The Juniper Gin Joint Book Review3 min read

 “”I love my job.” I watch the words float out into the darkening evening. “I know I’m not a doctor. Or a social worker. Or a teacher.” I nod at him, acknowledging his profession. “But I believe what we do is important for our community. It gives us a sense of identity. We’re not just any old down-at-heel seaside town with its amusement arcades and caravan parks. We have a heritage the town should be proud of. We get passed over all the time down here. No decent trains. No decent jobs. But I wouldn’t swap it for all the money in London.””

Author: Lizzie Lovell                         Published: 2018                               Pages: 329

After her husband left her for a younger woman, both her children have left home, and her mother died suddenly, Jen was not having the best Christmas. Skip to a year later, and things are looking up, except suddenly, she is told that she may be made redundant. Now with money worries and the prospect of being jobless, she must come up with a way, not only to save the museum she works in and loves, but also her sanity. Just before the redundancy news, a teacher called Tom catches her attention. After getting to know him, she realises she isn’t the only one who’s having a tough time. Determined to not become distracted by anything and not to pity herself, Jen uses her frustration to drive her ambition, and do something to make herself proud.

I loved Jen, the main character. She was refreshing and funny and most importantly, relatable. I felt her pain every time she was disheartened by her divorce, or missing her children, and also was willing for her to succeed in every aspect of her life. In the same sense, Lovell is really good at shaping realistic characters too. Yes at times I found some of the dialogue a little contrived, but it is fiction after all, and all books to an extent have to be somewhat like this, or no one would want to read them. The two characters who I really grew to like were her children. Both Lauren and Harry were plausible and endearing and made me even more invested in the overall story, plus Jen’s father was humorous and refreshing too. I enjoyed most of the character interactions in the novel and found that each one helped shape Jen in some way to reflect her personality.

I think I was a little disappointed in not actually seeing the gin joint up and running, and although I really enjoyed the story of how it came to be, it would have been nice to see it and everyone’s role in running it. Maybe it would be nice to see the author to do this as a sequel. It would also be nice to see how Jen relationships with her friends and family survive with the stress of the gin joint.

I enjoyed reading this book because Lovell didn’t need to transport me to fantastical place to provide an escape. What she presents is real life, and while not always rose-tinted, the characters in her novel are determined, hopeful, and full of life. Lizzie Lovell really nails real life, and for that, I think a lot of readers will be very appreciative.

Thank you to Allen & Unwin UK for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

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