Hope you are all good. I have just delivered by brand spanking new YA novel, The Worst Girlfriend In The World to Atom. My favourite line in the whole book? “Girl, you be knowing shit about sexual politics.” It’s not out until May next year but I’m excited about it.
I am also very excited to tell you that my grown-up books are now available on Kindle and print-on-demand in the States. (I hope you liked my seamless segue there.) They have different covers that I sort-of-designed myself.
Pretty, no? Even better, Unsticky and You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me are currently a bargainous $2.99 on Kindle. Not sure if those links work because I have a UK computer, which is insistent about defaulting to Amazon UK.
Because I’ve cut out actually having a US publisher, this means that the books have all the Britishisms (WAG, thermal vest, Marks & Spencer) preserved as well as the British spelling, which is good or bad, depending on your politics.
On the YA front, I now have a distribution deal for Adorkable in the States, so it’s available as ebook and as an actual paper book that you can buy in actual stores. Hallelujah! Same lovely cover as the UK edition. (I also think that the newly reissued Diary Of A Crush trilogy is available as an ebook, but I’m not 100% sure. It gets very hard to keep track of these things.)
I would appreciate it ever so much if you’re in the US and you bought and liked my books to give me a review on Amazon. It helps in all sorts of ways. If you didn’t like them, let’s just keep it between the two of us.
Oh, America, you are a hard nut to crack, but your TV shows and big cities are excellent.
Well, it’s been years in the making but today, the Diary Of A Crush trilogy is available as ebooks.
And the ‘sort-of sequel’ Diary Of A Grace, which will only be available as an e-novella.
The print books will be out on May 30th.
If you’re rereading, hope they live up to the memory and if you’re reading them for the first time, I hope you fall in love with Edie and Dylan, just like I did.
My goodness, I’ve been sitting on this news, like a clucky hen sitting on eggs, for months and can not wait to share it with you.
For years, people have been asking me when Diary Of A Crush will be available as ebooks or just as regular books, because it’s been out of print for so long and I’ve been all like, yeah, whevs… Not because I didn’t care but because due to really boring and complicated legal issue, the matter was beyond my control. Well, not anymore.
I am thrilled, THRILLED, SO BLOODY THRILLED to tell you that the Diary Of A Crush trilogy will be available for download from April 30th.
That’s not all. Oh no! The books will be back in print too from May 30th, all with spiffy new covers.
New town, new college, new people, Edie’s feeling overwhelmed. What if nobody wants to be her friend? But then something happens that turns her life upside down: Edie spots Dylan. Messy-haired, pouty, frustratingly elusive Dylan. . .
Fast forward to the college trip to Paris and things are really heating up. In between the shopping, the clubbing, the kissing and the making up, something happens between Edie and Dylan that changes both their lives for ever. But do boys like Dylan ever play for keeps?
KISS AND MAKE UP
Edie’s having major boy issues. Trying to get over Dylan is hard, but snogging new boy Carter isn’t hurting. . .
When everyone heads off to a summer festival, Edie wants to forget her troubles and try and have fun. But she didn’t count on her leftover feelings for Dylan and now she’s all churned up again. Edie’s got some big decisions to make, but is she ready to kiss and make up?
SEALED WITH A KISS
Edie and Dylan have been dreaming about their road trip across America for ever. But nine weeks in a car together is going to be a huge test for them. They’re crazy in love, but what if that’s not enough?
Trailer parks, diners, motels and glitzy casinos are the backdrop for an adventure that threatens the whole future of their relationship. Will Edie and Dylan be able to go the distance?
I have done a little tweaking and updating (I mean, Blazing Squad?!) but it’s the Diary Of A Crush that you know and love. And if you don’t know it then I’m going all out and calling it the iconic UK YA series that follows the torturous relationship of Edie Wheeler, vintage queen, diary keeper and crusher and Dylan, her tousle-haired art boy crushee. Set in Manchester, our intrepid pair fall in love, snog a lot and fall out of love in Paris, at a festival and even on a epic roadtrip across the States.
Diary Of A Crush changed my life. I learned how to write fiction as I wrote this series for J17 magazine. I got my first proper publishing deal for Guitar Girl, rafter my first editor, Emily, Thomas, read the Diary Of A Crush columns. And though they’re probably my poorest selling books, I get more messages about Diary Of A Crush than any of my other books.
I’m not quite done yet. You know how I refuse to write a sequel? Well, that’s still the case and I explain why in the end notes of book three, but for the first time since they appeared in J17, the year’s worth of columns featuring Poppy’s little sister, Grace, will be available too. Diary Of A Grace will be an e-novella, out on April 30th. It will only be released as an ebook, but, hey you can read them on your computer or mobile phone, you don’t have to have an e-reader.
Grace is in love with pink guitars, Harry Styles, dark-chocolate Tunnock’s teacakes, Audrey Hepburn and a boy called Jack (well, maybe not quite in love) . . .
(Remember, Diary Of A Grace will only be an e-novella.)
It has taken a long, long, long time to make this happen. I hope you fall in love with Edie and Dylan all over again, or read them for the first time and then fall in love with them. There’s also a few little extras included in these reissues so now you can possess everything Diary Of A Crush that there ever has been. All for you. I give you all my Diary Of A Crush. Hurrah!
I am so excited that I wanted to write this whole post in shouty caps with lots of exclamation points but I’ve managed to restrain myself. Still, hurrah!
And, no, before you ask, I’m never writing a proper sequel!
I am really sorry, gutted in fact, to have to tell you that IT FELT LIKE A KISS has been put back to early 2014. No exact date as yet, no matter what it says on Amazon.
There’s nothing wrong with the insides of the book (I hope not!) but we weren’t happy with the cover and times are so tough that it’s important to make sure that we get everything right with the book. So my publishers have taken the brave decision to put the book back while we work on making sure the whole package is as strong and awesome as it can be.
The reason that it’s been put back by so many months is that we’ve now missed the slots to sell in to shops for summer and as you know I don’t write the traditional beach reads and it’s definitely not a Christmas-themed novel, so early next year was our only option.
Again, I can’t tell you how sad I am that you have such a long wait. Please bear with me. And if you’re a fan of my YA books, I am going to have the most SCREAM-worthy news to tell you at the end of the week, which I hope might make up for it.
Sorry, sorry, sorry.
I am so pleased that finally, finally, finally I can share the synopsis for my new adult novel, It Felt Like A Kiss, with you.
Are you ready? Like, really ready?
Meet Ellie Cohen, one of the most perfect girls in London.
Ellie manages a swank Mayfair gallery, but it’s her life that’s a real work of art. Great job, really good hair, loyal friends, loving family. It’s only her succession of lame duck boyfriends that ruin the picture.
Oh, and the world-famous rock-star father she’s never met, who won’t even acknowledge her existence.
Then Ellie’s perfect life is smashed to pieces when her secret is sold to the highest bidder and her name, face (and pictures of her bottom) are splashed across the tabloids. Suddenly everyone thinks she’s a gold-digging, sex-crazy, famewhore.
Enter David Gold. Charming and handsome David Gold. On paper he’s even more perfect than Ellie, if only he wasn’t her father’s ruthlessly ambitious lawyer whose job is to manage the crisis – and her. He certainly doesn’t think that Ellie’s the innocent party and she doesn’t trust him at all. So why is it that every time they’re alone together, damage limitation is the last thing on their minds?
I hope that’s got your intrigue on. It’s out on May 9th. It Felt Like a Kiss – paperback pre-order. It will be available for Kindle too. I’ll let you know the pre-order deets. And as soon as I have a finished cover, I’ll hook you up. *taps nose*
I don’t have many skills in life. I can bang out a novel and if you give me a full freezer and a huge beef joint that was half price in Sainsbury’s, I will magically make room in the full freezer for it, and I can make chicken soup.
I’m not even going to be modest about it. My chicken soup is awesome. It cures colds, heals hurt hearts, I don’t doubt that it could bring about world peace. It really is that good. People who don’t even like me that much will vouch for it. Originally, it was my mother’s recipe and before that it was my grandmother’s recipe and I’ve honed it over the years, added to it, taken away until I got it just right. Now I’m sharing it with you because it’s snowing outside and I’m quite a nice person.
Be warned, this is quite labour intensive, not anything on Heston Blumenthal, but it’s definitely a slow cook. Ideally, you want to make it a day in advance.
THE BEST CHICKEN SOUP IN THE WORLD
One large red onion
Five good sized cloves of garlic
One whole, skinned chicken, ideally a bowling fowl, but a roaster will do, or you can use chicken quarters/thighs, but you want it on the bone. Removing the skin is a faff, and don’t worry about doing it perfectly (the wings are a bugger) but it needs to come off, otherwise the soup is WAY too fatty and spoils the flavour. You also need to remove the fat around the top cavity.
Leeks – 500 grammes
The inner stalks and heart of a bunch of celery (DO NOT MISS THIS OUT!)
3 Telma Chicken Stock Cubes (available from Amazon or the kosher section of the supermarket)
Two sachets of bouquet garni
Mixed herbs – dried is fine
Chicken stock – optional (I always have chicken stock in the fridge or the freezer, but that’s me for you! It doesn’t matter if you don’t.)
One really bigass saucepan!
* Lightly sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil in your big, old pan.
• Then add the chicken, turning it so it browns.
• Meanwhile start chopping up all your veggies, adding them gradually so they have a chance to reduce down before you add some more.
* Then add some white wine, a good sized third of a bottle of whatever you have in the fridge! And chicken stock if you have it.
• Add boiling hot water, enough to completely cover everything. You must keep this water level topped up.
• Then add the bouquet garni (I put one inside the chicken too) and the crushed stock cubes.
• Add a teaspoon of sugar. Don’t ask why, just do it and then a good whack of salt. *
* Leave the pan on a slow simmer for two hours (pressure cookers are for pussies,) making sure to skim the fat off the top every thirty minutes. (Some people don’t bother and put the finished soup in the fridge overnight so it’s easier to remove the fat in the morning, but I prefer to skim as I go, because the unctuous fat masks the flavour of the soup.)
* Keep adding water and salt as needed. You might need to add more wine, stock cubes or bouquet garni at your own discretion. You’re aiming for a salty, savoury, clear but quite dark broth. Umami, if you will!
* It’s done once the chicken starts sliding off the bones.
There’s enough here for at least ten bowls of soup that should be a full meal in themselves. Only decant exactly what you need each time and heat it up in a smaller pan with a bit of extra water and salt, if needed. And it freezes beautifully.
When I want something thicker and more rustic, I add mushrooms and barley.
Now if you’re me, you’ll take the discarded chicken fat, render it down into schmaltz and make either kneidlach or a savoury lokshen pudding to go with the soup. But you’re not me so some vermicelli, or angel hair pasta, or even some thick posh pasta will do.
If you do want a really good Jewish cookbook, bypass Claudia Roden and buy The New International Jewish Cookbook by Evelyn Rose A lot of the Jewish food I make are from recipes I learned in the kitchen on a Friday afternoon, but anything I’ve forgotten, I can always trust Evelyn Rose to nudge my memory.
So, that’s my chicken soup. But it is hard work and I do have a quicker alternative that isn’t the same for sheer love and flavour but it will do at a pinch.
CHEAT’S CHICKEN SOUP
Leftover roast chicken
Packet of kosher chicken soup. Has to be kosher. Only Jewish peeps can make a decent chicken packet soup. I prefer Osem Chicken Noodle soup but it’s very hard to get hold of. Telma Chicken Soup Mix or Telma Chicken Noodle Soup Mix will do at a pinch.
Make the soup as per the directions.
Add leftover chicken.
Eat, enjoy! What do you mean, you’re not hungry? You must be hungry…
Self-pity is a beautiful well to repeatedly dip in and find more reasons not to live, more reasons not to cheer. And the well is an illusion until the well runs dry and then you’re ready for a different song.” Robert Forster, liner notes for Rock And Roll Friend, The Go-Betweens.
There’s no way to sugarcoat it, 2012 was the worst year of my life. It made the other worse years I’ve experienced get down and kiss its hem. It was toxic. It was calamitous. I stumbled through the months and weeks and days shrouded in a veil of sadness. It pained me that 2012 also touched a lot of people I love in the same way; through serious illness or by having hurt and heartache that they didn’t deserve heaped upon them. But above all, 2012 will always be the year that I lost my darling Dad. I miss him every day. I dread the memory of him, his voice, his laugh, even his smell, growing distant. I still can’t quite imagine my life without him in it.
But just as other people I knew had the best year of their lives; they fell in love, got married, had babies, had professional and personal success, something amazing happened to me this year too. Six days after my Dad died, after years of dithering and scanning rescue centre websites when I should have been working, Blossom scampered into my life on four bandy legs.
I agreed to foster a Staffordshire Bull terrier for two weeks. She was picked up as a stray after she’d been thrown out, though she’d delivered her third or fourth litter of puppies so recently that she was lactating and still looked pregnant. She had hormonal alopecia. She would hold her pee for up to two days at a time and when I’d praise her and stroke her for finally deigning to go, she’d cower back like I was going to hit her. After worrying about my Dad for so long, I really needed to be needed again. Within a day, I told the rescue charity that I’d adopt her.
It’s now six months later and I love Miss Betsy (she was having nothing to do with the name Blossom) without rhyme or reason. She’s gone from being uber submissive to very naughty. She loves mange touts, cherry tomatoes, TV panel shows, belly rubs and protecting me from imaginary mice. We both find her weekly obedience class very traumatic. She’s destroyed many things I held dear like my Sunday morning lie-ins and my favourite slippers and she won’t go for her first walk in the morning until I’ve cuddled her for at least five minutes.
I’m not a person that suffers from depression, but there have been times this year that I don’t know how I’d have got out of bed, much less got through the day, without Betsy. And I’m sure you know how I feel about mawkish sentiment, but there is a truth to the cliche that you don’t rescue a dog, they rescue you. I also think it’s kind of ironic that I wrote about a tan and white Staffie with issues in You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me and I’ve ended up sharing my sofa with one.
So, even though I approach 2013 with extreme wariness as there are still aftershocks from 2012 that need to be dealt with, I’m ready for the new year. I don’t have much in the way of resolutions; I’d like to be a more receptive to new experiences and new people, but mostly I want to write the novel that I’ve always hoped I was capable of writing.
Talking of books, there’s only one new release from me this year. My next adult book, It Felt Like a Kiss, will be out in May. I’ll post more details as soon as I have them. I am writing a YA novel at the moment, The Worst Girlfriend in the World but there’ll be no new YA release this year. However, I have some really exciting news about old books that I hope to share with you very soon.
And also US readers, hi! My three adult books will be available as Kindle Direct releases on Amazon.com imminently and I will also give you details of them as soon as I have them. I’ve pretty much self-published under the auspices of Curtis Brown, my agents, and Amazon and am thrilled that I’ll be able release the books as they’re meant to be and not with a multitude of changes to make them less British. Man meets woman meets rock meets hard place is a universal language that we all speak, right? Right!
So, enough about me. I hope that your 2013 is everything you would want it to be and if sometimes it gets hard, I hope you all find your own personal Betsy’s to pull you towards the light.
PS: I adopted Betsy from All Dogs Matter who are based in North London and Norfolk. They have a lot of dogs looking for homes, both foster and forever, so if you are thinking about getting a dog, I would love if it you’d consider a rescue dog. I would also love it you’d consider a Staffie who, despite their reputation, are one of the most people-friendly breeds around.
Tis here! My second annual Chrismukkah Gift Guide, plus a little reading list at the end for your book tooken.
FOR TEENS (SULKY AND OTHERWISE)
A compilation of all the best bits from Rookiemag.com’s (founded by the eye-wateringly awesome Tavi Gevinson) first year, Rookie Yearbook One will change your life, if you let it.
Yeah, it has Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning in it but that’s no reason to buy The Runaways DVD. The reason to buy it is because it’s a biopic of this amazing all girl 70′s rock band, The Runaways, who rocked hard, harder, hardest even as they were completely exploited by The Man, man. Without The Runaways, we’d have no Joan Jett and Joan Jett rules!
After your teen has become completely inspired by watching The Runaways (see above) you can then buy them this What Would Joan Jett Do? t-shirt
I always think that teenage girls are like Marmite. You either love or hate them depending on what mood they’re in when you last encountered them. I think this adorable, limited edition gold jar of the stuff would make a great stocking filler for a teenage girl if she actually likes the stuff. It even changes the yeasty paste to a gold colour because Jubilee, Olympics, innit?
Diane Von Fursternberg earphones – who wouldn’t want a pair of these? A fool, that’s who.
I’m a firm believer that a good skincare habit should be started at an early age and I wish I’d known about Dr Hauschka back when I was suffering spots, oiliness and blackheads that could be see from space. This little skincare starter kit for dry and sensitive skin is not ruinously expensive but is also sleek and aspirational and they also do one for oily skin too.
FOR LADIES WHO LOVE LAZY SUNDAY AFTERNOONS
Do you need a new TV show to love and binge watch while you eat turkey sandwiches, mince pies and root around the Quality Street tin for the green triangles? You do? Then let it be the Gilmore Girls – Complete Season 1-7. Endlessly repeated on TV but entirely deserving to be watched in its entirety as you thrill to the really fast-talking Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, mother and daughter, and residents of Star’s Hollow, the kind of perfect, sleepy East Coast town full of strange eccentrics, that you only find in really good TV shows.
Words to live by, am I right?
A vital ingredient for a lazy Sunday afternoon is a hot drink in a lovely mug like this one from Little Walton Bank. Just the right size for a decent hit of caffeine.
You have to keep your energy levels up when you’re reading and like books, it’s sometimes best to go with a classic. I recently discovered Tunnocks Dark Chocolate Teacakes and I knew right away that I was living in extraordinary times.
I’m a big fan of novels set or written between the wars and I’m also a big fan of independent publishers, which is why I adore Persephone Books. Their The Persephone Book Of The Month club would make a lovely present for a friend or even you if you like novels written mostly between the wars by ladies of a certain age, then published with sleek grey covers, and bookmarks and endpapers (endpapers!) that feature a pattern from a textile created the year the novel was written. I mean, who wouldn’t?
It’s going to be all about The Great Gatsby next year when Baz Luhrman’s film of F Scott Fitzgerald’s classic tale of the nihilism that underpinned the roaring Twenties. Of course, you’ve read The Great Gatsby but you probably don’t have this stylish Great Gatsby Mug, which is so pleasing to the eye. Tea drinking was never so literary.
If, like me, you know someone who still kicks it old skool and doesn’t have one of those new fangled e book readers (I don’t because the sheer number of my real world, treeware to-be-reads are overwhelming and if I started adding to them electronically, then I would drown under a weight on unread wordage) then they probably use a bookmark. If they don’t use a bookmark, then they probably fold the corners over to keep their place, which is a crime and why they need this You Are Here Bookmark Pad.
This I love books top is just the right kind of thing to wear when you’re curled up with your favourite novel.
FOR ART BOYS AND GIRLS
I don’t even know why Pelikan Bottled Highlighter Ink Yellow exists in a world full of fluorescent highlighter pens but I’m glad it does.
Le Audio Cassette Notebook by Moleskine“>Who doesn’t love a Moleskine notebook especially when they come disguised as an old fashioned cassette tape?
I may not be an art girl but I want this comedians’ catchphrases print from Rockett St George so badly it’s starting to hurt.
OK, it’s not published until the end of January but anyone with a love for art and design has to love the beautiful typography, graphics and images that London Undreground has given us over the years. London Underground By Design by Mark Ovenden gathers them all together.
Talking of which, The Great Bear by Simon Patterson is the London Underground map, but with a difference. All the lines and stations have had their names changed. The Circle Line stations are now philosophers. Italian artists have become Victoria Line stations and the Docklands Light Railway are Sinologues. I have a framed print of this hanging above my desk, it was my leaving present from J17, and it inspires me every day.
If I could be anyone I would be Rachel Khoo because she is adorable but the kind of girl you could imagine going down the pub with and I yearn to run away to Paris, study at the Cordon Bleu Institute and then cook up amusing amuse bouche at the witty salons I’d host in my tiny Parisian Hausmann apartment. The closest I’ll ever get to being Rachel Khoo though is rocking a bold lip and making shepherds pie in Little Paris Kitchen-inspired enamel ware
I also yearn to bake, but never do because it requires precision and lots of ingredients that means you always end up lacking some vital component when you’re up to your elbows in a mixing bowl. I still have lots of wannabe baker kit including these Measuring Cup Matroyshkas So, if I did decide to knock up some rock cakes, at least me weighing skillz would be mad.
(I also have the Matroyshka Measuring Spoons because they are adorable, even if I have never used them.
A perfect present for someone who watches too much Masterchef and longs to make those funny little spheres from bits of rhubard or do something involving liquid nitrogen. The Molecular Gastronomy Kit is the grown-up foodie equivalent of a chemistry set.
AND BOOKS, GOT TO HAVE SOME BOOKS, THERE MUST ALWAYS BE BOOKS
I did a lot of comfort reading this year and some of that was devouring the four books in Elizabeth Jane Howard’s Cazalet Chronicles. A series that none of my friends who’d read and loved it told me about because they all assumed that I’d already read and loved it. Well, I hadn’t and this sweeping family saga of posh folk falling in love, being unfaithful and pursuing artistic endeavours and doomed relationships set against the destructive backdrop of World War 2 is the kind of book I would eat up with a spoon if I was able to liquidise it. (I’ve linked to a set with the first three books in it; Light Years, Confusion and Marking Time. You can buy the last book, Casting Off,
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Georgette Heyer’s Regency novels, which fill that gap once you realise that Jane Austen really didn’t write that many books. I was lucky enough to inherit an almost full set from my mother, but lots of people on the Twitter ask me where’s a good place to start if you’re new to Heyer. Well, the first one I read was Regency Buck and I think it’s a great introduction to Heyer. Maybe it doesn’t have the depth of her later books but you have an impetuous, flighty heiress and a sardonic, titled guardian who’s known as a rakehell thrown together very unwillingly and, quite frankly, that pushes all of my Regency romance buttons.
The Diary Of A Provincial Lady by E M Delafield is my go-to-get happy book. I have read the four Provincial Lady novels again and again and they always give me cheer. I think sometimes people believe that books written long ago (in the 1930′s as is the case here) say nothing about our modern lives; are impossible to relate to. It’s simply not the case. I mean: “November 22nd.–Cissie Crabbe leaves. Begs me in the kindest way to stay with her in Norwich (where she has already told me that she lives in a bed-sitting-room with two cats, and cooks her own lentils on a gas-ring). I say Yes, I should love to. We part effusively.”
The other books I’ve really gorged on this year are Noel Streatfeild’s adult romance novels written under the name Susan Scarlett. They’re not as dark as her ‘proper’ adult novels, like but I’ve loved books like Peter and Paul with its fashion company setting and two twins, one beautiful and one good, in competition for the attentions of the dashing man who owns the fashion company. Sometimes the Susan Scarlett novels make my third wave feminist self bristle but mostly I love them for the 1930′s YA novels that they kind of are.
I also read a lot of non-fiction. Again, mostly concerning the between the wars years and World War 2. I also love a good juicy biography, especially a literary biography and when you add all those elements together than you get The Mitford Girls by Mary S Lovell. I love Nancy Mitford’s novels, adore the fact that Jessica Mitford eloped with her cousin to fights fascists in Spain and I absolutely do NOT love Unity Mitford and Diana Mitford, who were unapologetic fascists. But the six sisters (there was also Debo, the only surviving Mitford, now the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire and Pam, always overshadowed by her siblings) lived through extraordinary times and contributed to those times and the headlines of the day. Everything you could ever want in a biography.
Right on, sisters
This has been doing the rounds on Twitter and is a spoken word performance from Mindy Nettifee on why we all need to stand up and represent. Hell, yeah!
And for anyone who is going to take issue, look, hey, I’ve saved you the bother:
Wow, I’m feeling quite punchy today. Obvs.
The clocks have gone back and now the next few months are about hunkering down and being cosy. Craving crumble, watching black and white movies with the dog snuggled into my armpit, and taking to my bed with a really good book.
Often on the Twitter, I’m asked to recommend books that are just like mine. Well, I hope that my books aren’t like anybody else but me and I also find it hard to rec books because mostly I read books either set or written between 1920 – 1949. Generally, I don’t read a lot of contemporary commercial women’s fiction because I like to write in a vacuum where I’m not worrying that my plot is similar to something I’ve read or my heroine has the same name as a character in another book.
That said, there are some books that I’ve read that I’ve loved and I want to spread that love around. But, I would warn you that none of these books are romance novels with big makeover scenes and cupcakes a go go and a loveable ditz of a heroine. A million times no.
Full disclosure, Mhairi and I are Twitter friends and she asked if she could send me an advance copy of her first novel. And because Mhairi is darkly funny and quite, quite rude, I had no qualms about reading You Had Me At Hello. It’s a breath of tart, Northern air in a genre beset with cupcakes and lovable ditzes. Rachel is a court reporter in Manchester and had just walked away from her imminent wedding when the boy who got away ten years ago, now a married man suddenly walks back into her life. What happens next is not what you expect to happen next and I loved Rachel because she was real and chaotic and fucked things up but was never a victim.
Rainbow is another writer I know from Twitter (what can I tell you? I follow a lot of writers) but I started following her after I’d read Attachments, which I loved. Rainbow’s writing has that grown-up Sassy magazine vibe, which i eat like salted caramel chocolate. Set in 1999, when you could ‘do’ the entire internet in an afternoon (and I often did) it’s the story of two women exchanging countless emails about their lives and the IT guy who spends hours reading them in the still of the night until he realises he’s in love with one of the women but can’t approach her because of the whole creepy ‘I’ve read your emails’ thing. Also, Rainbow’s forthcoming book is called Fangirl and she once lurked in the near vicinity of Tavi Gevinson so she is obviously ace.
Guess what? JoJo is another friend from Twitter and we have actually met in real life twice. She’s lovely! And I’m sure most of you must have sobbed your way through her last book Me Before You. The Girl You Left Behind is another book that will see you through a box of tissues. Set in France during WW1 in France and some hundred years later in the present day, this is the story of two women linked by a painting, both of them unable to be with the men they love. II swear, I’m welling up just writing that brief description.
I have recc’ed this book to SO many people. Blogged about it before too. And though it remains obscure and out of print, it’s going to be made into a film, apparently, so I really hope that it reaches the audience it deserves. I first read Fabulous Nobodies many, many years ago when I was struggling to find any kind of paid job as a writer. This was before Sex And The City, before Bridget Jones, before rom-coms and chick lit were known as rom-coms and chick lit and Fabulous Nobodies is head and shoulders above it all. Set in NYC, Reality Nirvana (hippy mother, friends call her Really) has a closet full of vintage frocks who all have names and talk to her, in her tiny apartment and is the door whore at a fashionable club until she gets the sack and decides to open her own fashionable club in her tiny apartment. There’s a sneering love interest, a gay best friend (before gay best friends became such a cliche,) heaps of zingy one liners and gorgeous descriptions of clothes. This is one of my Desert Island books. You will love it too. I have no doubt.
I really worry about a generation of girls (and also grown women) reading Twilight and Shades of Grey and thinking that true love means being a passive, helpless moon of a girl because that’s what it takes to attract an emotionally abusive (and actually downright physically abusive) man. It doesn’t. But then I think of my generation who grew up passing copies of Lace round the classroom and wonder if this is the reason that we aspired to be strong, independent women. Anyhoo, I digress. Lace has been re-released for its 30th anniversary and all you need to know is that there’s a sex scene where a goldfish features quite heavily and the very first line of the book is “Which one of you bitches is my mother?”
I hope you enjoy these five books. I’ll be posting some more book recs in a big Christmas gift guide (I don’t like to think that I Pinterested in vain all year!) in the next few weeks.
Now tuck up warm and don’t forget to wear a vest.
DIARY OF A CRUSH ebooks out today!
SCREAM!!!!!!!! DIARY OF A CRUSH – IT’S BACK!
It Felt Like A Kiss – delayed
Pssst! Want to read the synopsis for It Felt Like A Kiss?
The best chicken soup in the world. (No, really, it is.)
2013, be gentle with me
My annual Chrismukkah Gift Guide (and a little reading list too.)
A video for women who don’t consider themselves feminists…