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.