We caught up with best-selling author Jane Green, the ‘Queen of Chick Lit’, to talk about her new book, ‘The Patchwork Family’, blended families and her love of cooking and decorating.
Q: How personal is The Patchwork Marriage?
A: I’ve always drawn from the themes of my life, and with a blended family myself, I started to look at other blended families—particularly the ones that came with real challenges. I remember reading that once you marry someone with children, you are destroying the myth carried by all children of divorce: that their parents will reconcile. Of course we have had our own challenges—life is complicated enough without the additions of steps, halves, exes, etc.—and it isn’t always easy, but when problems arise, we work through them, which Andi and Ethan, sadly, aren’t able to.
Q: How do you feel about blended families?
A: Clearly they are becoming more and more the norm, yet they are so much more challenging than people think. So often it seems women enter into blended families with huge naiveté. I heard countless women talk about how bemused they were that they had such a difficult relationship with their stepkids. They all walked in thinking they were good people, all they needed was to be loving and kind, and all would be well. And of course life is never that simple. Then there were the women who felt their husbands, or fathers, had to make a choice, with resentment setting in each time they felt he had chosen the other. I have discovered that it is essential that couples work together to form and present a solid bond and a united front to their children.
Q: How do you decide on a subject or theme for your books?
A: Usually by looking at what’s going on around me—in my life and the lives of my friends. Often there is something that fascinates me, which drives the story of the novel. A recurring theme seems to be that people show you who they want you to believe they are, yet how do you know who to trust? I’m working on a book now that has a husband who seems to be the all-around great guy, but who is harboring a secret that is about to destroy everything.
Q: Was this book easy or hard to write?
A: It was easier than some of the others, but these days it is never as easy as it was in the beginning, before children, husbands, and life got in the way. The book took off for me once I took my editor’s suggestion and started writing in Emily’s voice—it gave me such understanding and empathy for her character. If anything, I think I ended up preferring Emily to Andi, which I hadn’t expected at all.
Q: You have a passion for cooking and decorating—and you have a love of making a house a home. Can you share with us your easiest, best ideas for making a family room a wonderful space, and can you share with us some of your best recipes for feeding a crowd?
A: I do love everything about the home, it’s true, and I built my house around the fact that because it is always filled with kids and friends, it needed to be a place that everyone would walk into and feel instantly comfortable. My easiest tricks are lots of soft pillows —they make even a hard sofa look inviting—with throws over the back of the sofa so kids can curl up, stacked books on the coffee table, and in between groupings of things you love—shells from the beach, candles, cute boxes—anything looks great when it is a collection; trays that can turn stools and benches into tables—then be easily removed for extra seating; different textures with natural elements: sisal rugs/stone pots/wood candle holders, baskets for storage. And my favorite is to cover sofas you hate with white canvas slipcovers.
To mark the release of ‘The Patchwork Family’, we’re giving one of our readers the chance to win a very special prize for their reading group! Follow the link and enter our competition to be in with a chance: http://penguin.campaignserver.co.uk/thepatchworkmarriage/
You can buy ‘The Patchwork Family’ from Tesco for £7.86!