Small Pleasures – Clare Chambers


1957, the suburbs of South East London. Jean Swinney is a journalist on a local paper, trapped in a life of duty and disappointment from which there is no likelihood of escape.

When a young woman, Gretchen Tilbury, contacts the paper to claim that her daughter is the result of a virgin birth, it is down to Jean to discover whether she is a miracle or a fraud.

As the investigation turns her quiet life inside out, Jean is suddenly given an unexpected chance at friendship, love and – possibly – happiness.

But there will, inevitably, be a price to pay.


This is a very original storyline with strong characters who I felt a real pull for. I’m not usually a slow burner which this one was slightly but it managed to keep my interest almost the whole way through.

I felt so connected to the characters and really enjoyed the time setting and smaller side stories which came off (which sometimes are just a distraction for me).

I can’t really say too much about the ending without ruining the story for others but i weirdly loved how it ended.

The pace and my interest did dip in the middle a little for me, which is why I’ve gone for a 4/5 rather than a 5!


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