Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers
Published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson 2020
How best to describe this book? Should I refer to the many household hints, even though they’re not the real focus of the story? Probably not, but if I say it’s a mystery you might imagine a crime novel. However, to call it a romance would give quite the wrong impression (I think), so I’ll stick with saying it’s all of the above. It’s also a unique and original story. After all, how many of us have encountered the word parthenogenesis, never mind read a novel built around it?
Sad, funny, unexpected and worthy of the many pages of positive reviews on and inside the cover.
Jean is nearing 40 and only her job as a journalist on a local newspaper gives her any measure of freedom from life with a mother to whom she is tethered by a mix of love, pity and guilt.
One day a letter arrives on the editor’s desk. It outlines something which is both unexpected and unlikely. Does that make it newsworthy? Is it worth trying to find out more? Is it even true? Maybe the opportunity to unravel this most improbable of stories will offer Jean an escape from her drab and largely uneventful life of disappointment.
A sensitively written, compassionate story, set in an era of repression and lost opportunity. Absolutely outstanding.