Title: Lowborn – Growing Up, Getting Away and Returning to Britain’s Poorest Towns

Author: Kerry Hudson

Pages: 256 Pages

Publisher: Chatto and Windus

The Blurb

‘When every day of your life you have been told you have nothing of value to offer, that you are worth nothing to society, can you ever escape that sense of being ‘lowborn’ no matter how far you’ve come?’ 

Kerry Hudson is proudly working class but she was never proudly poor. The poverty she grew up in was all-encompassing, grinding and often dehumanising. Always on the move with her single mother, Kerry attended nine primary schools and five secondaries, living in B&Bs and council flats. She scores eight out of ten on the Adverse Childhood Experiences measure of childhood trauma.

Twenty years later, Kerry’s life is unrecognisable. She’s a prizewinning novelist who has travelled the world. She has a secure home, a loving partner and access to art, music, film and books. But she often finds herself looking over her shoulder, caught somehow between two worlds.

Lowborn is Kerry’s exploration of where she came from. She revisits the towns she grew up in to try to discover what being poor really means in Britain today and whether anything has changed.

The Review

I want to give Kerry Hudson a massive cuddle. That is my overriding thought after reading her autobiographical look at poverty – Lowborn.

What is truly amazing about this book is that as much as Hudson’s life has been challenged by social issues she does not come across as begging for sympathy. She is not woe-is-me. She is displaying the reality of living n the breadline; a life that she is uncomfortably familiar with.

With brutal reality, Hudson makes you feel thankful. I always say that when I grew up I never needed for anything. I wanted for stuff but I never needed for anything. My two working class parents did the absolute best that they could but my youth was positively idyllic in comparison.

Everybody should read this book to make them more aware of just how bad things can get and remind them to be grateful for the things they have. I know that Lowborn has had a massive impact on me.

Lowborn – Growing Up, Getting Away and Returning to Britain’s Poorest Towns by Kerry Hudson is available now.

For more information regarding Kerry Hudson (@ThatKerryHudson) please visit www.kerryhudson.co.uk.

For more information regarding Chatto and Windus (@ChattoBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk/vintage.

Title: Mademoiselle – Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History

Author: Rhonda K. Garelick

Pages: 608 Pages

Publisher: Random House

The Blurb

Certain lives are at once so exceptional, and yet so in step with their historical moments, that they illuminate cultural forces far beyond the scope of a single person. Such is the case with Coco Chanel, whose life offers one of the most fascinating tales of the twentieth century—throwing into dramatic relief an era of war, fashion, ardent nationalism, and earth-shaking change—here brilliantly treated, for the first time, with wide-ranging and incisive historical scrutiny.

Coco Chanel transformed forever the way women dressed. Her influence remains so pervasive that to this day we can see her afterimage a dozen times while just walking down a single street: in all the little black dresses, flat shoes, costume jewelry, cardigan sweaters, and tortoiseshell eyeglasses on women of every age and background. A bottle of Chanel No. 5 perfume is sold every three seconds. Arguably, no other individual has had a deeper impact on the visual aesthetic of the world. But how did a poor orphan become a global icon of both luxury and everyday style? How did she develop such vast, undying influence? And what does our ongoing love of all things Chanel tell us about ourselves? These are the mysteries that Rhonda K. Garelick unravels in Mademoiselle.

Raised in rural poverty and orphaned early, the young Chanel supported herself as best she could. Then, as an uneducated nineteen-year-old café singer, she attracted the attention of a wealthy and powerful admirer and parlayed his support into her own hat design business. For the rest of Chanel’s life, the professional, personal, and political were interwoven; her lovers included diplomat Boy Capel; composer Igor Stravinsky; Romanov heir Grand Duke Dmitri; Hugh Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster; poet Pierre Reverdy; a Nazi officer; and several women as well. For all that, she was profoundly alone, her romantic life relentlessly plagued by abandonment and tragedy.

Chanel’s ambitions and accomplishments were unparalleled. Her hat shop evolved into a clothing empire. She became a noted theatrical and film costume designer, collaborating with the likes of Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, and Luchino Visconti. The genius of Coco Chanel, Garelick shows, lay in the way she absorbed the zeitgeist, reflecting it back to the world in her designs and in what Garelick calls “wearable personality”—the irresistible and contagious style infused with both world history and Chanel’s nearly unbelievable life saga. By age forty, Chanel had become a multimillionaire and a household name, and her Chanel Corporation is still the highest-earning privately owned luxury goods manufacturer in the world.

In Mademoiselle, Garelick delivers the most probing, well-researched, and insightful biography to date on this seemingly familiar but endlessly surprising figure—a work that is truly both a heady intellectual study and a literary page-turner.

The Review

One of the people throughout history that I have found to have one of the most fascinating lives is that of Coco Chanel.

With a life steeped in mystery and drama (mostly of her own making and legend) and with so many books have been written about her I have found out a lot of information that I never knew. I must admit that Rhonda K Garelick’s book seems to be the most comprehensive and the book that is most willing to look at Chanel’s many flaws and bad decisions. Mademoiselle is an in-depth account of the life and loves that helped shape the woman she become. It celebrates her victories along with looking at her dark and often insidious past.

Love her or loathe her, you will definitely learn about Coco Chanel and learn to respect the impact that she had on feminism and fashion

Mademoiselle – Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History by Rhonda Garelick is available now.

For more information regarding Random House (@penguinrandom) please visit www.penguinrandomhouse.com.

Title: The Ladies of the House

Author: Molly McGrann

Pages: 256 Pages

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

The Blurb

On a hot July day, three elderly people are found dead in a dilapidated house in Primrose Hill. Reading the story in a newspaper as she prepares to leave the country, Marie Gillies has an unshakable feeling that she is somehow to blame. How did these three people come to live together, and how did they all die at once? The truth lies in a very different England, and in the secret world of the ladies of the house…

The Review

The Ladies of the House by Molly McGrann is a strange little story about two families connected by one man: Arthur Gillies.

You have Marie and her mother who live quite a quiet and sheltered life but when Marie discovers her dad lived an alternative life that she had absolutely no prior knowledge of, she also learns that he is a multimillionaire.

In another part of London lives Arthur’s alternative family – Rita, Annetta and Joseph. They all belong to Arthur. Joseph – his illegitimate son lives with two women who used to be part f the ladies of one of the brothels that Arthur owned.

I can’t say that I loved this novel. Actually, I don’t think I even liked it. I found that I kept asking myself what the point of it was. When that happens I know that I reading a clanger. I read it to get the book finished not because I was enjoying the story.

The Ladies of the House by Molly McGrann is available now.

For more information regarding Pan Macmillan (@pamacmillan) please visit www.panmacmillan.com.

Title: Rewind

Author: Catherine Ryan Howard

Pages: 304 Pages

Publisher: Atlantic Books

The Blurb

Psycho meets Fatal Attraction in this explosive story about a twisted voyeur and a terrible crime from the bestselling author of Distress Signals and The Liar’s Girl

PLAY Andrew, the manager of Shanamore Holiday Cottages, watches his only guest via a hidden camera in her room. One night the unthinkable happens: a shadowy figure emerges onscreen, kills her and destroys the camera. But who is the murderer? How did they know about the camera? And how will Andrew live with himself?

PAUSE Natalie wishes she’d stayed at home as soon as she arrives in the wintry isolation of Shanamore. There’s something creepy about the manager. She wants to leave, but she can’t – not until she’s found what she’s looking for…

REWIND Psycho meets Fatal Attraction in this explosive story about a murder caught on camera. You’ve already missed the start. To get the full picture you must rewind the tape and play it through to the end, no matter how shocking…

The Review

Rewind is a bloomin’ creepy crime thriller that had me on the edge of my seat and jumping at the slightest noise.

The story starts with the disappearance of Instagram influencer Natalie. We know she has been murdered (this is not a spoiler) and now we have to figure out not just who killed her but why.

Rewind is a multi-persective story and you genuinely spend the whole novel going “he’s the killer, she’s the killer, they’re in it together.” Catherine Ryan Howard really does have you guessing until the very last page…or maybe it is just me because I never see these things coming. Either way Rewind was a damn good read. I loved it.

Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard is available now.

For more information regarding Ryan Howard (@cathryanhoward) please visit www.catherineryanhoward.com/rewind.

For more information regarding Atlantic Books (@AtlanticBooks) please visit www.atlantic-books.co.uk.

Title: Flirty Dancing

Author: Jenny McLachlan

Pages: 257 Pages

Publisher: Bloomsbury

The Blurb

A warm, hilarious bestseller-to-be. Geek Girl meets Dirty Dancing meets Louise Rennison’s Tights, all rolled into an irresistible story of friendship, bullies and how to steal a heart on the dancefloor.

Bea Hogg is shy but fiery inside. When national dance competition Starwars comes to her school looking for talent, she wants to sign up. It’s just a shame her best friend agreed to enter with school super-cow Pearl Harris. Bea will fight back! But when school hottie, Ollie Matthews, who also happens to be Pearl’s boyfriend, decides to enter the competition with Bea, she will have more than a fight on her hands.

This warm, nuanced, hilarious story about friendship, fortitude . . . and dancing is impossible not to fall in love with. Jenny’s voice is fresh and convincing, and she handles both darker and lighter elements of the story with equal panache.

The Review

Strictly season is upon us and I wanted to read something dance related so it seemed a natural choice to read Flirty Dancing by Jenny McLachlan. Truth be told the last few books that I had read were kind of heavy reads and I needed something fun, light and that would leave me smiling. Boy did Flirty Dancing make it happen.

Flirty Dancing is the story of Bea ‘Jelly Bean’ Hogg, a young girl who doesn’t really fit in so instead she sticks to the shadows and just tries to survive high school. She spends her days trying to avoid confrontation with her one time best friend (and now school bully) Pearl Harris who seems to have made t her personal mission to make Bea’s life hell.

When a TV talent show starts looking for teenage dancers then Bea really comes into her own. She, by some twisted hand of fate, ends up dancing with the boy of he dreams…and also the object of her worst enemy’s affection.

Flirty Dancing is such a good book. You fly through it and you smile from the first page to the last. If you want a feel good read then you need to pick this one up.

For more information regarding Jenny McLachlan (@JennyMcLachlan1) please visit www.jennymclachlan.com.

For more information regarding Bloomsbury (@BloomsburyBooks) please visit www.bloomsbury.com.