I’m absolutely thrilled to be able to share my review of The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness by Laura Bambrey today. My enormous thanks to SJ at TeamBATC for inviting me to participate in the blog tour and for sending me a copy of The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness in return for an honest review.
The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness is published by Simon and Schuster and is available for purchase through these links.
The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness
The perfect feel-good read from an exciting new voice in women’s fiction, for fans of Heidi Swain, Cathy Bramley and Jenny Colgan.
Tori Williamson is alone. After a tragic event left her isolated from her loved ones, she’s been struggling to find her way back to, well – herself. That’s why she set up her blog, The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness, as a way of – anonymously – connecting with the outside world and reaching others who just need a little help sometimes.
When she’s offered a free spot on a wellbeing retreat in exchange for a review on her blog, Tori is anxious about opening herself up to new surroundings. But after her three closest friends – who she talks to online but has never actually met – convince her it’ll do her some good, she reluctantly agrees and heads off for three weeks in the wild (well, a farm in Wales).
From the moment she arrives, Tori is sceptical and quickly finds herself drawn to fellow sceptic Than, the retreat’s dark and mysterious latecomer. But as the beauty of The Farm slowly comes to light she realizes that opening herself up might not be the worst thing. And sharing a yurt with fellow retreater Bay definitely isn’t. Will the retreat be able to fix Tori? Or will she finally learn that being lonely doesn’t mean she’s broken . . .
My Review of The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness
Tori is off to a retreat to review for her blog.
The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness is an absolute belter of a book. I loved it unreservedly. Laura Bambrey has crafted a witty, moving and entertaining read that completely captivated me.
I thought the blog entries at the start of each chapter were brilliant and, although The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness is escapist entertainment of the very best kind, the messages in these chapter openings are actually truly inspiring and helpful to those experiencing similar feelings of guilt, worthlessness and loneliness as Tori does. They left me feeling encouraged and uplifted so that as well as being diverted from the cares of the world by The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness, I actually benefitted from it emotionally and mentally too.
The Welsh retreat setting provides the perfect backdrop to the action because there’s a fantastic unity of place that complements the characters beautifully. Laura Bambrey adds just the right amount of physical description to place her reader at the heart of the action without ever slowing the pace. The exercises and activities at the retreat feel completely authentic and convincing with the effect of making the reader relax into the reading in a way that mirrors the manner Tori learns to let go of some of her anxieties. Alongside this authenticity is a plot that races along to the extent that I had to put life on hold until I had devoured The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness.
I loved meeting the cast of characters in The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness. Whilst there are recognisable aspects of people who would run or visit this kind of retreat, such as having beards and dreadlocks, or wearing white floaty clothing, these aspects never feel stereotypical, but rather make the reader feel included in the narrative by Laura Bambrey through a shared understanding. I was in love with Bay myself from the very beginning and desperately wanted Tori to distance herself from Than and fall in love with Bay too but you’ll need to read the book to see if that actually happens. Indeed, Than’s prickliness and Rowan’s entrepreneurial activities counteract perfectly the softer personalities of those like Doreen and Lizzie so that it feels as if all life is here in the community on the farm.
However, what I found so special about The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness was the balance between light hearted comedy and sensitive emotional depth because it made the book all the more affecting. As well as exploring aspects of loneliness, Laura Bambrey provides insight into mental health in many forms, relationships, friendship and family whilst touching on social media and its benefits and dangers in an accessible, engaging and compelling manner.
I thought The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness was a wonderful example of its genre and have put it straight on my list of favourite reads this year. Laura Bambrey entertains, comforts and delights her reader in equal measure in The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness. It’s fabulous. Don’t miss it.
About Laura Bambrey
Laura Bambrey was born in Dorset but raised in Wales. She’s worked as a trapeze choreographer, sculpture conservator and stilt walker, amongst others, and spent most of her time collecting stories from the people she met along the way.
She has spent many years as a book blogger and reviewer of women’s fiction and now lives in Devon with her very own romantic hero and a ridiculously fluffy rabbit named Mop. The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness is her début novel.
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