Troubador Thicker Than Soup

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Released: 28/06/2015

ISBN: 9781784622640

Format: Paperback

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Thicker Than Soup


Focussed on their careers, Sally Lancing, the daughter of a Pakistani immigrant and English mother, and John Sommers, the much-loved son of adopting parents, are equally committed to a child-free future. Then a surprise pregnancy – and doubts about the paternity – hurls them both into new, but separate, lives. Devastated by the loss of her job, her partner, and her home, Sally and her baby son embark on a journey to Pakistan to meet her father’s distant family. Once there, Sally’s eyes are opened to a world that challenges her deepest beliefs. Meanwhile, John hides his vulnerability behind increasing success as a restaurateur. But the baby has rattled skeletons, and, unable to avoid his past, he too embarks on a journey – to find his birth parents. As their horizons broaden and their views are challenged, the child, Sammy, is an innocent but enduring link. Thicker Than Soup is a story of love, loss and discovery that explores the concepts of morality and independence as Sally and John attempt to build separate futures. Until, that is, providence stirs life’s mixing bowl once more, and Sammy is again the crucial ingredient. Thicker Than Soup is a moving tale of relationships set against a backdrop of both Thatcher’s Britain and a beautifully evoked Pakistan. Inspired by The Ginger Tree by Oswald Wynd, the novel explores the serious issues of cultural integration and diversity as well as adoption, and also, the devastating shock of HIV.

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‘Thicker than Soup’ is a great read with strong and interesting characters who reflect real issues and real life dramas. It tugs one in as John struggles towards success whilst battling with the demons of his past. And when Sally goes to Pakistan, her experiences there open the eyes and the mind to a culture and society that has surprising attractions and reveals life that challenges some of the myths and views many of us hold. The story twists and turns as it takes the reader to some very plausible but unforeseen outcomes.After reading this book more than once I’ve been sad each time I finished; I’ve grown to know the characters and their lives, and discovered new things I missed the previous time around. The book is an experience and one that I won’t forget. I recommend it hugely.

by David Lankester

This story gripped me to the end with it's many unexpected twists. The characters are complex and develop pleasingly as the story progresses. The setting in Britain and Pakistan of the period, as well as the cultural and social challenges of the time, are cleverly woven into this story of love and families.

by Elizabeth Delap

Beautifully written page turner- I started it at 10am and finished it at 7pm, only briefly coming up for air and a quick lunch! The characters are well drawn and their actions and motivations are plausible and draw you into their lives. The time period (80s) and places (England and Pakistan) are evoked with a lightness of touch that never intrudes, and the author pulls off the difficult trick of maintaining a well balanced storyline alternating the narrative between the two protagonists chapter by chapter.

by Nena

What an admirable first novel! Not just an absorbing and most readable page-turner, but a book that deals with serious themes - sexual morality, AIDS, friendship, family values and Islamic-Christian relations - all with a light touch and an engaging style. It is pacy, beautifully plotted with surprising twists, and its poignant ending leaves us with some hope. Dialogue and characterisation were extremely good. The reader benefits from the author's own experience of living in Pakistan to counter some of the popular misconceptions about that country, at least as it was some 20-30 years ago. Though I found the influx of new characters about a third of the way through the book somewhat overwhelming, that didn't spoil enjoyment of the novel as a whole.

by Frank Brierley

This is a very well written debut novel. Full of engaging description of the 1980s the story evolves through several unexpected changes in fortune of the two main characters which keeps the reader guessing about the final outcome.

by minuana

What an enjoyable read. I liked the pace of the story and found it hard to put down. So interesting to have a knowledgeable account of life in Pakistan. I also enjoyed travelling down memory lane to the 1980's. Definitely lots of " food " for thought.! I shall certainly go and visit the Rothko at the Tate!

by Diana Slater

Really enjoyed this book. The characters were believable and likeable. The story line followed unexpected paths but was realistic given the 1980s timeframe. I now want to visit Pakistan after reading about the sights, food and people.

by J Bah

An excellent read- found myself not wanting to put it down! A brilliant ending and I am hoping that there is a follow-up in the pipeline.

by Anita Quinn

A thoroughly enjoyable story, with well-developed characters. I thought the changes in location between England and Pakistan to be very well done. I lived for several years in Rawalpindi and found the author really captured the feeling of life in Pakistan in the 80's. I really felt I knew the characters and couldn't wait to get to the next chapter and twist to the plot. I read the book in two days and I look forward to more books from Ms. Joyce.

by TGIS (Pat)

A wonderful and authentic book, written with knowledge, insight and love. Why did it end? I want to know so much more about these people after having been given a precious window into their lives. I feel that I understand them better now, although I admit having been rather judgmental in the beginning. Now it is really hard to let them go. This only happens with excellent books.

I enjoyed the food and wine theme that permeates the book. You don't have to be a food enthusiast to enjoy the story, but it will help if you can understand how food is a means of self-expression and of conveying care for others. Psychologically the book feels real.

The author has a real gift and I hope to see much more of her work.

by Nanetter Tradoux

Fantastically written! Intensely gripping. I did not want to put it down till I had finished it in it's entirety! My imagination ran wild whilst my eyes feasted on each event and the outcomes.... I totally recommend this book for its broad outlook to diverse cultures and flawless descriptiveness of adverse situations.

by Farina Tayub

This is a very good read with lots of action and issues, just what I like from a novel. The life stories of the two main characters are full of surprises and made me want to read on. The contrast between Thatcher's Britain and 1980s' Pakistan works well and raises fascinating questions about family life, personal identity, religious practice and much else. The novel is carefully crafted and a clever ending opens up further possibilities for the future.

by Peter Gilliat

A terrific first novel.Believable characters interlock in ways which lead the reader further into their complex lives. Their personalities and histories are described with the detail that engenders interest in the contrasting directions that their futures take. The locations are vividly described and set the story with wide ranging visual clarity. In particular the Pakistan section of the book is written with the sensitivity that suggests understanding,intrigue and love of the country.
I love the accompanying / underlying references to ingredients and cooking; several times playing around with a list of ingredients thinking what I might do with them. And Salmon Tikka, wow!!
The final section is particularly moving : definitely a glass at least half full.
This should not be the last that we hear from this skilled writer.

by Colin Martin

A fascinating journey between two very different countries, and a clever, thought provoking examination of the lives of the characters contained within them. The theme of family and belonging runs strongly throughout the novel, punctuated by issues which may either enrich or blight our lives, and the author's sensitive handling ensures that the story can balance moments of pure enjoyment and excitement with shock or sorrow. It is impossible not to feel empathy with the characters, even when, as the reader, you feel they have made a rash decision, and it is this human element which makes the book stand out for me.

by Chagall's Pet Goat

Very enjoyable. I was gripped and read the book in less than 24 hours - helped by the fact that I am on holiday. The book flowed well and was an easy read in spite of the seriousness of the topics within the book - sexual equality, religion, politics and HIV /AIDS I found the chapters of the book based in Pakistan enlightening as to the history of the country and the social/ political condition in the 1980's and really enjoyed how the author wove these details into the story.. I would definitely read another book by Kathryn Joyce.

by Jeannie Reed

I have just finished reading Thicker than Soup. It was brilliant! Funny, tragic and thought provoking. Also an insight into life in Pakistan. You can almost sense the colours and smells. I really enjoyed it.

by Barbara M

An engaging book which gradually revealed a strong awareness of the many different cultural issues facing those who share their lives with two different cultures. Many serious issues woven into a pacy, well crafted novel with engaging characters. The sights and sounds of Pakistan were vibrantly and evocatively portrayed. Issues of gender, HIV/Aids were incorporated into the story in a non judgemental and sensitive way giving the reader a lot to think about. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I hope there will be a sequel.

by Allan Rickmann

‘Thicker Than Soup’ follows the lives of Sally and John as they struggle to juggle careers and their relationship through the difficult times of Thatcher’s 1980’s Britain. Events lead them physically and emotionally into their pasts to try to discover who they really are.

‘Thicker Than Soup’ is a really interesting debut novel. Kathy Joyce gives the reader an incredible insight, particularly into life in Pakistan and she weaves an engaging story. I’m certain the author’s own experiences have added a real depth to her descriptions and it is the small details like ‘piles of shiny peppers’ that create a strong visual image.

‘Thicker Than Soup’ is written with compassion as, in a twisting plot, Kathy Joyce explores adoption, abandonment, redundancy, culture, race, HIV and the basic human need for love. The reader is moved as they read. There are immense themes here. I couldn’t decide if I found the end of the novel profoundly sad or profoundly optimistic and I think that’s part of the success of the writing – the sense that life isn’t straight forward and that we sometimes make choices that reverberate a long way into the future.

Initially, I didn’t particularly warm to John, despite the fact that the novel opens with him being wronged by Sally, but as I came to know about his background and to understand his insecurities I found him much more engaging and deserving of empathy.

Alongside highly competent story telling, an aspect that really brought the novel alive for me was the reference to food. Chapters are headed by dishes and I became increasingly hungry as I read! When or if you’ve read the novel you’ll understand why I have the overwhelming urge for a slice of banana cake!

by Linda Hill

A great read! Well written, interesting characters - a real page turner! I really liked how the story is told from two different points of view, Sally's and John's. I had to keep reading even when I reached the end of a chapter, just so I could find out what the other character was up to! I particularly liked John's character - ambitious, charming and down to earth. As the story develops, you get a sense that something dramatic is around the corner, and there is! But I won't spoil it for you! You must read this book! I hope there's a sequel!

by Gemma Bell

A compelling story which wears its moral complexity lightly
15 January 2018

This page turner of a novel tells a compelling human story, told from differing perspectives and imbued with vitality from its contrasting cultural backdrops (which are beautifully depicted). It wears its moral complexity lightly - thoughtful yet unsentimental and full of suspense.

by Tings

Kathryn Joyce

Kathryn Joyce, more widely known as Kathy, is a writer, traveller, and enthusiastic cook who found that time spent working in West Africa, Pakistan and Vietnam were great inspirations in her life. The year in Pakistan, she says, "introduced me to a colourful, exciting, diverse community that shattered the stereotypes and prejudices I didn't think I had".

Whilst there she wrote newsletters home, little realising they would later become the source of her debut novel, Thicker Than Soup.

Kathryn Joyce

Thicker Than Soup
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