It’s Spring!!!

Welcome to my monthly newsletter for March 2024

In an ideal world, I’d have captured these bluebells in my local wood basking in full sun with a glorious blue sky as a backdrop. As it turns out, I’m just grateful it wasn’t raining. But enough moaning about the weather. I have resolved to stop. (For another resolution made this week check out my Random Thought here.) No more.

So, what’s new with me? Well, I can’t keep on top of the weeds in my garden. There just aren’t enough hours in the day or resolve in the spirit to do it. I’m starting to wonder how bad weeds really are – I mean, will lives be lost if I don’t eradicate them? And I have planted out all my little baby veg plants and those beds are weed free – for now!

Where have I been?

As I mentioned last time, this month I was in Tuscany leading a Writers’ Retreat. I had a fabulous time and met some fascinating women. I suspect I might have learnt more from them than I taught them. The joy of any of these intensive experiences is that you get so much more bang for your buck than if you all just went out for coffee together once a month. As trust builds and barriers are lowered, people become much more open and share their amazing experiences and wisdom. What begins with a bunch of strangers ends as a team with a very special bond. It’s a wonderful process.

I went up the Torre del Mangia in the main square of Siena for the first time. I do like a high place. The views were fabulous and the square looked a long way down. I also went back to the library in the cathedral with its incredible illuminated manuscripts. Breathtakingly beautiful. As ever, there are many photos over on Instagram but here are a few to give you a taste.

Book News

As I promised last month, I now have more details about my forthcoming book A Borrowed Path. It will be published on 24th September and if pre-ordering is your thing then you can do that HERE.

Here’s a little taster of what the book is about.

Eve has always had a tricky relationship with her mother, Agatha, and returning to Fox House, the family home, hasn’t made it any easier. When Eve’s daughter, Lyra, and granddaughter, Skye, unexpectedly turn up, it becomes clear that four generations of women under one roof is a recipe for trouble. Not least because Lyra clearly needs help but refuses to say why.

Lyra decides she wants to live in the ramshackle cottage in the grounds, but when Agatha announces she’s promised it to a man called Dylan, Eve and Lyra are mystified. Who is he, and what reason could Agatha possibly have for giving him the cottage?

Because it seems that it’s not only Lyra hiding things. Agatha has secrets she has never had the courage to tell Eve. Is now the right time to finally reveal the truth? And if she does, will it give them the relationships they’ve all longed for—or will it drive them further apart?

Being both a daughter and now a mother of three girls, the relationship between mothers and daughters fascinates me. In this book, I really wanted to explore the Philip Larkin poem This be the Verse. If you’ve never read it then you can find it here. When I first came across it I didn’t have any children and, in the self-absorbed way of the young, I thought about what my parents had done to me in the way they brought me up. (I know! So introspective!)

But now I am a parent for four adult children myself, the poem takes on a completely different hue and has haunted me a little. It’s the conviction with which Larkin states that I will have done something to them, the inevitability of it that I find disturbing.

Anyway, I wrote a book about it – kind of.

But before then, though, we have a new Izzy Bromley title to look forward to! Table for Five will be published on 24th June and here’s the blurb for that one in case it tickles your fancy.

Abbie Finch loves her job.

Unfortunately, her boss doesn’t love her.

When she finds herself unexpectedly unemployed, Abbie realises that she’s let all her friendships fall by the wayside and has no one to turn to.

Lost and lonely, Abbie decides to leave her comfort zone and join the neighbourhood café’s community table. There she meets aloof, elegant Ethel, down-on-his-luck Bob, colourful, chaotic Dawn and recently relocated Viraj. Friends? Not yet. But when they decide to help the homeless people in their community by staging an extravagant fundraising event, will something that began as a good deed help Abbie find a way back to herself—and make lifelong friends at the same time?

This one is also available to preorder.

At the moment, I’m in the thick of writing the book for 2025, currently titled A Question of Loyalty. I’m spending a lot of my imagination time in Sicily in the 1980s which I’m enjoying. I was there then and you can read about that in a Substack Random Thought here.

One of the things I do when I’m writing is to research things as I go along. They generally have something to do with the story but often not much. At the end of the day, I close all the pages down on my browser and I often smile at how random they are. So just at the moment, I’m posting the most random of the random research pages on my Facebook page. The algorithm really isn’t going to know what to do with me when I’ve finished but I’m having fun.

What have I read?

It’s been a proper mixed bunch this month but here are four that you might enjoy.

This month’s recommendations.

My Favourite Mistake by Marian Keyes is a glorious romp through the life of Anna Walsh. Daisy Buchanan said it was ‘furiously funny and stealthily profound’ and I really can’t top that. Like all Marian Keyes’ books, she covers difficult subjects with a feather-light touch and the Walsh family stories are all glorious. In fact, in reply to a recent reader post in my Book Café asking which literary character I would like to come to dinner, I requested any member of the Walsh family. I love them all.

A Change of Climate by Hilary Mantel is also about families but goes about telling its story in a very different way. Mantel writes with gentle humour as well but, as you might expect, this is much more literary in style and asks if there any transgressions that can never be forgiven. The story shifts between modern day Norfolk and an ill-fated mission in South Africa and looks at the deterioration of a marriage under the strain of a tragedy.

Karma by Boy George is the pop icon’s second autobiography but as he says himself, he has learned a lot since he penned the first one. From his childhood in 60s London in a big Irish Catholic family to the present day, he writes with great humour and self-awareness and a raw honesty about his mistakes. I was fascinated by his descriptions of the end of the 70s when culture was on the cusp of huge change. Because of my age, I recognised most of his references making it a trip down memory lane for me. I listened to him narrate the book and love how he bursts into spontaneous laughter at his own absurdity.

A disclaimer on this next one. Victoria Connolly is a friend of mine but I so enjoyed her new book that I wanted to recommend it. Introvert Abroad is a travel memoir about Victoria’s recent forays into solo travel. I don’t think she’ll mind if I say that her naivety about how airports work is totally charming, but despite her lack of experience she can be surprisingly brave when she wants to be. As someone who travels a lot on her own I really enjoyed sharing Victoria’s adventures.

And that’s your lot for this month.

Coming up in May I have a walking holiday in Türkiye, a new country for me. There seem to be an awful lot of hills on our route so I’ll let you know how I get on. As ever, please check out my Instagram for photos and my Facebook page for chat. And if you’re looking for a warm community with fab book recommendations then pop over to our Book Café.

So, until next month, happy reading.