Friday 24 November 2023

 The Orphans on the Train


Gill Thompson


A girl with auburn hair looks anxiously out of the train window, watching the mountains of Europe pass by. War is on the horizon at home, and Kirsty finds herself heading to neutral Hungary to help in a school for Jewish children. Little does she know that in leaving everything behind, she is about to find the most precious gift of all - a true friend in school pupil Anna.

When the Nazis invade Budapest, Kirsty and Anna are on their own, and Kirsty worries desperately for her Jewish friend. What lengths must they go to in order to survive, and, when they are separated, can the guiding light of friendship bring them back to each other?


Kirsty lives in Scotland with her father, who is a miner. Her mother died when she was young and there were just the two of them getting on with their lives.

 Kirsty enjoyed working at the swimming pool and also loved being able to use the pool when everyone else had gone home. It was her escape from the danger of her father working underground and also impending war.

Kirsty's worst fears come true when her father dies in a mining accident and she is then left orphaned. After being looked after for a while by a family friend, Kirsty feels she has outstayed her welcome and begins to look towards the future. She is given the opportunity to travel to Hungary to help in a Jewish school as an assistant cook and is assured she will be safer there than in the UK as war erupts.

Once arriving in Hungary she settles down and works alongside the cook Maria who is not so friendly, but Kirsty meets a Jewish girl called Anna who she instantly strikes up a friendship with and they soon become inseparable. Anna also has a brother called Endre who Kirsty finds she has an attraction to.

Things aren't as safe in Hungary as Kirsty thought they would be and when Endre is sent to war and violence erupts near the school, Kirsty has to have her wits about her every minute of the day.

This was a super read with great characters. I do love a wartime story and this one certainly pulls at your heartstrings with a fabulous ending. 

Thursday 23 November 2023

 The Christmas Book Club


Sarah Morgan

Review by

Julie Williams


Another successful story written by Sarah Morgan who has the well-earned title of Queen of Romance. This latest Christmas story has, I am pleased to say romance in abundance.

Three firm friends have delayed their annual book club vacation, which usually occurs in summer to just before the Christmas holidays. Erica who is a single independent woman books them into the luxurious Maple Sugar Inn hotel set in an idyllic location.

 Anna the perfect mother and wife has reservations about the trip, as she is desperate to spend time with her twins who are off to university and she is already dreading the empty nest. 

Claudia who is recently divorced and redundant from her job as a chef is at a turning point in her life as she tries to decide just what she wants to do next. These three characters are all very different and although they are best friends, they each hold their own insecurities and apprehensions.

The hotel owner Hattie has her own worries as she muddles through the daily tasks and stresses it takes to be a top class hotelier, a legacy she is determined to uphold as set by her late husband, as well as Mum to the delightful Delphi her 5-year-old daughter.

I loved the connections between all these female characters and their background stories. Set in a gorgeous location, which oozed Christmas, bode for a perfect Christmas story.