Published by Avon (Harper Collins imprint) on 6th June 2013
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Buy on Amazon US • Buy on Amazon UK
A quaint suburb. A quiet little book club. A very naughty reading list.
When Estelle sets up a book group in order to increase custom to her struggling cafe, what follows is more mind-blowing than she could have ever imagined...
As the first book club meeting flounders, Estelle suggests a spot of erotica to spice things up.
Inspired by their naughty novels, this group of shy suburban readers shake off their inhibitions and soon discover that their own lives can be just as scandalous...
REVIEWED BY KELLY
*I was sent a paperback copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*
So, as it says above, I was sent my copy of The Naughty Girls’ Book Club by the UK publishers, Avon, and I am really grateful to them because I was on a self-imposed book buying ban at the time it was released. It would’ve killed me to have to wait, especially since it has such an enticing cover!
Estelle is a divorced single mum. She’s also the owner of Cafe Crumb, a cafe in Bristol that’s not doing too well, profit-wise. She decides to start a monthly book club with the idea of getting a few new customers through the door.
At the first book club meeting we meet Gracie, Rebecca, Sue, and Reggie. The Naughty Girls’ Book Club follows each of their stories, as well as Estelle’s, as the reading material has them exploring a whole new side to themselves!
TNGBC was a really fun, light, flirty read. I loved the idea that something as simple as a monthly book club meeting could empower and liberate these women (and man) and get them to try new things and find happiness. I also loved the fact that if it hadn’t have been for the book club these people probably would never have met and wouldn’t have become the important people they became to each other in their times of need.
I felt really invested in their stories, especially poor Sue’s. I really felt sorry for her and her situation with George. I admired her for following her dreams and not just sticking with something because it was all she knew. I loved how strong Estelle was when faced with a few different problems. I liked how Gracie came to realise that it was OK to change how she thought about things, and maybe even find love. I LOVED Reggie! He was completely out of his comfort zone at the beginning since he joined the book club for completely different reasons to the ladies. It was a pleasure to read as he came out of his shell and grew in confidence as the time went on. I wavered backwards and forwards throughout the book as to my favourite character but I think I have to choose Rebecca. She was outrageous and hilarious. I found myself laughing out loud so many times from some of the things she said. The way she made an effort to spice things up and not just accept things going “stale” wasn’t easy but it didn’t stop her. Go Rebecca!
One of my favourite scenes in the book involves all of the female book club members. They have a night out to a certain place and all buy the same “souvenir” to mark their night. The scene when Sue then talks about “making use” of the souvenir was so funny!
I enjoyed every minute of reading TNGBC and would read more from Sophie Hart without a doubt. It was fun, flirty and naughty – and that’s just book club member Rebecca! And now I just need to add the Cafe Crumb reading list to my own reading pile 😉
INTERVIEW WITH SOPHIE HART
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Where to start!? Well I’m in my thirties and live in London. As it says in my biography, I live with my boyfriend and my collection of naughty books! I work part-time, and write whenever I have a spare minute! I’d wanted to be a writer for a long time, so was thrilled when I was taken on by the Madeleine Milburn Agency, and got a book deal with Avon (HarperCollins).
How did you come up with the idea for The Naughty Girls’ Book Club?
I have to be honest and say that the idea for Naughty Girls was hugely influenced by the Fifty Shades phenomenon! Hopefully Naughty Girls is a different way of approaching it – rather than just being another copycat novel, this was a chance to explore the effect reading erotica has had on real women. We’ve all heard about how Fifty Shades has had such a huge impact on our sex lives, and got women talking about previously taboo topics with their friends, so the idea of Naughty Girls was to explore this trend. It’s chick-lit with a saucy twist!
As I was reading TNGBC I loved how each person’s true personality came through as the group got to know each other better. How did you decide on the different personalities of the group and how important do you think it was that each of the characters was different to the others?
I wanted a real range of characters – a range of ages, backgrounds and life experience. I also wanted to make them ‘every woman’ types, so hopefully every reader can find a character they relate to. So there’s Estelle, a middle-aged divorcee with a teenage son; Rebecca, a newlywed in a disappointing marriage; Sue, who’s determined to make the most of life after her retirement; and Gracie, who’s very unique, but has had some bad relationships and never found ‘the one’.
I also needed lively and confident characters who weren’t afraid to voice their opinions, otherwise the book club scenes would have been pretty dull!
I loved the book club members and felt really invested in their individual stories. How early on in your writing process did you decide what would happen to each of them?
Thank you! I knew the rough story arc for each character at the beginning – I’d decided what their issues were, and knew that these needed to be resolved by the end (I’m trying to explain without giving away any spoilers!) With Sue, I genuinely didn’t decide what her ending would be until I’d almost finished writing the book!
I also knew that I wanted romance, but I wasn’t sure which characters this would happen between. I toyed with the idea of making Reggie older, and having a romance between him and Estelle. I can’t imagine that at all now, as I loved the way everyone’s stories turned out.
What made you include a male member of the book club?
Reggie brings a different perspective to the meetings and the books, rather than just having all women’s opinions. He’s certainly not an alpha male, but he definitely makes a valuable contribution to the group. There’s been a lot of love for Reggie on Twitter, and in the reviews. People seem to have responded well to his shyness and sweet nature.
Which of the book club members are you most like? Which one do you wish you could be more like?
I always find this question a bit awkward! I’m probably most like Rebecca as I’m in a long term relationship, so it’s all about keeping it fresh. She also brings the humour to a lot of the situations, and the double entendres and dirty jokes are the kind of things I come out with when I’m with my friends!
I love Gracie’s individuality and independence (and dress sense!) I also really like Sue – I love to try new things and head off on adventures, so I hope I’m still the same when I get to her age!
Do you think it was solely the reading material that made the group more open to try new things or do you think the friendship and encouragement they received from each other helped too?
I think it was definitely the friendship and encouragement too – it was the whole process. The characters find each other at a time in their lives when they’re all in need of something, and they develop an unexpected bond, even though they’re all quite different. There’s a strong sense of them all supporting each other, and egging each other on – whether it’s convincing Estelle to go on a date, or being there for Sue as she tries to resolve the situation with her husband.
How much research did you have to (or WANT to!) do for the book? Did you read every book that’s featured? Have you ever attended a book club meeting? If so, was it anything like the Café Crumb book club?!
I drew quite a lot on the knowledge I already have… ahem! I’d read almost all of the books, and quickly read the ones I hadn’t (although I slightly cheated with Justine by the Marquis de Sade and only skim-read it). I chose some novels that I knew and loved (Lace, Riders…) which made it much easier to write about. And for the juicier stuff outside my area of expertise, I turned to Google. I’m sure there are some very dubious pages lurking in my internet history!
I haven’t ever attended a real life book club, but I’m now running a virtual one via Twitter (@Cafe_Crumb if you’re interested!) It’s actually becoming quite like the Cafe Crumb book club – the members chat to each other outside of the book club now, and the last meeting involved a lot of gossiping and story-swapping, as well as book chat.
How important do you think sex is in a book? I know for a lot of readers if a book doesn’t include at least a couple of sex scenes it’s a deal breaker. Does a book HAVE to include sex for you to read it?
No, not at all. I think the importance of sex depends on the individual book, and the genre especially. If you’re reading a literary novel, you might expect the occasional sex scene, but it’s likely to be written in a very different style to an erotica novel! The Naughty Girls Book Club is probably closer to chick lit than erotica, so while there were a few cheeky scenes in there, I didn’t want anything too explicit as I think it would have felt out of place.
Can you tell us about your future writing plans? Are you working on anything currently? Please say yes, I, for one, would read it in a heartbeat 🙂
Thank you! I’m working on my next book, but there are no confirmed dates or anything just yet. Watch this space!