Trouble in Paradise

Written by Pip Granger
Review by Tess Allegra

World War II is over, celebrations abound in London, and Zelda Fluck has mixed emotions. Violent husband Charlie’s return to Paradise Gardens will resume their domestic war. Also Zelda’s nephew Tony is in cahoots with “one-boy crime wave” Brian Hole to shrug off jokes about his beautiful singing voice. Village midwife Zinnia Makepeace brings her intuitive healing to Zelda by nursing bumps and bruises left after Charlie’s furloughs. Zinnia kindly surprises Zelda with voice lessons for Tony with a Soho teacher as a diversion from his edge towards a life of crime. Zelda also makes the acquaintance of Soho cafe owners, Burt and Maggie Featherby, jovial godsends who will alter Zelda’s life forever.

Although this novel is filled with mysterious goings-on, Pip Granger’s eccentric, wonderful characters are the main attraction. Rugged working class values help them balance horror with humor and hope. Although young Rosie who narrates the first two books (Not All Tarts Are Apple and The Widow Ginger) hasn’t been born yet in this outing, never fear. This backward glance at her caretakers’ early lives adds richness to this unique series about original “extended families,” very tough love, and often menacing denizens of post-war, working-class London.