First Chapter First Paragraph: On Beulah Height by Reginald Hill

Every Tuesday First Chapter, First Paragraph/Intros is hosted by Vicky of I’d Rather Be at the Beach sharing the first paragraph or two of a book she’s reading or plans to read soon.

This week I’m featuring On Beulah Height by Reginald Hill. This is one of the books I chose to spell my blog’s name and when FictionFan commented that I should take it off my TBR list and put it on to my Next Up list immediately, I thought that’s a good idea! I didn’t have a Next Up list – but I have now and On Beulah Height is at the top of the list.

On Beulah Height (Dalziel & Pascoe, #17)

It begins with The Transcript of Betsy Allgood

The day they drowned Dendale I were seven years old.

I’d been three when government said they could do it, and four when the Enquiry came out in favour of Water Board, so I remember nowt of that.

Synopsis from the back cover:

They moved everyone out of Dendale that long hot summer fifteen years ago. They needed a new reservoir and an old community seemed a cheap price to pay. They even dug up the dead and moved them too.

But four inhabitants of the valley they couldn’t move, for no one knew where they were. Three little girls had gone missing, and the prime suspect in their disappearance, Benny Lightfoot.

This was Andy Dalziel’s worst case and now fifteen years later he looks set to relive it. It’s another long hot summer, another child has gone missing and as old fears resurface, someone sprays the deadly message on the walls of Danby: BENNY’S BACK

What do you think – would you read on?

I’ve enjoyed all of Reginald Hill’s books I’ve read so far, so I’m expecting to like this one too, after all FictionFan rates it and Ian Rankin is quoted on the cover saying he thinks it must rank as his best yet. It’s Book 17 in the Dalziel and Pascoe series.

First Chapter First Paragraph: The Inheritance by Louisa May Alcott

Every Tuesday First Chapter, First Paragraph/Intros is hosted by Vicky of I’d Rather Be at the Beach sharing the first paragraph or two of a book she’s reading or plans to read soon.

The Inheritance

This week I’m featuring The Inheritance by Louisa May Alcott, a book I’ll be reading in the next few days.

It begins:

In a green park, where troops of bright-eyed deer lay sleeping under drooping tees and a clear lake mirrored in its bosom the flowers that grew upon its edge, there stood Lord Hamilton’s stately home, half castle and half mansion. Here and there rose a gray old tower or ivy-covered arch, while the blooming gardens that lay around it and the light balconies added grace and beauty to the old decaying castle, making it a fair and pleasant home.

Synopsis:

Synopsis:

Here at last is the book “Jo” wrote. Generations of fans have longed to plumb that first romance, hinted at so captivatingly on the pages of “Little Women,” Alcott’s autobiographical classic. Now, after nearly one hundred fifty years spent among archived family documents, Louisa May Alcott’s debut novel finally reaches its eager public.

Set in an English country manor, the story follows the turbulent fortunes of Edith Adelon, an impoverished Italian orphan whose loyalty and beauty win her the patronage of wealthy friends until a jealous rival contrives to rob her of her position. In the locket around her neck, she carries a deep secret about her natural birthright. But an even greater truth lies hidden in Edith’s heart – her deep reverence for the kind and noble Lord Percy, the only friend who can save her from the deceitful, envious machinations of Lady Ida. Reminiscent of Jane Austen in its charms, this chaste but stirringly passionate novel affirms the conquering power of both love and courtesy. (Goodreads)

∼ ∼ 

The Inheritance was first published in 1997. The manuscript was found in the Houghton Library at Harvard University by two professors, Joel Myerson and Daniel Shealy who were researching Alcott’s letters and journals.

What do you think – would you read on?

First Chapter First Paragraph: Her Hidden Life by V S Alexander

Every Tuesday First Chapter, First Paragraph/Intros is hosted by Vicky of I’d Rather Be at the Beach sharing the first paragraph or two of a book she’s reading or plans to read soon.

This week I’m featuring one of my NetGalley books,  Her Hidden Life by V S Alexander, a newly published book (3 May 2018), that I’m currently reading.

It begins with a Prologue:

Berlin, 2013

Who killed Adolf Hitler? The answer lies within these pages. The circumstances surrounding his death have been disputed since 1945, but I know the truth. I was there.

Synopsis:

A forbidden love. A deadly secret.

‘An absorbing, well-researched story that brings to life an extraordinary period in history’ GILL PAUL, bestselling author of The Secret Wife

It’s 1943 and Hitler’s Germany is a terrifying place to be.
But Magda Ritter’s duty is the most dangerous of all…

Assigned to The Berghof, Hitler’s mountain retreat, she must serve the Reich by becoming the Führer’s ‘Taster’ – a woman who checks his food for poison. Magda can see no way out of this hellish existence until she meets Karl, an SS officer who has formed an underground resistance group within Hitler’s inner circle.

As their forbidden love grows, Magda and Karl see an opportunity to stop the atrocities of the madman leading their country. But in doing so, they risk their lives, their families and, above all, a love unlike either of them have ever known…

∼ ∼ 

I like it when an author clearly distinguishes what is real and what is fictional in a historical novel and she has done so in this case in her Author’s Note. Her Hidden Life is loosely based on the life of Margot Woelk, one of Hitler’s tasters, a woman who kept her former job a secret until she was ninety-five. It is not intended to be a strictly historical account of the Third Reich and the author states that she has relied on many sources, some of  which differed.

What do you think – would you read on?

My Tuesday Post: The Chymical Wedding by Lindsay Clarke

Every Tuesday First Chapter, First Paragraph/Intros is hosted by Vicky of I’d Rather Be at the Beach sharing the first paragraph or two of a book she’s reading or plans to read soon.

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by The Purple Booker. Post two sentences from somewhere in a book you’re reading. No spoilers, please! List the author and book title too.

I’ve been looking at some of my TBRs this week, wondering whether or not I really want to read all of them. One of the books I’ve had for a long time is The Chymical Wedding by Lindsay Clarke, a long book of over 500 pages. It won the Whitbread Prize for fiction in 1989.

It begins:

In that part of the world the sky is everywhere, and the entire landscape seems to lie in abasement under its exacting light. It gets into church towers and between the narrow reeds along the river’s edge. It glances across undulant acres of barley and beet, and takes what little the flints have to give. Everything there feels exposed, so keeping secrets is hard. It’s not the easiest place in which to hide.

Here is a teaser from page 98. 

‘How did you meet?

‘I was a student at a crazy college in Connecticut. Edward was visiting professor.’

‘Creative writing?’ I tried to keep the distaste from my voice. In the light of his remarks the previous night, it seemed an unlikely profession for the old poet. ‘Is that what you were studying?’

‘Parapsychology,’ she corrected, and smiled at my frown. ‘I told you it was a crazy college.’

Description from inside flap:

In the early 1980s Alex Darken retreats to the isolation of a Norfolk village only to become increasingly intrigued by Edward Nesbit and the extraordinary project on which this ageing poet and Laura, his young American lover, are working. in 1848 a new Rector, the Revd Edwin Frere, and his wife Emilia are welcomed to the same village by the querulous Henry Agnew and his devoted and brilliant daughter, Louise Anne.

Though set more than a century apart, these two stories are on a collision curse as both the Victorians and their latter-day researchers are caught up in the rites invoked across time by their enquiries into ‘the great experiment of Nature’.

The Chymical Wedding is a novel in which human passion and intellectual obsession reverberate through two interwoven narratives, a compelling work of imagination which establishes Lindsay Clarke as one of the most provocative and gifted authors writing in Britain today.

If you have read it I’d love to know what you think about it. If you haven’t read it, would you keep reading? 

First Chapter First Paragraph: The Three Evangelists by Fred Vargas

Every Tuesday First Chapter, First Paragraph/Intros is hosted by Vicky of I’d Rather Be at the Beach sharing the first paragraph or two of a book she’s reading or plans to read soon.

This week I’m featuring The Three Evangelists by Fred Vargas, one of my favourite authors. I’ve read some of her Commissaire Adamsberg books and loved them. This one is the first in the Three Evangelists series.

The Three Evangelists (Three Evangelists, #1)

It begins:

‘Pierre, something’s wrong with the garden,’ said Sophia.

She opened the window and examined the patch of ground. She knew it by heart, every blade of grass. What she saw sent a shiver down her spine.

Blurb from the back cover:

The opera singer Sophia Siméonidis wakes up one morning to discover that a tree has appeared overnight in the garden of her Paris house. Intrigued and unnerved, she turns to her neighbours: Vandoosler, an ex-cop, and three impecunious historians, Mathias, Marc and Lucien – the three evangelists. They agree to dig around the tree and see if something has been buried there. They find nothing but soil.

A few weeks later, Sophia disappears and her body is found burned to ashes in a car. Who killed the opera singer? Her husband, her ex-lover, her best friend, her niece? They all seem to have a motive.

Vandoosler and the three evangelists set out to find the truth.

∼ ∼ 

This looks so different from her Adamsberg books – and yet at the same time so similar – quirky, with eccentric characters and with a mystery to solve.

What do you think – would you read on?

First Chapter First Paragraph: The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman

Every Tuesday First Chapter, First Paragraph/Intros is hosted by Vicky of I’d Rather Be at the Beach sharing the first paragraph or two of a book she’s reading or plans to read soon.

This week The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman, an author I haven’t come across before. I saw it in a pile of secondhand books for sale and the title caught my eye.

The Light Between Oceans

It begins:

27 April 1926

On the day of the miracle, Isabel was kneeling at the cliff’s edge, ending the small newly made driftwood cross. A single fat cloud snailed across the late-April sky, which stretched above the island in a mirror of the ocean below. Isabel sprinkled more water and patted down the soil around the rosemary bush she had just planted.

‘… and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,’ she whispered.

For just a moment, her mind tricked her into hearing an infant’s cry. She dismissed the illusion, her eye drawn instead by a pod of whales weaving their way up the coast to calve in the warmer waters, emerging now and again with a fluke of their tails like needles through tapestry. She heard the cry again, louder this time on the early morning breeze. Impossible.

Blurb from the back cover:

A boat washes up on the shore of a remote lighthouse keeper’s island. It holds a dead man and a crying baby. the only two islanders, Tom and his wife Izzy, are about to make a devastating decision.

They break the rules and follow their hearts. What happens next will break yours.

∼ ∼ 

It’s been made into a film and looks a real weepie, again I hadn’t heard of the film either, starring Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander. The Guardian calls it a ‘swirling, sugar-coated melodrama, a tale of love and sacrifice that isn’t afraid to hit cymbal-crashing levels of sentimentality.’

It looks a complete change of reading for me!

What do you think – would you read on?

First Chapter First Paragraph: Gem Squash Tokoloshe by Rachel Zadok

Every Tuesday First Chapter, First Paragraph/Intros is hosted by Vicky of I’d Rather Be at the Beach sharing the first paragraph or two of a book she’s reading or plans to read soon.

I’ve been wondering what to read next and looking at my bookshelves Gem Squash Tokoloshe by Rachel Zadok caught my eye.

Gem Squash Tokoloshe

 

It begins with a section in a different font:

The Soul Seeker
Something wake him, stir a hunger in his guts, call. He lick the breeze, taste a morsel of fear on the icy air. His glands drip, his cheeks, taut drawn, long to stretch, distort with moans and screams. There’s pain out there.

and moves on to Chapter One

My Mother believed in magic. She told me stories of the fairies who lived on our farm as she rocked me to sleep at night. On hot summer nights, Mother left the window open, letting in the cool night breeze which carried the smell of citrus to my nostrils. That smell, mixed with the perfume of Mother’s lilac-scented soap, brings Dead Rex and Tit Tat Tay into my mind, and makes me look over my shoulder to make sure they’re not behind me. I’d lived on the farm from the day I was born, and as long as I could remember, I’d been surrounded by fairies. they lived on the peripheries of my vision, well hidden from my curious eyes, but I knew they were there. Mother was forever warning me about the dangers of bad fairies: ‘Don’t go into the orchard alone, Tit Tat Tay will steal you and turn you into a monkey child.’

Blurb

She just sat there hardly moving, staring at the drive. Black marks formed under her eyes where her lashes bled their waxy coating onto her skin. Her rouged cheeks were smudged. Mother looked like she was melting in the heat.

Faith leads an isolated existence on her family’s drought stricken farm in the Northern Transvaal of South Africa. When the rain stopped, her father took to the road as a travelling salesman, returning only at weekends. Now Faith lives with her mother Bella and dog Boesman anticipating his visits – until one day he stops coming and Bella’s health begins to go into rapid decline.

Fifteen years later Bella has died incarcerated in the Sterkfontein asylum for the criminally insane. Faith has not spoken to her mother for ten years and is on the brink of a breakdown of her own. Now, with her mother’s death, she inherits the farm and must return to confront the dark mysteries of the past . . .

In prose as lithe and imaginative as that of Alexandra Fuller, Rachel Zadok te Riele recreates the voice of a young girl growing up during the height of apartheid unrest in South Africa. As Faith struggles to make sense of the complex world in which she lives and come to terms with the beliefs her society and upbringing have inculcated in her, what emerges is a richly compelling, emotionally resonant tale of courage set against the backdrop of a chaotically divided and deeply beautiful country.

∼ ∼ 

The Soul Seeker section is creepy and disturbing. I flicked to the end of the book to find a final section entitled The Baby Snatcher, printed in the same font as The Soul Seeker and now I’m intrigued to find out what comes in between.

What do you think – would you read on?