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Posts Tagged ‘friendships’

This book has been sitting on my to-read shelf for years – fourteen to be precise!! I finally decided it was about time I read it, and I kind of wish I had picked it up earlier because it was much more enjoyable than I expected. You would be forgiven for looking at the cover and assuming that it was standard chick-lit fare (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but there’s more to this book than that.

The book is narrated by Sophie Applebaum, who is 12 years old in the first chapter, and the middle child in a loving family. Each chapter jumps on a few years from the one before it and the reader therefore has to fill in the gaps themselves. Additionally each chapter could be read as a standalone short story, which is the same format as Melissa Bank’s previous book ‘ A Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing’.

Sophie focusses a lot on her romantic relationships, but there are also other themes at play – death, illness, lost friendships, job worries and other factors are all part of the story.

I liked Sophie very much. She was very funny, and as she narrates in the first person I have to assume that Melissa Bank is also very funny with a quick sense of humour. The character was identifiable, as were her relationships with her friends and family, especially her two brothers. The story doesn’t really build up to one event, but rather it is slices of life. The somewhat disjointed storytelling might not appeal to everyone, but I really enjoyed it and will look for more by Melissa Bank – and new time I won’t leave it fourteen years to read them!

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1947: Tommy Elliot, widowed when her husband was killed during WWII, runs the family seat Kings Harcourt. Life is tough for Tommy and her family and when a particularly harsh winter cuts them off from the rest of the world, things only get tougher. Her brother Roger has returned from the war with his friend Fred, who stirs long forgotten feelings in Tommy. And then there is Barbara, an old acquaintance of Tommy’s who causes trouble when she comes to stay.

Present day: Caitlyn and Patrick have a happy marriage albeit is on his terms. But they love each other, and Patrick is the one person in Caitlyn’s life who has always been immune to the charms of her best friend Sara. But when tragedy strikes, she starts to uncover hidden truths which lead her to question whether she ever really knew her husband at all. Seeking solace in an old manor house, Caitlyn tries to piece together the truth.

I am in two minds about this book. There were plenty of things I liked about it – I always enjoy a dual timeline, because I like seeing the two threads come together. The writing flowed and it was on the whole an undemanding read.

On reflection I think I preferred Tommy’s story, probably because I really liked Tommy and her sister Gerry. They were both intelligent and resourceful and battling against the conventions of the day.

Caitlyn’s story initially really intrigued me. However, I thought it was stretched out – Caitlyn could have got the answers she wanted a lot more easily and quickly, but she seemed to choose the most circuitous route. Also the denouement of her story when it came was ludicrous. Not only was the truth she was searching for completely unbelievable, but the method of her finding it was also ridiculous. I actually didn’t like Caitlyn much – she was pleasant, but such so subservient to everyone around her.

Overall this is the first book that I’ve read by this author, and I rattled through it, so I must have enjoyed it somewhat – I really struggle to pick up books that I am not liking. Would I read another one by this author? Yes, probably but it won’t be next on my list.

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Carys, Andrea and Zoe are invited by their friend Joanne to spend her 40th birthday with her in a remote and – to the other three – unknown location. As soon as they start out on the journey there, it becomes clear that nothing is what it seems. There have been tensions between Joanne and the others for some time and it seems that this is the weekend she wants to have it out with them. Nevertheless the group try to make the most of things until things take a shocking turn and it seems that there is danger lurking, and friendship turns to suspicion as everyone starts to suspect each other. From there, things only get worse and the story builds to a shocking climax.

I listened to this as an audiobook, which are my preferred method of keeping me distracted during long runs. Inasfar as this goes, this book did keep me occupied but overall I cannot say I was terrifically impressed. The narration was fine, although I always feel sorry for narrators who have loads of characters’ voices to deal with, and some of these were a tad annoying. Overall though, I have no issues with the narration, but the storyline itself dragged on and as it became more and more implausible I grew irritated with it. It’s fiction and of course you expect some dramatic licence, but some of the characters behaved so oddly for supposedly intelligent women, and many of the events were so crazy that it lost all sense of possibility for me. Also, I guessed the ending pretty early on.

So generally I would say…not terrible, but not particularly mind blowing either. If you’re looking for something just to pass time, you could do worse, but if you’re looking for a genuinely thrilling read, I cannot recommend this one.

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