Sowing Secrets (by Trisha Ashley)

I've only read one book by Trisha Ashley - 'Sweet Nothings' and while I quite liked it, it didn't strike me as anything special. I didn't find it particularly amusing, and there were rather too many characters for my tastes.

But when TheBookbag offered to send me her latest novel, 'Sweet Nothings', I looked forward to reading something else by this writer.

It's the story of a middle-aged woman called Fran March. She has a lovely home, a growing art business which she enjoys, a gorgeous husband, and a daughter just off to university. However she's put on a few pounds in recent years, and her husband Mal drops the odd snide remark about her weight. Also there's a mystery surrounding the question of who her daughter's father is...

Then Fran's daughter Rosie starts asking more pointed questions about her father. And Fran receives an email, out of the blue, from her old boyfriend, who found her website. Then, when she watches a gardening programme on television, she is pretty sure that the presenter is a guy she once spent a night with and never saw again.

There are several strands to this novel, which weave cleverly together. It's a typical sort of chick-lit-for-the-middle-aged novel. I'm pleased to say that there's no violence, no explicit sex, no bad language, and not even a whole lot of shopping, despite the back cover of the book having a content guide which insists this is a tear-jerker with thrills, drama, and sex.

Fran narrates the story, telling us her thoughts and concerns as well as what's going on in her life, and each new section moves ahead a day or two. I found the writing style a bit confusing, to start with. There's a mixture of past and present tense, and it's all written very informally. I wasn't sure quite how to take this, at first, then it struck me that it's written rather like an ongoing blog. Once I'd got used to it, I found it very effective.

By the time I was half-way through, I found myself feeling quite involved in all the subplots, warming more and more to Fran. She's really a very likeable woman who desperately want to hold her marriage together. There are some unexpectedly amusing moments that made me smile, and a satisfying ending after a slightly surprising climax to the book.

All in all, I'd recommend this to anyone who likes this kind of novel. Here's my longer review of 'Sowing Secrets' at the Bookbag site.

Note: this was originally published in hardback under the title 'The Generous Gardener'. 

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