Archive for the ‘Chick Lit’ Category
Wednesday, February 20th, 2013
The Girl You Left Behind Synopsis
The Girl You Left Behind is a hauntingly romantic and utterly irresistible new weepy from Jojo Moyes, author of the Richard and Judy bestseller, Me Before You.
What happened to the girl you left behind?
France, 1916. Sophie Lefevre must keep her family safe whilst her adored husband Edouard fights at the front. When she is ordered to serve the German officers who descend on her hotel each evening, her home becomes riven by fierce tensions. And from the moment the new Kommandant sets eyes on Sophie’s portrait – painted by Edouard – a dangerous obsession is born, which will lead Sophie to make a dark and terrible decision.
Almost a century later, and Sophie’s portrait hangs in the home of Liv Halston, a wedding gift from her young husband before he died. A chance encounter reveals the painting’s true worth, and its troubled history. A history that is about to resurface and turn Liv’s life upside down all over again…
In The Girl You Left Behind two young women, separated by a century, are united in their determination to fight for what they love most – whatever the cost. (Amazon)
I really enjoy Jojo Moyes‘ writing style – I have always found her characters believable, their stories compelling and her prose smooth as silk. Her latest novel The Girl You Left Behind is more of the same high quality contemporary fiction I have come to expect from Moyes. The first chapter, where we are introduced to the indomitable character Sophie Lefevre, is an absolute cracker. (more…)
Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013
The Women in Black Synopsis
Written by a superb novelist of contemporary manners, The Women in Black is a fairytale which illuminates the extraordinariness of ordinary lives.
The women in black are run off their feet, what with the Christmas rush and the summer sales that follow. But it’s Sydney in the 1950s, and there’s still just enough time left on a hot and frantic day to dream and scheme… By the time the last marked-down frock has been sold, most of the staff of the Ladies’ Cocktail section at F. G. Goode’s have been launched into slightly different careers.
With the lightest touch and the most tender of comic instincts, Madeleine St John conjures a vanished summer of innocence. The Women in Black, introduced by Bruce Beresford, is a great novel, a lost Australian classic. (Kobobooks)
Tuesday, January 1st, 2013
The Women in Black Synopsis
Sydney in the 1950s. On the second floor of the famous F. G. Goode department store, in Ladies’ Cocktail Frocks, the women in black are girding themselves for the Christmas rush. Among the staff — Patty Williams with her wayward husband Frank, the sweet but unlucky Fay, faithful Mrs Jacob of the measuring tape — is Lisa, the new Sales Assistant (Temporary), who is waiting for the results of her Leaving Certificate. Across the floor and beyond the arch, Lisa will meet the glamorous Continental refugee, Magda, guardian of the rose-pink cave of Model Gowns.
With the lightest touch and the most tender of comic instincts, Madeleine St John conjures a vanished summer of innocence. The Women in Black is a great novel, a lost Australian classic. (Booktopia)
Saturday, October 6th, 2012
Honeymoon in Paris Synopsis
At the heart of Jojo Moyes’ heartbreaking new novel, The Girl You Left Behind, are two haunting love stories – that of Sophie and Edouard Lefevre in France during the First World War, and, nearly a century later, Liv Halston and her husband David.
Honeymoon in Paris (self-contained novella) takes place several years before the events to come in The Girl You Left Behind when both couples have just married. Sophie, a provincial girl, is swept up in the glamour of Belle poque Paris but discovers that loving a feted artist like Edouard brings undreamt of complications. Following in Sophie’s footsteps a hundred years later, Liv, after a whirlwind romance, finds her Parisian honeymoon is not quite the romantic getaway she had been hoping for… (Amazon) (more…)
Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012
Zen Queen Synopsis
Jess Harper’s personal life is a mess. She hasn’t had a haircut since 2006 and she doesn’t have time to find better friends than the self-centred associates she’s had since University.
And instead of searching for love, she’s settled for ‘friends with benefits’ status with one of her buddies. Yet none of that matters, because professionally she’s living the dream, and has just scored a highly coveted assignment in Japan with the promise of a promotion on her return. But when she arrives in Japan, instead of the smooth integration she anticipated, Jess finds herself wrongfully fired, abandoned and broke in a country where she doesn’t speak the language.
Now she must rebuild her life and clear her name. But the friendly locals and allure of the ex-pat lifestyle soon have her reconsidering her priorities and challenging her views on climbing the corporate ladder. With a new job as an English teacher and the temptation of her cute (but already attached) roommate, Jess discovers that although life doesn’t always turn out as planned, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. (Amazon)
I’ll admit, it was the super cute cover art that sold this local author’s review request for me. Although Kirsty McManus’ debut novel is titled Zen Queen, do not for one minute expect her leading lady to have things under control… Oh no, she is a hapless single who stretches your average run of bad luck to extraordinary levels to comic effect.
In Zen Queen Kirsty McManus delivers an escapistic romantic comedy without pretense.
While I did not wholeheartedly identify with protagonist Jess Harper, she’s quite unlike me actually, there were enough character traits in both her and the ensemble cast that resonated sufficiently to hold my interest. In particular I think it was the leading lady’s unbridled sarcasm, and at times, an almost slapstick comedic element that I found oddly compelling. After somewhat of a slow start, the story builds well to a satisfying conclusion. There are characters to love, characters to hate, wild goose chases and karma aplenty.
Just like its leading lady Jess Harper, Zen Queen does not take itself too seriously – it is chick lit pure and simple. If what you are lucky for is some light-hearted entertainment on the back of some good natured culture clash humour, Zen Queen could be the novel for you.
BOOK RATING: The Story 3.5 / 5 ; The Writing 3 / 5
BOOK DETAILS: Zen Queen (Amazon); Zen Queen (B&N)
Genre: Chick Lit, Drama, Romance, Humour
Author Information: Kirsty McManus was born in Sydney, Australia and moved to Queensland when she was 14. When she was 25, she lived in Japan for a year with her partner Kesh and worked as an English teacher. This was the inspiration behind her novel Zen Queen. She also spent a year in Canada and then settled back down on the Sunshine Coast in 2008. She now writes part time while designing websites and looking after her young son.
- See Kirsty McManus personal blog and the website dedicated to the novel Zen Queen
* My receiving this ebook for free from the author did not impact my ability to express my honest opinions having read the novel.
Monday, January 9th, 2012
Upside Down Inside Out Synopsis
Eva Kennedy is in a rut. After seven years of working at her uncle’s Dublin delicatessen, her artistic aspirations have slipped by the wayside and her latest relationship has fizzled. Whatever happened to the Eva who was going to be someone? Hoping to shake things up and find inspiration, Eva takes a break and ventures to Melbourne, Australia, to visit her old friend Lainey, who, for fun, gives her an exciting new identity. Eva is now exotic and adventurous and . . . not herself.
Joseph Wheeler is a successful London designer. Unfortunately his firm is thriving at such a high level that he doesn’t have time to actually design anymore. And his love life is non-existent.
In Australia on business, Joseph meets Eva, and the sparks fly-even as Eva is stuck pretending to be someone she’s not. Little does she know that Joseph has some secrets of his own. . . .
When what starts as a holiday fling quickly blossoms into something more, Joseph and Eva discover that romance can turn life upside down and inside out at the bottom of the world. (The Nile)
I was in the mood for chick lit when I picked this one from my library’s online audio catalogue.
The Irish female protagonist Eva, although initially very endearing (what Irish gal isn’t?), grated on me after while – slightly too much melodrama for my taste from an intelligent woman supposedly around my own age. The idea of literally pretending to be someone else also did not sit well with me. However, as the underlying premise of the story is the exploration of ‘what part we choose to play in life versus who we really are’, I do understand that being an obvious story element.
Audio narrator Melissa Eccleston’s voice was crisp and clear, a pleasure to listen to. But at over 10 hours, this audio book, or more pointedly the novel underlying it (480 pages), was longer than the story warranted.
Monica McInerney’s Upside Down Inside Out is super sweet and charming but not one for the impatient.
What I was pleasantly surprised at though is, unlike your run-of-the-mill chick lit, I actually found myself barracking for the male lead. Was that the author’s intention?
I thought Monica McInerney did a splendid, if not better job of developing Eva’s male counterpart Joseph. Joseph’s back story was grittier and had much more depth. His troubles seemed quite realistic to me compared to Eva’s often self-inflicted predicaments. Put simply, I associated with Joseph’s character much more than the intended protagonist.
McInerney’s beautiful and realistic descriptions of both Australia and Ireland added something special to this novel also.
Upside Down Inside Out is not for the impatient, but recommended for lovers of the Australian-Irish connection and those who like extra sugar with their chick lit.
BOOK RATING: The Story 3.5 / 5 ; The Writing 3.5 / 5
BOOK DETAILS: Upside Down Inside Out (Audio – Booktopia); Upside Down Inside Out (The Nile – Australia); Upside Down Inside Out (Amazon)
Genre: Chick Lit, Romance, Humour, Audio
Author Information: Monica McInerney grew up in a family of seven children in the Clare Valley wine region of South Australia, where her father was the railway stationmaster and her mother worked in the local library. Since then Monica has lived all around Australia (in Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart) in Ireland (in County Meath and Dublin) and in London and also travelled widely.
She was a book publicist for ten years, working in Ireland and Australia and promoting authors such as Roald Dahl, Tim Winton, Edna O’Brien and Max Fatchen and events such as the Dublin International Writers’ Festival. Find out more about Monica and her publications at her official website.
- Watch the book trailer for McInerney’s latest release, Lola’s Secret
Other reviews of Upside Down Inside Out: The Independent ; The Australian Bookshelf ; Dear Author
Some of the other titles by Monica McInerney: Lola’s Secret, The Alphabet Sisters, Family Baggage, At Home With The Templetons, A Taste For It, All Together Now
Sunday, November 6th, 2011
House of Sticks Synopsis
Bonnie has given up her life as a musician to become a stay-at-home mum. She tells herself she has no regrets, but sometimes the isolation and the relentless demands of three small children threaten to swamp the love between Bonnie and her partner, Pete.
Then an old mate of Pete’s arrives. Doug is eccentric and intrusive, and his unsettling presence disrupts Bonnie’s world further. Yet as the cracks really start to show in the life Bonnie and Pete have built together, it seems the dangers might also come from within.
House of Sticks is a revealing portrait of contemporary family life, its joys and compromises, and how quickly things can unravel. It’s about trying to stay connected in our disconnected society; a story of identity and community, loyalty and love. (Scribe)
In her debut novel House of Sticks Peggy Frew takes readers on the journey that is suburban life as seen through the eyes of protagonist Bonnie. Through this telescopic lens, Frew hones in on what at first would be considered mundane but in fact are integral moments in Bonnie’s evolution as a stay-at-home mother.
From moments that makes us laugh,
‘And now we’re going to read another book about pigs,’ said the librarian into her headset, her voice booming through the speakers. She leaned forward to pick up the book, and there was the muffled thumping of the mic hitting her chest.
‘What’s with the microphone?’ Mel whispered.
‘God knows.’ Bonnie put her chin in her hand and her fingers over her mouth. Don’t laugh.
The librarian held up the book to show the cover. ‘Can anyone guess what this book is called?’ The speakers crackled, and there was a faint whine of feedback.
‘Why is it so loud?’ whispered Mel.
Bonnie couldn’t answer. She was trying to hold it back, but the laugh was coming over her like something involuntary. Don’t laugh, don’t laugh. But it was like a sneeze, a building urge, tickling up between her ribs and towards her throat.
to the challenges of relationships and parenthood.
She shut her eyes. How unfair, that Pete could afford to be so casual when she was the one picking up the slack. The one trapped, politely listening, while Doug told his bullshit stories and Pete drifted off as if somehow exempt. Or popping up like some horrible ghoul to drag the kids away, spoil their fun, because she knew if she didn’t Doug would just sit around reading stories all morning instead of working. The one tiptoeing, feeling watched and judged. Feeling she had to explain or justify herself, her behaviour, her parenting – in her own house.
In House of Sticks Peggy Frew explores the fragility of the family ideal and the isolation one can feel in a crowded room.
Although the story itself is quite contained, psychological tension builds and sinister undercurrents keep the reader guessing. Are things as dire as they seem or is Bonnie her own worst enemy?
One certainly does not need to have experienced motherhood to gain from reading this story, but a female audience will feel a greater affinity to the lead character and her plight.
I identified with Frew’s keen observation of human behaviour and her prose has a real solidity and strength. I look forward to reading more from Peggy Frew in the future.
BOOK RATING: The Story 3.5 /5 ; The Writing 4 / 5
BOOK DETAILS: House of Sticks (Scribe) ; House of Sticks (Amazon – Kindle) ; House of Sticks (Kobo – epub) ; House of Sticks (TheNile)
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Chick Lit
Author Information: Australian Peggy Frew’s debut novel, House of Sticks, won the 2010 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript. Her story ‘Home Visit’ won The Age short story competition in 2008. She has been published in New Australian Stories 2, Kill Your Darlings, and Meanjin. Peggy is also a member of the critically acclaimed and award-winning Melbourne band Art of Fighting. (Scribe Publications)
Other reviews of House of Sticks: The Australian ; Fancy Goods ; Lip Mag
* I received a copy of this novel from Australian Small Publisher of the Year 2011, Scribe Publications for review purposes. My receiving this book for free in no way affected my ability to express my honest opinions about it.