Agatha Christie · challenge

Read Christie 2022 – An update and this month’s choice.

In January, I read The Man in the Brown Suit, a new-to-me story from the vast Christie collection. Of course, it’s definitely of its time with themes of racism and sexism, nonetheless I devoured it quickly. More a thriller than the usual Agatha Christie whodunit, it’s cleverly written, as ever, with a satisfactory ending.

“Pretty, young Anne came to London for adventure. She found it immediately—on the platform of Hyde Park Corner tube station, where a thin man, reeking of mothballs, lost his balance and was electrocuted on the rails. The Scotland Yard verdict was accidental death. But Anne was not satisfied. After all, who was the man in a brown suit who examined the body? And why did he race of, leaving a cryptic message behind: ’17-122 Kilmorden Castle’?”

Purchase Link: Amazon UK

February choice

Death on the Nile

Considered by Christie as one of her best travel mysteries, this beloved book offers guaranteed escapism, excitement and suspense. Read it before you see it! Visit the film hub

What’s it about?

Linnet Ridgeway is an enviable society figure, with good looks, a country manor and plenty of money in the bank. She even has a handsome suitor! But her interest in matrimony is negligible, that is until she meets her old friend Jacqueline’s fiancé… Having secured Simon Doyle, the couple head off on a luxury honeymoon to Egypt. But Simon’s former partner is dogging their trip, and their fellow passenger on board the Nile cruise sense trouble. Hercule Poirot is, after all, quite insightful on matters of the heart.

She came ashore playing a role, even though she played it unconsciously. The rich, beautiful society bride on her honeymoon.

 Agatha Christie, Death on the Nile

I have fond memories of watching this on TV, starring Peter Ustinov and more recently David Suchet in the role of Hercules Poirot, so I’ve decided on an alternative read for February. I’ve not read any of the Tommy and Tuppence stories, so this will be a first for me.

The Secret Adversary

Tommy Beresford and Prudence ‘Tuppence’ Cowley are young, in love… and flat broke. Just after Great War, there are few jobs available and the couple are desperately short of money. Restless for excitement, they decide to embark on a daring business scheme: Young Adventurers Ltd.—”willing to do anything, go anywhere.” Hiring themselves out proves to be a smart move for the couple. In their first assignment for the mysterious Mr. Whittington, all Tuppence has to do in their first job is take an all-expenses paid trip to Paris and pose as an American named Jane Finn. But with the assignment comes a bribe to keep quiet, a threat to her life, and the disappearance of her new employer. Now their newest job is playing detective.

Where is the real Jane Finn? The mere mention of her name produces a very strange reaction all over London. So strange, in fact, that they decided to find this mysterious missing lady. She has been missing for five years. And neither her body nor the secret documents she was carrying have ever been found. Now post-war England’s economic recovery depends on finding her and getting the papers back. It isn’t long before they find themselves plunged into more danger than they ever could have imagined—a danger that could put an abrupt end to their business… and their lives.

See you next month with an update and the next story in the challenge.

blog tour · book review · humour · Regency Romance · romance · romantic comedy

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – A Wedding at the Jane Austen Dating Agency

A modern-day matchmaker’s happily-ever-after bubble is about to burst in the second novel in this charming series of love and all its misadventures.
Sophie Johnson appears to be living the perfect life. She has landed her dream job as managing director of The Jane Austen Dating Agency and is dating the world’s most desirable man, Darcy Drummond.
But all is not as it seems. The relationship with Darcy is failing to live up to expectations and his awful mother is determined to cause trouble. To add to Sophie’s problems, the agency is struggling to attract enough eligible men, she has a Regency wedding to plan, and then there’s the amusing and disturbingly cute Henry Baxter who is making it hard for her to concentrate.
The problem is Sophie wants it all, but in trying to manage everything, she’s in danger of losing what matters most.
Can she keep the dating agency afloat and find her own happy ever after? Or is business and romance an impossible combination?

Praise for The Jane Austen Dating Agency
“There were some wonderful surprises . . . Those, particularly Janeites, who enjoy light women’s fiction blended with romantic comedy would be the target group for this one.” —Austenprose
“The Jane Austen Dating Agency may resemble the stories of both Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility at times but Fiona Woodifield has done a remarkable job of twisting these well-known plots into a very modern love story all of her own.” —Travelling Book Junkie

About the author

As a young child, Fiona spent hours reading, curling up with a book was one of her favourite past times. Her current volume would accompany her everywhere, to school, on daytrips, holidays and visits. The idea of providing an imaginary world in which others can escape is a wonderful one and this became Fiona’s dream, to become a published author.

From an early age, Fiona’s parents encouraged her writing – it all started when they gave her a simple red lined exercise book. Soon she had a collection of notebooks, small, large, plain, The Snowman, Brambly Hedge, they all became full of her jottings. 

Years later, Fiona studied for a Combined Arts Degree at Durham, then a Masters in English – writing her thesis on Jane Austen and Masculinity. In total contrast she went to work for a renowned fashion magazine in London, then various marketing posts. Four lovely daughters later, during which time she has graduated from laughing at Mrs Bennet to sympathising with her, she continued to scribble away, only the notebooks are somewhat bigger. Fiona has written for national magazines on diverse subjects from Jane Austen to caravanning! One morning the idea came to her for ‘The Jane Austen Dating Agency’ and this was the first book she just had to write. The sequel, ‘A Wedding at the Jane Austen Dating Agency,’ was published in August. 

Fiona is also the author of the lockdown romance, ‘Love in Lockdown,’ which was published in November 2020 by Avon Books, under the pseudonym Chloe James. 

Fiona obviously loves writing, especially romantic comedy, meeting with friends and family, dancing, visiting historical houses (dreaming she lives there of course) walks by the sea and escaping into a book whilst consuming a worrying amount of chocolate.

My Review

I received an advance review copy thanks to Random Things Tours and I have written this review voluntarily. This is the second book in the series but can – for the most part – be read as a standalone, although there were times when I felt it would have helped to have read book one beforehand.

I considered myself enough of a Jane Austen buff to tackle this kind of story although some Austen references went over my head. Clearly my memory is not all I hoped it would be. Nonetheless, principal characters were easy enough to identify and match up to the Austen equivalent, and as such the story does flow with relevant ease and a healthy dose of humour.

The team at the Jane Austen Dating Agency are planning a wedding for one of their clients and in the run-up to the big day there are several events that build the Regency theme, from a sports day to a ball. These are particularly evocative and also great fun bringing the era to life. Sophie and Emma set the bar very high in their recreation of the period using stunning settings and fun activities to produce unforgettable events. There was no doubt in my mind that the wedding would be just as memorable for the same reasons.

Running alongside the wedding planning – or, to be honest, taking up the bulk of the story – is Sophie’s own story. Her romantic hopes with new boyfriend, Darcy, seem thwarted by his overbearing and snobbish mother. And since he is also her boss that doesn’t bode well as a result of some of her less appropriate (yet highly amusing) escapades.

There’s a very real element of escapism to this book, offering a return to the Regency era, yet it’s comparison to Sophie’s modern-day life shows that some things have not changed. I enjoyed how she evolved and wanted her to get the Happy Ever After she desired. It all seemed to be going wrong, but as in all the best romances, things tend to go wrong for a reason … maybe she was looking for Mr Right in the wrong places (you’ll need to read the book to find out 😉 Sorry!)

It was a fun read, although more to do with Sophie’s life than the wedding of the title, but I look forward to a third in the series to find out what happens next.

As always,