An Enormously English Monsoon Wedding- Christina Jones

The husband was sent to the library to hunter gather me some books and came back with this one within┬áhis haul. Having read a couple of Christina Jones’ books recently I knew that this book would be full of the ‘feel good’ with plenty of funny moments. After having felt quite rough over the last couple of days, this was the kind of book I needed to help distract and give me the ‘feel good’ I needed… but was this the case with this book?

Erin is marrying Jay. They are having their perfect, dream wedding… a ‘fusion wedding’ mixing together traditions from both of their backgrounds- Erin’s an English background and Jay’s Indian. It’s only four weeks to go and Erin is very excited, all of the plans are coming together perfectly, all paid for and organised by themselves with no help from anyone else… but then Deena and Tavish, Jay’s parents, take them out to dinner and announce that they would like to help organise a few things and be involved in the planning… but the plans are already made and are perfect enough, the last thing that Erin and Jay want is anyone interfering with their dream.

But then things go from bad to worse… as Nalisha appears on the scene. Nalisha who appears to be Jay’s best friend from childhood, who has always been his Plus One at weddings, who has been on family holidays away with him, who seems to know him better than anyone yet he has failed to ever mention her to Erin. Why would he have kept her a secret? And why has she suddenly moved into the village and into Jay’s spare room?

As the wedding nears, Erin should be enjoying the run up to the big day but there are plenty of potential dramas set to unfold…

There are lots of different characters in this book but they are all really well formed so you don’t get confused about who is who. What I’ve found about Christina Jones’ books before is that you get lots of larger than life characters who really make her books stand out and bring the villages to life and this is definitely the case with this one. It’s great how she can create such different characters- from Gina the bar maid who was unlucky in love who you couldn’t help but have a soft spot for and get behind her when she began to form a relationship with one of the other characters to Nalisha who was so very two faced you couldn’t help but get frustrated with her and want to warn all the other village members about her!

When I started reading this book I needed a bit of escapism whilst not feeling my best, I intended to just read a couple of pages but ended up a hundred pages in and realising I’d been well and truly drawn in. I’ve found this before with this author’s books, they draw you in and leave you caring about the characters so you want to know what happens.

This book definitely has the feel good factor to it but it’s not ‘just chick lit’ there’s lots more to it- an entire village brought to life and pulling together, characters that learn a lot about themselves, an acceptance of cultures and differences, relationships that are tried and tested…

I found this book really easy to read and very enjoyable too. When I finished it today, I was disappointed- that it had ended. I want to know more about the characters and what could happen next as there are so many big personalities this could well have many more books to spin off from it!

If you’re looking for a light hearted read with plenty of humour and brilliant characters then you will love this. This is my favourite Christina Jones’ book- so far.

 

The Girls by Lisa Jewell

I thought I’d read every Lisa Jewell book so was very pleased when I realised that her latest publication The Girls had slipped by my radar. I have recently read another Lisa Jewell book and usually, I don’t like to read books by the same author too close together as I find they are a bit ‘samey’ and like to have some variety but with Lisa Jewell’s books there is great variation with the plots, themes and feel of the book- the only thing ‘samey’ about them is that they’re brilliant books!

I was supposed to read this whilst on holiday, but made the mistake of ‘just looking’ at the first page and it resulted in my struggling to put it down for three days until I had devoured it…

The Girls is quite a dark story, which builds slowly as it introduces the various characters and with each page turn leaves you questioning and analysing everyone which makes for a real page turner.

At the beginning of the book, Pip, comes across the body of her sister Grace. She’s found in the same area of the communal garden they share with their neighbours, that another teenage girl was found in many years ago… but what has happened to Grace in this garden they considered safe? Who could have hurt her?

Pip and Grace moved to Virginia Terrace with their mother Clare after their father had a huge psychotic episode and burnt their house down. Clare, feeling overwhelmed and out of place, is grateful that her children seem to be making friends in the communal garden, even if some of them do appear to be quite strange… Adele and Leo bring up their children in a very alternative manner, their girls are homeschooled and they have an open house where other children from the garden are welcome to call in.. including Tyler, a very troubled girl with a very insecure home life and strange scratches down her arms… then there’s Dylan who is supposedly Tyler’s best friend but he is spending more time with Grace than ever and tensions between the three of them are quite clear.

As we get to know the characters’ lives and their backgrounds it builds up a real picture of the days that lead up to Grace being harmed and as we get to know them, there appear to be quite a number of people who may have played a part… was Grace’s father who had been released from hospital behind it? Was he still mentally unwell and struggling to accept that Clare hadn’t invited him back into their lives? Was it Leo, the homeschooled girls’ father who seemed to be a little bit too overly friendly with his daughters’ friends? Could ‘Puppy’ the homeschooled girls’ grandfather who likes to make leering comments about women have something to do with it? What about Tyler who sees Dylan as hers but who now seems to be spending more time with Grace? Who is the young boy with the football who seems to have been the person closest to Grace when Pip found her?

What is brilliant about reading this book is that there are so many different people that it could be… without any seemingly the most obvious. I was kept guessing all the way through and it meant I didn’t want to stop reading and it was quite uncomfortable reading- in the best way possible! I could see how Adele began questioning her own husband and how unsure of her life she suddenly became, her tension around what was happening was really well created, it made me also feel on edge. The tension just kept building throughout as more truths were revealed that lead me to question more people…

I always think that Lisa Jewell creates brilliant characters and this is definitely the case with this book, again. The relationship between them all were really well crafted, the way sisters evolve as they become teenagers and how relationships can become tense when changes occur.

I love it when a book gives me something else to think about rather than the stresses of every day life and this definitely did that. I didn’t want to put this book down, but when I had to, I would be thinking about it, wondering just who was to blame?! It was a very welcome distraction, perfect escapism!

I really like that this book gradually builds up, letting you get to know the characters slowly so you aren’t confused by who everyone is and then before you know it you realise you’re full of tension and not wanting to stop reading!

This is a great read for anyone looking for a story that will leave you turning pages as you want to know what happens, with just enough suspense to make it still feel like a very real book.