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Book review: The Trials of Isabella M Smugge

Introduction

I was invited to prepare this post as part of the blog tour for Ruth Leigh’s eagerly anticipated sequel to The Diary of Isabella M Smugge, which ended with a cliff-hanger. (My review of the Diary is here.) This post includes my review, the blurb, Ruth Leigh’s author bio and details of the blog tour. More information about these books about Isabella M Smugge, which are published by Instant Apostle, may be found on Ruth Leigh’s website. It is available from Waterstones and all the usual places books are sold. #ChooseBookshops

My review

Cover of The trials of Isabella M Smugge showing the silhouette of an expectant mother,

I received an advance reader copy (ARC) as a .pdf file on the understanding that I would post an honest review of The Trials of Isabella M Smugge. As I read it on my phone it took me longer than it would have taken to read a paperback copy. I finished it on the third day. Unusually I read one passage out loud to hubby – it was such a funny situation following some worrying news on Issy’s birthday.

The Trials of Isabella M Smugge is a continuation of her diary. Influenced by her new friends and having to work harder at home, she is aware that she is becoming a #betterperson. It is not a straightforward journey with a saintly Isabella emerging overnight. The events of a year or so include the arrival of two babies (hers and another in the extended family), school-gate interactions, dealing with difficult family members (and some pleasant ones), and other ongoing themes from the Diary. Do read that first if possible! However there are sufficient unobtrusive reminders about who everyone is and what has happened previously for The Trials to stand alone.

There is a generous scattering of hashtags as Isabella broadcasts her edited life on social media. Some hashtags are very long, #didntcomedownwiththelastshower, for example. I hope that in Book 3 she will have reached the point on her journey of transformation to a #BetterPerson, that she capitalises the words in her hashtags for the benefit of anyone using a screen-reader. (If her main platform is instagram, there may not be many visually impaired people, but some readers of the Kindle edition of the book might benefit from this.)

Ruth Leigh writes extremely well. She finds humour in absurd situations and deals with some serious topics. While the end of this second book does not leave the reader dangling in quite the same way as the first book, I am sure that Issy’s readers will be looking forward to more of her adventures in Book 3. I certainly am!

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Blurb

Blurb for the Trials of Isabella M Smugge

Life in the country isn’t going as Issy Smugge planned it. However, the woman Gorgeous Home magazine once called ‘Britain’s Most Relatable Mum Designer’ is nothing if not resilient!

With an unexpected baby on the way, a good-for-nothing husband and a mother who never seemed to care but now needs caring for, her hands are full. Her venal agent and creative socials guru keep work fizzing, but how will she cope with the mysterious village snitch and poisonous gossip columnist Lavinia Harcourt?

Discovering others’ problems can be far worse than her own, she confronts bizarre church sub-culture and braces herself to use the NHS, rethinking all she thought she wanted. Could true happiness be just a few hashtags away?

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Bio

Ruth Leigh

Author bio

Ruth Leigh is a freelance writer, novelist and book reviewer. Married with three children, she is a recovering over-achiever.

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The blog tour

The blog tour is running from 11th October 2021 to 23rd October. The publication date is 21st October and the official launch is on 22nd October.

Dates and contributors’ names are listed below. Twitter usernames are provided where applicable. Links to the blog posts will be added as the blog tour proceeds.

Monday 11th October Wendy H Jones @WendyHJones
Tuesday 12th October Joy Margetts @JAMarge
Wednesday 13th October SC Skillman @scskillman
Thursday 14th October Susan Sanderson @suesconsideredt
Friday 15th October Maressa Mortimer
Saturday 16th October Julia Wilson
Sunday 17th October Penelope Swithinbank @minstriesbydsgn
Monday 18th October Martin Horton @Hortonious101
Tuesday 19th October Sheila Johnson @journojohnson
Wednesday 20th October Claire Wong @ClaireRWong
Thursday 21st October Ruth Leigh @Ruthleighwrites
Friday 22nd October Liz Manning @lifemadestuff
Saturday 23rd October Claire Musters @CMusters

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Paint chip monostich

This week’s prompt from Linda Kruschke is for a monostich – a single line of poetry. The full definition and the paint chip colours as well as her monotich and the responses of others may be found on her blog. Why not have a go?

Linda writes:

My challenge to you today is to write a poem using monostich. You could try writing a poem that is a single line in its entirety, or use monostich interspersed throughout a longer poem. I actually hope that someone tries the joke option mentioned in Drury’s definition. I’m not clever enough for that, but I’m sure one of you is.

The paint chip words and phrases you have to work with are the red planetlily of the valleydust devilfossilgreen flashschool bus, and inchworm.

I would like you to incorporate one or two of these words and phrases into your monostich, if you decide to write just a one-line poem. If you write a longer poem, with monostich throughout or at the beginning or end, then I would like you to use at least four of the words and phrases, with at least one in a monostich.

Is there life on Mars?

Does lily of the valley grow on the red planet?
It might look like a green flash surrounded by granite.

A fossil of an inchworm would be proof positive, innit?

(Although I grew up south of the Thames, I can’t remember using ‘innit’ before! It’s a local version of ‘isn’t it?’.)

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Quintilla paint chip challenge

This week’s Paint chip challenge from Linda Krushcke is for quintillas. Do visit her blog to see the the definition of quintilla, the colours and her poem for this challenge.

She writes:

‘Today we’ll be writing one or more quintillas.

‘Your challenge is to write at least one stanza in the quintilla form. You can certainly write more if you like, but one well-crafted quintilla is all I’m asking.

‘I was inspired by the requirement of five lines to only give you five paint chip words and phrases to work with.

‘Those words and phrases are robin’s egg, jade, The Scarlet Letter, slow, and goldfish. I would like you to use at least two of these in your quintilla. If you can use them as your rhyme words, all the better. But you could also pick one to be your title but not use it in the actual poem. The possibilities aren’t endless, but there are more than a few.’

One of these paint chips resonated with me this week. Incidentally, the robin we see in the UK is completely different from the American one.

Slow process

A picture I saw on Twitter
Showed some robin’s eggs in a nest
In a hiking boot, but I guessed
That boot’s owner was not sitter-
In-chief. Birds incubate eggs best.

Please click on the link below to see the original tweet, which inspired this poem.