Sunday, 30 November 2014

Top 5 Novels: October-November 2014

It's that time again when I force myself to narrow down the novels I've read over the last few months to just five favourites. It's quite a tough call, as is usually the case, but I think I'm finally happy with my list. 

In no particular order, the novels that have left an impression on me recently are:

1. The Parasites by Daphne Du Maurier I'm a little bit in love with addicted to Daphne Du Maurier. Don't look at me like that - it's Hampstead's fault. I've read a few of her novels recently but The Parasites is by far my favourite. Three well-cultured siblings with careers in music, theatre, and illustration: what could possibly go wrong? There's a lot of The Parasites that sits warmly in my heart, and Du Maurier's writing style is to die for.

2. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery I'd always intended to read Anne of Green Gables, but never prioritised it. Now that I've finished it I can honestly say it's one of my favourite classics. It's quite an easy read, which I wouldn't have expected when considering a tale about a little orphan girl moving in with her foster family, but it's just so agreeable in every emotion it projects. The rate of development for Anne's character is lovely too, exactly what I would have hoped for and more. I definitely urge you to read this if you've not yet done so.

3. Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey Oh wow. Where do I begin? Give me any story about spirits and I'll love you forever. This one is so superbly written, and, with its Victorian settings, is more than I could ever have dreamed of. It's thrilling in parts, chilling in others, and so addictive that I couldn't put it down. It's very believable, an eye opener to the world of fraudulent spiritual mediums, and one that I will read again. And probably again.

4. The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton There's a reason why Kate Morton has featured in the past two entries for this series. Her writing is addictive. I do believe The Secret Keeper is my second favourite of her novels to date. A search into the past opens a journey of discover for Laurel, but never did I expect such an outcome. It starts off as a good story, progresses into a wonderful read, and then, out of nowhere, it makes me cry towards the end. I love a novel with a good ending, and this one has a great one!

5. The Observations by Jane Harris This is one of those books that I picked up without not really knowing what to expect from it. I took a risk and it certainly paid off. An Irish maid working for a couple in Edinburgh - sounds straightforward, right? Wrong! The balance of trust here is way off centre; as soon as I start to favour one character they do something that flings me out of my comfort zone. One more occasions than I can count I changed my mind about how I thought it'd end, about who I should believe. It's full of surprises, and puts traditional character traits in a new light. What's not to love?

There's little in life that's as exciting as a great novel. What delights have consumed your imagination these last few months?

Amy x

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Grave Hunting in St-John-at-Hampstead and St Pancras Old Church

Although I don’t ever feel the need for an excuse to go grave hunting, I do like to enjoy the heightened spectrality  of Halloween by spending time in cemeteries and churchyards. This year’s adventures were delightfully literary, with adventures taking me to St Pancras Old Church, and my favourite of favourites: St-John-at-Hampstead.
St Pancras Old Church is situated ten minutes by foot from King’s Cross, so it made an incredibly convenient first-stop on a recent trip to Hampstead. Unfortunately I did not have enough time to go inside the church itself, but the breath-taking beauty of the churchyard somewhat made up for this.
I did, of course, visit with intentions. The particular attraction for me was the memorial tomb of Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin. Wollstonecraft and her writing alike are undeniably fascinating, and visiting the tomb as but a small token of my respect. This was also the location of the secret meetings between Wollstonecraft’s daughter Mary and Percy Shelley before their elopement; so, in a way, if it wasn’t for St Pancras Old Church, there may not have been an elopement, or any time spent at Villa Diodati and the subsequent birth of Frankenstein.

Additionally, the Hardy Tree is a rather spectacular sight. It’s eerie in some aspects, and beautiful in others. I’d seen it in photographs before I visited, but it’s definitely a lot more magnificent in real life. I’m afraid the photo here won’t do it justice, but hopefully it’s enough to whet your appetite to visit!

My favourite churchyard of them all is St-John-at-Hampstead. Not only is it in my favourite place in the world (*cough* Hampstead), it also has a wonderful layout decorated beautifully by nature with trees, plants, and the occasional squirrel. I’d visited several times before, primarily to see Eva Gore-Booth, but something new was on the agenda this time: the Du Mauriers and theLlewellyn Davies family.
Arthur and Sylvia Llewellyn Davies are buried there, as well as some of their sons. Perhaps most notably – and certainly the reason why I sought them out – is the inscription for Peter Llewellyn Davies at the foot of his parents’ grave. Peter was the inspiration for J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, so to think of this as the resting place for the ashes of Peter Pan is, I’m sure you’ll agree, quite exciting.

George Du Maurier’s name sits prominently on this next grave, with many other inscriptions for Du Maurier family members around about. Daphne Du Maurier – my main interest in the family – was actually cremated, with her ashes scattered in Kilmarth, so there’s no trace of her here.

However, there’s plenty of the Du Mauriers, including Daphne, in other locations nearby. Cannon Hall was once home to Gerald Du Maurier, and Well Road hosts a plaque for the house in which Daphne lived for several years.

In all, this was a very successful history-hunting Halloween in Hampstead (please, do excuse the quadruple alliteration; sometimes I just can’t help myself). Until next year…

Amy x

Monday, 17 November 2014

An Interview with (my Auntie) Elsie, Spiritual Messenger

I’m delighted to finally be able to reveal a video that’s been long in the pipeline:

My Auntie Elsie is a spiritual messenger. The gift that was freely given to her by the hierarchy of the Spiritworld is an honour and privilege that is cherished. She has dedicated her life to helping others in need with no self gain, financial or otherwise - all guidance and consultation is completely free and given with non-judgemental compassion. 

I hope you enjoy the video below. I'll leave relevant links and contact information at the bottom!

- Email Elsie:
- Website:
- Trinity of Spiritual Light Facebook:
- Blog:

Questions in the video include:
00:10 - What is a Spiritual Messenger, and for how long as this been a part of your life?
01:21 - What makes spiritualism different to religion?
05:24 - What makes an angel different from a Spirit Guide or somebody who has recently passed on?
06:15 - What sort of impact to paranormal investigation TV programmes have on the perception of the Spiritworld?
08:20 - What are the main reasons behind scepticism towards the Spiritworld?
09:19 - What are the most challenging things about being a spiritual messenger, and what do you enjoy most about it?

Amy x