Thursday, 19 January 2017

Emma's Review: White Lies & Wishes by Cathy Bramley

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

What happens when what you wish for is only half the story...?

Flirtatious, straight-talking Jo Gold says she’s got no time for love; she’s determined to save her family’s failing footwear business. 

New mother Sarah Hudson has cut short her maternity leave to return to work. She says she’ll do whatever it takes to make partner at the accountancy firm. 

Bored, over-eating housewife Carrie Radley says she just wants to shift the pounds – she’d love to finally wear a bikini in public. 

The unlikely trio meet by chance one winter’s day, and in a moment of ‘Carpe Diem’ madness, embark on a mission to make their wishes come true by September. 

Easy. At least it would be, if they hadn’t been just the teensiest bit stingy with the truth…

With hidden issues, hidden talents, and hidden demons to overcome, new friends Jo, Carrie and Sarah must admit to what they really, really want, if they are ever to get their happy endings.

Amazon links: Kindle or Paperback

Cathy Bramley always has the most gorgeous covers for her books and between the pages of the bright, inviting, attractive covers the feel good factor is always present in spades. This new story White Lies and Wishes is no different. I had read the book with the purple/orange cover but this new version with the blue sky and butterflies is just as lovely. Despite the trials and tribulations her characters may face Cathy writes a story that will leave you all warm inside and caught up in such addictive storylines. To be honest I just cannot get enough of her writing and am glad she publishes one or two books each year. I really would buy anything this author writes, no questions asked, without even reading the blurb such is the way I have fallen in love with the characters, setting and plot created so vividly by the author with each book she publishes. The buzz around Cathy's books just increases with each new publication and I love how everyone is always so eager to see what story awaits us.

The majority of Cathy's books have first been published as four part novella's with a full paperback following some months later. I'll admit the impatient side of me wants to read each part as soon as possible but at the same time I hate being left waiting with cliff hanger endings. I envy those who have the patience to wait for the paperback to gobble up the story in one go. Thankfully White Lies and Wishes was one where once I began reading I had the pleasure of not stopping until I reached the last page. The story follows three women who meet at a funeral in winter and form a friendship. The women give themselves until September to see their wishes come true but not without some lies and difficulties along the way which will see them go through many ups and downs. Yet the three woman remain loyal and true to each other and their developing friendships would give anyone hope and bring a smile to the reader's face.

Having read a sample chapter of this book at the end of The Plumberry School of Comfort Food I was all the more eager to begin reading and again like the stories split into novella's I had been left hanging and it was such a big tease as chapter one really wasn't enough for me. I feel that way with all of Cathy's books once you pick one up they are very difficult to put back down. Everything else goes by the wayside as you say to yourself just one more chapter and then found you have read 100  pages or more in a short space of time. So to say I was keen to further discover the story of Jo, Carrie and Sarah was an understatement. As soon as the book popped through my letterbox I had to read it that day and didn't come up for air until I turned the last page.

Blue Monday being the last Monday is traditionally one of the most miserable days of the year for various reasons and to be attending the funeral in the tiny rural village of Woodby of a man taken too soon doesn't help matters. From the outset the story is told with chapters from each women's point of view and at various points their stories and opinions all merge into one. Each voice was distinct and we were given a good insight as to how each of our female characters were feeling at a given point in time. It never became too confusing and had a great flow which can be hard to achieve but here everything worked seamlessly and made for an engaging, heartfelt read. Although the women may have never met each other before it's clear their chance introduction was meant to be and they will make each day count and cherish every moment.

Jo is the straight talker of the group. She says things like they are and I love someone like that who is not afraid to speak their mind and say how they are feeling or how they wish things to be and to hell with what everyone else thinks. Sometimes we just have to be like that to stop people walking all over us. Jo is in charge of Gold's shoe company, now that her father has retired, but times are tough and the company is finding it difficult to keep up with latest designs and secure the orders they so desperately need. Jo is aware a shake up is needed but how can she go about this without offending her dad who spent his life building the company from scratch and who holds it so dear to his heart? Jo feels husbands, babies and business don't mix so her eye is always on work and keeping things going. There is no time for romance but if there was would she want love in her life? Yet is the biological clock starting to tick just that ever little bit more loudly?

Sarah is married to Dave with a son who is only a few months old. Her dream was to have a beautiful house in the countryside away from the rat race whilst having a lovely baby and husband and continuing her work at an accountancy firm. Unfortunately Sarah is feeling the pressure to conform, did she go back to work too early leaving Dave as a house husband? Will she strive hard enough to be made partner in the firm? Will she have to sacrifice precious hours with her son to progress up the career ladder? Is her dream house just too small and not living up to expectations? Is she missing out on so much while Dave reaps all the rewards of parenthood?

As for our last main character Carrie she was the person catering for the funeral and helping out in between grabbing mouthfuls of food when no one was looking. She feels increasingly isolated from society and her weight continues to increase. She is married to Alex who loves her deeply but she feels he puts her down due to her weight. Will meeting Sarah and Jo give her the support and push she needs to make changes for the better and become the happy person she deserves to be?

The three women decided to create a wish list of what they want to achieve in the first nine months of the year and all three commit said wishes to paper. Each of them view this in a different way and maybe their true, long held, deep down wishes are being kept internal and not out in the open. Are they still lying to themselves and just saying something that can be easily done without thinking for longer and looking at the bigger picture? Either way it's a fresh start for them all and as the months progress and we follow Carrie, Sarah and Jo the story only became ever more riveting. Will all three women find their wishes coming true?

I can't say I preferred one character over another as they all brought different things to the story and I identified with each of them at various times. It proved that no one is perfect that we all have something we battle with and are afraid to bring out into the open. But friends will be there for us no matter what even if they are old or new. Maybe they can provide the incitement we need to take the bull by the horns and just go for it and forget the consequences and find the happiness and satisfaction we deserve. If it had all been plain sailing for the women this wouldn't have made for much of a read, instead the author throws a few curve balls to really make the characters search deep down for what it is they truly want and not just to say something for the sake of it. We get a deep insight into the minds of Carrie, Jo and Sarah as they each battle their own inner, and in a way outer, demons until they find their mojo, their confidence or that solution that will help them find the perfect balance like Sarah so desperately craves. I did feel sorry for each women in turn but loved how in such a short space of time they came together as a unit with one ultimate goal in mind and they would do the best for each other to achieve this.

White Lies and Wishes is another triumph for Cathy Bramley and I can't say enough how much I love her books and they are really just the tonic and perfect pick me up that I have needed recently. This story of bonding and forging friendships is captivating and sparkling and I would urge you to take your time and savour every moment or as with me you'll regret reading so quickly and then realise you'll have wait a bit before your next Cathy fix. This is an uplifting read with brilliantly drawn characters and the reader will easily find someone they can identify with and will urge on until happiness may just be reached. Now I have a wait until March for Cathy's next book The Lemon Tree Café which again like her others is being published in four parts in March, April, May and June. The question is will I be able to wait for the paperback publication or will the call of Cathy's charming writing be too strong for me too resist?

Many thanks to Becky Hunter from Transworld Books for copy of White Lies and Wishes to review and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.


  1. Hi Emma and Sharon! I'm reading this on a train sitting next to Becky Hunter and we are both thrilled that you enjoyed it so much. Thank you for writing such an eloquent review, it really means the world to me. Cathy xxx

  2. Thank you for your lovely words Cathy. I loved it. Thanks Becky for sending it. Already looking forward to the next one. :)