Friday, 2 December 2016

Review: The Reading Group by Della Parker

The Reading Group by Della Parker

Published: 1st December 2016
Published by: Quercus

The Blurb

'Brims with laughs, love, family and friendship. You will love this heartwarming read!' Trisha Ashley.
Meet the Reading Group: six women in the seaside village of Little Sanderton come together every month to share their love of reading. No topic is off-limits: books, family, love and loss . . . and don't forget the glass of red!

December #1

Grace knows that the holiday season is going to be different this year. No turkey, no tinsel, no gorgeously wrapped gifts under the tree . . . how on earth is she going to break it to her little boys that Christmas is effectively cancelled? And can she bear to tell anyone her embarrassing secret? Enter the Reading Group: Grace's life might have turned upside down but there's no problem they can't solve.

January #2

Anne-Marie has always considered herself a bit of a matchmaker - never mind that she's only got one real success under her belt. And this year she's determined to up her game: Little Sanderton's singles could certainly benefit from her expertise!
But while Anne Marie thinks she knows what's best for everyone else, her own life couldn't be less of a fairytale romance. Between looking after her cranky father and running her own business, she doesn't have time for a relationship. Her friends in the Reading Group know better though: after all, love can be found in the most unexpected of places . . .

February #3

Kate has tried to be a good wife to her husband Anton. Ever since he got demoted at work - answering to a woman no less - Anton simply hasn't been the same. Kate wants to help, but as the months pass and Anton pulls away from her both emotionally and physically, Kate can't help but feel a bit abandoned.
Then Kate means Bob: the handsome, blue-eyed carpenter that Anton has hired to refurbish their kitchen. Kate instantly feels a powerful physical connection between them . . . but dare she risk her marriage for a man she barely knows?

My Thoughts

I was really excited to be asked to be part of the blog tour for Della Parker's new series of books, The Reading Group. I've been lucky enough over the last few years to run a reading group at work as well as belong to two outside of work. I adore reading and being able to spend an evening talking about books is fantastic although from my experience the first 20 minutes or so are dedicated to the book and the rest of the time is spent talking about anything and everything you can think of.

The Reading Group series is set in the small seaside village of Little Sanderton and looks at the lives of five women - Grace, Kate, Serena, JoJo & Anne-Marie. All five women are very different in terms of ages, backgrounds and relationship statuses but they are all linked by the friendship that they have discovered through the reading group. Each book is a short story focusing on a different group member and Della Parker cleverly links that month's reading group book to the woman whose story she is telling.

December as well as setting the scene for the series also gives us a little insight into Grace's life in the run up to Christmas with her and her family about to evicted from their home.Grace turns to her friends when she realises that sometimes you can't do things on your own. This was a lovely introduction to the reading group members but for me a little too short although it would be the perfect read with cup of tea and mince pie to get you in the Christmas spirit. December's book choice was The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Despite it being short it gave me the taste for the series and I was keen to read January to see what was in store for the next character.

January sees the turn of Anne-Marie, the youngest member of the group and this month's book is Emma by Jane Austen. Anne-Marie doesn't want for much in life, she has her own business despite her young age plus a penthouse apartment courtesy of her father but Anne-Marie feels as though something is missing. That something seems to be wanting to make other people happy and she feels that the best way to do that is through a spot of matchmaking which does lead to some rather amusing situations. I loved Anne-Marie as a character she's so warm and funny and everything she does is with the aim of helping others even if it does go a little bit awry sometimes. I'm really looking forward to seeing how her story develops in the other stories.

In February's offering we meet Kate who whilst married to Anton is starting to have some uncertainties about her marriage which are put even further into doubt when handsome Bob the builder turns up to fit her new kitchen. Is Kate just enjoying a little fantasy or is it something she is going to act on? I really enjoyed the will she won't she element of this story especially as February's book club pick is Lady Chatterley's Lover which fitted Kate's story perfectly. I'm intrigued to see where Kate is relationship wise as the series develops.

Overall I really enjoyed my time spent in Little Sanderton. Della's writing is warm and witty and has certainly left me looking forward to the next instalment when it comes out in January. I loved being introduced to a new character in each story and learning about them and I'm really looking forward to seeing where the other books take them on their journey. Della Parker does a brilliant job of exploring the themes of friendship and relationships and with the books all being short stories they are perfect for reading when you have a little bit of time and just wanted to be transported somewhere else for a little while. March is already on pre-order and I can't wait to learn more about JoJo and her absent husband.

About The Author

Della Parker lives in a Dorset village with her two large hounds.

Before becoming a writer she worked as a Customer Services Manager for a water company. Solving customer complaints is not a million miles away from solving plot problems, so Della thinks her former life was quite a good background for a writer. And of course there were the wonderful characters she met.

When Della is not writing she enjoys running marathons and going to the gym for long workouts. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have the time to pursue these worthwhile hobbies as often as she’d like to – as she much prefers writing!