#PinkReads – Book Review #021 : The Peculiars by Jen Thorpe

Aviophobia : Fear of flying


Phobias abound at the Centre for Improved Living, where Nazma goes for help. She’s crazy about baking and desperately wants to become a pastry chef, but her fear of driving keeps her stuck working in a train-station kiosk, where she sells stale food to commuters while dreaming of butter croissants and fresh strudel.

The Centre is also a lifeline for Sam, who is scared to death of being robbed and spends his days in his pyjamas in front of his computer, his house alarm always armed.

Like the rest of the patients, Nazma and Sam want to face their fears, but will four weeks at the Centre be enough to change their lives? And will the two allow their budding romance to bloom without letting their phobias get in the way?

Meanwhile, the Centre risks losing its funding, a fear that Ruby, the Centre’s eccentric director, must face while she tries to manage the patients’ fears.

Set in a Cape Town as peculiar as its characters, ‘The Peculiars’ is Jen Thorpe’s heart-warming and humorous debut.

General Information

Atelophobia : Fear of imperfection



Jen Thorpe is another new South African author for me. I found this book at the Bargain Books SA warehouse sale in September 2018 and I am so glad I picked this one up!

Set in the suburb of Observatory in Cape Town, the story takes us through the streets of Obs and beyond. It is always so exhilarating reading a story set in a place that is familiar to you – it felt like I was living a story… as if I can jump on a train right now, head to Obs and walk in through the doors of The Centre for Improved Living!

I’m not usually a fan of Contemporary, and I am making a concerted effort to read more of them, but I loved this book on so many levels!

Ombrophilia : Love of being rained on

Firstly, I found the characters to be real; not just realistic or relatable, but real! You know? The characters are beautifully written and given a life of their own, with quirks and phobias, which is what this book is all about, and genuine concerns that affect everyone today – I adore Nazma the most and Sam is definitely a contender for ” Flavour of the Week”

Secondly, I found this book to be highly introspective; I mean, I’m as paranoid as Sam is about crime and being a victim and was just as scared about driving as Nazma… We all face such problems in our everyday lives, but there are people who actually have a genuine fear of things we take for granted.

Nazma’s fear of never escaping her family’s kiosk and becoming a baker, for instance, is a prime example of what we all have to face growing up – the fear of the unknown, feeling stuck in a life that is both comfortable and constricting – Will I be good enough? Can I do it? What will people think of me?

Carnophobia : Fear of meat

The other characters are all well written, too, including the rest of the members that make up the study group and the staff running the Centre. Ruby herself is awesome and reminds me of at least 3 of my friends.

Everyday lives and everyday problems find a unique voice in this quirky yet clever read; add a little romance and a little drama and you have one awesome read – Jen Thorpe is truly an author to keep any eye on!

screenshot 2018-04-25 12.14.02
Jen’s other works – image found via Google

Opthalmophilia : Love of being looked at

Whether you like Contemporary reads or not, I highly recommend you curl up with this book and a snack or two, maybe a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, and while away an afternoon in the streets of Cape Town.


Have you read any of Jen’s work? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments below and if you read this book and love as much as I do, let me know and we can chat. Don’t forget to like and share. Until next time…

Keep smiling


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