Book Review - At the Edge of the Orchard

by Tracy Chevalier (Borough Press) ISBN: 9780525953005


“They were fighting over apples again. He wanted to grow more eaters to eat; she wanted spitters, to drink.” 

The opening dialogue is between James and Sadie Goodenough, living in Black Swamp, Ohio in 1838. They are attempting to raise a family - which means have a lot of babies, children do not have a great chance of surviving - and plant apple trees, for eating and cider.

This is a rich, beautifully written book. Tracy Chevalier is famous for writing Girl with a Pearl Earring, which makes it that much more difficult to write anything else. She notes wryly that the research for this book was eating a lot of apples. I suspect she did a little more. 

She describes the “honey, nut crunch, with a pineapple finish” of the Golden Pippins, the grafting process, and has an appreciation of all things botanical. But what is truly beautiful about this read is the authenticity of the characters. What they say and do is fitting for them, their world and the time they lived in.

This is a powerful story, well told.

Bev Bouwer
www.writerswrite.co.za
4/5

~~~

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

Book Review - Cometh The Hour

by Jeffrey Archer (MacMillan) ISBN:  9781466867505 


Jeffrey Archer has written another page-turner of note. Famous for his inter-generational sagas, this is the sixth in a series of seven. 

Cometh The Hour continues the story of the Cliftons and the Barringtons, starting with the end of a court case between Mrs Emma Clifton (who should have a number of titles surrounding her name) and Lady Virginia Fenwick, who is no such thing. 

The lives of Emma, her husband Harry, Virginia, her ex-husband Giles, Emma and Harry’s son Sebastian continue to entertain, a bit like royalty splashed in vivid colour on the pages of a Hello magazine. 

King of the twist, master of the cliff-hanger (at the end of nearly every change of viewpoint and at the end of every novel), and commander of the superb action packed dialogue that leaves one gasping for breath at times, Archer does not disappoint. 

I am slightly relieved there is only one more book to come. 

Bev Bouwer
www.writerswrite.co.za
2/5

~~~

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

Book Review - With Our Blessing

by Jo Spain (Quercus) ISBN: 9781784295639


From the moment this book begins, you are plunged into the edgy, creepy Irish atmosphere. The plot is based on actual occurrences in the Magdalene Laundries - houses for “fallen women”. 

You probably have a notion that that these places existed, but did you know that the last one closed as recently as 1996? I didn’t. The social issues are still relevant, and were well explored. The plot twists kept me guessing, the characters were well-drawn, and full of colour and depth. The writing was interesting – just enough that it didn’t detract from the plot.

A debut for Jo Spain, she ticked all the boxes for me. The pacing was fast, and with enough humour and warmth to balance the often gritty and chilling undertone. The detectives were likeable, but didn’t have those overdone character flaws, which seem commonplace in most crime novels.

I loved this read, and am delighted that there is another book to come.  

Bev Bouwer
www.writerswrite.co.za
4/5

~~~

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

Book Review - The Storm Sister

by Lucinda Riley (MacMillan) ISBN: 9781447288565 


This is the second in a series where Pa Salt, reminiscent of GUM in Ballet Shoes, collects babies and sends them home – to his "palace" in Geneva. 

Now Pa Salt is deceased (maybe), leaving each daughter clues about her real parentage. Ally is The Storm Sister, an accomplished sailor and musician. Her clues take her to Norway and we discover more about her passions and possible ancestry, including Edvard Grieg, and the conception of the music behind Peer Gynt. 

The history is well researched and the story flips between 1894 and 2007 without missing a beat. However, the dialogue started jarring with me. Nothing was ringing true, and I found myself looking for errors, not reading for pleasure. The characters seemed trite, too many clichés and everything fitted too neatly into the predictable plot. 

Perhaps churning out a book a year, each starting in the same point but told from a different perspective is too much for a busy author? I enjoyed The Seven Sisters, but these 700 pages were a significant time investment that showed a poor return in enjoyment value. 

Bev Bouwer
www.writerswrite.co.za
2/5

~~~

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate