Author: M.K. Tod

*Blog Book Tour*: Unravelled by M.K. Tod

Posted Saturday, 9 November, 2013 by jorielov , , 5 Comments

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Unravlled Virtual Book Tour - France Book Tours

Unravelled by M.K. Tod
Published By: Tod Publishing, 19 September 2013
Official Author Websites: Tod on Facebook; Tod on Twitter; Personal Site & Blog
Available Formats: Softcover and E-Book
Page Count: 440

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Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a stop on the “Unravelled” Virtual Book Tour, hosted by France Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of “Unravelled”  in exchange for an honest review by the author (M.K. Tod) of whom is also the publisher Tod Publishing. The book released in September 2013. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inspired to Read: I have always been drawn into dramas set during the World War eras, including reading one earlier this year which was a time slip between both World Wars as a woman (Elspeth) embarked on discovering what had happened to the man (David) she met and loved during the war. Having read “Letters from Skye“, I was awakened to the idea of “Unravelled” most readily because at the heart of both premises is the search for truth inside the backdrop of war. War dramas can evoke so much emotion on the pure level of the war itself, but its what happens in the background of war that keeps my interest perked. How the loved ones left behind find resolve to carry-on forward whilst they have someone deployed as much as how those who survive the war itself re-integrate back into civilian life. No two stories are alike, as readily as each character elects to draw into their human condition in different ways.

 

M.K. TodAuthor’s Biography:

I have enjoyed a passion for historical novels that began in my early teenage years immersed in the stories of Rosemary Sutcliff, Jean Plaidy and Georgette Heyer. During my twenties, armed with Mathematics and Computer Science degrees, I embarked on a career in technology and consulting continuing to read historical fiction in the tiny snippets of time available to working women with children to raise.

In 2004, I moved to Hong Kong with my husband and no job. To keep busy I decided to research my grandfather’s part in the Great War. What began as an effort to understand my grandparents’ lives blossomed into a fulltime occupation as a writer. Beyond my debut novel UNRAVELLED, I have written two other novels with WWI settings. I have an active blog—www.awriterofhistory.com —on all aspects of historical fiction including interviews with a variety of authors and others involved in this genre. Additionally, I am a book reviewer for the Historical Novel Society. I live in Toronto and I’m happily married with two adult children.

Book Synopsis:Unravelled by M.K. Tod

Two wars, two affairs, one marriage.

In October 1935, Edward Jamieson’s memories of war and a passionate love affair resurface when an invitation to a WWI memorial ceremony arrives. Though reluctant to visit the scenes of horror he has spent years trying to forget, Edward succumbs to the unlikely possibility of discovering what happened to Helene Noisette, the woman he once pledged to marry. Travelling through the French countryside with his wife Ann, Edward sees nothing but reminders of war. After a chance encounter with Helene at the dedication ceremony, Edward’s past puts his present life in jeopardy.

When WWII erupts a few years later, Edward is quickly caught up in the world of training espionage agents, while Ann counsels grieving women and copes with the daily threats facing those she loves. And once again, secrets and war threaten the bonds of marriage.

With events unfolding in Canada, France and England, UNRAVELLED is a compelling novel of love, duty and sacrifice set amongst the turmoil of two world wars.

Unravel & Disseminate the Past:

It’s hard to step back into the past when you’ve lived through a brutal war, of which your memories plague you with the harshness of service. When your past cross-sects your present and propels you backwards towards that time, due to a recognition (in this case) or a footnote in lecture series of that particular war, your entire being fights against the ability to calmly acknowledge the gratitude. As a survivor of such brutality, the living mind will not entreat from memories but rather allow them to consume every inch of a person’s waking world. Edward has to weigh the past horrors with his present invitation to go back to France, whilst choosing whether or not to disclose the details he’s kept from his wife Ann. How then do you decide what to share and what to keep hidden from view?

Prior to taking his trip to France, he decided to recover letters he had hidden in a metal tin he had kept in his parents house. Letters which were not exchanged with his wife, but rather a woman named Helene. Memories of his first love flickered back to him with a warming glow of affection. He ruminated about his last search for her whereabouts and of what could have separated them. Even in the present day, his heart could not accept the fact he never found out what had become of Helene. The more you dig into your past, the more you have to decide what to allow back into the threshold of your thoughts, because if you’re not careful, the past can overcome you to a sickening degree. Whilst in France, standing at the memorial Edward’s burden is compounded by being in the presence of where the lives were lost that had become the baggage of grief of which he had never shed. He arrives at a point where he has to decide about how to resolve the past as bits of his wartime life starts to emerge back into his present world. It’s a question that deserves merit to weigh, because when there are disconnections in our lives we lose the ability to grasp the larger scope of our actions. We tend to act on feeling and instinct rather than reason. Edward has placed himself at a junction point where the further he attempts to unravel the events of his life, the further away from where he has been led lengthens.

In his vein attempt to keep his past personal and away from Ann, he starts to distance himself from his wife who is tired of his retreating into himself without sharing what is on his mind, heart, and soul. He doesn’t realise that his solitude is creating a divide in his marriage. I would hope that in the end, he would realise that it is far better to share the whole truth, than to carry-on with the lie. As this is one of the pitfalls of attempting to make reparations of the past. His further anguish as he stands on the precipice of the past merged with the present as events are propelled forward for him in France, he must make choices he never felt he would have to face. Therein lies another danger of tempting fate beyond what your willing to sacrifice.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com My Review of Unravelled:

In the opening bits of the story, Edward starts to experience flashbacks to his time at war, re-living the most brutal of situations which were spun into focus after receiving an invitation to attend the unveiling of a war memorial. Tod is unflinching in her descriptions of war giving the reader a close and personal view of what he had experienced. In the quaking reality of his visual memory, Edward starts to wonder if he can handle the reality of home and what being back home truly means to the outside world. His job as a signaler meant he had to keep a continuance viable for communication between troop locations and the front. As he started to impart his experiences on the battlefield, Tod paints the grisly truth in gruesome detail. It is not for the sensitive heart as she shares these moments. Edward’s wife Ann heard for the first time her husband’s horrors of war, finding the strength to listen and console. I believe this is a breath of humanity her husband was not expecting to find in her, as his own guilt of war nearly eclipses out all hope of compassion. Uniquely after the war, Edward remained in telecommunications in which he was still working as a man in civilian life in charge of similar duties he had during wartime.

One of the more interesting perspectives that Tod gives in her story, is the amount of Canadians who were traveling to France at the same time as Edward and Ann. She grounds the story rather humbling by showing that Edward is not the only war survivor who is coming to terms with his past, as otherwise there would not have been 6,000 going overseas to pay homage. Whilst in France, Edward is finding that there is a thin line between truth, memory, honesty, and protecting his wife from what he is not sure she would be able to handle to hear. I appreciated the sincerity of Tod’s writing, proving that being human and being in love, make certain circumstances a bit more complex than we can willingly handle to bear. Tod gives a pristine hinting of the (real) Canadian National Vimy Memorial which bespeaks of the real-life grief and harrowing escapes of soldiers who never felt they deserved to live. The alacrity of the moment encased in this scene brings to light that for each soldier lost in battle, there is another soldier leading a half-life, lost in time due to the guilt they carried back from the field.

Memories are like doors with a key to unlock each hidden image struck from view, which can take you into ethereal thoughts of which should remain inactive. Human nature turns the keys into a slippery slope if acted upon as proven in Unravelled by the actions Edward chooses to take once he reunites with Helene. Time yields to desire but by succumbing to our innermost desires we chart a course where our fate is determined by our actions. Whilst Edward was struggling to untangle his own demons (as his memories took on a different context), Ann was struggling with her own as she could not understand why Edward was seething with angst when he sent her away to London when he stayed behind in France. The developing story of Unravelled is pitting two souls against each other when they should be standing united at the moment they decide to intersect with past regrets and anguish. In this way, Tod carves open a timeless conundrum of knowing when to let the past remain where it belongs.

A slow rumbling discontentment started to shatter the everyday solace of marital bliss that Ann and Edward had experienced prior to the trip to France. One must wonder why anyone would throw away a marriage based solely on an errant day of remembrance. Ann found her voice and articulated herself whenever Edward tried to press her about why their marriage was starting to crumble, struck by the unfamiliar territory of realising that there could be repercussions for his transgressions. A fact he hadn’t bothered to consider before digging himself into such a giant hole. Ann’s strength shines through honestly and openly, as Tod engages the reader as a fly on the wall inside their once happy home. On the brink of the Second World War, their unresolved issues will become circumspect. The emotional throbbing angst of Ann is one of the more genuine approaches I have seen in fiction.

As World War II starts to erupt into their lives, so too, do new roles assert a new distance between them. As Edward is staying away longer under the presumption of war affairs, his absences start to nettle the old worries of Ann’s heart. Meanwhile, Ann has taken on a new role herself as a Signals Welfare coping counselor. At a time where they were able to patch up the past and start to shift their lives forward, I found it striking that fate would deal them another hard hand to muddle through. Tod did not waver in her ability to give a real-life honesty to the setting, as she deftly presented stateside wartime life, re-pleat with the rationing, rubber and metal drives, as well as the inclusion of the Victory gardens; the latter of which continues to inspire my own family towards self-sufficiency. The inclusion of Ann being a wartime knitter spoke to my own heart as I am a charity knitter alongside my Mum. Through watching a classic movie on TCM, I saw firsthand the sock knitting that is mentioned in the novel. It is a charity; I am not sure why knitting groups have not reinstated. Whilst Ann is caught up in her new duties, Edward is approached to have a more active role in World War II.

The impetus of the story is revealed inside the choice of cover art, as the entire crust of marital issues arises out of a forgotten tin full of letters. The memories of what the letters contain within them sets Edward and Ann on a course spinning into their future selves at a maddening pace of hurt, regret, and the illicitness of time spent away from the one you honoured by vow. If the lessons of what transpired in the past are not fully learnt and forgiven, history can repeat itself, but to which degree and to which level of sacrifice is left to be determined by the reader who walks alongside Edward and Ann as the Second World War rages onward. In the end, your left wondering if the lesson of the letters in the tin had any merit of being drawn back into the present? If the tin hadn’t been recovered would the actions have been different on behalf of Edward and Ann? This is a story that provokes the reader to render questions inside their heart long after the book is placed back on their bookshelf, as the contemplations overtook one’s thoughts as readily as Autumn springs up after Summer. Unravelled for me is a relationship-romance wrapped up in the shirt tails of a war drama, in which, you viscerally live through one married couples life.

A Love Stronger than Time:

Unravelled presents an unparalleled love triangle which fuses Ann to Edward as much as Helene to Edward. Two great loves of his life intersecting at a chance reunion in France during a war memorial dedication for World War I, jettison him into an internal turmoil of knowing which is his true heart’s desire to pursue. Each of the three are struggling with their own memories, doubts, fears, and demons of anguish and yet, at the center of the triangle remains Edward. Stalwart and stubborn in belief that he were able to reclaim his first love, it would trump his second. However, Helene is a stronger than he is which makes his journey more difficult because he has to accept reality as it has stood. Tod has an unwavering precision of giving you the raw emotional scenes that develop out of such a triangle as much as the psychological affects of how it manifests its presence in a marriage. Love can transcend time, but if time has shifted forward where lives have moved past where love was first committed to two souls, I would have to believe that the better choice would be to honour the life that was lived in the absence of such a love as great as Helene and Edward. The complexity of the story, is that Tod is presenting you with characters who might contradict your own personal beliefs as you walk alongside Ann, Helene, and Edward wondering how each of their lives will pan out or wander apart. The stitchings of their love are frazzled and frayed by time itself, and yet, as wholly true as though they were only separated by mere hours rather than years. I am not sure if any of us can determine how we would react if the circumstances were thrust upon us nor how far we could go to effectively right a wrong we feel was unjust.

On the other hand, I was struck with the powerful dilemma of Ann, who was the wife who was thought to find forgiveness for her husband’s transgressions without knowledge of how deep they ran. Her faith and her resolve to carry forward is a testament to women of her time who met every challenge presented to them with grit and determination, even if they didn’t feel empowered to do so. She is the wife left stateside who held true to the love of her husband who embarked into war and returned a hollow fragment of the man who had left. The courage it would take to grasp all the changes her world was evolving into is not even measurable. I think all of us would be blessed to have such a formidable Aunt in our lives, such as Aunt Bea to turn too when our internal world collapses. Tod wrote her character in an atypical method for the era of the story, giving her a realism that most authors shy away from.

Gratitude for Giving Light to an Unknown Piece of History:

One reason I appreciate reading historical fiction as much as I do, is that it brings to light the lesser known stories that would remain obscured from our eyes, if it were not for dedicated well-researched writers, such as M.K. Tod who breathe new life into the stories that deserve to be told. I am finding myself attracted to these stories as they are the missing fragments of the larger stories already known to all of us. These new stories shed light on certain aspects of the whole that have been left out of focus, giving us a resounding fuller picture than we had originally. War, in of itself, is a brutally difficult period of time for any man or woman called to service. They dedicated unselfishly their time, their talent, their resolve, and their lives to keep all of us safe for another day. They deserve our utmost respect and honour for their sacrifices during deployment. Erecting memorials is one way of sharing our esteemed gratitude, yet on another level, if we can remember to thank a serviceman or woman in person, at whichever moment their path crosses ours, we have the ability to share our gratitude randomly. The biggest thing to remember is simply not to forget what they gave and what we have gained due to these sacrifices that cannot be fully understood.

Fly in the Ointment:

Although I realise the stark realities of war are beyond what my imagination will allow me to endeavour to envision, I know they are from the very depths of Hell itself. However, as mentioned previously in other reviews, I do have a keenly sensitive heart and when visceral imagery turns into the grisly and macabre, I must admit that I feel my stomach turn a bit queasy around the edges.  I will admit that I might be overly sensitive at the time of reading this novel, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the level of violent images disturbed me to where I glossed over certain passages to overt my eyes entirely! Therefore, as a forewarning to a reader I must let you know that if you’d rather read a novel that doesn’t describe the verity of degree as this one you have my notation to guide you on your choice!

As much as I must make a notation about the curiously strong expressions whilst the soldiers are deployed in which the language takes on a certain ‘character’ of its own! And, it’s not always arriving in your ears when you think it might either! I was a bit surprised at the frequency on one level of regard, as at one point my ears cringed red! In cases as these where vulgarity becomes the choice expression, I ask myself if its given for literary merit or shock value to the reader. In my own opinion, I do not believe the disbursements of these words adds value to the story but rather etches a bit of its heart away instead.

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The “Unravelled” Virtual Book Tour Roadmap:

Unravlled Virtual Book Tour - France Book Tours

Be sure to catch the first half of this showcase on JLAS:
M.K. Tod’s Guest Post:
“Becoming a Historical Fiction Writer”

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Be sure to scope out upcoming tours I will be hosting with:

France Book Tours

by visiting:

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “Unravelled” as well as M.K. Tod’s photograph and biography, the blog tour badge, and the logo banner for France Book Tours were all provided by France Book Tours and used with permission. Post dividers were provided by Shabby Blogs, who give bloggers free resources to add personality to their blogs. Blog tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Bookish events badge created by Jorie in Canva.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2013.

Related Articles:

Canadian National Vimy Memorial – (en.wikipedia.org)

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Posted Saturday, 9 November, 2013 by jorielov in Adulterous Affair, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Canada, Debut Novel, England, Espionage, Fly in the Ointment, France, France Book Tours, Historical Fiction, Indie Author, The World Wars, Time Slip, War-time Romance