A Rural Affair

 A Rural Affair is the story of Poppy Shilling, a woman set free from her loveless and controlling marriage.

I loved the character of Poppy, she was well created and I thought Catherine Alliott really caught the confusing sense of relief/grief she felt over her late, over-controlling husband.  The freak accident was brilliant and I did feel a bit guilty for laughing but it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving character.  The mysterious shock and depression Poppy goes into was also very well done and I liked how the reader didn’t find out why for a short while, even while feeling something was terribly wrong.  It all felt very realistic, the fog, the distractedness and listlessness and when the reason was revealed I felt angry for her.

Her group of friends were an interesting bunch, all very different and flawed in their own way.  The way the friendships ebbed and flowed was a bit disconcerting with a certain amount of bitchiness involved.  Poor Poppy was often caught in the middle trying to appease but it is very much a role she just accepted, rather than established herself.  Seeing her grow, albeit in fits and starts from a woman who had no mind of her own to being able to stand up for herself was quite special.  Some of the predicaments she finds herself in during that process were often laugh out loud funny, and definitely situations you could quite see happening to yourself or a friend.

I liked Sam Wetherington the instant they met but oddly you don’t see as much of him as I would have expected.  He did make an impact on me nonetheless and all the scenes with Poppy were meaningful even if nothing much happened.  I have to mention the Ball because I was equal parts laughing and cringing, it was a wonderful scene and was good to see Poppy let her hair down!

I was a little disappointed with the ending, it seemed to finish almost abruptly but it didn’t stop the nice warm glow from happening.

A great summer read that will surely entertain fans of light hearted romance.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Catherine Alliott
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Take A Chance On Me

When Cleo Quinn finds out her seemingly perfect boyfriend has a wife and kids, she does what any self-respecting girl would do,  she dumps him.  Cleo is a bit disconcerted when his wife Fia turns up out of the blue, gets roaring drunk and spends the night with the notorious and successful sculptor Johnny LaVentura.  He also happens to be the pain in the bum that has plagued Cleo for most of her school life.  When Fia decides to settle in the village, Cleo’s best friend Ash, fancies her like mad but turns into a blithering idiot in her presence. Cleo’s sister Abbie, whose marriage has always been solid starts wondering why her husband is so distracted and starts worrying about an affair but could never dream what the real reason is.  That reason arrives in a whirlwind and blows Abbie’s world apart.   Who said village life was dull?

With any Jill Mansell book, you are guaranteed a good, funny and lighthearted read.  Take a Chance on Me definitely lives up to that guarantee, and as always her characters are what make her books so enjoyable.  Zany, full of life, eccentric and lovable, you are treated to a look into their world and small village life.  Even though the situations they get into seem crazy, you can still imagine how you might find yourself in them.  The outcomes in reality however, might not be so good, which is why these books are worth reading and are great escapism.

The main character of Cleo makes me laugh, she’s a fun-loving girl with a good attitude and while she has her insecurities, she’s well aware of them.  Her older sister Abbie is the solid dependable one and when her world falls apart, it’s amusing the way they swap roles.  Cleo’s best friend Ash is well written and funny, a successful radio DJ with the gift of the gab until he meets a woman he fancies.  Then he goes mute and tongue tied.  The object of his interest is Fia, the wife of the man Cleo was involved with which is an odd, but funny circle.  Fia likes Johnny, the local bad boy come good when he returns to the village after living in America.  With the usual confusions, hi-jinks and knee trembling moments, Take a Chance on Me keeps you reading til the very satisfying end.

A definite must read for Jill Mansell fans and if you are new to the chicklit/lighthearted romance genre, it’s a good one to start with.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Jill Mansell
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Recommendations: Marian Keyes

Marian Keyes is one of those writers that can capture ordinary moments in life and turn them into something special.  Funny, witty, sarcastic yet also sombre and poignant, she is not afraid to draw on her own darker personal history to give her books that something extra.

So what do you do when you have read everything she’s written and looking for more?  Along with Marian, here are some of my favourite reigning queens of ‘chicklit’.

Jill Mansell

A funny, amazing storyteller who reminds me that while life can be difficult and painful, there are always moments of hilarity and joy that can make the day seem so much brighter.  Lighter of heart than Marian Keyes but just as good.

Jenny Colgan

I find Jenny Colgan’s books the lightest in mood from all the authors on this list, but she shares Marian Keyes’ knack for writing and capturing characters that feel so real and funny or sad.  She combines that with stories that keep you engaged and reading right until the end.

Katie Fforde

It’s a pleasure reading Katie Fforde’s work, it’s full of life, love and those moments where you just have to stop and take a good long hard laugh at yourself.  Light in tone but gets you in the heart when you least expect it.  Highly recommended.

Fiona Walker

Another excellent author who can look at life and take both the good and the bad and turn them into funny, powerful and heart-warming stories.  A great match for everyone in this post.

If you have any other authors or books you feel would be enjoyed by people who loved Marian Keyes, feel free to comment on this article with your recommendations.