Well, we’ve already had the cover reveal, but the big day has finally come! The Walls We Build by Jules Hayes is published today (23rd March) in paperback and for kindle (available through Kindle Unlimited too), and you can buy your copy from Amazon in the UK and US (and you can also buy the paperback through Waterstones). My thanks to Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to share my publication day review, and for all her support.
This day has been SO long coming – but I must thank Jules for giving me the massive privilege of being a very early reader, over the Christmas break, way before it had either that gorgeous cover or its final title. As someone usually rather more on the fringes of the publishing world, it was quite fascinating to be allowed to follow its progress to publication – and it certainly made me considerably more aware of the immense amount of work needed from a self-publishing author after they’ve written “The End”. But perhaps the best thing of all was that this was a book that immediately excited me – from the moment I read it, I felt it was a very special book indeed.
Three friends …
Growing up together around Winston Churchill’s estate in Westerham, Kent, Frank, Florence and Hilda are inseparable. But as WW2 casts its menacing shadow, friendships between the three grow complex, and Frank – now employed as Churchill’s bricklayer – makes choices that will haunt him beyond the grave, impacting his grandson’s life too.
Two Secrets …
Shortly after Frank’s death in 2002 Florence writes to Richard, Frank’s grandson, hinting at the darkness hidden within his family. On investigation, disturbing secrets come to light, including a pivotal encounter between Frank and Churchill during the war and the existence of a mysterious relative in a psychiatric hospital.
One Hidden Life …
How much more does Florence dare reveal about Frank – and herself – and is Richard ready to hear?
Set against the stunning backdrop of Chartwell, Churchill’s country home, comes a tragic story of misguided honour, thwarted love and redemption, reverberating through three generations and nine decades.
For readers of Kate Morton, Rachel Hore, Katherine Webb, Lucinda Riley and Juliet West.
Romance, injustice, slowly uncovered family secrets, a vividly-drawn wartime backdrop, the strongest and most well-drawn characters, a sweeping and all-consuming story filled with twists and surprises, a perfectly balanced present day story that draws on all those echoes from the past, and the very finest of story-telling – what more can you possibly ask of a book? Ok, a little bit of Churchill too – and not as a simple cameo, but central to the story line and the way it unfolds? The research that must have gone into this book is seriously impressive – historical, social and in its settings, all used exceptionally well to give the story depth, context and authenticity.
This book grabbed me from the opening pages, and its grip never lessened for an instant. One of its real strengths is in its characterisation, as you become involved and invested in the lives of Florence, Frank and Hilda. Frank is both complex and sympathetic, and the twists and turns of his life rather drive the story, with the emotional content perfectly judged: but Florence is perhaps the story’s primary anchor, moving sometimes into the background, but at other times at centre stage, also providing that all-important link through to the present day.
And while the story that takes you through wartime and beyond is a page-turner in itself, I really did love that present day story too – with a mystery at its centre, some real tension and some clever echoes from the earlier story. It gives the book another dimension, has a strength of its own, and brings the whole to a really satisfying conclusion. Dual time threads can be troublesome when they’re not equally strong, when you’d prefer to remain with one rather than the other – there are no such issues here, all the links and transitions so very smoothly handled.
While the story-telling is wonderful throughout, there are some set pieces that will long stay in the memory – particularly, but certainly not only, that “pivotal” wartime encounter with Churchill, with its vividly drawn setting and context.
And I really must commend the author for the book’s perfect conclusion – when I set the book aside with a tear in my eye and reflected on how very much I’d enjoyed it. No, not just enjoyed it, I unreservedly loved it – one of my books of the year.
With thanks to Jules and Rachel, I’m delighted to offer one lucky reader the chance to win a signed copy of The Walls We Build (open internationally). Here’s the rafflecopter for entry:
Terms and Conditions Worldwide entries welcome. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
About the author
Jules Hayes lives in Berkshire with her husband, daughter and a dog. She has a degree in modern history and holds a particular interest in events and characters from the early 20th century. As a former physiotherapist and trainer – old habits die hard – when not writing Jules likes to run. She also loves to watch films, read good novels and is a voracious consumer of non-fiction too, particularly biographies.
Jules is currently working on her second historical novel, another dual timeline story.
Jules also writes contemporary thriller and speculative fiction as JA Corrigan.
Jules Hayes can be found at:
Writing as JA Corrigan, Jules can be found at: