THOUGHTS ON BOOKS (#9): Bring Me Back / The Last Telegram

Bring Me Back
Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I devoured this book in one evening. I love psychological thrillers like this, ones that are entertaining, fast-paced, and keep you on edge the whole time.

So, Finn’s girlfriend Layla disappears one night on their way home from a ski trip. Was she kidnapped? Murdered? After a massive search that turns up nothing, Finn has no choice but to move on with his life. Fast-forward 12 years, and Finn is now engaged to Ellen, Layla’s sister. All is well until odd little trinkets from Layla’s past start showing up at Finn & Ellen’s house. What could it mean?

BRING ME BACK was a lot of fun to read. I think to fully enjoy it, you need to suspend disbelief to some extent, though the author did a great job making the implausible seem plausible. There were a couple of fantastic twists in this book. One reminded me of another thriller I loved, but then – BAM! – the author twists it again for another shocking surprise. This was a unique and addictive thriller that I’d highly recommend.

Thank you to the publisher for sending me a free ARC of this book.

The Last Telegram
The Last Telegram by Liz Trenow
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

An English silk factory makes for a unique setting in this lovely yet heartbreaking novel of World War II.

The main character is a young British woman named Lily whose plan to attend college in Switzerland is thwarted by the onset of the war. Instead, she begrudgingly agrees to learn silk weaving as an apprentice in her family’s mill, and grows to become quite savvy in the business. Supplying parachutes to soldiers becomes their mainstay. But at what cost?

Lily learns about love and friendship, survival and consequences, and dealing with the heaviness of guilt and the lightness that comes with forgiveness.

THE LAST TELEGRAM is a gripping and emotional read. The story alternates between Lily as an old woman telling her granddaughter about her past, and her days living, working, and surviving during WWII. It was part love story and part mystery. What were the secrets from her past that caused so much grief?

This is the second book by Liz Trenow that I’ve greatly enjoyed. I’d definitely recommend her novels to fans of historical fiction. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.” ― James Baldwin


Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Released: May 6, 2014
Source: Review copy from publisher
Rating: ★★★★★

It is 1910 and Maria, a talented young girl from the East end of London, is employed to work as a seamstress for the royal family. As an attractive girl, she soon catches the eye of the Prince of Wales and she in turn is captivated by his glamour and intensity.

But careless talk causes trouble and soon Maria’s life takes a far darker turn. Disbelieved and dismissed she is thrown into a mental asylum, shut away from the real world with only her needlework for company.

Can a beautiful quilt, discovered many years later, reveal the truth behind what happened to Maria?

“I stitched my love into this quilt,

sewn it neatly, proud and true. 
Though you have gone, I must live on,
and this will hold me close to you.”

This sweet poem was embroidered into the stunning patchwork quilt that Caroline Meadows inherited from her grandmother. The fine silk for the center piece, woven through with silver thread, was a clue that this quilt was something extraordinary. Each section seems to have a special meaning, a story the seamstress held dear. But who was she? With few leads to go on, Caroline sets out to unravel the mystery of the quilt’s origin, and what she finds is shocking.

Entwined with Caroline’s story is an interview with a woman named Maria, taken from cassette tapes recorded in 1970. Maria’s tale was heartbreaking as she recounted her decades in an asylum called Helena Hall. She claims to have been a seamstress for the royal family during the 1910s, but was unjustly diagnosed as crazy and locked away when she caused problems. It was despicable the way Maria was treated, and hers was an eye-opening account of what happened to many “troublesome” women who were committed to mental institutions to be silenced.

This is the first book by Liz Trenow I’ve read, and I absolutely loved it! She has an engaging writing style that flowed smoothly and was a joy to read. I enjoyed how the past and present were threaded together until finally the truth behind the quilt is revealed. This book was sad in parts, but at the same time there was hopefulness and humor. Both Caroline and Maria were compelling characters, and Maria especially had a huge personality in spite of everything she went through. THE FORGOTTEN SEAMSTRESS was a wonderful book with memorable characters and brilliant descriptions of quilts and quilt-making. Highly recommended!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.