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A chat with Jersey author, Anthony Le Moignan

Jersey and Guernsey have a long history of friendly rivalry that usually sorts itself out twice a year, during the annual footie and rugby matches. For such close neighbours there are plenty of similarities but also many important differences. But both Islands do boast a long literary history going back centuries and many artists have travelled across the Channel to be inspired by our wild coastlines.

Today I’m delighted to welcome debut author, Anthony Le Moignan, who’s book, A LONG GOODBYE has recently been launched. 

Anthony, can you tell me a little about your book and what inspired you to write it? 


Although A LONG GOODBYE is my public debut novel, I wrote Point of Death first. However, this seemingly illogical publishing decision has come about for very strong emotional reasons. I was inspired to write A Long Goodbye after spending over two years visiting my father, Des, as he slowly succumbed to that most sickening of diseases, Alzheimer’s. As I watched Dad on a near-daily basis, turning from the father I loved, to a man who sometimes didn’t know who I was, I knew I was going through the most profound moments of my life.

In the middle of this period, I read about an attractive woman in her early 30s, recently married and an ex-ski instructor. She’d been diagnosed with something I’d never heard of at the time; early onset Alzheimer’s. ALG was born from my gradual understanding of care homes and my father’s condition, and the almost unimaginable horrors of early onset Alzheimer’s. A share of the sale of every book is being donated to Alzheimer’s Society in the UK and Jersey Alzheimer’s Association.

The book revolves around three main characters. Simon is 40, a successful partner in an accountancy firm in London. His doctor confirms the worst – Simon has early onset Alzheimer’s. With this knowledge, he closes his social and business life, applying to move to a care home just outside Cambridge. He hopes nobody will ever find him.

Emma, 42, is the manager of Orchard care home. Hard working, conscientious and admired by all. She’s a petite, attractive woman, married to Michael, a former manager of the same care home. Happily married for many years, their relationship has become more and more strained as Emma fails to fall pregnant. The situation isn’t helped when Michael rises within the care home group and travels away regularly to grow the business empire.

The attraction is instant and reciprocal, but how can Emma and Simon ever have a future? Emma is a completely faithful wife, and Simon is living on borrowed time.

Thanks, Anthony. A LONG GOODBYE is available now in paperback and eBook via Amazon, Anthony’s website, and Waterstones.

I always enjoy asking the next question the best. You never know what will come up! Tell us 10 things many people won’t know about you, Anthony 😂

(In no particular order):

 1) I’m not an accountant

2) My youngest son is my full-time publicist and manager

3) I was called ‘Toto’ or ‘Totie’ until 5-years-old, ‘Moggy’ at school, and ‘Tony’ for the last few decades

4) Throughout the Second World War my father was known as ‘Lemon Onion’ – phonetically the nearest anyone could get to his surname.

5) In March 1912, my great uncle famously said, ‘I’m just going outside and may be some time.’

6) I won the European Croquet Singles Championship

7) Twice (*see 6)

8) I have an incredibly irritating memory for numbers

9) I’m directionally dyslexic

10) I’m a huge fan of car sat-nav and google maps

OMG, I’m so pleased I asked that. Captain Oates, (Terra Nova Expedition) was your Great Uncle – Gobsmacked. Such a tragedy and a great loss… 

I can see from your answers you have a great sense of humour. Toto, I’m directionally dyslexic too, or so I’m told.

 Finally can you tell me about your next book…?

My next book (Point of Death) is liable to be published before the new year, but it’s a very VERY different story to A Long Goodbye. It’s best described as a dark and graphic thriller but with hints of Lassie – a novel for the extremist … For now, there’s a teaser front cover on the website, but that’s it; my lips are sealed.

Thanks, Anthony, for popping along for a virtual coffee. I wish you every success with your writing.

Jenny 

Biography


It was both a shock and a delight when Anthony Le Moignan received The English Prize at end-of-term assembly. He was 11 and in the 6th form, his final year at Prep.

The celebrations carried on for years – five in fact, at which point he was expelled from senior school (‘asked to leave’ was the official jargon). However, a lifelong lesson was learnt (even if an avoidance of alliteration wasn’t) – he was clearly unemployable.
So through a series of almost absurd luck which he cannot begin to over-emphasise, he seems to have successfully ploughed himself to this current moment in time.
He won’t excuse his love of Cambridge. Having travelled around the world playing croquet for a couple of decades, this little city is just about his favourite place on the planet. He’s not entirely sure why, but he seems to love being surrounded by people far brighter than himself, and buildings older than God (welllll, sort of…).
So, a lot of his novels are going to be set in or around Cambridge and London, all of which he hopes will be glanced at in the fullness of time. For now, he’d like to mention that all of the characters in his books, every single one of them, human and otherwise, are based on actual persons; fragments maybe, but they all truly exist. Quite how any author can claim otherwise is a complete mystery to him.

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Around the World with My Ex… Maxine Morrey

 

Book blurb

Aspiring travel writer Mia Walker dreams of covering dream destinations for a living. So when she’s offered the chance to write a romantic travel piece, taking in turquoise oceans, tropical beaches, and a fairy-tale Scottish wedding, she knows it’s the opportunity she’s been waiting for.

It’s the trip of a lifetime… but it comes with a catch. The photographer who’ll be travelling with her is Hunter Scott, who Mia last saw five years ago – when she ended their engagement!
Mia knows she’d be mad to say no – even if it does mean traveling the world with the one man she never wanted to see again! But, whether it’s the stunning locations or the wedding on the horizon, Mia soon finds herself wishing she hadn’t cancelled her own engagement after all…

Available here 

My review

Mia has an Ex, but in her case he’s the kind of man every woman follows with her eyes. Just great when you find out you’re going to have to spend the next two months working with him on a trip of a lifetime and in the company of a pair of love birds too… 

I raced through this in one day. The sun was out and, as usual I was in procrastination mood. I flipped open my trusty Kindle and of all the books I’ve bought recently (don’t tell my husband) I fancied this one. The one thing about reading so much is I get a feel for what a good writer is. With 26 letters it’s amazing the difference in what a writer can throw at the page and Maxine Morrey is a very talented young woman. Her writing flows from her fingertips in an effortless style that draws the reader in. Yesterday I was like one of those sloths clinging to my lounger with a tea on the side. I was not moving until I knew what was going to happen. The sense of place was stellar too. I’ve never been to India but I was soon amongst the hustle and bustle learning more about the country than a lifetime of learning. I’ll certainly be back for more from the writer… 

Sublime writing, enticing characters, thought-provoking sense of place. A fabulous read 

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Oh Crumbs… Kathryn Freeman

Book Blurb

Sometimes life just takes the biscuit …

Abby Spencer knows she can come across as an airhead – she talks too much and is a bit of a klutz – but there’s more to her than that. Though she sacrificed her career to help raise her sisters, a job interview at biscuit company Crumbs could finally be her chance to shine. That’s until she hurries in late wearing a shirt covered in rusk crumbs, courtesy of her baby nephew, and trips over her handbag. 

Managing director Douglas Faulkner isn’t sure what to make of Abby Spencer with her Bambi eyes, tousled hair and ability to say more in the half-hour interview than he manages in a day. All he knows is she’s a breath of fresh air and could bring a new lease of life to the stale corporate world of Crumbs. To his life too, if he’d let her. 
But Doug’s harbouring a secret. He’s not the man she thinks he is. 

My review

Okay, so I downloaded this book under false pretences. Yup. That’s right. You know that feeling when you buy something, expecting one thing and you’re dragged, kicking and screaming, into something else? I was expecting fluff, of the pink, sugar-coated kind. I’d just come out of reading a killer thriller (see previous review) and wanted to dilute the book hangover. In biscuit terms you could say I thought I was getting an Iced Gem and I ended up with a dark chocolate digestive. But the thing is I love digestives, they’re my favourite biscuits after all. What I expected demolished on page one, the prologue, when I was plonked Into the middle of a funeral. You can’t get less fluffy than grief to help set the tone of a book. 

Abigail (Abby) has had a tough childhood, if you can even call it that because from twelve-years she’s been both older sister and surrogate mother to her siblings. But that aside now at twenty-four she has a degree under her belt in addition to a fine repertoire of PC swears (Oh Crumbs). She manages to snag the attention of her new boss, Doug. 

Doug hasn’t had such an easy childhood. If his parents bought biscuits they’d be shipped over from Fortnum’s before being layered onto a silver platter. I think you get the gist. But he likes Abby. Abby despite, or maybe because of, her upbringing is a breath of fresh air in his routine, pressure filled life. But Doug can’t take this golden opportunity to change his life… 

This  is the second book I’ve read by this author but it won’t be the last. Turning the opening pages was like finding an unexpected fiver in the zip of my purse, a surprise but not an unpleasant one. The writing is strong and the humour always present but more the quiet giggle than the LOL variety. I read this in one sitting when I really shouldn’t have but hey, that’s what a good book is meant to do. Superb ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Out on 12th June here 

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Lara Dearman, Dark Sky Island

Book blurb 

DCI Michael Gilbert is called out to Sark – the world’s first dark sky island – after bones are found on Derrible Bay. He is followed by journalist Jennifer Dorey, driven by a secret in her own past. The remains are decades old, but after a body is discovered Jennifer and Michael fear there may be a killer on the island. Together they follow a dark trail of bad blood and a conspiracy of silence.
Everyone on the island is under suspicion. No one is what they seem. And the murderer could strike again at any time… 

My review

I liked Lara Dearman’s The Devil’s Claw but I loved Dark Sky Island.

This evocative novel brought so many happy memories in its wake that I couldn’t but be enthralled from page one. I knuckled down pretty quickly and read in one sitting, sitting in the warm sunshine of my Guernsey backyard. So what’s to love? Dearman has a knack of setting the scene. She draws the reader in, kicking and screaming and makes them put their life on hold. Dishes. What dishes? Ironing. Well, the crumpled look is in, isn’t it? 

In a way I feel envy for the people that will read this who have never experienced the delights of such a special place. We try to visit Sark at least once a year. I’m a bit past the hike up the hill these days so the toast rack is a welcome relief. In the old days I too would have stuck to my guns and reached The Bel Air gasping for a cold one. 

It’s lovely to read a book with so many personal experiences running parallel in my minds eye. We’ve never been to Brecqhou Island but we have fished those waters with the towering backdrop of the ‘castle’ in the distance. The Venus Pool, around the corner from the Silver Mines holds one of my darkest secrets. I’m scared of heights and if you’re not a mountain goat, born with cloven feet I wouldn’t suggest a visit. God, I still have nightmares remembering the frantic rock climb. I seriously thought I was going to die. The swim. Was it worth it? I honestly can’t remember.

And back to the book…

Following on from The Devil’s Claw, Local journalist, Jenny Dorey, is still reeling from the death of her father, despite a two year hiatus. She’s in a new relationship, with fellow reporter but life seems to be getting in the way. When the historical remains of a body is found in a dark, dank cave off Sark and closely followed by a second, newer murder, she hops on the next ferry to run a parallel investigation with Michael from the Guernsey police force. This is a twisty turns thriller with beautiful descriptive scenes interspersed with fast-paced plotting  and intrigue that will keep the most exacting of readers enthralled until the end. I loved it. I’ve read quite a few thrillers this year and this sits alongside Emma Rowley’s ‘Where the Missing Go’ and David Jackson’s ‘Don’t Make a Sound’. I predict a hit. At least the traffic won’t suffer – cars aren’t allowed in Sark, thank God! 

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How to Keep a Secret 

Book Blurb

the power of family to support, nourish and surprise

Lauren has the perfect life…if she ignores the fact it’s a fragile house of cards, and that her daughter Mack has just had a teenage personality transplant.
Jenna is desperate to start a family with her husband, but it’s… Just. Not. Happening. Her heart is breaking, but she’s determined to keep her trademark smile on her face.
Nancy knows she hasn’t been the best mother, but how can she ever tell Lauren and Jenna the reason why?
Then life changes in an instant, and Lauren, Mack, Jenna and Nancy are thrown together for a summer on Martha’s Vineyard. Somehow, these very different women must relearn how to be a family. And while unraveling their secrets might be their biggest challege, the rewards could be infinite…
Heartwarming and fresh, Sarah Morgan’s brilliant new novel is a witty and deeply uplifting look at the power of a family of women.
Available here 

My review 

When Lauren’s husband dies suddenly and she’s forced to move from London back to Martha’s Vineyard it’s not only her secret that she takes with her. She’s accompanied by her daughter, Mack, who’s bringing along a secret all of her own. 

Brought up in the isolated holiday community of The Vineyard we are quickly immersed not only in her new life, living back with her mother, Nancy, but that of her sister. 

Jenna has a secret all of her own too, one that threatens her marriage, one that threatens everything. 

Sarah Morgan has long been a favourite author, ever since her early days writing medical romance for Mills and Boon (Harlequin) . But with this, her latest, there’s a change in both storyline, writing content and style. There’s a previous unforeseen depth to her writing that shifts her up a gear and with How to Keep a Secret she’s created something very different – a powerful testament to the threads woven between sisters, mothers and children; a three-dimential work with a crowd of secondary characters to add both light and dark textures to her work. 

 In a way I have to say I think she’s brave – there’s bound to be readers out there that will feel they’ve bought into something only to find it’s not what they expected. But, as with all things in life, as we grow older we develop and mature. What you get from an eighteen-year-old writer is going to be very different to what you get from someone in their middle year’s. This is a divergence, a change but in this case not an unhappy one. I look forward to her next offering…

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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The Lido


Book blurb 

Rosemary has lived in Brixton all her life, but everything she knows is changing. Only the local lido, where she swims every day, remains a constant reminder of the past and her beloved husband George.

Kate has just moved and feels adrift in a city that is too big for her. She’s on the bottom rung of her career as a local journalist, and is determined to make something of it.

So when the lido is threatened with closure, Kate knows this story could be her chance to shine. But for Rosemary, it could be the end of everything. Together they are determined to make a stand, and to prove that the pool is more than just a place to swim – it is the heart of the community.

The Lido is an uplifting novel about the importance of friendship, the value of community, and how ordinary people can protect the things they love.

Available here 

My review

As an all-year-round sea swimmer I was interested to see what the writer made of such an addictive hobby. Just like with The Lido, our local (sea water) Bathing Pools came under threat, not from builders but disuse and disrepair and, just like the story, it was only through the hard work of the locals that it is useable again. This is a pleasant light read that ticks all the boxes. It’s nice to see the friendship developing between Kate and Rosemary, one young and one old. If you liked last year’s Chilbury Ladies Choir you’ll love this. 

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The Wedding Date 

Book Blurb 

One ex.

One wedding.

One little white lie.

When Samantha Jenkins is asked to be the maid of honour at her best friend’s wedding, she couldn’t be happier. There are just three problems…

1) Sam’s ex-boyfriend, Liam, will be the best man.

2) His new girlfriend is pregnant.

3) Sam might have told people she has a new man when she doesn’t (see points 1 and 2 above)

So, Sam does the only sensible thing available to her… and hires a professional to do the job.

Actor Jake Porter is perfect for the role: single, gorgeous and cheap! Sam is certain it’s the perfect solution: no strings, no heartbreak and hopefully no chance of being found out.
But spending a week in the Scottish Highlands with Jake is harder than she imagined. He is the perfect boyfriend, charming, sexy and the hottest thing in a kilt since Outlander! And his dog Harry is quite possibly the cutest things Sam has ever seen!
As the wedding draws closer, Jake plays his part to perfection and everyone believes he is madly in love with Sam. The problem is, Sam’s not sure if Jake is acting anymore…
Available to buy here 

My review

So I wasn’t going to watch the wedding. I had too many other things to do which was why, two hours later, I was still glued to the screen and in need of an additional wedding fix. 2 minutes on Amazon and I walked away with The Wedding Date, a LOL Romcom by Zara Stonely. This has all the elements I like for a romance novel. An ordinary heroine with problem hair and low self-esteem. A drop dead gorgeous bloke and a situation that would do Jane Austen proud. Throw in a disfunctional dog, obnoxious ex and a Scottish setting and I’m in book paradise. I read this pretty much in one sitting and am delighted to see it racing up the Amazon charts. 

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Ten tips for writers

There’s been a few post I’ve spotted recently about advice for writers so I thought I’d join the party. However my tips may be a little different to the read everything, write everyday sort of thing…

1, The most useful and the way to get away from all those irritating post-it notes.

2, The first draft. Throwing words on the page any old how. The second, stripping them back to something worth reading.

3, Writing can be the unhealthiest of professions. Move, anyway you like…

4, If your muse disappears clear your mind and go and do something different. You’ll find the words will come back all on their own. 

5, Employ an editor. It may be something you don’t want to hear but, if you’re serious about writing, it’s a must. 

6, Write the same but different. That’s what publishers are looking for. A new take on an old idea. Now that’s all your getting because if I had any more I’d write the book myself. 

7, Before you write a word create a social media presence (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram).

8, Every so often save a back-up copy any way you like. Laptops break. Viruses attack, coffee gets spilt.

9, Roget’s Thesaurus is your new best friend. Never use two words when one will do. 

10, I’ve said this before on another post. You’re writing a book not a doorstop. Know the length of other comparable works in the same genre and use that word count as a guide. 

11, And just because I can… tip number 11 ( Thanks to Deborah Carr for this one). When it’s sunny and you can’t see your screen change your page colour to black and your word colour to white – it really does work. 

Happy writing 

Jenny x

Jenny O’Brien was born in Ireland and, after a brief sojourn in Wales, now resides in Guernsey. She’s an avid reader and book reviewer for NetGalley in addition to being a 2016/2017 RoNA judge.  She writes for both children and adults with a new book coming out every six months or so. She’s also an avid collector of cats, broken laptops, dust and happy endings – two of which you’ll always find in her books. 

Her books are available on Amazon here

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Guernsey Mâche (Not a typo) 

If you’re a Guern you’ll have heard of Gâche, an enriched yeast cake laden with fruit and Guernsey butter. You’ll also have heard of Gâche Melée, a totally different apple pudding, traditionally full of suet. They are both a delight and are frequently on our table. Both are calorie-filled so I thought I’d try something different. A fusion of Gâche and Gâche Melée to come up with something a little more healthy = Guernsey Mâche. 

So what’s different? 

I still have a yeast cake filled with dried fruit but instead of all that butter I’ve substituted puréed apple… and the result? 


The recipe

Dried yeast mixed with 1 teaspoon sugar and 100 mls warm milk, leave until yeast activates.

Add to 500gms bread flour. Add puréed Apple (2 medium cooking apples, skinned, chopped and cooked in a little water) and 50 gm fat (marg or butter, preferably Guernsey). Add 1/2 mug mixed fruit. Knead, leave to prove. Place in prepared loaf tin, leave to prove again. Bake in hot (210 C) oven for 30 minutes.

I didn’t add any spices (it’s just not done 😉) but a little cinnamon and nutmeg would be lovely. 

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The Little Cornish Kitchen, Jane Linfoot 

Book Blurb 

With an exiting new life in Paris, Clemmie Hamilton isn’t looking forward to heading home to the picturesque but sleepy village of St Aidan, Cornwall. However, when she discovers that the cosy apartment by the sea, which her grandmother left to her, is under threat from neighbour and property developer, Charlie Hobson, Clemmie realises she can’t abandon her home in its time of need.

With her childhood friends encouraging her, Clemmie decides to turn the apartment into ‘The Little Cornish Kitchen’ – a boutique pop up pudding club raising money for the repairs to the building in an effort to stop Charlie once and for all. But when Charlie and his easy charm won’t seem to go away, everything soon becomes even messier than the state of Clemmie’s Cornish kitchen.

My review

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This is I think the fifth book I’ve read by Jane, although I may be falling foul of losing count 😂. I loved her last book so much, the wrap up to the Little Wedding Series, which I can heartily recommend. 

There’s always a risk, of course, when a writer says goodbye to such well-loved characters. Will the next book be as good? Will the next group of characters hit the right reader spot? 

OMG I loved this. Jane has a talent to get right down to the funny bone almost right from the start of any of her novels and I was helpless with laughter over the mermaid sketch. Clemmy is a delight and the fact she lived in Paris an added twist. In fact, there’s a sliver of Rachel Khoo and The Little Paris Kitchen here, one of my favourite TV cookery programmes from a few years ago. This added with romance is pure genius. Charlie is the ideal male lead; surly but with the dark brooding look that a romantic hero demands. But more importantly I want a cat called Pancake. There’s lots here for everyone and I think Jane has dug deeper with this work. There’s a new depth here. Lots of twists and turns that kept me guessing in a will he, won’t he sort of way. 

I have, probably erroneously, a view of Jane baking in her country kitchen, Aga on the side, with animals scattered about as she hums her way through the housework before settling down to a little bit of writing. This homely, country loving feel is what I get from each of her books; the country idyll that quite a few of us strive for in between the mad rush of work, kids, food shopping and other interruptions. The perfect life…

Available to pre-order all over the place…