The Sunday Lunch Club by Juliet Ashton

The Sunday Lunch Club by Juliet Ashton

 

35888778Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 19th April 2018

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The first rule of Sunday Lunch Club is … don’t make any afternoon plans.

Every few Sundays, Anna and her extended family and friends get together for lunch. They talk, they laugh, they bicker, they eat too much. Sometimes the important stuff is left unsaid, other times it’s said in the wrong way.

Sitting between her ex-husband and her new lover, Anna is coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy at the age of forty. Also at the table are her ageing grandmother, her promiscuous sister, her flamboyantly gay brother and a memory too terrible to contemplate.

Until, that is, a letter arrives from the person Anna scarred all those years ago. Can Anna reconcile her painful past with her uncertain future?

Juliet Ashton weaves a story of love, friendship and community that will move you to laughter and to tears. Think Cold Feet meets David Nicholls, with a dash of the joy of Jill Mansell added for good measure.

Rating: five-stars

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I don’t have a huge, extended family and usually I don’t have problem with it, however after reading such books as “The Sunday Lunch Club” I’d give everything to have such a family like the Pipers – so many people that accept you no matter what unconditionally. The problem with books such as “The Sunday Lunch Club” is that no matter what you’re going to write in your review it probably won’t do this book a justice. Because it was a perfect read, from the beginning to the end and really, I still can’t settle for another read after finishing this one. I know people often say that didn’t want a book to end, and I thought I also read such books, but I think this was the very first one that I can for sure say that now I know how it is when you don’t want a book to end. It was this kind of read where I absorbed every single word, I cried and laughed together with the characters.

“The Sunday Lunch Club” by Juliet Ashton is a relatively slow read and with plenty of characters, and I was afraid that it’s going to be confusing, but quickly, very quickly I knew who is who in this book, and even quicker I started to love all of them. The Pipers are two sisters and two brothers with their own, very colourful families and histories, friends and grandmother Dinkie, still full of life, feisty and down to earth. And jeez, let’s not forget Yeti – what a brilliant, entertaining creature, and the descriptions of him looking after the baby made me cry so, so much! But back to the siblings and co. They meet regularly for Sunday Lunch (Club), every time in a different home, and with every single lunch we learn more and more about them, we see what makes them tick, what they love, what they hate and what their problems are – and there is a lot of those things! The story is mostly told from Anna’s point of view, Anna – who was so realistically drawn that I had a feeling I can feel her breathing next to me. She discovers that she’s pregnant at the age of 40, and the baby is not her ex – husband’s. Being pregnant brings back some memories and this part of the story was so unpredictable and heart – breaking, guys. Anna, the second oldest after Neil, feels responsible for all of her siblings and you couldn’t be in better hands than in those of Anna’s. Neil is right now trying to adapt to being a father, the second sister Maeve has visions and thinks she’s psychic, but she’s really, really brilliant, no worries guys, and she doesn’t seem to have much luck in the men – department, and the youngest Josh is troubled and very distant – why? They all have their problems and troubles and when you think they’re going to be very average problems than you’re in for a great, great surprise, because their stories are all but average and predictable. The characters have their own distinctive voices and they are so close to life and I felt so strongly for all of them. They were lovely and loving, eclectic, chaotic, they had their ups and downs and – what’s most important – they talked with each other and they weren’t afraid of telling what they feel. It made them more vulnerable and open to being hurt but it also made them so real.

It was written in a really interesting way. We got to see the characters every now and then, when it was time for their gathering at the Sunday Lunch Club. Sometimes there was a week between them, sometimes a month, and really we don’t know what exactly happens with, and to, them. However, during those gatherings we get enough insight and gossip to know perfectly well what has happened and why. It’s funny really how well it works, as we are used to usually have a sneak peek into every aspect of the characters’ lives, to know their every move and thought, and here we had to settle for some most important moments, and it’s enough to absolutely fell for the characters, to intuitively know what they feel and think, to feel a part of their world, to keep our fingers crossed for them or to want to shake them badly. And that doesn’t of course mean that their feelings or emotions weren’t captured – they were brilliantly put into words!

I absolutely, totally adored the way the family was working. They were bickering, they were arguing, they felt offended but oh my word, let somebody who didn’t belong to the family to tell one wrong word about them! They got their backs, they supported each other, and not only the closest family but also the ex – husbands, new girlfriends and every single crazy idea that came to their minds.

Even though it is on the slower side, the pace is only right and there are some twists that you’d never see coming – take my word for this! It is romantic enough, there is enough drama and plenty of funny moments, and there is this feeling of being accepted no matter what. There are secrets that will break your heart but the family will mend it again. The writing is perfect. The dialogues are effortless and the story is just flawing, and the family dynamics are brilliantly captured. Their interactions and banter were so relatable and there were moments that I could only nod my head with understanding.

“The Sunday Lunch Club” was a beautifully written and full of all kind of emotions and feelings novel about a brilliantly dysfunctional – yet brilliantly working – family. It was heart-warming, uplifting and poignant at the same time. In no time you’re going to feel a part of the Piper family and you want to add your own opinion or two during one of the lunches. It was emotional, and it was funny and I didn’t want to put this book down for a single second. Shortly – it was a bloody perfect read, as I knew it’s going to be. If there is one thing you can be sure it’s that Juliet Ashton is going to deliver a wonderful, emotional, clever and hilarious story. Highly, highly recommended!

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My Top 5 Books of 2016

Hi guys, and happy Friday! as much as I can’t believe it we are already at the end of December and New Year is knocking at the doors. I have such mixed feelings about 2016, it was full of lovely moments, worthwile people and situations, things that I’ll never forget, new beginnings, new chances, new friends but it was also full of sad, painfull moments and I feel like saying, get lost 2016! It is time for something new and positive.

In 2016 I read 195 books. Not as many as the previous year but with life getting in the way and time being so precious I am glad that I could read so many books at all! And those were brilliant books, that I adored and gushed about. However, and I am not sure why, probably because I read so much and am picky, not many books have made it to my Hall of Fame – in fact, I am shocked that there are so few but I think that really, I love many books but only few of them have blown me away – the book must really have this something special!  And so, this year, there are only 5 of them – the very special ones, the crème de la crème of all the books that I had a pleasure to read. Here they are!

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 These Days of Ours by Juliet Ashton. What can I say? I truly adored this book, it had everything I need and want from a book. All my family and friends have read this book thanks to my reccomendations and all of them loved it! The way the author captured all the feelings in this story and it touched and moved me, it made my cry and laugh, tit made me talk to the characters and experience everything together with them – a gorgeous, unforgettable book!  Here is my review of this astonishing novel.

Somewhere Inside of Happy by Anna McPartlin. Already in 2015 51aqd3kunvlher novel “The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes” has made it to my top read, and in 2016 Ms McPartlin has – again, and thanks so much for this! – delivered a beautiful, moving novel with a twist. I laughed and I cried when reading it, and I couldn’t stop to admire the incredible writing style and the way the author has written this story, and I can tell you one thing: whatever you do, please read this novel! Here you can read my review of this emotional, exceptional story.

29750478The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts by Annie Darling. It was a story that just blew my mind away – it had all that I’m looking for in a book: it was full of warmth, INCREDIBLE humour, fantastic, vivid characters and it had one of the best plots ever, and well, it took place mostly in a bookshop! I still can remember how much warmth and feeling there were on the pages and this feel – good factor, and that it made me feel warm and happy. Here you can read my review of this gorgeous, charming, heart – warming book!

A year without Lisa Dickenson’s book would be a lost year, guys! I’ve no idea what ‘ve been 28798187doing before Lisa started writing books – I just can’t imagine my bookshelf without her gorgeous, heartwarming paperbacks! If you haven’t read You Had Me at Merlot I can only say drop whatever you do and buy it! It was a MUST READ this summer, and not only summer because it’ll brigthen the most grim days. It really deserves a standing ovation, folks, Lisa’s humour is an exceptional one, and you always have a feeling that her characters are your best friends – so no matter what, dear Lisa, please keep the books coming! You Had Me at Merlot  had all what I am looking for in a book and even more and I. FREAKING. LOVED. EVERY. SINGLE. MINUTE.OF. IT. So there. Yes. I loved it. In case you don’t believe me, check my review here pretty please.

29622942And last but not least. It is a book by the author that her debut novel has also found itself on my top reads in 2015 list, and it always warms my heart to see that the second dreaded book is as great as the previous one! Please say hello to A Life Without You by Katie Marsh, a story that I loved with my whole heart. Full of emotions, tricky decisions to be made, brilliant characters and complex plot, written in incredibly beautiful way – and here you can read more why I loved this book so much.

Q & A with Juliet Ashton

Aaaah, guys, I am so excited to have Juliet Ashton today on my blog! Juliet’s last book „These Days of Ours” was one of my favourite reads this year, it was in fact my first Book of the Month this year, and you can read here why I loved this book so much. Believe me, you don’t often keep such a gem of a book in your hands, so if you haven’t read this novel yet, please drop everything you do and go and buy it!

And I am really, absolutely thrilled to have persuaded Juliet to answer some of my questions about the book – and thank you so much for this, lovely Juliet!  Here is Q &A with this brilliant Author:

 

1. I know that authors hate this question, but as „These Days of Ours” was such a complex, emotional book I would really love to know what inspired you to write this particular story?

 I don’t hate this question. It’s the one I always want to ask other authors! The ‚spark’ of the story came from a relationship within my family which is very similar to the one between Kate and Becca. I was fascinated by the way my aunts chose one of my cousins to be the ‚beautiful’ one of the family, and never expected anything more from her, such as exam results or a decent job. Getting married was her job! This cousin is also incredibly bossy and interfering, but so good hearted it’s impossible not to love her. From this, the rest of the book just grew.

 

 2. There are wonderful, true to life characters in your book, characters that you want to talk to and that you root for – are they totally fictional or are they based on real people?

 As above, the dreadful Becca is based on a relative (who never reads any of my books so I should get away with it …) Kate has aspects of me, probably the aspects that most annoy me. For example, I do hold back when I should just leap, and I’ve seen how that has affected my life, so it was easy to put that into Kate’s story. Kate’s dad is more or less my dad – he really was that sweet and gentle and loving. Plus, I’m afraid, my parents were quite mismatched, although without the simmering tensions I’ve put in the book. Aunty Marjorie is all my wonderful Irish aunties rolled into one. Charlie is a little bit of one friend, a little bit of another. I worked very hard on making Charlie realistic and loveable – the sort of man you really would like to marry, as opposed to a Romantic Hero.

 

3. How carefully did you plan the novel in advance?

 Very very carefully. I’ll add another very: very very very carefully.

 

4. What was your most and least favourite aspect of writing this book?

 The best part was writing parties. They are so brilliant for getting all your characters into one room, plus the party feeling rubbed off on me. My least favourite – or, to put it another way, – the part I found most difficult was making sure that the passage of years rolled by smoothly, without leaving readers behind or confusing them.

 

5. What is your favourite scene in the novel? (I personally had plenty. PLENTY).

 I’d love to know what your favourite scenes are!

I was very happy with the hospital scene between Kate and her father. I wanted it to be tender and true to life, without being depressing. The language flowed very easily, and I was totally involved. I wrote that scene so fast!

I also loved writing the Christmas party dinner at Angus’s club. I could really see the crackling fire and the panelled walls. The dialogue was easy, as all the characters had plenty to say. Plus, there was an important flashback right at the beginning which carried a lot of plot. Besides all that, I knew the lovely day would end darkly ….

 

6. You are writing under different pen names. Is it hard to keep on track and in what way do the books differ from each other?

 I agree – I find it hard to keep track too!

For the moment there are no more Bernadette Strachan novels, although I might revive the name at some point. My Claire Sandy novels are pure chick lit, albeit with an emphasis on family life. There’s a farcical element to some of it, lots of romance and laughs. Juliet Ashton writes slightly more mature works, with deeper emotional content. Although there are a few giggles along the way too!

 

7. There are already raving reviews for „These Days of Ours” – What do people love most about this book? What do you love about it?

 Readers have zoomed in on the Kate/Becca friendship. It seems to remind them of similar relationships in their own lives, plus everybody likes to boo a baddie, and Becca is certainly worth a boo or two. I love the book – is it OK to say you love your own book?! – because it talks about true love in a realistic fashion. People behave foolishly and badly, but they’re forgiven because they’re human. Deep down, the love doesn’t waver.

 

 8. What did you want your readers to take away from your story?

 The same I always want readers to take away – some smiles, one or two tears and a feeling that they’re not alone, that we’re all in this together.

 

You can find Juliet on her website!

Book of the Month : March

Finally, eventually! Eventually, finally! I am so thrilled to be able to post my Book of the Month again. No, no, I haven’t neglected this feature, of course not. I only think that I read so MANY books that a novel must be really, really special to blow me away these days. And it happened in March – a book that touched and moved me, that made my cry and laugh, that made me talk to the characters and experience everything together with them. Cut a long story short, it was my PERFECT read in March! And it was so good that I am sure it is a great contender for the Book of the Year title! So ladies and gentlemen, here it is:

 

 

 

These Days of Ours by Juliet Ashton. What can I say? I truly adored this book, it had everything I need and want from a book.  Here is my review of this astonishing novel.

These Days of Ours by Juliet Ashton

These Days of Ours

by Juliet Ashton

 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 7th April 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 435

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 Synopsis:

A novel about love. Raw important love. Small, beautiful love. And what happens when the person you love cannot be yours… Perfect for fans of Rowan Coleman, Jane Green and David Nicholls.

Kate and Becca are cousins and best friends. They have grown up together and shared all the most important milestones in their lives: childhood birthday parties, eighteenth birthdays, and now a wedding day as they each marry their childhood sweethearts, Charlie and Julian.

Kate has always loved Charlie – they were meant to be. Then she discovers that life never turns out quite how you expect it to. And love doesn’t always follow the journey it should.

But best friends are forever, and true love will find a way, won’t it…?

Rating: 5/5

 

Oh wow. The first book since a long time that I wanted to devour every single word. Marvellous, magnificent read! It reminded me so much oo the books by Lucy Robinson or Jimmy Rice and Laura Tait – the writing style, the story – but it’s a great thing, as I am a huge fan of the above mentioned authors. And now Juliet Ashton has just blown my mind with her new novel.
First things first, I have this extreme pleasure to be the owner of a very special signed proof copy of this book (thank you so, so much, Sara Jade and Juliet!), and I am already in love with the cover of this proof, but when I’ve seen the final cover, I’ve just fallen head over heels in love again. It’s beautiful. It’s so simple yet so sophisticated and just let me repeat that I love it.

„These Days of Ours” is a book about love. Simple like that. But can love be simple at all?
We follow here stories of Kate, Charlie and Becca, from when they were 5 – year – old kids, through they teenage years, through marriages, children, work, troubles and happiness, travelling and many, many changes, but all of them stay in touch and are thick as thieves. Especially Kate and Charlie. Thanks to these vignettes in Kate’s life, those most important moments in everyone’s lives, such as weddings, Christenings, births and funerals, parties, we are taken through twenty years of relationship – can you imagine?

What I simply adored in this story is the fact that the author managed to take me by surprise, more than once, with the twists and turns in the story. I know, it sounds so simple, but believe me, those twists and turns were amazing and I wasn’t able to see them until they came and slapped me in the face.
What was also great is that the story is told through different events, at the turn of many, many years, and concentrates on the most significant points and events in the characters’ lives. Each chapter starts with an invitation to the events that are like milestones in the characters’ lives, so there is really no a lot of blah, blah, blah – ing, we’re mostly presented with a fait accompli, but I didn’t have for a single second a feeling that I’ve missed on some information, that the author skipped something important. The time, and together with the time the pace, were passing so quickly, and we accompanied Kate and Becca on the journey through the years and were witnesses to their lives’ changing.
There is no dragging on, there is no feeling that the reading is like chewing a tasteless, dragging bubble gum, and it made the pace feel so quick. But there was one thing stable, permanent and not changing: the feeling between Charlie and Kate. It was developing, it was blossoming, it was mourning, it was in hell, but it was always there. It was in fact this relationship, this unfulfilled love that made the book so captivating – when you’ve seen Kate and Charlie together you had a feeling they just belong together, and it made me feel so helpless seeing how they’re ways drift away.

As for the characters, wow. I’m sure you know this feeling when you feel a part of the characters’ world so much that you want to turn and start to talk with them, to tell them what you’re thinking – it was like this when I was reading the book. I felt a part of this novel, and I wanted to shake Kate, Becca and Charlie sometimes and tell them what I think. They were all brilliantly drawn, they felt so realistic and I adored the way they developed and matured, it was so genuine. The bond between Kate and Charlie was lovely and unique. The relationship between Kate and her cousin Becca was realistic and genuine, and the author has captured all the smallest details that built such relationship. Sure, I think we were supposed to dislike Becca in this relationship, as she was the Beautiful One, always getting what she wanted, she was spoiled and very self – centred and she was the one to ruin everything, but there was also much more to Becca than meets the eye. This relationship between Kate and Becca was both intriguing and annoying, and yes, it was Becca’s the annoying part mostly, but in the end I think that all of us are going to forgive Becca for all the mistakes she’s made, as she really, deep down, wasn’t a bad person. And even though the story concentrates mostly on Kate, we are also introduced to other characters, such as the girls’ families and partners, and I truly loved here the subplot of the orphanage in China and Kate’s father, the orphanage that might have seen as only a subplot, but in the end turned out to be an incredibly important part of the story and it pained me that Kate’s father couldn’t follow his dream.
So yes, the characters were brilliant. Greatly developed, with their own personalities and voices, and – what’s always so important to me – they were moving. They were developing, growing and changing, and the relationships between them were really, truly complicated.

The writing style is beautiful. It is full of emotions and feelings. The author has no problems to draw the readers direct into the heart of the story and to make them feel like a part of the characters’ world. The author, just like Lucy Robinson, has this incredible talent to describe all possible feelings. She just knows how people feel and can wonderfully put it into words. „These Days of Ours” is bitter – sweet, funny and simultaneously sad, beautiful and unique love story that will stay with you for long. Juliet Ashton has an incredible talent for storytelling and I was immediately hooked to the story, I didn’t want to put the book down for a single second. She has written a novel that I was sure I knew what’s going to happen next, but after turning the page I could only gasp and see that there is a surprise waiting for me. It is this kind of book that you not only read, but LIVE. Amazing. And highly recommended. My first Hall of Fame review this year.