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The Underside of Joy

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LoveReading Says

LoveReading Says

May 2012 Debut of the Month.

Captivating, beautifully written with a real sense of location this is a heart wrenching story of modern motherhood that is a real emotional roller-coaster.


A "Piece of Passion" from the publisher...

Dear Reader: The first time I read Underside of Joy I was lying on my sofa at home feeling very sorry for myself, and not a little annoyed when I heard that a ‘hot’ book had arrived in my inbox. Frankly, I’d rather have been drinking a hot toddy and having a snooze…

Three hours later, I looked up from the manuscript, got on my phone to the office, and started bidding. Underside of Joy is that special. To my great relief we were able to successfully pre-empt in the UK before our competitors got started, and every day we received news that another territory had gone to auction – the US, France, Brazil, Germany, the list was endless, and within a month 14 territories had snapped it up.

So, what is this book that seems to speak to readers so universally? It tells the story of two children, and two mothers. Ella has been mum to her husband Joe’s children, 3 year-old Zach and 6 year-old Annie, for the past three years, believing their ‘natural’ mother, Paige, has abandoned them, and she loves them as fiercely and passionately as any mother. Then the unthinkable happens and Joe is killed in an accident, leaving Ella gasping for air but clinging to her children for dear life.

And then, the moment that stopped me in my tracks, and gave me the goosebumps you only get when you read something special… Little Annie breaks away from the mourners at Joe’s funeral, runs headlong and hurtling towards a statuesque blonde, and calls out the word ‘Mama’.

From that page onwards, Seré has you in her snare, sympathies switching endlessly between Ella and Paige, emotions being wrung out by this tragic, uplifting, complex and unforgettable narrative.

The novel is so moving that, as one publisher in the Netherlands said after reading its pages, “[I] hugged my kids and husband a little tighter, and felt that bit more patient and grateful.” And as you finish reading this journey through the under-side of joy, you are left feeling its polar opposite – pure unadulterated joy. And how many books can deliver you that!

Happy reading.


Sarah Ritherdon, Publishing Director, HarperCollins




A few Lovereading members have been lucky enough to get to read this novel ahead of publication.  Scroll down to see what they think...

Sarah Broadhurst

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Primary Genre Family Drama
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