Thrilled with this magnificent review – and comprehensive article on the whole of The Katherine Wheel Series – by the wonderful #AnneWilliams, book reviewer extraordinaire.
In this post, Anne discusses Woodbine, the fifth book in the saga, on the very day I\’m launching the final one, Ivy! More on that later…
In the meantime, I\’m enormously proud to share Anne\’s review of Woodbine
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 7 July 2020
I was initially a little worried by launching myself into a series with the fifth book: but while I’d obviously missed out on the earlier story and some of the background to the characters (particularly the older ones) and their relationships, I had no difficulty picking up enough of the context and moving on into the story of the next generation. And what a story – it totally swept me away, enthralling in every way with the most wonderful story-telling and the very finest of writing. This is a pretty substantial book at over 400 pages, but other than comfort breaks (when I took my kindle with me!) I didn’t surface for air until I’d read the very last page.
There were a number of elements that made this book one I really loved. I’m often a bit of a pushover for a WW2 setting, but the research that went into this book – the British home front (particularly, but not exclusively, for those used to living more comfortable lives), and the realities for the French population – must have been incredibly extensive, and it’s all wonderfully woven to bring the era so vividly to life. The sense of place throughout is exceptional – Cheadle Manor and its surroundings, the Welsh farming community where Isobel spends time as a land girl, war-torn Paris and the rural community where Lottie finds refuge. The book’s canvas is enormous – but sometimes it’s extraordinarily intimate through your degree of involvement with the fortunes of the three main characters, every one of whom you grow to really care about. And the pacing of the story is perfectly handled – quiet moments alternating with gripping sections when you really can’t read and turn the pages fast enough.
I will mention though that while the book does have an ending, the story doesn’t conclude in this book – we’re still in the midst of wartime, and there’s another book to come, drawing their individual stories and the whole series to a conclusion. I really didn’t mind that – it just made me want to read the next book even more, as I’d become totally invested in these wonderful characters. I’m not a regular reader of “sagas”, and don’t read historical fiction that often either – but from my reading of this single book I could tell that this series was something very special indeed.
(While I might have been just a tad frustrated that I couldn’t read the story through to its conclusion, no-one else will have the same problem – I see that Ivy was published on 1st July and is now available for kindle and in paperback. I’m just trying to carve out some more reading time, because I’m desperate to read on…)