Small Pleasures (Hardback)Clare Chambers (author)
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A frustrated reporter and a potential Virgin birth inform the subtly absorbing narrative of Small Pleasures; a delicate, tender story about belief, credulity and tilting at happiness.
Longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2021
1957, south-east suburbs of London.
Jean Swinney is a feature writer on a local paper, disappointed in love and - on the brink of forty - living a limited existence with her truculent mother.
When a young Swiss woman, Gretchen Tilbury, contacts the paper to claim that her daughter is the result of a virgin birth, it is down to Jean to discover whether she is a miracle or a fraud.
But the more she investigates, the more her life becomes strangely (and not unpleasantly) intertwined with that of the Tilburys: Gretchen herself, her husband Howard - with his dry wit and gentle disposition - and her charming daughter Margaret.
But they are the subject of the story Jean is researching for the newspaper, a story that increasingly seems to be causing dark ripples across all their lives. And yet Jean cannot bring herself to discard the chance of finally having a taste of happiness.
But there will be a price to pay - and it will be unbearable.
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Number of pages: 352
Weight: 564 g
Dimensions: 238 x 162 x 34 mm
'This is one of the most tender, beautiful books I have ever read. Please, please order it now for July. I honestly don't want you to be without it. It is exquisite.' - Lucy Mangan
'Quietly remarkable... Small Pleasures is no small pleasure.' - Andrew Billen, The Times
'There's compassion and quiet humour to be found in this tale of a putative virgin birth in postwar suburban London... Chambers's eye for drab, undemonstrative details achieves a Larkin-esque lucidity.' - Alfred Hickling, Guardian
'An irresistible novel - wry, perceptive and quietly devastating.' - Hephzibah Anderson, Mail on Sunday
'A beautiful and moving read set in 1950s suburbia that'll be on bookseller tables across the land this summer' - Francesca Brown, Stylist
'This is a dazzling, exquisitely written story of how happiness and even love can find us when we least expect it.' - Sarra Manning, RED
'There are small pleasures aplenty in Clare Chambers' quietly observed, 1950s-set story... Chambers' novel combines a startling storyline with an engagingly nuanced portrait of post-war suburban femininity.' - Claire Allfree, Metro
'A stunning novel to steal your heart.' - Woman & Home
'Clare Chambers is that rare thing, a novelist of discreet hilarity, deep compassion and stiletto wit whose perspicacious account of suburban lives with their quiet desperation and unexpected passion makes her the 21st century heir to Jane Austen, Barbara Pym and Elizabeth Taylor. Small Pleasures is both gripping and a huge delight. I loved what she did with the trope of the claim of a virgin birth, and how the hope of a miracle opens the door to love, kindness and hope in an arid existence. This is better than Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and deserves just as much acclaim.' - Amanda Craig, author of The Lie of the Land
'A wonderfully compassionate imagining of the post-war years, darned with the fine skeins of love.' - Kerry Fowler, Sainsbury's Magazine
'I loved this novel, which simmers with repressed emotions, and the gut punch of an ending really stayed with me.' - Jo Finney, Good Housekeeping, Book of the Month
'The glorious literary equivalent of pulling the duvet over your head... Both an absorbing mystery and a tender love story - and the ending is devastating. Chambers is a writer who finds the truth in things. If you admire Tessa Hadley or Anne Tyler (and there are shades of Barbara Pym too), then this is one for you.' - Alice O'Keefe, The Bookseller, Book of the Month
'I adored Small Pleasures. It's engrossing and gripping: you want to race on and relish every sentence at the same time. I love the way Clare writes - her wry, subtle turns of phrase, the humour in the smallest of observations, the finely drawn characters. A wonderful book' - Sabine Durrant, author of Lie with Me
'Small Pleasures is a tender and heart-rending tale that will draw you in from the first page and keep you gripped until the very end. Exquisitely compelling!' - Ruth Hogan, author of The Keeper of Lost Things
'Small Pleasures is a gorgeous treat of a novel: the premise is fascinating, the characters beautifully drawn and utterly compelling, the period setting masterfully and delicately evoked, and the plot is full of unexpected twists and turns. And oh, the finale broke my heart. I just couldn't put this novel down.' - Laura Barnett, #1 bestselling author of The Versions of Us
'Small Pleasures is the best sort of book: full of longing, regret and difficult emotions but leavened with so much warmth and humour it was a joy from start to finish.' - Francesca Jakobi, author of Bitter
'Hauntingly tender, and written with powerful grace, Clare Chambers's Small Pleasures is an absolute joy from start to finish... Laying bare a quivering three-way tug between obligation, propriety and passion, and the inexplicable way thunderbolt-bonds are formed between similar-souled individuals, Jean's conflicts and chance to love truly get under your skin. What a remarkable book, with a dagger-sharp climax that will pierce your heart.' - Lovereading - July Picks of the Month and a Star Book
'A devourable mystery with a side order of love story set in 1950s suburbia.' - Rosamund Dean, Grazia
'A delicious mystery and a touching exploration of loneliness and desire in cloying 1950s suburbia - a great read.' - Sally Magnusson, author of The Sealwoman's Gift
'The must-read uplifting book of the summer.' - West End Lane Bookshop
A gentle, heart-aching mystery that's infused with empathy and a keen understanding of stifling 1950s mores.' - Stephanie Cross, Daily Mail
'The author's first novel in almost 10 years is so good it made me want to read her entire backlist!.. An enticing read.' - Nina Pottell, Prima
Praise for Clare Chambers:
''Clare Chambers is a diamond in the dust' - Independent on Sunday
'Clare Chambers' characters are so vivid that, by the end of the book, they feel like old friends' - Daily Mail
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“Unexpected second chances and secrets...”
If you haven’t read anything by Clare Chambers, “Small Pleasures “ is the one to start with.
I absolutely adored this book, everything from the characters, storyline, humour and the accurate details from history. It... More
“An absolute delight”
I've read several of Clare Chambers' previous books and loved them. I've been hoping for a new book for some years and at last here it is! Small Pleasures is an absolute triumph.
It's 1957. Jean... More
I really enjoyed this and found the focus on this was done so precisely. The main narrative was twisty and turny and this had a fantastic element that was both a mystery but also had a soft and gentle tone to it. The... More
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