Sweet Nothings by Trisha Ashley

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Sweet Nothings by Trisha Ashley

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Fairhead
Reviewed by Sue Fairhead
Summary: Lizzie narrates her life, her secrets, her passion for cooking, her growing dislike of her husband.... fast-moving and complicated, but surprisingly likeable.
Buy? No Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: July 2007
Publisher: Severn House Publishers Ltd
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1847510020

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Lizzie lives in the village of Middlemoss with a philandering and ever-distant husband, and a delightful teenage son who is shortly to leave for university. Lizzie's main passion is cooking, something she shares with her husband's cousin Nick. She also writes books about village life, and assists in various local events, including a slightly bizarre 'Mystery Play' written in dialect.

As the book opens, Lizzie is seriously considering leaving her husband, although she hasn't much idea what she will do afterwards. Events take over, and she finds herself drawn more and more into village life. Someone dislikes her and tries to get her accused of negligence (and worse), but she is always supported by her loyal friend Annie.

It's a village novel, in a sense; however there's not much character development, and it's considerably faster paced than - for instance - Miss Read. The style is more like chick-lit for older women, except that there's no explicit sex, and no shopping. It also has a hint of being a crime novel; there are suspicions, and accusations, and a dramatic denouement at the end. But it's hardly a mystery, since it's very obvious to the reader what's going on, even if Lizzie - who narrates the book - is confused.

I have mixed feelings about Sweet Nothings. At first, I found the sheer volume of characters rather overwhelming and had a hard time remembering who was who. The main ones quickly emerged, however, and the author manages to make the minor ones reasonably memorable, albeit somewhat caricatured, so that wasn't a problem for long.

I also found the style a bit annoying to start with. The writing is very informal, written almost as if Lizzie were chatting to a friend, with lengthy sentences full of irrelevancies. It changes from past to present tense and back again several times, too, which struck me as odd. However, I soon got used to this and by the last part of the book was no longer noticing the tenses; I felt as if I were beginning to get to know Lizzie, and thus hearing her voice.

I suspect that some parts of the book were intended to funny, poking fun at village life and the upper classes in particular; unfortunately, this didn't really appeal to my sense of humour, so I found these sections rather surreal. I thought I would find some parts moving - such as when Lizzie leaves her son at university - but I didn't. Nevertheless, it definitely grew on me. I read a few chapters each night for a week, and while I wasn't racing to pick it up to find out what happened, I often read rather more than I'd intended, as I found myself caught up in the story.

Good for a holiday read, or a wet weekend, perhaps, when you're not looking for anything challenging.

If you like books which poke fun at the upper classes, you might like Belgravia. If you prefer truly surreal light fiction, then A Place called Here might appeal. You might also enjoy The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen.

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Buy Sweet Nothings by Trisha Ashley at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Sweet Nothings by Trisha Ashley at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Sweet Nothings by Trisha Ashley at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Sweet Nothings by Trisha Ashley at Amazon.com.


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