ShortBookandScribes #BookReview – The Long and Winding Road by Lesley Pearse

The Long and Winding Road by Lesley Pearse is published by Penguin Michael Joseph and available now in hardcover, eBook and audiobook. My thanks to EDPR for the proof copy.

One of the world’s bestselling storytellers, Lesley Pearse writes brilliantly about survivors. Why? Because she is one herself . . .

Born during the Second World War, Lesley’s innocence came to an abrupt end when a neighbour found her, aged 3, coatless in the snow. The mother she’d been unable to wake had been dead for days. Sent to an orphanage, Lesley soon learned adults couldn’t always be trusted.

As a teenager in the swinging sixties, she took herself to London. Here, the second great tragedy of her life occurred. Falling pregnant, she was sent to a mother and baby home, and watched helplessly as her newborn was taken from her.

But like so many of her generation, Lesley had to carry on. She was, after all, a true survivor. Marriage and children followed – and all the while she nurtured a dream: to be a writer. Yet it wasn’t until at the age of 48 that her stories – of women struggling in a difficult world – found a publisher, and the bestseller lists beckoned.

As heartbreaking as it is heartwarming, Lesley’s story really is A Long and Winding Road with surprises and uplifting hope around every corner . . .

Back in 1995 I was working in Sheffield city centre. The bookshops were a magnet to me and I visited them several times a week. At the top of the escalator in WHSmith were three chunky books by an author new to me: Lesley Pearse. They immediately caught my eye and I couldn’t resist giving them a go. I read Charity first, Lesley’s third book, and then went back and read Georgia and Tara. I was absolutely absorbed in the ups and downs (perhaps rather more of the latter) of the eponymous characters and went on to devour every book this wonderful author has produced. Now, over thirty years since Georgia was published, Lesley Pearse has written her autobiography and it’s instantly clear where so much of her inspiration has come from.

The Long and Winding Road is utterly compelling reading, as gripping as Lesley’s novels. It takes us back first of all to the 1940s and the tragic death of her mother. After a stint in an orphanage she was able to return home but the remainder of her childhood was never easy and she escaped as soon as she could. I was astonished at the volume and variety of all the jobs and homes Lesley had. I think she moved more times than I had hot dinners! She was so courageous though, picking herself up and dusting herself down after each setback and letdown, bringing up her family and eventually becoming the bestselling novelist loved by so many readers.

I enjoyed this book so much. It’s quite conversational in tone which made it easy to read and it’s a tour through the music and fashion of the decades from the point of view of a woman who never let herself be held back. It was so wonderful to read about the life of one of my all-time favourite writers, the heartbreak and the joy, the sadness and the fun, culminating in a beautiful and heartwarming final chapter. It’s a fabulous read.

Copyright: Charlotte Murphy

International bestselling author Lesley Pearse has lived a life as rich with incidents, setbacks and joys as any found in her novels.

Resourceful, determined and willing to have a go at almost anything, Lesley left home at sixteen. By the mid sixties she was living in London, sharing flats, partying hard and married to a trumpet player in a jazz-rock band. She has also worked as a nanny and a Playboy bunny, and designed and made clothes to sell to boutiques.

It was only after having three daughters that Lesley began to write. The hardships, traumas, close friends and lovers from those early years were inspiration for her beloved novels. She published her first book at forty-nine and has not looked back since.

Lesley is still a party girl.

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