I love all the Isabella Smugge books – The Diary of Isabella M Smugge, The Trials of Isabella M Smugge and The Continued Times of Isabella M Smugge – but the third book in the series, The Continued times of Isabella M Smugge is a triumph! These books seem to get better and better as the character of Isabella develops.
We have seen Isabella change from a ‘posh’ blogger and influencer under her adored husband’s control with efficient foreign au-pair, to a single Mum coping with a family of four and an aged mother.
In the first book, when Isabella and her husband Johnnie arrive in the small Suffolk rural community from London, they initially fail to fit in. But after being befriended by the local vicar’s wife, Claire, and introduced to a community of Mums, Isabella slowly becomes a part of that community. Later, ditching the au-pair Sofija, because she has an affair with husband, Johnnie, and becoming more of a hands-on mother, Isabella finds herself at the centre of the Mums group, friends who support and uphold one another.
In book three, Isabella’s talents are displayed not just as a blogger and influencer, but with a young baby, an advertiser of all the appropriate products – Organic Belle ‘Peau de Bébé’cream and Flash Gnash teething rings – all this advertising eventually leading to more interior designing influencing and a place on TV programme ‘Morning you’.
Author, Ruth, is a master at finding humour in the ordinary every day.
For example: Johnnie’s ‘pride and joy’ his Morgan car becomes the home of a mother cat and her four kittens – “with scratches all over the beautifully polished walnut dashboard, the seats… ripped and the upholstery… lavishly stained with birth by products and what I could only imagine were cat wees and poos.”
A sad and sorry state for such an iconic car, but we can’t help but laugh at the description.
Or the alliteration in the name of her mother’s new friend, Mr Cottingham from Nottingham, which has a rather ridiculous ring to it.
But Ruth is also the master of pathos. Of bringing depth to her character Isabella and moving her readers, when for instances, she deals with the thorny subject of forgiveness.
“I thought to myself…’Why should I forgive anyone who hurt me? It’s so hard and I don’t even mean it most of the time…forgiveness does seem to be one of the central themes with religious people”
I think we all understand exactly what Isabella means in addressing such a universal theme that affects us all.
Isabella has changed in the three books, as we all do. I will finish with Isabella’s own words
“I look back to how I was when we first moved to Suffolk and I hardly recognise myself.”
I won’t say anymore as I don’t want to give any spoilers. You will just have to read the book for yourself. Or to see Isabella change, read the entire series to date and make up your own minds about her.
Signed copy and merchandise available from Ruth’s website (www.ruthleighwrites.co.uk), or the books can be purchased at Waterstones, Eden and Amazon online and at Halesworth Bookshop, Dial Lane Books Ipswich and Woodbridge Books.