In Small Pleasures, Jean Swinney, a reporter on the North Kent Echo in the 1950s, is sent to investigate Gretchen Tilbury’s claim to have had a virgin birth. As Jean looks into the case, and gets to know the Tilbury family, she realizes all the things that are missing from her own life.
This is a beautifully written story full of historical detail and a strong sense of time and place. The characters are convincing and illustrate the conflict between duty and personal happiness in the post-war years, before the freedom of the ‘swinging sixties’.
The title is very apt; Jean looks forward to the ‘small pleasures’ in her day, as they provide solace in a life at the beck and call of her frail and demanding elderly mother.
Small Pleasures would make an interesting period drama, on television or film, as the story leaves a lasting impression. I had not read any other novels by Clare Chambers, but now intend to explore her earlier work as I enjoyed this story very much.
Thanks to Orion and NetGalley for a digital copy to review.