Audiobook Review

Audible Book Review: The Black Madonna of Derby by Joanna Czechowska

I am pleased to be welcoming Joanna Czechowska to Novel Kicks today and the audible blog tour for her novel, The Black Madonna of Derby.

During and after the Second World War, 200,000 Poles were given leave to remain in the UK as thanks for their help during the conflict – this book is a fictional account of just one of those families. Set during the 1960s and 1970s, The Black Madonna of Derby traces the story of the Baran family living in a provincial town in England. Their seemingly ordinary existence hides secrets of past betrayal, madness, and tragedy.

The story focuses on three generations: the elderly grandmother whose proud Polish patriotism hides dark events from the past that affect the present, the mother whose tries to meld her past life in war-torn Poland and Germany with her new life in England and the granddaughter who lives a double life culturally and linguistically – Polish at home and English outside.

The swinging sixties in London is vividly recreated, as is the hardship of life under communism in the Poland of that time. This book is unique in that there are no other novels dealing with the story of second generation Poles in the UK. It is a story that deserves to be told, a story of a group of people who have had little attention in the literature. Listen to what they have to say.

When I was asked to take part in the audible blog blitz for this novel, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The information about the book intrigued me. I am pleased that I got the chance to listen to this book.

The narrator, Claire Nicholls has a very soothing voice and conveys the story in a clear way which made it easy to follow.

Moving onto the book itself, it focuses on three generations of women from the same family. It is an insight as to what it was like for immigrants after the second world war and the things they had to endure on a daily basis.

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Audiobook Review: Murders of Old China by Paul French

One country rich in history, 12 unsolved murders. Reopening the archives on China’s long forgotten past.  

Why did a remote police station, built to combat pirates, find itself at the centre of a murder-suicide after a constable went on the rampage? How did Chinese gangsters avoid conviction after serving a deadly dinner to Frenchtown’s elite? And why is the Foreign Office still withholding a key document to solving a murder that took place in the Gobi desert in 1935?

By delving deep into 12 of China’s most fascinating murder cases, Murders of Old China delivers a fast-paced journey through China’s early 20th-century history – including its criminal underbelly. 

Uncovering previously unknown connections and exposing the lies, Paul French queries the verdict of some of China’s most controversial cases, interweaving true crime with China’s chaotic and complicated history of foreign occupation and Chinese rival factions. 

I rarely feature non-fiction on Novel Kicks but when I was asked if I wanted to take part in the blog tour for Murders of Old China and read about the premise, I jumped at the chance.

Murders of Old China is an Audible original and is narrated by the author, Paul French. He looks at twelve murder cases that happened in China in the early 20th century.

Each chapter focuses on a different case and even though it’s non-fiction, it felt that I could have been reading a fictional murder mystery novel. Some of it was almost unbelievable.

The mystery and the twists and turns in these cases appealed to my love of puzzles and history.

This has made me want to know as much as possible about this era that I have previously not known anything about.

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Novel Kicks is a blog for story tellers and book lovers.

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