Author Interview: Jan Birley: The Lost and Found Life of Rosy Bennett


 

thelostandfoundlife

Amazon UK

Amazon US

So a big hello to Jan Birley, author of the brilliant ‘The Lost and Found Life of Rosy Bennett,’ (see here for review). First off, can you tell me a little bit about it in your own words?

Rosy’s story could have been told in many ways. The tale of a woman finding herself in a troubled world, she neither asked for or deserved, and how she fights her way back to a new life, can come in countless different shapes and sizes. Rather like women. Rosy is strong and feisty and has no idea of what she is capable of until challenged. That doesn’t mean she always gets it right, far from it. She is weak when it comes to dealing with one of her sons and overcompensates, but she feels guilty – quite unjustifiably – for her boy being so unhappy. She loves him and excuses him when she shouldn’t. I’ve certainly been there! Inheriting the alpacas is certainly one of her challenges but they are dear creatures with heavenly faces and I think she finds them an emollient. I like Rosy, I like the fact she isn’t afraid to speak her mind and sometimes doesn’t behave in the way she should. Like me – like us all I suspect. Her story is largely based in the pretend village of Kirmington Abbas in Dorset and although my books will be very different, they will all have a thread of the village running through them, however small. One day, I shall write a book about the village and all the main protagonists will re-appear. Then we can find out how Rosy really got on!

Sitting down to write this, did you have the whole story planned out or did your characters take the reins and surprise you? And added to this, did you know at the start which characters you warmed to and which you didn’t?

I always have my story planned out at the outset. I spend considerable time trying to think through the plot. I try hard not to have the main character do something that is annoying. Making mistakes is fine but I know when I read a book, and halfway through, the main character decides she won’t tell the father she is pregnant or something, when it is obvious she must, puts me off reading the rest. However, this perfectly planned plot then goes pear shaped when I start to write. As you say – the characters take the reins and canter off into the distance with me ineffectually and feebly trying to pull back. To start off with I liked all of the characters, except for one obviously dodgy one (no spoilers) but as the book developed I became increasingly irritated by one of the men who wanted to figure more in Rosy’s life. Luckily, she thought so too.

Was the move based on personal experience and what did you think of Rosy’s sons, Archie and James’ reactions to the move??

The move was based on personal experience, yes. We moved from London to Dorset three years ago; although my circumstances didn’t involve alpacas or errant husbands! James was always going to find the move hard and the one person he could lash out at was his mother – which he certainly did. Archie behaved how Rosy knew he would, mature beyond his years, he was a rock although Rosy knew only too well she shouldn’t be thinking of a young teenage boy as such.

In general, the premise of the book, and how Rosy picked herself up, was brilliant! Can I ask how you had the idea for Rosy’s way of obtaining an income and did it take a lot of research?

I’m never too sure where the idea of alpacas came from – but I’m happy it did from somewhere! I spent time on an alpaca farm not too far from London learning about them and their ways. If I could, I would love to have a couple of these lovely creatures of my own but our garden in Dorset is too small and although it would be perfectly possible at our home in Italy, we are not there for long enough for it to be feasible. As far as Rosy coming up with the idea of making money I know that many make alpaca socks, scarves and hats but I wanted something different and when I found out that material could be made from alpaca wool, it seemed the answer to her problems.

I love that it came from personal experience, actually, I was really hoping you’d say that it was and I hope someday I’ll get to see one, they sound like beautiful animals in looks and personality. Now finally, did you know the ending of the story to start with or did it surprise you? The ending didn’t surprise me but the strength of Rosy’s feelings did. I think they even surprised her. Up to this point she hadn’t been entirely honest with herself and the final events made her wake up and confront her emotions.

Thanks so much for being here with me today, Jan, and again, loved the book, congratulations:) And thanks again to Aimee from Hello Chick Lit for introducing me to Rosy and Jan!

Thank you for the interview and your help. I am so happy you enjoyed reading about Rosy.

About the author

janbirley

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The Lost and Found Life of Rosy Bennett by

thelostandfoundlife

Amazon UK

Amazon US

What They Say: Rosy loved her London life – her job in a designer shop, her gorgeous West London family house and of course her gorgeous family (although young sons are enough to test anyone at times). All that disappears when, one unremarkable morning, after one unremarkable school run, her husband collapses on a crowded tube carriage and dies.
As she struggles her way through the grief, she discovers her husband’s secret life: secrets accounts, secret deals that their solicitor knew nothing of, secret debts and what looks like a secret “very close friend” at least.
Totally unprepared and suddenly in debt, Rosy is forced to leave London to start a new life with her incredibly reluctant boys in the countryside. Can angsty urban teenagers cope with farm life, let alone enjoy it? More to the point, can their mother? It’s certainly not going to be easy but when you are at rock bottom the only way is up.

The Review: I had seen this book around a lot and loved the premise of it.  I’m always a sucker for books where everything’s turned on its head and the characters have to start afresh. This book was everything I thought it would be and then some. I began it by warming to her husband, of course forgetting the blurb straight away, and then getting a shock when he collapsed. It hit me in the stomach and I kept thinking two things: first: ‘Tell him that you love him,’ and secondly, how

“Simon gestured apologetically to their disappearing backs, having missed their last waves”

as my eyes flew on trying to take it all in while trying to hold back the ‘what would I do?’ thoughts. Because believe me, a lot of them come with this book. Ms. Birley has the gift of taking you along on the story with her, while showing you that the main character, Rosy, like you or I, never expected the rug to be pulled out from under her feet. It was something that would happen to somebody else, and I really empathised with her. I frowned in agreement as she pondered the financial intricacies that come with the loss of one of the principal bread earner and wondered how her part-time job would pay the bills.

The next part, the changing of their location from city to countryside, was done brilliantly. I loved the descriptions and the detail and was hooked, always good when you’ve such a drastic change in location, as sometimes your mind favours one over the other. Even as the shocks (and there are some biggies) came, Rosy continued to put a brave face on and I loved her strength, her decisions, her reasoning. Actually I just loved her and all the other characters that performed their duties perfectly, in particular, I wanted to hug her older son James and best friend Emma and felt for her younger son Archie while wanting to throttle him! My opinions of people (including her husband) went up and down in parallel with Rosy’s, which I appreciated. I also welcomed the introduction of the vet, Henry Carpenter, and a special mention has to go to the introduction of Theo Williams (you’ll get to know him when you read;)) Ups, downs, surprises (some a tiny bit out there, but acceptable in such a great book), romance, comedy and a genius story-line on the way that Rosy decides to keep the house afloat – this was a book I devoured, smiling with satisfaction afterwards. Highly recommended for all chick lit fans. Thanks to the author and Hello Chick Lit for the book in return for an honest review. Oh and stay tuned for an author interview with Ms. Birley on Thursday:)

Rating: 4.5/5

The Author

janbirley

Website

Goodreads

Twitter

Facebook

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The Week Ahead In Books …

The Lost and Found of Rosy Bennett by Jan Birley

thelostandfoundlife

What they say: Rosy loved her London life – her job in a designer shop, her gorgeous West London family house and of course her gorgeous family (although young sons are enough to test anyone at times). All that disappears when, one unremarkable morning, after one unremarkable school run, her husband collapses on a crowded tube carriage and dies.
As she struggles her way through the grief, she discovers her husband’s secret life: secrets accounts, secret deals that their solicitor knew nothing of, secret debts and what looks like a secret “very close friend” at least.
Totally unprepared and suddenly in debt, Rosy is forced to leave London to start a new life with her incredibly reluctant boys in the countryside. Can angsty urban teenagers cope with farm life, let alone enjoy it? More to the point, can their mother? It’s certainly not going to be easy but when you are at rock bottom the only way is up.

Am on 60% of this at the moment and cannot tell you how this is totally doing it for me. Brilliant story-line, great great characters, coupled with an unusual premise … loving, loving, loving:)

Natalie’s Getting Married by Rosa Temple

nataliesgettingmarried

What they say: Career minded, Natalie Spencer, had never been in love. She could never understand what all the fuss was about. But when she met Jackson Humphries during Fresher’s Week at university, that all changed.
Utterly infatuated, Natalie quickly discovers the meaning of love and, before she knows it, she’s heading up the aisle – for the first time, that is.
This is a tale about four wedding dresses, a runaway groom and a girl who got so carried away, she couldn’t see true love staring her right in the face.

I have heard so so much about this and was thrilled to be offered it to review. I adore wedding stories, and this sounds like the ultimate in matrimonial craziness. Happy? Me? Very:)

The Treachery of Trains by Sylvia Ashby

thetreacheryoftrains

What they Say: Sky has made an abominable mistake at work. Something so awful she doesn’t dare stay in the HR office of XIM Technics for fear of being lynched by her colleagues.

So she gets on a train…

What happens when it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year?

Sky Candy is about to find out.

Talk about a simple blurb that reels you in! When I was offered this I couldn’t jump high or fast enough! Really looking forward to it:)

 

The Wedding Date by Jennifer Joyce

theweddingdate

What they say: Delilah James, singleton and smoothie-addict, has six months to find a date for her oldest friend’s wedding. Oh, and to prove to her ex, best man Ben, that she has totally moved on since he dumped her out-of-the-blue nine months, eight days and seventeen hours ago…

So, with her two BFFs playing Cupid, Delilah launches herself into the high-tech, fast-paced and frankly terrifying world of dating. Luckily there’s the hot new guy at work, Adam Sinclair, to practice her flirting on – even if, as a colleague, he’s strictly off-limits!

Yet time’s running out and date after disastrous date forces Delilah to tell a little white lie – and invent a fake boyfriend! But will her secret crush on Adam ruin everything? Does she even care about Ben anymore? And is it too late to untangle her web of lies and take a real date to the wedding…?

Have also started this, and as always, Jennifer Joyce is playing a blinder. Great characters, everyday normality tinged with a nice dash of nuttiness. Brilliant!

So there you go. My week ahead. Am looking forward to every single second of it (does a little happy dance)! Anyhoo, hope you all have good reading weeks, I’d love to hear what you’ve got planned, or indeed what you’re reading at the mo. Happy Monday everyone:)

Bernadette

The week ahead in books …

This week I’ve three books planned, obviously if I get to more I’ll let you know, but now, on Monday morning, this is my plan!

tapestry

What they say: In hope, in pain,
we lose, we gain,
but always and forever
the human heart braves life
in light and in shade

A collection of twelve short stories exploring the complexities of life and love.

I am only 5% into this and already I’m hooked. Actually I was hooked on the very first page. I originally chose this book because I had seen it on a number of blogs and was taken with not only the cover, but the name too. ‘Tapestry’ for a book of short stories. Brilliant!

therunawaybridesmaid

What they say: A deliciously enchanting read, The Runaway Bridesmaid is set to steal readers’ hearts and keep them guessing until the very last page!

What a girl wants…

Squeezing herself into a frothy, flouncy, bubble-gum pink dress, Rosie Hamilton thinks that being a bridesmaid for her spoilt little sister Freya can’t get any worse.

But discovering her boyfriend in a cupboard with the bride, ten minutes before Freya is due to say ‘I do’, is the icing on the sequinned wedding cake – and Rosie’s cue to pack her bags.

Swapping her Louboutins for Wellingtons, Rosie throws her bridesmaid bouquet in the air and flies from bustling New York to sleepy Devon. Her late Aunt Bernice’s cosy countryside cottage is the only place that’s ever felt like home.

Now, for the first time in her life, and with the help of her beloved Aunt’s diaries, Rosie must put herself first for a change – and decide what she really wants…

A delightful romance, perfect for fans of Sophie Hart and Lindsey Kelk!

I’m a sucker for a pretty chick lit cover and you don’t get much prettier than this in the world of chick lit! Throw in all the five star reviews and raves I’d seen and I went straight to Amazon. Looking forward to reading.

thelostandfoundlife

What they say: Rosy loved her London life – her job in a designer shop, her gorgeous West London family house and of course her gorgeous family (although young sons are enough to test anyone at times). All that disappears when, one unremarkable morning, after one unremarkable school run, her husband collapses on a crowded tube carriage and dies.
As she struggles her way through the grief, she discovers her husband’s secret life: secrets accounts, secret deals that their solicitor knew nothing of, secret debts and what looks like a secret “very close friend” at least.
Totally unprepared and suddenly in debt, Rosy is forced to leave London to start a new life with her incredibly reluctant boys in the countryside. Can angsty urban teenagers cope with farm life, let alone enjoy it? More to the point, can their mother? It’s certainly not going to be easy but when you are at rock bottom the only way is up.

When I saw this going around for review, I jumped at it! The cover, the blurb, the whole premise-heartbreak coupled with a story of starting afresh? Very much looking forward to it!

As well as this I’ll be delving into my writer’s arsenal to help myself with book 2 (see them here!) So tell me, what are your reading plans this week? Any books you can’t wait to get at? Any books that you’re picking up again, hoping they’ll pull you out of a slump? Looking forward to hearing all, happy reading everyone:)

Bernadette