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!

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.

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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.

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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

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!

Book Club Discussion: The Memory Book (SPOILERS!)

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The Memory Book

 

So – it’s time now to chat about The Memory Book, which has been our first 5:2 Book of the Month. If you haven’t finished the book yet,

DO NOT read on as there are likely to be spoilers…

The Memory Book – how was it for you?

I chose this book so I really love it but I’d love to know what you think! Unlike a face-to-face book club, we don’t have wine to share, but help yourself to a glass or a cup of something and have a ponder of the following questions – the author, Rowan Coleman, has said she’ll pop in to answer any specific questions, so do add them below!

Rowan Coleman

Questions:

Which character did you feel the greatest emotional connection to and why?

The colour red is important in the novel. Can you think of some ways it is used? What do you think it symbolises?

The book recreates the experience of having Alzheimer’s by staying in Claire’s point of view. How did you feel during these episodes, when you knew that something was wrong, but Claire didn’t?

How do you think Caitlin, Claire and Ruth are similar, or different?

If you were Caitlin would you want to know if you had the gene that could lead to Alzheimer’s?

What is your most precious memory and how has it shaped you?

How did you hope the book would end – and how did you feel about the actual ending?

What do you think happens after the novel finishes?

And 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 keep an eye out on here and the Facebook group for an announcement about our next book, for March!

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Rowan Coleman talks to the 5:2 Book Club

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The Memory Book

 

Rowan Coleman is the author of The Memory Book, our first pick in Kate’s 5:2 Book Club. We’re reading this emotional but uplifting novel throughout February – 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 Rowan’s inspirations, her favourite reads – and her foodie passions!

 Rowan ColemanFirst of all, Rowan, tell us about the novel.

The Memory Book is about a woman in her early 40s who discovered she has a life altering condition, which is going to have a devastating effect on her family and how she chooses to face the challenges presented to her, by keeping a book of precious memories. At its core, it’s about love, maternal and romantic and it is a bit sad, but it’s funny too, with, I hope, an uplifting message.

 What was it about this idea that made you want to write it, as it’s a really emotional subject?

I had a idea first, a moment, which is central to the plot (and which I can’t tell you) and everything else seemed to come out of there. I don’t have any personal experience of Alzheimer’s, but a few years ago my mother was diagnosed with a cyst on her brain, which replicated the symptoms of disease. It was a frightening time for all us, especially her. Fortunately it was something that could be fixed and now she is back to her old self!

 How do you hope readers will feel after finishing the book (I know I felt uplifted but very tearful…)?

 The feedback I have had from readers is that yes, there were tears, but that afterwards it made them think about who they love, and how they show it. When I finished writing it, it made me feel very close to my family, especially my Mum. It made me appreciate how much she has done for me, and brought us closer together, which is why I’ve dedicated the book to her. I want my readers to feel optimistic, and happy, and to think about the people that really matter to them – and give them a hug.

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

I love reading all the books, there isn’t a book I wouldn’t read, if people rave about it. At the moment I’m reading super creepy  The Killer Next Door, by Alex Marwood, I’ve also recently loved The Accident by CL Taylor, which is out in April. I’m looking forward to The Girl with All the Gifts and keep and eye our for Dear Thing by Julie Cohen out in paperback in May, it was my favourite book of 2013.

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

I really love Calamari, and all seafood, actually. I love fresh Mediterranean flavours, and anything chocolate (on a non fast day, of course!)

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

I’m just starting work on my next novel, which will be out next year, you can find me on twitter @rowancoleman  – I love to chat! Or come and see my website: www.rowancoleman.co.uk

 

 

The Memory Book is the first pick in Kate’s 5:2 Book Club

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The Memory Book

I’m delighted to announce that the first book in Kate’s 5:2 Book Club will be The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman.

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

I’ve been a fan of Rowan’s writing for years – and I think The Memory Book is her best novel yet. It’s beautifully written, heart-breaking in places, but humour and humanity really shines through. I picked this book to kick the book club off because it’s a page-turner with intelligence, and I think it deserves to become a huge seller. So let’s see what you think.

Rowan Coleman

The book

The Memory Book is published this week – and tells the heartbreaking and uplifting story of a young mother who develops early onset Alzheimers.

The name of your first-born. The face of your lover. Your age. Your address…

What would happen if your memory of these began to fade?

When Claire starts to write her Memory Book, she already knows that this scrapbook of mementoes will soon be all her daughters and husband have of her. But how can she hold onto the past when her future is slipping through her fingers…?

The Competition

For your chance to win one of three gorgeous signed copies of The Memory Book (UK residents only):

 

  1. Email aharvell@eburypublishing.co.uk
  2. Please remember to write 5:2 Memory Book Competition in the subject line.
  3. Answer the following question in the email itself: what is the name of the main character in The Memory Book?

 

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

If you’re not lucky enough to win a copy, the Kindle/ebook edition is available now, and branches of Tesco have a special half-price offer on the beautiful hardback, so it’s priced at £5.

The Discussion

Book spines distorted

We’ll be talking about The Memory Book as we read it. on the 5:2 Facebook group and also on the www.5-2dietbook.com website. Rowan will also answer our questions once we’ve all had a chance to read it, in the final week of February.

I hope you’ll be joining in!

 

News: Kate’s 5:2 Book Club – Hungry for a great read?

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Book spines distorted

 

You know how on a Fast Day, sometimes you need distracting from any hunger pangs? Well, that’s the inspiration behind our latest idea – Kate’s 5:2 Book Club.

Hungry for a Great Read?

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.

Books – the ultimate indulgence on fast days…

Some of you know I’m a huge fan of fiction – and also, that I’m a writer, so I’m lucky enough to get to read some fantastic books ahead of publication. Last year, I read The Husband’s Secret months before it came out and loved every word. I hoped so much it’d make it big – and it has! So hopefully I’ve got good instincts and would love to share recommendations and hear what you like to read, too. Plus, a book can take you to another world – where you won’t be tempted by snacks on a Fast Day!

The books?

All the Kate’s 5:2 Book Club choices will be great stories to distract us on fast days – and make us turn the pages every day of the week! The books will have a range of subjects, from crime and thrillers like Gone Girl, to brilliant women’s fiction like Me Before You, and maybe the odd crossover book for teens and adults like The Fault in Our Stars. There’ll always be lots to talk about, whether it’s the setting, the story or the questions it raises.

Kindle and kitty

Mostly they’ll be new books we think are going to cause a real stir so you can be ahead of the buzz – but sometimes we’ll indulge in old favourites too!

The books will always be available in the best value paperback, special offer hardback and ebook editions if you don’t win a signed copy – or, of course, you can order it from your local library for free. Where possible, the books will be available in the US, Australia and New Zealand in different editions.

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 – I’ll be posting the first choice very soon.

In the meantime, I’d love to know what you think about the idea below.

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