27 April 2020
Bestselling author Melanie Blake describes how she launched a lockdown book club for racy reads
I live in Crouch End, just a stone’s throw (or 20 pounds in a cab!) to central London with all its fabulous attractions. And although I’ve lived in my current house for over five years, up until lockdown I’m ashamed to say that though we’d smiled at each other politely whilst passing in the street, I didn’t know any of my neigbours by name. Well, not any more.
When lockdown first came into effect I decided that I’d finally say hello. Knowing that due to the two metre distance restriction I couldn’t just knock on their doors and see if they fancied a coffee, I popped a copy of my novel The Thunder Girls, which was a number 1 best seller last year and is currently number 1 again on Amazon Kindle, though all my neighbours’ doors with a little note saying I was sorry we hadn’t connected earlier and that I hoped they’d enjoy being lost in my book for a day during this time, along with my email and telephone number.
Well, I could never have predicted that little gesture would lead to my whole street now being close friends – as close as we are allowed right now! Every Thursday we are all out in the street banging our pots and pans and clapping for the NHS and every Tuesday we are all now part of a book club! Yes, my gesture of dropping off The Thunder Girls (which luckily they loved!) got a bunch of us deciding that we would start ‘The Binge Read Club.’ We call it that because, as we all don’t have much to do with everyone either furloughed or retired, we decided that we would each pick a book and order one for everyone from Amazon (who have luckily been delivering during this awful pandemic) and they, a bit like Santa on Christmas Eve, sneak around our street late at night popping a copy of our latest book through all our members’ letter boxes.
Then – and this is where the binge part comes in – we read them in no more than 72 hours and arrange a time to come out to our front doors – we live opposite rather than next door so again distance is not a problem – and we have our book club live in the streets.
In the five weeks we’ve been prisoners so far we’ve got through Lynda La Plante’s Buried (5 stars from everyone), Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers (which was rather apt considering our history!), Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and The Light (mixed reaction), Harriet Tyce’s Blood Orange (which gripped everyone) and She by Helen Warner, which was another resounding 5 stars. It’s not only brought us together as a street but it’s also enriched our reading lives with fresh books we might never have considered.
It’s been so much fun getting to know the neigbours but also reading books I might otherwise never have read. I’d never been in a book club before but now I’m hooked!
So whilst we are stuck indoors why not try what we’ve done in your street or even online – and if you choose The Thunder Girls do let me know. I’m on most social media sites and I always love to hear what people think of my book just like I love to share my opinions on others.
It's also a great time to revisit some classic titles the are currently being re-issued on E as well as paperback.
Lace by Shirley Conran
One woman's battle to discover which of three best friends is her mother became one of the biggest-selling books of the 80s. Three decades later it still stands up as an absolutely gripping read, with some sex scenes in it that have you never able to look at a goldfish the same way again!
The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous by Jilly Cooper
If you fancy something steamy but too overt, than this is the Jilly Cooper novel for you. Not only will it get you hot under the collar, it will have you eyeing your partner and wanting to check his phone!
Valley Of The Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
If you have never read this novel first published in 1966 which has sold over 30 million copies, then you are missing out. It might be decades into print but its tale of Hollywood's dark underbelly has probably never been more relevant.
Hollywood Wives By Jackie Collins
Nobody did it like Jackie, and Hollywood Wives is possibly her finest hour. Follow the rich and the pampered as their lives fall apart as their husbands look to trade them in for new models.
Scruples by Judith Krantz
Krantz was fifty years old before her first book was published and Scruples, which takes readers from the romance of Paris and the streets of New York to the staggering luxury and wealth of Beverly Hills' Rodeo Drive, is a firm cult classic of sex, scandal and salaciousness – perfect for a bit of 'me time' during all this misery!
The Thunder Girls by Melanie Blake is available in ebook now for the special price of 99p for all of April
Read the story of how Melanie used her music business experience to write her runaway bestseller The Thunder Girls.