Tuesday, 28 July 2020

The Beginner's Guide to Loneliness by Laura Bambrey

Laura Bambrey was born in Dorset but raised in Wales. She’s worked as a trapeze choreographer, sculpture conservator and stilt walker, amongst others, and spent most of her time collecting stories from the people she met along the way.

She has spent many years as a book blogger and reviewer of women’s fiction and now lives in Devon with her very own romantic hero and a ridiculously fluffy rabbit named Mop. The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness is her début novel.

You can follow her on
twitter: https://twitter.com/LauraBambrey
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LauraBambreyBooks/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/laura_bambrey_books/
Blog: laurabambreybooks.blogspot.com

Hello Laura, it is wonderful to have you here with us today on the publication of your debut novel The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness. It is an unusual time in the world at the moment so how will you be spending your publication day, do you have any celebrations planned?

Hi Rea! Thank you so much for having me on your fabulous blog. Yup - things are definitely quite strange, that’s for sure! Today I’ll mostly be hopping between social media and obsessively checking Amazon for the joy of seeing the book live (don’t hate me! I think this step is pretty much compulsory on pub day ;) ).

Later, my wonderful other half is cooking a celebratory meal. We might not be going out - but it definitely counts as the most exciting day in my lockdown calendar :)

This novel called out to me because loneliness is not something that is often featured in novels but is something that effects so many of us, what was your inspiration for this novel?

As you say, I think loneliness is something we all experience at some point in our lives. No matter how loved and surrounded by people we might be, events and circumstances can cause us to feel lonely. It can be a quick, fleeting thing or an issue that we live with longer-term. And it’s so taboo to talk about it - have you noticed that? Admitting that you are, or have been, lonely seems to carry all sorts of weight with it - and yet it can affect our lives so dramatically.

So, in The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness, I wanted to explore all the facets of loneliness and its links with other issues- but I really wanted to do this with a light touch. I hope that the book provides an opportunity - a conversation starter - for people to open up and talk about their experiences with loneliness.

You have been a part of the book blogging world for many years and now your first book baby is out in the real world how are you feeling about being on the other side of the reviews this time?

It’s absolutely crazy and wonderful at the same time. Scary and humbling. I’m just so grateful to every single person who has read TBGTL and taken the time to write down their thoughts and share them with the world.

Your novel is set on a retreat, did you spend time at a retreat for research purpose and was there any other research you undertook for this novel?

I’ve never been on a retreat, but my mum and dad were heavily into the hippy / permaculture scene in West Wales when I was growing up. I’ve hung out with a lot of people who’ve done the whole retreat experience - both the more glamorous, high-end, yurt-style, glamping versions, and the ones where they built their own benders to live in!

Now that your first novel is out in the real world do you have plans for a book 2 and if so can you tell us a little about it and do you feel there is more pressure on book two?

Absolutely! I’m working away at the first draft of book 2 as we speak. I can’t say too much about it just yet, but it’s a story that explores identity and the healing power of community. I’m a little bit in love with my new heroine!

I don’t know about more pressure - I guess that might build when more people have (hopefully) read The Beginner’s Guide and (hopefully) want to see another one from me. I guess there’s the personal pressure you put on yourself as a writer too - it’s got to match up and be as good as, if not better than, book one. But at the moment, I’m just focusing on letting my heroine tell me her story.

What has been the best moment of becoming an author so far?
There have been so many amazing moments already but, for me, the absolute best moment rushing upstairs to tell Jules that I’d had an email from Simon & Schuster telling me they wanted my book - that I was going to be a published author. He has been my biggest cheerleader and I wouldn’t have got this far without him. I probably wouldn’t have even started.

The Beginner's Guide to Loneliness is out on kindle today!

Tori Williamson is alone. After a tragic event left her isolated from her loved ones, she’s been struggling to find her way back to, well – herself. That’s why she set up her blog, The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness, as a way of – anonymously – connecting with the outside world and reaching others who just need a little help sometimes.
When she’s offered a free spot on a wellbeing retreat in exchange for a review on her blog, Tori is anxious about opening herself up to new surroundings. But after her three closest friends – who she talks to online but has never actually met – convince her it’ll do her some good, she reluctantly agrees and heads off for three weeks in the wild (well, a farm in Wales).
From the moment she arrives, Tori is sceptical and quickly finds herself drawn to fellow sceptic Than, the retreat’s dark and mysterious latecomer. But as the beauty of The Farm slowly comes to light she realizes that opening herself up might not be the worst thing. And sharing a yurt with fellow retreater Bay definitely isn’t.  Will the retreat be able to fix Tori? Or will she finally learn that being lonely doesn’t mean she’s broken . . .

My Review

The Beginners Guide to Loneliness is Laura Brambrey debut novel and being a book blogger who I have connected with over the years I know we have similar tastes in books so when I see that she was releasing her debut as part of Books and the City’s Digital Originals I was intrigued and excited to read her novel.

Our main character is Tori, she has been through a devastating time and as a result has found herself not just alone but lonely which is why she set up her blog The Beginners Guide to Loneliness and as a result she has made a trio of friends but none of whom she has ever met. When an opportunity arises for Tori to attend a wellbeing retreat to review on her blog she is hesitant but with the push from her friends she sets off not knowing what she has let herself in for.

What an incredible debut by Laura she captured my attention from the first chapter and as the storyline moved along I found myself connecting and relating to Tori. She wasn’t an instantly likeable character, it was as the storyline moved along and her barriers began to come down and I found out more about her background and her issues that I slowly began to warm to her character.

There was also a great amount of supporting characters in this novel all of whom have their own problems they need to work on and they brought friendship, entertainment and even a little romance to Tori.

This novel touches on a number of issues that many of us have faced and also raises awareness of other issues too. Loneliness is something that isn't spoken about or always understood with many assuming that you don't have to be on your own to experience loneliness that sometimes you can be in a room full of people and still feel so incredibly alone and the author has brought great awareness to this topic in her novel which isn't something that crops up regularly in novels. What I loved most was the opening of each chapter where there were motivational quotes to open each chapter and I actually found some of these rather inspiring. There was a surprising revelation that I was not expecting until it was being revealed right under my nose and I was so shocked that the small clues had been there all along and yet I had no idea.

I would definitely recommend this novel if you are looking for a motivational, life affirming fictional read with the workings of friendships and the blossoming of romance to keep you gripped until the very end. A praiseworthy debut in my eyes.

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