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Ratings and Book Reviews ()

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All Book Reviews

  • Excellent!

    Ruth Hogan, bestselling author of “The Keeper of Lost Things” is the Queen of up-lit fiction and her latest novel “Madam Burova” is no exception. I have adored Ruth’s previous books and couldn’t wait to read this one. The intriguing premise, like no other I’ve read before, had me chomping at the bit to get started and with a tarot reader with a name like Imelda Burova, you just know she will be a character with character! Madame Imelda Burova - tarot reader, palmist and clairvoyant is retiring and leaving her booth after fifty years on Brighton’ seafront. She has spent a lifetime keeping people’s secrets and her silence has come at a price. Imelda is weary of other people’s lives, she needs some peace and a life for herself. But before that, she has to fulfil a promise she made a long time ago. Meanwhile in London, Billie has lost her job, her marriage and her parents are now both dead but she has suddenly discovered something that puts her identity in doubt. To follow the trail of clues, it may just take her to Madame Burova’s door and a remarkable past world that features the lives of many a wonderful and unique character. Set intermittently between two timelines, now and early 1970’s, where life in Brighton was full of holiday camps and seaside entertainers. You truly enter a world that transports you to an authentic happy place of time in the UK but which sadly also features a cultural, social and political society filled with racism and work place sexual harassment. Ruth Hogan conveyed these subjects with empathy and an obvious first hand knowledge. This novel is pure perfection and as like her other books, had me choked many a time with emotion. Incredibly atmospheric, I saw myself walking along the promenade enjoying the sights and sounds of Brighton’s eclectic lifestyle. Pure beauty and tremendous storytelling. I was saddened to learn that the author’s parents both died whilst she was completing this book and the emotions she surely experienced must have made it difficult to finish it but she did and wow! What another beautifully written, utterly exquisite tale with many memorable characters that stay with you forever. 5 stars for a wholly original “Madame Burova”.

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  • Fabulous characters

    This is a really unusual book which focuses on clairvoyant Madame Imelda Burova both now that she has decided to retire and back in the early seventies when she got caught up with characters and life at the local holiday park. Also in the now we meet Billie, who is grieving the recent loss of her remaining parent when secrets that are revealed to her that send her into a whirl and cause her life to cross with Imelda. This is without a doubt a very character led book and there are plenty characters within it, the story itself is very gently paced with no major surprises in honesty but the characters more than make up for that.

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  • A warm-hearted, feel-good story.

    Switching between the present day and Brighton in the early 1970s, this warm-hearted, easy to read story very quickly introduces the reader to a large cast of (mostly!) likeable, colourful characters, some of whom will play a part in revealing the mystery surrounding who Billie’s parents were. In addition to giving readings in her promenade booth, Madame Burova also offers them to guests at Larkins Holiday Park (think a Butlin’s camp with a sleazy, ‘wandering hands manager!) where she gets to know the other entertainers, including Sara-Jade the contortionist, Jeanie the singer, Dolly, Daisy and Dixie the ‘dancing mermaids’, talented pianist Charlie and, most important of all, Wall of Death rider Cillian, someone who will always hold a special place in her heart. Using all these characters, as well as Imelda’s relationships with her parents and her delightful group of friends in the community, the author paints a wonderfully nostalgic picture of summer holidays in a seaside town – I could almost smell the briny sea, the candyfloss, the hotdogs and suntan lotion! She also conjures up an authentic feel of what life was like in the 1970s, a time when overt racism, discrimination and sexism were commonplace and seldom challenged. I did find it a bit frustrating that these darker themes appeared to be treated rather superficially, with none of them being explored in any depth. However, I soon came to understand that to have done so would have undermined the essentially ‘feel-good’, optimistic and occasionally rather mystical nature of Ruth Hogan’s storytelling. She creates a world in which, however tragic or upsetting some experiences are, love and friendships are stronger than enmity and good will always triumph over evil. Maybe there are times when, even for the most cynical among us, it’s good to allow oneself to be immersed in such generous warm-heartedness and optimism! In addition to the cast of larger-than-life human characters, the story features four unforgettable dogs Dasha, Star, Mabel and Sparrow, all of whom added a very enjoyable dimension to my reading … in fact there were moments when I found myself yearning to join them (and their owners) in their walks along Brighton’s pebbly beach! Some of the scenes in the book are set in St Pancras railway station and the author’s wonderfully evocative descriptions of the statue of Sir John Betjeman (who can resist touching it as they pass!), the piano players and the Betjeman pub brought back happy memories of meeting friends there when I lived in London. One unexpected result of reading this story has been that it has prompted me to reread some of his poems and I’m enjoying being reminded of how much I enjoy them! Even though I’ve never had my cards read, the scenes featuring Madame Burova’s Tarot cards readings felt very authentic so it came as no surprise to discover that the author, keen to ensure she was writing ‘knowledgeably and respectfully’ about Imelda and Shunty-Mae’s culture, gifts and profession, spent many weeks learning how to read the cards. Apparently the life story of Eva Petulengro, the famous clairvoyant and fortune teller whose booth remains on Brighton’s sea front, was the author’s inspiration for this novel and, as far as I can judge, she did justice to both her fictional characters and her real life ‘muse’ in her portrayals. This is an entertaining, well-written ‘feel-good’ story – ideal as a summer read or an antidote to all those ‘pandemic blues’!

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  • Lovely easy read

    Set in the early 1970s and present day, this follows the lives and intrigues of some interesting characters. Imelda, the Madame Burova of the title, is a clairvoyant and Tarot reader and the story starts with her retiring fr9m her booth on Brighton front. She has a couple of things she needs to do to fulfil promises she made over the years. This is a lovely story, easy to read and easy to fall in love with some of the characters. Imelda is a strong, moral and honest person who you long to meet, She links the stories of the rest of the cast beautifully and makes the reader really feel for them in this book, which brings back the feel of life in the 70s so well. It wasnt a perfect time but it was an exciting time to live through, despite all the negatives. I loved MI5 Clive, felt for Jeannie and Treasure and loved Billies end result. And who doesn’t love a Borzoi. I read this book so quickly, it just drew me in from the first page. Loved it. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book.

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  • Fascinating!

    This book caught my eye straight away, as I had just finished reading The Keeper Of Lost Things by this author so was looking for more books to read that were written by her! This was a fascinating read, as I loved following in the footsteps of all the characters throughout the book. We find out that Imelda and Billie are linked together by an event that happened in the past and we gradually learn more about their characters and their lives which was great! Straight away the cover caught my eye as I was intrigued by all the small random objects shown on it. I would definitely recommend this book to someone who wants a nice, easy, pleasant read that is not overly complicated. I have already recommended this book to friends and family myself. This novel was extremely magical and I felt like a child reading this book at times which I absolutely loved.

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