Sunday, 23 February 2014

One Night at the Jacaranda - Carol Cooper

About the author...
Carol has written a string of popular health and parenting books, and co-authored the award-winning textbook General Practice at a Glance (2013). Now she's done an about-turn with One Night at the Jacaranda (2013). Set in London, it's a novel on dating, though it also has a heart-rending medical strand which reflects her experience as a doctor. 

Carol works as a family doctor and teaches at Imperial College Medical School. She writes for The Sun newspaper on topics as diverse as meningitis and the dangers of drinking petrol, and she broadcasts on TV and radio.

Carol is president of the Guild of Health Writers and honorary consultant in family medicine to Tamba (Twins and Multiple Births Association). 

Her medical qualifications are from Cambridge University but she believes education is life-long. She has three sons who never fail to inspire her and to fill in the gaps in her training.

For more information about Carol Cooper visit:-
Twitter @DrCarolCooper

About the book...
One man dying of cancer. One struggling journalist. A group of single Londoners. One night that changes everything. 

The trouble with speed dating is that three minutes can last a lifetime, and ever since he was diagnosed, Sanjay doesn’t have a lifetime to waste. 

For one booze and hope-fuelled night, the lives of a group of 30-somethings criss-cross. As well as Sanjay, lawyer Laure, divorced doctor Geoff, beleaguered mother-of-four Karen and traumatised ex-con Dan all face each other across the Jacaranda’s tables in their quest for love, solace or amazing sex. 

Undercover journalist Harriet is after a by-line, not a boyfriend. She’s a struggling freelance with a live-in lover, who unexpectedly has to choose between the comfortable life she knows and a bumpy road that could lead to happiness. 

As Laure, Sanjay, Geoff, Harriet, Karen, Dan and the rest of the bunch discover, it’s not just about finding someone who’s dynamite between the sheets. It’s about finding yourself, and that’s not always where you expect. 

“A gripping story about a group of people searching for love, sex and everything in between. Cooper's ability to depict characters and situations that feel real is superb. Not just a household name as a medic, Cooper clearly has a future as a great fiction writer. At times dark, at times laugh out loud funny, this snapshot of dating in London stays with you long after the final page.” Martel Maxwell, author of Scandalous. 

“It’s sassy and classy in equal measures, and written with real medical knowledge. A must.” Dr Pixie McKenna, media doctor and presenter on Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies. 

“Contemporary fiction for intelligent grown-ups. The characters are real, the medical details are spot on, and the sex scenes are utterly believable – which doesn’t often happen in novels. There are some dark and difficult issues, but they are dealt with in a sympathetic and readable way. An absolute joy." Christine Webber, author and psychotherapist. 

My thoughts...
I was given an e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review which I'm more than happy to give.

The Jacaranda is a bar in London where we're introduced to the characters in this book as they all meet for the first time at a speed dating evening.  Three minutes with a person to chat, form an opinion and next!  

First impressions really do count when you've only three minutes to decide if you'd like to meet up again and everyone is putting on a front - nobody it turns out is quite what they seem and that's what makes this book so enjoyable. We're all guilty I think of only letting people see the bits of us that we want people to see and the characters in this book are no different - all trying to display their best bits and hide the bits they think people wouldn't want to see.

Everyone has a story and Carol exploits this allowing us to eavesdrop chapter by chapter with a different one each time allowing us a clear vision of what they're really like.  This could so easily have been drawn out, slow and a bit tedious as there are six main characters to get to grips with but Carol moves each person along at pace with both sensitivity and humour where appropriate.

My opinions of each of the characters changed as I got to know them and I think every emotion was demonstrated and felt at some point in the book - that's probably what kept the pages turning and this got quicker the more I read.  Sometimes it is good to look beyond first impressions, as although they are important we don't always get to see the real person. The characters, if not all the situations were believable and I did care what happened to each of them in particular Sanjay. I just loved his family too and could clearly visualise his mother trying to feed him up!

This book is not all predictable and lovely but has enough loveliness to make this a perfect Sunday afternoon read. Not too heavy but not all light and frothy either. 

I've always wondered what it'd be like to go speed dating and now I know - or do I?

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