It's almost May and Novelicious is excited to once again be joining the fabulous teams at Chicklit Club, Chick Lit Is Not Dead and Chick Lit Central for another jam-packed International Chick Lit Month.
It's almost May and Novelicious is excited to once again be joining the fabulous teams at Chicklit Club, Chick Lit Is Not Dead and Chick Lit Central for another jam-packed International Chick Lit Month.
Reviewed by Lisa Spoors
Let me start this review by saying that I am absolutely not one for crying at sad films, moving news features or X Factor sob stories. It really does take a LOT to get to me. But this book did. And I absolutely loved it.
The Sweetness of Forgetting is the story of Hope, who lives in picturesque Cape Cod in Boston, USA, with her daughter Annie. Hope runs a popular local bakery which has been in her family for generations. It’s not the career she would have chosen; Hope found herself taking over the bakery following the death of her mother and the gradual decline of her grandmother’s health. We learn at the beginning of the book that the bakery is in deep financial trouble, which makes Hope feel like a failure. Add to this a sullen eleven year old daughter who blames her mother for her parents’ divorce, along with a difficult relationship with her ex-husband, and Hope is really struggling to cope with the pressures of life.
Alongside this, Hope’s beloved grandmother Rose’s Alzheimer’s is getting worse, and Hope doesn’t visit her Mamie, as she calls her, in her care home as much as she’d like. When Hope discovers that her daughter has been visiting Rose alone, Hope decides to spend more time with her Mamie before it’s too late. It’s on one of these visits that Rose gives Hope a list of names, and asks her to take a trip to Paris to find out what happened to the people on the list.
I don't know about you, but I get such a buzz when a writer includes food of some description in her book, film or TV series. From tempting shortbread dunked in cocoa in Sally by Freya North, to brightly coloured cupcakes in Sex and The City, and that amazing chocolate cake in It's Complicated. I know I can't be the only one looking at Monica's kitchen table to scope out what's on there? Yep, they're drinking fresh orange juice for breakfast - I think I'll have that tomorrow. I'm steering clear of the trifle with minced beef though. Apparently it tastes like feet.
Not only am I curious about what a character is eating or drinking but I love that it tells me something more about them. It adds another layer - through taste.
Ella Aldridge goes to Thailand to mend her broken heart when she meets famous footballer Danny Riding. She soon finds herself having the dream wedding complete with magazine sponsorship deal and celebrity bridesmaids that she’s never met. Ella’s lifestyle of glamorous parties, a wardrobe of designer labels and perfect house, come at a cost as Danny’s agent controls her every move. Building the ‘Riding brand’ soon seems to work as Ella not only becomes a magazine columnist but also a co-host of a new chat show.
This is a strong but simple premise for a book – boy proposes to girl, girl says yes and starts to plan the wedding, keeping a diary of events along the way. When life gets a little in the way of her fairytale wedding Kiki finds that her nerves are tested to the absolute limit.
Although the central character got there in the end she was quite selfish and ungrateful for the most part so I struggled at times to empathise with her. Her fiancé Thom could not have been nicer – extraordinarily thoughtful (surprise picnics, gorgeous little personal presents littered throughout the year...) but not once in the entire book did Kiki match these efforts. I found her too princess for my liking, not just in the planning of her wedding but throughout her daily life. For me her sneering of a friend’s wedding was a touch sad, her response to a (perfectly reasonable) request by the nervous bride that she should have her hair done as bridesmaid met with churlishness. I found her too self-centred to really get on board with, she never really proved why all these people worked so hard to make her happy.
Jane Green says she is 'having a really lovely time' when I talk to her about her new book The Patchwork Marriage and how her UK book tour is going. The bestselling author was over here recently to promote the book, catch up with old friends and generally reacquaint herself with her native England. The author, who now lives in the US with her husband, children and numerous pets – which include two cats, chickens and now two dogs – was one of the pioneering authors for the chick-lit genre back in the 1990s with books like Straight Talking and Jemima J.
In her latest offering, Green writes about a woman, Andi, who finally marries her dream man but struggles to cope when one of his two daughters from a previous marriage is nothing but difficult and hostile towards her and tries very hard to break up their marriage.
"I did a lot of reading and anonymous lurking on various step-parenting forums. There was one particular dynamic that I found fascinating and I kept coming across it. It was the woman who marries the man with children and the children don't like her. She thinks, 'I'm a good person, and all these children need is enough love and kindness and they will love me. I will make them love me and we will create, I will create, this happy family.'" - Jane Green on the research for The Patchwork Marriage.
The new book The Patchwork Marriage is about a woman who marries a man who already has children. You have a bit of a patchwork family yourself – is that why you wanted to write about this subject?
JG: Yes. I got a bit stuck after I finished The Love Verb, because I think it was so emotionally draining for me. I had every writer's worst nightmare in that I just ran out of stories and had no idea what to write next. My editor took me out for lunch and said: 'Well, what's going on in your life? What are the themes? What are you interested in? What are you thinking about?'
Of course, I'd just got married for the second time and found myself with a blended family and in a bid to try to understand what that meant and figure it all out – because it definitely presents unique challenges – I did a lot of reading and anonymous lurking on various step-parenting forums. There was one particular dynamic that I found fascinating and I kept coming across it. It was the woman who marries the man with children and the children don't like her. She thinks, 'I'm a good person, and all these children need is enough love and kindness and they will love me. I will make them love me and we will create, I will create, this happy family.'
Of course that seemed to be so rarely the case.
That became the foundation for this story.
Why did you decide to show both Andi and eldest step-daughter Emily's perspective in the book, instead of just sticking to one of them?
JG: The beginning of the book is all Andi's point of view but after a while, she just comes across as being completely self-absorbed. As soon as I started writing as Emily – who I really didn't like – I understood her and I understood that this wasn't personal. She didn't hate her stepmother – in some ways she wanted to love her – but she couldn't because she felt she would be betraying her mother. She was a child in pain and she didn't know how to express that pain. I really empathised with her.
It threw a completely different light on where the book went after I started writing in her voice.
So at the beginning, was it just meant to be Andi's perspective?
JG: Yes! I had no intention of writing as Emily and in fact it was my editor's suggestion and I'm so glad she did. I was very nervous when she suggested it, I didn't think I could do it. As soon as I started, though, it made perfect sense and I just felt like I understood what this girl was about.
They're both flawed. There isn't an obvious heroine here. As I get older, I'm far more interested in writing about people who are flawed because we are all human and we're all doing the best we can. It just isn't realistic to write about people who are leading perfect lives.
There were moments when I read the book that I wanted to scream at the characters – particularly Ethan – to stop being so stupid. Did you consider that kind of reaction when you were creating the characters?
JG: I don't think I found him quite as frustrating as clearly people do but I think that's why marriages come apart. During my research, I found that so many second marriages come apart and so many people I spoke to put the reason down to step-children and to the husbands not standing up for their wives. I think that frustration that you felt reading it was probably an accurate reflection of how these women felt about their husbands.
"I could argue till the cows come home that it's a pejorative and the problem is in the definition but people have been arguing that since 1996 and honestly – you're not going to change how people think of the term, or what people assume the definition of 'literature for chicks' means, so why bother?" - Jane Green on the term 'Chick Lit'.
I am a fan of any book that starts with a line like this…
"My blouse was half way over my head and my arms were tangled upwards in a dying swan when I heard someone who was definitely not my boss say my name.”
Angela Clarke is back in the fifth instalment of the ‘I Heart’ series by Lindsey Kelk and within two pages I was in hysterical fits of laughter. For anyone who isn’t familiar with Lindsey’s fabulous series, it began back in ‘I Heart New York’ when Angela escaped from her best friend’s wedding after discovering her fiancé cheating in the back of the wedding car. She broke the Groom’s hand with a stiletto and flew out to New York with a broken heart and absolutely nothing else. Since then, she’s become a blogger for a fashion magazine, fallen in love with a skinny rock star from Brooklyn, got into trouble in ‘I Heart Hollywood’, ‘I Heart Paris’ and ‘I Heart Vegas’ and has managed to avoid going home to London throughout all of it…but now Angela is engaged and her mother is on the war path.
Railroaded into going home for her Mother’s birthday Angela finds herself faced with the prospect of all of the things that she ran away from in the first place, but with two new additions in the form of wild best friend Jenny Lopez who is drinking herself into oblivion and refusing to let Angela borrow her shoes after her break up with her ex-ex. Angela accepts that going home to face the music is probably better then drowning herself in the bath (even if it is Jo Malone bath soak) and calming herself with thoughts of seeing her best friend from home she hops on the plane…
I wouldn’t say I was a “baby person” so it was with some trepidation I opened the pages of Rosie Fiore’s debut novel ‘Babies in Waiting’. Meet Louise, Gemma and Toni – three women in very different circumstances all due to have a baby in September. Louise, a successful Northern businesswoman regretting a work night away with the hapless Brian from the office, Gemma the self-assured, lonely 18 year old girl desperate to fill a hole and Toni, scared by a medical condition into starting a family earlier than expected.
It’s an interesting premise and I found it both good fun and, at times, enlightening! This book is probably not one to lend the boys and as a childless (reasonably squeamish) female reader there were definitely a couple of paragraphs I wish I’d skipped (although Fiore has the grace to admit the moments where there might be a little too much information!). Still, the stories draw you in and the book moves at a steady pace.
The unlikely friendships developed throughout the book are realistic and all three women are sympathetic characters. I particularly warmed to Louise, the older of the three women, who seemed to face a never-ending stream of judgement from a whole host of people (family, friends, perfect strangers, the father of her child etc, etc...) Although there aren’t as many laugh-out-loud moments as I’d like in a book of this nature Fiore writes fluently and with good humour. I am sure fans of this genre will be pleased to discover a new author in their midst and anyone expecting can no doubt expect to enjoy this novel.
For the record, I’m not enthralled by the ‘Chick Lit’ label. Chick. Ick. Lit. Shit. It’s reductive and flippant. But, a tad annoyingly, it’s also incredibly powerful. In terms of website traffic it’s four times as powerful as the term ‘women’s fiction’ and eight times as powerful as the term ‘female fiction’. Over 40,000 people a month search Google for ‘chick lit’. I’d love to take my own little stand and exchange every ‘chick lit’ on this website to something less sexist and more descriptively accurate. But I really want those 40,000 people on Google to come to this website instead of the competition. I want those people who search google for Chick Lit to find what it is that they’re looking for on Novelicious, and once they're here, we can also tell them about other great books that they may not have previously thought to read. And in any case, what term would you use in place of Chick Lit? The whole thing is already confused enough.
What does Chick Lit mean? Which books ARE so-called Chick Lit?
For me, Chick Lit was always a sub-genre of women’s fiction – usually a novel starring a 20-30 year old protagonist and with a strong comedic focus – sort of like the book version of a Romantic Comedy movie, but not cheesy; funny, sometimes irreverent, escapist, recognising-your-life-in-them books about incredibly important life topics such as LOVE and FRIENDSHIP and FIGURING OUT HOW TO BE HAPPY (who decided that love and friendship and trying to be happy were fluffy?).
Every bride dreams of looking beautiful on her wedding day. Doesn't she?
Violet doesn't. She is dreading it. In fact she can't think why Sebastian ever asked her to marry him. When they met, she was a size 14-16. Now she is size 20.
How will she ever find a dress which doesn't make her look ridiculous? And fat.
Dieting club New You! promises the answers. But things just go from bad to worse. It is time for Violet to come up with some solutions of her own...
The Desperate Bride's Diet Club is released on the 26th April. More here. (Amazon)
INTERVIEWED BY CESCA MARTIN
Tell us about your novel 'Miracle on Regent Street'.
Well, I like to think it’s a real cuddle-up-with-a-cashmere-blanket-and-a-hot chocolate kind of a read, the kind of book that will remind you of classic old movies and bygone days when Christmas was about magic, not money. It’s a story about a sweet, unassuming stockroom girl called Evie Taylor who works in the basement of Hardy's; a faded, forgotten old department store that has seen better days. For the past two years she's lived an invisible life in London, sorting endless boxes of old-fashioned stock by day and looking after her sister’s two young children at night. Her neighbours think she's the hired help, her self-obsessed shop floor colleagues mistake her for her stockroom predecessor and even her manager doesn't know her actual name. But despite all this she loves working at the store. So when she overhears that Hardy's is at risk of being sold unless it seriously increases its profits by December 26th – just three weeks time - she hatches a secret plan to save it. Evie and Hardy's are both looking for a Christmas miracle to turn their fortunes around, but will it take the shape of the handsome American who has swept in to town and shaken things up like a snow globe?
Was this your first novel?
Ohhho no! I have three completed manuscripts (and a couple of abandoned attempts) lurking in a box somewhere. Although my first attempt (a book called Strawberries and Dreams which I wrote in 1999!) is lost forever on an ex boyfriend’s probably no longer functioning PC. Better off that way, to be honest!
How many years have you been writing?
I’ve written stories since I was little – but I’ve been seriously dreaming of it as a career since I was 22 (aka a long time ago!) I had just left University after studying a degree in Performing Arts and was working as a waitress in a theme restaurant. The chick lit genre had just been born and reading Bridget Jones was a real light bulb moment for me. I began writing my own novel during the day (about a frustrated waitress, of course!) I read every book in the genre, bought the Writer’s and Artists Year Book, studied every acknowledgment page to see who my favourite authors were represented by and bought every book about writing fiction I could. When I’d written three chapters of my novel I sent it to ten agents. I got rejected by nine but when I hadn’t heard from the tenth I decided to take the initiative and ring them. I somehow (don’t ask me how) managed to get through to one of the biggest, most successful literary agents in London and he told me he had my manuscript in front of him and that he thought it had ‘something’ but that he had been about to send me a rejection letter. I begged him to read more and incredibly, he agreed. I went home and wrote four chapters in as many days and sent it to him. When his rejection letter eventually came through I was devastated. At that point I decided that I just wanted to write for a living – so I decided to apply for work experience at some of my favourite women’s magazines. I wasn’t giving up – just taking a sideways step. I wanted to learn skills that I could transfer to writing fiction but in an exciting, stimulating environment. It was the best decision I ever made. After a year of unpaid work, I got my dream job at Company magazine. I spent the next three years writing features – including my own column, working with incredible people, meeting celebrities – and the best part? I got to meet my favourite authors and grill them about how to get a book deal. I was still writing fiction, but in my spare time. I even sent a manuscript off to a couple of publishers –at one point I had lunch with an editor from Harper Collins which I was so excited about, but nothing ever came of it. I was getting closer, but not close enough!
We don't usually cover ebooks on Novelicious, but we just have to make an exception for The D Word. First off, this book is written by the two fabulous ladies who run the awesome Chick Lit is Not Dead website and secondly, it sounds really really great...
Jordan Daniels and Elle Ryan thought their lives would become less complicated when they walked away from their respective relationships one year ago. But instead, they find themselves vying for a relationship with the same divorced man.
As a spiritual counselor, newly single mother Jordan Daniels makes her living predicting other people’s futures. If only she could foresee her own. A year after filing for divorce from her husband, Kevin, he seems to be the one moving on effortlessly, while Jordan still can’t bring herself to fill his old underwear drawer. But it’s not until Jordan’s polar opposite, Elle steals Kevin’s heart, that Jordan becomes convinced she’ll be replaced both as a wife and a mother to her five-year-old son, Max.
When Elle met Kevin, the last thing she wanted was another relationship. Especially not with a man with baggage-she already had enough of her own. She left her fiancé, Chase right before their wedding to avoid the imminent D word, something she’s convinced runs in her family like a disease. But a year later, she’s no closer to becoming less skeptical about marriage. And despite her attachment to Kevin and his son, when Elle sees just how far Jordan’s willing to go to win Kevin back, Elle starts to question if she should have left Chase in the first place.
In The D Word you’ll walk in the shoes of Jordan and Elle as they discover that sometimes you’re not that different from the person who makes you feel the most insecure.
Liz and Lisa have also re-released their first novel, I'LL HAVE WHO SHE'S HAVING, which as well as having THE most gorgeous cover is currently selling on Amazon for 70p. That's 70p!
Visit Chick Lit is Not Dead
REVIEW BY DEBS CARR
We don't review ebooks here at Novelicious, but we're making one exception with this book as it's been shortlisted for the RNA Joan Hessayon Award for New Writers.
Jack Miller has just sailed single-handedly across the Atlantic, but before he can get to his intended destination, he has a problem with his boat and ends up docking at the small Irish town of Durna. He is sent to the local pub, The Maiden's Arms to find Devine, the ship chandler, who he hopes will be able to find the necessary parts so that he can continue with his journey.
When Jack arrives at the pub, he finds Annie Devine. She is a chocolatier, who has been living in Dublin for the past two years since being jilted at the altar. Annie has reluctantly returned to her home town to stand in for her sick father as the Matchmaker at the Annual Durna Matchmaking Festival. She mistakes Jack for one of the entrants and insists on taking his details and photograph to enter them in the matchmaking book. When she discovers that he has nowhere to stay, she offers him a room in her parent's home.
The local men know Annie is single and iit seems to Jack that they're more interested in her than the other entrants. He admits that he's only in Durna until his boat can be repaired and isn't in the town for the festival, and suggests that they pretend to be a couple so that she's left alone to get on with the job of matchmaker.
Annie is a chocolatier and can't wait to return to Dublin to take part in a contest that is the chocolatier's version of the Oscars. Jack has his own personal agenda. Not only does he have a deadline to keep for his successful marketing business, but he has someone from his past that he needs to find. The mutual attraction between the two intensifies, but just when they seem to be getting close, their ambitions and personal lives get in the way. How can they ever hope to have a relationship, or any future together if they live on seperate sides of the Atlantic and want such different things?
This book starts with Jack battling through a storm in his boat and continues to keep the attention right though to the satisfying ending. The sexual chemistry is brilliantly written as beautiful, but self-conscious Annie and rugged, millionaire Jack with his difficult past, begin to fall in love. The story sweeps you along and is sometimes funny, occasionally sad, as we learn the full extent of Jack's personal tragedy and comforting too as they both begin to discover things about themselves they hadn't thought of before.
I started to read this book on the last morning of my trip to Sorrento and didn't stop reading through two flights - both unbelievably with the same Captain whose landing skills leave a lot to be desired - and ended up finishing just before arriving back in Jersey.
You can visit Sally Clement's Website here
Catch Me A Catch is published by the Wild Rose Press and you can find out more and read an excerpt here
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