Kate’s 5:2 Book Club

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In 2014, we started Kate’s 5:2 Book Club. On a Fast Day, sometimes you need distracting from any hunger pangs – so we’ve picked a great page-turning book every month to enjoy and discuss, on fast and normal days.

Hungry for a Great Read?

Book spines distorted

I’m a huge fan of fiction – and I write novels as well as the 5:2 books – so I wanted to share that passion, especially as I’m lucky enough to get to read some fantastic books ahead of publication. A book can take you to another world – where you won’t be tempted by snacks on a Fast Day!

Books – the ultimate indulgence on fast days…

Each month, there are three signed copies of the book given away in a mini-competition (sometimes UK only, sometimes in other countries too). We’ll include author interviews, excerpts, and then a chat page towards the end of the month where you can discuss what you thought of the book.

Kindle and kitty
Read on to join in!

Lucy Diamond talks to the Book Club

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One Night in Italy cover

 

We’re loving this month’s book club choice, One Night in Italy by Lucy Diamond – and she found time for a chat about her book, her inspirations and – of course – her favourite meals!

Lucy Diamond credit alexander james small

Lucy, tell us what the book is about?

One Night In Italy revolves around a group of people who are learning Italian at an evening class, and how their lives change as a result. The story follows three main characters, each with a personal connection to Italy, who form friendships, unearth secrets and come to terms with events of the past. There’s love, laughter… and LOTS of yummy Italian food. Don’t read it on a fast day!

What was the inspiration behind it?

I’ve tried all sorts of evening classes myself – cookery, Spanish, gardening, even adult gymnastics (seriously!) – and it’s always struck me what a random mix of people attend each time. I realised setting a book around an evening class allowed me to bring together characters whose paths might not normally cross. Plus, everyone loves all things Italian, right?!

How do you hope readers will feel after finishing the book?

I hope they will feel uplifted and happy – and maybe even inspired to sign up for a new evening class themselves… (Let me know if you do!)

What books do you LOVE to read? What are you reading right now?

My favourite authors are Kate Atkinson, Maggie O’Farrell and Jojo Moyes – all fantastic storytellers who get under the skin of their characters. At the moment, I’m enjoying a book I borrowed from my teenage daughter – The Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss. It’s really moving and well written; I’d definitely recommend it.

We love good food in the 5:2 Book Club – so what’s your favourite meal?

My favourite meal has got to be Christmas dinner: a good old roast with all the trimmings, and no guilt whatsoever about having seconds of everything. Funnily enough, my favourite scene in this book features a Christmas dinner, although I’m glad to say I’ve never experienced one quite like that myself!

What are you working on now? And where can we find out more about you?

I’m working on the edits of my next novel which will be out in January. And you can always come and say hello to me on my Facebook page – www.facebook.com/LucyDiamondAuthor – or chat to me via Twitter @LDiamondAuthor. Thanks so much for having me – I hope you all enjoy the book! x

 ***

 Thanks, Lucy – and don’t forget, we’ll be chatting about the book online in our book club, so do get your copy now, it’s on Kindle and in a very pretty paperback!

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A Taster of One Night in Italy

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One Night in Italy cover

 

The latest book we’ve chosen for Kate’s 5:2 Book Club is… One Night in Italy by Lucy Diamond. It’s a fantastic summery read to get you in the mood for summer, passion and pasta – but the story, and the memorable characters, also have real depth.

Would you like a seductive taster of One Night?

Then read on…

Prologue

Io ricordo – I remember

For years afterwards, whenever she thought about that summer in Italy, she remembered the scent first: the fragrant pink bougainvilleas around Lucca’s poolside bar mingling intoxicatingly with the tang of coconut sun oil and cigarette smoke. Back then, she was young and carefree, with a red dress, a devil-may-care attitude and the best tan of her life.

The air had shimmered with heat and a million possibilities.

Anything might happen.

On the day that everything changed, she had spread her towel on a sunlounger, peeled off her dress and sat down, adjusting the straps of her bikini. Then, just as she was about to lean back and relax, her skin prickled: a sixth sense, maybe.

Peering through her sunglasses, she noticed a man in the deep end of the pool, leaning against the side, his broad tanned arms gleaming with tiny water droplets. He seemed to be looking right at her. Was she imagining it or was he giving her the eye? She propped up her sunglasses to check, the world swinging into sudden brightness. He totally was giving her the eye. What was more, he was bloody gorgeous.

Heat flooded her body as they exchanged a long, loaded look. The clamour of the poolside seemed to vanish as if the world had been muted. All she could hear was the thud of her heart.

Oh, what the hell, she thought recklessly; she was single and on holiday and up for some fun. He might be all of those things too. Without a second thought, she winked at him. Her heart galloped as he grinned back, revealing perfect white teeth. And then he was pulling himself out of the pool, water streaming down his muscular arms: he was tall and athletic, early-twenties at a guess; golden skin and a crooked smile. As he straightened up, she couldn’t help noticing the way his swimming shorts just revealed the tops of his hip bones, and she shivered with sudden desire.

He walked over to her, beads of water still clinging to his body, his eyes never leaving hers. ‘Ciao, bella,’ he said, his voice low and husky.

Her blood drummed through her. Her breath caught in her throat. It felt as if this was the moment she’d been waiting for all summer. She raised an eyebrow flirtatiously and smiled back. ‘Ciao,’ she said. 

***

Can you resist reading on? One Night in Italy is available as an ebook and a lovely shiny paperback right now! And we’ll be chatting about it over in the 5:2 Book Club on Facebook at the end of June!

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Our next book… One Night in Italy

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One Night in Italy cover

I am delighted to announce that the next book in Kate’s 5:2 Book Club is…

One Night in Italy by Lucy Diamond.

It’s a fantastic summery read to get you in the mood for summer, passion and pasta – but the story, and the memorable characters, also have real depth and warmth.

I’m in love with all things Italian, so this book is perfect – and who doesn’t need a little literary tiramisu (pick me up!) at this time of year?

If you feel the same, then it’s your lucky day – we have three SIGNED copies of this lovely book to give away (UK readers only). And we’ll be chatting online about the book as we read, too.

Read on to find out how you can win one of three signed copies

The Book

How do you say “I love you” in Italian?

Is Italian really the language of love? A new class of students hopes to find out.

One Night in Italy cover

Anna’s recently been told the father she’s never met is Italian. Now she’s baking focaccia, whipping up tiramisu and swotting up on her vocabulary, determined to make it to Italy so she can find him in person.

Catherine’s husband has walked out on her, and she’s trying to pick up the pieces of her life. But she’ll need courage as well as friends when she discovers his deception runs even deeper than infidelity.

Sophie’s the teacher of the class, who’d much rather be back in sunny Sorrento. She can’t wait to escape the tensions at home and go travelling again. But sometimes life – and love – can surprise you when you least expect it.

As the evening class gets underway, friendships form and secrets from Italy begin to emerge. With love affairs blossoming in the most unlikely places, and hard decisions to face, it’s going to be a year that Anna, Catherine and Sophie will never forget.

  The Competition

All you need to do is send an email answering the question below, and remembering to put One Night Competition in the subject line. Also please add the postal address you’d like the book sent to, if you win. UK entrants only for this competition, I’m afraid.

Lucy Diamond credit alexander james small

Question: name one of Lucy Diamond’s previous novels.

Email: the52bookclub@gmail.com

The closing date is midday UK time on Tuesday 17 June so get your skates on – winners will be announced soon afterwards!

Or if you can’t wait that long, you can buy the  paperback or the ebook right now…

The Club – Hungry for a Great Read?

Cropped book club logo

 

I set up  Kate’s 5:2 Book Club because I love to read – and I know many people doing 5:2 do – it’s the perfect distraction from any fast day hunger pangs! Plus, a book can take you to another world – where you won’t be tempted by snacks on a Fast Day!

Joining in?

It’s as simple as keeping an eye out here, on our Twitter Feed (@the52diet) or in our 5:2 Book Group on Facebook  – hope to see you there!

Dear Thing – Book Club Discussion

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Dear Thing PB

 

At last, it’s time to get chatting about our May Book Club choice, the utterly compelling Dear Thing by Julie Cohen.  If you haven’t read it yet, then don’t read on but instead read our extract, or buy the book here.

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SPOILER ALERT – THIS DISCUSSION IS FOR PEOPLE WHO’VE READ THE BOOK, SO DO NOT READ ON UNLESS YOU’VE FINISHED IT!

Dear Thing – how was it for YOU?

What did you think about the book? I am passionate about Dear Thing, I must admit, and I found it moving and puzzling at the same time, as I fought with myself over what I wanted to happen. But now it’s over to you! adored it, and wanted to share it by putting it into the book club, but I can’t wait to hear what you think.  Help yourself to a glass or a cup of something nice and then share your thoughts about this novel…

Questions:

What did you think about the book?

Do you think that Claire and Ben want to have a baby for the right reasons?

Do you sympathise with Romily, or do you disagree with her decision to carry Ben and Claire’s baby? Why?

 ‘We are mothers. We do battle with nappies and Calpol. Look upon our offspring, ye mighty, and despair.’ What different kinds of parents and parent-figures did you notice in the book? Which can you most identify with? Do you think the portrayals are realistic?

 What do you think is the significance of the title? Does it refer to anything other than the letters?

What do you hope happens after the novel finishes?

Do feel free to add your own questions!

There’s no time limit on the discussion… I’d love to hear your views. To contribute, click on the ‘Comment’ button at the top of this post, next to the date.

Julie Cohen

PS: if you enjoyed this month, then you can read more about Julie and her books in our interview – and on her website, www.julie-cohen.com.

And keep an eye out on here and the 5:2 Facebook group for an announcement about our next book – it’s a fantastic summer read!

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Extract from Dear Thing, May’s book of the month

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Dear Thing by Julie Cohen is our 5:2 Book of the Month choice – it’s an emotional, intelligent, absorbing novel…read our interview with Julie here, or scroll down for an extract from the book…

 

Dear Thing PB

Dear Thing,

I want to tell you a story.

Once upon a time, when we still believed in wishes, there lived a prince and a princess. The prince was handsome and clever, and the princess was beautiful and good, and they were deeply in love.

That’s something you might ask about one day, when you’re older. What is love? Some people think it’s magic. Some people think it’s biology. In this case, the prince and his princess seemed meant for each other. It’s difficult to explain why; he liked football and she liked concerts. She liked old things, and he liked new. Their life together was a series of compromises. Maybe that’s what a happily ever after really is.

The prince asked the princess to marry him. Their wedding was a wonderful day, full of silver and gold and flowers and joy. The prince danced to ‘Boogie Wonderland’ and nearly knocked over the top table. I wish you’d been there to see it. In a way, you were there; the princess and the prince had certainly thought of you. They already wanted you. A perfect child, who would make their love complete.

But the years went by, and they went by, and you never appeared.

It’s not much of a fairy tale, is it?

 ***

Chapter One

A Little Secret

 The day before she was supposed to have the test, Claire escaped the music block so she could look again. Her suede boots spotted with wet as she walked across the frosty grass past the pet shed. Two lower school boys were checking on their guinea pigs, their breath rising in clouds. She raised a hand to them in greeting and headed for the small path leading into the wood that surrounded the school.

On the field a group of girls were playing hockey. As soon as she entered the wood, their cries of encouragement faded. She tightened her right hand around the objects in her pocket and quickened her steps. She skirted rhododendron bushes, pine needles releasing scent beneath her feet, until she reached the rusted iron gates tucked in a corner near the school boundaries. She pushed open the gate and walked into the cemetery.

The St Dominick’s students rarely came here. The one time she’d brought half a dozen A-level students, thinking it might give them some inspiration, they’d shuddered and told her that they’d been whispering scary stories about the nuns’ graveyard for years. There was a rumour about a crying lady, and another about a swirling mist. But in the light of day, the graveyard wasn’t frightening: sunshine streamed through the towering pines above and pooled around the grey stones. They were all different shapes and sizes, some very old, some recent. Although St Dominick’s school hadn’t housed nuns for many years now, sisters of the order who had moved elsewhere were occasionally buried here, where they’d started their lives of service. The newer graves towards the outside were low granite blocks. One or two had plastic flowers in baskets next to them.

Claire moved into the centre of the graveyard. The engraving on the stones here was nearly illegible. In the trees above, a magpie clattered.

She wore a woollen jacket. The left pocket held her phone. The right held two objects carefully wrapped in toilet paper. Claire looked around before she took them out, though she knew that she was alone. Not even a ghostly nun watched her unwrap the pregnancy tests.

She’d seen the blue lines already; they’d appeared almost immediately when she’d taken the tests, but that had been in the staff toilet, where the light wasn’t good. She couldn’t have been sure it wasn’t wishful thinking. Now, she held up the first test and squinted at the lines.

Positive. A clear, dark positive. Same with the second one. She hadn’t made a mistake.

She sank onto the grass, ignoring the cold and damp, staring at the tests on her lap.

She should ring Ben. And her mum. She wasn’t supposed to take a test yet. She and Ben had both agreed that it would be wisest to wait until she had the proper test, tomorrow morning at the fertility clinic.

But she couldn’t wait. All through the school day, through the mild rebukes to Year Seven to pay attention, please, through the rehearsals for the Easter term concert and the department meetings, she’d been thinking about one thing: her tiny embryo, hers and Ben’s, the single one inside her, the only one that was good enough.

Please take, she’d been thinking. Exactly as she’d been thinking for every minute of the past ten days since it had been introduced into her womb.

Please take. Driving to school. Brushing her teeth. Washing the glasses in the sink. Please take. Sharing dinner with Ben. The first thought waking up and going to sleep.

Hold on and live. I want to meet you.

(C) Julie Cohen 2014

Desperate to know what happens next? Then buy Dear Thing in paperback or ebook here.

Dear Thing author Julie Cohen talks to the club!

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Dear Thing PB

Julie Cohen is the author of Dear Thing – our fabulous fourth pick for Kate’s 5:2 Book Club. We’re reading this emotional drama about love, friendship and an impossible decision, throughout May – and we’ll be discussing it towards the end of the month. But first, read on to find out all about author Julie’s passions for seafood, stories – and Pixar movies: and about the devastating experiences that inspired her new book.

I saw the cycle of hope and despair. And difficult as it was, I wanted to write about these emotions and how they affected a woman’s self-image and her relationships with her husband, her friends, her colleagues, her family…

Julie Cohen

Welcome to the book club, Julie. Can you tell us about Dear Thing? 

It’s the story of Claire and Romily—perfect, beautiful Claire, who can’t have a child and desperately wants one; and geeky, disorganised single mum Romily, who offers to be a surrogate for Claire and her husband Ben. Using artificial insemination (well, a turkey baster) Romily gets pregnant with Ben’s baby, which they all call ‘Thing’. But as the pregnancy progresses, Romily discovers she has feelings for Thing which make it almost unbearable to think about giving the baby away. The story is interspersed with letters to ‘Dear Thing’, which explain the emotions of one of the characters about the unborn child.

It’s a story about parenthood, infertility, love, and female friendship.

Where did the idea come from?

Like all novels, there were a lot of ideas which all came together to make the book. The first was about infertility, which is an issue that a lot of my friends have had to deal with in one way or the other. In my thirties, I suffered three miscarriages in one year—the last on Christmas day. I was devastated by them. Not only by the loss, but also by the fear that I would never have the child I longed for so much. I found that so many of my friends, family and colleagues had gone through the same thing themselves…and yet it’s hardly spoken of, and so many people brush the pain of it away. Although I never underwent fertility treatment, several of my friends were going through that at the same time. I saw the cycle of hope and despair. And difficult as it was, I wanted to write about these emotions and how they affected a woman’s self-image and her relationships with her husband, her friends, her colleagues, her family…

I was, in the end, lucky enough have a baby, born nearly a year after my third miscarriage, but I saw my friends still hoping for children, and that got me thinking about the idea of surrogacy. I knew right away that I could never do such a thing, but I started to wonder about the emotions involved there. At the time I was watching a lot of nature documentaries (I love David Attenborough) and I saw one about social insects and how the queen bears all the offspring for the entire colony. I started thinking about surrogate mothers and queen bees, and I had the kernel of the idea for Romily, my entomologist single mum surrogate.

Julie's son

Julie’s son helping with the entomology research for Dear Thing!

A friend of mine wrote beautiful letters to her unborn children, so that’s where the idea of the title and the letters came from. I thought that would be a wonderful way of showing the depth of emotion a parent-to-be can have for their child.

Without giving too much away, I felt incredibly torn all the way through Dear Thing about who should become a parent to ‘Thing’, the much wanted unborn baby? Was it always clear to you what the ‘right’ answer was, and how did you set about making the reader so conflicted? 

I really want the reader to feel torn—so I’m glad you were, Kate! There’s no clear answer about who Thing should end up with; both Romily and Claire love this baby, and both of them would be good mothers. There were two possible endings—well, actually three—and I thought carefully about which one would be the right one, not only for the characters, but for the reader and for the structure of the story. Although I knew who would end up with Thing, I tried to build the story so that any of the endings could be possible and all the endings could be happy, or at least partly happy, even though the two women are so different from each other. Some readers seem more naturally drawn to Claire, and some more drawn to Romily, but I hope both women are sympathetic. Of course I also had to try to avoid the baby becoming some sort of a prize! Being a parent is difficult, and that’s one of the themes of the book too.

You’ve written across a wide range of genres – starting with traditional romance, then comedies with very unusual settings, and now much more epic stories with huge emotional dilemmas or situations at their heart. Tell us more about your evolution as a writer.

 When I first started seriously writing, I was working full time and I wrote purely escapist novels, because I needed the break from my job. Writing sort of takes over your normal social life, so I wrote to amuse myself—and writing stories was even more fun than reading them, because I got to make up what happened! As I grew older, though, and as writing became my career, I found that I wanted to make my stories more complex and more challenging, for me as a writer. I’ve always enjoyed writing, though, no matter what type of book I’m working on, and I think I’ve learned a lot with every book I’ve written.

 You’re an American writer who has made Britain your home  – and the location of your novels. Do you think that viewpoint gives your books a different quality?

It means I have to rely a great deal on my copy editor to pick up Americanisms! Seriously though, I think being an immigrant to the UK means that I have a bit of an outsider’s perspective on things. I’m drawn to characters who don’t quite fit into their community, for different reasons—Romily in Dear Thing is one of those characters.

 I’ve been lucky enough to sit in on some of your very inspiring talks about story structure – and I know you call on many sources of inspiration, from Pixar movies like Cars, through to very classic literature. What do you think makes a great story, and how does that find its way into your books?

I think that a great story should have incredibly high stakes, within the framework of what’s possible in the story. Sometimes this will be life or death or the fate of the planet Earth; sometimes this will be does-he-love-me; sometimes it will be a moment at a party. But the story should matter intensely to the characters in it, and it should sweep me, as a reader, away. I don’t always need the characters to be sympathetic, but I do need them to grow and change over the course of the story. And I need the ending to be satisfying. It doesn’t need to be happy, necessarily—just satisfying. The stories I love all do these things—whether that story is Hamlet, or The Princess Bride, or Middlemarch, or Cars.

What books do you LOVE to read? What are you reading right now?

I read absolutely everything! I am a compulsive reader. At the moment, I’m starting to write a new novel so I’ve been reading mostly nonfiction and historical fiction and thrillers because I don’t want anyone else’s story to influence me. I’ll start reading contemporary fiction again when I’m halfway through my own novel. So I’ve recently read Do No Harm by Henry Marsh, a memoir of neurosurgery; Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth; The Woman Who Wasn’t There, a story of a fake 9/11 survivor by Robin Gaby Fisher and Angelo Giglielmo; The Accident by C.L. Taylor; Someone Else’s Skin by Sarah Hilary; Regency Buck by Georgette Heyer; and my dip-into-at-bedtime book is It Gets Better by Dan Savage and Terry Miller, which is basically true stories with the message that gay teenagers shouldn’t kill themselves because life will get better, and which makes me cry every time I pick it up.

The books I think will be HUGE in 2014 are The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman and The Girl With All The Gifts by M.J. Carey.

 We love good food in the 5:2 Book Club – so what’s your favourite meal?

I grew up in Maine, on the east coast of the USA. So my favourite meal, which I have about once a year and more if I can get it, is steamed clams and boiled lobster, fresh from the ocean, with corn on the cob. The trick is to eat it outdoors, wearing old clothes, so that you don’t care when the clam and lobster juice gets all over you—because it will.

 What are you working on right now? And where can we find out more about you?  

I’ve just finished edits on my next novel, Where Love Lies, which will be published in hardback this July. And I’ve started writing my next novel after that which should be out next year. My website is www.julie-cohen.com, I tweet incessantly as @julie_cohen, and my Facebook page is www.facebook.com/Julie.Cohen.Books.

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Thanks so much  joining us in the Book Club, for your insight and honesty, Julie –  you’ve written a fantastic book, and it’s been great to find out more. You can buy Dear Thing in paperback or as an e-book - and I really recommend it!

May 5:2 Book Club choice: Dear Thing by Julie Cohen

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Dear Thing PB

 

I’m delighted to announce that the fourth choice for Kate’s 5:2 Book Club is… Dear Thing by Julie Cohen.

I read Dear Thing in hardback last year and was bowled over by how wonderful it was… and now it’s being published in paperback with a brand new cover. Be prepared for a novel that will make you think, make you cry… and make you hope against hope for a happy ending.

 

Julie Cohen

 

I’m not alone in loving this novel – the book was published in hardback last year and author Julie Cohen won praise for the brilliant story-telling, the incisive writing, and the memorable characters.

And I have it on good authority that a certain other book club has already chosen Dear Thing for its coveted Spring Reads selection!

 

Read on to find out how you can win one of three signed copies – this book is going to be huge!

 

The Book

 

Dear Thing PB

 

After years of watching her best friends Ben and Claire try for a baby, Romily offered to give them the one thing they most wanted.

But Romily wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming feelings that have taken hold of her and which threaten to ruin her friendship with Ben and Claire – and even destroy their marriage.

Now there are three friends, two mothers and only one baby, and an impossible decision to make . . .

 

The Competition

All you need to do is send an email answering the question below, and remembering to put 5:2 Dear Thing Competition in the subject line. Also please add the postal address you’d like the book sent to, if you win. UK only this time, I’m afraid.

Question: name one of Julie Cohen’s previous novels.

Email: info@transworld-publishers.co.uk

The closing date is midday UK time on Tuesday 13 May so get your skates on – winners will be announced soon afterwards!

Or if you can’t wait that long, you can buy the  paperback or the ebook right now…

The Club – Hungry for a Great Read? 2

 

I set up  Kate’s 5:2 Book Club because I love to read – and I know many people doing 5:2 do – it’s the [perfect distraction from any fast day hunger pangs! Plus, a book can take you to another world – where you won’t be tempted by snacks on a Fast Day!

Our picks so far have been very well-received – our thrilling debut choice for April, The Accident, hit the Sunday Times bestseller chart and is still an amazing 69p on Kindle (May 2014), while The Memory Book moved many of our readers to tears, and A Hundred Pieces of Me made us focus on what really matters in life.

Joining in?

It’s as simple as keeping an eye out here, on our Twitter Feed (@the52diet) or in our Facebook group – www.facebook.com/groups/the52diet

April 5:2 Book Club: Discussion, The Accident/Before I Wake

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TheAccidentfinalcover

SPOILER ALERT – THIS DISCUSSION IS FOR PEOPLE WHO’VE READ THE BOOK, SO DO NOT READ ON UNLESS YOU’VE FINISHED IT!

Before I Wake CL Taylor US cover

 

The Accident/Before I Wake– how was it for YOU?

What did you think about the book? I adored it, and wanted to share it by putting it into the book club, but I can’t wait to hear what you think.  Help yourself to a glass or a cup of something nice and then share your thoughts about this novel…

2

Questions:

How did the book make you feel?

Why did you think Charlotte was in a coma – did the true reason surprise you?

How did your feelings about Susan change as you read the novel? How does she change?

 Brian lies to Susan several times throughout the course of the novel. Was he justified in doing so, or should he have been completely honest with his wife?

There are several clues in Susan’s early diary entries that James is controlling. At what point did you notice the warning signs?

What was your favourite part of the book – the present day mystery or the dark flashbacks and diary?

What do you think you would you have done in Susan’s position?

Susan sees a mirror of her relationship with James in Keisha’s relationship with Danny. Is she justified in being concerned?

As Susan searches for the truth behind Charlotte’s accident she realises she had no idea what was going on in Charlotte’s life. Was that her fault, or Charlotte’s, or is it normal in a mother/teenaged-daughter relationship?

Is this the first ‘psychological thriller’ you’ve read? What other books in the genre would you recommend?

The theme of secrets runs deeply through this book. Did you identify with that desire to bury the past?

What do you hope happens after the novel finishes?

Do feel free to add your own questions!

There’s no time limit on the discussion… I’d love to hear your views. To contribute, click on the ‘Comment’ button at the top of this post, next to the date.

PS: if you enjoyed this month, then you can read more about C.L Taylor on her website or via Twitter. And keep an eye out on here and the 5:2 Facebook group for an announcement about our next book, for May: it’s a fantastically written read that will have you absolutely gripped by an awful dilemma that has no ‘right answer’…

C.L. Taylor talks to the 5:2 Book Club

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Before I Wake CL Taylor US coverTheAccidentfinalcover

It’s interview time – and this time we welcome C. L. Taylor, author of The Accident – also known as Before I Wake in the US and Canada. We’re reading this tense page-turner throughout April – you can join in the debate from the middle of the month or on the Facebook group any time – but first, read on to find out all about author Cally’s double life, how her deepest fears inspired the book – and her future plans.

I was solely responsible for a little person and knew I had to protect him for the rest of his life. I needed to explore my darkest fears…

First of all, Cally, tell us about the book.

‘The Accident’ is a psychological thriller about a woman called Susan whose teenaged daughter Charlotte steps in front of a bus and falls into a coma. Susan’s husband Brian thinks it was an accident but Sue isn’t convinced and when she finds an entry in Charlotte’s diary that says ‘keeping this secret is killing me’ she sets out to discover exactly what that secret is.

It’s such a dramatic place to begin the story. Where did the idea come from?

I was pregnant with my son when the idea first came to me. I wanted to write a novel about ‘keeping secrets’ but I had no idea who would be keeping the secrets or what those secrets would be. Then one day, when I was walking back from the supermarket – waddling along under the weight of my groceries – the first three lines popped into my head:

“Coma. There’s something innocuous about the word, soothing almost in the way it conjures up the image of a dreamless sleep. Only Charlotte doesn’t look as though she’s sleeping to me.”

Author Photo CL TaylorI heard Susan’s voice as clear as day and knew immediately that she was the mother of a teenaged girl who’d stepped in front of a bus. I kept repeating those three lines over and over again as I walked home so I wouldn’t forget them, then frantically scribbled them down. I kept writing and, less than two hours later, I had the first chapter.

When my son was born I started thinking about how to progress the novel. I wondered how I’d react if my son was in danger from something very different from SIDS or choking or falling or any of the other ‘normal’ dangers. What if there was a person who meant him harm? Years before I met my current partner I was in an emotionally abusive relationship and, while I never really believed that my ex would come after my child, I channelled those fears into Susan who’d been through a much more horrific experience than me.

 You’ve had your romantic comedies – Heaven Can Wait and Home for Christmas – published all over the world and have lots of fans. So what made you want to change direction and write a thriller with a much darker theme? And how did you find it, writing in a genre with very different expectations and tone?

I’ve always been lead by my heart and if my heart tells me ‘you need to write this novel’ I find it very hard to say no. When I wrote my romantic comedies I was single, lived alone and was searching for love but, after I had my child, my priorities changed. I was solely responsible for a little person and knew I had to protect him for the rest of his life. I could have written a romantic comedy about having a baby but I needed to explore my darkest fears and I could only do that by writing a psychological thriller.

I found myself in a position where my heart was telling me to write ‘The Accident’ but my head was telling me that doing so might damage my career as an author. I asked my agent what she thought I should do and she told me to write it. When I’d finished it she told me it was the best book I’d ever written so I’m so glad I did.

I didn’t really think about the expectations of psychological thriller readers. I didn’t get a book deal until after I’d written it so I just wrote it for me. I wrote the tale I felt needed telling. Getting the tone right wasn’t hard – I was severely sleep deprived, isolated (I was living in a city where I only knew my partner and one other person), and struggling with undiagnosed Post Natal Depression – so I found writing something dark came naturally.

 Without giving too much away, I found the relationships portrayed in the present day story and particularly the flashbacks, very compelling and also very raw. How did it feel to write that and how much research did you do?

I found writing the flashbacks particularly hard to write as James was such a brutal character and it was horrible putting Sue through so much pain and hurt. I had to do it though as forty-three year old Susan has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and her past informs the decisions she makes in the present. In order to make James’s character as realistic as possible I did a lot of research into sociopaths and abusive relationships.

southkenatnight

The present day story was easier to write but it was still a challenge to maintain the balance between the reader believing in Sue and suspecting her of being an unreliable narrator. If the reader tipped too far one way the suspense would be lost.

There’s a fantastic choice of ‘psychological suspense’ or ‘marriage thriller’ books available now, like Gone Girl and Before I Go to Sleep. I love them – but what do you think that says about what readers are looking for?

I think there’s a huge appetite for page-turning mysteries that make your heart beat a little bit faster. I can’t speak for all readers of the genre but I love them because, with a toddler, a day job and a writing career, my attention span isn’t what it was so a book has to really grab me and pull me in for me to keep reading it and not put it down. I also think ‘marriage thrillers’ tap into our darkest fears – of our husbands or wives keeping secrets from us, our children in danger or being separated from those we love.

darkalley2

What books do you LOVE to read? What are you reading right now?

I love all sorts of book. At the moment I’m devouring psychological thrillers by my contemporaries (I’m currently reading ‘Apple Tree Yard’ by Louise Doughty) but I’m also a huge sci fi fan, adore women’s fiction and love a good literary novel too. I’m a member of a book club who meet once a month for book talk and wine (mostly wine) and ‘The Night Circus’ by Erin Morgenstern is next on my ‘to be read’ pile.

We love good food in the 5:2 Book Club – so what’s your favourite meal?

That’s the toughest question so far in this interview! So hard to choose. I can’t resist a pork belly roast dinner so it would have to be that.

What are you working on now? 

I’m currently working on my second psychological thriller, Last Girl Standing. It’s about four female friends, each with a dark secret, who go to a retreat in Nepal. Instead of finding peace and relaxation they find themselves in a deadly situation where they’re forced to turn against each other if they want to survive.

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Thanks, Cally. You can read more about C.L Taylor on her website or via Twitter. And keep an eye out on here and the 5:2 Facebook group for an announcement about our next book, for May: it’s a fantastically written read that will have you absolutely gripped by the kind of dilemma that has no ‘right answer’…

If you’d love to read the book, try an excerpt here – and you can buy the UK version here and pre-order the US version here. We’ll be discussing the book in the last week of April on this site – you can either follow the feed via this site, follow our Twitter Feed (@the52diet) or join our Facebook group – www.facebook.com/groups/the52diet

May 5:2 Book Club choice: Dear Thing by Julie Cohen

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Dear Thing PB

 

I’m delighted to announce that the fourth choice for Kate’s 5:2 Book Club is… Dear Thing by Julie Cohen.

I read Dear Thing in hardback last year and was bowled over by how wonderful it was… and now it’s being published in paperback with a brand new cover. Be prepared for a novel that will make you think, make you cry… and make you hope against hope for a happy ending.

 

Julie Cohen

 

I’m not alone in loving this novel – the book was published in hardback last year and author Julie Cohen won praise for the brilliant story-telling, the incisive writing, and the memorable characters.

And I have it on good authority that a certain other book club has already chosen Dear Thing for its coveted Spring Reads selection!

 

Read on to find out how you can win one of three signed copies – this book is going to be huge!

 

The Book

 

Dear Thing PB

 

After years of watching her best friends Ben and Claire try for a baby, Romily offered to give them the one thing they most wanted.

But Romily wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming feelings that have taken hold of her and which threaten to ruin her friendship with Ben and Claire – and even destroy their marriage.

Now there are three friends, two mothers and only one baby, and an impossible decision to make . . .

 

The Competition

All you need to do is send an email answering the question below, and remembering to put 5:2 Dear Thing Competition in the subject line. Also please add the postal address you’d like the book sent to, if you win. UK only this time, I’m afraid.

Question: name one of Julie Cohen’s previous novels.

Email: info@transworld-publishers.co.uk

The closing date is midday UK time on Tuesday 13 May so get your skates on – winners will be announced soon afterwards!

Or if you can’t wait that long, you can buy the  paperback or the ebook right now…

The Club – Hungry for a Great Read? 2

 

I set up  Kate’s 5:2 Book Club because I love to read – and I know many people doing 5:2 do – it’s the [perfect distraction from any fast day hunger pangs! Plus, a book can take you to another world – where you won’t be tempted by snacks on a Fast Day!

Our picks so far have been very well-received – our thrilling debut choice for April, The Accident, hit the Sunday Times bestseller chart and is still an amazing 69p on Kindle (May 2014), while The Memory Book moved many of our readers to tears, and A Hundred Pieces of Me made us focus on what really matters in life.

Joining in?

It’s as simple as keeping an eye out here, on our Twitter Feed (@the52diet) or in our Facebook group – www.facebook.com/groups/the52diet

April 5:2 Book Club: Excerpt from The Accident/Before I Wake

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Before I Wake CL Taylor US cover TheAccidentfinalcover

 

 

 

 

 

The Accident  by C. L. Taylor – also known as Before I Wake for US readers – is our third 5:2 Book Club choice – it’s  a fast-paced, suspenseful read which also delves deeply into the secrets and lies we tell to stay safe – and how they can come back to haunt us. I’m delighted to share this excerpt before publication – and don’t forget you can win one of three signed copies in the UK – or exclusive advance publication copies in the US! (CLOSING DATE 4 April 2014)

The book:

The Accident is a gripping debut about the deadly secrets your children can keep …

Sue Jackson has the perfect family but when her teenage daughter Charlotte deliberately steps in front of a bus and ends up in a coma she is forced to face a very dark reality.

Retracing her daughter’s steps she finds a horrifying entry in Charlotte’s diary and is forced to head deep into Charlotte’s private world. In her hunt for evidence, Sue begins to mistrust everyone close to her daughter and she’s forced to look further, into the depths of her own past.

Sue will do anything to protect her daughter. But what if she is the reason that Charlotte is in danger?

The Accident

Before I Wake

by C. L. Taylor

22nd APRIL 2012

Coma. There’s something innocuous about the word, soothing almost in the way it conjures up the image of a dreamless sleep. Only Charlotte doesn’t look to me as though she’s sleeping. There’s no soft heaviness to her closed eyelids. No curled fist pressed up against her temple. No warm breath escaping from her slightly parted lips. There is nothing peaceful at all about the way her body lies, prostrate, on the duvet-less bed, a tracheostomy tube snaking its way out of her neck, her chest polka-dotted with multicolored electrodes.

The heart monitor in the corner of the room bleep-bleep-bleeps, marking the passage of time like a medical metronome and I close my eyes. If I concentrate hard enough I can transform the unnatural chirping into the reassuring tick-tick-tick of the grandfather clock in our living room. Fifteen years fall away in an instant and I am twenty-eight again, cradling baby Charlotte to my shoulder, her slumbering face pressed into the nook of my neck, her tiny heart out-beating mine, even in sleep. Back then it was so much easier to keep her safe.

“Sue?” There is a hand on my shoulder, heavy, dragging me back into the stark hospital room and my arms are empty again, save the handbag I clutch to my chest. “Would you like a cup of tea?”

I shake my head then instantly change my mind. “Actually, yes.” I open my eyes. “Do you know what else would be nice?”

Brian shakes his head.

“One of those lovely teacakes from M&S.”

My husband looks confused. “I don’t think they sell them in the canteen.”

“Oh.” I look away, feigning disappointment and instantly hate myself. It isn’t in my nature to be manipulative. At least I don’t think it is. There’s a lot I don’t know any more.

“It’s okay.” There’s that hand again. This time it adds a reassuring squeeze to its repertoire. “I can pop into town.” He smiles at Charlotte. “You don’t mind if I leave you alone with your mum for a bit?”

If our daughter heard the question she doesn’t let on. I reply for her by forcing a smile.

“She’ll be fine,” I say.

Brian looks from me to Charlotte and back again. There’s no mistaking the look on his face  — it’s the same wretched expression I’ve worn for the last six weeks whenever I’ve left Charlotte’s side. Terror she might die the second we leave the room.

“She’ll be fine,” I repeat, more gently this time. “I’ll be here.”

Brian’s rigid posture relaxes, ever so slightly, and he nods. “Back soon.”

I watch as he crosses the room, gently shutting the door with a click as he leaves, then release my handbag from my chest and rest it on my lap. I keep my eyes fixed on the door for what seems like an eternity. Brian has never been able to leave the house without rushing back in seconds later to retrieve his keys, his phone or his sunglasses or to ask a ‘quick question’ . When I am sure he has gone I turn back to Charlotte. I half expect to see her eyelids flutter or her fingers twitch, some sign that she realizes what I am about to say, but nothing has changed. She is still “asleep.” The doctors have no idea when, or even if, Charlotte will ever wake up. She’s been subjected to a whole battery of tests – CAT scans, MRIs, the works – with more to come, and her brain function appears normal. There’s no medical reason why she shouldn’t come round.

“Darling,” I take Charlotte’s diary out of my handbag, fumble it open and turn to the page I’ve already memorised. “Please don’t be angry with me but…” I glance at my daughter to monitor her expression. “…I found your diary when I was tidying your room yesterday.”

Nothing. Not a sound, not a flicker, not a tic or a twinge. And the heart monitor continues its relentless bleep-bleep-bleeping. It is a lie of course, the confession about finding her diary. I found it years ago when I was changing her sheets. She’d hidden it under her mattress, exactly where I’d hidden my own teenaged journal so many years before. I didn’t read it though, back then, I had no reason to. Yesterday I did.

“In the last entry,” I say, pausing to lick my lips, my mouth suddenly dry, “you mention a secret.”

Charlotte says nothing.

“You said keeping it was killing you.”

Bleep-bleep-bleep.

“Is that why…”

Bleep-bleep-bleep.

“…you stepped in front of the bus?”

Still nothing.

Brian calls what happened an accident and has invented several theories to support this belief: she saw a friend on the other side of the street and didn’t look both ways as she ran across the road, she tried to help an injured animal, she stumbled and tripped when she was texting, or maybe she was just in her own little world and didn’t look where she was walking.

Plausible, all of them. Apart from the fact the bus driver told the police she caught his eye and then deliberately stepped into the road, straight into his path. Brian thinks he’s lying, covering his own back because he’ll lose his job if he gets convicted of dangerous driving. I don’t.

Yesterday, when Brian was at work and I was on bed watch, I asked the doctor if she had carried out a pregnancy test on Charlotte. She looked at me suspiciously and asked why, did I have any reason to think she might be? I replied that I didn’t know but I thought it might explain a thing or two. I waited as she checked the notes. No, she said, she wasn’t.

“Charlotte,” I shuffle my chair forward so it’s pressed up against the bed and wrap my fingers around my daughter’s, “Nothing you say or do could ever stop me from loving you. You can tell me anything. Anything at all.”

Charlotte says nothing.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s about you, one of your friends, me or your dad.” I pause. “Is the secret something to do with your dad? Squeeze my fingers if it is.”

I hold my breath, praying she doesn’t.

(C) C.L. Taylor/Avon/SourceBooks

Buy the book in the UK here, and in the US/Canada here.

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To join in the discussion?

It’s as simple as keeping an eye out here, on our Twitter Feed (@the52diet) or in our Facebook group – www.facebook.com/groups/the52diet

April 5:2 Book Club: The Accident/Before I Wake by C.L. Taylor

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Before I Wake CL Taylor US cover  TheAccidentfinalcover

 

I’m delighted to announce that the third book in Kate’s 5:2 Book Club is… The Accident  by C. L. Taylor - also known as Before I Wake in the USA – and I hope it’ll be a hit with anyone looking for a fast-paced, suspenseful read.

After two books with emotions at their heart, The Accident is our first thriller. Yet as well as being a page-turning mystery, it also delves deeply into the secrets and lies we tell to stay safe – and how they can come back to haunt us. You can read an excerpt here.

Read on to find out how you can win one of SIX copies!

Author Photo CL Taylor

C.L Taylor is a debut thriller writer, but she has published two romantic comedy novels and a whole range of short stories under her ‘other’ name, Cally Taylor. I’ll be interviewing her about the change, what she loves to read, and what inspires her later in the month.

The Book

The Accident – or Before I Wake - is a gripping debut about the deadly secrets your children can keep …

Sue Jackson has the perfect family but when her teenage daughter Charlotte deliberately steps in front of a bus and ends up in a coma she is forced to face a very dark reality.

Retracing her daughter’s steps she finds a horrifying entry in Charlotte’s diary and is forced to head deep into Charlotte’s private world. In her hunt for evidence, Sue begins to mistrust everyone close to her daughter and she’s forced to look further, into the depths of her own past.

Sue will do anything to protect her daughter. But what if she is the reason that Charlotte is in danger?

The Competition

This is the first time we’ve been able to run the competition on both sides of the Atlantic – so there are copies of the book available to readers in the UK and in Australia and Canada. The American copies will be special proofs, in advance of the publication date!

All you need to do is send an email answering a simple question, and remembering to put 5:2 The Accident/Before I Wake Competition in the subject line.

The question is: what is the name of Sue’s daughter? Add the address where you’d like the book sent if you win.

If you’re in the UK, email:  theaccident@lightbrigade.co.uk

If you’re in the US or Canada, email: publicity@sourcebooks.com

The closing date is midday UK time on Friday 4 April so get your skates on – winners will be announced soon afterwards!

Or if you can’t wait that long, you can buy the paperbook or ebook from Amazon UK – at the time of writing, the UK Kindle edition is only 99p! If you wish to pre-order in the US or Canada, you can buy it here.

The Club – Hungry for a Great Read?

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I set up  Kate’s 5:2 Book Club because I love to read – and I know many people doing 5:2 do – it’s the [perfect distraction from any fast day hunger pangs! Plus, a book can take you to another world – where you won’t be tempted by snacks on a Fast Day!

Each month, we’ll pick a great book to read together – and there’ll be three signed copies of the book given away in a mini-competition (UK readers only initially but I hope that’ll change). There’ll be an author interview on the site, plus a live author chat via Facebook/Twitter towards the end of the month, and a dedicated page where you can share your opinion of the month’s book.

Joining in?

It’s as simple as keeping an eye out here, on our Twitter Feed (@the52diet) or in our Facebook group – www.facebook.com/groups/the52diet

5:2 Book Club: Discussion, A Hundred Pieces of Me

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A Hundred Pieces of Me - jacket

 

At last, it’s time to get chatting about the March selection in our 5:2 Book Club – A Hundred Pieces of Me by Lucy Dillon. This book is already getting fantastic reviews on the web, and I know from comments in our Facebook groups that you’ve been enjoying it a lot – and now you get the chance to chat about the characters, the writing… and that ending!

SPOILER ALERT – THIS DISCUSSION IS FOR PEOPLE WHO’VE READ THE BOOK, SO DO NOT READ ON UNLESS YOU’VE FINISHED IT!

A Hundred Pieces of Me – how was it for YOU?

What did you think about the book? I adored it, and wanted to share it by putting it into the book club, but I can’t wait to hear what you think.  Help yourself to a glass or a cup of something nice and then share your thoughts about this novel…

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Questions:

What was the most enjoyable aspect of the book – and how did you feel about Gina and her journey?

Gina’s life has been very dramatic, and emotionally challenging – which part of her story did you identify with?

What did you think of the idea of starting over by giving most of your possessions away? What would you keep?

How about the photos – did creating your own ‘happiness wall’ appeal to you?

How did you feel when the book ended? Was  the ending what you expected?

What did you think of the structure of the book, as the reality of Gina’s past is slowly revealed by the objects she’s chosen to keep?

Buzz the dog appears unexpectedly – how did you feel about his part in Gina’s new life? (I admit, there’s a scene with him that had me sobbing!)

The restoration of a wonderful building is also a key part of the storyline – and author Lucy Dillon talks about her love of old houses in this very entertaining interview

Did you enjoy that aspect of the book?

Lucy DillonJuly 2007Pic © Dillon Bryden+44(0)7802-367373

The theme of parenthood – and especially motherhood – is important in A Hundred Pieces of Me, even though Gina has no children of her own. How did you feel about that part of the story?

What do you hope happens after the novel finishes?

Do feel free to add your own questions! There’s no time limit on the discussion… I’d love to hear your views. To contribute, click on the ‘Comment’ button at the top of this post, next to the date.

PS: if you enjoyed this month, then you can find out more about Lucy and her other books by following her on Twitter or at her Facebook page. And keep an eye out on here and the 5:2 Facebook group for an announcement about our next book, for April: it’s a thrillingly dark page-turner, with characters who face losing everything that matters to them. And for the first time, there’ll be copies to win on both sides of the Atlantic!

5:2 Book Club: Lucy Dillon, author of A Hundred Pieces of Me

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Lucy DillonJuly 2007Pic © Dillon Bryden+44(0)7802-367373

Lucy Dillon is the author of the fabulous A Hundred Pieces of Me – the second book we’ve chosen for Kate’s 5:2 Book Club. We’re reading this inspiring and thought-provoking novel throughout March – you can join in the debate from 17 February on this site, or on the Facebook group any time – but first, read on to find out all about Lucy’s love of old properties, her baking passions and her two fabulous dogs!

Lucy, tell us in a couple of sentences what A Hundred Pieces of Me is all about?

A Hundred Pieces of Me - jacket

A Hundred Pieces of Me is the story of Gina, and her mission to declutter her life by giving away or binning everything apart from a hundred special items that sum up who she is, and what makes her happy. The problem is, of course, that there are memories attached to nearly every item she owns, and as she sorts out her stuff she also has to face up to some demons she’s been carting around for years too. Baggage comes in many forms, not all of it so easily recyclable! It’s very emotional, but in the end it’s an uplifting story – for everything she gives away with an open heart, she gets something wonderful back, starting, obviously with a dog…

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I could completely relate to the reasons why Gina wanted to get rid of the clutter and try to find herself that way. But what was it about the idea that made you want to write it?

I liked the episodic structure it offered. I had to pack up my own house last year, before renovation work started, and kept coming across items I’d forgotten I had, but which brought back an instant, pin-sharp memory. I think we’ve all got them – the dress at the back of the wardrobe that reminds you of a particular party, or an old diary from a busy year. I also love novels that follow a whole life, but they can get unwieldy; the idea of these moments flashing up before her as she went through her stuff was a neat way of conveying a broad sweep of her experiences.

How do you hope readers will feel after finishing the book? Do you want to inspire them to try what Gina does?

I hope readers will take away Gina’s slightly evolved version of her Hundred Pieces challenge, and make their own happiness wall – Gina’s friend Nick tells her she’s focusing too much on stuff, and that she should concentrate on enjoying the sensations of being in the moment. He gives her a Polaroid camera and encourages her to photograph the tiny things that make her happy, like a perfect cup of coffee or icicles on trees or dancing. She’s been living with half her mind constantly in the past that she’s forgotten how to be in the moment, enjoying what’s actually here. I made my own board, and printed out some photos from my phone, instead of just snapping and then never looking at them again – it cheers me up on grey days.

 The setting – and especially a very special house – play an important role in this book. Do you love old buildings?

I really love old buildings; I love the stories they tell you in their details – initials entwined in brickwork, or well-worn door knockers, or later rooms added when some descendant came into money. I spent most of last year with builders renovating my own (old) house, and seeing the walls stripped back to bare Georgian bricks and old timbers gave me a funny sort of empathy for it, seeing its honest bones and sinews. It made me happy that the lime plasterers were covering the bricks back up with the exact same mix of plaster that would have originally been used when it was built, to let the house breathe properly again, and that we were restoring the right colours and finishes to the woodwork. In the end the house gave me a nice surprise – when we took up the old carpets, the builders found a very rare original elm staircase underneath, which is now glowing as it would have done two hundred years ago.

You often write about animals – and though I never much liked greyhounds before, I changed my mind after reading A Hundred Pieces. In fact, there’s a scene involving a dog that made me cry very loudly indeed. What’s the appeal for you in creating animal as well as human characters?

Bonham's 3rd birthday

 Lucy’s dog, Bonham, celebrating his 3rd birthday!

 

I think the way people treat animals is a good barometer of how they treat people. I couldn’t ever trust someone who was cruel to a dog. The dog/owner relationship is one that requires patience and trust on both sides; you really have to think about how you communicate with a creature that doesn’t understand human language. A dog’s needs are quite simple – food, warmth, a bed, companionship – but what they give back in terms of love is far more. And yes, greyhounds are lovely dogs! I’d really encourage anyone thinking about getting a dog to rehome a retired greyhound; they’re gentle and easy-going, don’t need more than a couple of short walks a day, and are so appreciative of a soft bed.

 Have you any decluttering tips for people (OK, me) who find it hard?

OK, my super-radical advice, if you really can’t declutter, is this. Take one room at a time. Pack the entire contents into boxes, emptying the room completely. Hoover it. Repaint any woodwork, clean the windows, make it all light and airy.

Revel in the delicious feeling of space. Make a cafetiere of coffee and drink it in there, as if you’re in a Sunday supplement interiors feature.

If you live in London, place the boxes of junk in the most expensive storage unit you can find – this will be an excellent incentive to focus. Now, bring the boxes back, one at a time.

‘You will feel a strange and powerful new urge not to mess up your gorgeous empty space.’

Do what Gina does and allocate four boxes: Bin, Charity Shop, Recycle, Sell (if you really are going to sell stuff, and not just let the box linger for another year). Work your way through the box, setting a timer of one hour, and be utterly ruthless. It’s surprising, actually, how ruthless you can be when you’re holding a chipped mug individually and not looking at a cupboard full…

 What books do you LOVE to read? What are you reading right now?

I love Kate Atkinson. I get lost in her worlds. I also love  Marian Keyes, who writes deceptively complex and emotional novels, and big Victorian writers like Trollope or Collins, with their casts of thousands and twisty-turny plots. Oh, and of course, speaking of casts of thousands, Jilly Cooper!

We love good food in the 5:2 Book Club – and I know you’re a foodie, too – so what’s your favourite meal?

Vic's marshmallows

 

 Marshmallows as baked by Lucy, who has talents way beyond the printed page! ‘I do a mean marshmallow. They’re much easier to make than you’d think, and always go down brilliantly for presents and after dinner with coffee.’

 

I’m a sushi fiend (as you’d expect from a Pisces, ho ho ) and often make myself a simple supper of a bowl of sushi rice, with shredded cucumber, avocado and smoked salmon, if I haven’t had time to marinate some teriyaki salmon myself. Lots of wasabi, ginger and soy. One of the nicest things about living in Herefordshire is the constant supply of really good local produce – asparagus in season, apples everywhere, amazing small press ciders, free range eggs in every village. I like to know where my food’s come from, and it’s quite easy to find out round here. You can’t beat a perfectly fresh free range boiled egg, and I love a good cake.

 

Dog Biscuits
Of course, Lucy’s dogs don’t get left out when it comes to the home-baked goodies!


What are you working on now? And where can we find out more about you?

I’m about to start my next Longhampton novel, set in the town’s little hotel. The new owners, Rebecca and Hugo, have moved to the town to take over the reins from Hugo’s widowed mother, and have only been running the place for a few months when a car accident leaves a complete stranger injured outside their door. When Rebecca agrees to take the stranger in until her memory returns and her next of kin can be traced, she has no idea that she’s about to learn far more about the secrets in her family than she ever dreamed existed.

Violet down tools
 Lucy’s dog, Violet, sounds the ‘down tools’ alarm every working day at 5.30. ‘I have to stop! Those eyes.’

I’m on Twitter all the time (too much) @lucy_dillon, and on Facebook at LucyDillonBooks, and my website should be going live very soon.

Thanks so much to Lucy for her fantastic answers, the gorgeous dog and marshmallow pix – and for writing such a terrific book. A Hundred Pieces of Me is available now – and we’ll be discussing it in the 5:2 Facebook group and on this site very soon!

March 5:2 Book of the Month: A Hundred Pieces of Me by Lucy Dillon

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5 2 book club final

Hungry for a great read? Well, I’m delighted to announce that we have a fantastic new novel for you for Kate’s 5:2 Book Club for March… it is A Hundred Pieces of Me by Lucy Dillon.

 

  • A Hundred Pieces of Me - jacket

Not only did I love the novel  – it also inspired me to lots of 5:2 Your Life style decluttering! So you can look forward to a wonderful story and a burst of life-changing energy when you start reading A Hundred Pieces of Me by Lucy Dillon.

I’m really looking forward to hearing what you think.

Read on to find out how you can win one of three signed copies!

The Book

A Hundred Pieces of Me was published this week – and  is a story of starting over and discovering what really matters. Gina Bellamy is moving from the dream home she shared with her soon-to-be ex-husband into a tiny flat. Sifting through her possessions, she must decide what things she should keep, and what to throw away – letters from the only man she’s ever loved; a keepsake of the father she never knew; a beautiful vase that catches the light, even on the dullest of grey days….

Gina makes a resolution; to only keep 100 objects that really mean something – the rest must go. But what else must change before Gina can move on?

Lucy DillonJuly 2007Pic © Dillon Bryden+44(0)7802-367373

Photo (C) Dillon Bryden

Author Lucy Dillon is a warm, insightful writer, who manages to mix humour, emotion and some really big questions about life in a way few authors can. I love her books, which include Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts, The Ballroom Class; Walking Back to Happiness and The Secret of Happy Ever After – but this one really stands out. She has a real talent for observation and the tiny details that make you picture a situation perfectly.

And the theme of this book really got me thinking about the objects, memories and people that matter the most to me.

The Competition

For your chance to win one of three gorgeous signed copies of

A Hundred Pieces of Me (UK residents only):

    Email  publicityenquiries@hodder.co.uk  
    Please remember to write 5:2 100 Pieces Competition in the subject line.
    Answer the following question in the email itself: name one of Lucy Dillon’s previous novels.

The closing date is midday UK time, on Tuesday March 4 2014 so get your skates on – winners will be announced soon afterwards

Or if you can’t wait that long, you can buy the paperback from Amazon for only £3.50 – the Kindle edition is available now too.

The Discussion

 We’ll be talking about A Hundred Pieces throughout March on 5:2 Facebook group and also on the www.5-2dietbook.com website. Lucy will also be giving an exclusive interview on the website in March before we discuss the book in the final week!

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