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Clare Chambers was born in 1966, attended a school in Croydon, read English at Oxford and wrote her first novel while she was living in New Zealand. She is the author of Back Trouble, A Dry Spell and Learning to Swim, which won the 1998 Parker Romantic Novel of the Year award. She now lives in Kent with her husband and young family.
Hauntingly tender, and written with powerful grace, Clare Chambers’s Small Pleasures is an absolute joy from start to finish. It’s 1957 in suburban Kent, where Jean writes for a local newspaper with every aspect of her life still dominated by her contrary, controlling mother as Jean approaches forty. No post-work drinks with colleagues. No friends. No romance. Enter Gretchen Tilbury, an elegant Swiss woman who writes to the paper claiming her daughter was the result of a virgin birth. As Jean investigates the case, she becomes close to Gretchen, her kind, witty husband Howard, and the alleged miraculous daughter, all four of them finding comfortable joy in each other’s company. “You’ve stirred us out of our routine,” Howard remarks, to which Jean responds, “I would have thought it was the other way about.” While researching Gretchen’s youth, Jean inadvertently sends shockwaves through the Tilbury family when she reconnects Gretchen to a powerful figure from her past. At the same time, she and Howard find themselves falling for each other, both of them remaining faithful to Gretchen, graciously skirting their attraction - until it’s right to act. The novel features some of the most finely drawn, endearing characters I’ve encountered in recent contemporary fiction. For all her lonely frustration, Jean isn’t one to wallow. She’s pragmatic, with ripples of not-quite-regret lapping beneath her smooth, reasoned surface - a woman “who took pride in her ability to conceal unruly emotions.” Her domesticity pieces for the paper have something of Carrie Bradshaw’s musings about them, albeit without any in-your-face sex in the city (or the suburbs, in Jean’s case), with their apparently humdrum themes humorously paralleling soul-stirring events in her own life. Laying bare a quivering three-way tug between obligation, propriety and passion, and the inexplicable way thunderbolt-bonds are formed between similar-souled individuals, Jean’s conflicts and chance to love truly get under your skin. What a remarkable book, with a dagger-sharp climax that will pierce your heart.
A feisty story of the ups and downs and sometimes near disasters of two teen sisters sent away from their home in Oxford to stay with an aunt in Brighton after sinister things happen at home. Younger sister Robyn, the sensible one, tells the entertaining story of how she tries to keep track of her highly attractive older sister who just wants to enjoy herself. Not difficult in a place like Brighton… This is the author’s first foray into writing for teens and it doesn’t disappoint.
34-year old Esther has devoted her life to looking after her adored paraplegic brother while illustrating the odd children’s book, waitressing and indulging routinely in her married lover. She’s content. Then a friend’s child jolts her memory and subsequently her life. We now backtrack to her shambolic childhood and her charismatic brother, before returning to follow their present predicament. With startling cameos, magical moments, eccentric characters and a zest for life that is truly infectious, this is an enchanting family saga, poignant, beautifully written, a must read.Comparison: Kate Atkinson, Katie Fforde, Lisa Jewell.Similar this month: Carmen Reid, Cecilia Ahern.
An intense and thrilling teen mystery set on a tranquil island where all seems perfect... Daniel has dark secrets and a troubled past. So when his family move to the island of Wragge, a gentle backwater where local life remains undisturbed he feels he's escaped. But outsiders aren't always welcome and the more Daniel tries to conceal, the more he reveals about sinister goings on. Does this picture perfect community have something even greater to hide? An explosive thriller that tingles with brooding menace and ignites as the clues fall into place...
From the highly-acclaimed author of SMALL PLEASURES - longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2021 ____________________________ When aspiring novelist Christopher Flinders drops out of university to write his masterpiece (in between shifts as a fish delivery man and builder's mate), his family is sceptical. But when he is taken up by the London editor Owen Goddard and his charming wife Diana it seems success is just around the corner. Christopher's life has so far been rather short of charm - growing up in an unlovely suburb, with unambitious parents and a semi-vagrant brother - and he is captivated by his generous and cultured mentors. However, on the brink of realising his dream, Christopher makes a desperate misjudgement which results in disaster for all involved. Shattered, he withdraws from London and buries himself in rural Yorkshire, embracing a career and a private life marked by mediocrity. Twenty years on a young academic researching into Owen Goddard seeks him out, and Christopher is forced to exhume his past, setting him on a path to a life-changing discovery. Praise for Clare Chambers: 'Smart, astute, and very funny' Daily Mail 'Effortless to read, but every sentence lingers in the mind' Lissa Evans 'Gorgeous... If you're looking for something escapist and bittersweet, I could not recommend more' Pandora Sykes on SMALL PLEASURES 'Chambers' eye for undemonstrative details achieves a Larkin-esque lucidity' Guardian 'Reminds us of the rare pleasure that an intelligent tale with a happy ending brings' The Sunday Times
From the highly-acclaimed author of SMALL PLEASURES - longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2021 ____________________ On the brink of forty, newly single with a failed business, Philip thought he'd reached an all-time low. It only needed a discarded chip on a South London street to lay him literally flat. So, bedbound and bored, Philip naturally starts to write the story of his life. But between the mundane catalogue of seaside holidays and bodged DIY, broken relationships and unspoken truths, more surprises are revealed - both comic and touching - than Philip or his family ever bargained for. Perhaps there will even be a happy ending... Praise for Clare Chambers: 'Gorgeous... If you're looking for something escapist and bittersweet, I could not recommend more' Pandora Sykes on SMALL PLEASURES 'Chambers' eye for undemonstrative details achieves a Larkin-esque lucidity' Guardian 'A funny and moving story with a great deal of style' Daily Express
From the highly-acclaimed author of SMALL PLEASURES - longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2021 ____________________ In 1976 four students took a trip to the desert. Now the repercussions of that fateful summer are coming back to haunt them... And repercussions are just what Guy doesn't need: his wife, Jane, is moving swiftly from slightly eccentric to downright peculiar, their three-year-old daughter seems set on destroying Jane's sanity, and now even God's gone quiet on him. As for Nina, she's having enough trouble with her son, James. He's got exams looming, a new girlfriend with pneumatic breasts and now, it seems, he's on drugs. Nina certainly won't welcome any ghosts from the past. Life isn't going smoothly for anyone. But when Hugo, long-forgotten agent of misfortune, threatens to pay them all a visit, disaster seems unavoidable. Praise for Clare Chambers: 'A wonderful novel. I loved it' Nina Stibbe 'Effortless to read, but every sentence lingers in the mind' Lissa Evans 'Gorgeous... If you're looking for something escapist and bittersweet, I could not recommend more' Pandora Sykes on SMALL PLEASURES 'An irresistible novel - wry, perceptive and quietly devastating' Mail on Sunday 'Chambers' eye for undemonstrative details achieves a Larkin-esque lucidity' Guardian 'An almost flawlessly written tale of genuine, grown-up romantic anguish' The Sunday Times
From the highly-acclaimed author of SMALL PLEASURES - longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2021 ____________________ Abigail Jex never expected to see any of the Radley household again. The Radleys were extraordinary, captivating creatures transplanted from a bohemian corner of North London to outer suburbia, and the young Abigail found herself drawn into their magic circle: the eccentric Frances, her new best friend; Frances' mother, the liberated, headstrong Lexi; and of course the brilliant, beautiful Rad. Abigail thought she'd banished the ghost of her life with them and the catastrophe that ended it, but thirteen years later a chance encounter forces her to acknowledge that the spell is far from broken... Praise for Clare Chambers: 'Smart, astute, and very funny' Daily Mail 'This delicious novel is a joy from beginning to end' Lisa Jewell 'Gorgeous... If you're looking for something escapist and bittersweet, I could not recommend more' Pandora Sykes on SMALL PLEASURES 'Chambers' eye for undemonstrative details achieves a Larkin-esque lucidity' Guardian 'An intelligent and escapist read - well written, and very funny' Daily Express