For the lifestyle you want

Give your mum a hug for Mother’s Day with three beautiful books which put women at centre stage

My Kind of Happy by Cathy Bramley

If it’s hope, happiness and laughter you’re looking for as the long winter draws to a close, then head off to Chesterfield for a big hug of a book!

My Kind of Happy is the new feel-good, funny and thoroughly uplifting story featuring one woman’s search for love and happiness from Cathy Bramley (main pic), a writer whose rom-coms have become the go-to panacea for those in search of a reading escape.

Bramley, whose bestsellers include The Lemon Tree Café, has found her natural niche writing entertaining women’s fiction about friendship, family and love and this sparkling new novel is like a welcome ray of sunshine in the gloom.

‘I think flowers are sunshine for the soul…’

Flowers have always made Fearne smile. She treasures the memories of her beloved grandmother’s floristry for her little Welsh chapel and, along with her older brother Freddie, helping to arrange the beautiful blooms that brought such joy to other people.

Ever since a family tragedy a year ago, Fearne has been searching in vain for her own contentment, but when a chance discovery inspires her to start a happiness list, it seems that Fearne might just have found her answer.

Sometimes the scariest path can be the most rewarding so is Fearne ready to take the risk, move out into the unknown and grab her second chances? And what kind of happiness might she find if she does take the gamble?

There is a joyous sense of renewal and hope on every step of Fearne’s journey as she learns to come to terms with the past, live for the moment and find her own happiness by making others happy.

With her trademark cast of wonderfully portrayed and quirky characters, a big dollop of love, and the guarantee of both tears and laughter, this really is My Kind of Happy!

(My Kind of Happy by Cathy Bramley, Orion, paperback, £7.99)

Sara James

Mothering Sunday by Sara James

A decision made on the spur of the moment many decades ago is set to change how a woman views both herself and her mother in a beautiful, heartbreaking story that was just made for Mother’s Day.

Sara James, who studied at St Martin’s School of Art in London and went on to work for national papers and women’s magazines, blends both her artistic and writing skills for an exploration of motherhood in a compelling family drama featuring forbidden love, long-buried secrets, sacrifice and forgiveness.

One crisp and bright Mothering Sunday, artist Alexandra (Ally) Abbott is on her way to meet her elderly mother Elizabeth at the Hayward Gallery in London. It hasn’t been a good day so far – her two children have been arrested during a climate change protest on Westminster Bridge.

Ally sees art as ‘humanity’s voice,’ an expression against whatever problems the world is facing but the rest of her family did not view life this way. As she grew up, it seemed to Ally that her businessman father, accountant mother and physics teacher brother had a completely different identity.

But when Ally is struck by one of the Hayward’s expressionist paintings – a work from 1963 by a woman called Kitty Campbell – it opens a long-closed door on a secret that her mother has kept buried for over 50 years.

In April 1963, aspiring artist Kitty Campbell has recently given birth to her first child in a mother and baby home. Kitty is to give her baby away for adoption but, when the day comes, she can’t bring herself to part with her tiny daughter.

In desperation, Kitty flees. She stops at a tea shop to feed her hungry baby and meets the owner Bet, a mother with her own heartache to bear. But Bet is kind to Kitty, holding the baby and offering a listening ear. Then Kitty makes a decision that will change all their lives for ever.

Several decades later, can the truth from that day finally right the past and bring a mother and daughter together?

Full of insight and wisdom, Mothering Sunday is an inspirational story with uplifting messages about family love, belonging and second chances, and is the perfect gift for your own special mum.

(Mothering Sunday by Sara James, Orion, paperback, £8.99)

Ann O’Loughlin

The Secrets of De Courcy Square by Ann O’Loughlin

A secret double life is uncovered when a businessman dies in a crash far from his home in America in a compelling story from Irish author Ann O’Loughlin.

The Secrets of De Courcy Square, an emotional rollercoaster full of drama, discovery and the centuries old language of flowers, comes from the pen of O’Loughlin, a leading journalist in Ireland who has covered all major news events of the last three decades.

What if your life was built on a lie… when Cora Gartland from Long Island, New York, learns that her partner of ten years, Jack Gartland, has been killed in a car crash in Ireland, her world falls apart.

But she soon discovers that there was another woman in the car… a wife called Amelia he’d never told her about. ‘I loved him; I thought I knew how he thinks, what made him tick. How can it be that I end up merely an extra in his life story?’ she asks herself.

Devastated, she wonders what else Jack was keeping from her and how she will survive this betrayal. His last request was that he be buried in Ireland so she flies to Dublin to try to make sense of Jack’s secret parallel life at a pretty house in picture perfect De Courcy Square, a place where warmth, friendship and flowers seem to be all around her… and where others have their own problems too.

As she grieves, Cora must find the truth about Jack and Amelia… and then discover a way to move forward with her broken life.

O’Loughlin tugs at our heartstrings in this beautifully imagined story of grief, families, the intertwining of lives… and the bonds of female friendship which can prove to be the bedrock of some of the most lasting human relationships.

The perfect gift book for a special mum…

(The Secrets of De Courcy Square by Ann O’Loughlin, Orion, paperback, £8.99)

Pam Norfolk
Pam Norfolk has been writing book reviews for over ten years, including for the Wordsworth Trust. She has also worked as a reporter and sub-editor on regional and national newspapers.

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