Small Pleasures

A Novel

by Clare Chambers

On Sale: 10/05/2021

Small Pleasures

Enlarge Book Cover

Small Pleasures

A Novel

by Clare Chambers

On Sale: 10/05/2021


About the Book

Now available in the US—the dark horse literary novel that has taken Britain by storm! In the best tradition of Tessa Hadley, Kazuo Ishiguro, and Ann Patchett—an astonishing, keenly observed period piece about an ordinary British woman in the 1950s whose dutiful life takes a sudden turn into a pitched battle between propriety and unexpected passion.


A BEST BOOK OF 2020 PICK: Daily Telegraph, Sunday Times Ireland, Daily Express

1957: Jean Swinney is a feature writer on a local paper in the southeast suburbs of London. Clever but with limited career opportunities and on the brink of forty, Jean lives a dreary existence that includes caring for her demanding widowed mother, who rarely leaves the house. It’s a small life with little joy and no likelihood of escape.

That all changes when a young woman, Gretchen Tilbury, contacts the paper to claim that her daughter is the result of a virgin birth. Jean seizes onto the bizarre story and sets out to discover whether Gretchen is a miracle or a fraud. But the more Jean investigates, the more her life becomes strangely (and not unpleasantly) intertwined with that of the Tilburys, including Gretchen’s gentle and thoughtful husband Howard, who mostly believes his wife, and their quirky and charming daughter Margaret, who becomes a sort of surrogate child for Jean. Gretchen, too, becomes a much-needed friend in an otherwise empty social life.

Jean cannot bring herself to discard what seems like her one chance at happiness, even as the story that she is researching starts to send dark ripples across all their lives…with unimaginable consequences.

Both a mystery and a love story, Small Pleasures is a quintessentially British novel in the style of The Remains of the Day, about conflict between personal fulfilment and duty; a novel that celebrates the beauty and potential for joy in all things plain and unfashionable. 

Educator and Librarian Resources

Critical Praise

Small Pleasures is a tender and heart-rending tale that will draw you in from the first page and keep you gripped until the very end. Exquisitely compelling!”  - Ruth Hogan, author of The Keeper of Lost Things

“A very fine book... It's witty and sharp and reads like something by Barbara Pym or Anita Brookner, without ever feeling like a pastiche."
- David Nicholls, bestselling author of One Day 

"An irresistible novel—wry, perceptive and quietly devastating." - Hephzibah Anderson, Mail on Sunday

Small Pleasures is an almost flawlessly written tale of genuine, grown-up romantic anguish.  Written in prose that is clipped as closely as suburban hedges, this is a book about seemingly mild people concealing turbulent feelings….”  - Johanna Thomas-Corr, The Sunday Times

“A brilliant book… A love story between people who are not usually the leading players in love story… I found it incredibly absorbing." - Kathleen MacMahon, The Irish Times


Product Details

  • ISBN: 9780063094727
  • ISBN 10: 006309472X
  • Imprint: Custom House
  • On Sale: 10/05/2021
  • Pages: 352
  • List Price:34.99 CAD
  • BISAC1 : FICTION / Literary
  • BISAC2 : FICTION / Contemporary Women
  • BISAC3 : FICTION / Historical / World War II

Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers

The broadest selection of online bookstores. The links will take you to the web site's home page.

Other Booksellers

The broadest selection of online bookstores. The links will take you to the Web site's home page.


International Customers

If you are located outside Canada, the best way to order online is to choose from the following bookstores listed by region and country.