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Season 2, Episode 8  "Feel Good Fiction"
with Clare Pooley and Phaedra Patrick

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We're excited to bring you Phaedra Patrick and Clare Pooley.

Phaedra Patrick has published six novels with HarperCollins in the US and UK, with her latest, The Little Italian Hotel, just released in June, 2023.

Her debut, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper has been translated into 25 languages worldwide and awarded the Prix des Lectrices 2017 in France. Film rights were optioned by a major Hollywood studio.

Phaedra’s second novel, Rise and Shine Benedict Stone, was made into a Hallmark Original movie in 2022. Her third novel, The Library of Lost and Found, was selected as The Great North West Read 2019, to be read across over 300 libraries in the NW of England. 

The Messy Lives of Book People, her fifth novel, was selected by Barnes & Noble as their Fiction Pick for June in all their US bookstores.


Clare Pooley graduated from Newnham College, Cambridge and spent twenty years in the heady world of advertising before becoming a full-time mum. Realizing that her ‘wine o’clock’ habit had spiralled out of control, Clare started writing a blog, Mummy was a Secret Drinker, which has had nearly three million hits. Her memoir, The Sober Diaries was published in 2017 to critical acclaim.  

Clare’s debut novel - The Authenticity Project, was inspired by her own experience of exposing the rather grubby truth about her own seemingly perfect life. It’s published in thirty-two languages, was a Radio 2 Bookclub pick, winner of the RNA Debut Novel Award and a New York Times bestseller.

Clare’s second novel - The People on Platform 5 (titled Iona Iverson’s Rules for Commuting in the USA/Canada) is published in Spring 2022.

Clare’s talks include a TEDx talk - ‘Making Sober Less Shameful’, a talk for Radio 4’s Four Thought, and numerous podcast interviews. 

Read Along!

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When a relationship expert’s own marriage falls apart, she invites four strangers to Italy for a vacation of healing and second chances in this uplifting new novel from the author of The Messy Lives of Book People.

Ginny Splinter, acclaimed radio host and advice expert, prides herself on knowing what’s best for others. So she’s sure her husband, Adrian, will love the special trip to Italy she’s planned for their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. But when Ginny presents the gift to Adrian, he surprises her with his own very different plan—a divorce.

Beside herself with heartache, Ginny impulsively invites four heartbroken listeners to join her in Italy instead while live on air. From hiking the hills of Bologna to riding a gondola in Venice to sharing stories around the dining table of the little Italian hotel, Ginny and her newfound company embark on a vacation of healing.

However, when Adrian starts to rethink their relationship, Ginny must decide whether to commit to her marriage or start afresh, alone. And an unexpected stranger may hold the key to a very different future… Sunny, tender and brimming with charm, The Little Italian Hotel explores marriage, identity and reclaiming the present moment—even if it means leaving the past behind.


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Nobody ever talks to strangers on the train. It’s a rule. But what would happen if they did?

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Authenticity Project comes an escapist read that will transport you, cheer you, and make you smile—and make you, too, wish you had Iona’s gift for bringing out the best in everyone.

“A not-to-be-missed read in the mode of Gail Honeyman's Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine.” —Booklist, starred review

Every day Iona, a larger-than-life magazine advice columnist, travels the ten stops from Hampton Court to Waterloo Station by train, accompanied by her dog, Lulu.  Every day she sees the same people, whom she knows only by nickname: Impossibly-Pretty-Bookworm and Terribly-Lonely-Teenager. Of course, they never speak. Seasoned commuters never do.

Then one morning, the man she calls Smart-But-Sexist-Manspreader chokes on a grape right in front of her. He’d have died were it not for the timely intervention of Sanjay, a nurse, who gives him the Heimlich maneuver.

This single event starts a chain reaction, and an eclectic group of people with almost nothing in common except their commute discover that a chance encounter can blossom into much more. It turns out that talking to strangers can teach you about the world around you--and even more about yourself.

We are proudly supported by:

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The Book Club

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