Spring 1935. Two girls meet by chance on Hampstead Heath. To an outsider, they could not appear more different. Verity is well-mannered and smartly dressed, living with her parents in a beautiful house close to the heath. Ruby is dishevelled and grubby, used to a life of squalor where she is forced to steal to survive. Yet there's an instant affinity between them, and when their fortunes are shockingly reversed, it is the strength of their friendship that keeps them resilient to the challenges and hardships they face.
As Britain prepares for war, Ruby finds herself in Devon with the world at her feet and enjoying her first taste of romance. Meanwhile, hundreds of miles away, Verity is forced to leave behind everything she has ever known, and a shadow from the past threatens her chances of a new beginning. But through it all, the girls are always there for each other. Until the day Verity does the one thing that will break Ruby's heart.
In a country torn apart by fighting, will Verity and Ruby survive long enough to find a way back to each other? Or do some betrayals go with you to the grave .....?
Dead To Me by Lesley Pearse was published by Michael Joseph on 14 July 2016 in hardback and is the author's twenty-fourth novel.
I have a hardback copy of Dead To Me to give away to one blog reader. Entry is simple, just fill out the competition widget at the end of this review. UK entries only please. Good Luck!
A few weeks ago, my friend and fellow blogger Janet who blogs at From First Page To Last asked bloggers and authors about their comfort reads, she's written a great post about her findings, she's called it Literary Comfort Food. When I responded to Janet's question, I told her that I don't have a 'comfort read', I haven't re-read a book since I was a child, and usually find comfort in which ever book I happen to be reading.
When Dead To Me dropped through my letterbox I realised .... I realised that Lesley Pearse is my comfort read. I've read every book that she's written, going back over twenty years. I was reading her book Rosie on the morning of my wedding, and although some of my reading tastes have changed over the years, I have never tired of her writing.
Dead To Me is a huge book at around 500 pages, but I raced through it in a couple of days and feel a little bit lost without the company of Ruby and Verity now I've finished it.
Beginning in 1935 and continuing through the years of World War II this is a captivating and heartwarming story about a strong and enduring friendship between two young girls who are as different as chalk and cheese.
Both Verity and Ruby are well-drawn characters with their own charms. Well heeled Verity and streetwise Ruby form their unlikely friendship when they meet on Hampstead Heath. Both girls are rebelling against their upbringing. Verity is hiding a shameful secret that could never be discussed in polite company, whilst Ruby struggles to survive through life with her drunken slovenly mother.
Their friendship continues until the day that they are parted and they go their separate ways. Their reunion, years later is joyful but tinged with sadness and more tragedy awaits them.
Lesley Pearse's attention to detail is evidence of the hours of research that she must complete for every novel that she writes. Her depiction of life for the inhabitants of blitz-torn London, contrasted with the Devon countryside is excellent. This author excels in creating strong female characters who tackle everything that life throws at them head-on. There are some serious and quite shocking issues dealt with, but the author shows compassion and understanding in the way that these are dealt with.
There's a real gritty edge to Dead To Me, it's not all hearts and flowers by any means, but there's a huge dollop of romance thrown in too.
Once again, Lesley Pearse has produced a blockbuster of a read that her fans will love and that will hook new readers too. A fantastic sense of place, vividly described and populated with a cast of characters ranging from the great, to the very very bad.
Lesley Pearse, I salute you - you never let me down. I'm looking forward to book number twenty-five!
My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy of Dead To Me for review.
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Lesley Pearse was told as a child that she had too much imagination for her own good. When she grew up she worked her way through many jobs - from corsetry sales in Cooks of St Pauls (featured in Dead to Me), to bunny girl to nanny, from gift shop owner to dressmaker - finally finding her true vocation when she became a published author age 49.
Since then Lesley has become an internationally bestselling author, with over 10 million copies of her books sold worldwide.
A true storyteller and a master of gripping storylines, there is no set formula for a Lesley Pearse novel although strong heroines and difficult circumstances are pervasive. Whether historical adventures such as Gypsy or Never Look Back or the passionately emotive Trust Me, Lesley is inspired by stories of courage and adversity and often gives voice to women lost in history.
She is passionate about her research and her stories have taken her far and wide; from Alaska to the Crimea. Lesley has recently moved to the seaside in Torquay, Devon and Dead to Me features many local landmarks and stories including the story of infamous local John Henry George Lee, better known as John "Babbacombe" Lee or "The Man They Couldn't Hang", as well as Hither Green and Manor House, an area of South East London where Lesley lived as a child.
A fantastic speaker and committed and passionate fundraiser for the NSPCC, Lesley is a much sought after guest at literary lunches, library events and festivals up and down the country. Lesly was also selected as the first Ambassador for National Libraries Day in 2014
For lots more information about Lesley and her books, visit her website www.lesleypearse.com
Find her Author Page on Facebook
Follow her on Twitter @LesleyPearse