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The Queen of New Beginnings by Erica James

For fans of light-hearted literature, Erica James will need no introduction – she’s written 13 bestselling novels with titles like A Breath of Fresh Air, Love and Devotion and It’s the Little Things, so you know you’re venturing into serious chick-lit territory when you pick up one of her books.

The Queen of New Beginnings features two main characters – one is Clayton Miller, a comedy writer whose formerly successful career has come to a screeching halt and whose girlfriend has just left him for his former best friend and writing partner – he’s suffered a very public fall from grace and the novel begins with Clayton having been banished by his agent to a remote house in the English countryside.

Enter Alice Shoemaker, the former actress and now voiceover artist who does some cleaning jobs on the side – her first encounter with Clayton is a classic romantic-comedy ‘meet cute’, when she shows up to do some cleaning work at what happens to be her old childhood home and adopts the persona and accent of a Polish housekeeper called Katya.

They immediately take a dislike to each other but overcome their initial hostility, and this is where the story really takes off – through a series of conversations with Clayton, Alice recounts her experiences in the house and some highly dramatic events that occurred within her family – we find out how and why she became completely estranged from her father, and why she changed her surname so that no one could ever track her down.

Things develop romantically between the pair and it’s all going swimmingly until Clayton realizes that his writer’s block has been unstopped by Alice’s family story, and he finds himself writing a screenplay heavily based on her life.

It’s all extremely personal, however, and he knows that she would be furious and devastated if she found out – but when a production company wants to film it, and rescue his moribund career, Clayton finds himself having to choose between Alice and his work.

Ultimately, there’s not much in the way of suspense – it’s classic romantic-comedy in which you can see the two people will eventually find their way to each other but have to overcome things like pride and miscommunication and the more idiotic aspects of their own nature in order to do so – but it’s a very enjoyable journey to see how it all unfolds.

If you don’t know Erica James, it might help if I tell you that I found this novel to be very Marian Keyes-ish – it’s funny, with a good plot, and it would be a great choice for the beach or the plane or just when you need some escapism.

Previously reviewed on

Reviewer: Stephanie Jones

Published by Hachette


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