All about Books, Book review

Book Review: The Hidden Village by Imogen Matthews

Today I’m pleased to share my book review for a historical fiction novel The Hidden Village by Imogen Matthews.

Book Review: The Hidden Village by Imogen Matthews

Book cover for the The Hidden Village by Imogen Matthews
The Hidden Village by Imogen Matthews

Title: The Hidden Village

Author: Imogen Matthews

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Historical fiction

Release Date: 17th Jan 2022

Purchase: https://geni.us/B09LVLB82Fsocial

Blurb

A Nazi soldier slams his rifle into her father’s head. From her hiding place, Sofie stifles a scream as tears roll down her face. Suddenly she can’t take it any more. ‘Stop, stop!’ she sobs, rushing out and pushing the soldier away. And then freezes, as he snarls and whips the gun round to point at her…

Holland, 1943: the Nazis are in occupation. German soldiers patrol the streets, and each week more families disappear without trace, never to be seen again. So when armed soldiers storm Sofie’s house and threaten her father at gunpoint, she knows their time – and luck – has run out.

Fleeing in the middle of the night to hide in a neighbour’s secret attic, the constant threat of a German raid means they can’t stay long. So Sofie’s parents make the heart-rending decision to send their daughter away. Concealed in the woods is a secret village, built by the town as a haven for Jewish families like Sofie’s. Remote, cold and bleak, yet filled with the hopeful laughter of children playing, it is the one place Sofie has the chance to live.

But rumours of the hidden village have been swirling, and the Nazis are determined to find it. As soldiers patrol the woods in ever-greater numbers, snow cuts the villagers off from the outside world and starvation sets in. Sofie knows what she must do, even though it means putting herself in danger. And when the worst happens, Sofie is faced with a terrible decision – save the village, or save herself…

An absolutely heart-breaking and gripping WWII historical novel based on the true story of an entire town who put themselves in danger to keep strangers safe. What happens will restore your faith in humanity. Fans of Fiona Valpy, The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Choice will never forget this incredibly moving tale and the real-life heroes who inspired it.

My Thoughts

It is not often I read historical fiction unless it is in a dual timeline, but this book begged to be read. A friend has Norwegian roots and listening to her family stories made me interested in reading more about this time. The Hidden Village threw me straight into the action with children playing innocently and Germans approaching the village. I continued reading with a sense of trepidation because we all know the atrocities they bring with them.

Told in third person, this story focuses on three main characters; young Jan who is still in his childhood but longs to be seen as older, Sofie a teenager whose future is looking bright until she is forced to hide and Sara Jan’s mother, whose husband helps set up the hidden village. The three viewpoints give a good overview of life because of their different stages of their lives and place in the community. Through Sofie’s eyes we see live in the forest, Sara experiences the goings on in the town battling to keep the Jews safe and Jan is a go between connecting the two.

Community is a key theme in this novel and despite the never ending threat of discovery, it was uplifting to read how powerful this sense of community was, which enabled the village to stay safe and fed during this time. Though the novel was harrowing in places, it was never graphic in it’s portrayal of the Nazi brutality and relied on the reader’s imagination and description of the sounds of hobnailed boots on floorboards to rank up the tension.  

The villagers’ loss of liberty and possessions and having to rebuild a community made me reflect on the important things in my life and be more grateful for what I have.

Would I recommend?

Yes, The Hidden Village gives a fascinating insight into life in Holland during the second World War and shows the horror of the time and the courage displayed by those who stood up against the evil of the Nazi regime. It is uplifting and shows love, and everyday things and emotions still occurred despite the dangerous threat of discovery. Perfect for those who love historical fiction and WW2 memoirs.

Author Biography

Imogen Matthews

Imogen Matthews writes novels based on true stories about the Netherlands during the German occupation in World War 2. Some stories she discovered by chance, others are based on her Dutch mother’s own experiences of hardship and survival during the Hunger Winter of 1944-45.

Her first novel, The Hidden Village, is set in the Veluwe woods, a beautiful part of Holland that Imogen has visited frequently over the past 30 years. It was in these woods that she discovered the story of the real hidden village which provided shelter in underground huts for Jews during WW2. Imogen retells the story of the hidden village with characters drawn from real life and from her imagination.

Within weeks of publication in 2017, The Hidden Village became an international bestseller, ranking at the top of a number Amazon’s most-read book lists.

Following on from The Hidden Village comes Hidden in the Shadows, which has the pace of a thriller yet is also a love story. It tells the story about two young people who are brutally torn apart and must find a way to be together against all odds.

Imogen’s third WW2 novel, The Girl Across the Wire Fence, is set in Amersfoort, Netherlands, and is based on the unforgettable tale of two young lovers who risked everything to keep hope alive in the very depths of hell – the little known Dutch concentration camp called Kamp Amersfoort.

Imogen’s WW2 novels are published by Bookouture, a digital imprint of Hachette.

Learn more about Imogen’s story in this video: https://youtu.be/2YO0IWJSjj0

Author social media

www.imogenmatthewsbooks.com

Facebook: @theHiddenVillagenovel

Twitter: @ImogenMatthews3

Thank you Bookouture for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Love

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All about Books, Book review, The Enchanted Emporium's Bookshelf

Book Review: The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell

Today I’m reviewing a book and audiobook recommended to me by the lovely Julie at A Little Book Problem, The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell. While I love reading words from the page I have come to love the audio experience especially for books of the supernatural type. Audiobooks in conjunction with a physical copy are a perfect combination because you can read yourself but also take advantage of the story when busy or late at night in the dark.

Book Review: The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell

Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell

Title: The Shape of Darkness

Author: Laura Purcell

Narrator: Sophie Aldred

Publisher: Bloomsbury UK Audio Raven Books

Genre: General fiction, paranormal thriller, historical fiction

Pub Date 21 Jan 2021

Blurb

‘Dripping with atmosphere with a corkscrew plot, Laura Purcell just gets better and better’ STACEY HALLS

‘It truly kept me guessing to the very last page’ SONIA VELTON

Wicked deeds require the cover of darkness…

A struggling silhouette artist in Victorian Bath seeks out a renowned child spirit medium in order to speak to the dead – and to try and identify their killers – in this beguiling new tale from Laura Purcell.

Silhouette artist Agnes is struggling to keep her business afloat. Still recovering from a serious illness herself, making enough money to support her elderly mother and her orphaned nephew Cedric has never been easy, but then one of her clients is murdered shortly after sitting for Agnes, and then another, and another…

Desperately seeking an answer, Agnes approaches Pearl, a child spirit medium lodging in Bath with her older half-sister and her ailing father, hoping that if Pearl can make contact with those who died, they might reveal who killed them. But Agnes and Pearl quickly discover that instead they may have opened the door to something that they can never put back…

What secrets lie hidden in the darkness?

My Thoughts

This novel took me to the 1850s where Agnes has a business producing shades, silhouettes made with paper and scissors, an occupation I knew nothing about but is as fascinating as the premise of the book. Blended with history of early spiritualism, I was captivated by both POVs, Agnes with her household comprising her Mum and nephew Cedric and Pearl with Myrtle and her dad. I enjoyed the suspense, description of the past and the pure spookiness of this tale. With the details of the seances and the murders following Agnes customers, I was hooked into the mystery. I needed to know who was behind the crimes and the secrets all the characters were hiding. There were many twists and turns – some I guessed, but others were completely unexpected and emotional. Pearl was so young to be in the career of a medium, I felt maternal over here and wished I could reach in to comfort her.

This dark and eerie Gothic novel gave me goosebumps because it sits on the right side of believability, if that’s a word. Books involving the supernatural are always scarier if it could happen. Listening to a ghost story adds another dimension to the fear factor, similar to having it told to you around the campfire on a winter’s night. Sophie Aldred is well matched to narrate this tale with the correct tone and pace, adds depth to the story and brings the characters to life making it an enjoyable, thrilling experience.

Would I recommend?

Yes, in all editions. The audiobook gave this eerie novel an extra dimension but the story is a fantastic read if you love historical fiction or the supernatural. It is one for my forever bookshelf and a firm favourite on The Enchanted Emporium Bookshelf too. It is highly recommended by Old Percy who remembers when silhouette artists were all the rage during his lifetime.

Thank you Bloomsbury UK audio for the advanced copy so I could review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Do you listen to audiobooks too? What’s your favourite ghost story?

Love

All about Books

Book review: Letters to the Pianist by S.D Mayes

It is ages since I delved into some historical fiction so I was looking forward to reading Letters to the Pianist by S.D Mayes.  It has been on my radar for a while with its intriguing blurb and atmospheric cover.

Book review for Letters to the Pianist
Letters to the Pianist by S.D Mayes

Title: Letters to a Pianist

Author: S.D Mayes

Publisher: BHC Press/Gelan

Release date: 19th September 2017

Available from Amazonhttps://amzn.to/2Hn5OkX

Connect with Author: Author Page http://authormayes.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/authorMayes

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorMayes/

Blurb

 

 A FAMILY TORN APART … A PAST THEY CAN’T ESCAPE 


In war-torn London, 1941, fourteen-year-old Ruth Goldberg and her two younger siblings, Gabi and Hannah, survive the terrifying bombing of their family home. They believe their parents are dead, their bodies buried underneath the burnt remains – but unbeknownst to them, their father, Joe, survives and is taken to hospital with amnesia.

Four years on, Ruth stumbles across a newspaper photo of a celebrated pianist and is struck by the resemblance to her father. Desperate for evidence she sends him a letter, and as the pianist’s dormant memories emerge, his past unravels, revealing his true identity – as her beloved father, Joe. Ruth sets out to meet him, only to find herself plunged into an aristocratic world of sinister dark secrets.

Can she help him escape and find a way to stay alive?


My Thoughts

 

This debut instantly transported me back in time to the Second World War and I remained there until I reached the end. I loved the premise of a missing father and how the characters came to life on the page. It is about the love of family,  the bond they share and survival in the dark times of war. The plot took me on a journey to places I wasn’t expecting to go with emotional,  heart-stopping moments making me want to share this book among friends so can be discussed more.  I can not wait to read more from this author. 

I am now off to have some fish and chips by the sea because this is another book that made my taste buds tingle.

Would I recommend?

I love this book and would recommend it if you enjoy historical fiction and family sagas. It is worthy to be on my bookshelf to be reread and would be wonderful as a book club read.

Have you read it? Let me know what you think below.

Happy reading!

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