Showing posts with label romantic novels. Show all posts
Showing posts with label romantic novels. Show all posts

Friday, 24 August 2012

Friday book review - Monday to Friday Man by Alice Peterson

Alice Peterson must have been stunned when her sweet romantic novel about a group of dog walkers soared to the top of the Kindle charts in the UK this week. And she was probably even more flabbergasted to learn that her book, Monday to Friday Man, had knocked the third instalment of Fifty Shades of Grey into second place.

I was so intrigued by her feat (echoes of David and Goliath) that I immediately downloaded Monday to Friday Man to my Kindle. It’s available in book form, but the e-book is currently selling on Amazon for 20p.

Monday to Friday Man is Peterson’s third novel and tells the story of 30-something Gilly Brown, whose fiancé jilts her two weeks before their wedding. Devastated by his rejection and struggling to make ends meet, Gilly fleetingly considers moving to the wilds of Dorset, then hits on the idea of renting out her spare room during the week. It works a treat when the glamorous Jack Baker turns up on her doorstep.

Jack is a hotshot TV producer working on an X Factor-type show called Stargazer and most of Gilly’s friends think he’s a real catch. Except, that is, her dog Ruskin, who is deeply suspicious, and the enigmatic Guy, the newest member of Gilly’s dog-walking group.

Peterson, whose promising career as a tennis player was ended by rheumatoid arthritis at 18, was inspired to write her book by Darcy, her beloved terrier. She walks him in London’s leafy Ravenscourt Park with friends – many of whom are name-checked in her acknowledgements.

If you’re after a literary tome, then Monday to Friday Man isn’t the book for you. But as an antidote to the torrent of erotic novels being published in the wake of Fifty Shades of Grey, it’s an easy and at times touching read. Even though the romantic storyline is predictable, Gilly’s fractured family background and childhood loss are moving and convincingly told.

Monday to Friday Man has sold more than 500,000 copies since the novel was published on July 21 and looks set to sell many more. Peterson will be hard pressed to match EL James’s 40 million global sales, but all the same, she’s doing pretty well…

Friday, 18 May 2012

Jane Lovering wins Romantic Novel of the Year award

Glamour, champagne, pink balloons and sky-high heels – all the hallmarks of a fabulous Romantic Novelists’ Association party were firmly in evidence last night.

I was lucky enough to be invited to the RNA’s summer bash in London, where Sky News presenter Kay Burley was on hand to present the prestigious Romantic Novel of the Year award.

Kay, whose second book, Betrayal, is out next week, wore a chic, sleeveless dress and confessed that she was still learning her craft as a novelist. “Romance is so difficult to write,” she said, “especially if you have a teenage son who is embarrassed at everything you do.” She added that romantic fiction is one of the biggest-selling genres today and the minute she got home she was going to get all five shortlisted romantic novels on her Kindle. “It’s no surprise my name isn’t on the shortlist,” she quipped. “But there’s always next year.”

Kay whizzed through the five contenders – Christina Courtenay, Katie Fforde, Caroline Green, Jane Lovering and Rosie Thomas - at top speed and then declared the winner. It was debut author Jane Lovering, for Please Don’t Stop the Music. I reviewed Jane’s novel a week or so ago and it’s a pacy, snappily-written novel that boasts some great laugh-out-loud moments and some dark moments too. I warmed to Jane immediately when she scooped RNA’s romantic comedy novel prize a couple of months back and declared: “It’s taken me 25 years of writing to publish a book. If I can do it, anybody can. So go for it, girls!”

But no one looked more stunned than Jane (above) last night when she was announced as the Romantic Novel of the Year winner and Kay Burley presented her with her prize – a large glass trophy.

“Oh my God,” said Jane shakily, her bright red hair gleaming under the lights. “Don’t give me a big glass bowl. Me and a big glass bowl aren’t a good idea. If anyone had told me ten years ago in the middle of single parenthood and small children that I was going to win this award I would have wet myself. Quite frankly I still might!’”

Last night was a double celebration for Jane, a mother of five who works part-time as a science technician at a North Yorkshire secondary school. It was her daughter’s 16th birthday the same day and she was there to see her mum’s fantastic win. She must have been SO proud…

PS. As well as the Romantic Novel of the Year award, the party also saw the presentation of the RNA’s annual prize for the best in new writing. This year’s Joan Hessayon New Writers’ Scheme Award went to Evonne Wareham for Never Coming Home.  

Please Don’t Stop the Music by Jane Lovering (Choc Lit, £7.99)
Never Coming Home by Evonne Wareham (Choc Lit, £7.99)

Saturday, 21 May 2011

The fabulous RNA

Romantic fiction often gets slated – largely due, as Joanna Trollope once said, to snobbery and the genre’s pink covers, embossed lettering and “cartoon drawings of cocktail glasses and handbags and ditsy girls falling off their designer heels.”

But so much of the criticism is downright unfair. A total of 25 million romantic novels are bought by readers in the UK every year and romantic fiction boasts some of the most talented writers around. Marian Keyes, for instance, is a wonderful novelist and has covered everything from domestic violence and depression to alcoholism and dementia in her ten bestselling books. If you haven’t read Last Chance Saloon or The Other Side of the Story by the way, you are in for a treat.

But I digress. I had to write this blog after reading Claudia Connell’s sneery piece about the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s summer party in today’s Daily Mail. She claimed it made her feel as though she’d “accidentally stumbled into the Annual General Meeting of the Jam Makers and Knitted Toy Association” and described the guests as “the kind of ladies you’d find working in charity shops or arranging the church flowers.”

RNA members were outraged by her remarks. And I’m not surprised. I’m not an RNA member but I’ve been to lots of their parties and they’re a fabulous group of novelists, not at all the type she describes.

They’re impossible to pigeon-hole either. They range from young to old, from ultra-glam to not-so-glam and from writers just starting out to novelists whose books fly into the bestseller lists the minute they’re published.

New chair Annie Ashurst, for instance, is not only a highly successful Mills and Boon author (she writes as Sara Craven) but also a former Mastermind champion and member of the RNA team that stormed through to the final of University Challenge – the Professionals a few years back. Outgoing chair Katie Fforde has just had her 16th novel, Summer of Love, published to great acclaim while press officer Catherine Jones, aka Kate Lace, will see her 15th book, Gypsy Wedding, hit the book shops in August. Between them they’ve shifted loads of books over the years – and helped countless RNA members along the tricky road to publication too.

The image shows the cover of Fabulous at Fifty, a history of the RNA's first 50 years.
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