5 November 2007

Little White Lies

I got quite tipsy with Bernadette Strachan once after she had been Guest of Honour at a lovely little Afternoon Cream Tea that Hodder kindly put together for the Waterstones Chick Lit Forum at The Charlotte Street Hotel. (Oh happy happy days….) We had a lovely evening putting the world to rights over several glasses of wine and she revealed, amongst other things, that her husband wrote the duh duh duh duuuuuh music for “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”

That fact aside – I have been a fan of Bernie and her writing since The Reluctant Landlady in 2004. So when I left my (smuggled out of Hodder Towers) proof of Little White Lies in a friends car for nearly a month I was gutted…

Thankfully, said friend finally dropped it back last week, so having been traumatised by Child 44, I was over the moon to be able to get stuck in.

It’s adorable. My only criticism of Bernie's last book (Diamonds and Daisies) was that for some unspecific reason I couldn’t stand her leading lady (Sunny). Not so with Little White Lies.

Billie Baskerville is summoned by her Aunt Babs to deepest, darkest Sussex. Aunt Babs is going to Australia on a OAP-GAP year, and needs Billie to take over running her wedding dress shop. Putting a cynical, groom-hating, wedding-loathing, bride-detesting girl in charge of such a shop should be a disaster waiting to happen, but Billie can't help but get swept away with the romance of her customers and with village life. She gives the shop a much-needed makeover and starts rebuilding her life again.

Scattered with very funny characters – the illustrator Gay Best Friend, hippy chick Dot and Chav Debs, together with Billies “actress” mother and inspirational speaker brother – Bernie has written a PROPER laugh-out-loud-in-places book. I chuckled a lot whilst reading this, even though I feel quite miserable at the moment – and was hooked till the end.

The end is however, very surprising. I won’t give anything away, but it all felt like a bolt out of the blue, and I’m not sure whether I wanted to happen, what did happen (if you see what I mean). But it doesn’t take away from the fact that Billie is a much much better character than Sunny – and I loved the whole “running away to find happiness” lesson…..if only I had my own Aunt Babs.

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