Thursday, March 15, 2012

Book Review: Pear Shaped

By Becky Gulc

"Pear Shaped" is the debut novel by Stella Newman; ‘a novel about love, heartbreak and dessert.’ It has a lovely colourful cover and as someone with a sweet tooth the synopsis had me convinced I would love this book:

'Sophie Klein walks into a bar one Friday night and her life changes. She meets James Stephens: charismatic, elusive, and with a hosiery model ex who casts a long, thin shadow over their burgeoning relationship.
He’s clever, funny and shares her greatest pleasure in life: to eat and drink slightly too much and then have a little lie down. Sophie’s instinct tells her James is too good to be true – and he is.
An exploration of love, heartbreak and lots of food. Pear Shaped is in turns smart, laugh-out-loud funny and, above all, recognizable to women everywhere’
[Synopsis credit: Book cover]

This is one of those books that left me with a warm feeling inside and a smile on my face when I’d finished it. The book delivers what it promises it terms of making you laugh and making you hungry, the writing flowed beautifully and was just my cup of tea.

‘I got you something’ he says
‘Really?’ I say, shocked. Inside the bag is a large bottle of Aromatherapy Associates Rosemary Bath Oil that he must have bought me in Duty Free, wherever he has been.
‘I know you like rosemary,’ he says. I do? ‘The pasta you ordered at the Italian...’
Bless him, I love the taste of rosemary but I don’t want to smell like a roast lamb. Still, extremely thoughtful and sweet of him.

I really warmed to Sophie as a character, she’s a sweet, witty, hard working good woman in her early thirties and is passionate about her job as a Pudding Developer which sees her travel to places like New York and Paris for research (I want that job!). She doesn’t come across as desperate for a relationship, just happy to be in one once she finds someone she really likes.

Although we know from the beginning the book is going to involve heartbreak and with this we can tell James Stephens is likely to be a bit of a bad ‘un, I never questioned Sophie falling in love with him. The novel is written in first person narrative and that helped to convey the process of falling in love, and her analysis of this when she questioned herself as to whether he felt the same. For each of the many moments Sophie (and the reader) wonders what James is up to (why does he never text her when he’s away on business trips?) there are many light moments when you think yes, they do seem like they’re in love after all, maybe he is just not a texter etc.

Without wishing to spoil anything things do turn sour and Sophie misguidedly let’s things go with James that she really shouldn’t. The title may suggest Sophie is larger than she is, she’s a UK size ten at the start of the novel, not large at all! When James makes her feel bad about her weight you do want to throw things at him, but still I felt sympathetic and understanding of Sophie’s feelings throughout and to me that’s a sign of good writing, in other novels I may just have wanted to throw the "He’s Just Not That Into You" book at her and tell her to have more self-respect.

A significant portion of this novel focuses on Sophie dealing with the heartbreak, to put it bluntly, she struggles. Again I thought this was so accurately written I could empathise with so many of her thoughts and feelings, when you’ve fallen hook line and sinker for someone and that’s suddenly taken away from you. The books still remains funny even in this darker period for Sophie and you do will her to get back on her feet.

Overall I would say this is a fantastic debut novel and it will leave your mouth watering and wanting to check out Stella’s recommended recipes and places to eat next time you’re in London or New York! It will also make you want to hop on the Eurostar to Paris in search of a praline millefeuille (I’ll have to make do with M&S custard until then!).

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Nash Nordin said...

Seems like a very interesting book. I love books on food. I'm going to put this one into my reading list :)

Kristilyn (Reading in Winter) said...

This sounds like a good read! I love the cover, too. Adding it to my list! :)