ContemporarySmall Pleasures by Clare Chambers

Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers


Set in the southern suburbs of London during the fifties, this beautiful book will surprise you, I’m sure of it. It is the story of Jean, a journalist who is investigating the claim of Gretchen Tilbury, a young woman who has revealed in the press that her daughter is the consequence of a virgin birth.

Jean lives a quiet and relatively solitary existence with her mother but her increasing proximity and involvement in the lives of Gretchen and her family will turn her world upside down and inside out. It took me a little while to really immerse myself in it, but if I had to sum it up in one sentence, I’d say it is utterly searing and subtle in equal measure. If you’re looking for a unique and unforgettable tale, this will be it. 

Small Pleasures is a magnificently written and profoundly moving novel about love and loss and above all else, self-discovery.

~ Sophie

Oh Jean. I didn’t expect to love this as much as I did. 

Small Pleasures has been pronounced as that very rare word of mouth best seller and is featured on the @womensprize long list. Compared to a modern day Austen, what struck me about this deeply tender, delicate book is how powerful the sense of loneliness was. Joan is being slowly suffocated, by an overwhelming mother, by colleagues that do not value her. The monotony of her life is so compelling, vividly detailed with a dry acerbic wit and I am still deeply attached to her.

Without fanfare the author brings to life parochial 1950s suburbia, her character development is emotive and highly observational. At its beating heart is a story of discovery and love. The Times calls this an almost flawless novel however the ending broke me and made me realise how much I cared about the people so expertly crafted. Thank you so much @gigiwoolstencroft for our copy.

~ Chaya

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