Monday, May 27, 2013

The Vintage Teacup Club – Vanessa Greene

This is a story about three ordinary, but, very different women who meet under unusual circumstances when they each come across and fall in love with a vintage teaset. After a little deliberation (and a chat over a cup of tea) they decide rather than one of them take it, they will share it.

Alison is married to Pete and has two teenage daughters, Sophie and Holly. From all appearances her life seems ideal but her children are going through that “difficult phase” and Pete has recently lost his job, so Alison is carrying a lot of the financial burden for them all and feeling the pressure.

Jenny is about to marry Dan. They don’t have a lot of cash and are saving like mad for the perfect wedding. Then, out of the blue just weeks before her big day, Jenny hears from her mother who hasn’t been in touch with her or her family since she walked out when Jenny and her brother were very young.

Maggie moved from London a couple of years ago following the break- up of a long term relationship. She now owns a well-established florist which is gathering lots of local praise. When she gets the opportunity to do the flowers for a huge upcoming wedding she meets landscaper and designer, Owen, who she has to work with to stage the event. They get off to a very rocky start and it looks like she will lose the biggest contract she has landed so far.

The Vintage Teacup Club is a story about three women and their families and friends. They quickly become close through the shared love of vintage teacups and as the story unfolds so does their relationship with each other. It is a nice story of love, friendship and family ties. It is Vanessa Greene’s debut novel and a lovely read.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Body Surfing – Anita Shreve

Sydney is twenty-nine and has already been married twice, one marriage ended in divorce and the other in widowhood. Slowly, she is trying to put her life back together after the shocking and unexpected sudden death of her beloved Daniel.

During the summer of 2002 she takes on the job as tutor to Julie, the teenage daughter of Mr and Mrs Edwards. The family and Sydney are staying at their oceanfront cottage until September which is ideal as this enables Sydney to escape her former life in Boston in the hope that distance will help her work out what she wants to do with her future. From the start it is clear to Sydney that Julie is slow and no amount of tutoring will help her make progress. In spite of this the two become close and Sydney realises that Julie has a strong artistic bent and begins to encourage her talents.

Jeff and Ben are Mr and Mrs Edwards’ grown up sons. They meet Sydney for the first time during a weekend break at the cottage. Later in the summer they come back to join the family for a holiday in August. It is clear that Ben is fond of Sydney but it seems that Jeff has his eye on her too. So Sydney is drawn into the middle of a powerful web of old rivalries, tensions and family secrets.

This is a stunning piece of writing and I couldn’t put the book down. As only the second Anita Shreve book I have read it was no less intriguing or enjoyable than the first and it will not be the last. The style in which this story is written, its short, jagged paragraphs, is emotionally exhausting to read. The clever and witty use of language and brilliant insight into the human condition sets Anita Shreve’s work apart from most other authors writing in this genre. The descriptiveness of her words is mesmerising:

“….the sense of mission, the rhyming clacking of the rails, the fast receding lights in the distance….”

And this is just one line in the book but it describes a train journey so precisely.

"Sydney enters her room and is immediately overwhelmed by grief for Daniel..........She remembers their fit, her pale leg slipping between his two when they lay together after making love, as if their limbs had been deliberately fashioned for this purpose. The way Daniel would never cross a room without glancing at her face. The way he'd come home from his shift, drained, searching for her, room to room, only the sight of her allowing him access to normal life."

That sounds like love to me!

It is difficult to say more about this particular story without giving too much away so all I will say is, if you haven’t done so already, pick up this or any of Anita Shreve’s books. You will not be sorry.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Chocolate Lovers’ Club and The Chocolate Lovers’ Diet – Carole Matthews

Lucy Lombard loves chocolate and is the founding member of The Chocolate Lovers’ Club. Fellow members include Autumn, Nadia and Chantal and they all agree that chocolate can cure anything from illness to a broken heart. They get together regularly at their little haven, a cafĂ© called Chocolate Heaven which is base and almost a second home for them. They even have a code for calling crisis meetings – whenever a text message reading “Chocolate Crisis” goes out, they drop everything and head to Chocolate Heaven to find out what’s happening.

Lucy’s long-time boyfriend, Marcus, has trouble staying faithful to her and as hard as she tries she cannot seem to break it off with him permanently. Her boss also has a bit of a thing for Lucy and flirts with her constantly, “Crush” (as he has been titled by the girls) is very handsome and Lucy does not mind the attention, at all. Autumn is trying to save the world, one drug addict at a time, through a craft programme she teaches. Unfortunately, her brother, Richard is also fond of drugs and regularly brings trouble to her door. Nadia’s husband is addicted to online gambling and he pushes her to the limit by landing them in serious debt whilst trying to land the big win. Chantal is stuck in a loveless marriage and although she cares for her husband, he is cold and distant and sometimes she cannot help looking elsewhere for comfort. Add all these ladies together, mix in some divine chocolate recipes and what comes out is adventure and entertainment.

I loved the Chocolate Lovers’ Club when I first read it a year or so ago and had meant to pick up the sequel, The Chocolate Lovers’ Diet, but just hadn’t come across it. Then the lovely Carole Matthews offered a giveaway of a signed copy of each book, plus a tea cup carrying the slogan “Go away I’m reading” and a pair of chocolate shoes! (see photo above) I just couldn’t resist entering and was beside myself with joy when Lovely Kev (Carole’s other half) drew out my name as recipient. The first thing I did when I received the parcel was make a cup of tea using my new mug, begin to re-read The Chocolate Lovers' Club and then I feasted on The Chocolate Lovers’ Diet for the first time, all within the space of a week! I had a lovely time.

I have read and enjoyed a lot of Carole Matthews’ books, she has published over 20 so far and these two did not disappoint. I love the way the girls get themselves into shocking fixes and have to depend on each other to get out of them. Both books are laugh out loud funny, and I especially love Lucy’s disastrous escapades during her company’s team building exercises. Even though the stories and events are humourous, underneath it all they are about women with big problems who look to their friendship (and chocolate) for the strength and support to get them through. Carole Mathews handles some serious issues with humour and charm and I know I will read both books again for the sheer entertainment value they provide.

You can sign up for Carole Matthews newsletter on her website here at and follow her on facebook here at Carole is funny, friendly and takes time out to listen and interact with her readers and fb friends. I have enjoyed every one of her books I have read and hope she will carry on writing and long continue to keep us entertained with her work.