After helping reveal the lovely cover for The Walls We Build by Jules Hayes a few weeks ago, I can now tell you all my thoughts on the book, as I join the blog tour. Many thanks to Jules, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to take part in the tour and for providing me with a copy of the book.
Three friends …
Growing up together around Winston Churchill’s estate in Westerham, Kent, Frank, Florence and Hilda are inseparable. But as WW2 casts its menacing shadow, friendships between the three grow complex, and Frank – now employed as Churchill’s bricklayer – makes choices that will haunt him beyond the grave, impacting his grandson’s life too.
Two Secrets …
Shortly after Frank’s death in 2002 Florence writes to Richard, Frank’s grandson, hinting at the darkness hidden within his family. On investigation, disturbing secrets come to light, including a pivotal encounter between Frank and Churchill during the war and the existence of a mysterious relative in a psychiatric hospital.
One Hidden Life …
How much more does Florence dare reveal about Frank – and herself – and is Richard ready to hear?
Set against the stunning backdrop of Chartwell, Churchill’s country home, comes a tragic story of misguided honour, thwarted love and redemption, reverberating through three generations and nine decades.
In all honesty, it was the location of this book that initially caught my eye. I visited Chartwell a couple of years ago, and I fell in love with it. A day’s visit really wasn’t enough, and I am dying to go back. That said, whilst it was the lure of reading more about Churchill and his home that drew me in, I was quickly captivated by the characters and their story.
There are themes in this book that won’t make easy reading for some, and it would be easy to judge the characters for their actions as seen from a modern day perspective. Viewing these actions from the time in history that they took place though, it becomes easier to understand the heartbreaking decisions that were made. The events of the book, however difficult, are handled gently, and in no way feel that they have been included purely for shock value, but more to show how each characters’ own past shapes their future actions.
Despite the fact that Frank is clearly a character who has made some questionable decisions throughout his life, he was still someone who I warmed too, although I suspect this is in part because his journey through the war followed that of my own grandfather. Reading about Frank’s time in the desert gave me a new appreciation of what he would have gone through back then.
Of all the characters, Florence was by far my favourite. She was so full of life and energy, ahead of her time in a lot of ways, and nothing seemed to hold her back, despite of the tragedies that she suffered in her life.
I enjoyed the dual timeline aspect of this book, seeing all the pieces of the puzzle slowly fall into place as long held secrets were revealed. That each character held the key to a different part of the story made it all the more interesting, and meant that in some cases, my initial assessments of characters were flipped on their heads.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jules Hayes lives in Berkshire with her husband, daughter and a dog. She has a degree in modern history and holds a particular interest in events and characters from the early 20th century. As a former physiotherapist and trainer – old habits die hard – when not writing Jules likes to run. She also loves to watch films, read good novels and is a voracious consumer of non-fiction too, particularly biographies.
Jules is currently working on her second historical novel, another dual timeline story.
Jules also writes contemporary thriller and speculative fiction as JA Corrigan.
Writing as JA Corrigan:
Win a Signed copy of The Walls We Build (Open INT)
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Don’t forget to visit the other blogs taking part in this tour for more information on this book.