The book I never wanted to end! The Maid’s Room

 

I don’t often blog book reviews. However, The Maid’s Room has grabbed my heart and won’t let go and I feel compelled to share it.

This literary/commercial crossover novel is the debut of Fiona Mitchell although you would never think this is Fiona’s first book; each sentence is beautifully constructed, each word carefully chosen. The characters are rich and multi-dimensional. You can feel the love that has been poured into these pages. This is a real heart and soul book, and it shows. I never wanted it to end.

The story is based on Fiona’s real-life experience in Singapore. Shockingly there are 240,000 female domestic workers in Singapore and an estimated 53 million women working as domestic helpers across the globe. A quarter of these are afforded no legal rights at all.

I love books with an element of truth. Admittedly, it was uncomfortable at times, learning how modern day domestic workers are treated in Singapore, particularly as some of the employers are British. But despite the uncomfortable subject there are elements of humour woven through the challenges the maids face almost daily.

I’m not going to spoil the plot – this is a book you have to read for yourself, but I will say the ending was so absolutely perfect it had me sobbing, I feel bereft now I’ve finished this book, I almost can’t imagine life without sisters Tala and Dolly, already I’m imagining what they might get up to in the future.

We are only halfway through 2017 but I feel this will definitely be my book of the year. Huge congratulations Fiona Mitchell, The Maid’s Room is a triumph and I can’t wait to read your second novel (no pressure x).

You can find out more about Fiona Mitchell here and order The Maid’s Room which will be published by Hodder & Stoughton here.

“Set in the blistering heat of Singapore, THE MAID’S ROOM follows the lives of two Filipina maids – sisters Dolly and Tala who are working hard to send money back home, and British ex-pat Jules who has left her job as a midwife to move to Singapore with husband David.

Told with humour, heart-breaking detail about daily life as a maid, and with an exhilarating spirit that is ultimately uplifting, this book will resonate with anyone who has struggled to have their voice heard.”

Book Review – Saving Sophie

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From the second I picked up Sam Carrington’s debut psychological thriller I knew I was in as much trouble as Sophie, the teenage girl who the novel centres around. I was hooked, and my plans to spend a day working on my own manuscript were abandoned as I devoured this story in one sitting.

This story is relayed in third person from three viewpoints, Sophie, Karen her agoraphobic mum, and DI Lindsay Wade, but not once did it ever become unclear whose voice I was reading.

From the moment 17 year old Sophie arrived home drunk, with no recollection of the evening, and we discover another teenage girl has gone missing my stomach rolled with anxiety. As a mother of teenagers myself I was on the edge of my seat as a body was found, and when it becomes apparent that Sophie could be the next target I read through splayed fingers.

Sam has a rare gift for writing. She hits the ground running with this novel and usually with books this pacey I find I don’t emotionally connect with the characters but in this book the development is as good as the writing and I found myself really rooting for Karen and the ending made me gasp.

Does Karen overcome her agoraphobia and make it out of the house in time to save her daughter? You’ll have to read it to find out.

Saving Sophie will be released on 12th August.

Author picture-Sam Carrington

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Giveaway & Sample – Behind Closed Doors

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Behind Closed Doors by Elizabeth Haynes, is one of those stories that had me gripped from the opening line, and by the end of the first chapter, I couldn’t put the book down until I’d finished it. It’s an easy read, but not an easy subject matter. Fifteen year old Scarlett Rainsford vanishes during a family holiday in Greece. Was she abducted or did she run away?

This is the second book featuring DCI Lou Smith and her team, but it stands alone well. Don’t be put off if you haven’t read the first. I hadn’t.

When Scarlett is found in a brothel we want to know what happened and this is explained with interspersed, often harrowing, scenes from the past.

This book left me reeling. It is very well written, darker than I’d usually read, and it stayed with me long after I had finished.

Read on for Chapter One and there’s a free copy up for grabs for the first person who re-tweets this post.

 

SCARLETT – Rhodes, Saturday 23 August 2003, 04:44

To begin with, nothing was certain except her own terror.

Darkness, and stifling heat, so hot that breathing felt like effort, sweat pouring off her so her skin itself became liquid and she thought she would simply melt into a hot puddle of nothing. She tried crying out, screaming, but she could barely hear her own voice above the roar of the engine, the sound of the wheels moving at speed on tarmac. All that did was give her a sore throat. Nobody could hear her.

She tried listening instead, eyes wide with nothing to see. She could hear voices sporadically from somewhere else in the vehicle – two different men – but she didn’t recognise them, nor could she understand what they were saying. She assumed they were speaking in Greek, but the harsh rasp of the words sounded different from the voices she’d heard over the past week at the resort. Lots of ‘th’ sounds, rolled ‘r’s, words ending in ‘a’ and ‘eh’.

Fear came in cycles. The first endless panicky minutes had been very bad: trawling through vague memories of the past few days, trying to identify the mistake she’d made, because this had to be her fault – this can’t be real, I’m dreaming – then the shock realisation that this wasn’t a nightmare, it was really happening. The worst moment of all.

It had been so quick.

She had arrived a bit early at the place where they’d agreed to meet, and she’d been preparing to wait – he’d said he finished work at two – and a van had pulled up beside her. She hadn’t been worried. There were still people around, drunk tourists staggering back up the road towards their hotels. The side door of the van had slid open, and a man got out. He was talking to her, friendly, a smile that showed his teeth. His accent was so strong she couldn’t really tell what he was saying.

‘No, no,’ she’d said. ‘English. I don’t understand.’

But he’d kept yammering on, standing too close to her. She had begun to feel unnerved by it, and something had made her glance to the right, to the gate which led to the Aktira Studios, and in that split second when she’d seen someone she recognised, made eye contact, she had felt something like relief – and then the man had pushed her, a hard shove that sent her sprawling into the back of the van. He’d climbed in after her, slammed the door shut and the van started moving. The man had held her down, put his hand over her mouth, pressing her head into the metal floor so hard that she’d thought her skull was going to burst.

Seconds. The whole thing had taken seconds.

Now, hours since those terrifying first moments, she had reached a plateau brought on by the monotony of driving, the panic overridden by the pain in her arms and legs and the discomfort of being tied hand and foot and having to lie still on the floor of the van. They’d stopped once, very early on, before she’d had time to get over the shock or formulate any plan of escape; by that time the man in the back with her had already tied her up. He got out, leaving her alone, and the van door shut – and they were moving again.

The noise of the engine was unbearably loud; the van would bump and jolt as it went over potholes. Her head ached as a result, sometimes so badly it made her cry. The fear made her cry. Crying made her headache worse, and then it all became pointless, so she would stop for a while and try to sleep in snatches, because sleeping, at least, gave her a brief respite.

And she would dream of him, remember, and wake with tears on her cheeks, thinking, This wasn’t supposed to happen. Then the shock and the fear would kick in, and the whole cycle would begin again.