It’s such a pleasure today to join the blog tour and share my review of The Saturday Morning Park Run by Jules Wake. It’s not very often a blog tour takes place this far ahead of publication date, but the pandemic has created some havoc with the release schedules: it’ll be published for kindle by One More Chapter on 29th August, and is available now for preorder via Amazon in the UK and US. The audiobook will follow on 17th September, the paperback on 26th November – and it’s available for preorder in both those formats too. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the publishers for my advance reading copy (provided via netgalley).
Rather like Debbie Johnson on this book’s cover, I love getting lost in a Jules Wake book too – and it’s been quite a frustration that I’ve often just not been able to fit in the reading. The two books I’ve read by Jules were both Christmas reads – I really enjoyed Covent Garden in the Snow (despite reading it in August – you’ll find my review here), and Notting Hill in the Snow is, I think, one of the most perfect Christmas books I’ve ever read (if you’re already thinking about Christmas reads and adding them to your kindle, and haven’t read this one, do download it now – you can read my review here). I have managed though, at long last, to read one of her Julie Caplin books, armchair travel at its very best – it was The Little Teashop in Tokyo, and you’ll find my review here. So, this time it’s Jules Wake without snow – and I was really so looking forward to this one!
This is the story of two women.
One old, one young.
One looking for new adventures.
One looking for a purpose.
Both needing a friend.
And this is how, along with two little girls in need of a family, a gorgeous stranger, and a scruffy dog, they bring the whole community together every Saturday morning for love, laughter and a little bit of running…(well, power walking).
Some people come into your life when you need them the most.
This book really was just wonderful – and I must say that I think the blurb is perfect. It is indeed, at its heart, the story of two women – but it’s also a story of love and friendship, of finding yourself, and of discovering what really matters.
Claire’s not a particularly sympathetic character at the book’s start – work-focused and driven, within touching distance of a partnership, hard-shelled, self-contained and rather cold. A perfect match for Ash really – equally work orientated, supremely confident, a bit on the superior side… but also distinctly gorgeous, and definitely a challenge to pique Claire’s interest. But then life throws its slings and arrows, as it often does… and the book takes an entirely different direction for them both.
The other woman is Hilda, who I loved from the moment she appeared in her fluorescent shell suit, giving advice and support, embracing life in her own magnificent way and adding colour to the lives of others. I adored the wonderful nuggets of her back story, casually dropped into conversation – every bit of which I believed absolutely (well, except maybe the bit about the corgis…).
I unfailingly love stories with a strong sense of community, and it’s something the author does so wonderfully in this book. The clue is in the title, and the setting up of a new park run becomes the focus everyone needs when their lives require a bit of major redirection. The author’s certainly done her homework – I had no idea of the degree of organisation involved, and it’s quite fascinating learning about funnels, tokens and the need for a tarpaulin. But there’s an immense feeling of joy about it all too, as you will them on, the cast of characters widens, individuals find a sense of purpose, and new friendships are formed. And every single character is quite wonderfully drawn – even the really peripheral ones like the lonely next-door neighbour and the man from the council, all adding real richness to the story.
And then there’s the focus on family, and what it means – and it’s so perfectly handled. You’ll know I’m not always the world’s biggest fan of younger characters, but the pair you’ll get to know in this book could come and live with me any time they want. I particularly enjoyed the complexity of ten year old Poppy – and there were times that my heartstrings were tugged so hard that it hurt (it’s not that often I get emotional about a trip to Ikea…). I very much enjoyed Hilda’s family relationship too – unpromising at first, and very real.
And that relationship between Claire and Ash – sizzling at the book’s start, badly faltering at times, and so very heartwarming as it progresses in a way neither of them could ever have expected.
I so love Jules Wake’s writing – I was enthralled by this book, and thoroughly enjoyed every single moment. She balances humour and tears quite perfectly, her touch with dialogue is second to none, and she makes you care really deeply about her characters – and as well as that, she also tells a wonderful story. I really loved this book – and I think you just might love it too.
About the author
Jules Wake announced at the age of ten that she planned to be a writer. Along the way she was diverted by the glamorous world of PR and worked on many luxury brands and not so luxury brands. This proved fabulous training for writing novels as it provided her with the opportunity to hone her writing and creative skills penning copy on a vast range of subjects from pig farming and watches, sunglasses and skincare through to beer and stationery.
She writes best-selling warm-hearted contemporary fiction for One More Chapter as Jules Wake and under her pen name Julie Caplin, she writes the Romantic Escapes series. Between them, the two Js have written fourteen novels, The Saturday Morning Park Run being the latest.
For Jules Wake
For Julie Caplin