Publication Date: July 8, 2016
As I continue to review books, I find myself re-evaluating criteria, and then myself. I’ve seen reviewers give negative ratings to a book that is well-written, but for which they didn’t like the ending. Or they give negative ratings because they didn’t like a character. These reasons don’t always work for me because it may well be that the author has made the character unlikable to make the story resonate and be more believable. And, obviously, except for genre novels, endings may not always go as we’d like, but they should be in line with the characterizations and plot. So, I do try to take a step back after reading and understand why I’m not thrilled with a book that was obviously well written.
Well, that’s not just an off-the-cuff bit. But let me give you a synopsis before I give a review.
Sian Bishop fell recklessly, passionately in love one night at a party when she wandered into a kitchen and found Gus, and when their eyes met, they were lost. But Gus was an explorer and it was agreed that he would go on his way, no strings attached. Five years later, Sian is trying to make a life for herself and her son, Rory in a new village after Rory’s first attempt at school in London goes very badly. She and Rory make new friends and life seems to be very good.
Next door is Fiona, a woman in her fifties, who has had one very good marriage which produced two good sons, and then a second marriage to an abusive man, which ended in divorce. She’s not looking to get married again, but she’s not yet ready to give up on having a relationship.
I liked Summer of Love, but was never swept up by any element in it. It’s sweet and comforting, but nothing about it really stimulates. It is, however, very well-written.
Sian is an extremely staid character, who I was reluctant to believe would have a one-night stand with anyone. Granted, I know that women change after having children, yet, I feel that there still would have been something of a spirit in her, which just didn’t exist in the character as written. Things just seemed to happen to Sian and she, in turn, didn’t do much to make things change.
I liked Gus well-enough. The funny thing is that I’ve always dragged my feet regarding readers arguing that they needed to see both points-of-view because I think that if a writer has done a good enough job, then it should stand on its own merit. Here, however, I feel Gus would have been more fleshed out if we could have seen what he was thinking. He just never became fully realized for me. At one point, out of the blue, he just came across as manic and weird.
The writing was very good except for the extraordinary use of exclamation points. I don’t think I’ve encountered that many outside of Jane Austen. Oh, except that I just did a search and found that Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Stephanie Meyer and J.K. Rowling also used an inordinate amount of exclamation points. (I guess I hadn’t paid attention during those books.)
So? This is well-written and sweet. It’s not as good as the last Katie Fforde novel I read, Stately Pursuits, which just seemed to have more idiosyncrasies about it and was therefore more charming to me. (I am definitely not a person who wants to read the same book over and over again, but with different character names.) But, compared to a lot of rather mundane American penned so-called romances that I’ve read in the past year, this is far, far superior and probably a better bang for your buck if you are interested in a good story, rather than a bad and badly written story and some sex.
This is an average, sweet kind of read, that, if you need some down-time, would be the kind of book to pick up.
As always, I appreciate NetGalley for giving me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
From Amazon: Summer of Love
rating: (3 out of 5 butterflies and a ladybug)