#BookReview – The Flight Of Cornelia Blackwood by Susan Elliot Wright

What has happened to Cornelia Blackwood?
She has a loving marriage. But she has no friends.
Everyone knows her name. But no one will speak to her now.
Cornelia Blackwood has unravelled once before. Can she stop it from happening again?
 
From a supremely talented storyteller, The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood is a powerful novel of motherhood, loss and loneliness and how we can make damaging choices when pushed to our emotional edge. A paperback bestseller with her debut novel, The Things We Never Said, and nominated for an RNA Award in 2014, Susan Elliot Wright has written a truly important novel that explores the dark depths of psychosis with honesty and sensitivity. 

Published February 2019 by Simon and Schuster UK 

~ Review ~ 

Sometimes you just know, after only a couple of sentences, that you are reading something special that’s going to stay with you a long time. The Flight Of Cornelia Blackwood was one such book, and by the end of the first page I was in love with Susan Elliot Wright’s writing and emotionally entangled in the life of it’s lead character, Leah (Cornelia)

It begins with a scene of a broken woman, shunned by neighbours and her local community and struggling with obvious physical health complaints and hints at a deeper psychological trauma. It then shifts to a few years previous where Leah’s life is very different – she’s young, in love and about to embark on creating the family she and her soulmate husband so desire. I was immediately drawn in – what had happened to Leah to make her the person she was now and what had she done to ostracise herself from the people around her?  As chapters switch from Then and Now, we learn the tragic story of Leah’s recent past while watching her car crash present lead to unavoidable catastrophe.

This is a dark tale, and Leah is a tragic character whose story is truely heartbreaking. Yet the compassion and empathy she is written with is so acute, that the reader is with her every step of the way, sympathising and understanding her, crying for her and hoping for her. Even when her choices are bad and clearly doomed, I got it. Leah really did get right under my skin.

Postpartum psychosis is a topic that isn’t really talked about. I’ve had two children myself, yet can’t remember ever hearing about it during anti or pre-natal care. In The Flight Of Cornelia Blackwood, the author tackles the subject with sensitivity and care, while drawing attention to a little discussed condition that could effect any woman who gives birth. The same level of care and dignity is afforded to Leah’s tragic losses and grief.  This is an incredibly emotional and moving book, I defy anyone not to be moved to tears.

Yet there are some outstandingly beautiful and uplifting moments in this book – in Leah’s early days with her husband, in her love for a small child she befriends. it’s pure and tender and written so eloquently, I could feel Leah’s joy at those moments. This is a book that will make you feel many, many emotions. I couldn’t stop thinking about it when I wasn’t reading it and once I’d finished it stayed in my mind for days after. It is, without doubt, up there among one of the best books I’ve read in the last few years and I’ll be reading more from this author very soon. I can’t recommend this book enough.

I read an early proof copy courtesy of the publisher.

 

Six In Six – A Look Back At Some Of My Top Books Of 2017 So Far…

6 I saw this over at Cleopatra Loves Books, and thought it was a great idea to look back at books read so far in 2017. Hosted by Jo’s Book Journey, the idea is sharing 6 books, in 6 categories from the first half of the year. So here’s my choices:

6 Books I Have Enjoyed The Most 

 

 

6 Psychological Thrillers I Have Read & Enjoyed 

 

 

6 New To Me Authors 

 

 

6 Covers I’ve Loved

 

 

6 Books Which Took Me To The Past 

 

 

Six Books I Own & Can’t Believe I Haven’t Managed To Read Yet 

 

Ginny Moon Blog Tour: A Q&A With Author Benjamin Ludwig

I’m absolutely thrilled to be hosting the Ginny Moon blog tour today. I absolutely LOVED this book – you can read my gushing review HERE. I was lucky enough to ask author Benjamin Ludwig some questions about his debut novel – I hope you enjoy his answers as much as I did! Over to Benjamin…

Hello Benjamin, and welcome to Cosy Books. Could you tell us a bit about yourself? 

Certainly! I’m a husband and dad, first and foremost. My wife and I have two children, ages
three and seven; and we also have a twenty-year-old daughter. And, up until this past September,
I was a public-school teacher. I took a year off from teaching in order to support the publication
of my first novel, Ginny Moon.

Ginny Moon is your debut novel, could you tell us what it’s about in your own words? 

Ginny Moon is a fourteen year old girl with autism who gets adopted from the foster care system
– and as soon as she gets to her new home, she immediately begins plotting her own kidnapping.
Aside from the adventure, the book is about voice. People just don’t “hear” Ginny when she
speaks. They don’t take the time to listen, and so they miss out on some extremely important
things that she’s trying to tell them.

Your book is inspired, in part, from your own experiences of adopting a young adult with
autism and I wondered if you could share with us why you felt this was an important story
to write? 

I wrote Ginny Moon because Ginny’s voice came to me one night after my daughter’s Special
Olympics basketball practice. I came home with this intense, overpowering voice ringing in my
ears. I had to get it out! So I typed some lines of dialogue, which I quickly saw needed to be
internal dialogue – and then Ginny just took over. It was a remarkable, mysterious experience,
one that I’m still trying to figure out. But once Ginny started narrating the book, it pretty much
wrote itself.

Was it difficult to write about such a personal subject? And how does your daughter feel 
about inspiring your book? 

It was extremely difficult to write the passages in which Ginny is in danger, or reveals something
about her past. There were times when I wanted to stop writing, but Ginny demanded that we
keep going. So we did. And yes, my daughter read the book. There were some important parts
that she didn’t understand, but all in all she enjoyed it. She understands that it’s not about her,
and that Ginny is a different person with a very different background.

Having some experience of working with young adults with Autism, I was struck by how
genuine and unique Ginny’s voice is and felt people with little to no experience would really
get an understanding of the challenges individuals face. Was it your intention to do this? 

I’d like to say that it was my intention, but the truth (again) is that Ginny sort of took over my
writing process. For a whole year! There are certainly some messages in this book, primarily
about voice and the importance of listening to people who might seem to be quiet, but I didn’t
write those intentions into the book. My intention, I think, was to let Ginny tell her own story –
to honor her voice, and to present it in all its boldness and intensity for people to see. Er, I
mean, hear. I don’t know if that was Ginny’s intention as well, but I suspect it was. She’s a very
smart cookie, to use one of her favorite phrases.

I also thought that the feelings and concerns experienced by Maura and Brian were very
honest. Did you worry that readers would react badly to their frustrations and how did you
go about avoiding this? 

Thank you for noticing! I wanted to present Brian and Maura as honestly as possible. When
people adopt, they have no idea what they’re getting into. I mean, they have excellent
intentions, and they undergo a tremendous amount of training, but no one can be 100% ready
for what they’ll face when they bring a child from foster care into their home. Adopting is very
much a process of parents adapting to the child, and a child adapting to the parent. The
changes that need to occur on both sides can’t begin until the two are together, in the home.
No amount of training can prepare you for how your own heart will move when it finds itself in
such a unique situation.

Most writers are readers first….is this the case for yourself? Which authors and novels would
you recommend as must reads? 

It is, but I don’t read nearly as broadly as a lot of people would hope. I’m a slow reader, and a
deep reader. I like to re-read the same book over and over, because I find that every time I
move through a book, I move through it differently. There are things I just don’t catch the first
time around, you know? The top five books that I like to recommend include 1) The One Room
Schoolhouse, by Jim Heynen; 2) The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion, 3) Jazz, by Toni
Morrison, and 4) One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez; and 5) Never Cry
Wolf, by Farley Mowatt.

As a non-writer, I’m always fascinated by the writing process…can you tell us about where
you write and any rituals or routines you have to aid the creative process? 

I get up very early to write, around 3:30 in the morning, because I really need space and quiet. I
find that my best work happens before anyone else is awake. I’m usually only half-awake
myself, and somehow the editor in me just doesn’t edit. He stands aside, and the ideas just
pour out. I end up nixing a lot of them later in the day, when I take another few hours to go
revise the morning’s batch. But those unedited, unbound ideas are always my best, and they’re
the ones that move the story forward.

Finally, what are you working on next? 

I just finished the first draft of a new novel, another voice-driven piece. This time there’s a male
protagonist – a little boy – but he isn’t anything like Ginny. I love voices – voices that are
unique because of unique circumstances that happened long ago.

About The Author 


A life-long teacher of English and writing, Benjamin Ludwig lives in New Hampshire with his family. He holds an MAT in English Education and an MFA in Writing.  Shortly after he and his wife married they became foster parents and adopted a teenager with autism. Ginny Moon is his first novel, which was inspired in part by his conversations with other parents at Special Olympics basketball practices. 





Ginny Moon – Published by HQ 1st June 2017 

Meet Ginny. She’s fourteen, autistic, and has a heart-breaking secret…  

Ginny Moon is trying to make sense of a world that just doesn’t seem to add up….

After years in foster care, Ginny is in her fourth forever family, finally with parents who will love her.

Everyone tells her that she should feel happy, but she has never stopped crafting her Big Secret Plan of Escape.

Because something happened, a long time ago – something that only Ginny knows – and nothing will stop her going back to put it right…





Check out the other stops on the blog tour…

Book Review: The Last Piece Of My Heart by Paige Toon

Meet Bridget, a successful travel journalist with ambitions to turn her quirky relationship blog into a novel. But, after numerous rejections from publishers, she accepts an alternative proposition: Nicole Dupre died leaving behind a bestselling novel and an incomplete sequel, and the family need someone to finish it. Bridget is just thankful to have her foot in the publishing door. But as she gets to know Nicole’s grieving family, and the woman behind the writing, Bridget’s priorities begin to change …  

Published 18th May by Simon & Schuster (UK)  

This book was absolutely perfect for me as I read it. I’ve had a rubbish week and I just wanted something warm, something to get involved in and make me smile. With a cast of characters to fall in love with, stunning settings and a romance to melt your heart, I got everything I wished for. Definitely a seven second hug – this book hit every spot.

Thirty something travel writer Bridget has had an eventful love life up to now as she easily falls in love time and time again. When she comes up with the idea of catching up with her ex-boyfriends and asking for the pieces of her heart she gave them, while blogging about her journey, she hopes to convince her agent that this will make a great novel. What she’s not expecting is to be offered a job as a ghostwriter, to finish the sequel of popular novelist Nicole Dupre. But the job comes with decisions – Nicole’s grieving husband insists she must move to Cornwall to fully immerse herself in Nicole’s ideas and inspiration. As Bridget finds herself living in her Dad’s camper van and tiptoeing about Nicole’s home and bereaved family, she’s not convinced she made the right decision at first. But she’s about to discover she still has a piece of her heart left to give away – and she couldn’t be more surprised by the person who eventually takes it.

I LOVED Bridget. She’s fun, witty, and slightly bonkers with a huge heart filled with compassion. I’d love to have a friend like Bridget – I don’t think you’d ever be bored in her company and she’s completely endearing without being overbearingly sweet. She doesn’t take herself too seriously, and can laugh at herself and her mistakes which gives her an added charm. I was rooting for this character all the way.

I guessed where The Last Piece Of My Heart was going pretty early on, but this didn’t make the journey there any less enjoyable. The developing romance and relationship in this book is beautifully observed, so that the reader feels the increasing tension as it happens. It’s a building romance, which develops slowly and is entirely believable given the difficult circumstances surrounding it. Awkward and messy combined with touching and tender ensures that you can’t help but get behind it. There’s some difficult themes of grief, loss and moving on covered, and I felt Paige Toon did so sensitively and thoughtfully.  I also lost a little piece of my heart reading this book, courtesy of a very special little character!

 I was bowled over by the heartfelt and honest writing which drew me in and connected me to these characters, becoming as invested in their lives as if I knew them myself … that’s how real and credible they were. As for the setting, well it couldn’t have been anymore perfect, and had me yearning to visit Cornwall. With Bridget’s intriguingly quirky blog writing research lending lighter, laugh out loud moments, The Last Piece Of My Heart lead me on a roller-coaster of emotions, ending with one huge, soppy smile. I absolutely loved this warm, gorgeous, feel-good book and can’t fault a thing.

(I read an advanced proof courtesy of the publisher)

Book Review: The Girl In The Red Coat by Kate Hamer

Kate Hamer’s stand-out debut thriller is the hugely moving story of an abduction that will keep you guessing until the very last page. Carmel has always been different. Carmel’s mother, Beth, newly single, worries about her daughter’s strangeness, especially as she is trying to rebuild a life for the two of them on her own. When she takes eight year-old Carmel to a local children’s festival, her worst fear is realised: Carmel disappears. Unable to accept the possibility that her daughter might be gone for good, Beth embarks on a mission to find her. Meanwhile, Carmel begins an extraordinary and terrifying journey of her own, with a man who believes she is a saviour.  (from goodreads.com)  

Published February 2015 by Faber (UK)

The Girl In The Red Coat was a ‘Waiting on Wednesday’ pick a few weeks ago. It had grabbed my attention by some pretty positive and excited tweets I’d spotted on twitter. Yet I was still completely unprepared for this utterly compelling book!

The story starts off by introducing us to single mum Beth and her eight year old daughter, Carmel. Carmel is instantly interesting- being a little difficult in an otherworldly,distant way. As a single parent myself, I related with Beth, I think Kate Hamer really captured feelings I’d also experienced perfectly in the early parts of the book, before Carmel’s disappearance. So right away I was invested in these two characters.

I thought I knew how this book was going to go. I was looking forward to some twists and turns, but was pretty confident I knew what the format would be. How wrong was I! Yes, The Girl In The Red Coat is the story of a missing girl, but put any preconceptions aside…this is completely different to anything else I’ve read recently. Spanning several years, we follow both Beth and Carmel’s unexpected journeys. There’s a more subtle, developing terror in this book, rather than one explosive incident and it kept me hooked.

I’ve found this review so difficult to write, and know I haven’t done any justice to the book at all, but I really don’t want to give anything away. The Girl In The Red Coat is written with such emotion at times, especially from Beth, that her grief, panic and desperation was tangible. In Carmel, I found myself rooting for this quietly stubborn and strong child veiled in an air of etherealness. I raced through the book, hours slipping by and unable to put it down. I was so desperate to know how it ended, I even stayed up from a twelve hour night shift to finish the last 50 pages, despite being exhausted. This is a book that will creep under your skin and consume your thoughts, even after the very last page is turned. All I can say is read it…you won’t be disappointed.

My copy was an advance proof courtesy of the publishers and netgalley