Sunday, 26 February 2017

One Night in Italy - A Sparkling Novel by Lucy Diamond

Italy is one of my favourite countries to visit. I love the beautiful terracotta roofed houses, the lemon and olive groves, the vineyards, the Renaissance cities of Florence and Venice, and the romantic city of Rome, and the food! And if I can't be there, I love to read about it.
Lucy Diamond  has written the perfect book, One Night in Italy, and although the book is set around an Italian evening class in Sheffield, the characters dream of going to this wonderful country, and some of them actually do!

The three main characters are:
Sophie who has been called home from Sorrento after spending some years in Italy because her father's had a heart attack and, as she's got nowhere and no one to return to, she becomes the teacher of the Italian class.

Catherine who comes to the class because she's trying to rebuild her life after her twins leave home for university and her husband has been waiting for this moment to tell her that he never loved her and wants a divorce.

Anna, a journalist, who discovers that her father is Italian and wants to go there and find him.
Add sisters, Nita and Phoebe, who want to meet some sexy Italian men;  and Roy and Geraldine who are planning a grand tour of Italy for their Ruby Wedding. They make a wonderful cast who support each other and grow together, fuelled by evenings in the local pub after the class is over.

In all this, Lucy Diamond had made great use of dialogue and dialect to draw loveable pictures of each of them for us to enjoy.
It's a sparkling book to read any time and you can even learn a few words of Italian as each chapter is headed up with the title in Italian as well as English!

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Class by Jenny Colgan, writing as Jane Beaton - An up-to-date yet nostalgic, novel about boarding school life by the sea

What girl didn't like Enid Blyton's boarding school books: Malory Towers, The Twins at St Clare's, or The Naughtiest Girl in the School?
I loved them, and so did Jenny Colgan -  so much that she decided to write her own school series for grown-ups, set in the twenty-first century, not the Forties and Fifties, and telling the story of the teaching staff as well as the girls. The first ones were published a few years ago, by Jane Beaton, but nobody knew that she was really Jenny Colgan as they were quite different from her usual books. Now they've been republished with Jenny Colgan boldly on the cover for us all to enjoy!
Class: Welcome to the Little School by the Sea  is set at a fictional school in Cornwall with four towers. Sounds familiar? Enid Blyton based Malory Towers on Lulworth Castle in Dorset (Wikipedia).
The main characters are:
Maggie Adair, from Glasgow, who applies for a teaching post at Downey House School to get some experience of teaching girls who want to learn instead of the indifferent students at the local comprehensive, is amazed to get the job.
Dr Veronica Deveral, the headteacher, who needs to keep the school successful to ensure it receives certain funding, is being besieged by the inspectors, and on a more personal level has a secret that she's kept close to her heart for many years.
Felicity Prosser, known as Fliss, doesn't want to leave her friends in Guildford and follow in her elder sister's footsteps to Downey House, and sets out to do all she can to be sent home (a bit like Elizabeth Allen in The Naughtiest Girl in the School!).
Alice Trebizon-Woods, who befriends Fliss and sets out to lead her astray.
And Simone Pribetich, a scholarship girl, who is so proud to have a place at Downey House, but finds it so hard to fit in, no thanks to Alice and Fliss.
Add Stan, Maggie's devoted boyfriend back in Scotland and David McDonald, the handsome English master from the neighbouring boys' school (and his dog!), and you have a wonderful story of the ups and downs of life at Downey House.
If you're looking for an up-to-date, yet nostalgic, novel about boarding school life by the sea, this is the book for you!
And if you want to know what happens next, Rules: Things are Changing at the Little School by the Sea, is also out now, and there are four more to come. Now where's my torch so I can get reading under the bedclothes?!