27 October 2009

Book Review: Jumping in Puddles by Claire Allan

Rathinch is a small Irish town with a lot of people who aren't necessarily friends, but Detta is set to change all that with her 'Single Parents' group. She wants to get them all talking, and despite their initial reluctance, they soon find themselves making steadfast friends and suprising themselves along the way too.

Niamh has just lost her husband Seán in a car accident, leaving her alone with their young twins... but is it all as it seemed for Niamh and Seán? Ruth was left along when her husband James ran off with a younger woman, leaving her mothering their 3 chilren alone... but Ruth is hiding a devastating secret she won't let get out. Liam is a single dad as it was his wife who ran off with Ruth's husband, but the pair don't talk as Liam wants his wife back. Finally, teen mum Ciara makes up the group and is unsure about hanging out with people her own mum's age. Ciara is keeping her baby's daddy a secret but is it for good reason, and will the older adults help her let go of her demons?

Can Detta help these people find friendship and confidence once more? And what is Detta's secret too?

I read and loved Claire Allan's second book Feels Like Maybe earlier this year and I absolutely loved it, so I jumped at the chance of reading Jumping In Puddles which is Claire's 3rd book. It was published in September by Irish publishers Poolbeg, and its gorgeous bright cover screams "chick lit", something I love! The book focuses on a group of friends who have their own problems, but how talking them through just might help them to get through the worst of it. Claire has the knack for writing believable characters who you can imagine are real people, and stories that are very realistic as well.

The book starts with a small chapter dedicated to each of our main character: Niamh, Ciara, Liam and Ruth, and gives us a  bit of background information about them so you can really begin to understand their individual plights. I really liked this because I felt like I could get straight into the book, and I was drawn in by the light humour used despite the sadness of some of their situation. I loved how they all hated the idea of the group, but soon embraced Detta and her ways, and how it eventually helps them all in very different ways. After these initial few pages, the book settles into itself and moved slowly throughout the lives of our characters.

My favourite character was definitely Ciara. As a young mum myself (although not as young as Ciara I must add!), I could sympathise with her over several issues in the book and I think Allan has definitely hit the nail on the head for the teenage mum scenario and has done it justice. Ruth was also a great character, deeply troubled and I was so intrigued to see how it was going to end for Ruth. I didn't particularly like Niamh much, I found her a little irritating even though she had been through terrible times, but I just felt compared to the upbeat attitudes of the others she was a little bit stuck-in-the-mud and I didn't warm to her! Liam was very lovely, somewhat deluded regarding his ex-wife but again it was realistic as lots of people struggle to get over break ups.

There were some quite hard scenes in the book to read, so I do wonder how they must have been for Allan to write. I won't spoil it by revealing exactly what happens here as its hinted at throughout the book but isn't clear until the actual scene takes place, but suffice to say it was rather upsetting and did bring a tear to my eye because as you read it, you can just imagine it happening to real people and its just awful. Allan writes this scene with real emotion and empathy for the character involved, and it is definitely a pivotal scene in the book and shows just good a writer Allan is. Credit to her for adding in such a hard scene and doing it justice.

If you love your chick-lit with a bit of a twist, I suggest you get your hands on a copy of Jumping in Puddles. The writing is warm and easy to read, there is a bit of light humoured dotted through which lifts the mood of what could have ended up being a quite depressing book, and it is a real heart warmer. It shows that you can be friends with anyone, regardless of age and circumstance, and the characters felt like friends by the end of the book. I thoroughly enjoyed every page, and I think Claire Allan is just getting better and better with every book! An excellent read, and highly recommended from me.

Rating: 5/5


  1. Cant wait to read this as I loved loved Claire's other two books, she is just brilliant!!!

  2. I loved Claire Allan's first two books and I'm in the middle of this one - it's a fab read so far!!

  3. Thanks for the great recommendation. I'm reading this book right after I finish another great Chick-Lit book called "Mystic in a Minivan" by Kristen White. It's a modern day parable designed to teach women about the spiritual nature inside us all. I'm really enjoying it!

  4. all Claire Allan's books are brilliant..my favourite being feels like maybe..