Sunday, 27 May 2012

Pear Shaped

Pear Shaped by Stella Newman

This was recommended to me by my friend Kate Long who'd been a tutor on an Arvon course, where Stella Newman was a pupil while she finished this book.

Sophie is a dessert designer for a large supermarket chain. She's a woman who knows her food and loves her job, except for her crappy boss. She meets James, older, rich, good-looking, and falls head over heels in love with him. But he's the kind of man who can't commit to a relationship, and thinks women should be stick-thin and always perfectly presented. Sophie tries to be what he wants her to be, but it costs her her happiness. All her friends tell her to ditch James. Eventually when the relationship breaks up, Sophie breaks down in a bad way, and then has to rebuild herself and her self-esteem.

This is a sparkily written, amusing romp of a chick-lit novel, but one which has a serious message about the importance of moderation in all things and being true to yourself. It's a great book for foodies - the author includes some recipes and restaurant recommendations at the end. In some places the book reads like a beautifully written catalogue of all the very best desserts - do not read if you are on a diet! But do read it if you love chick lit, and want a satisfying story of a woman's relationships with food, her body, and her men.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

The Time Of Our Lives

The Time Of Our Lives by Imogen Parker

Bought this last Autumn at the Wimborne Literary Festival, after hearing the author speak. It covers a time period from the Coronation in 1953 through to a Woodstock-type music festival in 1969. It's set in a fictional Dorset coastal town of Kingsaven. At the heart of the novel are left-wing young teacher Michael who is falling out of love with his ambitious wife, and pretty schoolgirl Claudia. When the two meet there is an instant attraction.

But they don't act on this attraction straight away. The author deftly handles a huge cast of characters and dozens of subplots throughout the book. The action unfolds against a backdrop of the changing times, and in this book the background events almost felt like bitpart characters themselves. I found myself studying it from a writer's point of view - how did she do that?

It's a whopper of a book, and reads like a soap opera. At the start I found the frequent point of view changes and enormous number of characters frustrating - you just got into one character's head and it was time to get to grips with someone else. But by the end I was completely hooked and didn't want it to finish.

Just as well there's a further two books in the trilogy then!