Title: The Education of Ivy Edwards

Author: Hannah Tovey

Pages: 336 Pages

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group UK

The Blurb

Adult life is hard. Send help. 

Ivy Edwards is thirty-one years old, funny, shameless, and a bit of a romantic. 

She’s also currently trying not to cry in the office toilet.

Partly because she’s just run out of money for fags. A bit because her mum continues to annoy her. Definitely not because she’s just been dumped by her fiancé.

With her London life in shambles and her family miles away in the Welsh valleys, Ivy doesn’t actually feel like she belongs anywhere.

At least, she has her friends – and a bottle of vodka.

Embarking on a journey of singlehood, Ivy is about to discover that sometimes, having your life fall apart can be surprisingly fun. 

The Review

Oh boy. Well I didn’t hate The Education of Ivy Edwards but I didn’t love it either.

The Education of Ivy Edwards is about a woman called Ivy whose life unceremoniously falls apart when her fiance dumps her. So you are made to feel sorry for Ivy pretty early on, yet as the novel progresses her choices are so frustrating that she becomes unlikable pretty quickly.

There are some good aspects to the story. Her sisters struggle with fertility is interesting as is the failing health of her grandfather. Ivy’s relationship with her mother deserved more attention than it was given.

I really did fail to connect with this book and felt that the redemption or the ‘education’ of Ivy Edwards came far too late in the novel to really turn my opinion around.

The Education of Ivy Edwards by Hannah Tovey is available now.

For more information regarding Hannah Tovey (@hannahctovey) please visit www.hannahtovey.com.

For more information regarding Little, Brown Book Group UK (@littlebrownUK) please visit www.littlebrown.co.uk.

Title: In the Crypt with a Candlestick

Author: Daisy Waugh

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group

The Blurb

Sir Ecgbert Tode of Tode Hall has survived to a grand old age – much to the despair of his younger wife, Emma. But at ninety-three he has, at last, shuffled off the mortal coil.

Emma, Lady Tode, thoroughly fed up with being a dutiful Lady of the Manor, wants to leave the country to spend her remaining years in Capri. Unfortunately her three tiresome children are either unwilling or unable (too mad, too lefty or too happy in Australia) to take on management of their large and important home, so the mantle passes to a distant relative and his glamorous wife.

Not long after the new owners take over, Lady Tode is found dead in the mausoleum. Accident? Or is there more going on behind the scenes of Tode Hall than an outsider would ever guess….?

In the traditions of two great but very different British writers, Agatha Christie and P.G. Wodehouse, Waugh’s hilarious and entirely original twist on the country house murder mystery comes complete with stiff upper lips, even stiffer drinks, and any stiffs that might embarrass the family getting smartly brushed under the carpet…

The Review

In the Crypt with a Candlestick by Daisy Waugh is a slapstick romp with a murder mystery at the heart of it. I don’t really think it was what I was expecting if I am truly honest. I think I was expecting a more Agatha Christie style murder mystery and what I got was a little bit of Carry On films meets Jilly Cooper novels.

That doesn’t mean that In the Crypt with a Candlestick wasn’t fun or that it wasn’t an enjoyable read. It had me giggling in the right parts and to be fair to Daisy Waugh it also had me guessing whodunit until the very last page.

So whilst I cannot say that I was prepared for the story that I read I can honestly say that it was a thoroughly entertaining read and is perfect if you want to read something that is light-hearted.

In the Crypt with a Candlestick by Daisy Waugh is available now.

For more information regarding Daisy Waugh (@dldwaugh) please visit www.daisywaugh.com.

For more information regarding Little, Brown Book Group (@LittleBrownUK) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: The Burning Girl

Author: Claire Messud

Pages: 247 Pages

Publisher: Little Brown

The Blurb

Julia Robinson and Cassie Burnes have been friends since nursery school. They have shared everything, including their desire to escape the stifling limitations of their birthplace, the quiet town of Royston, Massachusetts. But as the two girls enter adolescence, their paths diverge: while Julia comes from a stable, happy, middle-class family, Cassie never knew her father, who died when she was an infant, and has an increasingly tempestuous relationship with her single mother, Bev.

When Bev becomes involved with the mysterious Anders Shute, Cassie feels cruelly abandoned. Disturbed, angry and desperate for answers, she sets out on a journey that will put her own life in danger, and shatter her oldest friendship.

Compact, compelling, and ferociously sad, The Burning Girl is at once a story about childhood, friendship and community, and a complex examination of the stories we tell ourselves about childhood and friendship. Claire Messud brilliantly mixes folklore and Bildungsroman, exploring the ways in which our made-up stories, and their consequences, become real.

The Review

The Burning Girl by Claire Messud is a complex YA novel about the mercurial nature of friendship – especially for those who are growing up. The story follows Julia and Cassie as we watch their friendship gain momentum and gradually fall apart.

With the hindsight of adulthood, it is easy to see that friendships evolve and some burn out naturally, others implode in big drama but not matter what age it happens it still hurts. I really felt for the character of Julia – she felt so lost without her best friend, her constant. I have been in that situation so it was easy to empathise. Equally, it was easy to see the frailty of their relationship – things that maybe shouldn’t be an issue but sometimes can be such as socioeconomic situations or lack of strong role models.

I will admit that at times I did find the narrative of The Burning Girl a little slow paced but overall the story was well written.

The Burning Girl by Claire Messud is available now.

For more information regarding Little Brown (@LittleBrownUK) please visit www.littlebrown.co.uk.

Title: Searching for Grace Kelly

Author: M. G. Callahan

Pages: 289 Pages

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group UK

The Blurb

For a small-town girl with big dreams in 1955, there is no address more desirable than New York’s Barbizon Hotel – the place where Grace Kelly lived when she first came to the big city.

Laura is an aristocratic beauty from Connecticut who arrives with a magazine internship and dreams of becoming a writer

Dolly is a hopeless romantic working the secretarial pool and looking to be swept off her feet

Vivian is a red-headed British bombshell who yearns to make it as a singer while working nights as a cigarette girl

Perfect for fans of Mad Men, The Best of Everything and The Paris Wife, this is a novel filled to the brim with glamour, following the lives of three women as they are lured into the exhilarating, dazzling world of New York City and embark on a journey that will alter their lives for ever.

The Review

Set in the Summer of 1955, three very different girls descend on the Barbizan Hotel to try and achieve their dreams and escape the humdrum of their regular lives. These three girls, Dolly, Vivian and Laura are very different but for an unlikely friendship; a friendship that will change their lives forever over the course of one summer.

I love historical fiction, especially when it is historical fiction that I can visualise and really sink my teeth into and 1950s New York with all its fashion and glamour and promise really does manage to take my breath away.

M. G. Callahan creates a stunning version of the New York lifestyle; he mixes debutantes with society folk and with the beatnik movement in one fell swoop. He looks at the challenges that modern young women faced and how they coped in the face of difficult decisions and adversity. Searching for Grace Kelly is a stunning novel that hooks you from the first page. It is told in contrasting perspectives of the three girls and allows us to see that the grass isn’t always greener.

Searching for Grace Kelly by M. G. Callahan is available now.

For more information regarding Little, Brown Book Group UK (@LittleBrownUK) please visit www.littlebrown.co.uk.

Fairvale Ladies Book ClubTitle: The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club

Author: Sophie Green

Pages: 417 Pages

Publisher: Little Brown Book Group

The Blurb

In 1978 the Northern Territory in Australia has begun to self-govern and telephones are not yet a common fixture. Life is hard and people are isolated, but these five women find a way to connect.

Sybil, the matriarch of Fairvale Station, misses her eldest son and is looking for a distraction.

Kate, Sybil’s daughter-in-law, is thousands of miles away from home and finding it difficult to adjust to life at Fairvale.

Sallyanne, mother of three, dreams of a life far removed from the dusty town where she lives with her difficult husband.

Rita, Sybil’s oldest friend, is living far away in Alice Springs and working for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

And Della, who left Texas for Australia looking for adventure and work on the land, needs some purpose in her life.

Sybil comes up with a way to give them all companionship: they all love to read, and she forms a book club. As these five women bond over their love of books, they form friendships that will last a lifetime.

Warm-hearted, comforting and richly told, this is the perfect feel-good read for book lovers everywhere.

The Review

I have always wanted to be part of a book club. I have read many stories with a book club at the heart of them and it just makes me yearn to be a part of one. At the moment, I wish I had a time machine so I could go back to the late 70s/early 80s and join the Fairvale Ladies Book Club.

Sophie Green’s sweeping story of the lives of five women in the Podunk pockets of Australia is truly fascinating. Their removal from the everyday conveniences that we take for granted is a brilliant backdrop to honour the resilience and power enriched in the lives of these five characters. Not only did it provide an amazing setting but it made me, the reader, feel the complete claustrophobia that the wide open plains gave some of its characters.

Often, the ladies of the book club (Sybil, Rita, Della, Kate and Sallyanne) are seen as complete opposites of each other. It is a wonder how they all come together and help fix each other but their differences hold their power. It is amazing to watch them grow, learn and live with all the trials and tribulations of life going on around them. It is even more heartening to see them bond through a mutual love of books.

I didn’t expect to love The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club as much as I did but it really was a story that took me on an emotional journey.

The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club by Sophie Green is available from March 1st 2018.

For more information regarding Little Brown Book Group (@LittleBrownUK) please visit www.littlebrown.co.uk.

4 Stars