Fiction Book Reviews

The Romance Reader’s Guide to Life by Sharon Pywell

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The Romance Reader’s Guide to Life is a story that blends genres – romance, adventure, thriller!  Publishing tomorrow in Kindle and Hardcover format by independent publishers Duckworth Overlook,  if you’re looking for a unique read this might just be what you’re looking for.

The Romance Reader's Guide to Life

Hardcover: 304 pages

Publisher: Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd (13 July 2017)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0715652117

ISBN-13: 978-0715652114

Format: Kindle Edition


A haunting, darkly funny and compelling tale of sisterhood that deftly weaves together shades of The Lovely Bones with a pirate romance, The Romance Reader s Guide to Life proves that sometimes the guiltiest of pleasures contain some essential kernels of truth about life.

Acclaimed writer Sharon Pywell s brilliant novel is set in the shadow of the Second World War, centred on the lives of sisters Lilly and Neave who could not be more different. Lilly is a beauty who runs through men like water, while Neave is a bookworm escaping reality by reading an illicit copy of The Pirate Lover.

When the men return from war and take back their jobs, the sisters are expected to settle down and marry. Instead they set out to create a cosmetics empire, but just as the business is taking off, Lilly disappears. Desperate to find her, Neave discovers a whole new meaning to the ties that bind and truth being stranger than fiction. A must-read.

The Romance Reader’s Guide to Life is narrated by alternating perspectives of twins Neave and Lilly.  From Neave’s narration we get to experience many things – an American childhood leading up to WWII and Pearl Harbour; how she used books as a tool to understand the world (for instance, in the Pirate Lover novel Neave is reading the heroine’s mother tells her that to lie is a skill and the older lady Neave reads to, Mrs Daniels, repeats this to Neave questioning Odysseus lying);  the cosmetics company, Lilly’s relationship with Ricky and her quest to find the reckless Lilly.  Lilly’s narrative shares information about Neave’s character, she hints about what happened and a surreal and otherworldly perspective on what is happening now.

I have to be honest and share that I couldn’t connect with the characters for a while.  I was enjoying the story, but didn’t feel that emotional pull I need to feel … that is until about three quarters through.  Two things happened!  I suddenly realised the connection of the Pirate Lover to the story (I know, took me a while didn’t it!) and when things became tense and more personal to Neave then suddenly that connection was there.  I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.  The climax was awesome.

This isn’t your usual romance read.  Neave and Lilly are strong and independent women determined to make their way in the world at a time when everything a woman owned belonged to her husband and women had very little rights.  There is passion, love and lust.  The story also holds fear and terror and highlights mental health. That’s not all.  There’s also a paranormal thread that is surreal and I’m going to be honest, at times bizarre.  However if you love stretching your imagination and beliefs it’s not out of the realm of possibilities …

The Romance Reader’s Guide to Life will certainly get you out of any comfort reading rut you’ve fallen into and one I recommend.

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Connect with Sharon Pywell




Family comes first! I'm married with two son's in their 20's and have a little more time now to follow my passions. I love my role as an Inclusion Lead in KS2 and I'm passionate about early help. I'm a member of Bournemouth's Early Help Operational Board working alongside others to instigate change and growth. I'm also passionate about my love of reading, being out in nature and creating with crochet. I've been blogging for eight years at Jera's Jamboree.

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