I first 'met' Jan on Twitter back in January of this year and we found out that apart from books we both have another common love . . . . of hippos! (Don't tell me you didn't already know about my love for them!) Anyway I've been lucky enough to meet the lovely lady herself at a couple of author/blogger meets in London and I now consider her to be a friend as well as a very talented author.
The plan for today's post is to tell you all about Jan's wonderful books and then to introduce you to her with an interview. So let's get started shall we?
An Unexpected Affair is an enchanting short story, perfect to enjoy when you're short on time but still want a great book to read.
Eleanor is recently divorced and has left her life in London to open a bookshop called The Reading Room in Devon. She's happy with her new life but there are times when she wishes she had a special someone to share it with.
After reminiscing about Christophe, a past love who she spent some time with in France, her sister Jenna suggests that they take a trip to try and track him down.
Jan Ellis has such a wonderful, descriptive way with words, the story flowed beautifully and the descriptions of the landscape had me imagining I could actually smell the sea. Although it's a novella there is enough characterisation to make you feel involved with the story, rather than being an outsider looking in, as I think can sometimes happen in shorter books. The little touches of light humour that ran through it were enjoyable and made the book for me. This was a very enjoyable read and one that I would highly recommend.
French Kisses is the second novella by Jan Ellis and it's another little gem.
Rachel Thompson has a perfect life in a small town in France until her husband decides to run off with their children's dance teacher!
With the help of friends and family she turns their home into a bed and breakfast rather than moving back to England and her life quickly starts to take off in a whole new direction.
This is another delightful novella which is perfect for an afternoon read. Once again the author has managed to tell an entertaining story that will hold your interest and with engaging characters that you just can't help being drawn in to this story. Jan Ellis has a writing style that seamlessly combines humour and charm along with a great eye for detail which added together makes for a satisfying and enjoyable experience when you read her books.
A Summer of Surprises finds us catching up with Eleanor from An Unexpected Affair. Two years have passed and she's now found her special someone in Daniel, but when his ex-wife appears back on the scene life gets complicated.
Freya is back in town as the architect for a project that will have huge impact on life in the small village. There are lots of pro's and con's for the project but Daniel finds himself caught in the middle of the two women and he appears to be torn. Just to complicate things even more Eleanor's old flame, Christophe unexpectedly reappears and Eleanor needs to decide which man she truly wants to be with.
It was a delight to catch up with Eleanor and her diverse mix of friends and family again and with Jan's skillful story telling it's easy to find yourself quickly caught up in the antics of these charming characters. Although overall the story is light Jan Ellis doesn't shy away from adding a touch of political action and as the characters are, shall we say, slightly more mature, it makes for a very believable and enjoyable story.
In A London Affair we meet Kate, a country girl living at home with her parents, who has decided not to go to university and has taken a job working for a local cheesemaker, but despite enjoying her job her ultimate dream is to live and work in London. So when she finds out about a job in a trendy bistro in Chelsea with live in accommodation she jumps at the chance.
At first Kate feels a little out of place, labelling herself as the country bumpkin within her sophisticated flatmates Clare, Imogen, Freddie and Valentina but people aren't always what they seem and first impressions aren't always right.
Freddie and Imogen are a couple but it soon becomes clear to Kate that although Freddie would do anything to make Imogen happy the feelings aren't always mutual and it seems like Imogen would rather be single like Kate and this hits home when the two girls go to a singles night.
Following the adventures of Kate as she finds her feet in her new surroundings makes for an absorbing read. The story flows easily and is sprinkled with humour and situations that I'm sure many of us have found ourselves in. A London Affair is another enchanting novella from Jan Ellis and it makes for a great afternoon read while curled up on the sofa or lounging by the pool.
I really enjoy Jan's books and I hope that there's another one on its way soon.
So there are my reviews, if you're looking for a light-hearted read but something with substance, likable characters and beautifully described settings then any one (or all) of these books are for you.
I'm delighted that Jan has taken the time out of her busy jet-setting life to stop by and have a chat today, so without further ado it's my great pleasure to introduce you all to the very lovely Jan Ellis. . . . .
|Photo courtesy of Jan Ellis|
Hello Jan and welcome to The Haphazardous Hippo. It’s great to have you here.
It’s great to be here, Neats! Thanks so much for inviting me onto your blog.
Q Tell us a little about yourself and your background, what made you decide to start writing?
A My background is in non-fiction publishing – writing fiction happened by accident. I was approached by Endeavour Press to write a history book, but we couldn’t agree on a topic. ‘No problem,’ they said. ‘Why not have a go at some women’s fiction instead?’ Now, the first rule of being self-employed is to say ‘Yes’ to everything and figure out how to do whatever it is afterwards. Ignoring the fact that I hadn’t written stories since the age of about ten, I whizzed over a proposal, contracts were signed and the rest is history (just not a history book).
Q Do you have a special time to write or do you just grab time where you can?
A Like many writers I juggle several jobs. As a rule, the fiction gets written in the evenings and at weekends when I’ve finished everything else. I’m not a morning person!
Q How would you describe your books to someone who hasn’t read any of them?
A They’re absolutely marvellous and you should buy them all. Seriously, though . . . An Unexpected Affair, A Summer of Surprises and The Bookshop Detective (out March 2017) are set in a Devon bookshop run by Eleanor Mace. They are romantic comedies in which Eleanor’s friends and family – in particular her mother Connie and gentleman friend Harold – play a large part. Think Last Tango in Halifax crossed with Doc Martin.
French Kisses is a separate story, but shares some of the same characters. This and A London Affair are contemporary romcoms with feisty heroines who find themselves embarking on new lives: newly divorced Rachel sets up a gorgeous guest house in a French village, and country girl Kate gets an exciting job in a very posh bit of London. Both women also find themselves in romantic muddles with chaps.
I hope that whichever story you read, it will make you chuckle.
Q Several of your books are set in France, is this a special place for you and if so why?
A I’ve visited France many times and I did do a spell of voluntary work in the Rhône Valley where Eleanor travels to find Christophe in An Unexpected Affair and Rachel runs her guest house in French Kisses.
Q Your books have all been novella’s so far, have you got any plans to write a full-length novel?
A If someone asked me to write a full-length novel, I’d give it a go. Until then, I think novella length is just about right for romantic comedy.
Q Your character Eleanor Mace in An Unexpected Affair and A Summer of Surprises is a fun character, are there any similarities between her and yourself?
A You’d have to ask my friends about that! What I can say is that we both left London to live in the West Country and we share a passion for books, white wine, the sea and handsome Frenchmen . . .
Q Are you currently working on anything that you can tell us about?
A I recently delivered my new paperback, The Bookshop Detective, in which Eleanor has a couple of mysteries to solve. The publishers, Waverley Books, would like me to come up with another bookshop story, so I must put my thinking cap on.
Q Is there a book that you’d liked to have written and why?
A There are lots, but top of the list would be Kent Haruf’s Plainsong. He manages to make the ordinary and uneventful totally engaging by the clarity and precision of his prose.
Q What genre of books do you enjoy reading?
A I read widely depending on my mood. I’ve just checked Goodreads and my most recent books were A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry), The Man Who Forgot His Wife (John O’Farrell), The Taxidermist’s Daughter (Kate Moss) and The Book Thief (Markus Zusak). I’m not sure they fit into one particular genre.
Q Is there anything you’d like to say to the readers?
A A thousand thanks for buying my books and squillions more to the kind folk who have taken the time to write reviews! Your feedback is so important.
Thank you for taking the time to stop by today, it’s been lovely chatting with you.
The Bookshop Detective will be published by Waverley Books in March 2017. An Unexpected Affair, French Kisses, A Summer of Surprises and A London Affair are available as ebooks (Endeavour Press). Paperback editions will be published in two volumes in spring 2017.
If you'd like to find out more about Jan and her books you can use the links below:
I'd like to say a massive thank you to Jan for stopping by today and for the review copies of all of your books. It's always a pleasure to chat to you and I hope we get to meet up again very soon.