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The joy of Small Pleasures

by Clare Chambers
The book cover for The joy of Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers

The must-read uplifting book of the summer

To find an uplifting book is always delightful, to find a book that you want to reread immediately on finishing sets shivers down the spine.

My advance copy of Small Pleasures came with the sort of author endorsements to die for: comparisons with Barbara Pym, Elizabeth Taylor, Kate Atkinson and even Jane Austen are tantalising, but dangerous and set the bar stratospherically high.

Reader, author Clare Chambers pulls it off in Small Pleasures, a tender, beautifully observed novel of gentle humour and compassionate love.

Set in 1950s London, Small Pleasures is a joyous celebration of anti-glamour: the plain, overlooked suburban woman and in Jean Swinney, Clare Chambers has created a heroine to cherish.

Part love story, part mystery, the premise is very loosely based on two real events: when feature writer Jean probes the claim of an apparent virgin birth, she is drawn into the orbit of the perfect family at the centre of her investigation and pulled further from her cloistered life at home with her monstrously needy and passively aggressive mother. The period details are exquisitely drawn and evoked and the Household Hints from the paper Jean works on that pepper the chapters, are both hilarious to a modern reader and yet a poignant reminder of the dull and relentless routine that drove most women of this era’s lives

I honestly can’t remember loving a new novel as much in years

Small Pleasures is published on 9 July. To order a copy email us at



Posted on 21st May 2020