This book – set in the 1950s and 1960s, is a charming coming-of-age story. It tells the story of (and is narrated by) Tara Jupp, a young girl who grows up in the shadow of her older sister Lucy’s beauty. However, Tara has one thing that Lucy doesn’t have, and that is a fabulous singing voice. When she is discovered by the record making husband of an old friend, Tara is spirited from her home in Cornwall, to the bright lights of London, where she is transformed into Cherry Merrywell, the city’s latest singing sensation. Tara attends glamorous parties, meets exciting men (falling in love with two of them), and experiences the effect of fame…but will she be able to keep hold of who she really is, or will Tara Jupp be lost forever to Cherry Merrywell?
I was looking forward to reading this book, as I had thoroughly enjoyed Eva Rice’s previous novel, The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets. In fact, some of the characters from that book are also in this one (but this novel is not a sequel, and you do not have to have read the previous book prior to reading this one). I was glad that I read it – I enjoyed the story a lot.
Tara was an endearing and loveable narrator, and I felt that the author really captured all the pain, pleasure and confusion of being a teenager. I also liked the frustrating but impossible-not-to-like Lucy; and Clover, Tara’s mentor in London.
The feel of the 1960s came through well, and there was a lovely nod to the Rolling Stones, who of course broke onto the scene in spectacular fashion in 1962.
The story flowed beautifully, and although the book came in at over 500 pages, it did not feel like a particularly long novel (and there was no sense of ploughing through it, which I sometimes get with books of that length, if they don’t hold my attention). There were a couple of places where I felt it could have done with a bit of editing – Tara’s age in relation to Lucy seemed to jump about a bit (unless it was me getting confused), and at one point a character was telling a story from his childhood which he said happened when he was three, but in the very next paragraph, it was happening when he was five! However, I should perhaps mention that my copy of the book was a proof copy, and it may well be that these slight errors are not in the finished copy.
Overall, this was a delightful and sweet story of a young girl’s adolescence, lived in extraordinary circumstances. I would recommend it, and I look forward to reading more of Eva Rice’s novels in the future.
(I would like to thank the author for sending me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)