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Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers

“I really enjoyed how the author captured the sense of a period, not so very long ago, when the expectations and constraints around women, their behaviour and their limitations, were so different. A story that reminds you that, nonetheless, human emotion and passions were the same – just much more difficult to express. I felt I learned something (just me who had to look up parthenogenesis?) and I loved the fact that the book was sparked by two journalistic reports from that time and that journalistic investigation is the tool used to unravel the mystery of what seems to be a ‘miracle’. Really resonant of the time in which it was set, without feeling dated which is quite an accomplishment. Gently compelling.”

‘Really beautifully writing about loneliness and entrapment. Really reflects the post-war period when there weren’t many men around and what life was like for single women. Characters were nicely drawn and it was nice to have a positive male character. The ending leaves you wondering, which probably makes you less judgemental. I like that the author didn’t apply modern morals or judgements to the story. “

“Lots of nice little period details which felt relevant and not overdone. Things weren’t spelled out too much. None of it felt contrived.”

“In contrast to some the books we have read, there were a couple of positive male role models which felt more balanced.”

“Themes of a strong sense of duty to family and the wider community and suppressing individual needs very well depicted.”

“Would definitely read other books by the same author.”

‘There is a lot of hidden depth to this book – not what I expected.”

“I wanted a happy ending. It was an intriguing story, slow and steady sleuthing but interesting none the less. I was a bit frustrated by the matter of fact tone of the love story. A bit too Elinor Dashwood and not enough Marianne. I scored it lower because of the unhappy ending.”

“I had tears in my eyes as I finished it. So sad, but a very thought-provoking book with moral dilemmas. Poor Jean – it was too good to be true that she could be happy. I could relate to having met many of those characters. I really enjoyed it.”

Overall score 8.3

Range 6.5 – 9

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