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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

A Girl I Knew by Valerie-Anne Baglietto - Book Review, Interview & Giveaway

Book review

Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Goodreads
Review by Suze
Wychewood has always felt like home to MaryAnn. When she needs a place to stay, together with her young daughter Beth, MaryAnn goes back to the place she loved so much when she was a child. She's being welcomed with open arms. Beth doesn't speak, but at Wychewood, where nothing is ordinary, this doesn't seem like much of a problem.
When MaryAnn meets Gawain she feels immediately drawn to him. He is a wise, but simple man. He's mysterious and he clearly has secrets. What are they? Wychewood becomes much more lively when the handsome Ned arrives. He doesn't make a great first impression, but maybe if MaryAnn gives him a chance he might prove not to be so bad after all. Will Wychewood bring MaryAnn the peace she hoped to find and will she discover why her daughter stopped speaking?
A Girl I Knew is a beautiful story about a magical place. I immediately loved Wychewood because of the wonderful comfortable and welcoming atmosphere. Valerie-Anne Baglietto has given the house a gorgeous soul and to me it felt like it was one of the main characters. MaryAnn is strong and kindhearted and Beth is such a sweet little girl. I enjoyed the fact that they both can be themselves at Wychewood and that being at the house makes them grow and blossom. Gawain is an enigma, which instantly intrigued me. I was curious to find out more about him and his story is incredibly interesting. Ned is more straightforward and he's a good guy. I immediately liked him, especially his honesty. The characters of A Girl I Knew are definitely special, all in a different distinctive way.
Valerie-Anne Baglietto mixes reality with fairytales and I love that about her work. Her stories are enchanting and compelling and she has a great way with words that gives her stories a dreamlike quality. I love her mystical way of writing combined with honest realistic sentences, it makes her books unusual and surprising. I highly recommend any of her stories. A Girl I Knew is fantastic and I enjoyed reading it very much.


A Girl I Knew is perfect for readers who love to be enchanted by a mix of reality and fairytales.

1) Name five things you like to do besides reading and writing
 I love walking the dog with my husband, girly trips out with my daughter, chasing my sons’ for their dirty laundry, lunches with my fellow Novelistas, and joint family holidays with my best friend and her brood. (Spot the odd one out!)

2) What’s your favourite fairy tale?
 I think it has to be Beauty and the Beast, because I always have a lump in my throat and tears prickling my eyes at the Beast’s transformation at the end. I’m so looking forward to taking my daughter to see the new film version, starring Emma Watson.

3) Where do you read and where do you write?
 I read in bed mostly, and I often write in my favourite cosy armchair in the lounge. I used to have a desk in the spare room, before my eldest appropriated it for his GCSE studies. I’m just as productive in the armchair, though.

4) Describe the main characters of A Girl I Knew in five words each
 MaryAnn: displaced, naïve, maternal, loyal, curious.
 Gawain: sensitive, pure, devoted, trapped, brave.
Ned: misjudged, charitable, hard-working, maverick, visionary.

5) What are your three favourite settings to write about?
 I love describing picture-book villages; old houses with mysteries lurking at their heart; and practically anywhere on a moonlit night!

6) Name the three things you like best about romantic stories
 A couple who spark off each other and are obviously in love, even though they don’t realise it or are fighting against it. Two people who are soulmates, who make each other complete, and enhance each other’s lives and consequently the lives of everyone around them. But at the end of the day, it’s the sacrificial nature of love that enthrals me, and the redemptive power behind it.

7) What’s the most inspirational place in Wales?
Wales is bursting with places that inspire me, so if I absolutely have to pick, I’ll choose a place within easy driving distance of my home. Betws-y-Coed provides the beautiful village setting I like so much, the stunning scenery of Snowdonia all around it, and a magical stream my children loved to splash around in when they were little.

8) Which four characteristics do you think a good heroine always has to have?
 She needs to be fully human and flawed, otherwise she’s just a cardboard cut-out. Even if she’s not a typically ‘good’ person, she has to have at least one redeeming feature that stands out, and helps her learn important lessons about herself. She needs to have the courage to let the reader into her life, lay it bare, whatever the cost; although by sometimes lying to herself, she may mislead us, too. And finally even in the darkest of stories, even if she’s battling her own insecurities and addictions rather than an external enemy, a truly memorable heroine needs some degree of fighting spirit.

9) Can you describe in one sentence what makes your stories so unique?
 They’re dreamt up in my imagination and no one else in the world has my mind – which is true of every single writer, so always strive to be yourself, even within the constraints of the marketplace.

10) What are your favourite snacks/drinks while writing and reading?
 Coffee, coffee and more coffee. Sometimes a cup of tea.

11) Name one thing you’d love to achieve in the future
 I’d love to work on a film adaptation of one of my books. I used to enjoy drama when I was younger, and I’m fascinated by the attention to detail that goes into movie-making, particularly the special effects. It would be so much fun.
About Valerie-Anne Baglietto
Valerie-Anne Baglietto wrote her first 'book' aged four. A story about a boy whose mother's nose was incredibly long and spiral-shaped. Over twenty years later, her first published novel THE WRONG SORT OF GIRL won the Romantic Novelists' Association New Writer's Award. Recently she was shortlisted in the 2105 Love Stories Awards.

Valerie-Anne contributes to the Novelistas Ink blog and lives in a very full house in North Wales. By day, she can be found hunched over her desk, where, like most writers, she consumes too much coffee. By night, she clears up after her husband, three children, a Pomeranian with delusions of grandeur and a perpetually ravenous guinea pig.

Occasionally she sleeps.

Twitter: @VABaglietto
One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a kindle copy of The Little Book of Lost Hearts.

The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. Please add to your list of approved email addresses. All of our giveaways are international.


  1. Valerie this sounds like another fantastic book. I have read a few to review and by recommendation from this blog. I think you are right there are many inspirational places in Wales. Maybe you need to visit me in Cwmbran. The pits and the valleys would be a lovely setting. I look forward to reading this book x

  2. The book review sounds intriguing. Thanks for sharing. Love the cover and interview too.

  3. Beauty and the Beast is my favourite too <3

  4. It seems interesting.

  5. looks interesting, great review xx

  6. I love fairy-tales mixed with reality, so I will definitely check this one out!

  7. Hi Valerie-Anne your book sounds interesting would love to add it to my list of must reads

  8. This looks really interesting - would love to read <3

  9. I'd like to read this story and know more about Wychewood.

  10. This sounds like a lovely story.

  11. What a fascinating in sight into a writers thoughts, ideals and advice. I developed a love of books at the age of 4 and have often thought about writing one x

  12. Sounds like a great book. Thanks for the awesome giveaway!!!

  13. Sounds like a compelling read I'd love

  14. Fab review, sounds like a great read!

  15. I have read the reviews and have been waiting to be able to read this beauty! There is a space on the coffee table ready! x

  16. Hi Valerie-Anne! After you've visited Tanya in Cwmbran, head back north to Corris, half-way between Dolgellau & Machynlleth, the little village where my Mom was born & I lived till I was 6 when we moved to Ireland. Beautiful spot!