Manhattan Beach


It is the Depression and many are out of work, Anna Kerrigan is almost 12years old and accompanies her father on his bagman visits in and around New York. One day things change. Her father, Eddie, goes to meet Dexter Styles, nightclub owner with ties to the mob, and from then on he no longer takes Anna on his journeys. Anna senses that this man, Styles will have a long-term effect on her father and their family.

Anna cannot understand what has happened.  The only person she has to confide in is her severely crippled (both in mind and body) sister Lydia.  Lydia is unable to do anything for herself and cannot speak.  Even so, Anna continues to talk to her and share secrets with her. And one day, Eddie fails to return home leaving behind his wife and two daughters and after a time they consider him dead.

The story moves to WW2 where Anna is working in the Naval Shipyard and one evening she goes to a nightclub and sees Dexter Styles again.

There are three separate storylines in the narrative, shifting from time and place and yet interconnected. This is a story of family life, the relationship between fathers and daughters, and the impact of war particularly on women.  We see how easy it is for someone to be caught in a criminal world when families need to be housed and fed and we also see the attraction of this life to some of the young women.

I found this an enthralling read and recommend it.  I particularly like a book that teaches me things and the research into women in the naval dockyards during WW2 is amazing.





Whatever it Takes

Book cover courtesy of Amazon.

Elouise Hamilton has a seemingly perfect life in London.  As a born and bred Londoner she cannot imagine living anywhere else.

But her husband Mark longs to return to his childhood home, Dartmouth, and when his father offers to sell his legal practice to him at a family rate, Mark is very keen to take up the offer and the chance to return.

Eventually, Elouise is persuaded to uproot herself, leaving behind her friends and her special shops and boutiques to move.

She finds it hard initially, but she has a loving and helpful mother in law, Margaret to call on and all seems to be going well.

Enter Sara.  A friend who is bereft at the thought of Elouise moving away.  Apparently, Elouise is her only friend.  Added to that is the fact that several attempts at IVF still haven’t produced the longed-for baby.

And into the life Elouise is making for her family, comes the news that Margaret is suffering early onset of Alzheimer’s  This is another thing for Elouise to deal with as both her Father in law and her husband appear unable to accept this fact.

The turmoil in which Elouise finds herself is further compounded when unexpectedly she meets Sara in London and finds she is undeniably pregnant.  And she learns that Sara has taken matters into her own hands in an attempt to become pregnant,  with no thought of the consequences and the lives she will affect.

This is a story, unlike the usual books I read. I was totally engrossed from the beginning, in Elouise’s life, her attempts to keep the family together and her willingness to take on more and more of the problems of others.  But her life suddenly implodes and we wonder how/if she will cope.

I recommend this book.  It is not particularly light reading, peering as it does delve into Alzheimer’s, overwhelming desire for a child and her own difficulties in moving from the bright lights to a seaside town.

Well worth taking from your local library as I did.


A Young Lawyer’s Story

Young Lawyer

I have been a fan of John Ellsworth for some time and although I had already read this book I was pleased to be given the opportunity by the author, to read and review this, the first book in the Thaddeus Murfee series.

Thaddeus is finishing law school. He is in debt and has only $200 left of his student loan.  He must find a job or face eviction. Then unexpectedly he is approached by a couple of Government agents and offered a job.  The job isn’t advertised and as Thaddeus finds out once he has accepted the job, there is also no job description.

However, he accepts and is immediately offered a starting salary in excess of 6 figures.  He is delighted until he finds that he has been recruited and employed as a spy and the person he is to spy on is his boss, the US District Attorney.   And Thaddeus likes his boss and he particularly likes the boss’s daughter.

We follow Thaddeus through the intrigue, spying with foreign government agents, a boss who is accused of spying, and US government officials who will stop at nothing in their attempts to condemn the US District Attorney as a traitor, a charge that can carry the death penalty.

Thaddeus does not play by their rules and is fired but then comes to the aid of his ex-boss.

A great read and having read it so long ago, I was pleased to reread it.  I strongly recommend this book and those others I have read in this series.

Watch out for their reviews.

Big Little Lies

big little lies

Another book given to me to read by my daughter.

I had heard much about this book and at the beginning, I thought that the praise was higher than it needed to be.

We are introduced to a small seaside community close to Sydney, Australia, and in particular to the small public school which the children attend.  We meet various mothers, and one or two fathers, whose lives seem to revolve around the school and its activities.

There is a group of Blonde Bobs look-alike stay -at- home Mums who are very involved with the school; Renata a highly achieving lawyer whose children are left in the care of a not very observant nanny; Madeline employed part time by the local theatre, has a teen-aged daughter from an earlier marriage and two small children with her current husband, who attend the primary school; Bonnie the second wife who has a daughter now attending the school; the sycophantic Harper who wants everybody to know how friendly she is with Renata ; Jackie, a hot-shot in the corporate world and the very beautiful Celeste, married to a rich, high flying, fabulous man.

And then into this close group of people comes Jane.  A single mother with a son, Ziggy and somehow neither of them really fit into the place at the beginning.

Accusations are parried about that Ziggy is bullying a little girl and passions erupt in the school yard.

But all comes to a head on Trivia Night, a fund raising party to raise money for boards for the school.

To say I couldn’t put this book down is an understatement.  On a cold autumn afternoon, I sat for four hours reading this book.  And after a doubtful start, I recommend this book highly.  If you haven’t discovered Liane Moriarty, a Sydney-based writer, I suggest you get a copy of this book.  You won’t be disappointed.