If, like me, you have ever had to grind your way through seriously recalcitrant illness - or a wet bank holiday, or flu! - then you're going be so glad you found Katie Fforde. Not just because she's fun, and funny (two very different things, in lesser hands), but because she is all about the best things in life - kind people, calming places, hopes and ambitions, and the spirit to try, against comic, often mortifying odds, to find the place you belong. Her heroines are ordinary women, with ordinary problems, who - thanks to Katie's good-hearted mucking up of their plans - find themselves mired in the kind of gentle chaos that is the hallmark of her books.
Declaring an interest here - Katie is someone I know. So the great pleasure is seeing Katie herself coming through, loud and clear, so her readers can enjoy her too. Her stories are comforting and cheering - and occasionally make me spit coffee all over the cat on my lap, I'm laughing so much. Which wouldn't matter, except that the cat is not my own.
A couple of reviews have criticised the middle-class manners and milieu of the books, and their 'dated' (aka posh and/or grannie-aged person's language). Which is fair and free comment...so long as the argument is not that these things are in some way excluding, snobbish or unreal. The last things Katie's work could ever be. Her world exists; it's just different from Martina Cole's world, or Sophie Kinsella's. But so what? Isn't the point of books that they take you anywhere your imagination wants to go? I'm so glad 'Summer of Love' has a middle-aged character, making an idiot of herself with such self-awareness, such lack of sensible planning, and such return-to-adolescence glee. I believed in the close relationship of Sian & Fiona, too, most of all because, when it came to the heart of the matter - Sian's connection to Gus - they behaved like grown-ups (a bit of a shock to someone like me, addicted to Eastenders and crime novels!). This is a lovely warm hug of a book, and - against really tough odds - it lifted me up. I just hope Katie carries on being Katie - it's what she does best, and why her fans (and her friends) are so very happy she exists.