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Hester and Harriet #2

Love, Lies and Linguine

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The delightfully irascible sisters are on the move . . . which just goes to show you're never too old to start again.

Having found, in Hester & Harriet, that sometimes opening your door to the unexpected has a great result, the intrepid sisters decide to further expand their horizons and book tickets, pack bags and venture forth to Italy for their annual holidays. With a huge secret hanging between them, an unlikely new love on the landscape for Hester and new beginnings also beckoning for Harriet, Italy is certainly providing more of those pesky open doors. But which ones will Hester & Harriet walk through? Meanwhile, back home in England, Daria and Milo are celebrating—they've received official refugee status with papers to confirm they can make England their home. And Ben is hurtling towards a different sort of celebration—one he's trying to backpedal out of as fast as he possibly can.

Hilary Spiers is an award-winning short story writer, playwright and author of Hester & Harriet. She lives in the UK.

432 pages, Paperback

First published January 25, 2017

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About the author

Hilary Spiers

3 books5 followers
Hilary Spiers is a novelist, award-winning short story writer and playwright. She writes contemporary fiction about ordinary women in sometimes extraordinary circumstances, and in particular older women who rarely seem to take centre stage. Well, in her work, they do, in all their wit and exuberance.

Hilary’s first novel, Hester and Harriet, was published in March 2016 and was included in the 2016 Amazon Rising Stars List. Her second novel, Hester & Harriet: Love, Lies and Linguine followed in March 2017. The adventures of these feisty, no-nonsense sisters clearly struck a chord, generating demand from readers for more. In the meantime, she’s putting the finishing touches to her first foray into children's fiction about a very unusual girl, her indomitable grandmother and a six-foot Polish female plumber ...

Born in London, Hilary now lives in Edinburgh, with her husband and their neurotic cat Lola. When she isn’t writing (which she is most of the time), she is directing, performing or cooking up a storm. Pies are a speciality. Several of her plays are available online in film or audio.

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5 stars
60 (23%)
4 stars
82 (31%)
3 stars
92 (35%)
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21 (8%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 38 reviews
Profile Image for Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews.
1,878 reviews266 followers
February 18, 2017
Love, Lies and Linguine is the second book written by Hilary Spiers, featuring two widowed sisters, following on from the novel Hester and Harriet. This is my second outing with the two sisters, Hester and Harriet, as I very recently finished reading the first book in this series. Reading Love, Lies and Linguine offered me the chance to revisit not only the sisters again, but the loved ones who all play an important role in Hester and Harriet’s lives.

This time around the action in the novel alternates between two locations. The first backdrop is the quaint village in England where Hester and Harriet reside, as well as Italy, where the sisters have decided to take as their annual holiday. While they are in Italy, the sisters hone in on their passions. For Harriet, Italy offers her the chance to take up an art class. Whilst for Hester, a cooking class beckons. Over the week’s holiday, long held secrets are revealed, true thoughts are expressed, mysteries are unravelled and love sparks between Hester and another holidaymaker. Meanwhile, back in the UK, Hester and Harriet’s nephew Ben is contending with a house party in Hester and Harriet’s home, gone terribly wrong. The teenage Ben, an aspiring chef, must clean up all evidence of the party before his aunts find out. Also back on the home front in Britain is Daria, a refugee from Belarus, who the elderly women gave refuge to in the previous book. Daria is on tenterhooks, desperately awaiting British citizenship to be granted to her, as well as her baby son Milo and brother. Joining Daria and Ben is Finbar, an enigmatic homeless man with a surprising number of hidden talents under his belt. Taking place over a period of just a week, divided day by day, Love, Lies and Linguine is another entertaining read from Hilary Spiers.

Even though I have read the predecessor to Love, Lies and Linguine, Hester & Harriet, this novel is presented in a way that makes it very easy for new readers to pick up on this series on the second book. I appreciated the structure to Love, Lies and Linguine, a short time frame (just over a week) and alternating chapters between the Hester and Harriet’s grand adventure in Italy, to Ben and Daria’s life back at home in the UK. This allowed the reader more room to connect with each character, their personalities and the issues at the heart of their characters flourished. With the themes of trust, secrets, love, family, travel and belonging dominating the novel, overall it makes for an accessible read.

Love, Lies and Linguine is a novel that holds wide appeal, making it a book that will sit comfortably with any audience. The relatable, as well as diverse set of characters, makes this book a solid follow on to the previous book in this series, Hester & Harriet. It will be interesting to see where author Hilary Spiers takes Hester and Harriet, along with their entourage next.

*I wish to thank Bookstr/Allen & Unwin for providing me an uncorrected proof copy of this novel for review.

Profile Image for Marianne.
3,325 reviews128 followers
February 6, 2017
Love, Lies and Linguine is the second book in the Hester and Harriet series by British author, Hilary Spiers. For some weeks, things have not been quite right between sisters Hester Greene and Harriet Pearson. One factor is Harriet’s anxiety as to whether her sister will enjoy the vacation she has organised for them in Italy (they usually go to the Scilly Isles without fail). And perhaps it has something to do with the letter that arrived weeks ago: Hester can't believe that Harriet has kept something so important secret. Is it all going to blow up while they're meant to be having a good time?

On the home front, asylum seekers Daria and Milo (the waif and baby the sisters took in over Christmas) are overjoyed to have been granted “leave to stay”. Nephew Ben is studying for exams but his revision is dealt a blow when his mate Jez makes plans for Friday night, plans about which he has very mixed feelings. As he has to make more and more dubious arrangements, telling multiple untruths, Ben’s misgivings escalate even as his excitement mounts.

What might Hester’s holiday romance mean for her future with Harriet? And just what have Jez and Ben set in motion? All the favourite characters from the first book are given more depth in this one, and others are introduced. Those planning to read this sequel should double their pleasure by first reading Hester and Harriet as there are a few spoilers for that book in this one.

Spiers gives the reader plenty of humour whilst touching on a myriad of topics: peer pressure and the power of social media, the dangers of poor communication and jumping to conclusions, celebrity chefs, change anxiety, jealousy, secrets and lies. There are a few twists and turns in this tale, the irony of the last pages is as delicious as anything that Hetty or Ben can cook up, and the last line is laugh-out-loud funny. A heart-warming story that will have readers hoping for more of Hester and Harriet.
With thanks to GoodReads Giveaways and Allen&Unwin for this copy to read and review.
Profile Image for Alicia Huxtable.
1,666 reviews56 followers
March 13, 2017
These 2 sisters are highly amusing......in an extremely stubborn way. In this book they take a trip to Italy.....only 1 has an ulterior motive, except it is not what she thinks. Troubles follow these 2 right through their holiday. It is a rather amusing read that I recommend.
Profile Image for Karen.
92 reviews
February 22, 2017
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Easy to get involved in the characters lives. Entertaining story with underlying life lessons.
Profile Image for Stef (Noveltea Corner).
457 reviews155 followers
February 20, 2017
Love, Lies & Linguine is the second book by Hilary Spiers to feature Hester and Harriet, elderly, widowed sisters who live in a cottage in an English village. In this second instalment of their story, Hester and Harriet have ventured to Italy for a holiday, their resort boasting a number of activities, including cooking classes and watercolour painting. There are new faces, friends and potential love interests, and all the complications that follow.

Back home, Hester and Harriet’s nephew, Ben, is caught up in complications of his own as he finds himself suddenly caught up in party preparations to be thrown at his aunts’ cottage without their knowledge or permission.

I was sent this book for review by Allen & Unwin, and it’s not a book I would have picked up on my own, but I’m always up for a challenge and to try things that I might not otherwise try. Love, Lies & Linguine is probably not a book that I’m overly interested or invested in, however, wearing my critiquing hat on, it’s a great story. Hilary Spiers slowly unravels the truths of these characters through small life moments. The story unfolds slowly, but methodically, in a manner that feels real and true to life.

Hester and Harriet’s tumultuous relationship, while built on love, has a habit of being thrown for a loop because of misunderstandings and miscommunication. It’s very believable, because it highlights that even though you’re family, you’re capable of making mistakes - and redeeming yourself in the eyes of loved ones.

Ben’s story was just a train wreck waiting to happen; I was on edge the whole time thinking ‘No, don’t do it!’ It highlights the pervasiveness of peer pressure and the desire to fit in and be seen and noticed on teenagers and while Ben made plenty of poor decisions, there was a strong desire to feel sorry for him.

Overall I gave Love, Lies & Linguine 3 out of 5 stars. It was a solid, character-driven story.
Profile Image for Pam Tickner.
698 reviews7 followers
April 6, 2017
I didn't find this book as delightful as the first - the sisters withholding secrets from each other didn't have the same appeal as their unified effort to avoid their hapless relatives. However, I did enjoy revisiting all the crew and knew without a doubt the fate of the shepherdess!
Profile Image for Cups and Thoughts.
127 reviews112 followers
February 20, 2017
This book was so much fun. Harriet and Hester were the quirkiest, most adorable set of characters I've ever come across. I've never read a story with the POVs of elderly women before - it was really refreshing! I also love how naive the author portrays the two sisters to be. The way I see it, it's a story told by a pair of ambitious teenage girls trapped in an older woman's body. Bottom line though (and I should really stop being so biased xD ), Hester and Harriet are amazing characters - witty, spunky and ultimately unforgettable.

The story I didn't to be as enjoyable to read, though. I couldn't get invested with the other characters and I seem to only want to read the parts with the sisters involved. The reason might be partly because I know little about the previous book hence why I found the story to be a bit slow and hard to decipher sometimes, but the characters just weren't very engaging in general. It's ironic that I found it to be much easier to relate to the sisters rather than Ben and Jez. The whole plot was also really messy. I adore Spiers' british-esque writing (plus the fact that it went together with an equally amazing setting - Italy), but the twists and turns she intended to implement int he story just.. didn't work out very well.

Overall it was.. okay. There were some things I loved and others I didn't. I have to say though, if Spiers were to write stories (that leaned more to chick-lit) with spunky protagonists and a rich setting, I'd be down for it.

Thank you so much to Allen & Unwin for generously providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review! <3
Profile Image for K.L..
58 reviews27 followers
March 22, 2022
I haven't read Hilary Spiers' previous book, and after reading this one it's extremely unlikely I ever will. Obviously my enjoyment of the main characters may have benefited from a previous introduction, but surely a good book stands alone without being dependent on what comes before.

I found the two main characters of Hester and Harriet indistinguishable (as I think did the author - I received this book as an uncorrected proof in a giveaway, and Ms Spiers routinely muddles the two characters in mid conversation - so the reader has no idea what's happening).

The plot was thin and driven by ridiculous and continuous misunderstandings. The reader is constantly told the characters weren't acting like themselves, yet they kept doing it. There was no real hook to keep the reader engaged, the relationships between all characters undeveloped, nonsensical and convenient. Not an author I'll read again.
19 reviews1 follower
February 6, 2017
Firstly, I chose to try and win this book because of my Italian upbringing. I was born to Italian parents but born here in Australia. I have not read the previous book about Harriet and Hilary, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading about their antics in Italy. I must admit, I did have problems remembering who was who because both of the ladies names started with H. But once I got over that and could work out who was who, I submerged myself into the book and immersed myself into their adventure. A very light read, but thoroughly enjoyable.
19 reviews5 followers
February 8, 2017
I did not read the first book but still enjoyed this book. It did take me a few chapters to get into it though as i was a bit confused with the two main characters at first (i had to keep going back to check on some things about the characters). overall it was a light read with some amusing parts. I received the book for free through Goodreads Giveaways.
Profile Image for LoLo.
264 reviews48 followers
June 3, 2017
I really loved the first book in this series for the quirky whimsicality and the gentle mystery and fun.

This book was mostly negativity and hostility and I really struggled to engage with it. I found it incredibly difficult to tell the two sisters apart and remember who was doing what and why they were so unnecessarily furious with the other.
Profile Image for The Bookshop Umina.
904 reviews28 followers
February 5, 2017
I read the first book and thoroughly enjoyed it and this didn't disappoint. The characters I loved were back, even if they were out of sorts for some of the book :) A really enjoyable read to while away a few hours with.
Profile Image for Ana.
170 reviews3 followers
February 5, 2023
Another enjoyable Harriet and Hester adventure, this time in delectable Italy. However, in this sequel I was more engaged by the interactions between the dynamic Nats and the put upon Ben back home.
Profile Image for Jacki (Julia Flyte).
1,235 reviews169 followers
August 27, 2021
I'm taking advantage of lockdown to work through some long time TBRs. I read Hester and Harriet more than five years ago and really enjoyed it. This is the sequel and features the same cast of characters but I didn't like it nearly as much. Perhaps if I'd read it closer to the original I would have felt more invested in the characters? But it all felt very drawn out, both sisters keeping secrets from one another unnecessarily and ultimately amounting to not very much. I did enjoy the sub-plot with their nephew Ben and his friend Nat, but otherwise this wasn't really worth the effort.
9 reviews
June 9, 2017
I loved Hilary Spiers's first book Hester and Harriet. Perhaps my expectations were too high but Love Lies and Linguine is a disappointment. The sisters go to Italy on holiday, Hester has a disturbing secret and is snappy towards Harriet who is confused. The reason behind this secret comes from Harriet's past. Meanwhile nephew Ben is getting himself into bother back home. Unfortunately too many other elements invade the story, a love interest, fellow tourists with convoluted love lies, cookery lessons with a temperamental chef, which all made for a very cluttered plot.
92 reviews1 follower
June 28, 2017
This is the second book in the Hester and Harriet series, and I found it to be much weaker than the first. The first half of the book is spent with two of the main characters, Ben and Hester, being extremely irritating, to the point I nearly stopped reading. The second half of the book was slightly more satisfying, with the stories coming to a reasonable conclusion, and the main characters becoming less selfish and more well-rounded. I would give a third book in the series a go (if one comes along), but I would have to be convinced.
Profile Image for Corinne Johnston.
635 reviews
January 22, 2018
Enjoyable but not as much as the first book, for me anyway. Despite much of it being set in my favourite holiday destination of Italy, and lots of food and wine, the constant arguments and miscommunications grated a bit. And as a 62 year old I really take exception to the authors depiction of women in their mid 60 s... Aches and pains and inability to do the simplest task...I have at least eight 65+ friends currently on skiing holidays!
3 reviews
June 21, 2018
A delightful book!

Having read the first book it was lovely to catch up with the sisters again. I found it a little difficult to get started because of the signalled fiasco of a teenage party. Oh, goodness, how awful! I metaphorically held my nose and ploughed on and it was certainly worth it.
The writing is superb and wonderfully literate. I can’t praise it enough. Enjoy.
Profile Image for Wendy.
1,268 reviews1 follower
May 18, 2017
Quirky characters and many laugh out loud moments. A great read.
Profile Image for Farisha Pace.
11 reviews
October 21, 2017
Wasn't as good as her first book but it was still okay to read. I feel that it lacked the adventures of Hester & Harriet.
Profile Image for Mel.
209 reviews
July 6, 2020
While this was a light read for the school hols it kind of gave me the shits. I did not like interfering old ladies and I did not like self centred teenagers. I think I need a murder book next.
Profile Image for Tracy.
99 reviews1 follower
May 3, 2021
DNF. Reached page 93 and gave up. Not for me. Every character annoyed me and I was on struggle street from the beginning.
Profile Image for Sonia Bellhouse.
Author 5 books6 followers
December 30, 2017
Three and a half from me. It didn't have quite the same charm as Hester and Harriet, Maybe it was the change of location, but I found it harder to differentiate between the sisters. Most engaging were their nephew Ben's attempts to please his mates, thwart his parents and impress the girl he admired.
Profile Image for Annie.
390 reviews1 follower
March 15, 2017
This was a nice follow on from Hester and Harriet. It was easy to read, but I didn't feel engrossed until the last third of the book. I liked the way the tale unfolded as we went along, but the constant misunderstanding and rancour between the sisters got a bit old, they seemed to be forever getting their backs up at each other. I found Ben's story a bit easier to empathise with. All in all a good tale though. I was given a free copy of this book to read and review.
Profile Image for Shanayah.
253 reviews46 followers
May 28, 2017
Full Review Here

I had heard of Hester and Harriet before, but I hadn’t read the first book. For some reason I didn’t think they were connected and that I would be able to understand everything that happened beforehand (clever, right?), so I just threw myself into this one. No one would be surprised to hear that I didn’t understand most of the backstories or know the characters, so please keep that in mind when you’re reading this review J

The writing was a little odd to me, like it was set in present-tense. I found that I got tired of the book several times and I had to force myself to finish it, purely because I don’t like DNFing books. Some of the plot twists seemed to come from absolutely nowhere, and instead of being surprising, they were just bewildering and the sole purpose seemed to push the story along.

I was very confused about which sister we were focusing on for the most part, since they both speak with very similar voices, and I had to go back a few times and re-read to make sure I knew which sister we were talking about. At one point I was so confused that I needed to go back and write a little personality trait chart just to help differentiate. It didn’t really help though, purely because they had so many mood swings and it thoroughly confused me. Perhaps if I had read the first book I would understand better though? This may be my fault.

Ben and his friends were disappointing to me. As a teenager myself, I couldn’t believe how dumb they acted at times, from the very beginning I knew that things would turn out horribly. The character development was kind of odd, like it wasn’t a subtle change, it was more of a ‘yeah this is the new me now!!’ kind of change.

I really liked Nats though, she was a breath of fresh air. She was lively and a very strong female, I thoroughly enjoyed everything about her. It was kind of obvious how things would’ve ended, but at the same time I’m happy with that, since I think she’ll be good for everyone.

After reading this book, I probably won’t read the first one. To be quite honest, if I hadn’t been sent this book, I don’t think I would’ve picked it up, purely because the genre isn’t something I typically read, but it was interesting to go out of my comfort zone a little, even if it didn’t turn out exactly as expected.

I received a review copy from the publisher

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Profile Image for Hannah Reed.
354 reviews4 followers
October 8, 2017
I really enjoyed Hester and Harriet, the first book in this series, and I was excited to return to these characters and their world again, but this just didn't live up to the first one. I think Hester and Harriet is just another instance of 'this really didn't need a sequel and yet here we are'.

The characters I grew to love in the previous book disappeared and became empty shells of what they were before, they were arguing constantly and seemed like completely different characters. Ben was nothing how I expected him to be, it was like all the time he had spent living with them in Hester and Harriet was suddenly lost on him, and he became a character I didn't even recognise. Hester and Harriet themselves were also unlikeable, after previously being characters I wish I knew in real life, they became people I wouldn't want to spend more than five minutes with.

I also ended up skimming the last two hundred pages or so because this is so long and nothing really happens. The issue with making these characters so short-tempered and downright mean in places is that I really didn't care about their lives, or care to listen to them whining about and to each other. One of my biggest gripes in books is lack of communication, and it was here on nearly every page. If Hester and Harriet had just sat down at the start of this book and god forbid talked to each other then we wouldn't have had to be subject to such a treacherous and tedious journey.

I liked the Italian setting and I liked getting to see Daria and Milo a bit more, but it wasn't nearly enough to save this book for me. I also worry it's ruined the first book, Hester and Harriet, for me as I don't think I will be able to enjoy them as characters again knowing how horrible they turn out to be.
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