Thank you to Sara Jade Virtue and everyone at Books and the City, Simon & Schuster for the advanced copy. The Sunday Lunch Club will be available to buy on 19th April.
The first rule of Sunday Lunch Club is … don't make any afternoon plans.
Every few Sundays, Anna and her extended family and friends get together for lunch. They talk, they laugh, they bicker, they eat too much. Sometimes the important stuff is left unsaid, other times it's said in the wrong way.
Sitting between her ex-husband and her new lover, Anna is coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy at the age of forty. Also at the table are her ageing grandmother, her promiscuous sister, her flamboyantly gay brother and a memory too terrible to contemplate.
Until, that is, a letter arrives from the person Anna scarred all those years ago. Can Anna reconcile her painful past with her uncertain future?
Juliet Ashton weaves a story of love, friendship and community that will move you to laughter and to tears. Think Cold Feet meets David Nicholls, with a dash of the joy of Jill Mansell added for good measure.
Ah, Sunday lunch. The bringing together of family and friends. That one meal where we all get to catch up; where the news can be as varied as the menu.
They are not quite the traditional meat, roasties and two veg type of family. There are other ingredients, more exotic influences which make the meal much more appealing. On the whole, the Pipers are a close family; with the exception of the absent parents, an intriguing rift in the family dynamics. Everyone else gets along, even the ex-husband and wife, who get on even better now than when they were married.
The characterisation is perfect. I loved Anna, slow-cooking her own special recipe, who along with with elder brother Neil (whose husband is delicious - I think he might just be the most perfect man alive...) takes care of the two younger siblings; Maeve, a spicy, heady mix, and the delicate Josh. Not forgetting the Granny Dinkie, the basic robust ingredient no dish can do without.
And the delectable, perfect Italian, Luca... bellisimo!
The secret ingredient, common in each menu, is love and warmth, whatever happens. Subtle secrets flavour the main course throughout with a hint of the unexpected, but never spoil the meal.
The literary equivalent of a glorious roast you haven't had to cook yourself. With dessert. And lashing of lovely warm custard. If only every Sunday Lunch was this good.
About the Author
I enjoy writing almost as much as I love reading. Books are constant friends; no fall-outs about borrowed shoes, no lusting after the same man. The books I write are about love in all its colours. Romantic love, of course - it makes the world go round, after all - but also family love, the way we feel about our friends and children and colleagues and the woman we see every day on the bus but never say 'hello' to.
There's no end of inspiration. Most authors are baffled by that commonly asked question, "Where do you get your ideas from?" The answer is simple: YOU. People are inspiring, with all their niggling faults and shimmering virtues. The tangles we get ourselves into, and the ludicrous ways we attempt to untangle ourselves, are a never ending source of material. In fact, most authors daren't use too much real life in their books because it would sound too much like fiction.
I've just remembered that this is supposed to be a biog, so here's some info about me. I live just outside London with my daughter, Niamh, who's 12, and my husband, Matthew, who's considerably older than that. The house hums with creativity, as I scribble downstairs and Matthew composes music for theatre and TV upstairs. We have two dogs, one of whom is wildly energetic, one of whom was born an old lady and prefers to sleep all day.
Hmm, what else? I'm Irish, but you wouldn't know that from my accent. I can't sing. My favourite crisp flavour is Roast Chicken, but I reserve the right to change that at short notice.
I hope you enjoy my books. They are the way I speak to the world.