Book Review: The Girl with the Make-Believe Husband by Julia Quinn

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It is quite a while since I reviewed a book. I was sent this one by Little brown Book Group who are part of the Hachette Group, thank you for that. My honest opinion follows.

I have always enjoyed historical fiction, beginning my forays by reading Georgette Hayer, Jean Plaidy and the like. I have not read any of Julia Quinn’s novels before this one, and I will look out some of her other novels to see if I like them.

I read this book in one sitting, and apart from two small errors which jarred my read I did enjoy it as a bit of light entertainment. It  follows our feisty heroine over from Derbyshire to America in search of her brother, following her father’s death and the unwanted attentions of a male cousin who seeks her hand in marriage in order to take over the house rather than wait to see if he inherits it outright. I do like a heroine who has the gumption to try and sort a problem out rather than wait for someone to rescue her.

The year is 1779 and Britain is at war in the America’s, her brother is injured and she buries her mothers silver in the garden and buys a passage on a cargo ship to go to New York where she believes he is hospitalized. On arrival, she discovers her brother is missing but his friend is in hospital injured and unconscious. Seeking information, she tells a small white lie (I am his wife!) and gains access to Edward. I had hoped to learn a little more about the War of Independence but I won’t be getting it from this novel.

Edward has memory loss and cannot recall getting married, but the story of Edward and Cecilia’s romance is told through snapshots of their letters via her brother Thomas, and as they get to know each other even better in New York Cecilia’s lie begins to tangle them ever closer.

Scenes telling of their desires and the consummation of their marriage are well written and not outrageous and once the truth is known, the ramifications of Cecilia’s deceit cause havoc to both parties.

Cecilia is a character I have enjoyed getting to know, and I would welcome the opportunity to see how her story progresses. However, the plotline relating to the brother and Edward’s memory loss was thin, and soon ran out. More could have been made of this.  The familial links between Edward and the Royal Governor also seemed a little far fetched.

An interesting read which left me wanting to know more, but I am not certain I would have paid the full price for this one. It is cheaper on Amazon.

 

ISBN: 978-0-349-41054-8   £8.99

 

 

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Lucky and Tinca go Motorhoming

We love our Motorhome, and so it was essential to us that our dogs would enjoy it too.
We started out by introducing them to the inside of the Motorhome while it was on the drive, we had put covers on the benches, and allowed them to get up on them and look out of the windows and to have a good sniff around.

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So far they have been in the Motorhome just twice last year (a weekend away) when we used the awning, and three times this year without the awning, although that will change next time out, and as we have a lot of rallies booked this year of varying lengths, we are sure they will be completely used to it by the time the year ends. This is all in preparation for a trip abroad next year in the MH.

It is important to us that the dogs do not just escape through the habitation door (the one on the side) as soon as it is opened, and so we are training them to ‘wait’ and to ‘stay’ whenever this door is open and that they are only allowed out when they are called. This is progressing well, and we can now have the door open with just the flyscreen across. We can be outside and the dogs inside, so long as they can see us, all is well. So far, they don’t even realise they can get out of the cabin doors!

The dogs sleep at night in their fabric crate, although we are hoping to swap this soon for a normal dog bed, as it will take up less space, we don’t have a door between them and our bed, and as we don’t want them on the bed (not a problem in the day, but if one of us goes to bed unwell, they are up there like a shot!) this is something we have to keep working on.

When outside of the Motorhome, they would normally be tethered, as we are usually on a rally somewhere, and I don’t like using windbreaks (although I know others do). We have yet to try them in the awning this year, and it will be interesting to see how they react to it.

Travelling with the dogs means that we have to take some of their equipment with us. We travel with enough food (we use Charlie Little dried and wet food) and they have bowls which are left in the MH so I don’t forget them! I am also going to buy a duplicate grooming kit to leave in the MH so I am not carrying that back and forth as well. A good brush, comb, nail trimmer and tick remover (just in case). We use long lines of 5m and 10m as well as short leads, so that they can have a run about even if they have to be kept on a lead. Luckily, their recall is excellent and I reinforce this element of their training regularly.  Poo bags – every pocket has poo bags, and this is no different in the MH, I always carry loads of them. We also take our Dickie Bag with us. It makes walking with a full bag much nicer! and we dispose of our bags appropriately. Towels for drying off wet dogs, towels for wiping the floor (carpets have been taken out!), and make sure they shake OUTSIDE the MH not inside!

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I love cuddling up with them in the evenings, and they love looking out of the window to see what is going on. We haven’t had any problems with barking at people going past, and if we go out, we normally take them with us. Although we have been known to nip to a friends caravan for a small drink or too, and we don’t hear them bark at all.

It would appear that our dogs are very versatile and we love taking them with us. It is a conversation starter for people we meet on sites, and a way of making sure we get out and walk each day in different countryside

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Hello, how are you?

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Pull up a chair and have a natter

When ever you see someone, you automatically ask “How are you?”, we don’t generally expect a real answer, we place emphasis on certain parts of the phrase to elicit the response we expect. A general murmur of “Fine, thank you. Any you?” is what we hope to hear.

Of course, if we are trying to bring comfort, then the emphasis is on the you, and the expected response is probably “As well as can be expected” which far too often we let people get away with.  With everything that is going on in the world, in peoples’ lives and with rising awareness of Mental Health and the importance of talking, we should reach out more and dig a little deeper behind the expected response. Especially if we know that something has been going on in some-one’s life.

So, Post40 bloggers asked. “How are you?” – No, really, how are you?

Well, thank you for asking, Post 40.

To answer the question honestly, depends on the day, even the time of day. At this moment in time, “Thank you. I am fine, a little stressed out about my course, but I should be OK, I am going to ring them tomorrow to discuss some stuff, I haven’t had my assignment feedback yet and it feels like ages!

I am feeling fat. I don’t seem to be able to stop eating. I think that is stress related plus we have a wedding to go to, and although I have a couple of dresses to choose from, I hate my legs. It’s such a faff. I want to be the elderly relative who doesn’t give a flying toss about what she looks like and be eccentric and wear anything, and yet…….. I don’t have the confidence to do that, because other people expect something different from me. Huge sigh, shrug of shoulders and then a big grin.

I saw my youngest the other day, it was wonderful. Until he told me he had got a tattoo. Oh, well, I think he expected me to go off on one, they know I don’t like them. But, he was sober when he got it done, it has relevance to him, and at the end of the day, its his body and his money. Wonder if it hurt?

Isn’t it a glorious day? It’s so warm after the rain we had. The gardens needed it. Oh, and the photos I took yesterday for the local fishing club? Well, they loved them. The dog training session went well, although Lucky was worn out by the end of it, she has done so well, both the trainers can see how much she has improved and they love to tell me that. I can’t always see it.

So, anyway, enough about me. How are you? No, really, how are YOU?

 

 

 

 

 

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Learning to use a sewing machine

Years ago my late mother in law bought me a sewing machine. I tried to use it, I made curtains with it (very successfully, in one case) and a skirt and that was it. Eventually it got re-cycled to a charity shop. I had started to have problems with it, the tension was wrong and the thread got all tight and kept breaking, the bobbin underneath wouldn’t thread properly and I didn’t have a clue how to use it, correct any problems or even where to start.

Fast forward some 30 years and after a few years of pondering and deliberating I took the plunge and bought myself a new machine. It is a Brother LS14 – very simple, just for beginners, and it arrived while my friend was stopping with me so she could guide me through setting it up and threading it and using it for the first time.

When it arrived I was surprised at how light it was! My old machine was very heavy and perhaps that was partly why I gave up on it. I set it up, and together we managed to fathom out the instructions for threading it up and I set to work on my first project.

I wanted to make a towelling bag to put the dog into when she is wet and muddy, rather than have it all over the boot of my car or in the motorhome. So off I went. I sewed up and down in straight lines, backwards and forwards to stop and start a row of stitches. A couple of jams meant that my tension was wrong so we changed it slightly and no more problems.

I was delighted. The machine is quiet and easy to use. I am looking forward to experimenting more, and I have several other dog related projects (very simple) lined up to have a crack at. I am also thinking about how I can incorporate the machine into my photography. I have several ideas for tactile photos. Not sure if they will work or not so watch this space!

 

 

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My First Job

My first paying job for a proper employer was back in the late 70’s. I had done babysitting for friends of the family, but that was infrequent and as there wasn’t a lot of money coming into the home, my Step-Mother suggested that I get a Saturday/holiday job to help with household income, seeing as I was staying on at School.

So, I wandered up and down the High Street, and asked, and asked, and asked and eventually I wandered into the Toy Shop. I didn’t hold out a lot of hope. When you are sixteen with the confidence of a gnat you don’t think you are going to get anywhere.

The old man on the till, looked me up and down, asked me a few questions, said come back for a trial on Saturday – be here at 8.30am sharp. We’ll provide your uniform, no jeans, sensible shoes.

So, I turned up the following week, I hadn’t asked what the pay was, what my hours were, or even if I was going to get paid for the trial! Long story short, I got taken on, given a scarlet red crimplene (yes, really!) dress to wear over my trousers and introduced to the other staff. Shown where the staff room (back shed) was and the loo and left to get on with it.

It was great working in a toy shop, we had to know our stock, what it could do and how it worked. So we got to play with all the new stuff, as well as putting it up in the stick room. I worked there for two years. Did two Christmases. Let me tell you, Christmas in a toy shop is hell. The stock room was groaning from August onwards, and we could have had the staff party in it by the middle of November. The latest must have would have sold out weeks before Christmas, and the bosses would be desperately trying to get hold of more supplies.
The best bit for me was selling the Britains farm animals and Matchbox cars to the children who were spending their pocket money. The discussions over whether to have 2 piglets and a lamb, or one horse and a farmer would go on for ages. The Matchbox cars were in a display and we had to get the chosen item from upstairs.
Eventually, I graduated onto the model trains section and I could discuss Z gauge N gauge, 00 and 0 gauge with the best of them, Hornby trains, Fleichmann, plus the bits and bobs for modelling the sets.

We also had a pram and cot section. The parents would come in to try out the different prams, and we would sell the visivent mattresses, often we got to see the new babies when the proud parents would come back in for supplies of something or another. I remember that Mr Neal would not let a pram go out of the store until the baby had been born and all was well. He would personally deliver the pram to the new family, and I am sure that a teddy was given as well.
I can remember that on Saturday’s when the FA cup or the Grand National was on, the High Street would be dead from about 2pm, but we weren’t allowed to go home, we had to clean the shop, or stock the shelves. One year we entered the town carnival procession. The delivery vehicle was decorated in the yard and driven down the street covered in flags. We had to stay in the shop, but we watched it go past.

It was those days that taught me the value of customer service, something that I have taken with me through out my working life. If we didn’t have an item in stock, we tried our hardest to get it. If we couldn’t, we would tell our customer where they could try instead, and people would come back to us because we cared.

I can’t remember how much I got paid to start with, but I know I finished on a fiver a day. I loved working in the holidays, it seemed like a bumper pay day after a week at work, even if most of it when into the pot at home.

Great days. A Saturday job I loved. Sadly, the shop went by the bye some years later, as shops like Argos and the Supermarkets took their trade. A small family firm, with family values.

 

 

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