It's been quite some time since I read anything from this author, and was delighted to receive an advance copy of The Shoestring Club to review.
At first glance, and after reading the blurb on the back of the book, it would be fair to assume that The Shoestring Club is going to be a light read, easy and maybe a bit fluffy.
Julia Schuster (Jules to her friends) is the lead character of the story. Life is not going so well for Jules, she has no money, her job bores her, her sister bosses her around and her boyfriend Ed has announced his engagement to her (ex) best friend Lainy.
When a beautiful designer dress arrives at Shoestring; her sister's designer dress swap-shop, Julies knows that she just has to wear it to the wedding. Only that dress will get her through the day, and show everyone that can cope.
The dress costs 1200 Euro - and Jules is broke.
Enter Arietty; elephant keeper at Dublin Zoo - she needs a 'knock em dead' outfit too, so that she can attend her school reunion and show the bullies that she's done OK. Jules and Arietty devise a plan - they will time-share the dress, they just need two more members of the club and the dress will be theirs.
The Shoestring Club is a multi-layered story, and although at first Jules seems to be quite a shallow person, her main interests being clothes and how much she can drink, the reader soon realises that under that bright exterior is a sad, vulnerable girl.
This is the real beauty of this book, one moment I was smiling, or sighing and the next I was gulping back the tears.
The dress is the cover story, the real story is gently unfolded as Jules stumbles through life from one crisis to another - exposing her vulnerabilities, her sadness and most of all her strength of character.
I enjoyed every page of The Shoestring Club, it's warm and funny, and sad and uplifting - all at the same time.
The Shoestring Club will be published by Pan Macmillan on 27 September 2012
Sarah Webb has a website here, she is also on Facebook, or you can follow her on Twitter.
A huge thanks to Pan Macmillan for sending me a copy for review.