, perhaps one of the foremost contemporary practitioners of the Cosy Mystery …
(Sarah Williams: 'How to Write Crime', published by Constable Robinson)
My first book SCUBA DANCING is available online.
‘It was late summer when the angel first manifested himself to Ursula Buchanan in the village shop, just along the aisle from the bacon slicing machine … ‘Go on,’ he urged, pointing a glowing golden finger at the notice. ‘Join the group, Ursula, it’ll change your life.’
And so it does.
Ursula’s is not the only life to be altered forever. Walking out on her job in Brussels, her flat and yet another in a long line of disastrous relationships, Finn Fitzgerald decides at 45, it’s about time she took herself in hand and found out what she wants from life. Moving in with her sister, and meeting gorgeous Charlie Stuart is great, but how on earth has she ended up working as a clairvoyant? Julia and her friends are busy raising funds but are very cagey about exactly which good cause they are supporting.
Then there’s wealthy, gin soaked Delia, ex–Brown Owl, Bobbie, Sue who despairs of her unfaithful husband and Rosemary who despairs of her demented, sex–mad mother. Soon Finn and Charlie Stuart find themselves drawn into the money–making activities of the older generation and love is in the air. Until that is, they find out more about the alleged good cause, and Finn finds out about Charlie’s wife.
What do other people think of it ?
Here are some reviews of SCUBA DANCING.
Book blogger Geranium Cat
At the end of a tiring week in London, I was in the mood for some undemanding company, and I found it amongst The Gang in Nicola Slade’s first book, Scuba Dancing (scuba dancing?, said the librarian as she renewed it, and I giggled because, of course, it’s an in-joke in the book). As with my newly found favourite Sleuth, Mrs Malory, The Gang are people you could imagine making friends with — none of them are spring chickens and have all known painful episodes in their lives, and they are comfortable together not playing bingo. I think I identified most with Delia, the old bat who has decorated her house almost entirely in pink and who likes to be outrageous, but all of them have a charm and vivacity which make you want to settle down in their company with a nice cup of tea.
Our protagonist, Finn, has escaped from an unhappy relationship — memo, never fall in love with your boss — to live with her older sister. Instead of finding a "proper" job she finds herself talking herself into a job as assistant to Hedgehog, proprietor of a shop which sells tarot cards and crystals, and even filling in as occasional clairvoyant. Meanwhile, her sister Julia and the other Gang members are fundraising, in slightly riotous fashion, for the holiday of a lifetime.
This is a strictly non-serious and comfy book, which recognises nonetheless the kind of difficulties which can go with increasing age — frail or difficult parents, financial insecurity, loneliness (the author, who looks positively slender in her photographs on the web, considerably underestimates the agonies of the expanding waistline, but this is my only criticism). There’s a great deal to be said for spending time with people you like, whether you are a character in a novel or a reader, and Ursula’s golden-eyed angel is worthy of a sequel in his own right. Meanwhile, I’m off to look for Nicola Slade’s second book, Murder Most Welcome. For anyone who would like a taster, Nicola has posted a couple of short stories on her website, where you can also see some of her beautiful paintings.
Canadian Bookcrosser and Blogger: "The Last Page Turned"
This book was a delightful read.
An eclectic group of lonely people, getting together to help each other out through a "barter club", soon find themselves providing so much more for each other than music lessons and carpentry.
I was pleasantly entertained, as each of the characters made their journey to happiness, meaning, and freedom in their own ways.
A bright, intelligent and at times darkly witty novel of ageing, loneliness, cruelty and redeeming love, Scuba Dancing is a cut above the average. Finn, at forty-five, has had enough of her no-ties wild life, and enough of men, and returns to England to live with her sister in a quiet English village. The former high-flyer soon finds herself not only working in an occult shop and serving, rather well, as a stand-in clairvoyant, but also surrounded by a dazzling array of the most eccentric, and the most credible, cast of characters that you are likely to stumble across. From the timid Rosemary and her senile mother whose prudery has been replaced by a penchant for groping men and morning walks in the nude, to the gin-swilling Delia and the angel-seeing Ursula, each and every one is exquisitely drawn and all, in their own way, charming. It is the wonderfully comfortable characterisation that sustains this novel, not its plot — although this is well-worked — or deftly woven prose.
This is not a novel of great profoundness and it doesn’t demand to be taken too seriously yet, encased in its light and easy style, are simple messages about the human condition that lift it above the norm and make it a more than usually satisfy read. It’s entertaining, and mildly uplifting, but most of the time it’s pure fun.
Take this novel; add an armchair, a pot of tea and a few chocolate biscuits and you have the perfect recipe for a good evening’s entertainment.
I loved its originality and pace. It was packed with delightful, unforgettable, eccentric characters who were written not only with humour but also a deep sensitivity. While making me laugh is also made me sad. I want to move to their village !
A very good read, hilarious at times, dealing sensitively and skilfully with tragic events as well as comedy."
New Writers’ Scheme
A quirky and well written novel with a crisp and witty style, featuring delicious black comedy.
Fiction that mirrors the experiences of women 45+. Finn Fitzgerald has walked out on her Brussels job, her flat and her cheating boyfriend to move to Hampshire where she finds herself inescapably in the centre of village intrigue, romance and a cast of characters that will make you laugh out loud. A 'fast-paced Miss Read' that captures the humour and quirkiness of English village life.
Reader from Yorkshire, posted on Amazon
A feel-good read with plenty of lively characters, handled with sensitivity and charm. There is something particularly English about it — The Vicar of Dibley meets Midsomer Murders perhaps? Do hope she'll write a sequel.
JR from Surrey
Couldn’t put it down! So refreshing to read about a topic not many authors would touch and written with humour and empathy. Looking forward to the sequel.
CH from Bucks
Full of admiration. The character of Ursula was delightful. When will the next book appear?
email from VC
What a fantastic book! You touched so many subjects to do with age and handled it with delicacy and, most of all, humour. Can’t wait for the next one.
Reader online forum
Thoroughly enjoyable; a perfect read with a glass of vino on a warm summer’s day.
You can also hear a short excerpt from the Audio Book edition, read by Hilary Neville. I hope you like the sound of the book and will buy one to read or to listen to. If you know someone who prefers to read large print, or listen to a story being read to them, then the new Large Print and Audio Book editions would make ideal gifts !
You can order any edition of SCUBA DANCING from your local bookseller or, if you prefer, you can order the original paperback online from Amazon, the Large Print edition by post or phone from Isis Publishing, and Audio Book edition online from Isis Soundings.
Scuba Dancing goes Bookcrossing !
SCUBA DANCING has joined BookCrossing - the world’s popular first free book club. BookCrossing has more than 600,000 members in 130 countries whose passion is to share their reading enjoyment with others.
My thanks to BookCrosser "Rivercassini" for this review.
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