Today I am delighted to be sharing my reviews for the Drumbeats Trilogy by Julia Ibbotson as part of the Blog Tour with Rachel’s Random Resources. Huge thanks to Rachel for the invite and also to Julia for my e-copies of her books.
I will warn you that this is a longer post than normal as I am reviewing all three books and then giving a quick sum up at the end as to why you should read this trilogy 🙂
Synopsis for Drumbeats:
It’s 1965 and 18 year old Jess escapes her stifling English background for a gap year in Ghana, West Africa. But it’s a time of political turbulence across the region. Fighting to keep her young love who she believes is waiting back in England, she’s thrown into the physical dangers of civil war, tragedy, and the emotional conflict of a disturbing new relationship. So why do the drumbeats haunt her dreams?
This is a rite of passage story which takes the reader hand in hand with Jess on her journey towards growing into the adult world.
Drumbeats Purchase Link – CLICK HERE
My Thoughts on Drumbeats:
In this first story I was introduced to Jess, an 18 year old taking a gap year. She travels to Ghana to try and help teach in the village schools there. Jess is a naive girl and her strict mother’s Quaker belief seems to have shielded her to a certain extent. I did wonder how on earth this character would cope out in the “real world” that was so different from her own.
While in Ghana she constantly writes to her boyfriend in the UK, Simon is from another respectable Quaker family who are very highly thought of. While in Ghana, Jess meets a variety of people, locals and other international workers. One of these workers becomes a very good friend, though she does have a suspicion that he is not quite the person he says he is. Ghana in the 60’s is in a period of civil unrest and a coup to topple the President is something that is on the cards. Being caught in the wrong place at the wrong time causes Jess to be transported back to the UK.
This is such a great introduction to this trilogy, I found myself really warming to Jess, she is one of those optimistic, nice, caring and compassionate people. I could sense the good in her and could see why she wanted to take such a risky step into the unknown and spread her wings.
By the end of this instalment I could the transformation in her and I did wonder how she would resettle back into her life in the UK. Within in the story is her love for Ghana, and how she hopes one day to return to a place that has cemented firmly a place in her heart. It is a sort of coming of age story that has such a lovely flow to it. It encompasses the culture and some of the Ghanaian history, traditions and foods.
Synopsis for Waking In The Rain #2
Jess happily marries the love of her life She wants to feel safe, secure and loved. But gradually it becomes clear that her beloved husband is not the man she thought him to be. She survived civil war and injury in Africa, but can she now survive the biggest challenge of her life?
Walking in the Rain purchase Link – CLICK HERE
My Thoughts on Walking In The Rain:
Jess has returned home and is expecting to start her life with Simon. Things are not as she expected, but after an initial bumpy start, things settle and so do Jess and Simon into their married life.
I was really looking forward to seeing the next step in Jess’s life. She is such a supportive, caring, lovely woman and I wished she would have the chance to continue her dreams. Initially, married life is fine, the usual compromises and adjustments are made. However, Simon has a very archaic belief about marriage and his wife’s responsibilities. Her responsibilities are to him, he is the priority and she belongs to him. His parents do a cracking job of supporting and inflating Simon’s ego and he can do no wrong.
Oh my god, this author really did my emotions boiling with this story. There were so many times I was furious with not only Simon but also both sets of parents. The author did a great job of transporting me back to the ’80s with mentions of news items, pop songs, and computer advancements. Things I remember well growing up. All relevant and appropriate for the time.
By the end of this story I felt I had been on an emotional roller coaster, with high’s, lows, twists and turns that made Jess’s life one of turmoil, upset and heartbreak. As I neared the end of this one I was definitely on a high as it had a fitting finish but, also leaving me with a sense of trepidation as to what comes next.
Synopsis of Finding Jess #3
Single mother, Jess, has struggled to get her life back on track after the betrayal of her beloved husband and her best friend. When she is on the brink of losing everything, including her family and her job, she feels that she can no longer trust anyone. Then she is sent a mysterious newspaper clipping of a temporary post back in Ghana. Could this be her lifeline? Can Jess turn back time and find herself again? And what, exactly, will she find?
Finding Jess is a passionate story of love, betrayal and second chances – and of one woman’s bid to reclaim her self-belief and trust. It is a feel-good story of a woman’s strength and spirit rising above adversity.
Finding Jess purchase link – CLICK HERE
My Thoughts on Finding Jess:
In this third and final instalment, Jess finds that after finding herself as a single parent life for her does not get any easier. Simon and his parents will not allow it. As Jess’s daughters enter their teenage years they add their own pressures and stresses. One daughter wanting to remain in touch with her Dad believing him to be wonderful, the other wanting to keep her distance and knows what he has done. This causes added tension to their family.
Jess has always worked and her career has always been promising and rewarding. She is respected by her colleagues, that is until a new staff member starts. Tensions and stress start to play havoc in Jess’s life and she can feel herself spiraling out of control. She makes the decision to return to Ghana, with the blessing of her daughters. A step into the past and memories of a special time in her life.
Oh this author has done it yet again, a beautiful final instalment that had my heart in my mouth. Poor Jess has been pulled and pushed emotionally so many times and it has been so unjust and unwarranted. It was nice this time to see Jess realise she needed to look after herself and to finally put herself first. Going back to Ghana was a chance for her to try to take back control of her life, reassess it and then work out her future. Things in the UK with her daughters take a bad turn, but in someways it was also a good thing as it brings them back from being a fractured unit into a family again.
By the end of this instalment I was gutted, gutted to have finished it as I could have quite happily read more. But at the same time it is a wonderful place to end, with a wonderful future waiting for Jess and her daughters.
Quick Summary of the Drumbeats Trilogy:
This trilogy has been an absolute pleasure to read and I found it very easy to get caught up in. Seeing the main character Jess trying to do her best for everyone and never having time left for herself was heartbreaking. How she was treated by her family and friends left me thinking several times “how could they treat her like this” .
I loved the vivid imagery of Ghana and it’s people. The cultural and political aspects were balanced perfectly, giving enough information to be able to see but not too much to be bogged down. Mentions of sights, sounds and smells permeate throughout. Items of news, relevant figures, celebrities, chart songs, technical gadgetry and fashion changes evolved along with the story and constantly cementing the time of each story.
This is a story that spans 3 decades in the life of Jess. A story that ends where it began. A trilogy of life, love, family, despair, hopes, heartbreak, disbelief and dreams.
Would I recommend it? Definitely I would.
About the Author:
Award-winning author Julia Ibbotson is fascinated by the medieval world and concepts of time travel. She read English at Keele University, England (after a turbulent but exciting gap year in Ghana, West Africa) specialising in medieval language, literature, and history, and has a Ph.D. in socio-linguistics. She wrote her first novel at 10 years of age, but became a school teacher, then a university lecturer and researcher. Finding Jess (2018) is her sixth book and the last of the Drumbeats trilogy (which begins and ends in Ghana). Apart from insatiable reading, she loves traveling the world, singing in choirs, swimming, yoga and walking in the countryside in England and Madeira where she and her husband divide their time.
Acclaimed author of:
Drumbeats (2015), the first of the trilogy set in 1960s Ghana: sometimes you have to escape to find yourself.
Walking in the Rain (2016), the second in the trilogy set in 1970s and 1980s England: never give up on your dreams.
Finding Jess (2018), the last of the trilogy set in 1990s England and Ghana: can the past ever be left behind?
Also by Julia Ibbotson:
A Shape on the Air (2017): historical (Dark Ages/early medieval) time-slip romance. Two women 1,500 years apart, with one aim: to reclaim their dreams and fight the dangers that threaten them both across the ages …
The Old Rectory: Escape to a Country Kitchen, (first published 2011, rereleased 2017) a feel-good story of the renovation of a Victorian rectory interwoven with period recipes to feed the soul, all from the rectory kitchen.
S.C.A.R.S (first published 2012, rereleased 2016) (children’s novel): a troubled boy slips through a tear in the fabric of the universe into a parallel medieval fantasy world of knights, dragons, and a quest for the triumph of Good over Evil. But can he save himself?
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