Book Review | “The Silver Locket” by Margaret James begins the Charton Minster series! #ChocLitSaturdays

Posted Saturday, 5 March, 2016 by jorielov , , , , , , , 2 Comments

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Acquired Book By:

I am a ChocLit reviewer who receives books of my choice in exchange for honest reviews! I received a complimentary copy of “The Silver Locket” from ChocLit in exchange for an honest review! I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein. 

An Introduction to the Charton Minster series:

Order of Sequence of Charton Minster series:

The Silver Locket Book One | The Golden Chain Book Two | The Penny Bangle Book Three

The Wedding Diary Book Four | Magic Sometimes Happens Book Five

The first story begins in 1914, where we enter the life of Rose Courtenay – the impression of how this story settled inside my mind will play out below this introduction, as I have decided to start at the beginning of this saga, as I make my way through each of the novels. I love reading series in order of how their stories are being told – mostly due to continuity but also, as I like to see how an author grows the arc of the character’s journey inasmuch as how the story evolves per installment of the series as a whole. I love finding the connective threads and the little nuances which knit everything together or leave a plausible line of thought to question certain motives or outcomes.

Serial fiction is one of my favourite mainstays when it comes to what I appreciate reading on a regular basis – so much so, I decided to dedicate this year to seeking the series within the catalogue of ChocLit; to see the beautiful diversity of characters and stories interacting through a myriad of timescapes which truly give my heart a heap of joy to discover! This is part of the beauty of reading ChocLit – if you love relationship-based Rom set in both the historical past or the contemporary modern world – you’ll always find something to cosy up inside as you pick up a ChocLit novel!

Here is the description for the original books which made up the series trilogy:

Starts in 1914 and ends in 1948. A compelling and intensely romantic tale of the lives of a Dorset family throughout the wars. Set in the UK, France, Belgium, Egypt and Italy.

If you love Downton Abbey, you’ll adore Charton Minster!

You can see what drew me to this series – I was a big appreciator Downton before they killed off Matthew and then, a test of wills followed whilst I have put-off seeing the last two series until they are available to borrow through my local library. It’s simply something that can await my attention, as the story-lines and choices Fellowes was making with his creation irked my ire more than once. Having said that, what I appreciated in the description for this series is how it’s similar to Downton by scope – focusing on a singular family and the trials which will befell them as the series proceeds forward in time.

I love sagas – you get to become so intimately familiar with the characters, caught up in their tides and get to have this extended visitation which you hardly ever want to see end. This is what was so fascinating for me when I realised there were two new novels attached to this trilogy: The Wedding Diary and Magic Sometimes Happens as I had a feeling this might prove to be a hard series to put down. The new installments sound as though they are set in the contemporary world, and perhaps, are linked through the descendants of the original characters – I tried to root out a back-story on these whilst reading through the author’s blog, but I did not find exactly what I was searching for to reveal the particulars.

Which makes my entrance into the series even more delightful, as I get to relate to you, dear hearts, what I am finding and how everything ties collectively together as I move through the series!

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Notation on Cover Art: Being a mixed media collage artist who loves to focus on Vintage Ephemera supplies including old photographs from the early 20th Century, I must say, I loved the focus on the women of the Charton Minster series! I had hoped they might be spotlighting the lead characters per novel before the series turns contemporary and thereby the focus of the covers would surely shift. This vintage styling for the cover art truly matched my impressions of the stories by reading their synopsises as it’s a story told through it’s women & how their lives shaped the family’s destiny.

Book Review | “The Silver Locket” by Margaret James begins the Charton Minster series! #ChocLitSaturdaysThe Silver Locket
by Margaret James
Source: Direct from Publisher

If life is cheap, how much is love worth?

It’s 1914 and young Rose Courtenay has a decision to make. Please her wealthy parents by marrying the man of their choice – or play her part in the war effort? The chance to escape proves irresistible and Rose becomes a nurse.

Working in France, she meets Lieutenant Alex Denham, a dark figure from her past. He’s the last man in the world she’d get involved with – especially now he’s married

But in wartime nothing is as it seems. Alex’s marriage is a sham and Rose is the only woman he’s ever wanted. As he recovers from his wounds, he sets out to win her trust. His gift of a silver locket is a far cry from the luxuries she’s left behind.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

ISBN: 9781906931285

Also by this author: The Golden Chain, The Penny Bangle, Girl in Red Velvet

Series: Charton Minster


Also in this series: The Golden Chain, The Penny Bangle, Girl in Red Velvet


Genres: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, War Drama


Published by ChocLitUK

on 29th May, 2012

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 320

Published by: ChocLitUK (@ChocLitUK)

Formats Available: Paperback, Audiobook and E-book

Converse via: #ChocLit

Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards Badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

About Margaret James

Margaret James

Margaret James was born and brought up in Hereford and now lives in Devon. She studied English at London University, and has written many short stories, articles and serials for magazines. She is the author of sixteen published novels.

Her debut novel for Choc Lit, The Silver Locket, received a glowing review from the Daily Mail and reached the Top 20 Small Publishers Fiction List in November 2010 and in the same year a Reviewers’ Choice Award from Single Titles. The Golden Chain also hit the Top 20 Small Publishers Fiction List in May 2011. The Wedding Diary was shortlisted for the 2014 Romantic Novel of the Year Award.

Novels: The Silver Locket, The Golden Chain, The Penny Bangle, The Wedding Diary and Magic Sometimes Happens which are part of the Charton Minster series.

Conjecture and Honesty:

When local conjecture is at it’s highest, generally speaking most people have to walk a fine line towards either accepting other people’s insensitivity or draw themselves outside that nefarious orbit to lead with their own mind. The truth can become so very muddled about where honesty hasn’t a proper chance to surface nor does the real story rarely emerge out of the past unless someone strives to find it. Therefore, I was not a bit surprised that the scuttlebutt of the hour was surrounding Alex Denham and the curious entrance of his being would bring about it a charge of insults against him by neighbours who could do well to mind their own affairs.

Although, outside of the issues Denham is facing, so too, is Rose – she’s yet to step outside her parent’s world and to defy the structure of decorum which has been in place for centuries; all the while her heart is curiously piqued by Denham, though she loathes to admit it possible. She has a bit of a edge to her that feels like it’s etched out of living out of context to her own mind and with the incapacitated freedoms of someone who is bound by rules they do not believe in. If Rose were to own her honest thoughts about the path her life is set to a course of her parents choosing – one would be quite happily shocked to find her disdain and forwardness about the rights for women to choose their own destinies.

My Review of  The Silver Locket:

As we enter Rose Courtenay’s life, she’s reached the point she cannot accept the doldrum consistency of what has become her routine at her family’s estate. Her mother, like most of her time only wish to see her daughter rightly married to a smart man and most keenly one of both importance and wealth. Rose on the other hand, is not her mother’s daughter as her desire to leave tradition behind is quite strong. Contrary to her plight, is the uncertainty of Alex Denham’s future as he’s returning to the Courtenay’s family home with more than a chip on his shoulder – as he’s dealt with their scrutiny a few too many times in the past. By appearances, I don’t blame his apprehension as they are clearly the type of family whose first impressions and society perceptions are key to either winning them over or being outright shunned.

Rose Courtenay is being tested about her loyalty to her heart and the duties endowed her by being her parent’s daughter – a child raised at a certain level of station where the divides between classes is dearly outlined for her each time she tries to assert her voice. Never more true than a proposal that is not on the merits of love or romance, but because it ‘sounds good on paper’ to unite two people whose finances and families can unite together as one. The contriteness of this choice is not lost on Rose, but how she wars with her mind over her choices is what champions James as a writer of a war drama bent on highlighting a strong female lead who has her own story to share.

Denham went off to war and Rose found herself conscripted by her choice into a hospital ward as a volunteer nurse – a place where she fully came into her own and matured. She made a bit of a muck of things at first, stumbling her way through her rounds and not nearly as apt at doing routine requests as other young nurses, but somehow through perseverance she managed. In the midst of the hospital wards, Rose was given the rare opportunity to try her hand at living and serving others with a freedom she never had in her own life to give.

Denham caught himself in a family way without ever properly understanding if the babe to be were his own whilst he endured the war and tried to honour his mates in the bunker by doing his bit. His thoughts overtook him whilst he was on watch, but his heart was bonded to Rose; the one girl who impressioned upon him an honest spirit who was simply not ready to lose her heart to a man. His plight whilst fighting was conflicted by his emptiness of worth; his life was not moving forward in a way he had hoped and everything was adding up to be more than he could handle. Such distraught anguish in his soul, as reading the passages where he’s going through the motions but not caring if he’s killed in action put a heavy weight on what his state of mind was at that point in time.

Rose took courage out of a friendship she forged with one of the Sisters on the wards; a nurse whose compassionate heart reached out to comfort Rose and strengthen her resolve to overcome her inexperience as a volunteer nurse. It was through this friendship, Rose first met Phoebe whose story-line runs concurrent to her own and whose life is quite dismal in comparison. You feel for Phoebe as she made hard choices and tried to do what she could to get by but made dearly horrid mistakes in trusting the men she did. As we learn more about Phoebe we see how different she is from her sister Maria, the nurse who inspired Rose and who went off to France to seek whatever it was Rose first hoped she’d find there.

In the midst of all of this, Rose is beckoned back home, back to Charton Minster at the mercy of her mother, her nosy neighbours and the tiring trite of society’s ear. There is such a wonderful twist to the developing story, I could only smile at Ms James putting her touch on how choices can boomerang on you and effectively change the course of events yet to come. It’s a clever twist, mind you, especially considering the parties it involves! Part of what is happening at this junction of the story, Rose is torn between her duty as a nurse and pacifying her parents – as although she acted a bit hastily and did not let her parents know of her whereabouts nearly as quick as she ought to have, if she had never left, what would have become of her then? I don’t believe her parents gave her half the credit she rightly deserved.

The constrictive upbringing matched the fiery spirit of Rose’s heart because it enabled her to find her voice and her freedom during a time where nothing was turnt right side up. The war was dragging it’s heels and wrecking lives in it’s wake; people dared to carve out a bit of life from the hours they had to give to each other, but when it came to Rose she tried to live as full of a life as she could because it was the first time she ever truly felt alive. She bent the rules, sure more than most, but she bent them in order to live in rhythm with her passion and to hope for a chance at a happiness she never felt she’d claim.

In tandem to her path, was Denham who like Rose never quite had a chance to live a life of his own making until he went to war. Both of them were tied to reputations which were conjectured and inter-woven with presumptions not befitting either of them; except for a few which stung out the truth about a few bits neither was willing to accept as being sinful. The earlier twist in the story, yielded a new life of whom is a happy jolt of sunshine to everyone who meets her and whose story is within this first trilogy (of the saga) which continues next inside the pages of The Golden Chain.

Women’s Suffragettes and Rose’s independence:

I could not help but notice the coincidence that Mrs Pankhurst was mentioned on page 50, after I had just learnt all about her whilst reading Emmy Nation; a historical novel which further propelled me backwards through the war on women and the fight for civil rights. I appear to have made champion choices for 2016 which are highlighting the Feminist movement and a pro-positive slice of history where strong women fought for the rights of all women who would come after their protests, marches and hard work to convey a simple message called ‘Equality’. A simple message that would take decades to overcome even the most basic of necessities and centuries later are still in ready dispute whilst placing women’s rights in jeopardy all over again. This vein of thought is never fully fleshed out as Rose has enough on her plate than to take-on the Suffragettes but it does point towards where England was during a pivotal time for women’s history.

These are the moments where I wonder – did I discover the story or did the stories find me?

The closer her nursing career takes Rose to the war front, the more she finds she’s become independent of her parents, and finds a resolve in knowing she’s done the right thing in pursuing her own path. Each nod of gratitude by her peers who trained her gave her the bold confidence to realise she was on the right track but it wasn’t until she took off to France that she realised why nursing was her calling. She took great solace in knowing her kind gestures and ministrations of the wounded were affecting the men positively; a bit of warmth out of chaos. It is here amongst the wounded and the horrors of WWI, Rose became a woman and rightly owned the choices she made to define who she would become.

Small note on the medical bits:

At first I had forgotten this was a medical drama, as I had overlooked one small detail: Rose is a nurse! Not that I shy away from medical bits or nursing dramas, as I felt keen to cosy up to Charles Todd’s Bess Crawford series wherein his lead character is a nurse. I think I was simply unexpectedly taken by some of the descriptions inside The Silver Locket but one grace Ms James gave the reader is never pausing too long on the gory bits of wound care but rather, knits the story round her lead character Rose and her self-discovery of how you can set your sails on a life of your choosing. The hardest scenes by half are when Rose is working on the nursing trains – they have so many wounded coming in and out, it’s worse than a high level trauma ER. Despite this, what struck an accord the most, is how humanistically honest James wrote Rose’s emotional and psychological state of being whilst she was working as a nurse in France.

On the historical writing style of Ms James:

Ms James has such a keen writerly talent for inserting us straight into the Nineteen Hundreds as if we were always meant to re-visit them with such felicity of spirit and moxie as the story of Rose Courtenay translates inside The Silver Locket! I love the expressions and the centreing of this timescape, she does well to include a breath of pause for the traditionalism and the society conventions of the day, allowing us to see the full scope of what is causing Rose the most duress.

The background of the story is cross-set between the small countryside area of Dorset where Rose’s family estate resides and London; as the story first introduces us to her family before moving straight into the heart of war, where nurses are in limited supply! The moxie it would have taken for an eighteen year old not weathered on life or experience to embrace a full-on charge of nursing rotations is hard to get your mind around until you meet Rose Courtenay, who proves everyone is able to do far more than they originally dare possible! Ms James definitely sets a high standard for war dramas and for the glimpses of an era beseeched by war and the after effects of how war changes everyone involved.

How Ms James was able to write such convincingly real passages of WWI straight from the trenches to the field units for the nursing staff, I am unsure; as she is one historical author who grants you such a harrowing view of what it must have felt like to be there. Research is brilliant but James has found a way to see past what can be researched and grant us this portrait of trench warfare and on-call nursing staff that brings to full light the difficulties and the brutality of serving aboard during an on-going war.

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

This book review is courtesy of:

ChocLitUK Reviewer

In case you’ve missed my ChocLit readings:

Please follow the threads through #ChocLitSaturdays!

I disclosed my next ChocLit reads on #BookishNotBookish No.6

And, visit my ChocLit Next Reads List on Riffle

to see which stories I fancy to devour next!

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Don’t forget to Replay the Bookish Chats via #ChocLitSaturday by visiting us on Nurph!

I hope we’ll see you chatting with us! Spread the joy of #ChocLitSaturday to your bookish friends! Visit my post on #ChocLitSaturdays vs #ChocLitSaturday for more information! And, the words I expressed about #ChocLitSaturday on my spotlight for The Wild One by Janet Gover.

Remember you can also drop in on the conversations are your able too!

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Replay Today’s Convo about “Co-Writing Stories: Shorts, Round Robins & Novels”!

Be sure to read the latest ChocLit Round Robin Story this one is celebrating Mother’s Day in the UK!

Part I by Berni Stevens (read)

Part II by Sarah Waights (read)

Part III by Annemarie Brear (read)

Part IV by Clare Chase (read)

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Reader Interactive Question:

What captures your heart the most about war dramas and Historical Rom?

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If you love war dramas in #histfic, Margaret James envelopes you inside the era & provides a… Click To Tweet

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{SOURCES: Cover art of  “The Silver Locket”, “The Golden Chain”, “The Penny Bangle”, “The Wedding Diary”, “Magic Sometimes Happens”; author photograph for Margaret James, author biography, book synopsises for “The Silver Locket” and the Charton Minster series, and book reviewer badge were all provided by ChocLitUK and used with permission. #ChocLitSaturdays Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards Badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.Comment Box Banner made by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2016.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all. "I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story) more >> | Hire me as a betareader | Policies & Review Requests

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2016 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
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Posted Saturday, 5 March, 2016 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 20th Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Bookish Discussions, Britian, British Literature, Castles & Estates, ChocLitSaturdays, ChocLitUK, Coming-Of Age, Debut Author, Debut Novel, During WWI, England, Father-Daughter Relationships, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Green Publishing, Historical Fiction, Indie Author, Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards, Life Shift, Medical Fiction, Military Fiction, Modern British Author, Modern British Literature, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Nurses & Hospital Life, Political Narrative & Modern Topics, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, the Nineteen Hundreds, The World Wars, War Drama, Warfare & Power Realignment, Women's Fiction, Women's Rights, Women's Suffrage

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2 responses to “Book Review | “The Silver Locket” by Margaret James begins the Charton Minster series! #ChocLitSaturdays

    • Hallo, Hallo Ms Shoop!

      I positively felt myself so heart-tied to this story, I felt as I first walked out of the story as if I too, had just left France! Although a portion of the ending occurs in Russia, it’s the scenes in France that truly staid with me – the courage it took for the nurses on those trains and in those make-shift wards to not only carry on their duties but to not allow themselves to let fear overtake them as they had to keep the wounded nursed and carried after until they could be transitioned back to safety. I cannot wait to see what awaits me in The Golden Chain as I’m so dearly curious now about Daisy’s story!

      You’re quite welcome, Ms Shoop – sharing moments like the ones I had within the chapters of The Silver Locket is most enjoyable for me!

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