The Curry Club
The Curry Club follows four ex-Leeds University friends Emma, Carys, Will and Natalie who now all live and work in London. They meet on the first Friday of every month for a meal at an Indian restaurant and they call themselves ‘the curry club’. The story is set over the course of a year and there are 12 chapters – one for each month. Each chapter is told from the perspective of a different character, so January begins with Emma, Carys is the focus of February, March is narrated by Will, Natalie tells the story in April, it’s back to Emma in May and so on. Each chapter falls into two sections – the first part is what is happening to the narrator in the here and now, and the second half is the monthly meal in the restaurant.
Emma is a flighty red-head, living with her gay flatmate in Brixton and trying to grind out a career in PR. She is desperate to meet ‘Mr Darcy’ and longs for the settled life her girlfriends appear to have. She begins the year on the back foot – single and on a probationary contract in a new job. But as the year develops Emma proves herself at work and finds her first genuine relationship with a younger man. The relationship doesn’t last a pregnancy scare, but she learns much from it. Emma begins to understand herself and realises that what she is looking for might be right under her nose after all.
Carys is the mother of the group – a primary school teacher who lives in Walthamstow with her loving husband Matt. They have an ordered life and the next natural step is for them to have a family. Carys falls pregnant quickly, but unfortunately suffers a miscarriage. She has to come to terms with this difficult loss and she finds solace in alcohol, but as time passes she begins to learn to accept what has happened and she is delighted to fall pregnant again before the year is out.
Will works for an achingly-cool record label in East London. He lives in a bachelor pad, has a string of casual girlfriends, and enjoys the nightlife scene of hip and trendy Shoreditch. Superficially he is happy, but underneath he feels like something is missing. When his mother has a stroke and he has to move back home to nurse her, he spends time with his estranged older sister and her children and he reassesses his priorities. Will steps back from the record label, takes a pay cut and directs his energy for music into working for a charity. He realises he wants more from life and looks to settle down – his heart is won over by Emma but the reader is left in suspense as to whether they will get together until the very end of the book.
Nat is the cold-hearted beauty of the group, working for the BBC and engaged to divorce lawyer Giles Mannering. As the year begins she is busy planning her huge wedding, but the group sense something isn’t quite right as she doesn’t seem happy and she is losing a concerning amount of weight. Nat struggles to accept that Giles isn’t the man she thought it was and she is torn in a dilemma of ‘settling’ and marrying him for the stability and financial security he offers, or breaking off the relationship and starting again – a prospect she finds very daunting. After a lot of soul-searching Nat calls off the wedding and goes back to the drawing board. She ends the year alone, but her friends rally around her and she realises that a future alone and happy with good friends, is far more promising that a future married to someone who doesn’t respect her and she doesn’t love.