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Welcome to the TLC Book Tour for


Synopsis:

Josephine Tey has returned to the Cowdray Club in London, a club for nurses and professional women, where she stays when in town. Her friends, the Motley sisters, are designing gowns for all of the women who will be attending the upcoming charity gala, while two of her other friends, Lydia and Marta, have ended their relationship. Marta has professed her love for Josephine, who is confused not just because she feels loyal to Lydia, but because she also feels affection for her long-time friend, Inspector Archie Penrose.

Josephine is researching her latest book, a fictional tale based upon the real-life story of Amelia Sach and Annie Walters, both of whom were hanged in 1903 after being convicted of the crime of baby farming — pretending to take in unwed mothers and find homes for their babies once they were born, but, in reality, murdering the infants.

Marjorie Baker is a talented young seamstress working for the Motleys. She, like Lucy Peters, employed as a housemaid at the Cowdray Club, spent time in prison, but desires a chance to make a respectable life for herself. It is difficult for both young women, however, and Marjorie finds herself helping Lucy hide the fact that she has not fully reformed. Soon, Marjorie’s troubled past — not all the details of which even she is informed about — comes calling in the form of her alcoholic, ne’er-do-well father. The next morning both are found dead. Marjorie died a gruesome, painful death at the hands of a murderer.

Who would murder Marjorie, especially in such a heinous manner, in order to keep her from revealing what she did know? Josephine finds herself in the middle of the murder investigation, wondering whether her research and the portion of her book she has drafted thus far had anything to do with the young woman’s death.

Review:

Author Nicola Upson
Set in London in 1935, more than thirty years after the execution of Sach and Walters, Two for Sorrow is a highly stylized, tautly crafted tale inspired by their lives and crimes. Again using acclaimed crime novelist Josephine Tey as her protagonist, author Nicola Upson creates an eclectic cast of supporting characters and spins a web of long-held secrets that threaten to derail several lives if they are revealed.

Like any good crime novel, the story begins innocently, with Upson taking great care to set the scene — the Cowdray Club is steeped in tradition and manners, and Josephine and her circle of friends have known each other for a long time. Still, there is tension among them as a romance between Lydia and Marta has ended, and Marta has expressed her interest in Josephine, asking her to read the diary she has written to Josephine about her feelings. Questions of sexuality and social propriety are explored, as Josephine struggles to decide whether she can return Marta’s feelings. Particularly touching is the gentle relationship between Josephine and Inspector Penrose, who obviously understands that Josephine is torn and suggests to her that she take time to reflect and contemplate her own self.

As the characters’ relationships are revealed, so too is the link from the present to the past. Celia Bannerman, the warder (prison guard) who was with Amelia Sach until she went to her death, is now running the Club. One of the Club’s major patrons had an adolescent romance with Sach’s daughter, Lizzie, who was adopted soon after her mother’s death. The revelation of her real identity resulted in tragedy.

Once Upson grounds her readers in the story’s place, time, and characters, the book’s focus shifts with the brutal slaying of Marjorie, a character for whom readers will have, by then, come to feel hope. At that point, as Inspector Penrose works to uncover the killer’s identity, the story’s pace gradually increases, moving faster and faster toward its shocking conclusion. The gala charity ball, at which Noel Coward and Gertrude Lawrence are the featured performers and guests, is fast approaching and Inspector Penrose’s theories must be put to the test. The plot twists and turns, keeping readers guessing as more and more secrets are revealed — each more shocking than the previous one — until the unbelievable truth is finally uncovered.

Upson’s prose is lush, rich with detail. She incorporates a number of thought-provoking issues into the story, including capital punishment, the purpose of incarceration, the conditions in which female inmates lived in the early years of the twentieth century, and the lingering impact of World War I upon an evolving English society, even as World War II loomed. Through it all, excerpts of Josephine’s novel are interspersed.

Two for Sorrow is a challenging read, not only because of Upson’s unique writing style, but also because it is her third installment featuring the character of Josephine Tey. There are some references to her earlier works that are confusing, but not to the point that this story cannot be enjoyed on its own. Because of the various sociological topics broached, it would make an excellent choice for book clubs.

I read Two for Sorrow in conjunction with the 2011 Read ‘n’ Review and Outdo Yourself Reading Challenges.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one copy of Two for Sorrow free of charge from the author in conjunction with the review and virtual book tour program. I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own. This disclosure complies with 16 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Enter to Win a Copy of Two for Sorrow

One lucky reader, selected at random, will receive a copy of Two for Sorrow, generously provided by the author.

To enter, simply post a comment! Be sure to include your email address (for notification and delivery purposes). The book can only be shipped to a United States or Canadian address (no P.O. box).


The comment posted by Amanda was selected at random, so a copy of Two for Sorrow is being sent to Amanda!

Thanks to all who participated!


37 Comments

  1. Sheila K.

    I would love to read this book—please enter me to win!

    skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

  2. Thanks for the giveaway. This sounds like a thought-provoking book.

  3. It looks like an interesting story.
    mce1011 AT aol DOT com

  4. Krystal Larson

    Would love to read and review this book, sounds like a tale on female friendship 🙂 edysicecreamlover18@gmailDOTcom

  5. I’d like to read this. 🙂
    Thanks for the great giveaway!

    nicnac63 AT hotmail DOT com

  6. This book sounds fascinating and I like that it’s based on a real case. It’s intriguing that Upson’s protagonist, Josephine Tey, is a crime novelist. This book with it’s well-written story and plot filed with suspense and twists and turns sounds like a mystery I don’t want to miss!

    Thank you for a wonderful review and for hosting this giveaway!

    Aimala127(at)gmail(dot)com

  7. Lisa Garrett

    Oh wow! This sounds like a real page turner. I would love to spend a day on the beach reading this.

  8. I would love to read this. Thanks for the chance!

  9. mamabunny13

    This book sounds so interesting and I love the cover.
    mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

  10. thanks for the chance to read this novel 🙂

  11. Oh, my … simply reading your wonderful review had me speed-reading to see what happened next. This one sounds so multi-faceted, with a murder mystery, an exploration of the social mores of the time, and relationships and friendships. Thanks so much for the chance to win!

    knittingandsundries(at)gmail(dot)com

    I love your review; very well-written!

  12. Brittany Gale

    I’d love to read it. Count me in 🙂

    quixoticdreamer(at)hotmail(dot)com

  13. I really like that there is a cold case in the story.

  14. Denise Z

    Thank you for sharing about this very unique book. I love a taste of something different and this certainly sounds like it fits the bill.

    dz59001[at]gmail[dot]com

  15. Pingback: Nicola Upson, author of Two for Sorrow, on tour August 2011 | TLC Book Tours

  16. I haven’t read the previous books in this series, but I’ll be picking up copies soon. I LOVE this sort of mystery book — the setting, time and place. I also like mysteries that make me think about more than just the murder within the pages. Thanks so much for the chance to win a copy!

  17. This sounds really interesting!
    paramourbeat at gmail dot com

  18. Angela Clark

    Sounds like a great read.
    sweetstaker at yahoo dot com

  19. Lissette Martinez

    Thank you, I’d love to read this book

    Lissette_125 at hotmail dot com

  20. Please enter me in the draw, and thanks for the giveaway!

    darlenesbooknook at gmail dot com

  21. This sounds good good! I’d love to read it! Thank you for the giveaway!
    mittens0831 at aol dot com

  22. While I’ve not read the other books in this series, it does sound totally fascinating. I’d love a chance to read it.

  23. Patricia

    I’m really eager to take on a challenging read like this. Count me in. patricia dot mariani dot esq 😯 AT 😯 gmail dot com

  24. Anita Yancey

    Sounds like a great mystery. I would love to read it. Please enter me. Thanks for having this giveaway.
    ayancey(at)dishmail(dot)net

  25. Teresa Lukey

    WOW! I’d never heard of this one prior to reading above. It sounds really good, definitely going on my “to be read” list regardless.

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