Friday, June 28, 2024

Shining a bright Book Spotlight on Heidi Eljarbo's intriguing new novel – Trouble in Assisi #HistoricalMystery #ArtMystery #Renaissance

Trouble in Assisi

A Fabiola Bennett Mystery, Book #2

by Heidi Eljarbo

Assisi, 1973.

On art historian Fabiola Bennett’s first day in Assisi, a local gentleman takes her aside to ask for advice about a painting that has wondrously appeared in the basilica’s bell tower.

So much for enjoying relaxing days filled with dining on pasta and gelato.

Soon, Fabiola and her besties, Pippa and Cary, are thrown into a shrouded mystery and caught up in a whirlwind of intrigue, theft, lies, and attempted murder, all of which overshadows the postcard-like charm of the small, historic town.

Rome, 1511.

Life is going well for Teodoro Nicoletti. Since he was a young man in Florence, he has worked and learned alongside the most-favored artist Raphael.

When Pope Julius II commissions Raphael to paint several frescos in the reception rooms of the Vatican Palace, Teodoro follows his master to Rome and discovers firsthand the admiration and rivalry between Raphael and two other reigning artists: Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci.

But the prickliest thorn in Teodoro’s side is his beloved Elisabetta’s father. The old man is determined to keep his youngest daughter from becoming Teodoro’s wife.

This is the second book in a new dual timeline series by Heidi Eljarbo—an intriguing spin-off from the much-loved Soli Hansen Mysteries.

Fans of Lucinda Riley, Rhys Bowen, Kathleen McGurl, Kate Morton, and Katherine Neville will love this cozy historical dual-timeline art mystery.

This title is available to read on #KindleUnlimited.

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Heidi Eljarbo

Heidi Eljarbo grew up in a home full of books, artwork, and happy creativity. She is the author of historical novels filled with courage, hope, mystery, adventure, and sweet romance during challenging times. She’s been named a master of dual timelines and often writes about strong-willed women of past centuries.

After living in Canada, six US states, Japan, Switzerland, and Austria, Heidi now calls Norway home. She lives with her husband on a charming island and enjoys walking in any kind of weather, hugging her grandchildren, and has a passion for art and history.

Her family’s chosen retreat is a mountain cabin, where they hike in the summer and ski the vast white terrain during winter.

Heidi’s favorites are her family, God's beautiful nature, and the word whimsical.

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Thursday, June 27, 2024

Editorial Book Review: Novice Threads by Nancy Jardine #HistoricalFiction #ComingOfAge #EditorialReview #RecommendedReading #TheCoffeePotBookClub

*Editorial Book Review*

Novice Threads

Silver Sampler Series, Book #1

by Nancy Jardine

A thirst for education.  Shattered dreams. Fragile relations.

1840s Scotland

Being sent to school is the most exhilarating thing that’s ever happened to young Margaret Law. She sharpens her newly-acquired education on her best friend, Jessie Morison, till Jessie is spirited away to become a scullery maid. But how can Margaret fulfil her visions of becoming a schoolteacher when her parents’ tailoring and drapery business suddenly collapses and she must find a job?

Salvation from domestic drudgery – or never-ending seamstress work – comes via Jessie whose employer seeks a tutor for his daughter. Free time exploring Edinburgh with Jessie is great fun, but increasing tension in the household claws at Margaret’s nerves. 

Margaret also worries about her parents’ estrangement, and the mystery of Jessie's unknown father.

When tragedy befalls the household in Edinburgh, Margaret must forge a new pathway for the future – though where will that be?

“…According to Jessie, the parents don’t want to pay the fees of an expensive governess since Rachel can’t manage all the things that a governess would teach. But they’re willing to spend some money for someone to do basic reading, and maybe later on with writing tasks.”

“I wonder what they would pay for that? It’s not the job of a hired domestic like Jessie, so the wage should reflect that.”

Margaret was stunned. Her mother’s question sounded serious. Why would she want to know such a thing? She read down to the end of the letter.

“Jessie doesn’t say anything about how much money. She adds that she wonders if they would consider me.”

The driving force in young Margaret Law’s life is her thirst for education. She has always wanted to learn to read and write, having watched her parents sorting orders in their drapery shop. Through careful budgeting, her father is able to scrape together the necessary funds to send her to the Subscription School, where she excels.

However, as Margaret’s life is on the uphill path, her best friend, Jessie, finds things falling apart. Her family circumstances are starkly different from Margaret’s, and her mother’s reputation is tainted with an air of scandal. When Jessie’s situation takes a turn for the worse, she secures employment as a scullery maid. Using the small amount of literacy skills she had managed to obtain, Jessie writes to Margaret as often as she can. When a potential household opening arises, Jessie writes Margaret a letter to inquire if she is interested in the job.

Novice Threads (Silver Sampler Series Book 1) by Nancy Jardine is a truly moving and captivating novel that explores the true essence of ‘family’.

Margaret’s arrival at the Duncan house in Edinburgh’s New Town area introduces her to a joyful reunion with Jessie and a newfound responsibility that is completely different from anything she has ever experienced. One of the Duncan daughters, Rachel, had a nasty accident, rendering her unable to use her legs, and leaving her confined to the parlour. It fell upon Margaret to educate her, teaching her literacy, arithmetic, and the ways of the world — despite Rachel’s inability to truly reside in it. Rachel is a darling girl who undoubtedly captivates the reader with her emotional presence in this novel. Despite her young age, Rachel must adapt rapidly to a new life because those around her struggle to comprehend what has happened to her. Rachel’s accident has a profound effect on the rest of the family, especially with regard to her mother. Margaret quickly becomes the one person Rachel can completely trust and rely on. Even amid tragedy, the bond that develops between the two girls is truly beautiful. Margaret’s affectionate support, cheers, and love for Rachel go beyond that of a hired tutor, resembling more of a sister, a confidant and a friend. The reader cannot help but be deeply moved by their relationship.

Despite appearances, this novel has its fair share of drama, as things were not always as they seemed behind closed doors. With a highly anxious disposition, Rachel’s mother is not the most composed person, and Rachel’s accident only heightens her uneasiness. Although she puts on a composed front when around others, Mistress Duncan’s inner turmoil manifests in erratic tantrums and fury behind closed doors, leaving the servants as the unfortunate recipients of her wrath. Readers are granted a remarkable perspective into the private affairs of the Duncans, shedding light on the unseen moments that occur away from prying eyes. With society’s insatiable appetite for gossip, the family couldn’t risk exposing the constant anxiety experienced by the woman in charge of the household. Nonetheless, her mood swings are an additional burden the servants must bear.

The workload is challenging for the household employees. The demands of the job leave Jessie feeling pulled in opposite directions, as she struggles to manage a workload that is overwhelming for a single individual. Margaret is responsible for overseeing Rachel’s life and ensuring her happiness and satisfaction, as well as her education. Encouraging a child who had faced immense challenges to participate in arithmetic and literacy felt like an impossible mission. However, when Margaret succeeded in making the young girl laugh and genuinely enjoy herself, it made every struggle seem meaningful. 

Housemaid, Kate, also has more than her fair share of tasks to do. The fact that Jessie, Kate, and Margaret are all so young really underscores the difficulties they face in running the household from behind the scenes, while their employees struggle to keep up appearances. They might have only been young, but without more members of staff, and with such a large workload, they had no choice but to get stuck in, and do their best to keep everyone happy. The author shines a glaring light on what really went on behind closed doors during this era, and also how normal it was for young children to be employed.

The friendship between Margaret and Jessie is undeniably one of the novel’s strongest aspects. Their bond is more akin to sisters rather than best friends, and this is portrayed with great clarity. The novel presents moments that challenge their friendship, yet their shared past, and deep love for each other, keep them connected. Working for the Duncans is no walk in the park, with demanding hours and heavy workloads — Jardine skilfully exposes the harsh reality of a servant's life during this era. Similarly, the narrative is packed with surprises and intricate subplots that will constantly keep the reader guessing.

The emotional coming-of-age saga, Novice Threads, sets the stage for a future collection of classic novels. People will be reading this book for years because it will stand the test of time.

It’s not just a book, it’s an immersive experience where you journey alongside the characters, forming emotional bonds as if they were your own family. You’ll never tire of reading this novel, no matter how many times you read it.

I Highly Recommend.

Review by Ellie Yarde
The Coffee Pot Book Club

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This title is available to read on #KindleUnlimited.

Nancy Jardine

Nancy writes historical and contemporary fiction. 1st Century Roman Britain is the setting of her Celtic Fervour Series. Victorian and Edwardian history has sneaked into two of her ancestry-based contemporary mysteries, and her current Silver Sampler Series is set in Victorian Scotland.

Her novels have achieved Finalist status in UK book competitions (People's Book Prize; Scottish Association of Writers) and have received prestigious Online Book Awards.

Published with Ocelot Press, writing memberships include – Historical Novel Society; Romantic Novelists Association; Scottish Association of Writers; Federation of Writers Scotland; Alliance of Independent Authors.

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