Chicklit Club
 

STELLA NEWMAN

 

The Dish (2015)

aka The Foodie's Guide to Falling in Love
 

Laura Parker is the anonymous critic behind the popular restaurant column, The Dish. She's just been given her main assignment - a glamorous, uber-luxurious new establishment called LuxEris. But it's far from a luxury experience, and Laura vents all in her review. When she meets Adam Bayley, she seems to have struck lucky. It all seems too good to be true and it is ... for Adam just happens to be a chef at none other than LuxEris. I've been looking forward to a new book from Stella Newman for some time and she absolutely didn't disappoint. She has a wonderful knack for creating believable female characters and witty repartee and once again she delivers. Not only is Laura believable as a person but also as a food critic, and the snippets of her reviews showcase Newman's own impressive talents in this area. Despite the foodie theme, the novel never becomes overwhelmed by it, as is the failing in other novels of this kind, and I loved that the story wasn't just a love story, a foodie read, a family drama, but all of these and more and all juggled superbly well. There were moments of frustration when you could see how things are going to pan out but have no power to change them, but by and large the plot is satisfying and enjoyable. Newman goes from strength to strength and serves chick lit that is haute cuisine. (JC) 8/10


 

Leftovers (2013)

 

According to a magazine feature, at 36, single and plodding along in her career, Susie Rosen is a Leftover. But when she's given the project of launching a new brand of pizzas in a nationwide supermarket chain, it seems that her promotion is just around the corner. But to get there she has to make a success of it, which means meeting impossible deadlines, managing inflated egos and trying to ensure damage limitation. Then there's the matter of her love life. Despite her boyfriend cheating on her, Susie has never quite gotten over him and these days she is consigned to the role of wing-woman for her stunning friend Rebecca, meaning that she ends up chatting awkwardly to the hot guy's friend whilst Rebecca gets chatted up by the hot guy. The one thing that keeps her going throughout is food and her grandmother's philosophy that there is a pasta shape and sauce for every situation. And as soon as she gets this promotion she plans on quitting her job and turning her love for food into a career. There's just that small matter of the promotion. This is the first Stella Newman book I've read and I found her writing witty and engaging. Susie is a great, contemporary heroine and the situations that Newman puts her in both in her work and her personal life are hugely entertaining. I was a bit disappointed by the romance in the novel, and in particular the way her relationship with her old high school boyfriend just sort of fizzles out, but much of the novel is about the pitfalls and realities of being single in your mid-30s and the focus is more on Susie's career. This is a funny and honest story and I'll certainly be following the author's work from now on. (JC) 7/10


 

Pear Shaped (2012)

 

Sophie Klein starts dating James Stephens after meeting him at a bar. He's older than her, has more money and travels a lot for his business selling socks. But, their differences aside, Sophie is smitten from the beginning. James seems like the perfect man, even though her friends don't feel like he is. First off, he hangs around with men who are cheaters and secondly he is afraid to commit - something which Sophie notices down the line. His constant business trips and the fact he only calls once in a while to set up a date don't sit well with Sophie, either. Then, James starts to belittle Sophie. It starts out with small things but then it gets worse when he says he just can't get past her weight. For a man used to dating models, the average-sized Sophie (who happens to taste pudding for a living) is a little bit different - too different for James. At the end of the day, James breaks things off and Sophie goes a little crazy. It's a story that will most likely be relatable to many women but the main characters are missing something and it's hard to pinpoint what it is exactly. For a debut, however, it is a strong one that just needed to work out a few kinks in order to be great. (AS) 6/10

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