It’s such a pleasure to be joining the blog tour today for The Start of Something Wonderful by Jane Lambert, published for kindle on 5th January by HQ Digital: my thanks to the publisher and netgalley for providing my e-copy for review. And yes, I know I always say how delighted I am, but this blog tour is one I wouldn’t have missed for the world. I first “met” Jane back in 2016, when she was a very nervous first-time writer preparing to talk about her book – then called Learning to Fly – at the Edinburgh Fringe. I ran a feature – you can read it again here. We met later, and she was every bit as warm and friendly as I thought she’d be – but her writing was on the back burner because of her acting commitments. So it’s something rather special to now see her book, with its new name and perfect cover, backed by a big publisher and part way through a major publicity campaign. It couldn’t have happened to a lovelier person – and I’m delighted to report that I loved the book too!
It’s never too late to follow your dreams…
Forty-year-old air stewardess, Emily Forsyth, thought she had everything a woman could wish for: a glamorous, jet-set lifestyle, a designer wardrobe and a dishy pilot boyfriend. Until he breaks up with her…
Catapulted into a mid-life crisis she wishes she’d had earlier, she decides to turn her life upside-down, quitting her job and instead beginning to chase her long-held dreams of becoming an actress!
Leaving the skies behind her, Emily heads for the bright lights of London’s West End – but is it too late to reach for the stars?
Don’t miss this heartwarming and uplifting debut, perfect for fans of Colleen Coleman and Cate Woods!
They’re calling it “a fantastically feel-good romantic comedy” – and so it is, but this is a book that will win the heart of every woman who has ever dreamed that their life could be different, a joyful affirmation that it’s never too late for a new start. Emily won my heart from the very beginning as she walked away from her former life (and love-rat Nigel), into her new home amid a landlady’s eccentric collection of knick-knacks, trying to make ends meet while attending the glorious Portia’s acting classes.
There’s a massive cast of characters in this book, as Emily moves from her first small pub stage, through a season in rep, then onto other things – and every single character is a delight, perfectly drawn, with their own little backstory, so cleverly done. Friends, employers, fellow actors – I particularly loved the young security guard who agrees to bring an enthusiastic audience to one of her early performances in exchange for taking her for a meal, and the elderly couple (her parents in On Golden Pond) who find some unexpected joy in their later life. There are lots of little side-stories woven into the plot, beautifully handled – while Emily continued to cycle through the rain into an uncertain future, and the pages turn faster as you hope things will finally work out for her. The romantic thread is also perfect – I lost my heart to Francesco too, but I was already feeling a bit emotional because of the support Emily had from everyone involved in that gorgeous Italian restaurant.
It really is a great story, filled with love and the most wonderful supportive friendships – but this is a “romantic comedy”, so it’s also very, very funny. The humour comes from the situations in which Emily finds herself, and some of the stories from her time in rep had me laughing out loud in a way I rarely do – a sequence of perfectly described little scenes, always with an essence of authenticity and a well-handled feel for the ridiculous. Other than the book’s opening few pages with their lists and slightly quirky feel (which did, I’ll admit, put me off a little, so don’t let them the same for you), the writing is excellent – it hits its stride into a lovely blend of strong story-telling and wry humour, with a heroine at its centre who becomes your new very best friend. And those times when Emily finds herself amid beautifully described mountain scenery and wants to twirl like Maria in The Sound of Music? I wanted to dance along with her…
Knowing the author’s own story, this book has to be the strongest argument ever for “write what you know” – and she’s done it quite superbly, with a joyous and uplifting read that so many will love every bit as much as I did. Just wonderful.
About the author
Jane Lambert taught English in Vienna then travelled the world as cabin crew, before making the life-changing decision to become an actor in her mid-thirties. She has appeared in Calendar Girls, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and Deathtrap in London’s West End. The Start of Something Wonderfully (previously called Learning to Fly) is her debut novel.