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September book club - leave your thoughts and questions for Lesley

(55 Posts)
LauraGransnet (GNHQ) Mon 03-Sep-18 11:20:01

Hello everyone!

Your copies of The House Across the Street should be on their way, so please do leave your thoughts and questions for author Lesley Pearse on the thread below once you've finished reading.

If you've borrowed and bought a copy yourself, you're also very welcome to join the conversation.

lottylinda Mon 17-Sep-18 15:45:17

My book arrived and I couldn't put it down. I wonder how lesley pearse thinks if such intrinsic plots. Does she plan it first or does it just develop

Miriam Wed 19-Sep-18 13:51:35

I really enjoyed reading this and could relate with the period as I was working in London at this time after leaving school.

The descriptions of family life at that time was well written and believable but I also cannot quite believe that Katy's mother would change so easily, although that is a minor point and does not take anything away from the story.

It was quite harrowing when Katy was imprisoned and I wonder if Lesley found that difficult or painful to write.

I too notices a few uncorrected errors in the book.

I have read Lesley Pearse before and will certainly read her again.

travelsafar Thu 20-Sep-18 19:26:58

I finished this book last night. It was very similar in ways to a previous book of hers that i read a few weeks ago from the library.Centering on abduction , ill treatment and the build up to it as well as the aftermath.It was called The Woman in the Wood.I just wonder if this is a format that that the writer uses often.

otherwiseknownasGrandma Fri 21-Sep-18 14:15:36

Thank you for my free copy. I thought this was a gripping story if a little unbelievable sometimes. Katie's mother changing personality overnight and Katie getting over her ordeal so quickly both seem somewhat unlikely. But an enjoyable read nevertheless.

rocketstop Sat 22-Sep-18 12:07:12

I have just finished reading this book, and I really enjoyed it.I have read everything Lesley has written over the years.
Lesley creates real characters.Someone mentioned that the Mother wasn't believable because she had a personality change, but I have seen people who let go of a secret that they think is damning and actually they really DO undergo a metamorphosis , so I could actually find that believable.We were still led to believe that she could still be sharp and was doing her best to bite her lip !
My question to Lesley would be ..
I understand you had a pretty turbulent life yourself and did you use elements of that in the story, I don't mean specifics but what I mean is I suppose, is when you do write about such things and you can give your characters a 'Come uppance' do you feel that is an exorcism of sorts ? Sweet revenge to exact on your characters ?
How long does it take you to complete a book from planning to seeing it published ?
Well done from me , and I look forward to your next !

HelenST Sun 23-Sep-18 16:43:17

Thank you for my copy I really enjoyed it. The mother came across as very unpleasant but when you learnt of her past you could feel sympathy for her. Very thought provoking subject has made me want to read more books by this author. How did it feel Lesley to get your dream career in your 40's?

Purpledaffodil Sun 23-Sep-18 22:43:05

I really wanted to enjoy this book much more than I eventually did. In fact I’ve held off writing the review in the hope that I could formulate what went wrong for me. The period setting was fine, but the characters were just too formulaic and the plot lacked twists. Finally the Aga saga ending did not ring true at all.
I suspect this would make a better film than a novel and wonder if the author had this in mind when she wrote the book?

Greciangirl Mon 24-Sep-18 11:49:45

I found this book quite inspiring. It reminded me of the fact that in those times, there where not women’s refuges.
Now of course they are easily available.

These poor women who had to suffer without help didn’t have the likes of Gloria around.

All the characters in the book were fairly likeable and maybe the two girls might just go on to champion women’s liberation.

harrigran Tue 25-Sep-18 17:30:08

I enjoyed The House Across the Street, it was well written and was obviously well researched because it was accurate as far as 1965 was concerned.
Katy was a typical young woman of the 60s who had a zest for life and an inquisitive mind which got her into serious trouble. Ed Reilly was a nasty piece of work who didn't mind using his fists on women. The description of Katy's injuries brought back memories of my nursing days in the 60s, broken arms and black eyes were a common sight.
I was pleased that Katy got to talk to her mother and resolve the issues she clearly had and that they all stayed together as a family.
I am familiar with the Erin Pizzey story and the refuge she set up so the reference to it in 1972 was no surprise.
I have to say I was a little disappointed with the ending, a tad bland, I was hoping they would travel to exotic places before settling down to family life.
Thanks for an entertaining read, my first of your books, but I will read all the rest now.

mbody Wed 26-Sep-18 08:23:59

I tried to get into this book but found it wasn’t my style of writing and the story didn’t hold my attention.

ranorman45 Wed 26-Sep-18 21:38:52

Thanks for the book,I must admit it was quite thought provoking ,being set in what seems a different world to today.The female characters would certainly follow different paths today and there would be much more support for them now.It certainly brings to mind an era when curtains twitched and no one said anything.A pleasant holiday read. I wonder if Lesley ever visited a dress shop like the one at Bexhill on sea?I certainly remember going to one with my mum in the late 60's.

Buddie Thu 27-Sep-18 11:25:14

I enjoyed this book inasmuch as you can enjoy a story about such serious topics. The storyline rang true for the period and it was clearly well researched. However, I am not a fan of the research being obvious and I felt there were often details that could have been revealed by the plot rather than through the words of the characters. On occasion I also felt the timescale was a bit obscure. Some events were days apart, others just hours, but both were treated at the same pace. This was a first experience of a book by this author, however, so I will look out for more of her books to try.

I should be interested to know if Lesley always intended the book to have a prologue and an epilogue. I am not a fan of this device and to me the story worked well without either. The opening would have been more dramatic and the ending left for the reader to draw their own conclusions without them.

Jalima1108 Mon 01-Oct-18 15:55:53

I'm rather late reviewing this book as I took it with me to read on holiday.
I found it an enjoyable read and sensitive subjects were dealt with in an interesting way. With the help of women like Erin Pizzey, attitudes towards domestic abuse of different kinds have changed although there is still a long way to go. The fact that different types of abuse were dealt with was interesting, although I did find Hilda's transformation was not quite believable as I would have thought she would need more help in coming to terms with what had happened to her in the past - and Katy would have difficult issues to deal with too rather than overcoming the revelation about her birth so easily.

Katy's portrayal of Stockholm syndrome as a means of survival was interesting, but yet again, would she have needed some psychological help to get over the trauma of her captivity?

An enjoyable and interesting read, but I did not feel shocked by any of the happenings as portrayed in the book - and I think that domestic abuse taken to these extremes should have shocked me more.
Perhaps we all hope for a 'happy every after' ending - but in this case I am not sure that it was appropriate and did not quite ring true.

midi1975 Sat 13-Oct-18 12:40:35

Despite it being partly a crime novel I found the tone of the book really uplifting. The romance helped of course. The narrator of the story treated life with optimism and good humour . She was a pleasant character, typical of the carefree 1960's. I found it to be an especially interesting read because I had just read A Dark Circle by Linda Grant, set in the 1950's. A complete contrast of every day life.

Hellosunshine Sun 28-Oct-18 20:47:48

When do Lesley Pearse's answers appear on the forums?

CariGransnet (GNHQ) Tue 30-Oct-18 16:22:46

Apologies for the delay - we have been waiting for the other winners to leave their questions. So if you did get a copy please add them now and we will be sending Lesley the questions and putting the answers up asap afterwards

LesleyPearse Mon 10-Dec-18 15:18:36

weather

Thank you so much for my free copy which arrived a few days ago.
I have now finished reading it..as I have found it hard to put down..
I found the story extremely interesting as I know of cases similar to the one written about although I know this story is fiction it comes over as true to life.
I would like to ask the author where she obtained her details from?
If they were true life examples obtained by talking to others who are in the know about this type of abuse.
If this is an inappropriate question I would not expect an answer these subjects are extremely sensitive.
I found the book really interesting and would like to thank the author for all the time and effort she has put into writing this story, it certainly helps me to understand more about this subject and be more sympathetic to those who find themselves trapped in this type of situation.

It is a work of fiction of course. No real people were written about. But back in 1970 I did know Erin Pizzey who set up the first Women’s Refuge, and in fact visited the refuge and spoke to many abused and battered women.

LesleyPearse Mon 10-Dec-18 15:19:35

eGJ

Well Lesley what a read! I had got to page 100 and started again last night. Suffice to say your page turning book kept me going until the end and it was quite early morning when I finished😊. The House Across The Street is intriguing from the start; you are plunged right into the lives of the characters and the unexpected twists and turns keep the momentum going until the end.
Did you, Lesley, have a house that YOU looked again and again from your house when you were younger and if so did you wonder about the people who lived there?
It was good to read a sympathetic novel highlighting a secret that occurs behind closed doors; did you set the book in 1962 to show that this is not a new crime and the likely reactions and practical difficulties in resolving things in an earlier era when communication was not quite so instant?

I have always been an avid watcher of people from a young girl. I have made up stories in my head about many people over the years. I like setting books in the 60’s because it was the era I grew up in and I remember it so well. Wife beating has gone on since the dawn of time. We will probably never stamp it out either. The police didn’t react to it back then, and there was no help for women. But believe me, little has changed for women really, if you have small children and no family or friends to run to, a violent man in your life is still just as difficult to escape from.

LesleyPearse Mon 10-Dec-18 15:20:42

libra10

Thank you for sending me this enjoyable book.

I found this to be a well written story which had a real feel of the sixties. The book is written in an old fashioned style (which I liked), about Katy, whose father has been charged with murdering a neighbour, and her courage and determination to prove him not guilty.

The book addresses strong issues, such as domestic abuse, violence and murder. The main characters are charismatic and likeable, with Katy showing steely determination to find out who the real perpetrator of a local arson attack is.

The story unfolds rapidly, is well researched and written, with believable characters, and I found it thoroughly enjoyable.

Highly recommended, and I would love to read other books by Lesley Pearse.

I would like to ask Lesley how she began her writing career. Did she write stories as a child, and how difficult it was to have her first book published.

I was more of an oral story teller as a child, I kept the kids at school entertained. I began writing in my 30’s as a hobby really but it took 7 years to get Georgia my first book published. I was then 48.

LesleyPearse Mon 10-Dec-18 15:21:23

LadyGracie

I loved this book and didn’t want it to end, what a great storyteller Lesley is. I read each of her books as they come out.
I’d like to ask how long on average it takes her to research her subjects and characters before she begins writing and where she gets her ideas from?

I write a book a year so the writing and research has to be fitted in within that year. As for the ideas, they just come. I don’t know how or why.

LesleyPearse Mon 10-Dec-18 15:22:15

Hellosunshine

I have read quite a lot of your books already but this one was a bit different. I loved the sixties feel which was very authentic and found it easy to read as the story unfolded. I wondered at the part of the story where Katy starts to feel slightly fond of her captor - was that researched it was it author's own thoughts? Enjoyable book which I read a lot quicker than I thought I would. I loved the "cosy" ending.

I’m very glad you enjoyed it. Captive victims often do become sympathetic to their captor in hostage situations, it is known as Stockholm Syndrome. As I understand it if you are very frightened and believe you are going to be killed, it is very likely that you would react that way to an act of kindness. I think I would, if only to try and change my captor's plans for me. Glad you liked the cosy ending. I am a great believer in happy endings.

LesleyPearse Mon 10-Dec-18 15:23:26

Grannyknot

I finished the book during a week's holiday (it was perfect holiday reading). I found it very easy to read with the story zipping along at a pace. As others have said, it captures the era (Sixties) very well. It is difficult reading to be reminded of how very little power women had if they didn't have a career or money of their own.

I found the juxtaposition of what took place between husband and wife in Katy's parents' seemingly ordinary family, as well as that as carried out by the main perpetrator, very interesting, with one situation resolving itself, and the other not. My question to Lesley Pearse is what made you write about this particular subject? (Apologies for being cryptic as I am trying to avoid spoilers)!

My generation of women were conditioned to see their husband as ‘he who must be obeyed’ we did all the household chores, looked after the children, and in return we had a husband who kept us. Few of us had any money of our own. I realise to younger women this must seem very archaic. But in fact I was very happy with it. I had a nice home, I spent my time with our children, cooking, sewing, gardening. I had the house tidy, dinner on the table when my husband got home. To me it was a fair division of labour, I didn’t have to go out in the dark and cold each morning, he earned the money. But in contrast I personally also knew many women who were never satisfied and totally controlled their gentle, kind husbands. But even if women like that were suffering from depression or had other mental problems, there wasn’t any real help for them, counselling was virtually unheard of and anti-depressants were then in their infancy. People hid their problems or difficulties away as something shameful.

LesleyPearse Mon 10-Dec-18 15:24:12

GrannyBear

‘The House Across the Street’ addresses the important topic of domestic abuse, from the perspectives of those who suffer abuse and those who seek to help them. All credit is due to Lesley Pearse for tackling such a difficult subject.

The central character is Katy, a young woman who lives with her adored father and her despised mother. Katy is acquainted with the woman who lives in ‘the house across the street’, fashion-shop owner Gloria. When Gloria and her daughter die in a fire at their house, Katy is devastated to learn that her father has been arrested on the charges of arson and murder. Katy immediately sets about finding the truth and bringing the criminal to justice.

This should have been a gripping thriller of a book. However, for me, the book didn’t quite take off. I simply didn’t warm to Lesley Pearse’s style of writing (sorry, Lesley!). I didn’t engage with the characters and the story line, for me, was not believable at times. I also had some difficulty accepting the timescale of the story - events seemed to happen with amazing speed.

I would like to know what motivated Lesley Pearse to write a novel about domestic abuse and whether she believes that by opening their hearts and homes to victims of abuse, individuals can make a positive contribution to helping those who have been abused move forward with their lives.

I really hope that my story might make people more sympathetic to victims of abuse, it is something I feel strongly about. Many women, and men too, stay in violent and abusive relationships because they don’t think there is anyone out there who cares, and the longer it goes on for, the more they think its all their fault.

LesleyPearse Mon 10-Dec-18 15:24:42

Persistentdonor

Despite the plot line being disturbing on several levels, I found "the House Across the Street" very gripping and I appreciated the details which brought the 60's back to life.

I wondered if Lesley ever did look for a flat in London at that time?

I lived in London throughout the Sixties, I had many bed sitters and flats, some hideously grim, it is one thing I really know about! I did the research back then!

LesleyPearse Mon 10-Dec-18 15:25:11

lottylinda

My book arrived and I couldn't put it down. I wonder how lesley pearse thinks if such intrinsic plots. Does she plan it first or does it just develop

I don’t plan much. I usually have an idea and just go for it, feeling my way along. Mostly that seems to work for me.