Book Club- Page Turning Leading Ladies

You may or not remember but last year I started hosting my very own bookclub on IGTV. I absolutely loved creating those videos, they were a great way to connect fellow avid readers, start a conversation and truth be told on a slightly selfish note, they simply encouraged me to read much more regularly. The only drawback was I just didn't feel like I was getting enough of a discussion going on each video and it kind of started to feel like I was just talking at myself so I decided to quit whilst I was ahead. Everything is a learning curve and one of the best things I took from the IGTV book club was that you guys want simple, quick recommendations. If you really like the book or you agree with me or want to make your own recommendation than of course you will, but all in all- very much like myself- you want less of the chit chat and more material to add to your ever growing reading list. I feel you and it's been noted. That said I still wanted to talk about books in some way on my platform because its one of my favourite pastimes, so this year I will be doing quarterly book recommendation over on here (and let's be honest, that way I'm encouraged to keep up the regular reading).

At the risk of stating the obvious here, I love a good read, plain and simple. It's my personal belief that one of life's little pleasures is to be a couple of chapters into a new book, when you get that ping of realisation that you're fully immersed, you've connected and you're eager to turn the next page (the soul destroying flip side of this is being half way through a book when you think "I really want to give up"). I've been lucky enough to start my year off with a whole host of books that I genuinely connected with and was sad to finish (the sign of a great, memorable read). I realised that one of the winning factors which seems to link each of these books is their complex, diverse and often ridiculously relatable female protagonist. And so this book club instalment is by some very happy accident a list of books which not only did I love, but are definitely one for the ladies...

Expectation by Anna Hope

Expectation focuses on the lives of three close girl friends and the struggles they face when life just doesn't go the way they had planned and instead of feeling accomplished, they each individually feel a disappointment in themselves. Throughout the book we are faced with the idea of "expectation" as we read about these three women and their lives which have mapped out very differently to what they anticipated. Lissa is beautiful and charismatic but is struggling to find work and ultimately feels unfulfilled and lost. Hannah on paper has it all; a great job, an impressive home and a perfect marriage but behind the scenes she is struggling to concieve and is filled with self blame. Cate is a new mother and doesn't seem to think she's doing a great job. She's isolated and is battling with the feeling that she's trapped. I think most women will be able to take something from one of these characters and relate to it. There are lessons to be learnt from each character's story and fundamentally this is a book about learning to adapt to life, being kind to yourself and understanding you are always in control of your own path, no matter how lost you may feel. 
I felt like this book had a really empowering message behind it of just how difficult the modern women still has it in today's society and how incredibly resilient we can be! These three characters are battling what is expected of them against what they want to do, which at thirty years old is certainly a feeling I'm familiar with. Expectation gave me real food for thought and was a wonderful reminder that your life is just a series of choices made by you and only you.

So Lucky by Dawn O'Porter

Another story which focuses around three women but this time they are all completely different, seemingly have absolutely nothing in common and yet as fate would have it, are connected through one highly anticipated event. So Lucky is very much a story of "Instagram vs Reality" in everyday life and it really sinks it's teeth into the idea that we only ever show the airbrushed version of ourselves to the world and hide away the parts we think people won't like or we think will make us appear weak. Beth runs a successful business and loves being a new mum but her marriage leaves a lot to be desired (...literally). Lauren is an Instagram superstar and bride-to-be. Her social media would have you believe she's living the dream lifestyle but behind the scenes cracks begin to show. And Ruby takes pride in being independent. She's a head strong, single mum with a secret which completely rules her life and fills her with a constant sense of shame. Each of these women are hiding something and "So Lucky" has us asking why.
I adored Dawn O'Porter's first novel The Cows and so couldn't wait to get stuck into So Lucky, I'm pleased to say it truly didn't disappoint. Dawn O'Porter has this amazing knack for creating incredibly likeable characters, who are just so easy to emotionally invest in. Her character's are always endlessly relatable and seem to gently remind you of the amazing power we have as women, especially when we unit together. Both Dawn O'Porter's books are a real lesson in self love and on both accounts, I've finished with a new found appreciation for both myself and the female relationships I have in my life. So Lucky is the definition of feel good and won't just warm your heart a little, but leave you with a spring in your step.

Red At The Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

Red At the Bone follows one families history through three generations, looking at pivotal moments through different perspectives. The book focusses primarily on Iris and the turbulent relationship she has with her daughter Melody. Having fallen pregnant as a teenager, Iris's middle class upbringing is suddenly challenged, along with her sense of freedom to live her life as she pleases. Red At The Bone explores class, race and gender but ultimately this is a story of motherhood. Iris is lacking in the maternal extinct she hoped to gain through nurturing Melody as a baby, she wants more from her life than being a mother and feels tied down by family.  
This is a really short but sweet novel with a lot of big questions. Eloquently written and wonderfully insightful, I found it a joy to read.

Mother Love By Elizabeth Brown

Another story which questions the idea of maternal extinct but in a very different way and through a very different family set up. From the off set Mother Love introduces us to mother Margaret and her changeable personality. As the story unfolds we encounter more and more of Margaret's difficult (yet often comical) ways as she becomes increasingly awkward. She favourites one of her children over the other two, all of whom cope with her bizarre behaviour in their own unique way.
Elizabeth Brown presents the complex relationship between a mother and her children in a really clever, fascinating way. Through different family perspectives, a series of letters and records, you can't help but become completely immersed in this unconventional and yet completely relatable family dynamic. With each character so well considered and each of their thoughts so thoroughly explored, I found myself not only endearing to each family member (flaws and all) but eager to find out more.  I'm not ashamed to admit I read this book in the space of one weekend for the simple fact I just could NOT put it down. Mother Love deals with heartbreak and family tragedies in equal measure from death to divorce, whilst simultaneously being a funny, witty and an often lighthearted read.

Adults by Emma Jane Unsworth

And last but by no means least, Adults. First and foremost I need to make one thing clear, I adored this book. Adults follows the story of Jenny at a real crisis point in her life. She's heartbroken, jobless and skint whilst simulanteously dealing with an unpredictable mother and a social anxiety we swiftly learn she masks with social media validation. In a word, Jenny is basically trying to navigate a lot of your average "millennial" minefields. Truth be told when I started reading Adults I found myself instantly disliking Jenny's character until it dawned on me, most of the reasons why she annoys me are actually bad traits I shared... Awkward! The more I read, the more I realised Jenny was in fact one of the most relatable characters I've had the pleasure (and sometimes displeasure... Looking in a mirror at your own flaws ain't always pretty) to read about, with a lot of her quips on life uncannily similar to my own. Adults just "got me".
Clever, witty and completely quotable with hilarious one liners and points which made me actually agreement out loud, it's not easy to achieve comedic timing in writing and yet Emma Jane Unsworth nails it every time. Hilarity aside this is a truly insightful story which perfectly tackles the ever worsening issue of social media addiction and narcissism in a millennial generation. Adult's manages to pin point the problem, personify it in Jenny and make it hilarious. I couldn't put it down, I was sad to finish it and I will most definitely be re-reading!

Happy reading and see you at the next Book Club instalment,
Sophia x

Photography by Catherine Booty

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