BOOK CLUB: The Best Kind of Beautiful

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Author: Frances Whiting
ISBN: 9781743535134
Copy courtesy of Pan Macmillan Australia

For years I have enjoyed reading Frances Whiting’s columns in the Sunday Mail, so when the opportunity to read and review her latest novel came up I was delighted to be chosen. Frances has made a seamless transition from newsprint to novels and manages to write characters that are quirky and entertaining, yet believable and endearing, all while displaying her trademark witty style. 

Whiting’s second novel, The Best Kind of Beautiful is the story of Florence Saint Claire, a child star turned land care activist who spends her days either in the local library educating children or in the field revegetating the wilderness. Florence wants nothing more than to leave the fame her family garnered (thanks to their hit Christmas song, Santa was a Jazz Cat), behind her, but that’s easier said than done. Described by her family as a prickly pear, she enjoys her quiet days and equally uneventful weekends. 

Quiet and sometimes a bit lonely,  Florence finds herself drawn to her coworker, Albert Flowers. Albert has a glittering social life and a traditional family with weekly Sunday roasts at his parents house. Florence and Albert share a love for the environment and she looks forward each week to hearing him recount the events of his weekend outings. Neither of them seem to know how to progress their friendship beyond the superficial, but a chance discovery might change everything between them. 

The Best Kind of Beautiful is a charming story of relationships; romantic, platonic and familial. You find yourself laughing and commiserating with the characters that could be members of your own family or friendship group (fame and fortune aside!). A lovely book and one I’d definitely recommend.

Many thanks to Pan MacMillan and Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to review this book. 

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading The Best Kind of Beautiful. You can read their comments below, or contribute to the discussion by leaving your own feedback.

7 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The Best Kind of Beautiful

  1. I found this book a very slow starter. Just keep with it and it turns Into a lovely story of family first and friendship. I really enjoyed how well the ending wrapped everything up leaving you wanting more!!! Fantastic book.

  2. Frances Whiting’s second novel once again puts the magnified glass on relationships.

    We have the introverted Florence Saint Claire, a former child star-turned-educator whose family once had a hit Christmas single. She feels a spark towards her colleague, Albert Flowers. He is a man who appears to be Florence’s complete opposite insofar as he has a rich and full social life. What ensues is nothing short of glittering joy.

    While this novel was a bit of a slow-burn at times, it is ultimately a satisfying look at different kinds of love: romantic, filial, familial and platonic. In all, a sweet, summer read.

  3. I have always enjoyed reading Frances Whiting’s columns so jumped at the opportunity to read a novel written by her. Her witty writing came through in The Best Kind of Beautiful and had me chuckling to myself at times. Whilst the story line could be slow at times, it was an enjoyable read, with the characters made very believable with France’s clever way of delving into the thoughts of the main character. I will definitely keep an eye out for any other novels written by Frances.

  4. This is the story of quirky Florence, a former child star from a famous family of musical performers. Florence is the eldest of the three children once performing in the Saint Claire Swingers music group.
    She now prefers plants over people, loves working and spending time at the library and has an almost non-existent social life. Working alongside her is a man by the name of Albert Flowers who appears to be so opposite to Florence in many ways, but is he? Flowers is extremely busy on a social level with invites coming from every corner.
    Trying to find out who she really is and where she belongs in the world, we follow Florence on her journey. Florence loses her remarkably famous father who she is incredibly close to suddenly at a young age. Remaining are her mother, younger sister and brother, all incredibly eccentric in their own respects. Whilst each character is so different, they are a tight family who are there for each other when in need.
    An endearing friendship forms between Florence and Albert. It’s a great book to lose oneself in.

  5. I found this book very much a slow starter and too descriptive at times, so much so that it made it difficult to keep a flow with the reading. This did surprise me somewhat as I have always enjoyed the author Frances Whiting’s newspaper columns.

    That said, once I persevered, I did enjoy each unique character and did find myself giggling at some of their inner thoughts, particularly the main character Florence Saint Claire. Some of the family dynamics were very believable. I did enjoy reading of the endearing relationship between Florence and her polar opposite social Albert Flowers. I did like the way the storyline shows each unique relationship/human psyche and how at times the characters brought the best out in each other.

    All in all, a slow burner, but an enjoyable read nonetheless.

    Thank you Beauty & Lace for the opportunity to review. ‘The Best Kind of Beautiful’.

  6. Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Pan MacMillan for the opportunity to read and review this book.

    It took me a little while to get into but worth persisting. The cast of characters was complex and extravagant so I think it may have been a case of struggling to identify with them, even though they were extremely well written.

    Overall an enjoyable read!

  7. Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Pan Mac Millan for the opportunity to read and review of Frances Whiting’s The Best Kind of Beautiful.
    The story is a wonderfully written about a special family. Although I found it hard to get into, at the beginning, I really did end up enjoying it.

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