Clare Chambers should be much better known as an author of witty, yet melancholy romantic comedies which explore the whirligigs of fate and families. This is one of her best, describing in retrospect the madly eccentric life of the Fairchilds. Esther and her brother Christian grow up in the kind of Seventies household that will be familiar to many - chaotic, idealistic and furnished with objects rejected from charity donations. Esther and her brother are just as weirdly dressed, but they struggle into normality, Christian by means of a scholarship to a good school, Esther through his girlfriend Penny. Donovan, deposited by his unreliable mother, seems the worst of their feckless guests (their father is a prison chaplain)at the large shabby house, but becomes its saviour - until the violent act that renders Christian a paraplegic and Esther a retiring prisoner of routine. This outline of the plot doesn't begin to convey the buoyancy and sympathy with which the story is narrated. Esther is one of those dreamy, good-hearted and surprisingly shrewd heroines you fall in love with, and her eventual discovery of happiness and independence comes by the skin of her teeth. Utterly charming and highly recommended.
'In a good light' once again emphasises the talent of author Clare Chambers. The book is centred around Esther, a 30 something woman who confronts her childhood when a blast from the past appears in her life. And this is where Chambers' skill lies; she slowly and skilfully absorbs the reader into Esther's childhood and wonderfully eccentric family. We meet her unconventional but loving parents, and the eclectic range of houseguests they regularly have living with them, and we also meet Esther's beloved older brother whom she idolises. This is a tale about real families and shows how split second decisions can result in life changing moments. Absorbing, compelling, funny and sad, I felt as though I stepped into the pages of this book. I couldn't put it down but didn't want it to end. Every one of Clare Chambers' books I've read have been thorougly enjoyable but this is definitely her best so far. Highly recommended.
This is the perfect novel - funny, sad and utterly compelling with a wonderful array of characters whose lives you will be sad to leave behind when you close the book. I am not going to write anything more as I don't want people to waste valuable time reading my waffle when they could be enjoying the brillaint prose of Clare Chambers. She is a fantastic author and this deserves to be a best-seller.
I've enjoyed all of Clare Chambers' books, but this one is the best so far. I couldn't put it down! It has it all: a good plot, with a great twist at the end; marvellous characterisation; perfect period detail (made me very nostalgic for my 1970s suburban upbringing) and a humour that made me laugh out loud on the tube as I read it - and we all know that only a really good book can make us commit so heinous a breach of social convention.
I'd read on Lisa Jewell's website that Clare Chambers was one of her favourite authors, so I decided to read this book and I'm glad I did, it was excellent. Chambers is an excellent novellist who draws you in straight away - her craft is seamless and although this book is long by fiction standards (500 pages), you don't really notice it, as the story gathers pace at key points.
What I really appreciate in Clare Chambers's writing is the way she reflects the real world. She's completely gripping without any recourse to the usual run of thriller - type tricks. The people in her books are alive, intelligent, recognisable, and so you really care about what happens to them. From the opening page you have that lovely feeling of being in completely safe hands; you're going to be told a terrific story by someone who really knows how. And she's funny, I laughed out loud several times during the whole rainy day in Cornwall that I spent completely immersed in this marvellous novel. Should be on every book group's list.
Please don't be put off by the dreary cover. Had I written a book of this calibre I would have been dismayed at the proposed design. I can see it being passed over time and again on the book stalls with never a second glance. More importantly it is incorrect (the girl in the train is supposed to be 14 for goodness sake!) and the style gives no suggestion of the special quality of writing within. Given to me by a friend, it sat on a shelf for four months because I was so uninspired by its jacket.
Finally, in desperation for something to read over Christmas, I picked it up and was suprised to find a real gem of a book inside. It has a really convincing story - certainly to be compared with the best of Margaret Forster or Jane Gardham. It is in fact that rarest of finds - an excellent read.
I was fascinated by its funny and touching characters and highly amused by the child Esther's wonderful naive slant on her shabby, well meaning and impoverished family. I look forward to reading more books by Clare Chambers.
I have never written a review about a book before and so I find it strange that it is my indignation about its second-rate cover that has inspired me to do so.
I am not given to writing gushing reviews on Amazon - in fact this is my first. BUT..(and it is a big but) I have just finished 'In A Good Light' and it was one of the best books I have read in a long time. I just don't understand why there is not more fanfare when Clare Chambers produces a new work. Why is she not at the top of the best seller lists? I'm not going to re-hash the plot here, just to say that the characterisation was fantastic - the plot carefully thought out,the voice of Esther (the narrator) entirely consistent throughout and the wry, dry humour a delight. Clare Chambers even manages to make a series of coincidences come across as entirely believable. So go on - BUY IT NOW!!
Move over Sophie Kinsella, there's a new girl in town and her name is Clare Chambers! I read this book in a day (borrowed from a friend) and have never laughed out loud at so many things in a book before. Witty, warm, sad in parts and just completely "un-put-downable". I almost wanted to start reading the whole thing again!
I have now downloaded 3 more of her books onto my Kindle.
I read "Learning to swim" and loved it. My sister also thought it was great. Was not expecting to enjoy my second Clare Chambers as much and if possible enjoyed it even more. She has a very deft touch and some of the memories of childhood made me laugh out loud with recognition. Cannot recommend her intelligent writing enough. It is so unusual to find a light touch in fiction these days. We have got way too used to having everything made explicit.