The first time I read Lisa Jewell's 'Vince and Joy' I felt like I'd come home. Literally wrapped up in the arms of a book I knew I'd love - and would love me back - forever. You know that feeling? It doesn't happen often, but when it does it stays with you. Since then it's the one book I've lent out to most other people and each time it' returns to me, it comes back feeling more and more loved.
Of course once I'd finished reading this, I had to get my hands on more. And so followed 'Ralph's Party, 'One Hit Wonder,' ThirtyNothing', '31 Dream Street' 'A Friend of The Family' and 'The Truth about Melody Brown'. All special books, made more special by Lisa's perfectly simple craft(wo)manship of being able to transport a reader to an entirely different place for as long as they choose to stay there.
What I love most about Lisa's writing is the fact she doesn't over-complicate things. Her characters are people. Real people you'd meet every day out on the street, in offices, at bus stops, in Sainsbury's. You just have to open your eyes and look beyond your own 'space' to see that they're all around. All the time. And by reading any one of Lisa's books, you get to spend some time with these real people and get to know, them, care about them and want to reach out and help them; rejoice in their happiness and pass them a tissue when they need one. They make you feel a nicer person for having shared somebody else's life for a while.
My favourite character out of all of these books is the enduring Toby who lives at 31 Dream Street. I wanted to adopt him, I loved him so much. And yet, I already knew him - he seemed to be a part of almost every shy, gangly, misunderstood boy I'd ever known. And I daresay I'll continue to come across the occasional Toby in my lifetime.
So I was delighted - as were a gazillion other die-hard Lisa Jewell fans - to hear that the sequel to Ralph's Party, 'After The Party' was being published in 2010. This year! In fact tomorrow!
Amazon says...) "In 'After the Party', it's eleven years since Jem Catterick and Ralph McLeary first got together. They thought it would be for ever, that they'd found their happy ending. As everyone agreed, they were the perfect couple. Then two became four, a flat became a house. Romantic nights out became sleepless nights in. And they soon found that life wasn't quite so simple any more. But through it all Jem and Ralph still loved each other, of course they did. Now the unimaginable has happened..."
My copy is in the post, and I was thrilled when Lisa agreed to take time out of her incredibly busy schedule to write a Guest Post for Strictly Writing - where you can read all about how she came to write the sequel and more.
Of course every positive comes with a negative and the bad part about Lisa's books is that they have a last page. Yup - every one - I know, I checked. But they're the eternal friends on the bookshelf who'll never let you down and always be there when you need them.