Monthly Archives: April 2014

Unexpected Lessons in Love by Bernadine Bishop

Unexpected Lessons in Love coverThis book has such a wrong and misleading title that I’m all for pretending that it’s not its real name.  I read it on my Kindle and every time I went back to it for another delicious dose I’d look exasperatedly at that stupid title on the home page and think ‘but where has the great book I’m actually reading gone?’

The title is the only thing wrong with the book, though.

The story is mainly about Cecilia, a psychotherapist in her late sixties who is forced into early retirement by cancer (anal cancer, and talked about frankly and often humorously).  At the colostomy clinic she meets a new friend, Helen, a big loud writer with a fondness for a smoke and a drink and a great line in colostomy jokes.

Cecilia has a son, Ian, from her first marriage.  Ian’s a spoilt but basically sound forty-year-old journalist with a loving and competent journalist girlfriend called Marina (who Cecilia likes but admits to being slightly jealous of).  Ian turns up one day on Cecilia’s doorstep with a baby called Cephas.  Cephas was the result of a brief and totally misguided fling Ian had had with a barking mad beauty called Leda.  Leda has disappeared somewhere and Ian has been left holding the baby.  Would Cecilia look after it? Continue reading

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Casting the First Stone by Frances Fyfield

Casting the First Stone coverThis is a little black dress of a crime novel: elegant, clean, smart.

Di Porteous is the twenty-six year old widow of a much older art collector.  She lives in his beautiful old house by the sea and roams around the beach, listless and sad.  She had really loved Thomas, her almost seventy year old husband.  He had, in a Pygmalion sort of way, rescued her from a life of crime and taught her everything he knew about art.

Di’s friends are worried that all she does is mope on the beach, missing Thomas and obsessing about some human bones in the basement.  (The bone thing is kind of weird – but it’s neatly sewn in to the plot.)  Saul, dapper friend and art agent, arranges for Di to meet his sister Sarah in the hope that Sarah’s eccentric vitality will perk Di up.  He’s right, it does.  Sarah introduces Di to the joys of shopping for clothes and to a mad old grumpy lady whose son has stolen her paintings.  Sarah and Di decide to steal the paintings back. Continue reading

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