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The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp by Eva Rice

tara juppTake one big happy family; add some horses, a big country manor in Cornwall, plus doses of first love which doesn’t go easily. Shake it up and relocate to London; mix with rock’n’roll and serve with love again. This is the essential recipe for Eva Rice’s new novel, a thick and satisfying feel-good read.

It’s the story of Lucy and Tara, third and sixth of eight children in the Jupp family. Pa is a country vicar, Ma died some years ago. Lucy is a beauty who loves old buildings (Pevsner is her bible), whereas Tara can sing beautifully but prefers horses. Sneaking a ride on their neighbour’s steeds and becoming friends with poor little rich girl Matilda, the daughter of the Manor, will change Tara and Lucy’s lives forever, ending up with Tara becoming a pop star (the new Alma Cogan) at seventeen in the ready-to-swing London of the early 1960s.

Lucy and Tara are strong young women who want to experience life in full. Lucy’s relationship with her husband may be troubled, but Tara’s coming of age and first real romance with photographer Digby, (obviously based on David Bailey) is fun. Matilda continues to feature too, having married a record producer, who discovers Tara, and she remains a mainstay in their lives.

I’ve hardly delved into the plot so far. There are many episodes full of angst between friends and family, and Lucy and Matilda fall out big time over a young man. The girls’ embracing of ’60s London is particularly fun – they may come from the country, but being daughters of a vicar, they have a confidence that stands them in good stead in the city.

This is a big-hearted novel about achieving your dreams, and while it may not spring any big surprises, the characters are rounded and compelling to read about.  Rice is well-placed to write about the fledgling pop industry in London – her father is Tim Rice after all.   It was an entertaining comfort read that I thoroughly enjoyed; somehow though it made me think of reading Jilly Cooper as if she’d written a more innocent novel – as bizarre as that may be, it’s not a bad thing at all.

My only quibble was that it ended just as the 60s were about to really take off – the world’s greatest rock’n’roll band put in a brief appearance – and then it finished.  I’d have loved to read more. (8/10)

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I received an ARC to review for Lovereading. You can also click through to Amazon UK below:
The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp by Eva Rice will be published on Jan 17 by Heron Books (Quercus), Hardback 320 pages.

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