Jo, Sarah and Carrie meet at the funeral of a common friend and despite being completely different, they quickly become friends. They decide to help each other make their wishes come true. Workaholic Jo wants to get over her fear of heights and hopefully find love but she is too busy trying to save her family shoe company. New mum Sarah wants to be made partner in the accountancy firm she works for but she feels guilty every time she leaves her son each morning. And housewife Carrie wants to lose weight and be able to wear a bikini in public if she just could stop eating. They embark on a journey to achieve their dreams, sharing secrets and questioning their life choices but through all of it their friendship stays strong.
I really enjoyed this book because you feel you can relate to the characters with their hopes, their dreams, their fears and their secrets. An enjoyable, moving and laugh-out-loud funny read. (NP)
Verity Bloom has lost her job and boyfriend on the same day. But things don't look so bad when an old friend calls asking for her help. Verity has known Gloria, her best friend's mother, all her life and now she needs her help with her cooking school. Although Verity hasn't cooked since her best friend and baking companion died two years earlier, she is happy to help out temporarily until she gets back on her feet.
Originally published as a four-part serial, this is an entertaining and delightful novel with a variety of lovely and colourful characters who not only made me laugh but also moved me a little too. It's a story of friendship and love but also food - my mouth was watering from all the delicious food described in the book! (NP)
Thirty-year-old Tilly Parker has been through a lot and she is ready to start anew and try to leave the past behind. She has moved to a new town where she hopes to build up a new peaceful life for herself. In order to give her something to do, she has got herself her own plot at Ivy Lane allotments. After her first few visits there, Tilly quickly realises that the Ivy Lane community wants nothing more than to welcome her with open arms and let her become a part of their group. Question is, is Tilly really ready to step away from the past and focus on the here and now?
I loved everything about Ivy Lane and I honestly couldn’t get enough of the characters and everything they go through together. Tilly is incredibly easy to like and I loved joining her on her journey and seeing her develop as a character. There is also a great collection of colourful characters, each with a different personality, ranging from all ages, who all come together at Ivy Lane allotments. I fell in love with quirky and outspoken Gemma, who owns the plot next to Tilly’s; handsome fire-fighter Charlie, and cute and friendly Alf. The author’s writing style is so warm, engaging and easy to read. I went through all kinds of emotions while reading this story, from laughing out loud to frustration to sadness. Even though I’m not the gardening type myself, I enjoyed the idea of an allotment and seeing how it brings people together. I also loved the different seasons and how this was reflected in the allotments and the different events taking place, such as Halloween, Christmas, bake sales in the sun. Ivy Lane is an incredibly warm, uplifting, charming read about friendship, family, and not giving up on life, even when the times get rough. Cathy Bramley is an author to watch and Ivy Lane is a read you do not want to miss! (JoH)
Sophie Stone is a thirty-something who is pretty content with her life. She has a job at the Herald newspaper, which she isn't too excited about but pays the bills; she has a boyfriend Marc, who seems to be fonder of her money than of her as a person, but he's really fit and good-looking; and she still lives in the same flat she has been living in for years, together with her roommates Jess and Emma. Sophie isn't the type of person who likes to step out of her comfort zone, but when she is dumped by Marc on Valentine's Day and is unexpectedly confronted with a family inheritance, Sophie realises it might be time for a change. Her great-aunt Jane, whom Sophie didn't even know existed, has left her a part of her inheritance, namely a bungalow. The trick is, though, that she can only receive her part of the inheritance if she meets up with her father, who abandoned Sophie when she was a baby. Sophie will have to make some life-altering decisions, and this time around, she can't simply hide away in a corner and hope everything will fix itself.
I instantly liked Sophie, and the same goes for most of the other characters. Roommates Emma and Jess, who are sisters, made me laugh out loud with their constant bickering and I think I fell just a tiny bit in love with Nick Cromwell, the architect Sophie gets in touch with. When first reading the blurb, I can imagine some people thinking that the plot of this book is perhaps a bit cliched and has been done many times already. However, I definitely think Cathy Bramley managed to give it her own twist, and I personally loved this tale and the characters at its core. This is her debut novel, and I am definitely looking forward to hearing more from her. Conditional Love is a warm, well-paced, fun novel, which I am sure any chick lit/romance fan will enjoy! (JoH)