EVERYTHING CHELSEA HIGH…

Today’s the day! Chelsea High, my first young adult title, hits the shelves.

Described as Gilmore Girls meets Gossip Girl, it follows the life of Norah Whittaker who has lived an idyllic childhood, growing up on Mulberry Island, working on her mum’s Portobello market stall, laughing, joking, swimming in the river with her friends. But then her lovely dad is suddenly arrested for fraud and all their friends turn against them having lost their life-savings in his get-rich-quick schemes. Grandparents Norah knew nothing about swoop in to pay his legal fees as long as Norah is enrolled – like the generations before her – in Chelsea High, an exclusive school in the heart of London. When she turns up on her bike on the first day of term and is confronted by chauffeur driven Bentleys, students tanned from summers in St Barts, and an immediate backlash against her, Norah knows her life has changed forever. Her only hope is the school play and the gorgeous, illusive leading actor, Ezra Montgomery. 

Chelsea High, Jenny Oliver, Teen romance, young adult fiction, contemporary fiction, teen read, book

What inspired Chelsea High?

As a writer, you take things that have happened to you or situations you are familiar with and ramp them up to their highest level of conflict and excitement. I went to a school not dissimilar to Chelsea High – but without the added layer of gloss. It was cliquey and loud, bitchy and fun. You were friends one minute and arch enemies the next. To survive you had to know yourself and find where you belonged, and that isn’t easy as a teenager.

I wanted to take someone who thought they understood themselves and their life and throw it into chaos. In Chelsea High, that happens to Norah. When everything she relies on is stripped away, will she sink or swim?

Where is Mulberry Island?

I wanted Norah’s life prior to starting at Chelsea High to be a complete contrast to this glossy elite.

One day, I took a trip to Eel Pie Island which is just round the corner from where I live in South West London. Most famous for its hotel where bands like The Who, Pink Floyd and The Rolling Stones used to play, it’s a quirky little place with a real sense of community. The exact opposite of Chelsea High! Walking among the ramshackle bungalows and houseboats ­– buildings with giant fiberglass ice-cream cones stuck to the roof and fake sharks in the garden ­– the idea of Norah and her eclectic family came into being. 

The Whittakers live on a houseboat on the Bohemian Mulberry Island where everyone knows everyone. The community is like a family. There are island parties, bands, theatre and swimming in the river. 

There are lots of island communities up and down the Thames. If you want to visit Eel Pie Island it’s twenty minutes on the train from London Waterloo to Twickenham then you can either walk or take a five minute bus journey to the island. Alternatively you can take the tube – as Norah does – to Richmond and again hop on a bus.

If you want to see more of the inspiration behind Chelsea High then head to Pinterest and have a look at the mood board: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/JennyOliverBks/chelsea-high/

You can hear a reading of the first chapter to get a taste here:

And if you want more from Norah, Ezra and the Chelsea High gang, then you’ll be pleased to know I’m currently editing Chelsea High Two!

Happy reading,

Jenny x

Not long now…

Less than one month till The Summer We Ran Away hits the shelves! I hope you’ll love it. And I hope it provides some much needed escapism. With summer holidays looking increasingly unlikely, what better way to take a break than with a book.

Early reviews have been fab:

‘The perfect summer escape whilst in lockdown.’ The World is a Book

‘Funny, warm, heartfelt and a lovely read. I actually think this is my favourite so far.’ Thispriceisusuallyright.com 

‘It was a rollercoaster of ups and downs and I give it top marks. It kept me hooked all the way through. I absolutely loved this book.’ @healthandlifehappywife

‘Such a perfect summery read about being brave, taking chances and appreciating what you have. I loved it.’ overflowinglibrary.com

Don’t forget, you can preorder your copy online now, pop it in your trolley at the supermarket, or get in touch with your local bookstore to order it for you.

Everything new and exciting…

Loads has been happening while I’ve had my head down writing a new book! Here’s a quick round up of everything and links to where you can preorder.

In hugely exciting news, my debut young adult novel CHELSEA HIGH is coming out Spring 2020.

London’s most exclusive high school has opened its doors and invites you into the lives, loves heartbreaks and friendships of Chelsea’s bright, young elite…

You can read all about it in The Bookseller article here: https://www.thebookseller.com/news/jenny-oliver-signs-egmont-debut-ya-973251


In other news, THE SUMMER WE RAN AWAY is available for preorder and currently awaiting its gorgeously summery cover. I’ll update asap. It’s all about the perils of WhatsApp and fleeing your so-called perfect life under the worst circumstances! Join Julia and Amber on their Thelma and Louise-esque road trip across France in search of answers, forgiveness and themselves. Look out for it Spring/ Summer 2020


And last but not least, one of my all-time favourite books, THE HOUSE WE CALLED HOME, has been given a sparkling new make-over. Look out for it in bookshops/ supermarkets near you or buy now online…

Kindle                     iBooks                     Google Play                    Kobo


I’m always really nosy when it comes to other people’s summer reading, so if you’re interested, here’s mine so far: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (fascinating and a real conversation starter in terms of what-would-you-do?); One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson, the second Jackson Brodie novel. I love these books, I didn’t want this one to end!; The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker. I seem to be on a bit of a Greek myth binge because I’m also reading Stephen Fry’s Mythos; and now I’m just starting I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe which I started a few years ago and didn’t finish but I’m giving it another go, except the typeface in my copy is really tiny so I’m off to the library to see if there’s a newer version with a bigger font!

What have you loved this summer? Let me know. Whatever it is you’re enjoying, I wish you very happy reading!

Jenny x

Woo hoo, it’s a blog tour!

To celebrate publication week, I’m jetting off to a host of other fantabulous blogs. Here’s the schedule, pop by and have a read… (It’ll be MUCH more interesting than scrolling timelines and online shopping, I promise!)

blog tour graphic

Enjoy x

Why I love The Sunshine and Biscotti Club (which is out now, incidentally) …

The Hotel Limoncello, owned by Libby and venue for The Sunshine and Biscotti Club, stands alongside the tranquil blue waters of a stunning Italian lake. Fringed with lemon groves and pine trees, it’s picture perfect and the best place to cool off when the sun gets that little bit too hot.

The inspiration behind it? Well, I have a bit of a love affair with lakes and rivers.

Much of my youth was spent in a rowing boat – going up and down the Thames in the freezing cold early morning. But as I got older, and better at rowing, I went further afield to the winding river of sunny Seville in Spain; a swimming pool turquoise lake in Munich, Germany; the deep, icy mist-laden waters of Switzerland and the picturesque beauty spots of France, Austria and Italy. When we raced in Italy, in the sharp blue water of the mountains, a lake surrounded with tiny villages perched precariously as if they might slip, it was so hot that we would dunk our caps and t-shirts in the lake before we went out for a paddle, water pouring down our arms and legs just to keep cool.

Lake rowing

These lakes and rivers made a map of Europe for me. The towns I never saw, just the water. And now, years later, when I go on holiday, I drag us to a lake nearby – that I once saw only through a mirage of pre-race nerves or the endless laps of a training camp – and see it afresh, with eyes no longer focused only on the boat but instead the trees and the beaches and the cafes.

Lake st croix

Last year we went to the lake in The Sunshine and Biscotti Club. Once one of the regatta lakes in my past. Now a tranquil sea of blue so clear we could spot the fish swimming. White ducks drifted past through air made wobbly from heat. There was music from a cool, hipster café that served hot dogs and beer in condensation covered glasses. We swam in water that was flat and calm and strangely heavy without the buoyant salt of the sea.

Lake coca cola

This time there were no megaphones, no starter guns, no crippling nerves and wild adrenaline. No oars, no racing kit, no spectator stands, no medals. Just the gentle lapping of waves on pebbles, the splash of a dive, the quack of a duck and the thump of the hipster beats.

This is the lake that I dream about when it’s wet and cold and raining in England. This is the lake in The Sunshine and Biscotti Club that forms the backdrop to the lives of Libby, Eve and Jessica as they reignite wary friendships, renovate the dilapidated Hotel Limoncello, dust off forgotten baking skills, and, in the warmth of the sun and under a canopy of lemon trees, re-evaluate what they have, what they had and what they need for a future that is stronger than their pasts.

Quick run to your local bookshop or supermarket to buy a copy or straight to your phone, Kindle or Kobo ereader to download! 😉IMG_5416