Survivor by Lesley Pearse

Survivor
Published in February 2014 by Michael Joseph.

“It is 1938 and Mariette Carrera is a defiant, strong-willed and selfish eighteen-year-old. And sooner or later, if she stays in the small, gossipy town of Russell, New Zealand, she’ll get herself into some serious trouble. Her doting parents, Belle and Etienne, fear for her reputation. So, with the world on the brink of war, Mari leaves home on the SS Rimutaka, bound for her aunt and uncle’s house in London. 

Armed with the freedom she’s longed for since childhood, Mari quickly falls for Morgan, the handsome cockney steward on board ship. But once she reaches London, there are other temptations.

Mari loves her new life – caught up in a whirl of dances and parties in the glittering West End, relishing her freedom as she earns her own money as a typist. Finally, she feels she is mistress of her own future.

Until it is all snatched away by the war.

As London endures the Blitz, Mari’s new life is cruelly blown apart. Forced from her loving new home, she ends up alone in the East End, and it’s worlds away from the London she knows. But there, even in the face of so much despair, she finds the chance to make a difference. Amidst the destruction, Mari learns that the only way to survive this war is to fight, with all the strength, selflessness and compassion within her…and only then will she find true happiness.

Because Mari is a survivor…”

MY REVIEW

Firstly I’d like to thank ED Public Relations for sending me this book to read and give an honest review.  I previously read and reviewed Forgive Me by the same author and thoroughly enjoyed it so I was looking forward to getting stuck in.  When I found out that this was the third book in the author’s Belle series I was concerned because I hadn’t read the first two books.  I needn’t have worried because this worked very well as a standalone read, I didn’t feel like I was missing anything at all.

It got off to an exciting start, even at eleven-years-old Mariette was a strong-willed, confident character and I was interested to see what kind of dramas she would find herself in as a result of her personality.  I have to admit that I found it rather difficult to warm to her at the beginning, she is definitely a character who grows on you though and by the end I had taken her and her story to my heart.

When Mariette headed to London I felt a mixture of emotions, I was excited for her but also very nervous as she was so young and clearly quite adventurous.  Even the journey to Europe turned out to be eventful and at that point I just knew I was in for a twisty, turny read!  There were simply so many things this book had to offer – romance, heartbreak, intrigue, temptation, tragedy, mystery, and love. The author captured Mariette’s growth beautifully, she went from being a rather selfish teenager to a compassionate, strong woman.  It was this that made Survivor so enthralling for me.

I also enjoyed the relaxed feeling I got from reading this book (something that is much-needed when you’re 7 months pregnant). The writing style was very natural and comfortable even through some of the more difficult moments and this made it an easy book to read.

This was another lovely read from Lesley Pearse, an emotional roller-coaster!

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR

One of the Top 5 bestselling female fiction authors in the UK, Lesley’s colourful life – from hanging out in 1960’s London club-land; to bunny girl; to nursery worker and gift shop owner – meant she was a latecomer to writing and her debut novel, Georgia, was published in her late forties.

A true storyteller and a master of gripping storylines, there is no set formula for a Lesley Pearse novel although strong heroines and difficult circumstances are pervasive. Whether historical adventures such as Gypsy or Never Look Back or the passionately emotive Trust Me, based on the true life scandal of British child migrants sent to Australia in the post war, Lesley is inspired by stories of courage and adversity and often gives voice to women lost in history. She is passionate about her research and her stories have taken her far and wide; from Alaska to the Crimea. Lesley lives between Bristol and Bath and has three daughters and three grandchildren.

A fantastic speaker and committed and passionate fundraiser for the NSPCC, Lesley is a much sought after guest at literary lunches, library events and festivals up and down the country throughout the year.

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BUY THE BOOK

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Forgive Me – Lesley Pearse

Forgive Me

“Cheltenham, 1991

When Eva Patterson returns home from work one day, a devastating scene awaits. Her mother, Flora, lies dead in the bath. Beside her is a note saying: ‘Forgive Me’.

Eva had always believed her family life to be secure, but the suicide changes everything. And when Eva discovers that Flora has left her an artist’s studio in London, she realises just how little she knows about her mother.

Eva moves to London and meets Phil, her knight in shining armour, who agrees to help restore the now derelict studio, as well as offering the friendship she so badly needs. It seems that in the 1960s her mother was a successful artist, and in the studio’s attic Eva finds a collection of Flora’s paintings and diaries, purposely left for her. A hunt for answers leads Eva to a psychic, who warns her to beware of a ‘sleeping serpent’… referring to a shocking crime committed by Flora.

Will discovering the truth about her mother destroy Eva’s belief in everything she holds dear? And who will stand by her when the journey leads her – and those she loves – into certain danger?”

Firstly I’d like to thank ED Public Relations for sending me this book to read and give an honest review. The blurb sounded mysterious and intriguing so this was a book that I couldn’t wait to start.

Wow, what a powerful prologue – I have never cried so early on in a book or had that feeling of dread in my stomach without even knowing anything about the person in question, it was a hard-hitting start to an utterly compelling book!

When Eva made the devastating discovery I felt so sad for her, the author had described it all so well and I found it incredibly easy to picture the tragic scene. Eva’s father was very cold and detached where she was concerned and this sent all sorts of questions racing through my mind. The main question hanging over everything at this point was ‘why?’ and I was looking forward to joining Eva on her hunt for the truth.

Eva was a lovely character, she was mature for her age and with all the things she went through she had to grow up even more. Hurtful revelations after her mother’s death were the first turning point for her and I hoped that she would grasp the opportunity with both hands. She began to see the world in a different light and questioned many things that she hadn’t given much thought to before, I’d like to say that she wouldn’t face any more difficult times after this but I’m afraid that it was just the beginning.

I felt a nervous anticipation when Eva went to London to see the studio for the first time, I wasn’t sure if she was going to be strong enough to deal with it all. She took many knocks along the way and understandably there were times when she felt completely alone in the world, she really did seem to hit rock bottom and I felt desperately sad for her – I wanted to reach into the book and give her a hug. As she began building herself back up I was hooked, every little achievement made me smile and I felt like a proud mum as she dealt with any setbacks that came her way.

Phil played an important part in helping Eva to find her feet (he was so adorable, kind and caring), he supported her as she tried to piece together the puzzle of her mother’s life while simultaneously trying to create a life for herself.

There was a particular moment in the book when it suddenly became clear what the big secret was and it actually gave me chills! It also made me think back to what had already happened and look at everything differently, it definitely changed the direction of the book for me.

The subject of depression came up repeatedly throughout the book and as someone who has had personal experience of this illness I felt that it was written well – it was handled with care and accuracy in my opinion.

Something that I really loved about this book was how involved it made me feel, the writing drew me in and I felt like I was part of the story. Not knowing what was around the corner certainly kept me on my toes, the shocks and surprises just kept on coming and a final twist towards the end simply floored me – I couldn’t believe it!

The whole book completely captivated me – it made me cry, laugh, smile and frown. The message that I took from it was all about finding strength and courage when things get you down and this made me feel really empowered.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

One of the Top 5 bestselling female fiction authors in the UK, Lesley’s colourful life – from hanging out in 1960s London club-land; to bunny girl; to nursery worker and gift shop owner – meant that she was a latecomer to writing and her debut novel, Georgia, was published in her late forties.

A true storyteller and a master of gripping storylines, there is no set formula for a Lesley Pearse novel although strong heroines and difficult circumstances are pervasive. Whether historical adventures such as Gypsy or Never Look Back or the passionately emotive Trust Me, based on the true life scandal of British child migrants sent to Australia in the post war, Lesley is inspired by stories of courage and adversity and often gives voice to women lost in history. She is passionate about her research and her stories have taken her far and wide; from Alaska to the Crimea.

Lesley lives between Bristol and Bath and has three daughters and two grandsons. She is a devoted grandmother and will soon welcome a new grandchild into the Pearse family fold. A committed and passionate fundraiser for the NSPCC, Lesley speaks at functions across the UK in support of their work. The author of 20 bestsellers, Forgive Me will be her 21st.

You can visit Lesley Pearse’s website for more information.

Forgive Me is published by Michael Joseph and released today in hardback, it can be purchased from The Book Depository, Amazon or from most good book retailers.