I used to be able to before I had kids, and work, and dishes and laundry, but since these little joys came into my life you can more often find me scanning a magazine, than reading a book. Which is a bit rubbish really, especially since I’m fairly keen on writing a book or two, and I have it on good authority that to write good books it helps if you read them!
So in the general mood of self-improvement, I’ve decided to rediscover this old love and set up a book review spot on the blog. As luck would have it, I was sent my very first review project shortly after this New Year resolution was made and last weekend I finally had some time to sit down and read.
I’d forgotten how wonderful it is to lose yourself in a good book – it’s the perfect antidote to the daily stresses.
Pear Shaped – Stella Newman
A novel about love, heartbreak and dessert.
This first novel by London writer Stella Newman is a delicious treat but comes with guilt-free bonus – the descriptions of puddings of the most unimaginably scrumptious kind, are food for the mind not the hips. It’s witty, wise and came with a free chocolate brownie recipe. What’s not to like?
Sophie Klein, Queen of the Puddings and typical thirty-something London girl, cannot stop herself from indulging in a relationship with the wrong kind of man.
The novel opens with: Two girls walk into a bar. There is no punchline.
What there is however, is a serious of bitter-sweet observations about relationships and how easy it is to be sucked in. Sophie is drawn to James, a charismatic though elusive older man who appears to be ready to settle down with a nice girl after a string of relationships with vapid hosiery model types. Of course, though Sophie is a nice girl, she is also a keen cook and not the type to push food around a plate. A conflict immediately arises between who the reader knows Sophie truly is and the player type we suspect James is.
The resultant car crash of a relationship is sad but recognisably survivable. Stella Newman writes poignantly about the total despair of heart break and then lifts the mood with the kind of self-deprecating humour that ensures the novel doesn’t slide into an EastEnders’ soap opera. The description of a very pissed dinner date later in the novel was absolutely priceless – it almost made me wonder if it had been lifted in its entirety from the writer’s own life.
Stella Newman’s characters are vividly drawn, and I found it easy to identify with Sophie despite the odd description of her being a curvy size 10 with ‘tits and an arse’. ‘Real curves,’ James tells her. Liar, liar pants on fire, the reader can’t help screaming at him. Yet I also wondered if short, size 1o girls really do have ‘real curves’ at all. It does seem to be an unusual body type, curvacious women tend to be size 12 or 14 at least, but maybe that’s just me being picky after eating all that Christmas ham!
It was ultimately heart warming to see Sophie’s character grow and eventually forgive, but my hope that James might be redeemed was the spur that kept me reading fast to the end. Would he finally realise his superficiality? Would there be a happy ever after, not just for Sophie, but for James also?
The description of Sophie’s yummy puddings were almost as satisfying as actually eating it, and the sharp observations of the food service industry and advertising and marketing industries were hilarious. Somehow I can imagine that a male ad exec somewhere has actually come up with an offensive brand name like Fat Cow!
It’s not surprising that soon after finishing the book I was keen to race out to my nearest M&S Food store to check out their puddings, or to look out for some of the haunts that Sophie had so lovingly described, on my next trip into London.
I enjoyed Pear Shaped and can happily report that I did indeed manage to consume the entire serving in one sitting.
Vegemitevixen Rating: 4/5
Ease of Read: Easy – able to read and enjoy whilst still occasionally nodding to children or partner’s requests Chick Lit – 5/5 Something for a long plane trip, or for losing yourself in on a cold winter’s afternoon.
Buy it now via Amazon. Click on the image link above.
Enjoy more of Stella Newman’s writing on her blog.