Thursday, 27 June 2013

Move over old boy

When I was at school, people used to talk about the old boys' network. Last week, I decided that women have finally put the old boys out to pasture. After spending two days at the Britmums Live conference in London and a night with the women's group Hub Dot on Regent's Street, it struck me that women are uniquely gifted at forming connections. Whatever the medium - parties, families, work or social media - women seem to have an instinct for nurturing the network.

Kirsty Allsopp open the Britmums Live blogging conference
Kirsty Allsopp tells Britmums
she is "neurotic" about helping out
at her sons' school
At the Hub Dot event, Nell Gifford, founder of the wildly popular Giffords Circus, told us, "The best thing women do is start families." She believes growing a "work family" and having children derive from the same "strange instinct". 

This might explain why Britmums has become a phenomenally successful community of 5,000 parent bloggers, who are predominantly mums. Susanna Scott├╝ber-blogger and co-founder, opened this year's conference by telling us it was all about the community - laughing together as well as supporting each other through illness and bereavement. 

Women blog for all sorts of reasons: some struggle with being a stay-at-home mum and are looking for an outlet; some have found the kind of popularity online that eluded them at school; others just want to reach out. Award-winning blogger Mummy Barrow, who has nearly 6,000 followers on Twitter, said the kind of tweet that elicited the biggest response was: "Who wants a cup of tea?" She clearly has the knack of bringing in followers from the cold.

At the Hub Dot, any mention of children was left discreetly in the background. "This is about celebrating female qualities and showing that business can be done in a different way," said Simona Barbieri, part of the team behind the Hub Dot. These were polished, career women looking to help each other and form connections

Guest speaker Lulu Guinness, the handbag designer, told us that when she started in the fashion business nobody helped her. "I have always maintained I wanted to help people," she said. "Many girls have worked for me and I'm very proud when they have got fab jobs somewhere else."

So whether it's volunteering at the school fair, reading a bedside story or tweeting to a thousand followers, ladies, take pride. We are the glue that holds our societies together. We don't need cigars and we don't need a London club. Go forth and network!




Wednesday, 19 June 2013

FREE novel: Sister for Margot

My novel, A Sister for Margot, is FREE to download on Amazon this week for three days only. This is your chance to load up your Kindle (or ipad) with a relaxing summer read! Escape the good old British drizzle with a few balmy days in Ibiza, wartime romance and a mystery to unravel. The book has been rated four stars (out of five) on Amazon with fifteen reviews. On Goodreads it scored 4.4 out of five.


Free days:
Monday 24th June, Tuesday 25th June and Wednesday 26th June. Visit the Amazon page and 'buy' as normal. The price will be £0.00 / $0.00 and you won't be charged!


A Sister for Margot
In a seaside theatre, with Hitler’s bombs raining down, the actress Maud falls in love for the first time. She dreams however of seeing her name in lights and part of her resists getting embroiled in an affair. But she can’t fight her feelings forever.
Forty years later in an English suburb, Margot is on the brink of divorce and depression after losing her sister in a tragic boating accident. Her orphaned niece Ruby is sent to live with her grandfather in Ibiza, and develops a morbid fascination with the past. Rattling the family skeletons will unearth a secret that touches all of their lives. 
In this debut novel, Emma Clark Lam writes a compelling family saga that examines the themes of wasted potential, sibling rivalry and romantic love. Three generations of women struggle to find their niche, while challenging the taboos of their time. Clark Lam’s forte is her vivid characterization – the three main characters continue to live with you long after you have finished the book. Underpinning the whole story is the cycle of life, with all its associated emotions of loss, grief and renewal.


Click here for more information
Download from Amazon.co.uk
Download from Amazon.com
Reviews on Goodreads


When you have read the book, I would really appreciate a review on Amazon or Goodreads.


Thanks so much,
Emma x




"This was such an enjoyable read and the quality of the writing was what made it so. I could not put it down as the plot was so meaty with so many twists and turns." -- Amazon review December 2012


Wednesday, 12 June 2013

The seductive fairytale

Review: Pretty Woman (1990)

I have been indulging myself this week. My husband was away at the weekend so I sat down to watch one of my favourite, feel-good films: Pretty Woman. For two happy hours, my teenage years of 1990 - the year the film was released - came flooding back. The soundtrack alone transported me to a wistful era of adolescent heartbreak, experimental outfits, thick eyebrows and endless daydreaming. At the time, my family lived in Oman and I vividly remember cruising along desert roads in our 4x4, watching the goat herds at work, with Wild Women Do belting out from the tape-deck. 

I confess that I saw the film at the cinema three times - twice
Julia Roberts at the world premiere of her new movie "Mirror Mirror" at Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Hollywood. March 17, 2012 Los Angeles
Pretty Woman made Julia Roberts a star 
© Featureflash | Dreamstime.com
with friends and once with my mother!
  Evidently I was not alone: the film was one  of the highest-grossing romantic comedies in history. When I sat down to watch it yet again on Saturday night, I feared that I might have outgrown this Hollywood fairytale, but no! I was caught up in its charm once more, delighting in a script I knew embarrassingly well ("I'm a safety girl... I appreciate the whole seduction thing you've got going on here, but let me give you a tip: I'm a sure thing" etc). 

So in an attempt to justify my sappy affection for PW, I started to analyse why it had endured, when other romcoms such as the inane The Wedding Planner (which was on TV a night later), had bombed. The hooker-meets-dysfunctional-businessman plot unfolds along Pygmalion lines. Richard Gere's character, Edward, is instantly attracted to Julia Roberts' prostitute Vivian during a chance encounter on Hollywood Boulevard. With some irony, Edward tells Vivian: "I want a professional. I don't want any romantic hassles this week." 

Much is made of the misogynist plotline: Edward buys Vivian's services for the week and slowly transforms her from a bright and ballsy streetwalker into a refined young woman. But this overlooks that fact that Vivian drives a few changes of her own: under her influence Edward turns from a corporate raider (with personal issues) into an angel investor, who decides to revitalise an ailing shipbuilder. As he says at the beginning of the film, "You and I are such similar creatures, Vivian, we both screw people for money."

Although this is a sanitised portrayal of prostitution, there are enough moments of poignancy to engage us, such as Vivian's admission: "People put you down enough, you start to believe it." But at the end of the day, Vivian is a modern-day Cinderella (or "Cinder-fucking-rella" as the wisecracking Kit De Luca puts it). The hotel manager becomes Vivian's besotted fairy godmother, while lawyer Philip Stuckey provides a nefarious element. Right from the start, the film is clear about its terms - as the opening credits roll, a drifter proclaims, "Everybody comes to Hollywood, got a dream. What's your dream?" It makes no excuses. It eschews gritty realism in favour of social mobility and aspirational thinking - indeed it is dealing in the sacred American dream

While the script is witty and insightful (particularly about the power of money), what really lifts the film are the performances. The camera lovingly tracks the gawky elegance of Julia Roberts' limbs, with close-ups on her exquisitely ductile face, exhibiting every nuance of emotion. Without becoming mawkish, Ms Roberts manages to combine vulnerability (using naturalistic tics like pulling at her bra strap) with a fresh kind of worldliness. No wonder Pretty Woman was the vehicle that made her a starAnd Mr Gere? When I asked a friend why she thought the film was so successful, she had only one answer: "It has Richard Gere in it." He manages to complement Ms Roberts' exuberance with a restrained performance that bubbles over with slow-burn sexuality.

At the end of the film, Vivian rejects Edward's offer to put her up in a Manhattan apartment as his kept mistress, telling him: "I want the fairytale!" Deep down, so many of us want the fairytale too as an antidote to life's knocks and bruises. For a couple of hours, Pretty Women delivers just that - a light-hearted break from reality.


If you too have a secret penchant for Pretty Woman, please share some of your favourite scenes or quotes in the Comments box below!



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"I found A Sister for Margot thoroughly absorbing. The story had all the elements to keep me gripped: family saga over three generations; wartime background; strong characters; different locations and a mystery in the background that ties the story together." - Amazon review

I would welcome reviews of my book on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com!

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Time travelling

Hidden in a dark corner of our kitchen was a time capsule disguised as a milk carton. We discovered it behind a cupboard a few weeks ago when we ripped out the old kitchen as part of our house renovation project. It took some dexterity, but we managed to fish out a photo of the house's previous owners with their first child, particulars about the house sale and some newspaper pages from November 2002. The capsule had been collecting dust for more than 10 years, waiting patiently to deliver up its cache to a citizen of the future.


Front page of The Telegraph on 3 November 2002
Remember Angus Deayton's fall from grace?
In the grand scheme of things, a decade is not a long stretch of time, and yet the front page of The Telegraph on November 3, 2002, spoke of a distant past. In personal terms, this was the era of my youth, pre-offspring, newly married and still wrapped up in my career. On the front page, Victoria Beckham had just escaped a foiled kidnap plot, while Angus Deayton, host of the news quiz Have I Got News for You, faced public disgrace.

More significantly, Saddam Hussein was still in power and - as The Telegraph reported on that day - he was allegedly instructing his security officials to bump off Iraqi opposition leaders in Britain, with the help of Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi. Strange to think that the last decade has been dominated by these two men and their different legacies. Efforts to quell their regimes have re-shaped the Middle East and altered the course of so many lives.

Our milk carton ran the gamut of human experience - its cargo included personal, public and geopolitical stories. But for all their prominence in 2002, at least two of those stories have become less important with time. As author M. L. Stedman writes in her novel, The Light Between Oceans:


"Years bleach away the sense of things until all that's left is a bone-white past, stripped of feeling and significance."

So we pass away and time kicks over the traces. On the face of it, it is a depressing thought, but there is also something liberating about our inconsequence. What most of us achieve (or don't achieve) during our little lives is largely irrelevant. It took a dusty old milk carton to remind me that I should worry less about future accomplishments and more about enjoying the moment in all its transience. 

We are planning to deposit a time capsule behind the cupboards in our new kitchen. Does anyone have any ideas as to what to include in the capsule? Let me know in the comments box.

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"I found A Sister for Margot thoroughly absorbing. The story had all the elements to keep me gripped: family saga over three generations; wartime background; strong characters; different locations and a mystery in the background that ties the story together." - Amazon review

I would welcome more reviews of my book on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com!