Recipe for Love (Katie Fforde)

Valentine’s Day 2013 heralds the release of Katie Fforde‘s novel Recipe for Love in paperback by her publisher, Cornerstone Publishing (a Random House company). Along with five wonderful women, I was lucky enough to be chosen to take part in filming a television advertisement for the release, which will be screened on Valentine’s day on More4 and several of the Sky television channels. A longer version of the advert will appear on the Random House website.

We had a super day which began with being taken to a pretty house in Balham, south London,  the selected location of filming.  The house has been used quite a lot for this activity, so once you’ve seen our ad, let me know when you’ve seen that kitchen before!  The first thing that happened to us was ‘hair and make-up’ which took quite a while and then we were filmed individually.  I was so surprised to find that, once in situ on my stool, a lot of time was spent making sure that ornaments and flowers were in their correct place, even one petal out of sync with a camera angle makes all the difference!  Did you know that pink flowers appear yellow sometimes?!  Everything had to co-ordinate with our outfits – apparently the trim on my cardigan looked as though it was moving independently of me!  We had been instructed to wear clothes that we’d wear when meeting a friend for lunch and not stripes or bright patterns…  The lunch theme worked particularly well given that we were in a kitchen!

Whilst filming was taking place, we were interviewed and had to remember to repeat the question being asked as the interviewer’s voice wasn’t going to be heard on-screen, not easy for someone with my short-term memory problems!  The production company would then go on to edit the ad right down to just a few words spoken by us as individuals, adding a group shot of us sitting around the kitchen table chatting and discussing the book.  It was a fascinating day and all was provided through our love of reading a particular author’s books.  Being a reader can bring you such a wealth of opportunities…

The book which we raved over was a super read, admittedly destined for the female readers’ market, but perfect for those moments when all you want to do is relax with a book to remove yourself from everyday cares.  It is based on a TV cookery show where the contestants compete to earn a good sum of money which they plan to use to advance their own culinary skills in some way.  Protagonist Zoe dreams of owning and running her own delicatessen and  the other contestants have similar ideas, owning a gastro-pub, a restaurant and so forth, but trouble-making Cher is just in it for the fame and celebrity status she craves.  Problems begin when Zoe falls for Gideon, one of the judges of the competition, and she has to manage her emotions, Cher’s attempts at sabotaging her success and her ability to help others out of crises.  Katie Fforde’s novel tells an entertaining tale, reminding us of the actual BBC TV competitions of The Great British Bake-Off and Masterchef.  Katie’s depiction of character and setting is so inviting that you can’t resist it, you can instantly recognise yourself and people and places you know, making it a comfortable read.

The best things about this day were the opportunity to meet some super people (I’m sure we’ll stay in touch), gain an insight into how a commercial is made and to understand how publishers work with authors on the promotion of their work.  Thank you, Cornerstone, for a great day!

recipeforlove5  Latest update!  To see an online version of our TV advert, please click here!

Katie Fforde
   Katie Fforde

Staying Away at Christmas (Katie Fforde)

Wishing you the best of the Season’s Greetings, fellow readers!   So far this holiday I have managed to complete a work of non-fiction, which has had rather an impact on me but more of that in a later post…  I have also read Katie Fforde‘s story Staying Away at Christmas on my new e-book reader, the Barnes & Noble nook!  The story was only released digitally and so I thought I would enjoy the nook for the first time by downloading and reading it.

Katie’s new story was a nice vignette of how two families unknown to one another come to celebrate Christmas together, and enjoy it against the odds.  Both believed they have booked a converted barn to spend Christmas in and when they arrive on Christmas Eve, are shocked to find that one family hadn’t confirmed their booking.  Forced by circumstances to make a decision, they agree to spend time together and soon find they might like to extend their acquaintance!stayingaway


For the past few years, I have sworn that I would never forsake the printed book, I do enjoy the feel of it in my hands and have believed that there is no experience on earth which compares with turning the pages to reach the end, with a satisfaction like no other!  However, what with more and more of our students and my own children enjoying both the printed and the electronic version, I knew it was time to give it a chance.  I have to say that I am more than pleasantly surprised at the experience, and with the nook came the bonus of fewer books to tidy and dust in the house!  It’s a touch screen version which is so good when you are tired, it is light and easy to use.  I find it easy to download books and buying them from the nook store straight onto the device could not be simpler. You can also download e-books from your local library service, they disappear when your loan expires so you are not faced with overdue fines,nook and share books with other people who also own a nook.  I am converted.  However, I do still love the feel of the book which I can’t imagine to translate to an electronic reader, there is still a place for beautiful books full of photographs, and images…  Why not try an e-reader and let me know how you get on?


Holiday reading…

Just back from a family holiday and I’m pleased to say that I’ve managed to read five books so far this summer!  They were a varied group of books and I hope you like some, if not all, please let me know what you think!

It was lovely to begin the summer break, after the madness which always ends the school year, with Katie Fforde‘s Summer of Love. The paperback copy’s blurb has the following to say:

‘Sian Bishop has left the hustle and bustle of the city behind and has thrown herself into a new life in the country. With her young son, her picture-postcard garden and her small thriving business, she’s happy and very busy. She is not – repeat not – looking for love.  And then, one glorious summer evening, Gus Beresford arrives.  One-time explorer, full-time heart-breaker, Gus is ridiculously exciting, wonderfully glamorous – and, Sian tells herself, completely wrong for a romantically cautious single woman like her.  But she and Gus have met before. And, despite Sian’s best intentions, it isn’t long before she’s falling for him all over again …’

Katie Fforde leads us through Sian’s struggles with her emotions and her common sense, it’s a funny and lighthearted read and got me into my reading frame of mind.

Following on from this, came Julian Barnes’s The Sense of an Ending. This proved such a contrast and reminded me of William Boyd’s style of writing.  I thoroughly enjoyed Barnes’s storytelling, his use of language skilfully portraying the dusty atmosphere of reminiscence over events from Tony Webster‘s past, and the realisation of how past events reveal the difference in their meaning to the individuals concerned.   Tony, the narrator, tells the history of his relationship with three of his classmates from school and how, after they finish school, they begin to drift apart, except that one of his friends appears to be seeing Tony’s ex-girlfriend.  The repercussions of this new relationship are far-reaching and their impact is not felt until the closing chapters of the book.  It’s well-written and truly deserving of it’s winning of the 2011 Man Booker Prize.

Vita Sackville-West‘s novel, All Passion Spent was my third book.  I cannot get over how much I enjoyed this missive, superbly written with careful choice of just the right words, Sackville-West’s delightful story of Lady Slane, her life, her love for her husband, her travels abroad with him (based, no doubt, on Sackville-West’s voyages with her husband, Harold Nicolson, when he was employed as an ambassador for the United Kingdom) opens new horizons and views on the lives of those who did travel like this during Britain’s Imperial days of the nineteenth century.  Sackville-West explores the position of the wife of an important statesman, appearing to assume a role in the background of her household, much loved by her husband however, but much misunderstood by her children as a result.  Her children are perplexed and confused as to why she chooses to live an independent life after the death of her husband when she is 88 years old, but she makes it clear that she wishes to live out the rest of her days as quietly as possible, to share them with her maid Genoux and a few select visitors who are entertaining.  It is a witty tale and I’ve been struck by one thing Lady Slane feels towards the end of her story:

“… [she felt herself] wondering why, at the end of one’s life, one should ever trouble to read anything but Shakespeare; or for the matter of that, at the beginning of one’s life either, since he seemed to have understood both exuberance and maturity.”

For my fourth choice of reading matter, I chose a non-fiction title: Life With The Lid Off by Nicola Hodgkinson.  The author tells of how her life was turned upside down when her husband left her and her young family to pursue a life with someone new but she tells it in such a way that shows no bitterness and often her sense of humour shone through, making me laugh out loud.  She shows how life in this new situation can be survived and only briefly touches on the pain she has suffered, and hardships and difficulties she  faced in coming to terms with her new situation.  Hodgkinson talks about her purchase of a gypsy caravan and how she bought a cottage on the Suffolk coast, gradually integrating herself and her family into the small local community.  I loved it!  Both this title and All Passion Spent will be forming part of our Mood Boosting Book Week in school in October.

My last completed book for the time being is Sarah Blake’s The Postmistress Another fabulous book!  I loved her easy style which relayed a fascinating take on World War II from the perspective of three women: a young American journalist as she reports from London to a broadcaster based in the States about the Blitz and its effects on London’s citizens, the new wife of a doctor who feels compelled to travel to London to assist with casualties of the Blitz and the postmistress, who runs the post office in the small town in Cape Cod, also home to the doctor and his wife.  Blake weaves her story around the lives of these three women and shows how they all come together in the end.  Her prose passionately reflects the feelings, fears and hopes of these women.

I’m currently reading and enjoying Annie Proulx’s novel The Shipping News.  Unfortunately I saw the film first but sufficiently long ago not to spoil the enjoyment of the book so far…