It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This weekly meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey

Last week I finished The Sparks Fly Upward, thus completing Diana Norman's Makepeace Hedley Trilogy. Though I enjoyed all three books, Taking Liberties, the second in the series, still comes out as my favourite.

Today I have three books started. I'm enjoying Helen Dunmore's books at the moment and am slowly working through her back catalogue. Next up is A Spell of Winter. I've also added a classic to the mix, Moonfleet. I'm not sure if I read this one as a child. As yet I have no recollection of the characters or story. However, it remains to be seen which one of the three books grabs my attention overall. I suspect it will be South of Darkness. Somebody actually wants to be transported to Australia? What a wonderful idea for a story.

Then, if all goes to plan, I hope to take up The Dead Secret by Wilkie Collins. I've only read one of his novels, The Woman in White, and that was years ago. Another of his books, No Name, is in my reading pile, but I thought I'd reacquaint myself with this author by reading one of his earlier works.

What I Read Last Week

The Sparks Fly Upward by Diana Norman

Few of those Philippa loves in London return her affection. Not the love of her life, who has a new bride. Not even her widowed mother, Makepeace Burke. So Philippa decides on a marriage of convenience to a prudish, if kind, man. Across the Channel in France, the Reign of Terror is causing the beheading of thousands from the French nobility. Among those in danger is Philippa's friend, the Marquis de Condorcet. Not only has Philippa the means of rescuing him from the guillotine, she's got the courage. And as fate would have it, Philippa will find love where she least expects it-while staring death in the face.

What I'm Reading Today

A Spell of Winter by Helen Dunmore

Catherine and her brother Rob do not understand why they have been abandoned by both their parents, or know where their mother has gone. They are brought up by servants in the house of their grandfather, an Irishman who made his fortune somehow and is known in the neighbourhood as ‘the man from nowhere’. The children cling to each other because they have no-one else, but when they grow up their sibling love becomes incestuous. As the world outside moves towards war, Catherine and Rob are trapped in their own conflict. But little by little, the spell of winter that has held Catherine begins to break, and she starts to free herself from the weight of the past. 

South of Darkness by John Marsden

Thirteen-year-old Barnaby Fletch is a bag-and-bones orphan in London in the late 1700s.Barnaby lives on his wits and ill-gotten gains, on streets seething with the press of the throng and shadowed by sinister figures. Life is a precarious business. When he hears of a paradise on the other side of the world a place called Botany Bay he decides to commit a crime and get himself transported to a new life, a better life. To succeed, he must survive the trials of Newgate Prison, the stinking hull of a prison ship and the unknown terrors of a journey across the world. And Botany Bay is far from the paradise Barnaby has imagined. When his past and present suddenly collide, he is soon fleeing for his life once again. A riveting story of courage, hope, and extraordinary adventure.

Moonfleet by John Meade Falkner

Growing up the quiet coastal village of Moonfleet in Dorset, John Trenchard is fascinated by stories of the notorious Colonel John Mohune, whose restless ghost is said to stalk the churchyard at night, and his treasure: a great diamond stolen when he betrayed the King a hundred years before. John's life changes dramatically when he discovers a secret passage leading from the churchyard to the Mohune family vault beneath Moonfleet church. When he explores it in the hope of finding the treasure, he instead falls in with a gang of smugglers and joins the local contraband trade. Forced into hiding with a price on his head, little does John guess the adventures and misfortunes he will face before he sees Moonfleet again.

What I Hope to Read Next

The Dead Secret by Wilkie Collins

Wilkie Collins was the first great detective novelist. His dark and complex mysteries influenced the work of other writers, such as Anthony Trollope and Charles Dickens, with whom he developed a close personal friendship. Swinburne found his work worthy of serious criticism, and T. S. Eliot credits him even more than Poe with the invention of the modern detective novel and the popular thriller. Before such works as "The Woman in White," "The Moonstone," "Armadale," and "No Name," Collins demonstrates the full range of his talents for intricate plot and dramatic suspense in "The Dead Secret," one of his earliest novels. Like much of Collins's work, "The Dead Secret" explores the consequences of a single, hidden act. The Cornish mansion Porthgenna harbors the secret of such an act, one that has ruined the life of the servant girl Sarah Leeson. This same secret lies hidden for fifteen years until the heiress to Porthgenna, Rosamund Treverton, returns and exposes it. Her detective work may reveal the truth, but her revelation of a long-forgotten crime could mean disaster for her and the entire estate. Wilkie Collins's brilliant characters, suspenseful plots, and piercing look into Victorian-era society are on full display in "The Dead Secret."

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