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Last Bite of the Cherry Paperback – 20 Oct 2012
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About the Author
Mags Cullingford, escaping the rumpus of a university department, decided to generate uproar she could control. She realized a long-term ambition to write fiction. Although 'romantic' is not how she would describe herself, Last Bite of the Cherry is a love story, with issues and then some. Otherwise there would be little fun in either writing about, or reading of the characters she conjures up, or so she thinks. Mags is a founding member of the indie publishing group, The New Romantics 4, has completed her second novel, and is currently working on a third.
Top Customer Reviews
The book opens in 1969, Monica Sommers is just fourteen, she witnesses her parents arguing, then a near fatal accident. A distressing time for the young Monica.
A couple of chapters later and it is now the year 2000. Monica is in training to be a nun, is involved with a refuge for abused women and she also counsels. She hopes to help Rosaleen Westlake, a women suffering from depression. Through their sessions Monica finds similarities in their lives and this unleashes her own past.
The book hops back and forth with time-slips throughout Monica's life. Much of it involves her re-telling these events to her very good friend Father Malachy O'Brien.
This is an intense read, often dialogue lead, but with sprinkles of rich descriptions as the storyline builds in layers. There are also some enjoyable characters who bring their own wide ranging local dialects to the book. I particularly liked Dora.
However, from the very first scene it was quite apparent that this was something different. This wasn't going to be a straightforward romance. There were darker layers to this story. I was intrigued.
It's the story of two women, born on the same day, and the men who love them. Put like that it sounds simple enough, but it isn't. Monica and Rosaleen have stories to tell, ostensibly very different, but connected by shared experiences, grief, lust, guilt and love.
Monica is poised to take her final vows to become a nun, working as a counsellor and dealing with abused women and children at a refuge. Rosaleen is one of her clients, brought to her by her dear friend Father Malachy. Rosaleen is desperate to talk but afraid and hesitant to share, drowning in guilt and sorrow. As Monica listens, over the course of several sessions Rosaleen tells her story, and it invokes memories for Monica of her own life and lost loves.
Monica's great love, complicated yet so simple. Will loves her, but there is another side to him and she finds it hard to trust him. Their agreement is a straightforward one. They will do what they have to do and come back to each other. Monica recalls her life with him, a life in which she was loved but struggled with jealousy and fear.
Rosaleen is also loved, but has done some things that have eaten her up with guilt and are destroying her chance of happiness.Read more ›
It’s September 3rd, 1969 and we’re at the home of 14-year-old Monica Sommers and her parents. By Chapter 3 we’ve jumped to the year 2000 where a 45-year-old Monica is meeting a patient for therapy. This ‘troubled soul’, Rosaleen will turn out to have uncanny echoes with Monica–born on the same day, and both having experienced similar tragedies in their lives.
This is not an ‘easy’ book in the sense that the narrative weaves back and forth between the two dates, introducing other important characters as well as many secondary ones. The writing style too is unusual. While not stream of consciousness, it follows natural speech rhythms so that we hear the voices of the characters in our heads. This fits in well with the book’s non-linear structure, more akin to oral story-telling mode.
The intensity and richness of the writing is compelling, transporting us to other times and other places, bringing the story to life in the reader’s imagination. The sensuousness of the description, whether the author is describing a feeling, a scene, a meal, is an absolute delight, plunging us into the ambience like a dive into a warm pool. Join in with Monica, looking out of a window overlooking ‘a secluded garden vibrant with scarlet geraniums, magenta bougainvillea, and white jasmine’, and breathing in ‘warm Mediterranean scents, wormwood, rosemary and pine..’ or savouring a salad: ‘with her fingers she picked off the glossy black olives one by one, popping each in turn into her mouth to savour their bittersweet taste.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Two stories unfold here in a tightly structured narrative. Two women and their choices and consequences and ultimately their second chances at love. Beautifully written.Published 12 months ago by Linda
This was a deeper, more introspective read than I've become use to from the New Romantics Press and, in some ways, I found it very challenging. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Lanky Lady
What a beautiful read!
It's not the usual love story but more of a journey of self-discovery for the main characters. Read more
The Last Bite of the Cherry by Margaret Cullingford is a very cleverly interwoven story of the lives and loves of two women, Monica and Rosaleen. Read morePublished on 11 April 2014 by Sarah Houldcroft
What a splendid debut novel from Margaret Cullingford! This book is so much more than chick-lit - it is a truly great romantic novel - intelligent, witty and intriguing. Read morePublished on 24 Dec. 2013 by CK
A thoroughly good read, not your average romantic fiction: an unusual pretext. Well-rounded characters, love against the odds; backstory and plot beautifully interwoven, twists and... Read morePublished on 22 May 2013 by J Stanton
This book was a real delight, from the heart-stopping beginning to the poignant and very satisfying ending. Read morePublished on 21 April 2013 by G. Williams
Love makes the world go round so make a date with Margaret Cullingford,s absorbing romance,find yourself irrevocably drawn into the unconventional love life of Monica Summers. Read morePublished on 11 April 2013 by patriciaann