Billie Jo - Kimberley Chambers

TERRY is a likeable villain with a heart of gold. Michelle is the alcoholic wife he hates and is planning to leave. Billie Jo is their daughter – adored by Terry, abused by Michelle. This is the Keane family, and their lives are about to be changed foreve

TERRY is a likeable villain with a heart of gold. Michelle is the alcoholic wife he hates and is planning to leave. Billie Jo is their daughter - adored by Terry, abused by Michelle.

This is the Keane family, and their lives are about to be changed forever in a series of plots worthy of EastEnders.

Kimberley Chambers' debut novel, Billie Jo (�6.99, Preface), is a kind of Catherine Cookson for the 21st century - with lots of swearing.

A pacy drama with constant boozing, it's evocative of a certain kind of tough Essex life, but you always sense there's a happy ending eventually.

Right from the off, Ilford, Seven Kings and Romford get mentions as the heartland of this tale.

The Cross Keys pub, Dagenham, plays a central role later on and the mum of our main villain, Danny, lives in Heathway.

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When Terry is killed in a road accident, Billie Jo's life spirals out of control. She falls head over heels for the handsome Danny, but he makes her pregnant on their first night together, cheats on her, does a brief stint in jail for his gangland boss, and - hooked on cocaine - rapes and beats her up.

But Billie is her father's daughter. She's resilient and you know she'll come out of this, it's just a question of how.

- LINDSAY JONES