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The Catalan House

The Catalan House is a family saga spanning three generations. Set against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War and a beautiful vineyard in Catalonia, it is the passionate love story of three very different women. Avia, the elegant matriarch of an ancient family harbours a dark secret that will haunt her to her dying day. Sigi, though beautiful is wild and tormented by the choices she made when she was younger. Isa, the true heroine of the story, engaged to be married at the start of the novel, is suddenly forced to confront her past, her own demons and to reconcile her childhood dreams with the reality of the future. All three women nurture an unrequited love which determines their every action. It is Isa however, who will heal family rifts. But can she save the vineyard in time and will she resolve issues with the man she really loves?

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Maud Beerbohm Tree

Maud Beerbohm Tree, Lady of the Stage is a biography of the fascinating actress Maud Holt who reached the height of her fame in the 1900s. In the early 1900s her face endorsed Pond’s Face Cream and the playing cards included with Guinea Gold Cigarettes. She performed at the White House for President Cleveland and at Balmoral for Queen Victoria. Later she was a friend of Queen Mary’s. Rising from humble origins, she became England’s most sought after house guest, friend to artists, the aristocracy and politicians alike re-knowned for her wit, charm and erudition. Although her first stage appearance was in 1883, she was versatile and clever at re-inventing herself. While many of her contemporaries found it impossible to transition from stage to silent film and then to talkies, Maud went on to have a successful career in both, acting under the direction of Sir Alexander Korda. Her last film was made in 1936 shortly before she died. Maud had an extensive network of contacts, friends and acquaintances from every walk of life, across several disciplines. Her list of correspondence reads as a Who’s Who of the 20th century and she made use of them all, together with every available medium, to garner funds for the various charities with which she was involved and with the advent of the wireless, making numerous radio broadcasts to this end. For her efforts in this department she was awarded an OBE. She was a theatre manager, mother, and political campaigner. She was also a long-suffering wife, married to the flamboyant theatre manager Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree who kept house with Maud and their three daughters on one side of the river Thames, while on the other, at the same time keeping a mistress with whom he had six other children. Sir Carol Reed was one and Oliver Reed his grandson. Maud’s story set against the fin-de-siècle and world wars, is one of back-stabbing leading ladies, posturing actor managers and the age- old conflict of courageous women struggling to juggle domestic life with the calling of their art.  It demands to be read.

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The London Wife

The London Wife is an Edwardian romp chronicling the story of the actress Sophia Wood whose tempestuous marriage to the theatre impresario Sir Heinrich Wood is the cause of great heartache but also the catalyst for independence from him and the launch of her own career. In the pursuit of happiness, Sophia has one last chance to make peace with the mistakes of the past, to forgive the most bitter betrayal, and to emerge triumphant.

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Corona Confidential

Corona Confidential tells the story of Carla and Seb Cave, a glamorous globe-trotting couple living in Southern England with their young son. They return home from a holiday in South America just as Covid strikes and England goes into lockdown. As pressures mount, the bare bones of their marriage are laid bare. Issues that have simmered under the surface for a time, threaten to implode and as Carla descends into depression, she wonders if her family will survive. Corona Confidential offers escapism in these uncertain times but it also endeavours to reflect the fear and uncertainty of the early months of lockdown. Throughout the story, the book addresses themes of mental health, the pandemic and ultimately a mother’s love for her family.

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Can a Leopard?

Can a Leopard? continues the globe-trotting adventures of Carla and Seb Cave who we first met in Corona Confidential. As the Caves head to Italy for a post-lockdown break, the future looks rosy. But it is soon apparent that coming out of lockdown will be just as challenging as it was going in. Elation quickly wears off as memories of the past haunt Carla. She isn't the only one with secrets. Why does Seb keep disappearing and where does he go? Who is the mystery blonde threatening to destabilise their marriage? Most important of all, do people ever really change? Does a leopard change its spots?

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One Flame Hour

One Flame Hour concludes the trials and tribulations of the Cave family as chronicled in Corona Confidential and Can a Leopard? When the pandemic grounds the globe-trotting, adventure-seeking Carla and her husband Seb, she is forced to re-valuate her life. With the usual go-to pleasures of travel and entertainment severely restricted, Carla endeavours to find new sources of inspiration in a quieter, more fulfilling way of being. As everything she once held dear is challenged, as she is met with tragedy and disappointment, can Carla find reason for hope? Will she look back on lockdown and realise that in the scheme of things, it has really only been one flame hour?

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Tolstoy's Beard

Russia is on the brink of civil war, the Tolstoy household is in turmoil and despite a promise to relocate to Moscow from the country, the move has not brought harmony. Sixteen-year-old Tatiana observes the warzone of her parents' marriage - her father's increasingly erratic behaviour and her mother's obsession with a stranger - while on the threshold of a new life and love of her own. When Tolstoy introduces the famous, if radical Ukrainian Ilya Repin to teach Tatiana painting, Tatiana is forced to reassess everything she holds dear.

This is a rite-of-passage novel and a compelling tale of marital strife, of frustration in genius, of political upheaval, the eternal quest for love and recognition, and ultimately the strength and power of family. But can Tatiana avoid the pitfalls of her parent's unhappy union and still preserve her ambition to be an artist? When the time comes to leave, will she have the courage to do so? When Tolstoy's beard grows so long, will they at last be able to return to the home they love?

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