Under a Sapphire Sky by Susannah Bates
|Under a Sapphire Sky by Susannah Bates|
|Category: Women's Fiction|
|Reviewer: Katie Pullen|
|Summary: A woman's struggle to find herself on a path of unlikely friendships and strained relationships set against the unusual world of the jewellery trade in London and Sri Lanka. Smarter than your average chick-lit, this engaging read is a real page-turner and a definite for the beach.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 512||Date: March 2010|
|Publisher: Arrow Books Ltd|
Marianne Cooper is happy. She has a thriving jewellery business with her best friend Gabby and is six months pregnant with Gabby's brother Jay's baby. Marianne enjoys her passion for stones, her unconventional attitude to life and her pregnancy, and her unique relationship with Jay, but when her ex boyfriend, and reformed man, Paul comes back into her life with his fiancée Sophie and a rare padparascha stone he wants Marianne to turn into an engagement ring, she soon finds herself questioning her decision to reject Paul and indeed her way of life.
As Marianne sees the ever-fragile Gabby lurch from one crisis to another, as Jay proves more and more unreliable in their relationship, as Paul questions his engagement to Sophie, it becomes clear that, unlike the beautiful padparascha stone, those around Marianne have many flaws and have seemingly lost their sparkle. As life takes her from London to Sri Lanka and back again, Marianne struggles with her own imperfections as she questions her decisions and attitudes, before realising her greatest desires in life may only be fulfilled by the one man she has always overlooked.
Although I've not read any of Susannah Bates' previous novels, I would definitely give them a whirl in the future, as this book is an exceptionally good read. Her characters are well drawn, particularly Marianne who, though annoyingly rebellious at times, is a very sympathetic character whom I identified with and warmed to immensely. I really felt for her as she struggled with life while those around her constantly let her down and how, like the padparascha stone, Marianne needs different light shone on her for her true personality to come through. She is perhaps the only truly likeable character here, but that's the point, as without spoiled Gabby, self-centred Jay and foolish Paul, the plot and character development would not be as enticing as it is.
What also struck me about this novel straightaway was the padparascha stone at its heart (and indeed its title). This rare stone brings all the major characters together and seems to be the only constant in their lives as they all start to lose touch with who they are and what they want. For me this proved to be an excellent juxtaposition and I was so taken with Bates' description of a stone I had never heard of, I found myself searching for padparaschas on the Internet to see if they are as beautiful as she described and thankfully I wasn't disappointed.
The plot itself is well-paced and Bates' prose is elegant and smart and I have to admit I enjoyed every page and was completely enveloped by both the plot, the strong themes of love and relationships, morals, wealth and religion, and Bates' writing style itself, so much so I kept telling my partner how good the book was. I particularly relished the occasions where Bates carefully drops a little hint of what may happen next but keeps us waiting for her revelations, and I found myself eagerly scanning a few chapters ahead impatient to find out if my deductions were correct.
The only criticism I have is that not enough of the book is set in Sri Lanka. Bates' descriptions of the country really fired my imagination so it was a shame for me that most of the novel was set in London. But don't let that put you off as this is a compelling read and one that will definitely find a place on my bookshelf for a second read in the future.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
You can read more book reviews or buy Under a Sapphire Sky by Susannah Bates at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Under a Sapphire Sky by Susannah Bates at Amazon.com.
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