On my second to last book haul trip to the local secondhand book store I came away with my very first Lisa Jewell book. Dot, from http://dot-scribbles.blogspot.com/ had reviewed a recent Lisa Jewell book, 'The Truth About Melody Browne' and I remembered her saying that Lisa Jewell books always cheer her up. So when I saw Vince & Joy sitting on the shelf in front of me I decided to see for myself if Lisa Jewell is a cheery book writer or not.
Vince and Joy meet each other on a camp site where they are holidaying with their parents. Joy is 18 and Vince is almost 19 when they meet and they fall madly and completely in love with each other. Joy's parents are in their 60's and Vince's are much younger and trendier. Vince and Joy are made for each other and they spend as much time together, away from their parents, as they can. One night whilst the couple are frolicking in the woods, their parents get into an altercation which ends up in a fight between Joy's dad and Vince's step dad. When Vince and Joy return home that night, all is not well and in the early hours of the morning Joy and her family leave the camp site without saying goodbye. Although Joy leaves a letter for Vince, it is raining heavily and most of the ink on the page gets washed away. All Vince can read in the note is "I am so ashamed". They are both devastated by their loss.
Moving on seven years we pick up the story of Vince and Joy again. We meet Vince's room mate, the wonderful Cass and her spiritually inclined cat, Madeleine and Joy's friends, her landlady, Julia and the irrepressible cross dresser, Bella. Without giving too much away it seems that fate guides Vince and Joy to dance around one another but never actually pick up their relationship. Somehow their lives move on in different directions. And this is how it goes into the future until we finally meet the couple again more than 17 years after they first met and fell in love.
This was a delightful book to read and I loved the characters, even the kooky ones were well drawn and believable. The story is light hearted but also asks a couple of serious soul searching questions, too. I can thoroughly recommend this for the summer and have now secured my second Lisa Jewell book, 31 Dream Street. I'll keep you posted.
In the same week I skipped through the lives of Vince & Joy, I also read the autobiography of Michael Parkinson 'Parky'. I've always been a fan of Michael Parkinson and was very excited to have this book thrust into my hand by my dog rescuing neighbour, as repayment for my regular walks to the beach with her 'new' dog in tow (well, you always knew I would end up as chief dog walker, didn't you!)
Parkinson has had a charmed life. That becomes apparent almost immediately as we wander through his times as an only child, fuelled by his mothers ambition for her son and lead through his childhood and short-lived cricketing career by his doting father. Stories of meeting the rich and famous adorn every page and I couldn't help but marvel at how fate had been very kind to Parky, opening doors and shining lights on pathways for him to follow, all of which lead to him become one of the most famous interviewers of all time. He spoke highly of every one of his guests and even Meg Ryan, who he termed his only failure, and Emu who he loathed, were treated with kind words. The only thing I could find fault with in this book was his criticism of what he sees as 'the establishment' and some people he had worked for. This negative reflection felt out of place and smacked somewhat of ingratitude in an otherwise positively charged story of a man who made a career out of being sociable and trying to make people feel comfortable. I enjoyed the book overall, though, it is funny in parts and poignant in others. I would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of Parky or those of you who like autobiographies.