Friday, January 18, 2013

Guest blogger Emma Burstall + The Darling Girls Review

Who will buy your books?

There are two main types of writer: those who write for themselves and, perhaps, a small circle of friends and family, and career writers.
Both are perfectly fine. But the difference if you fall within the first camp is that it doesn’t matter whether your writing has wide or even any sort of appeal. You can say what you like in the comforting knowledge that you’re enjoying your project and, most probably, your loved ones will be enthusiastic on your behalf too. But if you’re hoping complete strangers will buy your book, it’s an entirely different matter.
I can’t tell you how often would-be writers come up to me at reader/writer events and start talking about some wonderful idea they have for a novel.
‘Who is it aimed at?’ I say, and they look at me blankly and sometimes even crossly.
I’m not trying to be rude. Far from it. For this, to me, is the most obvious question in the world; if you want someone to read your story, you’re going to have to get them to buy it in the first place.
Everything, from the front cover to the blurb on the back and, of course, the very first paragraph of the first chapter, is going to have to appeal, or they’ll chuck your book aside and buy a different one instead. Why wouldn’t they?
And if you get past that first enormous hurdle and they actually buy and start to read your book, you’re faced with the not inconsiderable task of keeping them hooked to the very last page.
I always feel that I have a huge responsibility to give my readers a really good time, to make my book really worth their while. I’d hate to think someone would dedicate hours to my work and come away feeling it was a waste of life. Inevitably as a writer you can’t please everyone, but you can try your utmost to make your book as engaging as possible to as many people as possible.
Published fiction isn’t about introspection and it’s not therapy either, though writing as a form of therapy can be enormously beneficial. But writing to be bought is about entertainment in the widest sense. That doesn’t mean your book has to be comic, though it could be. It means trying to create a piece of work that will captivate, inform and enthrall the reader, make her laugh or cry, perhaps both, and, hopefully, remember the book long after she’s finished the final page. A tall order!
I’ll never forget a middle-aged man who came up to me at a party some years ago and asked what I did. When I told him I was a novelist he replied loftily: ‘Ah yes, I expect I’ll write a novel when I retire,’ as if writing books was a little hobby of mine.
It can be a hobby, of course, and a very enjoyable one. But as any career author knows, writing books to sell is one of the toughest  – and ultimately most rewarding – jobs around. Highs and lows, knock-backs, rejections, achy necks and shoulders and the notorious ‘writer’s bottom’  are all par for the course. Long live writing!


Three women in love with the same man meet for the first time at his funeral. Can they separate the truth from the lies and learn to trust - and even love - again?

When world famous music conductor Leo Bruck dies suddenly, he leaves behind three grieving women and a mass of unanswered questions.
Did the man who juggled these simultaneous relationships while thrilling audiences around the globe, direct The Darling Girls like an orchestra?

Victoria, his partner of twenty years and mother of two of his children, regards herself as his rightful widow and keeper of his legacy. However, a series of shocking discoveries forces her to re-examine the man she thought she knew and query the very foundation of their relationship.
Maddy, mother of Leo’s daughter Phoebe, has a high-powered job and seems independent and sorted. But events take a sinister turn when Maddy becomes involved with Victoria’s troubled teenage son, and her safe world starts to go awry.
Finally there’s Cat who, at just 24, is Leo’s youngest lover. Coping with a sick mother and battling demons from her childhood, she is finding it increasingly hard to hold it together. Will grief, anger and bitterness blind her to the possibility of ever finding happiness, career fulfilment - and even, perhaps, new love?

The Darling Girls is a moving story of love, loss, and the prevailing power of female friendship. Can these three very different women, whose lives become inextricably bound, break free from the masterful control Leo exerts - even from the grave - once and for all?

Review Rating: 4.5 LIGHTNING BOLTS

Review: When I first heard about The Darling Girls, the blurb caught my attention because it has a similar premise to a book that is one of my favorites- Our Husband, by Stephanie Bond. So when I had the chance to be part of the tour and get to review this book, I was ecstatic!

Could you imagine losing someone that you share a part of your soul with, to come face to face with the other women in his life. Yes, that's right. WOMEN. Make that three of them. Leo's girls comes together at his funeral and the reception is, well do I need to go into details?

The three women are as different as can be. Victoria, the partner of two decades, gave him children. Cat, the young, naive one that thought she had her whole life ahead of her, and Maddy, who is a bit of a surprise.

The one pitfall I found in the book, was a lot of backstory dribbled in. It really took away from the main flow of the story. But other than that, i found myself completely fascinated! I wanted to know how these three women would proceed, if there would be contact continued between them, if Leo's reasoning and secrets would come out... It was interesting to read so many perspectives and see how each women viewed Leo.

The Darling Girls is an intriguing book about relationships, lives, trust, and the strange situations that bind three different people together for one common ground.

Author Bio:

Emma has written extensively for national newspapers and women’s magazines including the GuardianIndependent on Sunday,RedGood HousekeepingWoman & Home and Woman.

She read English at Cambridge University and began her career as a cub reporter on the Western Morning News in Plymouth, later becoming features editor of Woman and Family Circle.

She gets by in French and Spanish and works out – occasionally – at her local gym. After walking her youngest to school, you might also spot her jogging in Richmond Park with some friends. Slowly.

Emma lives in South West London with her husband, the political commentator Kevin Maguire, and their three children, aged 25, 20 and 10.

She’s currently working on her fourth novel.

Connect with Emma!




  1. Thought-provoking post, Emma, particularly since my writing often tends to straddle at least two genres: fantasy/magical and visionary/metaphysical. It can make it tricky to know where and how networking efforts should best be focused. "Go where the readers are" is still something my co-author and I are figuring out!

    I had to snigger at the gentleman's comment suggesting a novel is just a little something one throws together when one has the time... ;)

    The Darling Girls (sample) is on my Kindle. I *will* get to it soon . . .

  2. Thanks for the review - this sounds like an interesting and complex character study

  3. Excellent post and its a great book. I really enjoyed it.