Review: Black Roses by Jane Thynne

blackrosesBerlin, 1933. Warning bells ring across Europe as Hitler comes to power. Clara Vine, an attractive young Anglo-German actress, arrives in Berlin to find work at the famous Ufa studios. Through a chance meeting, she is unwillingly drawn into a circle of Nazi wives, among them Magda Goebbels, Anneliese von Ribbentrop and Goering’s girlfriend Emmy Sonnemann. As part of his plan to create a new pure German race, Hitler wants to make sweeping changes to the lives of women, starting with the formation of a Reich Fashion Bureau, instructing women on what to wear and how to behave. Clara is invited to model the dowdy, unflattering clothes. Then she meets Leo Quinn who is working for British intelligence and who sees in Clara the perfect recruit to spy on her new elite friends, using her acting skills to win their confidence. But when Magda Goebbels reveals to Clara a dramatic secret and entrusts her with an extraordinary mission, Clara feels threatened, compromised, desperately caught between her duty towards – and growing affection for – Leo, and the impossibly dangerous task Magda has forced upon her. Continue reading “Review: Black Roses by Jane Thynne”

Books in the post: Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer

When Maxon met Sunny he was seven years, four months and eighteen days old. Or, he was 2693 rotations of the earth old. Maxon was different. Sunny was different. They were different together. Now, they are married, and Sunny wants, more than anything, to be ‘normal’. But her husband is on a NASA mission to the moon, and a meteor is heading his way. Sunny wishes Maxon would turn the rocket around and come straight home. It’s not an easy life being the wife of an astronaut, the daughter of a sick mother, the mother to an autistic son and a supportive ear to your friends. Nor is it easy to be a fragile human being, a million miles away from home and family, alone in the great dark emptiness of space.

At the opening of Shine Shine Shine, these are exactly the positions Sunny and Maxon find themselves in. Lydia Netzer’s prose is flowing and smooth, but also unusual; it’s full of simile and metaphor. We view the world through the eyes on Sunny and Maxon in turn, including the way in which their worries and neuroses warp their perception and therefore ours. So a crack in a wall by the pantry noticed by Sunny is deep and gaping, but then in fact is tiny and barely noticeable. When she visits her mother in hospital, although she is dying on the inside, Sunny puts that out of her mind, focussing on her external beauty, including the vines – tubes and wires – curling around her limbs and growing from her mouth.

I found this ‘making strange’ tech type really refreshing. Shine Shine Shine is a very fresh, atypical telling of what is really a universal story of love and families parted and reunited.

Shine Shine Shine is out on the 5th July from Simon & Schuster.

Kate Neilan @Magic_kitten