Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Author spotlight and Book Review: Looking for Charlotte by Jennifer Young. #Giveaway #Romance #Mystery

Modern novels can sometimes have traditional twists. I dont just mean in the plots but in the themes and the echoes they carry with them. Im constantly surprised at the things people see in my novels that I dont see and then I realise theyre right.
When Looking For Charlotte, my new novel, was featured around St Patricks Day as a Celtic novel (loose definition being a novel set in one of the Celtic countries of Ireland, Scotland and Wales) I was vaguely bemused. But in fact the novel fitted very well in that kind of slot because it does have a Celtic theme.
At first glance Looking For Charlotte is a romance-cum-mystery-cum contemporary womens novel that just happens to be set in Scotland, partly in Edinburgh and mostly in the Highlands. Its the story of a modern woman, in a modern situation, setting out on a peculiar mission to find the body of a dead toddler. Theres no magic and no myth.
But waitIve always been fascinated by the Celtic knots, the patterns which have no end and no beginning and heres my heroine, Flora, on her birthday, in conversation with her colleague and friend, the widowed Philip. Shes looking over her birthday cards, at one of them in particular:
It was smaller than the others, a non-committal abstract, a Celtic maze of colour which, if you untangled it, had no lines which ended, all wriggling through in intricate patterns of earth tones, blues and browns and greens in an eternal circuit. Philips eye was following its delicate tracery, she could see, picking a line, seeing how the pattern unravelled. Or rather, Mary. Shes very into the Celtic thing. Richard would just have sent a card with flowers on it.
Joanne liked Celtic patterns. He made an abrupt gesture towards the card, then stopped himself. She said they mean things never end, yet that were all interlinked. She used to say that if the tide went out wed find we were all part of the same piece of land. I used to think of that as her philosophers moment. I didnt think I quite understood it at the time, and after she died it made even less sense.’”In the comings and goings of modern life,  Flora keeps coming back to the continuity of a thread that links all humanity. Its why she wants to help a stranger and its why, in the end, a stranger helps her.Now she saw it holistically; she saw, too, what Joanne Metcalfe had seen in the swirling Celtic patterns such as that on her birthdays card from Richard and Mary, the levels of water among which she had dug fallen low and the constant connection between them revealed. In a sense it didnt matter so much if Charlotte wasnt found as long as someone, somewhere, could offer Suzanne the underlying sustenance of all human nature.

Divorced and lonely, Flora Wilson is distraught when she hears news of the death of little Charlotte Anderson. Charlottes father killed her and then himself, and although he left a letter with clues to her grave, his two-year-old daughter still hasnt been found. Convinced that she failed her own children, now grown up and seldom at home, Flora embarks on a quest to find Charlottes body to give the childs mother closure, believing that by doing so she can somehow atone for her own failings.
As she hunts in winter through the remote moors of the Scottish Highlands, her obsession comes to challenge the very fabric of her life her job, her friendship with her colleague Philip Metcalfe, and her relationships with her three children.

Author bio
I live in Edinburgh and I write romance and contemporary womens fiction. Ive been writing all my life and my first book was published in February 2014, though Ive had short stories published before then. The thing that runs through all my writing is an interest in the world around me. I love travel and geography and the locations of my stories is always important to me. And of course I love reading anything and everything.

Links: Facebook  /  Website
Twitter: @JYnovelist
They parted just beyond the bridge across the Ness, Grace heading up the pedestrian streets and Flora cutting across to the library, fronted by the long line of cars full of Saturday shoppers manoeuvering towards the car parks. She wasnt a regular library user, but once the idea had taken her she remembered that there was something she wanted to check.
In the reference section, she stood for a moment before selecting the Ordnance Survey map that covered the area south of Ullapool. She knew it quite well. When the children were young theyd gone walking there regularly, able to reach the open spaces without pushing the slowest (usually Amelia, though Beth was the youngest) too hard. Theyd graduated to more difficult walks, then stopped walking altogether. Eventually she had developed a fondness for the slightly less bleak terrain to the south of Inverness, where she went occasionally with Philip and his brother, or with a colleague from work. She hadnt been out all year, not since before Christmas, in fact, and even then theyd been rained off not very far in and driven back to the comfort of a tea shop in Grantown-on-Spey. 
A nostalgic yearning for a good long walk swept over her as she unfolded the map and smoothed it out across one of the desks. She and Danny used to look at maps together plotting their routes. His stubby forefinger, with its bitten nails, had traced the most challenging route to start, sliding along the steep and craggy ridges until he remembered the children and reluctantly redrew, shorter, safer. 
She thought she knew the place where Alastair Anderson had left his car, and found it easily enough. Under her fingers the map was a flat web of never-parallel lines, of ugly pock-marking that told of steep, loose rocks and inhospitable terrain, just the type of place they used to walk. Somewhere up here, Charlotte Anderson was buried. Carried there, already dead? Or walked there and then killed? Surely neither was realistic; surely they would have found her, with their dogs and their mountain rescue helicopters scouring the ground for new scars, and all the rest of the equipment they had at their disposal. 
Looking at the map had been a mistake. It was obvious now. Besides, she couldnt see it any more; all she could see was the image of Suzanne Beauchamp, that beautiful face with the cold faรงade, like a wax death mask from Madame Tussauds. More poignant, of course, since it must hide a struggle, a struggle to conceal or to suppress a deadly mixture of grief and guilt.
Go away!she said softly to this mirage of a grieving woman, a little afraid of its power. Go away!And then, in the only defence left to her, she began to fold the map away.

Charlene's 4 Star review can be seen here: 
We received the book from the author for an honest review.
This story ... it really grips your heart, and the characters are so well written that any mother can relate to them. I loved how the Author kept the Mystery all the way to the end to keep the reader intrigued and the fact that the 2 Main Character's have an impact on each other's lives without them ever meeting each other. 
This Beautiful story has Depth, Compassion, Romance and Mystery.


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