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Hidden Talents - Erica James

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Author: Erica James / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 01 May 2008 / Genre: Modern & Contemporary Fiction / Publisher: Orion Publishing Co / Title: Hidden Talents / ISBN 13: 9780752883496 / ISBN 10: 0752883496

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      26.01.2010 15:57
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      You'll enjoy this if you're an Erica James fan!

      This is the latest Erica James book that I've borrowed from my local library. I've become quite a big fan of her work since I started coming across some of her books there and I'm randomly reading any that happen to be on the shelves when I'm around!

      The title of the book refers to the writing group, Hidden Talents, that is set up by Dulcie (one of the main characters). As a keen writer who submits short stories, she puts an advert in a shop window in the hope of attracting fellow wannabe writers. Her advert is responded to by Jack, Beth, Jaz and Victor, and along with Dulcie these are the main characters of the story. Each have quite complicated lives and use Hidden Talents as a means of escape but I won't go into any more detail than that as it starts to give too much away regarding the plot, so instead I'll move onto discussing the members of Hidden Talents.

      As I've mentioned already, each of the characters has their own trials and tribulations that they are looking to get away from albeit temporarily. Dulcie was a character that I really liked, especially as she is glue that binds the writing group together. She is very supportive of the group's members, even though her own life is a bit of a mess at times and she is experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions towards the end of the book. She is a likeable and down-to-earth character despite the somewhat difficult role/position that she is in (this refers to the plot so you'll have to read the book to know what role I'm discussing!) and the big secret that she is carrying all to herself for a large part of the story. Jack is an estate agent and part-time father since the collapse of his marriage. He throws himself into writing his book, which is largely based on his own circumstances and is another likeable character. Beth is a single mother since her husband died years earlier and has on-going battles with her in-laws, who still believe that their son was flawless despite some quite strong evidence suggesting otherwise. She meets a fellow writer in an online chat room and deliberates over whether to meet him or not. Jaz is a teenager from a large and chaotic family and often feels left out. For her, writing is a refuge. Victor is a bit of strange character as for much of the book he seems full of his self-importance and is convinced that he is creating a literary masterpiece. Despite his attitude, I found him to be a rather amusing character in an unintentional way as I'm sure there will be people like him in real-life writing groups!

      As is quite typical of Erica James' books, the plot is quite simple and concentrates mainly on developing characterisation. As a result, we get a very good insight into the lives of the various characters both within and outside of Hidden Talents. Each of the characters seem realistic and well-rounded and above all, likeable. Not everyone will like Victor for a good chunk of the book but while he does sometimes come across as irritating and smug, I wouldn't call him unlikeable. There is one particular minor twist towards the end of the book that was not totally out of the blue as there were some subtle hints before it happened, but I was not actually expecting it all the same and that prevented one character from having the typical happy ending.

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