a common thread among this year’s shortlisted Romantic Comedy novels, with the
themes of family and close-knit communities being explored against a variety of
delightful backdrops from the spires of Oxford through to seaside towns and
story of Stevie who, determined to prove her independence, takes an assignment
organising a charity ball in Oxford. As if organising canapés with no budget
isn’t hard enough, Stevie’s teenage crush, Tom, resurfaces to confuse things
the way of her dreams – will she?
asked Rhoda to tell us more about the setting and ideas behind the book:
lived in a house in Norham Gardens, very much like the one described in the
book. We once organised a party there, so writing the book allowed me to
revisit my student days. There is a scene in the book where they put up the old
wartime blackout blinds and turn a room into a disco. This is based on
something that actually happened.
is a real one too. I wrote the book not long after Sri Lanka was devastated by
a tsunami and it seemed fitting to include reference to some of the issues
faced by the people rebuilding the towns and villages (including the one my
mother grew up in) which were wiped out by the disaster. It meant that I got to
make lots of Sri Lankan snacks as part of my ‘research’ – which was a win-win
Joanna Bolouri tells the tale of Emily who has great friends
and a wonderful life, far from her interfering family. She also has a wonderful
boyfriend who she’s planning to take home for Christmas. So when they break up,
Emily is gutted. Enlisting the help of her neighbour Evan, she’s determined to
bring Robert home for Christmas – even if it isn’t the real one…
asked Joanna where the idea for this for this story came from:
being asked repeatedly by my mother if I’d ‘met anyone yet?’ I could have only
been to Tesco but she’d still ask. I thought for a moment that lying through my
teeth and saying yes might take the pressure off. Families seem to be far more
concerned about your love life than you are.
story of Verity Bloom who hasn’t been interested in cooking anything more
complicated than the perfect fish finger sandwich, ever since she lost her best
friend and baking companion two years ago.
opportunity to help a friend lands her right back in the heart of the kitchen.
The Plumberry School of Comfort Food is due to open in a few weeks’ time and
needs the kind of great ideas that only Verity could cook up. And with new
friendships bubbling and a sprinkling of romance in the mix, Verity finally
begins to feel like she’s home.
when tragedy strikes at the very heart of the cookery school, can Verity find
the magic ingredient for Plumberry while still writing her own recipe for happiness?
Lucy, who runs a cookery school in the Lake District. She believes that
everyone can learn to cook and that families who cook together stay
together. I wanted to explore what constitutes family and also how love
and food go hand in hand. The result is a love story about food,
friendship, family and finding the key to our own hearts.
tiny town she’d long left behind, hanging out with the boy who became her best
friend when they were teenagers?
what is he to do with the letters of advice Grace has been receiving
anonymously for over thirty years?
Where did the idea for this come from?
collect vintage typewriters and one of these – a 1930s Remington model 1 – was
the inspiration for the story.
successful GP Holly Graham as she relocates her family to join the team at The
Practice at Larkford, hoping to find the peaceful life she craves, despite the
chaos that comes with her two-year-old twins and the troublesome state of her
marriage. It will certainly be a challenge to keep her private and professional
lives separate in such a tight-knit community.
novel: we asked her why she chose a country practice as her setting:
when it comes to seeing our wonderful doctors in action and the responsibility
they carry every day, it was a natural step for me to write about what might go
on behind the scenes in a country practice – to explore the light and the dark,
and of course the humour that sustains our medical teams within our