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gertrude

February 2018

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Rose Blight

Heatwave Reading and other matters



I don’t like humid heatwaves so what better excuse to stay cool and read? I found Helen Bryan’s War Brides on my Kindle; I think it was the free book of the month some time. (It’s still £1.00 for the Kindle until 31st July.) For some reason I was expecting this to be one of those formulaic books about women in wartime, cynically designed to appeal to a certain readership. How wrong can you be! I was totally engrossed by it and read it in a day. The story begins with several old ladies returning to the quiet English village they lived in during the war for a reunion coinciding with the fifty year commemorations of VE day.

Alice has lived in the village all her life. The daughter of the late vicar, she now teaches and looks after a querulous, hypochondriac mother. She is bitter about being jilted by her handsome naval officer neighbour. American Evangeline whom he married in such a hurry now also lives in the village, making for ill feeling. Tanni is a Jewish refugee waiting for her family to escape from Austria and join her. Elsie is a teenager evacuated from the East End to be a housemaid. Most interesting is Frances, who has been leading a wild life in London and is dispatched by her important father to live out of temptation's way in the country.

An unlikely friendship develops between the women, who support each other. We learn their back stories and what happened as the war continued. Plus, there is a traitor in their midst, a Nazi sympathizer (rather like the film Went the Day Well?). When the reunion takes place, at the end of the book, secrets are revealed, mysteries solved and a rather satisfactory revenge taken. Helen Bryan (who is American) says she wrote this book as a tribute to the women of Britain who put up with so much during the war.



I’d been saving The Villa in Italy (also published as Villa Dante) for a bad time, knowing that no book by Elizabeth Edmondson would ever let me down. Right time, right book. It’s like a twist on The Enchanted April. In this case the troubled people who assemble at the Villa Dante one April in the 1950s have not chosen their destination but have been summoned, through lawyers, by the will of a woman none of them has heard of. Each has a different problem; although they had no previous connection, they soon become a loyal little group. The beautiful villa, its once beautiful gardens and the warm sea soothe them into feeling they’re on holiday. The will, though, designed for them as a puzzle, makes them face up to things they’d rather forget. The working out of the mystery and the surprising conclusion make for an absorbing read.

Dear friends and readers unknown, it will be a long time before I recommend a Kindle deal of the day or any other Amazon product here. For ten days I have been banging my head against a brick wall while Amazon insisted that a parcel had been delivered to my address and signed for, while I maintained (truthfully) that it had not. The result of all the emails and phone calls is that they will not give me a refund unless I get a police crime number and report and send it to them. I think the police have better things to do than chase missing Amazon parcels! I suppose it’s like motor insurance: because a few people are dishonest the rest of us suffer. I think I’ve been treated pretty shabbily after spending so much money with them for eighteen years with no previous complaint. I also find that Dorset police would prefer to be contacted online, which will involve a great deal of hassle. Meanwhile, I have spent money with nothing to show for it except a great deal of stress and anxiety which I could do without.

Comments

I have War Brides downloaded on my Kindle and am saving it for a holiday read. Boo to Amazon - they replaced a missing delivery for me without quibble a few years ago but as you say a few unscrupulous people will have spoilt things for the rest of us.
I'd say War Brides is perfect holiday reading.

Boo indeed. I wasn't expecting Amazon to make any trouble but apparently they've changed their rules.
War Brides sounds like a good read.

What a pain Amazon are being. They, in my experience, have always been helpful. Did they say what the signature name was, if legible, and did you ask them for a copy of the signature and the time the parcel was signed for? I hope you told them you'd been a customer for 18 years and never complained before and that you won't be using them again (even if you will). Have you checked with your neighbours? I had Robert's birthday present delivered to his workplace and the dozy Amazon courier said he couldn't get in to deliver it even though instructions are on the front door. I immediately sent details for what he SHOULD have done and he returned that afternoon and delivered it. I'm sorry you have had unnecessary hassle :( I'd be angry and upset as well.
I'm glad I made War Brides sound the good read it is.

Yes, yes and yes is the answer to your questions. I didn't know I'd been a customer that long. The last 'adviser' I spoke to was the only one who made any sense and she told me. She was very sympathetic but by that time there was nothing she could do.

That signature is very suspicious: so similar to my name, with just one letter misplaced. What makes me mad is that as soon as I saw on the tracking information that the parcel had been 'handed to resident', I searched for it in every likely and unlikely place and checked with the neighbours. I phoned at once, well within their delivery hours, and was told to wait twenty four hours 'in case it turned up'. These couriers must all have mobiles with them so why couldn't they contact the chap and ask him *then*? I've often had couriers phone to say they're trying to find me.

Thank goodness for TMS. Rooooooot!
I thought you would have asked all the right questions :) I don't see why it's you who should have to report it to the police as the package hasn't been stolen from you as such as you didn't sign for it or receive it. You have told them this so the onus is surely on the sender. Amazon are failing in their duty. A handwriting expert would tell them you didn't sign for it. Idiots.
Amazon's argument is that as soon as you've paid for the goods, they are your property, not theirs. Therefore, your responsibility. Did you ever?

If a Royal Mail parcel goes astray (as has happened to me when selling on ebay), it's the sender who has to make the claim.
I'm so sorry about the Amazon experience. How aggravating, to say the very least!

I will be starting The Italian Villa this evening.
Thank you! It's very frustrating, to say the least.

Enjoy!
I'm so sorry. Have you talked to Trading Standards? I think in law the onus is on Amazon not you here. They will be able to tell you. Doesn't matter what Amazon's policy is, if it is not legal they can't enforce it.
Thank you. Trading Standards will be my last resort if Amazon don't cough up eventually.
As I said in an earlier reply, if you sell something on ebay by Royal Mail and the buyer doesn't get it, you have to refund the buyer, then claim everything back from Royal Mail and be out of pocket until they pay you. It's a pain but fair to the buyer.
This is awful! Poor poor you! And as you say a real change in Amazon's policy. Who also could have signed for it and not at least dropped the parcel over to you later? I can quite understand too how disappointed and distressed it would make you feel. It is the type of scenario that I keep fearing will happen to us in our new place in London. There's really no safe place to leave anything here as all in view of the road with no enclosed porch. We've started to order things one at a time with the hope they'll get through the letter box that way! And of course nice to get Kindle Books as no trouble at all.
Thank you!

This has really put me off online shopping; too much worry. I do hope such a thing never happens to you! Could you have things delivered at work? I suppose some employers wouldn't like it.
What about choosing a local delivery point (it's free and Amazon have quite a list). The Furzehill or Colehill Post Offices are listed? I can't do work (understandably forbidden to have personal items delivered there) and Miranda wouldn't know which days she'd be in which schools so not practical for her either. We're going to swap to a pick up point in local shop now. xx
Coo, thanks for the tip. Why didn't I know that?