Monday, April 12, 2021

Sophia Rose Reviews Olive Bright Pigeoneer by Stephanie Graves, narrator Rachael Beresford

Today once again Sophia Rose visits the blog with a thoughtful and wonderful review, this time she's reviewing the audio version of Olive Bright Pigeoneer, a novel that is waiting for me on my own shelf so I'm also excited to see what she has to say.

Olive Bright, Pigeoneer by Stephanie Graves, narrator Rachael Beresford

Historical Mystery

Publisher:  Tantor Audio

Published:  12.29.20

Time: 13 hours 34 minutes

Rating: 3.5

Format: MP3

Source:  Tantor Audio

Sellers:  Amazon  / Barnes & Noble / Kobo

ADD TO: GoodReads  


GoodReads Blurb:

Set in a charming British village during World War II, Stephanie Graves' new charming historical mystery introduces Olive Bright, a spirited young pigeon fancier who finds herself at the heart of a baffling murder...

Though war rages across mainland Europe and London is strafed by German aircraft, the little village of Pipley in Hertfordshire bustles along much as it always has. Adrift since her best friend, George, joined the Royal Air Force, twenty-two-year-old Olive Bright fills her days by helping at her father's veterinary practice and tending to her beloved racing pigeons. Desperate to do her bit, Olive hopes that the National Pigeon Service will enlist Bright Lofts' expertise, and use their highly trained birds to deliver critical, coded messages for His Majesty's Forces. The strangers who arrive in Pipley are not from the NPS. Instead, Jameson Aldridge and his associate are tied to a covert British intelligence organization known as Baker Street. If Olive wants her pigeons to help the war effort, she must do so in complete secrecy. Tired of living vicariously through the characters of her beloved Agatha Christie novels, Olive readily agrees. But in the midst of her subterfuge, the village of Pipley is dealing with another mystery. Local busybody Miss Husselbee is found dead outside Olive's pigeon loft. Is the murder tied to Olive's new assignment? Or did Miss Husselbee finally succeed in ferreting out a secret shameful enough to kill for? With the gruff, handsome Jameson as an unlikely ally, Olive intends to find out--but homing in on a murderer can be a deadly business...


Sophia Rose's Review:

So much about this book pulled me in from the title, to the blurb, and to the genre and backdrop.  I was intrigued about the role of carrier pigeons in the war effort and a female pigeoneer, I loved that she read Agatha Christie and was described as intrepid, and I was even looking forward to her solving a village mystery alongside her brooding ally in a British secret war organization.  I wanted to so much to love this one and ended up liking it instead.


The setup is a small English village during wartime.  The heroine is determined to be part of the war effort like her dashing and sometimes unstable mother was back in the Great War.  At the same time, Olive is determined that her family’s racing pigeons are given their chance to shine.  Unfortunately, her only real chance and theirs is to work for the top secret Bakers Street Group operating out of the nearby base.  Sparks fly right away when Olive encounters taciturn Jameson Aldridge who is unmoved by her attempts to nose into everything and have things all her own way.  But, he is the liaison she must work with and she takes pleasure in niggling him as a result.  Soon, the local village busybody is found murdered outside her dovecote and she is determined to discover what happened and it is Aldridge who becomes her ally.


As I said, I wanted to love this one, but mostly felt a cautious liking.  From the start, Olive didn’t take with me and it wasn’t until late in the book that I felt a spark of connection with her.  She is twenty-one and has been away to university and London, but I was struck right away with her immaturity, petulance, and insistence in going her own way (this was an effort to emulate her wild and exciting deceased mother whom she idolized).  I spent a great deal of time applauding Jameson for not letting her run rough shod over him even if she did have a point about him knowing nothing about the pigeons.  To give Olive her fair due, late in the book her eyes are opened somewhat to her long string of past errors and mistakes in her behavior and actions.  She also was resourceful, dedicated to the war effort, and does have wonderful skills particularly with her pigeons so deserves the chance to shine.


Moving on from what I struggled with, there is the wonderful description of small village life during the war from rationings and making due on less, keeping up cheer when their younger men were in danger and they had to go on, and living in the shadows of a nearby base.  The background of pigeon work in the Great War and their peace time racing club roles to now being fitted out for war work once again. The characters from the village and Olive’s family were colorful and fascinating. I enjoyed them right down to the London evacuee boy living with Olive’s family.  I liked that the author introduced Miss Husselbee early on and the reader gets the chance to know the victim somewhat before the murder.  In truth, the mystery was not the central theme of the plot.  The pigeons were also not central until later in the story when the missions were in earnest.  There was a slow start and set up like one gets in a series starter.  Maybe this will be a series eventually. 


Olive and Jamie’s interactions and eventual Pride & Prejudice-style romance was a central element as was Olive needing to work through how her past, namely her mother’s eccentric and excitable life and death were coloring her thinking and her present.  The layers of character development and romance with historical backdrop and the mystery did work wonderfully well.


Rachael Beresford had a soft narration voice that lulled me like a bedtime story.  She distinguished Irish, Scottish, English, class, and gender, but in that soporific quality.  It did effect the tone of the story and there was less emotional change for the various types of scenes.  My preference would have been for slightly more energy in the narration, but I would try her work again.


All in all, I remained iffy on the heroine for most of the story, but eventually she turned things around.  The rest of the story was good in a cozy historical mystery-way.  I loved the historical backdrop and happenings and would enjoy picking up another Olive Bright historical mystery if it came.  I will recommend this one to those who don’t mind slow build and softer historical war time adventures with a youthful-feeling heroine.


My thanks to Tantor Audio for the opportunity to listen to this book in exchange for an honest review.


Author’s Bio:

Alyssa Goodnight also writes as Stephanie Graves and has a new mystery out in December: OLIVE BRIGHT, PIGEONEER.

Alyssa Goodnight is the author of the Jane Austen's Diary series (AUSTENTATIOUS, AUSTENSIBLY ORDINARY), a romance with a touch of magical realism, JUST SAY YES, and a Regency historical, UNLADYLIKE PURSUITS. Her books have been mentioned in FIRST for Women, Woman's World, and Entertainment Weekly.

Alyssa is a Texas girl who dreams of British accents (and gets her fix watching Acorn TV and Masterpiece Mystery).

Keep up with her on her website at




Sophia’s Bio:

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

Sophia’s Social Media Links:






  1. Thanks for your candid remarks Sophia Rose this one won't rise a rung or two on my shelf but will wait it's turn. :)

    1. It turned out to be worth reading, but I did take a while to warm up to it. :)

  2. Interesting idea for a story! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Yes, she really brought out a part of war history that was new to me with the pigeons.

  3. Even with the slowness and other problems, it sounds like you ended up enjoying it.

    1. I did. Sometimes waiting out a book to the end is worth it. :)

  4. Pigeonr, ok I can not spell that, but it sounds intriguing

    1. LOL, I keep wanting to spell pigeon with a 'd' after the 'g'. :)
      Yes, it was. I had a good time after a bit.

  5. This sounds like a pretty good read,a ndglad the heroine showed up in the end.(lol) Hope you both are doing well, and sending lots of hugs, RO

    1. She and I took a bit to get past some early bad impressions, but it went well by the end.

      Glad you could stop by, Ro! Doing okay. :)