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I bought 'It Happened One Summer' at a charity book event for just 50p. The book is written by Polly Williams. I hadn't heard of Polly Williams before this but what attracted me to the book was the feminine cover and the description on the back. It seemed to promise a light-hearted bit of chick-lit.
The story focuses around a character called Nell, a middle aged single mum that lives a glamorous busy life living and working in London. But her mother falls ill and it is up to Nell to do the dutiful thing and look after her mum. Only problem is that her mother lives all the way in Cornwall, and so Nell suddenly needs to readjust to a very different way of life. Matters are further complicated by Nell's siblings. Particularly her sister Heather, who stole Nell's ex-boyfriend and is about to marry him. Going back to Cornwall means seeing all her family again as Nell's family are forced to come together as a result of her mum falling ill, and even worse, they need to figure out what will happen to the valuable family property after their mother passes away.
It sounds like it should be a really sad story, but it isn't at all. In fact, it's quite comical. Nell's mum, Valerie, although sick, is a real feisty character. She has a strong mind and can be quite critical of things, much to Nell's annoyance. Despite this, Nell is given the task to look after Valerie, and reading about the way Nell copes, not only with having to deal with an contrastingly unfashionable way of life compared to London, but also with a mother who is frustrating at the best of times was really quite fun.
Nell is really quite a loveable character, which helps to make this an enjoyable read, especially as she is central to the story. But for me, what I would say let this book down slightly is the sheer number of characters. We have Nell's two siblings for example, her ex-boyfriend, her London love interest, her best friend, her brother's wife, her new love interest, and her mum. Now all of these would probably be okay, but only if they weren't strong characters that were sustained throughout the whole book. I found myself being really confused about who was who and how they were all related to each other even towards the end of the book. It was just too much and some of the characters could have done with a lot less involvement or personality.
On the whole though, it was definitely a fun and relatively easy book to read!
This is a review of the 2011 book 'It happened one summer' by Polly Williams. I have read a few books by the same author and enjoyed them so was looking forward to reading this one.
A bit about the book
The book follows Nell and her hectic London life. But her mum is ill and needs someone to care for her so Nell takes her daughter Cass to Cornwall so they can be there for her. Her Sister Heather and brother Ethan are there sporadically and as a family they have a fair few skeletons to uncover and resolve.
Nice sized plot and characters
I found there was lots going on in this book, but not too much so it became complicated. You want Nell to find a lovely man and settle down but it's touch and go as to whether this will happen although she has plenty of 'man interest' and potential suitors.
Fights for the Family home
Nell's daughter Cass is charming, as are Ethan's twin sons. Grandma Valerie is coping well with her illness and manages to be the matriarch of the family in a very touching way. Her love for her family is odd and she is clearly a strange character on a good day. But the family rally round regardless for her and they all love the large family home Tredower which raises the question of who will get it in the will as Valerie wants it to stay in the family. Interestingly the in-laws get very greedy and grabby and embarrass members of the family with their plans for Tredower.
Prada vs Birkenstock
My favourite bit in the book is Nell's dramatic change from London life to peaceful Cornwall. She tries at first to carry on in her Prada heels (how she manages it on a single mum's salary I'll never know) but soon succumbs to birkenstocks, a fleece and messy hair!
More on Sophie?
I enjoyed reading this book but it didn't blow me away. I would have liked more on Nell's vivacious best friend Sophie and felt like I wanted more from her but she only appears in the book a little.
Heather, Nell's sister is complex and just about to marry her fiancé who is also Nell's ex boyfriend. There is a divide between the sisters as Heather 'nicked' Jeremy from Nell five years earlier. Cass (Nell's daughter) is the result of a one night stand with Dean soon after the split from Jeremy but fortunately the father is a good man and has regular contact with his daughter and Dean and Nell are on good terms. All this is covered within the first few pages so I'm not giving anything away here.
Good beach book
I would think this was a good holiday beach read, especially in the UK as the beach scenes are lovely with sand, swimming, ice cream and surfing all rolled up in the book. I would recommend this as a good book to read.
My copy is now on readitswap it if anyone fancies reading it!