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"If history lessons had been this entertaining, I would have scored an A+!." -Andrene Low, author of the Excess Baggage series
"This story is one for devotees of adventurous historical fiction and tales of plucky young women finding their feet." -Stephanie Jones, CoastFM Book Reviewer
"I think the author has done a commendable job in bringing the story to life and it's obvious that she has used extensive historical research to ensure that the story always feels authentic and that's not an easy feat to pull off." -JaffaReadsToo, Book Blogger
About the Author
For many years Kirsten McKenzie worked in her family's antique store, where she went from being allowed to sell the 50c postcards to selling $5,000 Worcester vases and seventeenth century silverware, providing a unique insight into the world of antiques which touches every aspect of her writing.
Now a full time author, her historical fiction novels Fifteen Postcards and its sequel The Last Letter have been described as 'Time Travellers Wife meets The Far Pavilions', and 'Antiques Roadshow gone viral'.
Her horror novel Painted was released in June 2017.
She lives in New Zealand with her husband, daughters, and her SPCA rescue cat, and can be found procrastinating on Twitter.
Kirsten McKenzie’s Fifteen Postcards. Ever wonder what happens to people who just disappear, leaving no trace, never to be heard from again? Or do you ever stand outside your door on a town side-street and wonder, what was it like here, in this exact spot, one hundred years ago? Are you fascinated by the way family intertwines through time, with questions like Who’s child is that? and did you know such-and-such was that persons great-great grandfather? If you are intrigued by those issues, you should read Kirsten McKenzie’s novel, Fifteen Postcards, for one possible, incredible, intriguing explanation. Present day London-based Sarah Lester, a ‘gifted procrastinator, who cries in movies and even emotionally poignant commercials’ but is ‘unafraid of spiders or tigers, or madmen and monsters’, has prematurely inherited her parent's antique shop, the Old Curiosity Shop, for a very particular reason. They have both disappeared, her mother first, then her father, without a trace. Sarah is determined to keep the shop going. From having run a stationary shop, this reviewer can vouch for the fact that the author knows small off beat shops and the people who frequent them. Those who want to purchase, but don’t have the money; those who want to chat. All sorts come into stationary shops and, it seems, antique shops. One day she receives a call to clear out an old estate, and Sarah’s whole life changes. She is one step closer to understanding what happened to her parents. The book is structured on fifteen pillars, the fifteen postcards that are part of the goods Sarah purchases from the old Williams estate, fifteen postcards ‘in an old biscuit tin from an old estate’. Each chapter is headed with a name such as ‘The Riot’, ‘The Basement’, and so on. This is an excellent idea which is not so popular now as it was. However, what would be a great help, especially for Kindle readers, would be if they were incorporated into a Table of Contents (toc). From that point on, on touching certain objects in the shop, Sarah begins a journey backward through time and then forward again, returning to her shop in present day London. While the book starts with a cosy-read feel, this escalates during the course of the novel. Some of the places she finds herself are extremely dangerous, but also very romantic, leading in one specific case to a very amorous encounter between Sarah and that of a man whose life she saves. The historical background details are very well researched To add to the danger, she is no longer safe either in present day London, because a descendant of the deceased estate, one horrible individual called Benjamin Grey, is stalking Sarah. He has discovered that she has come into possession of valuable family heirlooms, which he claims were stolen from him. At one point, when she is transported back to present day London from Nineteenth-century New Zealand, she is followed through time by an unwitting but dangerous stalker. The author skilfully and I believe, poignantly, weaves a connection between all the people, places and objects Sarah stumbles across. The end is poignant and left this reviewer thinking ‘Wow! That is so sad and incredible’. But it couldn’t happen—or could it?
Fifteen Postcards is a delightful book. I took it away with me on a week long visit to Sydney. I read Fifteen Postcards on the plane, I read it on the train, I read it on the bus. I read it at cafes and I read it at Bondi Beach. I was completely absorbed into the adventures of Sarah and her family. In fact Sarah feet so real to me, I like to think that I know her, she certainly reads like someone I would want to spend more time with. (It was like i was on holiday with her). Literally the only negative thing I can say about this book is how devastated I was when it ended. I didn't see the end coming (because I read it on my Kindle) and if I had known how close I was to the end I would have slowed down and rationed myself! Now I have become one of the readers who cannot wait to get their hands on the next book. Please tell me there is going to be another adventure with Sarah. She is like Alice in Wonderland for grown-ups and I miss our journeys down the rabbit-hole together....
Let me begin my review by thanking the author, Kirsten McKenzie, and Accent Press for sending me a copy of this book for review. As many people know I am a bit in love with New Zealand and Australia; so I was thrilled when I was presented with this novel from a New Zealand author.
'Fifteen Postcards' features the main character, Sarah, who runs an antique store called The Old Curiosity Shop which she is responsible for after the inexplicable disappearance of her parents several years prior. Soon after Sarah takes on an abandoned estate she becomes transplanted in different countries and time periods after touching various antiques. Essentially, between the covers of 'Fifteen Postcards' readers are treated to a magically unique journey that spans three countries and several time periods.
To put it simply, I devoured this book; I believe the fact that I stayed up until an ungodly hour to finish this book should speak to the fact that this was a great book. McKenzie has done a spectacular job of combining well-researched history with a hint of mysterious intrigue. It quickly became quite obvious that extensive research was done during the writing process yet, it is presented in a way that isn't tedious or boring for the reader. My one tiny nitpick is that I found the India segment ran a little long and dry, that being said, this did not ruin my overall enjoyment of the book.
In terms of the setting, the description was beautifully rich; I felt that the reader becomes drawn into England, New Zealand, and India along with Sarah.
Overall, this was a fantastic book; I have a hard time believing that it was a debut novel. I would not hesitate to recommend this book to fellow readers particularly if one likes history and/or antiques. I believe that this novel appeals to our innate nature to be curious about the stories of our heirlooms.
I'm not really a fan of this genre, but this book took me by surprise! I could not put it down I just had to know what happened next! I highly recommend Fifteen Postcards, it will have you awake until the wee small hours so you can find out what happens to Sarah next. Can't wait for the sequel!