Friday, 19 September 2014

Brook Cottage Books has been very privileged to have coordinated the tour for Drumbeats. And now, on the final day of the tour I finally get my chance to review the book. But first, lets find out a little bit more about the story.


Drumbeats: can you ever escape your past?
Drumbeats is the first novel in a trilogy and follows 18 year old English student Jess through her gap year in West Africa. It's a rite of passage novel set in the mid-1960s when Jess flees her stifling home background for freedom to become a volunteer teacher and nurse in the Ghanaian bush. Apprehensively, she leaves her first real romantic love behind in the UK, but will she be able to sustain the bond while she is away? With the idealism of youth, she hopes to find out who she really is and do some good in the world, but little does she realize what, in reality, she will find that year: joys, horrors, and tragedy. She must find her way on her own and learn what fate has in store for her, as she becomes embroiled in the poverty and turmoil of a small war-torn African nation under a controversial dictatorship. Jess must face the dangers of both civil war and unexpected romance. Can she escape her past? And why do the drumbeats haunt her dreams?

Drumbeats Trilogy:
Can you ever escape your past?

Walking in the Rain
How do you cope when your worst nightmare comes true?

Before I Die
Can Jess’s bucket list bring resolution to her life?

My Review

Drumbeats is a coming of age tale. A tale of a brave young woman called Jess who sets out to follow her dreams and break out of the confines of her life at home. I was so impressed by the massive leap of faith that this character takes in travelling halfway round the world to seek adventure and learning and immerse herself in an unfamiliar culture which she embraces and has a respectful admiration of. At times she finds it frightening and confusing. Jess has stepped out into such an adult world and yet her ideas around love and her relationship with her boyfriend Simon are very much those of her 17 year old self. She appears blinded at times to what is right in front of her. She often did not see what was right in front of her. As the story progressed, Jess became such a heroine to me. An old head on young shoulders she has the heart of a lion but the innocent naivety of a child.

Julia Ibbotson's descriptions of Ghana instantly transport the reader there and one could often feel the searing heat of the country burning right off the pages off the book. It is very clear that the author has spent some time in Ghana as her knowledge of the country and its political strife is quite extensive. I love the symbolism of the drums throughout the book, making it quite atmospheric. Julia Ibbotson has a writing style that for me flowed seamlessly and drew the reader into a fascinating story. Really looking forward to the sequel! Highly recommended.

About the Author

Julia Ibbotson lives in a renovated Victorian rectory in the English countryside with her husband (four children, now grown up, having fled the nest), along with lots of apple trees, a kitchen garden and far too many moles. She is an author and academic, and loves choral singing, walking, swimming, gardening and cooking (not necessarily at the same time). She started writing as soon as she could hold a pencil in her tiny fist and has not stopped since, much to the bemusement of her long-suffering husband who brings her endless cups of coffee and sometimes even makes the dinner when she is distracted and frowning at her laptop.
She wrote her first novel when she was 10 years old, sadly never published and long since consigned to the manuscript graveyard. She loves writing novels with a strong sense of time and place and that is the basis of her latest, Drumbeats, the first of a trilogy which follows Jess through the trials and tribulations of her life. It starts with Jess on her gap year in Ghana in the 1960s.
She has also written the story of the restoration of her rectory in The Old Rectory: Escape to a Country  Kitchen, which also interweaves recipes from her farmhouse kitchen and which has won a number of international awards.
Recently she found an old manuscript gathering dust in her drawer, one she had originally scribbled when she was still at school, many years ago. It was a children’s story about a boy who slips through a tear in the fabric of the universe to find himself in a fantasy medieval world. She is currently blowing off the dust and redrafting it for her publishers to let it loose on the world in the autumn. It’s called S.C.A.R.S.
She loves to hear from readers (it’s a pleasant distraction from her steaming keyboard), so do get in touch via the links.
Author Links

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One Response so far.

  1. Thank you, JB, for the lovely review and for hosting such a great, fun and successful book tour for me! Julia x

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