence’. The days of ‘fake-news’ are not a by-product of the internet and social media. Untruths have always existed: from whispered gossip to inherited stories; the beginning of the printing press and pamphlets; to radio and television. However, the origins of the fake fairy photographs were innocent. There was no agenda, just a desire to raise spirits and inspire hope in a time of despair.  This is a warm and endearing novel. It oozes old-fashioned charm and has a magical air. A perfect feel-good, fire-side read. 

*I received a copy of this title, from the publishers, in return for an honest review

The Cottingley Secret is published by Harper Collins and is available in TBP and ebook format. Available in all good bookshops or via amazon link below:


Friday, 1 September 2017

LMFM September #LateLunchBookclub

LMFM September #LateLunchBookclub 





#LateLunchBookclub 
September Recommendations 





It is time for my September #LateLunchBookclub choices. It can be hard to please all readers, so I have chosen from different genres in the hope of finding you a perfect read. All these books are available from your local bookstore, library or online. (Remember, if you can't find a book in-store, your bookseller can order it in for you.)




I really hope you enjoy the recommendations and feel free to leave me a comment on the blog, twitter: @margaretbmadden or facebook: Bleach House Library. Follow #LateLunchBookclub for all LMFM book reviews, interviews and chances to win some book bundles.  #LateLunchBookclub Podcasts are also available on the LMFM website. So, here we go...





BOOK OF THE MONTH: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead



 Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. All the slaves lead a hellish existence, but Cora has it worse than most; she is an outcast even among her fellow Africans and she is approaching womanhood, where it is clear even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a slave recently arrived from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they take the perilous decision to escape to the North.

In Whitehead's razor-sharp imagining of the antebellum South, the Underground Railroad has assumed a physical form: a dilapidated box car pulled along subterranean tracks by a steam locomotive, picking up fugitives wherever it can. Cora and Caesar's first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But its placid surface masks an infernal scheme designed for its unknowing black inhabitants. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher sent to find Cora, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

At each stop on her journey, Cora encounters a different world. As Whitehead brilliantly recreates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America, from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once the story of one woman's ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shatteringly powerful meditation on history.


Female Fiction: The Break by Marian Keyes



Amy's husband Hugh has run away to 'find himself'. But will he ever come back?
'Myself and Hugh . . . We're taking a break.'

'A city-with-fancy-food sort of break?'

If only.
Amy's husband Hugh says he isn't leaving her.
He still loves her, he's just taking a break - from their marriage, their children and, most of all, from their life together. Six months to lose himself in South East Asia. And there is nothing Amy can say or do about it.
Yes, it's a mid-life crisis, but let's be clear: a break isn't a break up - yet . . .
However, for Amy it's enough to send her - along with her extended family of gossips, misfits and troublemakers - teetering over the edge.
For a lot can happen in six-months. When Hugh returns, if he returns, will he be the same man she married? Will Amy be the same woman?
Because if Hugh is on a break from their marriage, then so is she . . .
The Break is a story about the choices we make and how those choices help to make us. It is Marian Keyes at her funniest, wisest and brilliant best.


Crime Fiction: Let The Dead Speak by Jane Casey




A murder without a body

Eighteen-year-old Chloe Emery returns to her West London home one day to find the house covered in blood and Kate, her mother, gone. All the signs point to murder.

A girl too scared to talk

Maeve Kerrigan is determined to prove she’s up to her new role as detective sergeant. She suspects Chloe is hiding something, but getting her to open up is impossible.

A detective with everything to prove

No one on the street is above suspicion. All Maeve needs is one person to talk, but that’s not going to happen. Because even in a case of murder, some secrets are too terrible to share…



Non-Fiction: Six at the Table by Sheila Maher




In Six at the Table, regular contributor to RTÉ Sunday Miscellany Sheila Maher tells the story of her childhood through meals shared around the kitchen table – and occasionally from the boot of the car on long family trips – and celebrates the central role that the food lovingly prepared by her mother played in her younger years.
Exotic Lilt and exploding Moondust have their thrills, but it is her mother’s Sunday roasts, steak and kidney pies and home-made Jaffa cakes that create the regular and comforting rhythm of Sheila’s life and of the rest of her boisterous family.
From sliced egg and cold ham salad on summer days to the milk puddings that mark the passage of the winter weeks, packets of Tayto, Campbell meatballs and the fascination with Sodastream, Six at the Table is a nostalgic journey through an Irish childhood in the 1970s, when uniforms were itchy, porridge stuck to your ribs, and Cidona felt like the height of sophistication.


Classic Fiction: The Snapper by Roddy Doyle




Twenty-year-old Sharon Rabbitte is pregnant. She's also unmarried, living at home, working in a supermarket, and keeping the father's identity a secret. Her own father, Jimmy Sr., is shocked by the news. Her mother says very little. Her friends and neighbours all want to know whose "snapper" Sharon is carrying.
In his sparkling second novel, Roddy Doyle observes the progression of Sharon's pregnancy and its impact on the Rabbitte family--especially on Jimmy Sr.--with wit, candor, and surprising authenticity.


********************************************************

Here's hoping you find something here that appeals to you, and that you will listen in to the show at 2pm today. The link to the #LateLunchBookclub will be available here, after the show. On behalf of myself and Gerry, we hope you enjoy your September reads and we would love to hear your thoughts via twitter, facebook or the blog...



Gerry Kelly and Margaret Madden

 

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Irish Author, Claire Allen, Signs with Avon Books.

The joys of book blogging: Meeting the authors.
L-R: Clodagh Murphy, Maria Duffy, Caroline Finnerty, Fionnuala Kearney, Claire Allen, Margaret Madden.


As a book blogger, there are times when I get to hear some news before the readers do. Often it is a sneak peek at an unseen book cover; a debut that is tentatively dipping its toes into the world of early readers; a snippet of an established author's upcoming novel. But recently I have been privy to some seriously juicy information! Today, all can be revealed...

Thanks to Harper Collins in Ireland and Avon Books UK, I am delighted to announce that Claire Allen has signed with Avon! Here are the official details:


 

AVON ACQUIRES CLAIRE ALLAN



Avon Books is delighted to have signed a two-book deal with Claire Allan. Phoebe Morgan acquired World All Language rights to two psychological thrillers from Ger Nichol at The Book Bureau. Claire’s first release with Avon, about a woman who sees a young mother die and begins to inveigle herself into the space left behind will be her first thriller and is slated for publication summer 2018.

Phoebe Morgan, Commissioning Editor at Avon said: ‘I’m so excited to start working with such a talented author. The moment Claire’s manuscript came in I was hooked – it explores some very dark themes and will make each and every one of us question what it really means to have a perfect life.’

Claire Allan said: ‘I'm beyond thrilled to be working with such a talented and dedicated team for my next two books. Getting this deal with Avon really is a dream come true – and there is no one I would rather launch the next chapter of my career with. Avon's reputation really does speak for itself. The shift to writing psychological thrillers has been a challenge but one I am loving – and I look forward to unleashing more of my dark side over the next few years!

‘Huge thanks goes to my agent, Ger Nichol, who sensed that Phoebe at Avon and I would be a good match. I look forward to getting these new books out into the world.’ 


Claire Allan is from Northern Ireland and is the bestselling author of eight books. A mother of two, she spent 18 years as a journalist with the Derry Journal working on high profile cases. She has previously sold over 100,000 copies of her women’s fiction and lives in Derry with her family.

**********************************

Our first meeting


I have been reading Claire Allen's words since 2007 and here we are ten years later. A new direction; a new genre; a new adventure. Although we had interacted via social media, it was only in 2016 that Claire and I finally met in person. A mutual love of fiction, fashion and current affairs meant that there was no shortage of banter and the craic was ninety! Firm friends were made, in a bookshop on Grafton Street, Dublin. We have met again since and I have watched Claire grow from strength to strength, in both her personal and literary life. I am honoured to share her exciting news with fellow book lovers, and hope you will join me in lifting a virtual glass to congratulate her on her new voyage with Avon Books... 




Claire Allen's first title with Avon is called Her Name Was Rose.

Congratulations, Claire!






Monday, 21 August 2017

The Other Side Of The Wall by Andrea Mara - Review and Giveaway



Thanks to the author, I have two signed copies of The Other Side Of The Wall to giveaway. To be in with a chance of winning, just enter via rafflecopter link below. Open INT and closes 28th August. Good Luck!


My Review


Sylvia sits feeding her baby in the early hours of the morning. Exhausted, she nods off and wakes with a jolt. The dog is barking. Placing her son in his cot, she looks out the window to see why. She is horrified to see a child, floating face-down in her neighbour's pond. When she rushes into the garden, there is no sign of the child and no answer from next-door, despite her incessant knocking.  The incident unnerves her, but she puts it down to lack of sleep and the news that a local child is missing. But she just cannot shift the uneasy feeling that she did not imagine what she saw...

A string of odd happenings lead Sylvia to distrust her new neighbour, Sam. His wife and children are away for the summer and, while he is friendly and a hit with her own husband, she just cannot shake her unease. She struggles to make her husband believe that there are strange things happening and begins to doubt herself. Is there really something going on on the other side of the wall, or is she imagining things?

Andrea Mara opens up her debut with a bang. The night-time exhaustion and dim light add uncertainty to Sylvia's sighting of the child in the garden, but then more unusual events lead to unexplained happenings on the quite suburban road. Told from multiple viewpoints (Sylvia's, Sam's, Kate, an un-named woman) and over different time spans, the layered story reveals itself, one page at a time.  Sylvia's voice is one we all know: juggling work and home-life; trying to please everyone, forgetting about yourself; avoiding interaction with neighbours for fear of judgment; questioning your own parenting skills or even your own sanity, at times. Kate and Sam are going through a difficult time and we learn why they spent so little time together and why Kate is rarely seen. The tension builds, the questions becoming more frequent and the turns jarring the reader from their sense of comfort. 

All is not what it seems and not everyone is telling the truth. At just under 400 pages, this is a psychological thriller to test your trust in its narration. The changing timelines and characters do take a while to get used to, but this is a fine debut that you will struggle to put down. 




The Other Side Of The Wall is available in PB and ebook format. You can order your copy, with Free Worldwide Postage, HERE. The ebook can be ordered via amazon link below:


Thursday, 17 August 2017

The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor: Exclusive excerpt and giveaway.




Thanks to Harper Collins in Ireland, I have an exclusive excerpt from Hazel Gaynor's latest novel, The Cottingley Secret, published on 7th September. There is also an amazing giveaway of an  early copy of the book and a fairy house, for one lucky winner! Just enter via rafflecopter link below. Open IRL/UK and closes on 25th August. Good luck!


Giveaway Prize



The Blurb


The New York Times bestselling author turns the clock back to a time when two young girls convinced the world that fairies really did exist…
1917: When two young cousins, Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright from Cottingley, England, announce they have photographed fairies at the bottom of the garden, their parents are astonished. But when the great novelist, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, endorses the photographs’ authenticity, the girls become a sensation; their discovery offering something to believe in amid a world ravaged by war.

One hundred years later When Olivia Kavanagh finds an old manuscript and a photograph in her late grandfather’s bookshop she becomes fascinated by the story of the two young girls who mystified the world. As Olivia is drawn into events a century ago, she becomes aware of the past and the present intertwining, blurring her understanding of what is real and what is imagined. As she begins to understand why a nation once believed in fairies, will Olivia find a way to believe in herself? 



Exclusive Excerpt from The Cottingley Secret:


                   Fairies will not be rushed. I know this now; know I must
                   be patient.
                   Stiff and still in my favourite seat, formed from the
                   natural bend in the bough of a willow tree, I am wildly
                   alert, detecting every shifting shape and shadow; every
                   snap and crack of twig. I dangle my bare feet in the beck,
                   enjoying the cool rush of the water as it finds a natural
                   course between my toes. I imagine that if I sat here for
                   a hundred years, the water would smooth and round
                   them, like the pebbles I collect from the riverbed and keep
                   in my pockets.
                   In the distance I can see Mr Gardner, the man they sent
                   from London, with his round spectacles and bow tie and
                   endless questions. He peers around the trunk of an oak
                   tree, watches for a moment, and scribbles his observations
                   in his notebook. I know what he writes: remarks about
                   the weather, our precise location, the peculiar sense of
                   something different in the air.
                   Elsie stands on the riverbank beside me, her camera
                   ready. ‘Can’t you ’tice them?’ she urges. ‘Say some secret
                   words?’
                   I shrug. ‘They’re here, Elsie. I can feel them.’ But like
                   the soft breath of wind that brushes against my skin, the
                   things we feel cannot always be seen.

                   I know that the best time to see them is in that perfect
                   hour before sunset when the sun sinks low on the horizon
                   like a ripe peach and sends shafts of gold bursting through
                   the trees. The ‘in between’, I call it. No longer day, not
                   yet night; some other place and time when magic hangs
                   in the air and the light plays tricks on the eye. You might
                   easily miss the flash of violet and emerald, but I – according
                   to my teacher, Mrs Hogan – am ‘a curiously observant
                   child’. I see their misty forms among the flowers and leaves.
                   I know my patience will be rewarded if I watch and listen,
                   if I believe.

                  Tired of waiting, Elsie takes her camera and returns to
                  the house, where Aunt Polly is waiting to hear if we
                  managed any new photographs. The others soon follow:
                  Mr Gardner, the newspaper reporters, the ‘fairy hunters’
                  who come to snoop and trample all over the wildflowers
                  and spoil things. My little friends won’t appear just to
                  please these onlookers. They move according to the patterns
                  and rhythms of nature, not the whims of so-called experts
                  from London. Fairies, I understand. These men, I do not.
                  Glad to be alone again, I watch the pond skaters and
                  dragonflies, listen to the steady giggle of the water, sense
                  the prickle of anticipation all around me. The sun dazzles
                  on the water and I squint to shield my eyes as the heat
                  at the back of my neck makes me drowsy and tugs at my
                  eyelids, heavy with the desire to sleep.
                  I press my palms against the bark, smoothed from
                  decades of weather and countless children who have sat
                  here. How many of them have seen, I wonder? How many
                  of them have known? I wait and I wait, whispering the
                  words from my picture book: ‘“There shall be no veil
                  between them, / Though her head be old and wise. / You
                  shall know that she has seen them, / By the glory in her
                   eyes.”’
                  And then . . .

                  The lightest ringing at my ears. The slightest movement
                  of fern and leaf.
                  My heart flutters. My eyes widen with excitement.
                  A flash of vibrant emerald. Another of softest
                  lavender-blue.
                  I lean forward. Draw in my breath. Don’t make a sound.
                  They are here.


The Cottingley Secret is published on 7th September in TPB and ebook format. You can order your copy via amazon link below:




To be in with a chance of winning an early edition of The Cottingley Secret, with a delightful and magical Irish Fairy Door (you just need to believe), just enter via rafflecopter link below:





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