“ Author: Erica James / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 19 August 2010 / Genre: Modern & Contemporary Fiction / Publisher: Orion Publishing Co / Title: The Queen of New Beginnings / ISBN 13: 9781409102571 / ISBN 10: 1409102571 / Alternative EAN: 9781409101840 „
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Comedy author Clayton is having a tough time at the moment, having seen his writing partner and friend, Barry, run off with his girlfriend Stacey. As his personal and professional life spirals out of control, his agent sets him up in a remote country house where he can hide out until the dust settles. Here, he meets Alice, a voiceover actress who has been running away from troubles of her own. They form a bond until Clayton betrays Alice.
The above synopsis probably sounds incredibly basic but that's because a large chunk of the narrative takes place in the past, telling how both Alice and Clayton came to arrive at this point in their lives. With much of the 'plot' taking place around this, it was difficult for me to sum it up in a way that makes the book sound like it's worth reading but the flashbacks into the past are actually quite interesting, especially the rather topsy-turvy childhood that Alice experienced.
If you're familiar with Erica James' work, you'll know that she always weaves a good story together, often off the back of not a huge amount of plot and this has a lot to do with her excellent characterisation. In this book, the characters from both the past and present are what I'd call 'real' - they're by no means one-dimensional and all have some kind of flaw or are open to this kind of interpretation but for me, that only serves to make them more interesting. Aside from Alice and Clayton, there are also good characters in the form of George (who Alice has known since childhood), Rufus & Natasha (Alice's stepbrother and stepsister, who form a key part of her past), Isabel (who also forms a key part of her past) and the aforementioned Bazza and Stacey (who I sincerely hoped would get some comeuppance).
All in all, I'd thoroughly recommend this book. Despite it being a relatively thick hardbook that I was reading, I got through it in a couple of days, thanks largely to the author's characterisation and ability to hook me into the story.