NEW NOVEL: The Continued Times of Isabella M Smugge

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Issy Smugge joins the sandwich generation

‘Compulsive reading in which friendship and laughter rise from disaster’
Sophie Neville, author of The Making of Swallows and Amazons

It is estimated that more than 6 million people in the UK workforce — more than one in five workers — are juggling dual caring responsibilities for children and elderly relatives. These all-consuming demands of the ‘sandwich generation’ traditionally fall on women, and leave them professionally and personally exhausted. How can they balance such competing demands?

In The Continued Times of Isabella M Smugge, Ruth Leigh’s endearingly un-self-aware heroine confronts these issues head on. Witty, poignant and thought-provoking, this standalone third novel in Ruth’s dynamic series finds professional ‘mum-fluencer’, Issy Smugge, a single parent of four lively children and living with the world’s worst housemate – her gin-swigging mother who is recuperating from a stroke. Of course, Issy is a working mum like no other and has a many-roomed Regency mansion as well as enough money to afford life-saving home helps, but the stresses she faces are the same as those experienced by so many readers.

Ruth Leigh is a writer who knows all about the demands of caring for children and aging parents – and finding appropriate social and emotional support is fundamental to surviving as a member of the sandwich generation. In Issy’s case, she can count on help from the colourful playground mums – and then there’s always Tom, the startlingly good-looking vicar, and his angelic wife, Claire. But being in such close proximity to her mother, and under such pressure at work, Issy finds long-buried memories surfacing and begins to wonder if prayer might be a way of accessing a whole new kind of support. As difficult decisions have to be made, how will our heroine cope with painful emotions? (Clue: no filter!) And when the influencer needs influencing, who will show her the way?

Ruth comments, ‘I’ve got three teenagers who need ferrying to school and college and who have infinitely better social lives than me, plus my frail elderly parents who are in constant need of tins of mushroom soup and the same brand of toothpaste they’ve been using since 1953. I often feel pulled in different directions and trying to juggle them, plus work and everything else I do is challenging. I loved writing about Issy struggling to cope with her mother and her children and it’s written with humour, but I do appreciate that there are often not too many laughs to be had.’

In the coming months, all of us will be in need of some light relief – not least those in the sandwich generation – and The Continued Times of Isabella M Smugge might just be the answer!

‘Funny and naughty, the expertly drawn internationally renowned influencer is a joy to spend time with’
Helen Forbes, crime writer


The Continued Times of Isabella M Smugge by Ruth Leigh (ISBN: 9781912726608) is published by Instant Apostle and is available on 22nd October 2022 from bookshops and online retailers. Fiction, paperback, 256pp, £9.99.


  • Ruth Leigh

    Ruth Leigh is a freelance writer and novelist, and is married with three children, one husband and assorted livestock.

  • The Continued Times of Isabella M Smugge

    Ruth Leigh

    Now in her third year of living the rural dream, starry Instamum Issy Smugge is up against it. A single parent of four with an award-winning brand, a gin-swigging mother convalescing upstairs and a distraught relative craving a shoulder to cry on...