Book Review: The Single Ladies of the Jacaranda Retirement Village by Joanna Nell

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The Single Ladies of the Jacaranda Retirement Village

Blurb

A moving, funny, heartwarming tale of love and friendship, for anyone who loved The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold FryThe Keeper of Lost Things and Three Things about Elsie.

It’s never too late to grow old disgracefully …

The life of 79-year-old pensioner Peggy Smart is as beige as the décor in her retirement village. Her week revolves around aqua aerobics and appointments with her doctor. The highlight of Peggy’s day is watching her neighbour Brian head out for his morning swim.

Peggy dreams of inviting the handsome widower – treasurer of the Residents’ Committee and one of the few eligible men in the village – to an intimate dinner. But why would an educated man like Brian, a chartered accountant no less, look twice at Peggy? As a woman of a certain age, she fears she has become invisible, even to men in their eighties.

But a chance encounter with an old school friend she hasn’t seen in five decades – the glamorous fashionista Angie Valentine – sets Peggy on an unexpected journey of self-discovery. Can she channel her ‘inner Helen Mirren’ and find love and friendship in her twilight years?

My Review

The Single Ladies of the Jacaranda Retirement Village is a warm and uplifting book about love, friendship and the importance of growing old disgracefully.

79 year old Peggy Smart lives a beige and boring life at her retirement village. She is grieving for her late husband and growing increasingly frustrated with the way that her children and doctor are treating her as a frail old lady. She doesn’t want to be shipped off to a scary nursing home, and rightly so if you pay attention to what actually happens in those places! The only excitement in her life comes from her secret crush on an eligible bachelor until her old school friend Angie shows up at the Jacaranda Retirement Village and sets Peggy on a journey of self-discovery.

I enjoyed the ways that Peggy and the other elderly characters were portrayed as real people who were much more complex than almost any other elderly character I’ve come across before. Many of their issues and character arcs were related to their age, but they were so much more complex than that. It’s refreshing to see elderly characters depicted in this way and I commend Nell for the way she has crafted these realistic and lovable characters. I particularly enjoyed Peggy’s humorous Freudian slips and the politics that went on between the residents of the retirement village.

About the Author

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Joanna Nell

Joanna Nell is a Sydney-based writer and GP. Her bestselling debut novel The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village was published in 2018 with rights sold internationally. Her second novel The Last Voyage of Mrs Henry Parker was published 24th September 2019.

Joanna’s award winning short fiction has been published in a number of magazines, journals and short story anthologies including Award Winning Australian Writing. She has also written for The Sydney Morning Herald’s Spectrum and Sunday Life magazines.

Joanna’s third novel ‘The Great Escape From Woodlands Nursing Home’ will be in stores October 27th 2020!

Details

Published: September 25th 2018 by Hachette Australia

Source: Library

Read: Paperback

Pages: 400

RRP: $29.99

Goodreads

Purchase

March Wrap-Up: What a crazy month!

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March Wrap-Up. The stack on the left is the books I read in March, the stack on the right are some of the books I plan to read soon

My March Wrap-Up is running a little bit late, but I’ve been finding it difficult to figure out what I wanted to say this month given the circumstances. Like almost everybody around the world I’m still reeling from the shock of it all and I am just doing my best to muddle my way through.

In many ways I am one of the lucky ones. I’m safe at home with my partner, my cats, and plenty of food. I also have my own issues to deal with which might not be so obvious online, just the same as everyone else, and sometimes I haven’t been so great at coping. I’ve definitely been unkind, judgmental, whinged about relatively trivial things, struggled to get anything done, taken up pointless baking (and eating far too much of the results), developed a taste for gin, and let my email inbox get out of control.

However, I have also tried to do my best under difficult circumstances. I’ve tried really hard to continue to share as much book love, cat photos, and positivity as possible, I’ve worked together with my partner to come up with some ground rules so we can work together in our overcrowded house with an overloaded internet network, and I have rolled my eyes and scrolled past more ridiculous and deliberately nasty posts on social media in the past month than I normally would during an entire regular year.

I also managed to read some fantastic books and hosted the lovely Australian author Cassie Hamer for a guest post in which she wrote a lovely blog post about her favourite comfort read that is perfect for reading during difficult times like these. I’m hoping to make this a regular feature for authors and other bookish people to share their thoughts on their own favourite comfort reads, so please do get in touch if this something you would like to take part in too.

I truly do hope this post finds you all safe and well, wherever you may be, and that you are able to make some time for yourself to put your feet up and lose yourself in a good book every now and then. I know it’s difficult to manage at the moment, but it really does help, even if you just start off with a paragraph at time.

Books I Read in March

I only managed to read three novels, as well as bits of pieces of Rumi’s poetry in The Big Red Book. I haven’t written a review for The Big Red Book, but I highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t read it before. Rumi was born in 1207 on the eastern edge of the Persian Empire in what is now Afghanistan, and there is something so hopeful and magical about his poems that they still resonate today. I often come across short Rumi quotes on social media and they can often come across as a bit trite, but they really don’t do justice to the real thing. I can’t think of a better time to give Rumi’s poem a proper read!

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Rumi: The Big Red Book

The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa 

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The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

The Mothers by Genevieve Gannon 

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The Mothers by Genevieve Gannon

The Daughter of Victory Lights by Kerri Turner

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The Daughter of Victory Lights by Kerri Turner

My April TBR Pile

The End of Cuthbert Close by Cassie Hamer 

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The End of Cuthbert Close by Cassie Hamer

How to Grow a Family Tree by Eliza Henry-Jones

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How to Grow a Family Tree by Eliza Henry-Jones

Inheritance of Secrets by Sonya Bates  

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Inheritance of Secrets by Sonya Bates

Awakening by E.J. Dawson (Queen of Spades Book 1) 

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Queen of Spades Trilogy by E.J. Dawson 

 

 

 

 

 

The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan coming soon in 2020

I can’t wait to read the next installment of Dervla McTiernan’s Detective Cormac Reilly mystery series, The Good Turn. Coming to a bookshop near you in 2020!

‘With her third novel Dervla McTiernan confirms she’s a born storyteller’
Val McDermid

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The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan book cover

Award-winning, number one bestseller Dervla McTiernan has established herself as one of the biggest names in crime fiction, with both The Rúin and The Scholar garnering critical acclaim around the world and over 130,000 copies of McTiernan’s books sold in in Australia and New Zealand alone.

In 2020, McTiernan returns with her third Detective Cormac Reilly mystery, The Good Turn. Police corruption, an investigation that ends in tragedy and the mystery of a little girl’s silence – three unconnected events that will prove to be linked by one small town.

While Cormac Reilly faces enemies at work and trouble in his personal life, Garda Peter
Fisher is relocated out of Galway with the threat of prosecution hanging over his head. But even that is not as terrible as having to work for his overbearing father, the local copper for the pretty seaside town of Roundstone. For some, like Anna and her young daughter Tilly, Roundstone is a refuge from trauma. But even this village on the edge of the sea isn’t far enough to escape from the shadows of evil men.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Dervla McTiernan 

Dervla McTiernan’s debut novel, The Rúin, was published in 2018 and went on to become a huge international success, receiving rave reviews from both critics and readers. The Rúin, won the Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction, the Davitt Award for Best Adult Novel and the Barry Award for Best Paperback Original. It was shortlisted in two categories for the 2018 Irish Book Awards, for the 2019 Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards and the 2019 Australian Book Industry Awards, and longlisted for the 2019 Indie Awards. Screen rights for The Rúin have been snapped up by Colin Farrell’s production company and Hopscotch. Dervla’s second novel, The Scholar, debuted straight into the Nielsen Bookscan Top 5 on release in 2019, confirming her place as one of Australia’s best crime writers. Detective Cormac Reilly and his team have become firm favourites amongst readers and the crime fiction community, with Val McDermid, Don Winslow, Candice Fox, Jane Casey and Chris Hammer all devoted fans of McTiernan’s writing.

Dervla was born in County Cork, Ireland, to a family of seven. She studied corporate law at the National University of Ireland, Galway, and the Law Society of Ireland, and practiced as a lawyer for twelve years. Following the global financial crisis, she moved with her family to Western Australia, where she now lives with her husband and two children. An avid fan of crime and detective novels from childhood, Dervla now writes full-time.

For more information, please visit https://dervlamctiernan.com/

Instagram: @dervlamctiernan

Facebook and Twitter: @DervlaMcTiernan

Fabulous multi-generational fashion themed family saga DRESSING THE DEARLOVES by Kelly Doust (@KellyDoust) #BookReview

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DRESSING THE DEARLOVES by Kelly Doust

Goodreads Description

One crumbling grand manor house, a family in decline, five generations of women, and an attic full of beautiful clothes with secrets and lies hidden in their folds. Kelly Doust, author of Precious Things, spins another warm, glamorous and romantic mystery of secrets, love, fashion, families – and how we have to trust in ourselves, even in our darkest of days. One for lovers of Kate Morton, Belinda Alexandra, Fiona McIntosh and Lucy Foley. Failed fashion designer Sylvie Dearlove is coming home to England – broke, ashamed and in disgrace – only to be told her parents are finally selling their once-grand, now crumbling country house, Bledesford, the ancestral home of the Dearlove family for countless generations. Sylvie has spent her whole life trying to escape being a Dearlove, and the pressure of belonging to a family of such headstrong, charismatic and successful women. Beset by self-doubt, she starts helping her parents prepare Bledesford for sale, when she finds in a forgotten attic a thrilling cache of old steamer trunks and tea chests full of elaborate dresses and accessories acquired from across the globe by five generations of fashionable Dearlove women. Sifting through the past, she also stumbles across a secret which has been hidden – in plain sight – for decades, a secret that will change the way she thinks about herself, her family, and her future.Romantic, warm, and glamorous, moving from Edwardian England to the London Blitz to present day London, Dressing the Dearloves is a story of corrosiveness of family secrets, the insecurities that can sabotage our best efforts, and the seductive power of dressing up. 

400 pages
Published August 20th 2018 by HarperCollins
ISBN 1460705645 (ISBN13: 9781460705643)
RRP $16.99 AU (Kindle) $26.99 AU (paperback)

My Review 

Fabulous multi-generational fashion themed family saga! DRESSING THE DEARLOVES the second fashion themed novel by Australian author Kelly Doust, and you can really tell that she has a great love for vintage fashion and the stories they hold.

Sylvie Dearlove failed spectacularly in the cut-throat New York fashion design world. With her company bankrupt and her reputation in tatters she has no choice but to return to her family’s upper crust ancestral home in the English countryside. She is shocked to discover that Bledesford is even more run down than she remembered, her grandmother and family matriarch, Lizzie, is terribly ill and her parents seem to have no choice but to sell up and make way for boring and generic sub-divisions.

While helping her parents clean out the overflowing attic with the help of her best uni girlfriends Sylvie discovers more than just the high fashion of  five generations of her enigmatic and successful female ancestors. She also stumbles across a shocking family secret that  changes the way she feels about her family, what it means to be a Dearlove, and will alter her future plans irrevocably.

I loved the way that Doust tied the stories of the Dearlove ladies in with their clothing. I think it’s so true that the clothes we wear for special occasions do hold onto our stories and the way Doust writes about vintage fashion with such love is a wonderful reminder of the power of dressing up. 5 stars!

About the Author 

 

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Kelly Doust, author of DRESSING THE DEARLOVES

 

Kelly Doust is author of the novels Dressing the Dearloves (September 2018) and Precious Things, both published by HarperCollinsAlso A Life in Frocks, vintage fashion bible Minxy Vintage: how to customise & wear vintage clothing and The Crafty Minx series of craft books.

With a background in book publishing and publicity, Kelly has worked in the UK, Hong Kong and Australia, and has freelanced for Vogue, Australian Women’s Weekly and Sunday Life Magazine. She lives in Sydney with her husband and daughter, and works as a Lifestyle Publisher for Murdoch Books.

Website I Goodreads I Amazon US I Amazon UK I Amazon AU

Win a copy of WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LULULEMONS by Lauren Weisberger

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WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LULULEMONS by Laura Weisberger

Goodreads

New York Times bestselling author Lauren Weisberger returns with a novel starring one of her favorite characters from The Devil Wears Prada—Emily Charlton, first assistant to Miranda Priestly, now a highly successful image consultant who’s just landed the client of a lifetime.

Welcome to Greenwich, CT, where the lawns and the women are perfectly manicured, the Tito’s and sodas are extra strong, and everyone has something to say about the infamous new neighbor.

Let’s be clear: Emily Charlton, Miranda Priestly’s ex-assistant, does not do the suburbs. She’s working in Hollywood as an image consultant to the stars, but recently, Emily’s lost a few clients. She’s hopeless with social media. The new guard is nipping at her heels. She needs a big opportunity, and she needs it now.

Karolina Hartwell is as A-list as they come. She’s the former face of L’Oreal. A mega-supermodel recognized the world over. And now, the gorgeous wife of the newly elected senator from New York, Graham, who also has his eye on the presidency. It’s all very Kennedy-esque, right down to the public philandering and Karolina’s arrest for a DUI—with a Suburban full of other people’s children.

Miriam is the link between them. Until recently she was a partner at one of Manhattan’s most prestigious law firms. But when Miriam moves to Greenwich and takes time off to spend with her children, she never could have predicted that being stay-at-home mom in an uber-wealthy town could have more pitfalls than a stressful legal career.

Emily, Karolina, and Miriam make an unlikely trio, but they desperately need each other. Together, they’ll navigate the social landmines of life in America’s favorite suburb on steroids, revealing the truths—and the lies—that simmer just below the glittering surface. With her signature biting style, Lauren Weisberger offers a dazzling look into another sexy, over-the-top world, where nothing is as it appears

My Review

WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LULULEMONS is the perfect book to unwind, relax, and treat yourself to something indulgent.

Emily Charlton, everybody’s favourite assistant from Lauren Weisberger’s bestselling novel and major motion picture THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA is back! Emily has successfully developed her own company working as an image consultant to the stars. She is happily living in LA with her hunky husband, Miles, until she starts to lose her biggest clients to a young social media savvy rival. While Emily takes refuge in the suburbs of Connecticut with her former high-power lawyer turned full time mum friend, Miranda, she can’t help but take on a new client. Karolina Hartwell is a former supermodel in the midst of a nasty divorce with her husband, a newly elected New York senator with presidential aspirations. At first, Emily is bored and slightly horrified by the plastic surgery obsessed Lululemon wearing Connecticut housewives, but life in the suburbs begins to grow on her as the friendship between the three women develops.

WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LULULEMONS is a lighthearted and seriously funny look inside the glitz and glamour of the wealthy Connecticut suburbs filled with on-trend pop culture references. As Emily observed, this world is a lot like THE REAL HOUSEWIVES reality series with a bit less yelling. But, Weisberger successfully includes insightful social commentary on the craziness of this world, the importance of strong and supportive female friendships, and the ways our priorities and confidence in ourselves change as we grow older along with all the fun and action. I loved the guest appearance of the devil in Prada herself, Miranda Priestly, and it was nice to learn that she hasn’t changed a single bit.

Thank you to HarperCollins Publishers Australia for sending me a review copy.

Competition

I have a copy of WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LULULEMONS to one lucky Australian reader.

To enter, simply let me know in the comment section your favourite way to indulge yourself while you read.

Competition is open to Australian residents and entries will close July 24th, 2018.

Visit me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to increase your chances of winning.

 

#BookReview THE RULES OF BACKYARD CROQUET by Sunni Overend @SunniOverend

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THE RULES OF BACKYARD CROQUET by Sunni Overend

Goodreads Blurb

Disgraced fashion prodigy Apple March has gone into hiding, concealing herself within the cashmere and silk folds of a formerly grand fashion boutique – the hanging of blouses and handling of difficult patrons now her only concern. But when her sister Poppy needs a wedding dress, old passions are reignited … along with threats from her past.

As Apple finds herself falling for someone she shouldn’t, her quest to re-emerge becomes entangled in a time she wants forgotten, and life unravels as quickly as it began to mend.

From the cool heart of Melbourne to Paris and New York, in an effervescent world of croquet, Campari and cocoon coats, can Apple prevail over demons past to become the woman she was born to be?

My Review

THE RULES OF BACKYARD CROQUET is a fun and addictive romance novel set in my home town of Melbourne. Apple March is a disgraced former fashion student who is trying to put her upsetting past behind. When her sister asks her to make her wedding dress for her Apple’s past comes back to haunt her and disrupt the budding romance she maybe has going on with a handsome backyard croquet playing heir.

This novel is a perfect light read for when you’re in the mood for some fashion themed romance. Sunni Overend’s love for fashion is evident throughout the  book and she has done a brilliant job of bringing that world to life. I fell in love with the flamingo themed the second I laid eyes on it and had one of those great “aha” moments when I figured out why that flamingo was so perfect!

#BookReview ‘P is for Pearl’ by Eliza Henry-Jones @ehenryjones

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P is for Pearl by Eliza Henry-Jones

Goodreads Blurb

From the talented author of the celebrated novels In the Quiet and Ache comes a poignant and moving book that explores the stories we tell ourselves about our families, and what it means to belong.

Seventeen-year-old Gwendolyn P. Pearson has become very good at not thinking about the awful things that have happened to her family. She has also become used to people talking about her dead mum. Or not talking about her and just looking at Gwen sympathetically. And it’s easy not to think about awful things when there are wild beaches to run along, best friends Loretta and Gordon to hang out with – and a stepbrother to take revenge on.

But following a strange disturbance at the cafe where she works, Gwen is forced to confront what happened to her family all those years ago. And she slowly comes to realise that people aren’t as they first appear and that like her, everyone has a story to tell.

‘P is for Pearl is a complex, authentic exploration of grief, friendship, mental illness, family and love, sensitively written by a writer whose voice will resonate with teen readers.’ – Books+Publishing

My Review

Nobody writes about grief and trauma like Eliza Henry-Jones. With qualifications English, Psychology and grief, loss and trauma counselling Henry-Jones knows her stuff, but I think her writing skills transcend the basic knowledge she has gained. Every novel by this author seems to get right to the heart and soul of her characters and I am always able to relate to her characters almost as though she is writing about my own personal experiences.

P is for Pearl only really fits into the YA genre because the main characters are in high school, but readers of any age will relate to Gwendolyn’s story and her battle to unravel the mysteries of the past so that she can move on and heal her wounds. I know it seems strange to enjoy novels about grief and trauma, but Henry-Jones is so good at it. I found it remarkable to learn that the author wrote the first draft of this novel while she was in high school!

THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE by Muriel Spark #bookreview #tuesdaybookblog

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THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE by Muriel Spark

Goodreads Blurb

‘Give me a girl at an impressionable age, and she is mine for life…’

Passionate, free-thinking and unconventional, Miss Brodie is a teacher who exerts a powerful influence over her group of ‘special girls’ at Marcia Blaine School. They are the Brodie set, the crème de la crème, each famous for something – Monica for mathematics, Eunice for swimming, Rose for sex – who are initiated into a world of adult games and extracurricular activities they will never forget. But the price they pay is their undivided loyalty …

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is a brilliantly comic novel featuring one of the most unforgettable characters in all literature.

My Review 

Miss Jean Brodie is an eccentric Edinburgh teacher in the 1930s. She selects a set of six girls who are each famous in their own ways – Monica for mathematics, Eunice for swimming, Rose for sex – to take under her wing throughout their school years. Her ways of interacting with the girls begins quite unconventionally and progresses to extremely adult and inappropriate extracurricular activities. In return for Miss Brodie’s special treatment and the added style and popularity the girls receive as being part of the exclusive Brodie Set the girls remain completely loyal to their mentor until one of them betrays her in the worst possible way.

THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE is only a short novel, but I still found it a bit of the chore to read. Jean Brodie did have many comedic moments, but I just found her to be an incredibly irritating character. She was often cruel and childish and I could never figure out why she was so invested in her girls. I also wondered why none of the other teachers or the girls’ parents didn’t seem to notice there was something off about her.

This book is part of the David Bowie Reading Challenge #DBowieBooks

1. 1984

2. The Great Gatsby

3. The Gnostic Gospels

4. A Clockwork Orange

5. Lady Chatterley’s Lover

6. The Art of War

7. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Links

Goodreads

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon AU

 

Book #review: PERSON’S UNKNOWN by Susie Steiner @SusieSteiner1

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PERSON’S UNKNOWN by Susie Steiner

Goodreads Blurb

The sequel to Susie Steiner’s bestselling MISSING, PRESUMED

Manon has settled back into life in Cambridgeshire with her adopted son Fly. She’s perfectly happy working on cold cases until a man is stabbed to death just yards from the police station, and both the victim and the prime suspect turn out to be much closer to home than she would like. How well does Manon know her loved ones, and are they capable of murder?

My Review

MISSING PRESUMED is the sequel to the DS Manon series. You can read my review of the first novel of the series MISSING PRESUMED here. Manon Bradshaw has settled into the family life with her newly adopted teenager son, Fly. They have left London to settle in with her sister, Ellie, and Ellie’s young son in Cambridgeshire while Manon works the more boring, but far less dangerous and intense, cold case department and turns to IVF so that she can have her own child. Of course, things don’t remain dull and boring for long and Manon is caught up in a new murder mystery that seems to involve somebody from her happy little family.

I really enjoyed the mystery side of PERSON’S UNKNOWN. There were plenty of twists and turns and I was genuinely surprised when the killer was finally revealed. I did find the IVF pregnancy a little bit out of character for Manon and definitely, but overall it was a great crime thriller and will look out for the novel in the series. Four stars!

Links

Susie Steiner

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Amazon AU

The Scent of You by Maggie Alderson Book Review @MaggieA

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“A sweet romance and relationship focused novel set in the world of perfumery”

4/5 stars

Synopsis

Perfume blogger Polly is in crisis. Will her husband’s absence break her … or make her? A novel of perfumes, exploring life, love, loss and forgiveness – Maggie Alderson’s new bestseller.

Are you still married if you haven’t seen your husband for months?

Polly’s life is great. Her children are away at uni, her glamorous mother – still modelling at eighty-five – is happily settled in a retirement village, and her perfume blog is taking off. Then her husband announces he needs some space and promptly vanishes.

As Polly grapples with her bewildering situation, she clings to a few new friends to keep her going – Shirlee, the loudmouthed yoga student; Guy, the mysterious, infuriating and hugely talented perfumer; and Edward, an old flame from university.

And while she distracts herself with the heady world of luxury perfume, Polly knows she can’t keep reality at bay forever. Eventually she is forced to confront some difficult truths: about her husband, herself and who she really wants to be.

My Review

The Scent of You is a sweet romance and relationship focused novel set in the world of perfumery. Polly is a part-time yoga teacher and successful English perfume blogger. Her professor husband, David, abruptly left their home under mysterious circumstances leaving strict instructions not to look for him. Polly copes with the stress of David’s disappearance and her mother’s failing health with the help of her two children, Shirley, the blunt yoga student, Guy, the mysterious perfumer, and Edward (Chum), an old university boyfriend.

I enjoyed the detailed descriptions of all the lovely perfumes interspersed throughout the novel and loved Polly’s blog posts which linked perfumes with memories. The characters were all well-developed and likable, except for Polly’s husband and occasionally Polly herself. I couldn’t help but wonder how Polly had no idea of the issue David had been facing for so many years!

4/5 stars

Goodreads

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