A heartwarming, cosy romance from Sunday Times bestselling author Michele Gorman, now writing as Lilly Bartlett
When Emma’s boyfriend Daniel pops the question with a ring the size of a small country, she suddenly realises just how different they are. She’s the Eastenders to his Made in Chelsea. She wants a low-key wedding with close friends and family in Uncle Colin’s pub, while Daniel’s mother is expecting a society do that their high-brow guests won’t forget!
How on earth can Emma put together a celebration fit for Lords and Ladies on a shoestring budget? Not to mention the fact her cross-dressing Uncle Barbara wants to be a bridesmaid, her best mate Kelly can’t stand Daniel’s best friend Cressida, and her dad is too proud to accept any help from Daniel’s family towards the costs.
There’s three months to go until the big day. Will Emma’s happy-ever-after end in disaster?
I've been reading a lot of heavier books recently - grippy lit types with lots of twists and turns and dark moments and while I have enjoyed them, my mind was crying out for a break while I read something a bit more, well, fun.
The Big Little Wedding in Carlton Square came to my attention as I know the author Michelle Gorman - although she has chosen to write this book (one of a series) under a pseudonym - one that was very cleverly marketed by her publishers - Harper Impulse.
The book promised laughs, a wedding, a sense of community - it seemed like the perfect way to rest my brain a little after reading more serious tomes - and, given that I'm writing another romcom myself at the moment - I thought it wise to check out what is out there.
Right - first of all I apologise to Michelle/ Lilly for saying this is a book to rest my brain with. What impressed me most about this book was how the structure worked so well - the characters fading in and out. It could very easily have descended into a caricature of East End living. The storyline with Uncle Barbara could well have ended up being farcical - but neither of these things happen. The characters, even those larger than life and fond of wearing frocks, are believable and more than that, likeable. (Even the grumpy Kells who didn't get on the best with her fellow bridesmaids).
The one liners in this book very genuinely had me laughing out loud. Unfortunately for spoiler reasons I can't reveal which one made me laugh the loudest - but when you reach the onion bhaji line you'll know it.
All too often authors of commercial women's fictions are mocked, or belittled - but the skill in pulling together a story that manages to switch from funny to whimsical, to poignant, to deeply touching is quite substantial.
As Nathaniel Hawthorne said: "Easy reading is damn hard writing".
As an aside, there is a storyline in this book involving relapsing and remitting MS. I found it to be one of the most accurate depictions of the illness and its impact that I have read - without slipping into maudlin territory. That in itself is to be congratulated.
But ultimately - this is a frothy, funny (genuinely funny), warm and wonderful read and I look forward to seeing what happens next on Carlton Square.
The Big Little Wedding in Carlton Square is published by Harper Impulse.
I purchased my own copy of this book.
What if the power to hurt were in women's hands?
Suddenly - tomorrow or the day after - teenage girls find that with a flick of their fingers, they can inflict agonizing pain and even death. With this single twist, the four lives at the heart of Naomi Alderman's extraordinary, visceral novel are utterly transformed.
REVIEW: I finished this novel, which was recommended on Twitter by Marian Keyes, last night.
I lay awake for hours processing it. Images and scenarios from it jumped in and out of mind. Even today, I think of "just one more thing" about it which I found remarkable. or which I want to discuss with someone.
I'd almost start a book club just so everyone could read this book and talk about it - because this is a book that begs to be talked about.
The premise is relatively simple, I suppose - as women evolve to develop a power which gives them the ability to take control of men, of armies, of governments - how will the world change?
The book is told through the eyes of four people caught in the middle of the storm that comes after 'The Day of the Girls' - the day in which this power is first activated in teenage girls. Each of these four sees The Power differently - to Allie, it is the start of a new religion - or the rewriting of our patriarchal notions of religion.
Roxy finds it at first a way to get revenge for a great injustice against her.
Margot as a way to gain power on a wider scale.
And Tunde - a young male journalist - as a way to earn him fame and recognition as a reporter of note unafraid (at least initially) to put himself at the heart of the action as women of the world rise up against their oppressors and form a more equal society.
Of course, the adage that power corrupts is there at all times bubbling away at the back of this book. But is it corruption or the desire to right old wrongs, to assert where real strength lies and to ensure the continuation of a new matriarchal religion?
This is a phenomenal book and I'm reluctant to give too much away. At times it is exceptionally graphic and upsetting - crimes committed against both men and women make for uncomfortable reading.
But for every unsettling passage there is so much to discuss. The way in which power shifts in the book is subtly done - expertly done. It is a book that jabs at all that is wrong with modern society and questions whether things would be any better if the tide was turned.
This book gripped me, utterly. It is a read that will stay with me for a long time and it's one I recommend wholeheartedly.
The Power is published by Penguin
I purchased my own copy of this book for review.
When baby Oliver breaks his arm, no-one can (or will) say how it happened.
His mother is exhausted.
His father is angry.
His older sister is resentful.
And they all have something to hide.
Review: I was nervous when I started to read this book - the premise being that a child has been hurt in an apparently non accidental sparking a social services investigation.
The mother in me wasn't bursting to read a book about a baby being hurt - but very quickly this became a book which I became absorbed in. From the early pages, where Sally's (the child's mother) experience of Post Natal Depression following the birth of baby Oliver, I was hooked. As a mother who experienced PND myself, I felt as if Joanna Barnard could see inside my mind. Her writing was raw, evocative, emotional and honest - and please, we need more honest books about the realities of motherhood and the complete shock to the system it can be to mothers!
Throughout the book - through the other primary characters of Richard (the baby's father) and Martha (the begrudging teenage half sister) Joanna Barnard deals with a number of sensitive issues - but not in such a manner that you feel this is a preachy or overdone book.
She peels away the layers of what initially appears to be a very happy marriage, in a very lovely house and uncovers the characters' pasts, their experience of the present and their hopes for the future - all the while expertly describing what happens when a child is removed from a home and the reverberations that can have not only within a family but through their entire social circle.
This is a book where you keep wondering who has hurt baby Oliver - it seems everyone could have lost their temper, lost control, at any time. Any honest parent will relate to the exhaustion, the emotional drain, the fear and the completely overwhelming nature of being a new parent.
This book is a deeply satisfying read - and one which should rightly become a bookclub favourite. There is much to like about this book, and much to discuss.
Hush Little Baby is published by Ebury
I was sent a review copy of this book by the publisher.
For the love of books
A good writer must be an avid reader. I'll be posting reviews of some of the books I'm reading. Disclaimer: I'm not a book blogger - I'm just a reader. These are books I've chosen to read for fun.