The Reading Group: April by Della Parker + Guest Post

Hi guys. Today I am finally reviewing the fifth part of  “The Reading Group” series by Della Parker and as a special treat I have a guest post from the author on one of the inspirations behind the series. It’s brilliant, so make sure to read it!

The Reading Group by Della Parker

 

32919832Publisher: Quercus

Publishing Date: 30th March  2017

Series: The Reading Group #5 (read my review of #1,2 and 3 here)

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review!

Number of pages: 93

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

Synopsis:

‘Brims with laughs, love, family and friendship. You will love this heartwarming read!’ Trisha Ashley. Perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley and Holly Martin.

Serena, the ambitious young Headmistress of Poppins Private School, has just begun reading Jane Eyre alongside her friends in the Reading Group. She would never admit it out loud, but she’s half hoping that reality might once again echo fiction. Will she perhaps meet her own Mr Rochester?

That doesn’t stop her from being slightly alarmed when her secretary arranges an appointment with one Mr Winchester, the handsome father of a troubled pupil in the midst of a messy divorce. But when the line between work and pleasure begins to blur, and troubles in her own family come to a head, Serena is left wondering if being a romantic heroine is all it’s cracked up to be…

Meet the Reading Group: five women in the seaside village of Little Sanderton come together every month to share their love of reading. No topic is off-limits: books, family, love and loss . . . and don’t forget the glass of red!

Rating: 4/5

“The Reading Group: April” is probably my favourite part of the series right now. I enjoyed it immensely and I think that with every part the characters feel much more developed, complex and the story is this little better than the previous one. In April it is Serena’s story and she’s chosen “Jane Eyre” for the Reading Group, so you can immediately ask – is she going to find her Mr Rochester?

Serena was close to my heart as we both are teachers and I could see that she’s maybe not over – passionate about her job but that she really likes it and that she has heart for her students and her job. I immediately liked her, she was strong – minded but also vulnerable and the way she coped with her life after her husband’s death was just so uplifting, giving hope that it really can be better sometime.

This lovely short story squeezes between the pages many, many issues. It is about family dynamics and feeling unappreciated and under – valued by your own family, it’s about mental health and children being made victims of parents’ misunderstandings. It’s about finding what you want to do with your life and finding peace with grief. Again, I truly liked how the author took elements of “Jane Eyre” and adapted for “Reading Group”. There were moments that the story dragged on a bit and there were moments that some of the events felt too rushed but altogether this novella had the right pace and the right amount of events happening. Altogether, it was a lovely, light quick read that don’t forget about the importance of friendship. Recommended!

GUEST POST:

One of the Inspirations behind the Reading Group

 By Della Parker

I really enjoy writing about friendship.  It’s a theme that runs through many of my books.  In the Reading Group series the focus is on female friendship. I have some amazing female friends. Some of them have been in my life for over forty years and some are newer, but they are all very important to me.  Although I don’t ever transport real people lock, stock and barrel into fiction I do use elements of them and I do write about the issues that affect them.

            Serena, the Main Character of April is a lady who struggles because she doesn’t fit into her family – she has always felt that she is not quite good enough.  I have one or two friends who feel like this – in fact it’s surprisingly common.

            And of course if your family aren’t supportive it makes friendship massively important.

            The Reading Group is about a group of friends who meet to discuss a classic novel each month and discover that – spookily – one of their lives mirrors the plot.

            In April they are reading Jane Eyre and Serena, who’s headmistress of Poppins Private School, is half hoping that reality will echo fiction, as it has before, and she will meet her own Mr Rochester.

This doesn’t stop her from being slightly alarmed when her secretary arranges an appointment with Mr Winchester, the father of a troubled pupil.

It would appear that Mr Winchester has an ex wife who is also rather troubled (or possibly completely deranged!). To add to the drama there is turbulence (as there usually is) in Serena’s own family too. Serena begins to wonder if being a romantic heroine is all it’s cracked up to be…

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The Reading Group by Della Parker // Blog Tour

Hi guys, and happy Thursday (even though mine was not so happy, but oh well, life goes on, right). I am super excited to host today’s stop on Della Parker “The Reading Group” blog tour. I love the idea of the series, it’s so simple and yet so different – each story introduces us to a new character, a member of a reading group, and always the book that they choose to read reflects the character’s life. Already I can’t wait for the next three novellas!

The Reading Group: December, January, February by Della Parker

321498693218318132183174

 

Publisher: Quercus

Publishing Date: 1st December 2016

Series: The Reading Group #1, #2, #3

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 17, 95, 95

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: December | January | February

 

Synopsis:

‘Brims with laughs, love, family and friendship. You will love this heartwarming read!’ Trisha Ashley. Meet the Reading Group: five women in the seaside village of Little Sanderton come together every month to share their love of reading. No topic is off-limits: books, family, love and loss . . . and don’t forget the glass of red!

Rating: 4/5

“The Reading Group: December” is a perfect, short introduction to the series and to all the characters. Even though we meet all the girls very briefly, you could immediately feel the special bond between them and how supporting towards each other they are. Each month follows one of the five characters, and in December it is Grace who is in the spotlight – her, her husband and her triplets (boys!), one of whom is very ill. It was a touching story, but also uplifting, as really it was lovely to see how understanding and unselfish all the other reading group girls are.

“The Reading Group: January” follows Anne – Marie’s story. Now, I need to complain a little, as Anne – Marie came much too selfish, self – obsessed and immature for me and the only thing she was able to think about were men. So with such a character I’d usually have problems with the story itself, this time however the writing style and actually the story itself saved it for me! Anne – Marie is young but already successful and probably because of being a little bored she tries her hand at matchmaking – well, her best friend is getting married with a guy she got to know at Anne – Marie’s birthday, so there! And so Anne – Marie decides to set up some of her friends with new men. However, later, it turned out that Anne – Marie – even with her privileged upbringing and no worries – she was not afraid to help when she was needed, to get cracking and to clean at her customers herself, and that she has a heart made of gold and wants all her friends to be happy. Of course, as each month the book that reading group is reading somehow “correspond” with the character, the girls are reading “Emma”.
I was a little disappointed at the beginning not seeing more of the reading group itself, of the girls, but then I thought, well, each story is devoted to one of them, so I’ll get enough of them later. Here we got to know Anne – Marie’s friends Manda and Sophie – and you can for sure say that Della Parker creates her characters in a brilliant, deep way, and even though I’ve missed a little of Anne – Marie’s past because maybe there was an explanation to why she was as she was, I still enjoyed all of them and I liked their banter and their easy – going dialogues.

“The Reading Group: February” tell us a story of Kate. Her marriage to Anton seems to be a little shaky and they have some problems, and then – you won’t believe it! – Bob the Builder enter the scenes. This time the girls are reading “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” and somehow the theme of the classic book, sex and infidelity, links to Kate’s life. What I really enjoyed in February were the similarities between “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” and Kate’s life – namely the problems and troubles in marriage, then there were the class differences, the forbidden feeling, desire and finally hope that love can conquer it all – but can it?

Yes, the stories are sometimes too predictable, too far – fetched, sometimes too rushed and sometimes too slow, and the things seem to happen so easily and the pieces to fall into the right places almost effortlessly, but they were lovely stories and I enjoyed reading them. The friendship between the girls is brilliant and even though they don’t see or talk to each other every day, they know they can count on each other and they always support each other. The stories are full of romance, humour, sarcasm and poignant moments and the writing style is excellent, it is warm and it has this “something” that keeps you glued to the pages. I am already impatiently waiting to see what’s in store for us next.

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