Shy Creatures

The new novel from the author of Small Pleasures

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Pub Date 29 Aug 2024 | Archive Date 28 Aug 2024

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From the bestselling author of SMALL PLEASURES, a new novel about love, family and the joy of freedom. Coming August 2024 - AVAILABLE TO PREORDER NOW!

'A magnificent novel. I loved it to its bones' EMMA STONEX

'A lively, funny, forgiving novel' PATRICK GALE

'Completely absorbing' LISSA EVANS

'A rich and tender story of kindness and compassion' RUTH HOGAN

In all failed relationships there is a point that passes unnoticed at the time, which can later be identified as the beginning of the decline. For Helen it was the weekend that the Hidden Man came to Westbury Park.

Croydon, 1964. Helen Hansford is in her thirties and an art therapist in a psychiatric hospital where she has been having a long love affair with Gil: a charismatic, married doctor.

One spring afternoon they receive a call about a disturbance from a derelict house not far from Helen's home. A thirty-seven-year-old man called William Tapping, with a beard down to his waist, has been discovered along with his elderly aunt. It is clear he has been shut up in the house for decades, but when it emerges that William is a talented artist, Helen is determined to discover his story.

Shy Creatures is a life-affirming novel about all the different ways we can be confined, how ordinary lives are built of delicate layers of experience, the joy of freedom and the transformative power of kindness.

From the bestselling author of SMALL PLEASURES, a new novel about love, family and the joy of freedom. Coming August 2024 - AVAILABLE TO PREORDER NOW!

'A magnificent novel. I loved it to its...

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ISBN 9781399602556
PRICE £20.00 (GBP)

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Featured Reviews

I love Clare’s writing they are heartwarming but none the same they rammed packed with dark humour i love how she captures different decades and variety of unusual locations, however I do feel she gets London( the common factor) the best and considering she does this over many different decades and places in time speaks volumes. I can’t wait to devoir this book. Thank you for the ARC. FULL REVIEW TO FOLLOW

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What a lovely lovely book.
Two incredible characters in Helen and William, that I adored.

The writing was beautiful, and I struggled to put the book down (but had to) and rushed back to it as soon as I could.
I was intrigued by William and his history, and enjoyed the slow reveal.
Just an uplifting book, that cements Chambers in my list of incredible writers.

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Clare Chambers is one of my favourite authors and her writing just gets better and better. This story starts slowly and it takes a while to warm to the characters. Set mainly in the 1960s, but with flashes back to pre-war London, the author uses the language and social niceties of the time to build tension and leave tantalising clues about the mystery at the heart of the tale. The second half of the novel picks up pace and I found myself reading ‘just another chapter’ to get to the crux of the story.. Absorbing, empathetic and satisfying. Another winner from Clare Chambers.

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I have been a fan of Clare Chambers’ writing ever since I was entranced by ‘Learning to Swim’ many years ago so was overjoyed to receive a copy of her latest. Nothing here to disappoint. I loved the characters - Helen for sure but especially Marion, who is just a delight - and the relationships between the cast of characters are subtly observed, realistic and poignant. I am of a slightly later generation than those in this book but can recognise my parents and grandparents and their attitudes of ‘not something we want to talk about’. It all rings true and I can well believe how the sad events described here could happen.

Some passages I highlighted while reading that still resonate with me now I’ve finished:

‘I think a lot of men are suspicious of any female enjoyment if they aren’t the source of it.’

‘…the girls heading to the bus stop, with all the swaggering assurance that big hair and new outfits and too-high hemlines and the certain disapproval of their elders can confer.’

A heart-warming read with the sort of ending I most enjoy - the strands not tied up too tightly and an understated sense of hope that all will be well. Highly recommended.

With thanks to Orion via NetGalley for the opportunity to read an ARC.

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A remarkable story full of hope and inspiration. I loved this from the get go, it was written and plotted so beautifully and with so much care. Helen was a wonderfully flawed character to lead the book, although I didn’t agree with some of her choices, I had no problem empathising with her. William was another excellent character, one whom I couldn’t help but feel pity but also hope for.

The setting and background characters added much needed plot depth. I really enjoyed the premise and the way William’s story was told in reverse order, giving us a little bit more information chapter after chapter. If I took anything away from this novel, it’s the important of kindness despite everything. Chambers did a brilliant job of delivering a beautiful book, and I’m so grateful to have read it.

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This is a truly wonderful read, which I was completely immersed in from the opening page. The introduction of a 37 year old man who has just been discovered living the life of a recluse, alongside an elderly aunt, creates a mystery just waiting to be unravelled.

I love the way Clare Chambers slowly builds up her characters. This book is totally character driven and the several plot lines are skilfully woven around them. Her characters are so well-crafted that you are completed invested in what happens to them. I highly recommended Shy Creatures. It’s another winner from Clare Chambers.

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I really enjoyed the author’s previous novel Small Pleasures, so was thrilled to have the opportunity to review this one.
Beautifully written, fabulous characters with a plot line that is intricate and unravels perfectly. Loved it! 100% recommended.

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What a wonderful read. This is the absolutely perfect book for summer holidays, purely because you’re going to want the time to finish it as quickly as possible once you’ve started.

All the characters and the sense of time and place are beautifully written and it’s so interesting to see life for young women in each period (the 1920s, 30s, 40s and 60s), with changes in society allowing just a little more freedom over the years.

The main character, Helen, is capable, intelligent and independent but caught up in an affair with a married man at the psychiatric hospital she works in. It is there she comes across William, recently brought in after living for years hidden away and never going out in public. Over the course of the novel, his story unravels backwards as Helen tries to find out more about him and he’s a wonderful character, with his past making sense of his present perfectly. Helen herself is also an excellent character, very believable and sympathetic, and everyone’s behaviour throughout makes sense and is never treated simplistically.

I could happily have spent much longer with these characters. The writing is effortless and the pacing perfect, making it completely engrossing. A truly fabulous book.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an advance copy in return for an honest review.

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A very special book - its scope in depth and breath is quite wonderful, I had huge expectations picking it up, I'm thrilled to say, I wasn't disappointed, another compelling read from an author with a special spot on my bookshelves!

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Shy creatures by Clare Chambers is a fascinating look at the way in which a childhood trauma can affect someone’s whole life and the changing treatment of mental health conditions in the 1960’s. I found the book to be engaging and thought provoking. Why did someone with as much going for her as Helen settle for so little? How could William’s family isolate him so completely from wider society while telling themselves it was for his own protection? I thought the impact that a school friend’s mother had on William’s whole life, while being completely unaware of this, was very moving. Having previously read ‘small pleasures’ and ‘learning to swim’ by the same author I was anticipating an enjoyable and immersive read and that was exactly what was delivered. Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.

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A beautiful book. I have loved previous books by Clare Chambers so I was looking forward to this one and it didn't disappoint.
Set in the 1960s mainly in a Mental Health Hospital we follow Helen, an Art Therapist and William, a patient, as their lives come together and each helps and changes the other. Don't want to give away the plot but it is beautifully written and a beautiful story.

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