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Sharing our love for authors, and the stories they are inspired to tell.

‘Last Step’ by Gwyneth Williams

Chapter One – Dog Days

Sara, as bemused as the fictional Lord Littlemore’s guests appeared to be, slammed the book shut.

Was this really the book she had agreed to translate?

Could this really be the fruit of all her efforts to find a French publisher languishing for want of a good translator?

Had she signed too quickly and without paying enough attention …?

I don’t want to spoil the suspense for those of you who might be contemplating reading ‘Last Step’, by including a synopsis, however if you would like to read the full premise of the story, simply click on the book image.

I don’t think I would be able to help myself, given the number of questions those opening first lines have raised.

The book which Sara has been commissioned to translate, is obviously quite bad, judging by her reaction in slamming the book shut and I am left wondering if this frustration has anything to do with the way in which subsequent events will unfold?


A picture button for book beginnings at Rose City ReaderWould the first few lines of your book make you want to read on?

If so, would you like to share them with us, (without revealing too many spoilers of course) ?

Click here and visit your host, Gilion @ Rose City Reader

You can then leave a link to your own book beginnings post, or just browse for some great reads, there are always plenty of new authors and titles to be discovered.

Don’t forget that Gilion and all the other contributors to this meme love to hear from you, so why not leave a comment or two at the same time?

I can’t wait to do a little blog hopping myself and check out all the great Book Beginnings you have!



This time at BBOF, I would like to combine those intriguing first lines with a short guest post, in the form of an extended biography, as presented by the book’s author, Gwyneth Williams. This is very much a personal account of the interesting life she has led and the experiences she has had along the way to publishing this, her first novel and I wanted to share it with you.

Hello! I’m Gwyneth Williams.

Image Of Author Gwyneth Williams

Let me tell you a little bit about myself

I am quite ancient and now widowed. I was born in Wales and when I moved to Exeter, Devon, aged about 4, I already loved books. My brothers and most of my cousins started reading at a young age. My parents sent me back to Wales for a few years during the war, as Lord Haw-Haw was threatening to bomb Exeter. The separation was not always easy, but I always had lots of books and read whenever I could. Even at mealtimes. Eventually, I went back to Exeter, to the Bishop Blackall School for Girls. The Headmistress, who was God as far as we were concerned, said to me one day that I always obeyed the rules, but that it was clear that I didn’t necessarily respect them.

I took an Honours degree in French and German, then started studying law whilst working for LCC and Crown Agents, both of which have now gone the way of all flesh. My studying included some time in a French lycée, then in a French university.

I married a Frenchman, moved to France, had two children, both girls, then during the Algerian War of Independence (otherwise known by the French as an exercise in Pacification), my husband and I moved to Canada. Basically I have always taught literature in French from European, West Indian and African countries, as well as Canada.

Image Of Author Gwyneth Williams

My main function here in Canada, however, has been as a feminist, which I believe I may have been from birth, without realizing it. Certainly my parents never ever encouraged me to leave school or university nor did they consider that I should rush out and get married. I must recognize here the support I got from my husband who, after a certain astonishment at finding himself married to a militant feminist, decided that I was right and that he should do as much as he could to help change the world… I taught for many years in a university in Montreal where we had a strong programme in Women’s Studies. I naturally focused more on French-speaking women writers from across the world. I was active in many ways in the university, serving on grievance committees and tenure appeal committees.

Without blowing my own trumpet too much, I have, throughout my career, won several awards for my work for equality and justice for all, particularly for women, as well as for my contribution both to the recognition of women immigrant writers in Quebec and to the recognition in the rest of Canada of current literary currents in Quebec.

Upon retirement, I continued my humanist and feminist activities, as well as some academic writing. But I couldn’t keep the detective novel out. I started writing stories when I was little, but I never had faith in them. I always assumed that I would never be able to write real books or stories. Indeed, as a university professor, it took me a long time to undertake academic articles and submit them for publication. They were always accepted, so I guess I wasn’t so bad after all. Then one day, I made the big decision, sat down and wrote and wrote and corrected and wrote. It was work but it was most enjoyable work.

My daughters and grandchildren have also encouraged me, with their ideas, their excellent proof reading and editing, through to publication. So here I am, starting a second volume of Sara’s activities.

My own taste in reading has been, and still is, very eclectic. I may love both the more traditional detective stories and the later thrillers, particularly but not exclusively by women, but I must add that I truly adore plunging into the first-class humorous novels that were so characteristic of British writing in the 20th century and are still being published today.

I enjoy films and have a special affinity for old-fashioned cinema, with stars such as Ida Lupino, Peter Lorre, Humphrey Bogart, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Eve Arden, Steve McQueen, Sidney Greenstreet, and so many more. Those were the days when women were strong and knew how to defend themselves.

I also enjoy cooking, very much in the French and Italian styles but I also like to resuscitate old English recipes and share Welsh recipes inspired by my mother and maternal grandmother.

In fact there are not many things that I refuse to enjoy, so I hope you will find the same enjoyment in my writing.

Fans mean everything to me. Writing for pleasure is extremely satisfying but having readers enjoy my work and want to read more is just wonderful and means so much to me. I love the interactivity and always look forward to hearing from, and writing for, fans!

Let me leave you with a quotation from Jessica Fletcher in Murder She Wrote.

Writing the book is nothing ; the hard work comes when you have to promote it.

I do think writing is also work, but promoting it is not such a delightful activity!

Catch up with all the latest news at my website

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Image Of Author Gwyneth Williams

Thank you for having me

Gwyneth Williams

Written by

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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    • Hi Sherry,

      It would be interesting to know if Sara slammed the book shut because it is particularly badly written and therefore difficult to translate, or if the book’s content is not very appropriate and she doesn’t want to translate it!!

      It is a great cover, isn’t it, although those are definitely not shoes I could wear these days … comfort is definitely king 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate the comment and have a good weekend.

  • I would love to be a translator, but I don’t know how I would cope with terrible books! I mean, your name will be on that terrible book forever! Checking out the blurb now 😉 Thanks for sharing 🙂 I hope you have an amazing weekend!
    My Friday post
    Juli @ Universe in Words

    • Hi Juli,

      My basic French language skills wouldn’t get me too far as a translator and besides, I wouldn’t be able to translate something which was so badly written, whether I was being paid or not, without getting really annoyed and wanting to correct the grammar. I definitely couldn’t put my name to something which was too bad!!

      I have always wanted to be a proof reader, although after trying out one of those on-line test passages, I’m not so sure that my editing skills are up to that job either.

      Failing that a Librarian’s job would have been good, but as I come from the generation where only the wealthy were able to take up the opportunity of a University education, not having a degree bars me from that avenue as well!

      Ah Well! Guess I’ll just have to stick to reading all those lovely books and chatting with all my fantastc on-line friends.

      Have a great weekend 🙂

    • HI Katherine,

      A very glamorous translator, if those are her legs featured on the cover. ‘Last Step’ certainly has a unique sounding premise, although it does warn that there is also a humorous side to this murder / mystery.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, it is always much appreciated.

      Have a great weekend.

  • This sounds like a delightful mystery. I’ve never read a book with a translator as the main character, and it would be fun to learn more about that profession. I enjoyed the author’s post too. Gwyneth Williams sounds like an interesting person.
    My Friday post features WILLOW VALE.

    • Hi Sandra,

      I can’t say that I have ever come across a story where a translator was the main protagonist, so I am hoping that there will be more than a passing reference to this fact in the storyline, or I shall be a little disappointed. My language skills are very sadly lacking and I admire anyone who can switch between languages at the drop of a hat.

      With immigration being so prevalent and the way in which the world is shrinking so much and so fast, I can only stand agahast at the amount of bi-lingual youngsters there are out there, who learn the language of their new country at school and in thier daily lives, whilst maintaining their mother tongue at home or with family members.

      I would love to meet author Gwyneth Williams in the flesh, as not only does she hail from my own neck of the woods, but she sounds such an interesting person, who has and still continues, to live life to the full!

      Thanks for taking the time to visit and comment, I always value your views and opinions 🙂

  • The opening lines do capture me (as well as the title of chapter one) and yes, I believe I will have to read the full synopsis. Ms. Williams sounds like a delightful woman and I must remember that quote from the headmistress! What a great statement!

    I’m reading The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell.

    From the prologue: “Today is my birthday. Today I am fifteen. Today I buried my parents in the backyard. Neither of them were beloved.”

    • Hi Kelly,

      Yes, the headmistress’s comment is definitely one to remember, although I very much think that I might have been of the same mind, as a child!

      Gwyneth has led such an interesting life, it was a sheer pleasure to read and arrange this guest post. Mr. Williams must have been very progressive in his thinking, as I am certain that my husband would have balked at the idea of me becoming a practicing feminist. War time reminiscences are always interesting, epecially the evacuation of the children, which my own mother-in-law still remembers vividly.

      I have read a book with a very similar storyline to ‘The Death Of Bees’, although that was pre-bloggong days and I can’t remember what it was called. The opening line on its own was enough to grab my attention and I admit I did cheat a little and checked out the full premise on Goodreads. A very silly move in retrospect, as it is now added to my ‘Want To Read’ list. It doesn’t sound as though there was any love lost between this child and its parents and I need to know why that is!

      Nice teaser from an interesting sounding book, I look forward to your review. Meanwhile have a great weekend 🙂

    • Hi Elizabeth,

      I had to smile, as I had just finished replying to the first comment from Sherry, refreshed the page and there was your comment, almost mirroring my answer to her … Great minds and all that 🙂

      I do love a hard-nosed thriller, but now and again, a good down to earth murder / mystery, is just what’s needed!

      Hope that all is well with you and enjoy your weekend.

  • The book, being about books, sounds like a good one. I love that the author says she was a feminist from birth! That is wonderful that she has worked for equality and justice for everyone.
    Enjoy the book Yvonne and happy weekend.

    • Hi Naida,

      It doesn’t sound as though Sara is too impressed with the book she has been asked to translate, but I guess I never really think about that aspect of a translator’s work, when I read an overseas book. It is all too easy to blame the English writer’s version if things aren’t quite up to scratch, rather than thinking that the translator is only transcribing what an overseas author has written in their native language – it isn’t really their job to edit or proof read after all!

      Some words and phrases are just lost totally in a translation, so I wonder if the translator ever contacts the author to suggest the odd change or two, to make the storyline and characters more relevant to the country where the book is going to be sold and read?

      Gwyneth has really led an interesting and intriguing life and given her obvious maturity, seems to have been a woman very much ahead of her time! Her husband must have also shared her forward thinking ideas, to have supported her so unequivocally in her quest for women’s rights.

      Thanks for the interesting comment Naida, I can always rely on you to contribute to the conversation and I always appreciate it 🙂

  • Can you imagine how soul destroying it must be to have to translate a book that has you slamming the pages shut?

    Sorry I don’t have my current read (The Point Of Rescue by Sophie Hannah) to hand and therefore can’t share with you but the first few lines aren’t promising. Not that I’ll let that put me off as as you know once I’ve begun a book I have to see it through to the bitter end.

    • Hi Tracy,

      I should think, nearly as frustrating as starting a book that I wish I could slam the pages on, although like yourself, once I have committed to reading a book, I will see it through to the bitter end, no matter how bad!

      I don’t know which cover version of the Sophie Hannah book you have, but I love the main one used on the front page of the Goodreads site. The book itself sounds really good, so I hope that the story has improved quite a lot from your perspective and that you are enjoying it now 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by, I always look forward to your comments.

  • Hi Yvonne, Just popped by to catch up and see what you have been reading recently. Sorry I never get time to call by on a regular basis these days. 🙁
    P.S. No point in leaving me a reply here as I will not know about it!

    • Hi Linda,

      I don’t seem to have read very much at all in the last few months and keeping up together with the reviews and blog posts, is an almost impossible task. I am constantly in a quandry as to whether to close the blog down and spend some quality time doing what I enjoy most – reading! The trouble is, I just know how much I would miss the interaction and contact with fellow readers, so finding a schedule which works is my number one priority.

      I am still very much into my suspense thrillers and murder mysteries, although I have read a couple of cracking historical fiction stories as well.

      I have also been very lucky with my Goodreads Giveaway wins and love the site in general … I can’t think why I didn’t join the community much earlier, it is such a good way of keeping up with everyone and all the latest news and gossip from the book world 🙂

      I hope that all is well with you and that life isn’t treating you too badly. I really will make more of an effort to stop by on a more regular basis 🙂

Written by Yvonne