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All relationships have their ups and downs, whether it’s struggles with a partner or difficulties in the family. Our Relationship Stories section shows the unique features of relationships in gloriously written technicolour.
A gentle (well, apart from the occasional brawl and scuffle), amusing mystery focusing on an orchestra who with good intentions, invite two local schools to join them. The two very different schools have never mixed, and when things start to go missing, accusations aren’t too far around the corner. Add to the mix a dash of romance, an off duty Detective Chief Inspector, a famous composer, plenty of gossip after practice at the pub and you have an enjoyable read in your hands. This is book two in The Stockwell Park Orchestra Series however I joined here and felt entirely comfortable doing so. Isabel Rogers balances the music know-how with more than a whiff of mystery. The characters are bright and engaging, or occasionally downright dastardly. Bold as Brass is an entertaining read, light-hearted it may be, it is also capable of provoking thoughts too.
What a wonderful, charming, readable story to simply fall into, and fall in love with. When cooly glamorous Sophie runs away from her high profile life, she ends up back in her childhood stomping ground. Taking time to relax and enjoy her neighbours and surroundings, she discovers a community that could have been ready made, just for her. But… Sophie has a difficult decision to make. I started reading, and didn’t come up for air. This is a book that is all too easy to sink into and not want to surface from, so ensure you pop your ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door. Milly Johnson expertly built the story, successfully keeping me on tenterhooks before Sophie breaks ranks and escapes. There are some rip-roaringly fabulous characters on offer here, including some that I could quite happily have booed and hissed at. I loved getting to know Sophie, she really is quite delightful, as I read, I smiled and cheered her on. The Magnificant Mrs Mayhew is a gorgeously lively, affectionate and satisfying read. It comes as highly recommended from me, and deservedly sits in our star books selection.
Fabulously darker than dark, this psychological thriller hurls a firecracker into online relationships and stands watching, waiting for the fallout. Author Tom is somewhat addicted to social media, when one particular follower starts harassing him, Tom calls the police, but will a restraining order magic his problems away? The first few pages sent an icy shiver of foreboding coursing through me. Travelling immediately from that knowledge, to eight months previously set certain thoughts and questions quivering. I believe that you don’t have to like a character in a novel to love them, and for me that was the case here. Paul Burston has created fascinating, flawed characters and the more I got to know them, the further I was sucked into the story. Social media, judgement, victimisation, our social and personal responsibility for each other, all gather on the page waiting your thoughts. The Closer I Get is a fiercely provocative novel, and as well as being a boldly entertaining read, it really, really made me think.
As impactful as the author’s Montego Bay-set debut (Here Comes the Sun), this stirring novel sees Patsy fulfill her dream of leaving Jamaica (and Tru, her five-year-old daughter), to join Cicely, her best friend and secret lover, in Brooklyn. But when Patsy reaches her land of milk and honey a chasm gapes between her expectations and the actualities of being an undocumented immigrant: “The job that she had at the Ministry in Kingston was by far a more dignified job than cleaning houses, than wiping the assess of other people’s children, walking a dog and picking up shit.” And Cicely doesn’t live up to expectations, either. “Yuh don’t have to keep up di act wid me,” Patsy says to her friend, whose situation is less than the idyll she’d painted for Patsy. Meanwhile, with the passing of a decade, Tru is becoming her own young woman, defying convention by playing football with boys, and binding her breasts to keep them hidden. Across the ocean, and down the years, mother and daughter have more in common than either might imagine. Traversing generations and cultures, exposing white privilege and homophobia, exploring sexuality, the pressures of motherhood and the raw struggles of womanhood, Patsy’s plight of fleeing one cage for another, her search for peace and passion, makes for a profoundly stirring and highly readable novel.
A very special and beautiful read that left my heart full of feelings. When she was young, Mona’s Dadda told her there was a trick to time, as she revisits the past can she reshape her future? Having fallen in love with Kit de Waal’s first novel My Name is Leon (do read it, it’s simply gorgeous), I just had to get myself a copy of The Trick to Time. I thought I would read a crafty few chapters before going out, however the words caught me to them and held on. I completely forgot I was meant to be leaving and was just a little late! I adore Kit de Waal’s writing, it reaches inside, to hidden depths of awareness I wasn’t even sure existed, and nudges them awake. She has a gift with words, seemingly simple, building thoughts and feelings until they develop into a heartfelt, vividly intense moving picture. As Mona visits the past, lives in the present, and looks to the future I found myself alongside her every step of the way. The Trick to Time is a book I will keep close to hand to reread again and again, and I imagine that I will discover a slightly different version each time I step inside the pages. Highly recommended, I have chosen it as one of my Liz Robinson picks of the month, and a LoveReading Star Book.
Set in the 1930s and inspired by Much Ado About Nothing, this thrilling feast of coming-of-age edginess is giddy with the glamour of freethinking artists, and tingles with romantic tension. Constrained by her life in England, aspiring natural historian Bea constantly battles her parents’ attempts to marry her off: “As far as my parents are concerned, daughters aren’t a terribly useful asset. I’m not supposed to go out in the world and actually do things.” But being “too big, too loud, too clever – too much”, Bea has her own ideas about her future, which she’s able to embrace when she’s sent to stay with her wealthy uncle in Italy and discovers with glee that “things at Villa di Stelle might not be so respectable after all.” Among the villa’s vibrant collective of artists is handsome painter Ben, and sparks fly between he and Bea from the off. A lighthearted challenge sees them set out to enjoy a summer romance without falling in love, until events at a decadent party to invoke rain turn out to be explosive in more ways than one. As the heavens crack open, fireworks fly between Ben and Bea and their lives will never be the same again. Alongside Bea’s awakening of body and heart, she also realises that she cannot return to her previous life. She wants what the artists’ have: an “all-consuming passion for their work...a purpose, a vocation.” With the conflict between her free-spirited nature and societal constraints exacerbated by her Italian experiences, with the world now opened up to her, the gateway cannot be closed. The author’s Great Gatsby-esque A Sky Painted Gold was a 2018 favourite of mine, and this is every bit as bathed in coming-of-age hope and a sense of being on the brink of something special.
A beautifully charming, amusing, and gentle read, visiting with great empathy and grace occasional cloudy darkness. Library volunteer Martha Storm is a quietly helpful, book-loving hoarder. When she finds a mysterious book relating to her past, Martha begins to see the possibilities life can offer. I have used the word quirky previously for Phaedra Patrick’s writing and it again popped into my mind for ‘The Library of Lost and Found’. This is an author who explores different, cheers on quiet, and celebrates the unique properties to be found in each of us. The words sang to me, I gathered them up and hugged every single one as they arrived in my mind. I adored this read, my heart filled with love for the characters as I smiled and felt heart-ache alongside them. Other magical stories can be found within the pages, they arrive and make a considerate, thoughtful point. ‘The Library of Lost and Found’ is there waiting for anyone who has ever felt a little lost or lonely, it is a wonderful read and I have chosen it as one of my picks of the month.
Enchanting, colourful, delightful… a quirky absolute joy of a read (yes I fell in love with 59 Memory Lane). At 110 years old, and quite determined to reach 111, May Rosevere is a collector of memories. However, a new friendship brings an added sense of awareness, just what happens within the gap of a memory doomed to be lost forever? May quickly took root in my heart, and the rest of the characters followed. From the oldest to the youngest, each person matters, and adds to the distinctive nature of the story. Celia Anderson encourages each relationship to grow, to exist, to be of consequence. There are no labels on show to create diversity, each person is an individual, behaving as such. There is intrigue and a bewitching charm to be discovered along the way, weaving a glorious spell. Be aware though, this is not a gooey overly sweet confection. Yes this read is wonderfully charming, it also holds a nettle-sting prickle of warning. Just that little bit different, and so very readable, 59 Memory Lane is a reading treasure trove of delight and must sit as one of my Liz Robinson picks of the month.
The irresistible new standalone from Sophie Kinsella is a story of love, empowerment and an IOU that changes everything . . . Fixie Farr can't help herself. Straightening a crooked object, removing a barely-there stain, helping out a friend . . . she just has to put things right. It's how she got her nickname, after all. So when a handsome stranger in a coffee shop asks her to watch his laptop for a moment, Fixie not only agrees, she ends up saving it from certain disaster. To thank her, the computer's owner, Sebastian, scribbles her an IOU - but of course Fixie never intends to call in the favour. That is, until her teenage crush, Ryan, comes back into her life and needs her help - and Fixie turns to Seb. But things don't go according to plan, and now Fixie owes Seb: big time. Soon the pair are caught up in a series of IOUs - from small favours to life-changing debts - and Fixie is torn between the past she's used to and the future she deserves. Does she have the courage to fix things for herself and fight for the life, and love, she really wants? ***** EVERYBODY LOVES SOPHIE KINSELLA: ***** 'Left me giddy with laughter. I loved it' JOJO MOYES 'Life doesn't get much better than a new Sophie Kinsella novel' RED 'One of the most relatable books I've read in a long time, I couldn't put it down.' LOUISE PENTLAND (SprinkleofGlitter)
Life, love, wiping slates clean. When life hands her death, a 43-year-old woman sets the record straight with people she’s close to, with wildly unexpected results - and plot twists aplenty. “Why do we only appreciate what we’ve got when it’s put at risk?” This question simmers at the heart of this breezily written book that sees a woman deal with a diagnosis of terminal illness with a certain calmness. While there’s nothing Jennifer can do about her prognosis, she can do something to confront deep-rooted niggles about problematic romantic and familial relationships. And so after enjoying of an early act of wild abandon - an uncharacteristic event that will surely put smiles on readers’ faces - she sends letters to people who’ve hurt her. Letters that reveal all the things she should have said to her philandering ex-husband, to her self-centred sister, and to her flaky former boyfriend. Their responses lay bare their regrets and love, but also highlight their own failings and insecurities, before a succession of sweeping twists lead Jennifer to understatedly muse that it’s “funny how the worst thing to happen can end up being the best thing.” Prompting “what would you do...?” questions of the reader, this entertaining debut weaves in universal truths about the value of honesty and living life to the full to stave off future regrets, and will be enjoyed by fans of Jenny Colgan, Jill Mansell, Cathy Kelly and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.
Flora's been in love with her husband for twenty years. The trouble is, he's been married to someone else for the past fifteen . . . Now she's been invited to spend the summer in the shady lanes and sandy coves of Cornwall. It should be blissful. There's just one small snag: she'll be staying with her former mother-in-law, Belinda. And Flora discovers she's not the only one invited when her ex-husband shows up out of the blue, complete with his new wife. So now there are two small snags. Can Flora spend the summer playing happy families with the woman who stole her husband's heart, and the mother-in-law who might have had a hand in it? Or will stumbling on the family secret change her mind about them all? If you like Fern Britton, Katie Fforde and Sophie Kinsella, you'll love this heartwarming read.
Cleverly and playfully-formed, this is a sophisticated, thought-provoking novel of love, heartbreak and second chances. Eugene and Tatiana are 27 and 24. They’re both unsettled by a fortuitous encounter on the Paris Metro ten years after they last met, and the significance of the moment is made potently clear when the omniscient narrator interjects, “Look how shaken they are to see each other again. Look at their eyes”. Throughout, the all-knowing narrator directs readers’ responses in this way, introducing episodes with foreshadowing commentaries that tell us what to watch out for. It’s the narrator who announces “it’s time to go back about ten years into the past, back where it all began.” And so we’re presented with the origin of their connection, when Tatiana was a self-conscious bookish fourteen-year-old, and Eugene was the enigmatic, pessimistic seventeen-year-old friend of her older sister’s boyfriend. The narrative slips between the frisson of their re-acquaintance and the tragedy that struck their teenage years. In some ways, reading this is like observing an intense play. In others, it’s like being granted access to Eugene and Tatiana’s innermost thoughts, anxieties and desires through their impassioned soliloquies. In every way, it’s a unique and emotionally honest portrait of the grip and ache of young love.
More than just romance, Relationship Stories can really strike a chord with us, at every stage of life. Just like relationships themselves, these books and there authors come in all shapes, sizes, atmospheres and aspirations. So, if something was missing from your last relationship read … we’ll help you find it in your next one! Here you’ll find the warm and the wise (Maeve Binchy, Cathy Kelly, Rosamunde Pilcher), the deliciously sexy (Jilly Cooper, Veronica Henry), the humourous and honest (Nick Hornby), the insightful (Joanna Trollope) and the … Perhaps, though you’re looking for a new relationship? Why not try our’ Author Like for Like’ tool or make a date with our Book of the Month recommendations and find your perfect match … for now, at least!