It’s a real pleasure today to be joining the blog tour for Ladies’ Day by Sarah Barton, published by Orchard View Publications on 28th June. My thanks to Caroline Vincent for inviting me to join the tour and for providing my reading copy – my first tour with Bits about Books. And I must also thank author Julie-Ann Corrigan – she drew my attention to this book, and thought I might really like it. And do you know, she was absolutely right!
Working in a fading Manchester department store, four women hide their dark secrets: abuse, an illicit affair, huge debts and an overwhelming desire to have a child at any cost. Will their secrets destroy them or can they together find a solution?
I’ll admit that for maybe the first thirty pages of this book, I was a little bit confused by the characters, and the timeline – but then I noticed that the chapters were headed up with the characters’ names, and that the first chapter was set two months on, and I was off and running. And once I was in my reading stride, any confusion was entirely gone – I love ensemble pieces like this, and the four main female characters are superbly drawn, each grappling with their own issues, coming together at the Manchester department store where they work.
We see them separately, learn about their lives, and each individual has their own story and set of problems and secrets that they’re dealing with. There’s a bit of everything here – I thought the chilling story of domestic abuse was particularly well-handled, but this is only one of several engaging stories with characters at their centre that you really feel for. I think my favourite was Jane – her hopes and expectations always to be thwarted – and really hurt for her as her personal situation realistically and inevitably went from bad to worse. Their relationships – with each other and their partners and families – are so well done, and I particularly liked the way the female friendships were explored and developed. The less central characters are excellent too – doorman Charlie with his enigmatic greetings and help with “essentials”, Ada loading up her shopping trolley, bitchy Sharon…yes, even the slimy love rat who really does make your skin crawl.
While the storylines are issue-based and serious, this book is also extremely funny – it’s a difficult line to tread, but the author does it with real aplomb (I’ll never be able to hear mention of Luke Skywalker again without giggling!) The writing is excellent – with a special mention for the excellent realistic dialogue, and despite the seriousness of the stories (or perhaps because of that) I found the whole book full of warmth and really up-lifting. Give it a try – I really enjoyed this one.
About the author
Sarah Barton is a contemporary fiction writer who lives in South Manchester. While she spends her days running a property management company her nights are spent with her family and her literary work. Sarah is happiest with a G + T in one hand and a pen in the other.