Sari Caste by Catherine Kirby: Great Read, authentic research, gripping heart-rending story. 5* recommended

Sari Caste by Catherine Kirby via @amazon


A courageous voyage through destitution, intrigue and murder.

Manasa is abandoned by the man she should marry. He marries her sister instead. Meanwhile Manasa finds herself pregnant with his child. She flees her Bengali village wondering where to go. Eventually, she finds herself wandering the streets of Calcutta. Without money or food, life is a daily struggle. Finally, she is taken on by a brothel. She is desperately unhappy until she meets a different sort of man. This man she marries in secret and together they plan her escape from the brothel.

Murder, corruption, and intrigue threaten to swallow up the new life they attempt to establish in the beautiful hill country of Darjeeling.

Alex Martin author of The Twisted Vine

Alex Martin author of The Twisted Vine

Just had the honour of being a guest on another author\’s blog.  This was a first for me and a great experience.  Hemmie Martin (no relation – just happy coincidence) is a delightful new friend and we share not only our surname\’s but a deep love of France.  Hemmie lived there for a while when she was younger and understands my passion for the country.  Here is the link to her interesting blog, where you can also read about her book.

Hemmie Martin


The Twisted Vine

Latest 5* review
for The Twisted Vine

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful

5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn\’t put it down!, 15 Nov 2012


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This review is from: The Twisted Vine (Paperback)

A fantastic read with an intelligent and captivating combination of an insight into grape picking in France, the culture and cuisine of the country and the fascinating characters. It was a real page turner prompting an eagerness to find out what would happen next. I was torn between not wanting to put it down and not wanting to finish it! The complex characters and the twists in the storyline led to a thoroughly enjoyable read.

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Making great progress

The Twisted Vine is going well. Rarely out of the top 100 for France since its launch in June and replete with high-scoring reviews.  I am very happy about it.  But not resting on my laurels!  I\’m off to Spain for a week with my 90 yr old Dad on Tuesday.  He used to live there for 25 years with my Mum, who died last year.  She had dementia.  It was tough.  He wants to go back, get some sun and catch up with old friends.  I\’m the escort.  Coming with me is my trusty computer.  I\’ve even bought a posh rucksack so I don\’t have to part with it at the airport.  My plan is to hole up in the hotel room for a good chunk of every day and finish the edit of my next book, Daffodils.

Daffodils is set in the era around the first world war.  I started writing it way before it was such a fashionable theme.  Most of what we see and hear about that time concerns the few very rich people caught up in this global conflict.  I was more interested in what happened to the lower classes.  As I researched, I realised that the rigid social class structure crumbled under the chaos of that tragedy and would never be the same again. In fact the way we live today, the way we view the role of women, and men for that matter, money, work, raising children, all of these cultural mores were forged in the crucible of that terrible war.

Katy starts out a callow, shallow girl.  Greedy for more, aspiring above station.  She knows she\’s bright and she loves to read, but the adventures and heroines she reads about only whet her appetite for life.  Her world is narrow and confined and try as she might to buck against it, it traps her.  She tries to make the best of things and make a go of her marriage but personal tragedy and the war itself undermine her efforts.  She succumbs to her baser self before going off to France to help in the armed fight.  Then she finds her true strengths and discovers what really matters – love, of course.

So the fiesta might be setting off fireworks outside my hotel window in Spain but I shall hear them as cannon!  I hope to complete this second novel by the time I get back.  A whole week devoted to my dear old Dad and writing.  What luxury! 

Interview with Malika Gandhi, author of Freedom of the Monsoon

 Today I have the honour of having Malika Gandhi as my guest on my blog.  Malika has written the book, \’The Freedom of the Monsoon\’ which is all about the partition of India.  It is a vivid read with believable characters.  Here\’s what Malika pictured below) told me about herself and her writing:


1.       Do you write full time? If not, how do you make a living?

I am not working at all for the time being as I have opted to stay and look after my children. My eldest is seven and my youngest just turned four and is due to start full-time education in September.

As much as I would love to be a full time writer, with funds being limited, I will be looking for part-time work as soon as my younger son begins full-time school.

I suppose I could be counted as one of the lucky ones as my husband is supporting me and my writing, whilst I am not working!



2.       Do you plan to earn your living through your writing eventually? What are your goals?

Yes, I hope so but that could be a while yet as I am quite a new author and thus have written one book so far. My goals is to have a few novels completed in the next five years. I can\’t see ahead of that yet, but hopefully to write, write and write!


3.       What motivates you to write? Is it a compulsion that you cannot ignore or does it simply give you joy

My determination and interacting with fellow writers, bloggers and other artists motivates me to write. When I first wrote my first book Freedom of the Monsoon, my motivation was to see it published. When POD (Publishing on Demand) came into existence, it made that possible!


Complusion or joy to write? A bit of both, I suppose. I know I can\’t go a day without writing a sentence or something but I also find it very enjoyable as well.


4.       What are the issues you like to tackle?  Tell me about ‘Freedom of the Monsoon’.

I like writing stories with a moral attached but that is not necessary. I suppose I don\’t really have issues that I would like to tackle as such, just, what the characters dictate as I go along.


Freedom of th Monsoon is about Indian Independence and we see the Quit India Movement and it\’s effects from a different angle. A lot of books are told from a political point which I wanted to avoid. Although there is a mention of the Movement and the leaders in the background, the book focuses on the characters – Rakesh, Dev, Pooja, Amit and Sunil (five boys and one girl – Pooja) who are caught up in the events during the Movement and which affect their life in one way or another.


There is a lot of emotion in the book and a lot of Indian words, which I thought was important as without the Indian language, some of the scenes and emotions would not work ( I have detailed footnotes and a dictionary for the benefit of non-indian readers).


5.       Are your stories autobiographical in anyway?

In this case, not in the slightest. All the characters are fictional. 


6.       Do you have a disciplined approach to writing time allocation?

My writing is only done during the night, when eveyone is alseep and there is a guarantee of no distractions or noises. That\’s the only time I can actually write.  

7.       How many books/short stories have you written so far?  Is there a united theme to your work?

Freedom of the Monsoon is my debut novel and I am currently writing a second, which is a contination. There is not a united theme but I guess you can label it as not light reading.


8.       How important is research to you?

Research is very important if you want to write something believable and this is true for every genre. As my books are based on history, research of the right facts is doubly important.


9.       Was there one life changing moment that drew into the writing life or is it something you have always done?

Not that I can think of…writing was something I have always done, be it writing diaries or short stories when I was very young. I used to write book reviews (which was part of my junior school work) and I enjoyed it very much.


With the invention of the internet, I am not only able to write book reviews for the benefit of readers seeking books to read but also to help showcase other novels and authors. I also keep an ongoing blog site and not forgetting writing books too. :0)


10.   What’s in the pipeline? Have you a story you are working on? Any new ideas after that?

My readers can look forward to the second novel, which is a continuation of Freedom of the Monsoon, but which has an unexpected twist. The story will be told during two time sets – 1947 and 2012. Anjali is from 1947 and Arianna is from 2012 and the two lives are connected with a surprise.


A third book thereafter and many more!




Malika Gandhi\’s Bio:


Malika Gandhi lives with her husband and two sons in the East Midlands, UK. She is a homemaker and in between caring for her family, she writes her books and dabbles in a little painting too. She loves to experiment with different mediums, such as oils, acrylic and watercolour.


Malika was born in India but moved to London when she was two, where her father was already settled. She travelled with her mother and brother.

Malika has lived in London, studied in Southampton and moved to Leicester after her marriage, which is where her husband and his family live. A girl moves in with her in-laws after marriage, at least for a short time.


Malika loves to watch movies, visits art and history museums and is curious about the universe.


Links to purchase Freedom of the Monsoon:






Links to my blogs: – About Me, My book and Everything else – The Unicorns\’s Book Reviews


Alex Martin author of The Twisted Vine

Alex Martin author of The Twisted Vine

<a href="\” style=\”float: left; padding-right: 20px\”><img alt="White Horizon" border="0" src="\” /><a href="\”>White Horizon by <a href="\”>Jan Ruth

My rating: <a href="\”>5 of 5 stars

Please, please can I order a Daniel to take home. Doesn\’t need gift wrapping, I\’ll take him warts and all. Not that he had any. Just charm, chaos, integrity and a massive loving heart. Not a cardboard cutout hero but a real, believable man. He was joined by an able cast of characters, each with their own involving stories. Jan Ruth intertwines them all with great skill, humour and compassion. Luckily for me, I know she has two other books already written and I can\’t wait to wrap myself up in them, if they are half as good as White Horizon. A recommended read for grown-ups in the real world, we see here true to life characters struggling with challenges and problems we can all identity with. I was in love with all of them by the end, but Daniel will remain forever in my heart. Highly recommended reading.

<a href="\”>View all my reviews

Alex Martin has written an intriguing story with intelligence and wit. The very modern heroine Roxanne heads off to find herself among the vineyards of France and, whilst doing so becomes involved in sexual politics, family intrigue, rivalry and greed. This is a very satisfying read which keeps you guessing to the end. A great book for a holiday read, or a fireside indulgence full of evocative reminders of France.
Another 5 * review. This one is by Jenny Wren.  This makes 7 x 5* reviews in just 3 weeks.  Time you got your copy!  Paperback out soon..

The Twisted Vine eBook: Alex Martin: Kindle Store

The Twisted Vine eBook: Alex Martin: Kindle Store:
 Mouthwatering! 27 Jun 2012


Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
I feel like I\’ve been on holiday!
What a juicy twist of a gastronomic tale. A Twisted Vine reminded me of that wonderful novel A Year in Provence; but then add in a thoroughly modern heroine in Roxanne, a few foreign escapades and a rotten Frenchman, and voila!
Alex Martin writes incredibly well, and her descriptions of rural France are divine. They infiltrate through the story like little pockets of colour, painting the scene so perfectly, as did the food and wine. It appealed to all my senses.
Our female character has plenty of guts, setting off as she does to go grape picking around France, and the author knows her subject well, which makes for insightful reading with the kind of detail that sets the book apart from the usual run of the mill romance. Not only does the plot and the setting carry the romantic gene but it holds up as a light crime/drama at the same time, and there are some well drawn, believable characters.
If you like France and grown up romance with all the food and wine you can consume then get stuck in to The Twisted Vive. A truly wonderful slice of rather classy escapism. I really enjoyed every morsel.