Small Pleasures

Small Pleasures

1957, south-east suburbs of London.
Jean Swinney is a feature writer on a local paper, disappointed in love and - on the brink of forty - living a limited existence with her truculent mother: a small life from which there is no likelihood of escape.

When a young Swiss woman, Gretchen Tilbury, contacts the paper to claim that her daughter is the result of a virgin birth, it is down to Jean to discover whether she is a miracle or a fraud. But the more Jean investigates, the more her life becomes strangely (and not unpleasantly) intertwined with that of the Tilburys: Gretchen is now a friend, and her quirky and charming daughter Margaret a sort of surrogate child. And Jean doesn't mean to fall in love with Gretchen's husband, Howard, but Howard surprises her with his dry wit, his intelligence and his kindness - and when she does fall, she falls hard.

But he is married, and to her friend - who is also the subject of the story she is researching for the newspaper, a story that increasingly seems to be causing dark ripples across all their lives. And yet Jean cannot bring herself to discard the chance of finally having a taste of happiness...

But there will be a price to pay, and it will be unbearable.

Title:Small Pleasures
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9781474613880
Format Type:

    Small Pleasures Reviews

  • Blair

    Set in 1957, Small Pleasures tells the story of Jean, who works at a local newspaper – the North Kent Echo – as 'features editor, columnist, dogsbody and the only woman at the table'. She receives...

  • Claire Fuller

    Not my usual kind of fiction, but I enjoyed it. I liked the period details (it's set in 1957), and the fine observations of suburban life. It was a real comfort read: a mystery, a love affair, and a b...

  • Charlotte Cantillon

    I was really intrigued by the premise of this, as it reminded me of Emma Donaghue’s The Wonder, despite being set at a completely different time frame and location. I really loved the story of Gretc...

  • Jessie Lewis

    The writing in this book is measured, delivering a feeling of meandering prosaicness that evokes the lives depicted within and is therefore very effective. The language is clever without being pretent...

  • Anne

    It is many many years since I last read a novel by Clare Chambers, it's a long time since she published a book, and as soon as this arrived, I felt a surge of excitement. I love her writing, I think s...

  • SueLucie

    I first read Clare Chambers’ ‘Learning to Swim’ almost two decades ago and it has been one of my favourites ever since. The kind of book I can read over again and I don’t have many of those. H...

  • Amy Jordan

    Jean, a single woman who lives with her Mother, works as a feature writer for the local newspaper. After featuring a piece about potential virgin births, Jean receives a letter from Gretchen, who clai...

  • Jules

    Just a warning that I’m going to include a mild swear word here - what a bloody joy this book was! I finished it last night & knew it was going to have at least 4 stars but it’s still in my head t...

  • Geertje

    4.5 starsAbout a year ago I started writing the first draft of a novel that deals with a woman who believes she has immaculately conceived. I wanted to explore how a woman may come to believe such a t...

  • Sandrine Vaillancourt

    What a book! So thoughtfully constructed. The Ending shocked me to tears, I did not expect this. ...