Book Review: The Photograph by Debbie Rix

A special shout-out to Bookouture and NetGalley for providing me with this copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

About the Book:

Italy, 1958: Rachael is a young widow with a small child. After a lifetime of running for survival, of not knowing who to trust and where to call home, she finds herself in a place of safety. On a sun-drenched Italian island for one carefree summer the troubles of her past fade away and she falls in love. But will Rachael’s new-found happiness bring her further heartache?

England, 2017: Sophie has a handsome husband, a gorgeous house in the English countryside and a successful career as an anthropologist. But the one thing she longs for is a baby of her own. As she struggles to conceive, cracks begin to appear in her marriage. So Sophie throws herself into her work and tries to seek comfort in childhood memories of her beloved grandmother Rachael.

One afternoon, Sophie finds a forgotten letter and an exquisite silk bracelet hidden in Rachael’s old writing desk. Intrigued, she begins to unravel the extraordinary story of her grandmother’s past – and a secret that has the power to change everything…

The Photograph is an utterly beautiful and compelling story of love, loss and a family secret spanning generations.

My Thoughts:

The Photograph is the spell-binding journey of two women, generations apart, and their stories of love, loss and life. The story alternates between Sophie’s life and experiences in the current day, and those of Rachael, almost 60 years ago.

Sophie is dealing with the struggle to conceive, yearning so much for a child that she does not pay much attention to how the people around her are dealing with things. She is a wonderful person at heart, but fails to see how her obsession affects her husband. At the brink of losing her marriage entirely, the husband and wife duo are confronted with a lot of decisions and forced to deal with their emotions. The best part of Sophie’s story is her family, who is her support system, but who also act as voices of reason when required.

More than 60 years ago, Rachael, Sophie’s grandmother loses her own mother, her husband and is forced to flee her home with her father so as not to get caught. In the midst of all this, she finds herself pregnant. As the father-daughter duo’s journey continues west, they end up in England where her father takes up teaching anthropology at the university.

Rachael fills her time and also builds bonds with the owner of the house they are staying at. As time passes, they move to Italy for almost a year so that her father can lead a dig and document the findings. What follows is a life of sun, some laughter and a passionate love that Rachael develops for a local of the island. However, the main part of her story comes from not being able to pursue this relationship and moving back home.

Rachael’s life is filled with a lot of loss and tragedy, but through all this emerges a strong willed woman who raises two children by herself and lives to see her grandchildren grow up. A quiet but dependable presence in their lives, no-one knows that she harbors a strong secret about her life and her son’s.

Sophie, in a bid to connect with her grandmother, while moving her writing desk from the attic to the living room, discovers a false back. This leads to the discovery of a photograph, the very photograph that the title refers to! What follows is a family holiday to Italy where Sophie sets out to discover the truth behind the photograph. This leads Sophie to uncover a deeply hidden truth that would change her mother and uncle’s lives forever.

The story is gripping and will keep the reader hooked until the very end. Set against some amazing backdrops, the authors ensures to describe each place with great detail, it feels as though you are also there. The emotions are many and the reader will experience them all along with the characters. The author brings out the repercussions of keeping secrets but at the same time she shows us the reasoning behind it and how it might have been necessary. Times change, the world changes and so does people’s perception of things. A compelling story, The Photograph is a must read!

The Girl from the Sugar Plantation by Sharon Maas

About the Book:

The Girl from the Sugar Plantation: A gripping and emotional family saga of love and secrets (The Quint Chronicles)

An unputdownable story about a woman in search of the truth, the man she falls in love with, and the devastation of the Second World War.
1934, Georgetown.

All her life, Mary Grace has wanted to know the truth about who her parents really are. As the mixed-race daughter of two white plantation owners, her childhood has been clouded by whispered rumours, and the circumstances of her birth have been kept a closely guarded secret…

Aunt Winnie is the only person Mary Grace can confide in. Feeling lost and lonely, her place in society uncertain, Mary Grace decides to forge her own path in the world. And she finds herself unexpectedly falling for charming and affluent Jock Campbell, a planter with revolutionary ideas.

But, with the onset of the Second World War, their lives will be changed forever. And Mary Grace and Jock will be faced with the hardest decision of all – to fight for freedom or to follow their hearts…

An utterly compelling and evocative story about the heart-breaking choices men and women had to make during a time of unimaginable change. Perfect for fans of The Secret Wife and Island of Secrets .

My Thoughts:

The Girl from the Sugar Plantation is a gripping and compelling read, where fact meet fiction and a wonderful story arises.

The plot is based on factual events, on the sugar plantations in Guyana and the life of the people at the time. Many of the characters are also real people, who made a difference or had an impact on the lives of people. The story is well written and brings out the emotions of the people in the story. It will draw you in and keep you hooked until the very end.

The reader has the pleasure of meeting Mary Grace, a strong willed girl who learns to believe that there is more to life than the one she leads on the sugar plantation. As the story progresses, we see her grow and blossom into a wonderful woman with a burning passion for life. We are exposed to the brutality of life, the concept of slaves and workers, the upper class society and a certain level of superiority based on color of the skin.  The author exposes us to the shocking truth and mindset of the people, and the ideas behind revolutions and changes. Jock is a strongly described character with an interesting mindset and a set goal in life. He is willing to sacrifice love for his goal.

The supporting characters in Mary Grace’s mother, her aunt, her cousins and the secrets they hold only seek to expose us to the reality of life and the people. The strength and unity, the confidence and pride they have for and in each other is inspiring. The impact of the Second World War on the world and lives of people is portrayed really well and it is sure that the reader will be able to experience an array of emotions.

The choices a person makes at different stages in life shapes their life and this is seen clearly through the decisions of the people in the book. This story will stay with you until the end and after, leaving behind a deeper impact and food for thought.

The Silk Weaver’s Wife – An intriguing story of two women!

About the Book:

The Silk Weaver's Wife

‘On the way back down the grand staircase to the hall, her eye was caught by a portrait, hanging in a particularly dark corner of a landing. It was of a young woman, seated at an easel; she was painting a silk moth, its eggs nestling on a mulberry leaf.’

1704: Anastasia is desperate to escape her controlling and volatile father and plans to marry in secret. But instead of the life she has dreamed of, she finds herself trapped in Venice, the unwilling wife of a silk weaver.

Despite her circumstances, Anastasia is determined to change her fate…

2017: Millie wants more from her relationship and more from her life. So when her boss Max abruptly ends their affair, she takes the opportunity to write a feature in Italy.

Staying in a gorgeous villa, Millie unexpectedly falls in love with the owner, Lorenzo. Together they begin to unravel an incredible story, threaded through generations of silk weavers.

And Millie finds herself compelled to discover the identity of a mysterious woman in a portrait…

A gorgeously written, richly evocative story, The Silk Weaver’s Wife is perfect for readers who love Kate Morton and Gill Paul.

My thoughts:

The Silk Weavers Wife is a well-written story, set in Italy and which tells of two tales set almost three centuries apart. The story revolves around 2 women, Anastasia and Millie, both strong and well crafted characters, who prove to be an inspiration for all.

Anastasia is brought up to be respectful, proper and do as her father says. Along with her younger sister and mother, they live in constant fear of her Father’s moods and hate. He only ever seems to show his love to his dog and the horses. Anastasia develops an interest in art and secretly tries to pursue the same. When she is taken away from the man she loves and is forced to marry someone her father had made a deal with through his gambling, her life takes a turn for the worse. Forced to lead a life she doesn’t want, she finds solace in her maid, who helps her find a way to escape the abuse and eventually find her way back to the man she loves. However, even this road is not smooth and is filled with learning and a journey of self-discovery, as well as healing. Anastasia travels across Europe and then to London where she learns to improve her art and then to apply it to the finished product of silk weaving.

Jump ahead to the current day scenario and we meet Millie who has come down to Italy to write a feature on Silk Weaving and how it has evolved over time. Ironically, this trip also proves to be one of self-discovery and developing a sense of respect of oneself. She develops a bond with Lorenzo, the owner of the villa where she is staying and his charming daughter. Millie learns to deal with her failed relationship with her boss, a married man, and as she researches more into the subject of her article, she digs up information pertaining to Anastasia.

As connections are made with the past and parallels are drawn, the author takes the reader on an interesting adventure. In many ways, the journey of the silk worm relates to the journeys led by both women they they finally discover who they are meant to be and learn to be content with their lives. The story moves across time as it unravels, going back and forth to give us a complete picture. The characters are well developed and deep, with the supporting characters playing major roles and contributing to this beautiful tale.

An inspiration, this story brings out the strength of women and how the love and support of those around them, helps them achieve wonders!