Beth Brannen, an austere, secretive woman, runs a successful business in a little-known part of Cumbria. A mysterious woman with an ugly facial scar who never ventures beyond the safe, local bubble she has created. She refuses to talk about her past except for her beloved son, Sidney.
The arrival of an arrogant clinical psychologist, Theo Kendrick, threatens the sanctuary of Beth’s bubble. Trapped in their separate griefs, their interaction fizzes and crackles its way to a grudging respect.
Convinced Beth is hiding a dark secret, Theo sets about untangling the mystery but what if he is only making things worse? It’s only a matter of time until the shocking events of thirty years before are laid bare...
As the action unfolds in real time and through flashbacks against a backdrop spanning the troubles in Northern Ireland, the Gulf War and the Iraq War, Toy Soldier tells a story of love and loss, of survival and resilience that explores the nature of motherhood and poses some searching questions about the concept of choice.
R P Salmon describes herself as an inveterate people watcher and her life as a series of fortuitously joined up dots. The mother of three has enjoyed careers in social work, teaching and academia and draws on them all in her writing. A celebrated academic known for challenging the status quo and shifting paradigms, her fiction tackles gritty issues and the complexities of human relationships through her vividly depicted characters.
Barbara Bottoms - 14 Aug, 2022
Wow! This is a page turner that draws you into the lives of its characters, expertly drawn with authenticity, depth and realism. There is a compelling main plot with multiple twists and turns. Through this and the cleverly interwoven subplots, the author explores powerful themes of relationships, loss, resilience, injustice and challenges the reader to interpret the enigmatic title ( no spoilers! ).
Transporting the reader through war scenes and the contrasting Cumbrian backwater where the story unfolds, keeps up a lively pace and you may be tempted to read this novel quickly , as I did , to uncover the mystery. I rarely read a novel twice but I shall have to make an exception for ‘Toy Soldier’, to savour the beautiful description and profound expression of thought and feeling which is just as compelling as the story.
I highly recommend a slow reading of this gem of a book and look forward to more from this exciting new author.
Anne C (Guest Review) - 06 Sep, 2022
Loved every page of this beautifully written book. Story telling at its best. Injustice, choice and sacrifice, as themes, will touch every reader.
It was like a kaleidoscope with the characters and their journeys unfolding leading you to a different setting. The ending did not disappoint.
More stories in these characters I think.
One to read slowly and savour
Jan Bellamy (Guest Review) - 18 Oct, 2022
I loved this novel. It immediately draws you in and keeps you interested and itching to find out more. The twists and turns in the plot are certainly enough to make you want to continue. I loved the way it was written and shall certainly look forward to the next one.
Bev O'Neill (Guest Review) - 22 Oct, 2022
What a fantastic piece of narrative writing. I read the whole book in three days, I couldn't put it down. The story is captivating, the characters totally believable. I cannot wait to read more from this author.
Margaret Dewhurst (Guest Review) - 28 Oct, 2022
An intriguing and engaging book. I became attached to some of the characters - even invested in their outcomes! The book cantered along and could have easily made two volumes... I look forward to a sequel.
Lau Holden (Guest Review) - 20 Jan, 2023
Such an original and gripping novel. Its intricate and interwoven strands are authoritative, convincing and compelling. I found myself wanting to get to the end to know how everything resolved yet wanting it not to end to continue the immersion in the lives of the characters.