A fun, feisty novel of love and chasing your dreams
Bel Hailstone has spent the past decade building her dream – Soho’s best burlesque club – from the ground up. But now The Martini Club is under threat, and it will take everything in Bel’s power to resist encroaching developers and save her pride and joy.
Amidst the chaos, Bel’s past comes knocking with the unexpected arrivals of her still-not-quite-ex-husband, her estranged mother and Brodie Porter – the boy who got away all those years ago.
To keep her beloved club afloat – not to mention her sanity – Bel will have to accept help for the first time in a long time, put the past to rest and claim the happy ever after she once thought was lost for good.
What inspired you to write ‘The Martini Club’ series and did it turn out as you envisaged?
The Martini Club series started with Savvy’s story, that was my only idea. It was only after writing that first book that I realised the club had such an important presence – it was what allowed people to be themselves, the escape from the monotony of life, to find friends and chase dreams. That was what the series was meant to be about, after all, and I hope readers feel that.
‘Prosecco and Promises’ focuses on family and forgiveness, what are the themes of ‘Martini and Memories’?
Similarly, it’s about family and forgiveness, but I’d say for Bel it’s about vulnerability and trust – trusting people enough to be weak, to need looking after, admitting that you need help. Bel has created a life that’s about being good on her own, and impressing everyone – she hates asking for help, and she needs to get over the idea that you’re only strong if you do it alone.
Where do you begin when creating your characters and how do you make them believable?
I start with my character’s issues, the things that make them angry, or upset, or long for something else. I fill in their dreams and their loves and their strange little quirks, the way they say certain words or how they hate pineapple juice. I struggle to hold onto the visuals of my characters, but I always know how they’d react in any situation.
‘The Martini Club’, series is characterised by the glamorous settings and people. If the series became a film which actors would you envisage in the leading roles?
I love that idea – I have to admit, I never know how to cast my characters. I think Natalie Dormer would make a good Bel. Brodie, in my head, was played by Jamie Dornan and I stole his Belfast accent. I see Sam as Sam Elliot (Grace and Frankie), but that wasn’t why I chose the name, or at least I don’t think so!
Romantic comedy, relies heavily on the likeability of the female protagonist, how do you ensure they appeal to the reader, without making them too stereotypical?
I have to admit, I don’t want my main characters to be too likeable. Or rather, I don’t want them to be perfect. I hope that readers can see they usually mean well, even if they don’t always manage it, or they say the wrong thing. We all have friends like that, I think, ones we would forgive their mistakes and missteps because we know deep down they’re good people. When I was younger, I always hated Scarlett in Gone With The Wind (which crops up in this book!), but as I grew older I ended up thinking, ‘man that’s a good character, look at her!’ I saw her in a different context when I grew up and felt empathy for her situation and how young she was. You always have to look at your characters in context. And also, if they made no mistakes, there’d be no story!
Have you written books in other genres? If not, would you like to and why?
I wrote a thriller type book as an experiment, and it was fun! I’ve also just finished more of a book club book, and I’m having a play around with magical realism. It’s always fun to play and push yourself to try new things!
Bel is precisely the type of woman you’d expect to be running a successful, burlesque club in London; confident, glamorous and fierce. The truth is somewhat different; she paints her confident air and glamorous appearance on with her make-up. Her hard persona hides, a broken heart, a head full of insecurities engendered by her mother, who she never seemed to please and her love of her employees who she considers family.
Bel’s story is about learning to trust and the realisation that asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Her relationship with her mother is an integral part of her story, and the development of their relationship adds emotional depth to the story.
Vividly described the ‘Martini Club’s’ importance to Bel comes across. The romance in this story is not immediately apparent, but when it makes an appearance, it’s worth the wait.
A fitting end to the ‘Martini Club’ series full of memories and mistakes and the power of forgiveness, loyalty and love. ‘Martinis and Memories is an engaging read with believable, memorable characters and a fairytale ending.
I received a copy of this book from Canelo via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
AL. Michael is the author of 13 novels. Almost all of them are snarky love stories where difficult women learn to embrace vulnerability. Andi works as a content writer, so no matter what she’s doing, she’s all about the words. She has a BA in English Literature, an MA in Creative Business and an MSc in Creative Writing. She is represented by Hayley Steed at Madeleine Milburn.