Thursday, 24 April 2014

Interview with Carole Mathews and review of A Place To Call Home

Today I am joined on the blog by one of my top 10 authors, the lovely Carole Matthews....

Thank you for taking the time to stop by Rea Book Reviews and answer some questions for us.

1) This has to be my favourite of your books, it had a slightly deeper and serious topic compared with your other books, what gave you the inspiration for this book.?
I do two books a year, so that’s a lot of material! It also gives me chance to do something a little bit different every now and again. The background to the story is an abusive relationship, but I concentrate more on how my character, Ayesha, builds a new life for herself and her daughter. I always like to have an issue with a tiny ‘i’ at the heart of my stories and pick something that affects a lot of women. Sadly, a lot of women have found themselves having to leave abusive relationships for one reason or another. The book still has it’s funny moments though. And a few weepy ones too. 

 2) Crystal was my favourite character she was so much fun but also had a caring side to her, was she or and of your other characters based on people you know? She’s named for my good friend, Ayesha, who is a lady from a Sri Lankan background so she helped me a lot with research - as did a trip to Sri Lanka. I wanted to explore how her character became so much more strong after she left her marriage and was free to be herself. She goes from being so timid to developing into quite a feisty lady. Quite often my characters have a basis in truth and I think that’s why so many women relate to them. I don’t often use one person entirely as inspiration, but I made the exception for Summer Daydreams which is the story of my friend, Helen Rochfort, handbag designer extraordinaire. That’s about 75% true to her own story.

 3) A birdie tells me you used to work as a Beauty Therapist which is what your character Ayesha turns her hand to, do you miss the industry at all? I was a beauty therapist for 15 years and loved it. Sometimes I miss the company as I used to see about 20 clients a day. Now I work in splendid isolation! There’s nothing quite like having a good gossip over a manicure. It also gave me a lot of interesting stories to draw on for inspiration. 

 4) Can you give us a teaser about the book you are currently working on? I’m just editing my book for Christmas this year and it’s called The Christmas Party. The book is about an office party in a manor house and features the stories of three women whose lives all change during the course of the evening. I’ve had great fun writing this. There are some quite slapstick moments and a wonderful pantomime baddy who we can all hate. 

 5) What was the last you’re currently reading and would you recommend it? I’m just in the middle of an oldish book - Two Caravans by Marina Lewycka. I adored her first book, A Short History of Tractors in the Ukraine - even though I thought it was a terribly unattractive title. I’m finding this book a little bitty. There are many viewpoints and it swaps from one to another every paragraph, so I’m struggling to remember who’s who. Even the dog has its own viewpoint. The underlying story is very interesting though. It’s about a bunch of immigrants - from Eastern Europe, China and Africa - who come together to pick the fruit during the summer in England. Nice, but I’m not as totally engrossed as I like to be. 

 6) What are your thoughts on Kindle vs paperback? You can’t beat the feel and smell of a proper book! However, I fell in love with my Kindle when I bought it for my trip to Sri Lankan. I loaded it up with about 350 books - all on one little gadget! For once, I didn’t have to choose between shoes and books when packing. I like the convenience of the Kindle and also that there are some great bargains to be had. I recently bought Donna Tartt’s book, The Goldfinch, for 99p on Kindle. And, at 800 pages long, I’m quite glad that I don’t have to carry the book around in my handbag. I don’t think I’ll ever stop buying paperbacks though. Like the banana, a perfect package.

I am a huge Carole Matthews fan and I have loved all of her books she never seems to put a foot wrong which is why I find her books so enjoyable they are like comfort food to me!

In the early hours of the morning Ayesha makes her escape with her mute daughter from her violent husband. With all her family still living back in Sri Lanka they have no one to turn to so they head for London to try and find a place to stay where her husband cannot find them.
Former popstar Hayden has become somewhat a recluse and has opened his house to Joy and Crystal, when Crystal asks Hayden if he could do a friend of hers a favour and take in a homeless mother and child he is not won over but cannot say no to Crystal.
Will this house be a safe haven for Ayesha and her daughter?

One of the first books I read of Carole Matthews was The Chocolate Lovers Diet Club and it has remained a firm favourite of mine by this author but there is now a book threatening to knock that off the top! A Place to Call Home was a fabulous read that is now easily my favourite by Carole Matthews. I knew from the first page that this book was going to be devoured in one sitting. Somehow the author managed to get me intrigued and on edge straight from that first page.

The characters are what make this book such a pleasure to read. There are a diverse group of characters who will melt your heart. Ayesha is a courageous, innocent and loveable and she has lived a very sheltered life so she is not very street savvy. Her cute little daughter Sabine was a big hit for me I had great sympathy for her and I was willing her to find her voice not only for her but for her mum also. Crystal was a very trendy, modern loving woman who brought a great deal of entertainment to the book whilst the gorgeous Hayden kept us ladies occupied!

The storyline was actually quite deep and tense compared to the author’s previous books. The storyline obviously covers a horrific topic of domestic abuse but this is dealt with so delicately. I really sympathised with Ayesha and I thought she was a very brave woman to try to escape but I am sure this is what the love for your child would make me do, I just wanted a happy ever after for her and her daughter.

This book has some great humour a touch of romance, some great friendships as well as some tense moments. This was an enthralling read that I would highly recommend, Carole Matthews fans you are in for a real treat with this book ENJOY! xx

Kindle            Paperback

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