Review: Jumping in Puddles by Claire Allan
( Poolbeg, €9.99)
The Balamory lookalike seaside village of Rathinch may look postcard-perfect to summer visitors. But for locals who live there all year, it is a place of squinting windows, a hotbed of righteous gossip.
But things are about to change when former inhabitant, Detta, a gentle, hippyish woman with a mysterious past, returns like a fairy-godmother from Dublin and sets up a support group for recently single parents.
The group includes Niamh, whose perfect life was shattered when husband Sean was killed in a car crash some months before. This leaves her with three-year-old twins, a fabulous house and a best friend, Caitlin who won't speak to her.
Ciara is a 17-year-old single mum, who had to drop out of school and won't divulge the name of the teenage father. She now works, Cinderella-like for his grandmother, the sour Mrs Quinn, in the local shop.
Harbouring a terrible secret is Ruth, whose husband has left her with three children for another woman, Laura, who has deserted her husband Liam and daughter Poppy.
Liam is in thrall to his domineering mother -- one of a plethora of interfering Irish mammys who complete the scenario.
Within a few months, Detta's magic has worked as the protagonists gradually develop confidence and reveal their secrets. As romance blossoms, Detta finds the group has helped her as much as she helped them and there is renewal in the community. Even the bitter Mrs Quinn comes around.
Yet again, the best-selling author of Feels Like Maybe and Rainy Days and Tuesdays has come up with a feel-good, touching and amusing little tale which readers will find hard to put down.