Book Review | “The Golden Chain” (Charton Minster No.2) by Margaret James #ChocLitSaturdays

Posted Saturday, 25 June, 2016 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

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Why I feature #ChocLitSaturdays (book reviews & guest author features)
and created #ChocLitSaturday (the chat via @ChocLitSaturday):

I wanted to create a bit of a niche on Jorie Loves A Story to showcase romance fiction steeped in relationships, courtships, and the breadth of marriage enveloped by characters written honestly whose lives not only endear you to them but they nestle into your heart as their story is being read!

I am always seeking relationship-based romance which strikes a chord within my mind’s eye as well as my heart! I’m a romantic optimist, and I love curling into a romance where I can be swept inside the past, as history becomes lit alive in the fullness of the narrative and I can wander amongst the supporting cast observing the principal characters fall in love and sort out if they are a proper match for each other!

I love how an Indie Publisher like ChocLitUK is such a positive alternative for those of us who do not identify ourselves as girls and women who read ‘chick-lit’. I appreciate the stories which alight in my hands from ChocLit as much as I appreciate the inspirational romances I gravitate towards because there is a certain level of depth to both outlets in romance which encourage my spirits and gives me a beautiful story to absorb! Whilst sorting out how promote my book reviews on behalf of ChocLit, I coined the phrase “ChocLitSaturdays”, which is a nod to the fact my ChocLit reviews & features debut on ‘a Saturday’ but further to the point that on the ‘weekend’ we want to dip into a world wholly ideal and romantic during our hours off from the work week!

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

Acquired Book By: I am a regular reviewer for ChocLitUK, where I hand select which books in either their backlist and/or current releases I would like to read next for my #ChocLitSaturdays blog feature. As of June 2016, I became a member of the ChocLit Stars Team in tandem with being on the Cover Reveal Team which I joined in May 2016. I reference the Stars as this is a lovely new reader contribution team of sending feedback to the publisher ahead of new book releases. As always, even if I’m involved with a publisher in this sort of fashion, each review is never influenced by that participation and will always be my honest impression as I read the story. Whether the author is one I have previously read or never had the pleasure to read until the book greets my shelf.

I received a complimentary copy of “The Golden Chain” from ChocLit in exchange for an honest review! I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein. It should be noted ‘The Golden Chain’ was requested prior to the two teams I joined on behalf of ChocLitUK. I simply have become more active with the Reveal Team & begun my journey as a ChocLit Star in-between receiving this novel and the day my review posts.

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

Why Jorie Loves reading the Charton Minster series:

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.

-quoted from my review of The Silver Locket

You can well understand why I am quite delighted I can continue to read each installment of this series, and become caught up in the drama and lives of each of the characters as they make their entrance and take their cue to exit. It’s one of those timeless classics you hope you can stumble across & dearly love!

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

 Book Review | “The Golden Chain” (Charton Minster No.2) by Margaret James #ChocLitSaturdaysThe Golden Chain
by Margaret James
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Steve West
Source: Direct from Publisher

Can first love last forever?

1931 is the year that changes everything for Daisy Denham. Her family has not long swapped life in India for Dorset, England when she uncovers an old secret.

At the same time, she meets Ewan Fraser - a handsome dreamer who wants nothing more than to entertain the world and for Daisy to play his leading lady.

Ewan offers love and a chance to escape with a touring theatre company. As they grow closer, he gives her a golden chain and Daisy gives him a promise – that she will always keep him in her heart.

But life on tour is not as they’d hoped, Ewan is tempted away by his career and Daisy is dazzled by the older, charismatic figure of Jesse Trent. She breaks Ewan’s heart and sets off for a life in London with Jesse.

Only time will tell whether some promises are easier to make than keep …

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Book Page on ChocLitUK

ISBN: 9781906931643

Also by this author: The Silver Locket, The Penny Bangle, Cover Reveal w/ Notes (Girl in Red Velvet), The Wedding Diary

Also in this series: The Silver Locket, The Penny Bangle, Cover Reveal w/ Notes (Girl in Red Velvet), The Wedding Diary


Genres: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Realistic Fiction


Published by ChocLitUK

on 1st May, 2011

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 336

Published by: ChocLitUK (@ChocLituk)

Available Formats: Paperback, Audiobook & E-Book

Order of Sequence of Charton Minster series:

The Silver Locket Book One (review)

The Golden Chain Book Two | The Penny Bangle Book Three

The Wedding Diary Book Four | Magic Sometimes Happens Book Five

Converse via: #ChartonMinsterSeries, #HistFic, #HistRom + #ChocLit

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.

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

Charton Minster : an estate, a towne and a legacy:

What truly is fascinating behind the curtain of events, is how Ms James roots us to the spot surrounding the emotional legacy behind Charton Minster; which is both an estate, a towne and a legacy of souls. There is a lot of deeply felt emotional baggage pertaining to the residents (both past and present) but it’s more than mere lineage and ancestral heirs that bespeak of the anguish that is a bit of a shroud around the estate itself, as the whispered rumours etch well into the towne as well. It’s an intriguing look at how society can chose to judge and take sides against issues they may or may not even truly understand; but they do so because they feel they have the right to judge people who live in their towne. In this one regard, Ms James paints the grim picture well for how small towne gossip and misunderstandings can abound as swiftly as one can add scuttlebutt to the gossip-mills!

It almost felt like the towne had trouble moving forward because the family whose ancestral heritage was once respected in residence at Charton Minster, had long since vacated it’s grounds. The new owner was not worthy of it’s holding, as his entire life was practically a sham but it’s also how he lived his life that truly was distasteful. Further interesting was watching how choices, judgments and the fine line of tolerance all started to intermix affecting the lives of those who would come up next in the generations after all the heartache first materalised.

My Review of The Golden Chain:

Ahead of reading this sequel, I re-read the last chapters of ‘The Silver Locket’ as I wanted to re-familiarize myself with the ending bits of the story,… I had remembered who Daisy is but it’s quite another to re-pause over those passages, re-visit the anguish of Rose’s heart when she realised her Da would not relent on his insistence to marry the bloke of his choosing or she’d forfeit her inheritance of Charton Minster (the family estate). It was also telling that Daisy’s Mum couldn’t bear to raise her daughter, and her biological father disowned her outright – only Rose & Alex the resilient war romanced couple took Daisy into their hearts & arms with full acceptance,… granting her a new beginning in the far-off place of India; the country they set their sights on being a place they could renew their spirit & re-define who they could become. What was even more fitting is what Rose learnt just as the last sentences were etched into ink!

As we re-enter the series, life has stopped in India and resumed in Charton Village; a stone’s throw from Rose’s ancestral home and a whispering secret in regards to Daisy’s awareness of her unknown parentage. We caught a glimpse of how Rose and Alex had thwarted attempts to tell their budding (adopted) daughter the truth, but a part of me recoiled a bit at their choices. It’s never wise to keep the truth from a child, as secrets have a way of willing themselves out of time, straight into the present when your least expecting their arrival and all will properly unravel thereafter. I could still remember the reasoning behind keeping the secret, it was aptly wise at the time, but as Daisy grew, I could not fathom why keeping such an important part of her identity a secret would befit her growing years; if anything, I felt it might have the opposite effect, having her feel as if she’s chasing after something she never knew was lost in the first place!

Rose and Alex’s choices ring true to life, as not every parent chooses to explain how their child(ren) have become integrated into their home and lives. Yet, being that I’ll be adopting children in the future, the one thing I would want them to maintain is a healthy outlook and a positive respect for who they are and the family they were bourne into even if circumstances altered their course. We have to heal the past before the future can be walked, yes?

Counter-current to Daisy coming-of age and questioning what she wants to do as she matures past where being at home is proper, we have the entrance of Ewan Fraser; I nearly choked when I learnt who his relation was in Dorset as he was the cause of such a lot of strife in the previous story! This felt true to form somehow, as if you cannot mend the past as it’s being lived or having put a bit of distance between the sorrows; it’s quite apt to repeat itself or cause further harm down the road. I think that is one lesson none of the key characters had learnt as it’s one thing to move forward but it’s quite another to find a way to lay to rest the wrongs, right the omissions and attempt to live without the guilt of past baggage.

One of the beauties of this story, is how Daisy is fashioning her independence right from under the nose of her parents, of whom should have realised truth in a small towne has a way of finding someone – such a clever crafting of how the truth initially reaches Daisy (though unknown to being related to her directly by both her & Ewan) whilst she contemplates her life: both in India and in England. How the differences in approach to living differ between young girls and how adventure seems to have become lost on her British peers. You can start to see how Daisy is pulling together her essence of self and how reflective her spirit of living nods back to her (biological) parents inasmuch as the encouragement of her (adoptive) parents.

Ewan encourages Daisy to take a risk and a chance at a future they could tie together – in the theatre – a prospect Daisy found fittingly lovely as it would allow her to earn her own way, whilst granting her distance from her home-life which was not as rosy as it once were. Her family had their own strife’s to work through, especially as the conditions at her father’s inherited manor grew more devastating as time ebbed on since they returnt from India; but even then, her parents’ resilience shined.

One of the harder to read scenes involved one of Daisy’s new theatre chums who decided to abort her pregnancy and the realisation on Daisy of how blessed she had been that her mother had not given up hope on her but rather, chose to give her a new life with a family who could raise her through adoption. It also showed the historical difficulties with abortion and the hard choices inflicted on women; rather than take a stance one way or the other, Ms James shows how one woman chose her path whilst giving Daisy something to think about in regards to her humble origins. Daisy was growing up quite quickly being being on the stage; real-life had a way of giving her an inside clue into what leaving home truly meant and why childhood shouldn’t be rushed to exit.

The hardest part was watching Daisy continue to make choices without recognising how certain choices can change your life; not always for the better, sometimes not even for the worse, but change can alter your path all the same. As she grew in her skill set on the stage, a charmer of a bloke started to swept her away from her beloved Ewan; although, mind you, if he hadn’t been such a boil-head (short fuse!) she might not have felt motivated to shift her allegiances to another fellow! Even her castmates tried to steer her in the right direction as she was a blissfully young sixteen to their ten years (at least) of extra experience over her short rookie season. Hearts tend to be fickle but I noticed it was more to the point Daisy was getting caught up in the roles and the limelight moreso than the attentions of a bloke who may or may not be fully honest with her about his truer intentions. There are warnings signs, but Daisy is the kinda of gal who chooses not to see them or is a bit too green on the world to recognise them.

You truly start to feel for Ewan after awhile; such a stand-up bloke who felt smitten by Daisy the first day he saw her walking towards his family’s estate’s gate. She was attempting to take a short-cut home from school and he was trying to circumvent what was expected of him. They were two lovebirds caught up in each others’ presence yet once they took to the road and tried to make their way, each of them started to learn hidden truths about the other. Meanwhile, the past has caught up with Daisy in regards to her biological mother feeling remorseful about having let her become a stranger – it’s a curious supportive thread, which I found wonderfully honest; especially how Ms James kept Phoebe’s character so ringing true to whom she was in the previous installment! It’s telling for how complicated adoption can be when there isn’t an open line of communication regarding the change of guardianship.

This is such a heart-warming series – this section of the saga was very family-centred, about how you can grow closer through adversity and how being industriously hopeful towards your circumstances can lead to new tomorrows. The parents and the children alike never wavered in hope for their futures, whilst sorting out small ways to contribute to building a tomorrow they could all be proud to claim as a hard-won victory over the events that led to their financial insecurity after difficult situations affected their securities. I especially enjoyed seeing how returning to land and farm, built a strength of hearth and home; whilst giving new possibilities of how to self-sustain yourself along the way. Love can move mountains and in this case, the love of family is a bond made of sturdy fibre that can weather any storm that threatens to destroy them.

How Ms James fuses continuity throughout Charton Minster:

One of the best methods of delivering a sequel to a series in-progress for me is knitting up the characters’ story-lines whilst expanding on the supporting cast and the other curious sorts who take up residence in the background of where the central leads live and take our hearts for a walkabout. This is exactly what Ms James has done with the Charton Minster series, as she dropped us back inside the story soon after the close of the first novel – wells, time shifted forward a small bit, but evenso, Rose and Alex were right as rain against the page; just as I had remembered them. They were still two against the world, living their lives despite the adverse strife they ebbed in and out of, they were content and happy because they chose to be together.

Boiling behind the romance between Rose & Alex is a deeper scar that hasn’t healed through absence nor of the passage of time – seeing what had become of Charton Minster and the seething anger of who took up residence inside the ancient estate was difficult as one would hope time could heal even the most difficult of hearts. I applauded Ms James for keeping the continuity moving forward whilst owning the truths of difficult characters who truly haven’t quite learned how best to live. Throughout this installment, the flaws which gave the characters the most depth became the connective threads of where personal growth matured into such a warm new beginning.

I truly liked seeing how Rose & Alex alongside their children continued to ban together as a family, through thick and thin; rights and wrongs and all the lovely moments in-between. They were a true blue family, letting each other grow and make mistakes, but giving each other the warmth of encouragement only given out of the pureness of unconditional love. Their family was beyond blessed in that regard, as they understood each others worts and loved each other all the same! It will be quite interesting to see how the story picks up in the third installment ‘The Penny Bangle’ where Daisy’s brothers take centerstage as the series shifts forward. I grew quite found of Robert and Stephen as they became such enterprising young gentlemen!

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

This book review is courtesy of:

ChocLitUK Reviewer Badge by ChocLitUK.
Note of Apology to the publisher & author Ms James: for some strange reason June became the month of back-to-back lightning storms which bounced me offline more than it allowed me to stay online long enough to blog my thoughts about this beautiful sequel to ‘The Silver Locket’. I also had to deal with a slightly exhaustively intense invasion of ants and a defective car lightbulb that put my life in danger in such a horrid way that left me at the mechanics for a solid afternoon awaiting to see if it caused damage or could be fixed outright. Ergo, I apologise June proved to be a hard month on my reading life! Blessed the car nightmare was quickly fixed & sorted, too!

Please click to read this tweet to understand why I initially re-set the clock, reading this lovely sequel when I had planned to read it on Saturday! Although, life has a way of interrupting our plans, as seen through this lovely s/o tweet where I was sharing a bit of random joy!

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In case you’ve missed my ChocLit readings:

Please follow the threads through #ChocLitSaturdays!

And, visit my ChocLit Next Reads List on Riffle

to see which stories I fancy to devour next!

I celebrated my 3rd Blogovesrary on 31st of March, 2016 wherein I revealled my Best of the Best Reads for 2015 via my End of the Year Survey. More than one ChocLit novel made the cut and received a special Award from me to acknowledge how lovely it was written!

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

My ChocLit readings this May, June & 1st weekend in July 2016:

 The Legend of the Gypsy Hawk | No.1 of the Ile of Sainte Anne series | by Sally Malcolm (review)

You Think You Know Me | No. 1 of the London & Cambridge Mysteries | by Claire Chase (review)

The Golden Chain | No. 2 of Charton Minster series (see No.1) | by Margaret James

Some Veil Did Fall | No.1 of the Rossetti Mysteries | by Kirsty Ferry

*Part of my focus on serial ChocLit Fiction!*

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Recent Chats:

Topic: Vampire Romance, Gothic Culture & Art and the series Berni Stevens
has written which bewitched me! Chatted about on 28th of May, 2016 | REPLAY

Topic: Ghosts, Gothic Lit & Rhoda Baxter’s new release “Please Release Me”.
Chatted about on 11th of June, 2016 | REPLAY

Topic: ChocLitUK’s 7th Birthday & OPEN TOPIC Chat feat. our combined love of gardening, bakery delights (esp cakes!) & a bit of ChocLit #booklove too! Chatted about on 18th June, 2016 | REPLAY

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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. We regularly meet-up directly on Twitter following the tag #ChocLitSaturday. You can use TweetDeck to follow the conversation or tweetchat.com where the app auto-adds the tag for you!

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

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary! Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst bloggers who picked up the same story to read.

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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 of Margaret James, Author Biography, Book Synopsis and ChocLit Reviewer badge were provided by ChocLitUK and were used by permission. ChocLitSaturdays Banner Created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. #ChocLitSaturdays May 2016 badge created by Jorie in Canva.}

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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, 25 June, 2016 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 20th Century, Adoption, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, British Literature, Brothers and Sisters, Child out of Wedlock, ChocLitSaturdays, ChocLitUK, Coming-Of Age, England, Family Drama, Fathers and Daughters, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Green-Minded Publishers, Historical Fiction, Indie Author, Modern British Author, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Multi-Generational Saga, Romance Fiction, Siblings, Small Towne Fiction, the Thirties, Twin Siblings, Unexpected Pregnancy, Vulgarity in Literature, Women's Health

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