I am so sorry to say this but this is another of Katie Fforde's stinkers. Some of her books sweep you along on a tide of romance and humour, but this isn't one of them. I don't know what it is about the more recent books by KF but it is seemingly impossible to connect to the characters. Their behaviour seems so unlikely and lacking in reality, and they all seem quite cold and remote. There were some lovely set-ups in this book but they came to nothing (eg the Christmas event) and I was left feeling completely bewildered by what drew the two leads together in the first place. Some of the plotting was silly but that can be forgiven if there is a warm and believable central romance to focus on. I wish KF's editors would just work a bit harder to get the jewel of a book that you feel this could be. Disappointing.
Sisters, Gina and Sally inherit a stall from their Aunt Rainey in The French House, an antiques centre in the village in the country. There is nothing remotely odd about this but their aunt leaves them with some conditions to their inheritance.
Included in all this intrigue from beyond the grave, is Matthew the rather grumpy, yet attractive owner who had a great bond with their aunt and finds their presence rather overwhelming. Sally arrives with many creative ideas and can see a very different sort of potential in all these antiques which might not necessarily fit in with Matthew's antique view. Gina is in PR and knows how to push herself and the product she is selling forward, she can see The French House has a lot to offer the community and becomes deeply involved in it. But is she also unwittingly selling herself as well and becoming deeply involved with Matthew.
Gina is not sure if romance was part of the inheritance that her aunt left her. She finds herself battling not just bringing the antiques centre or in particular Matthew into the modern world way of involving everyone in antiques but dealing with her growing feelings. Can she manage it all and ensure that her future is in safe hands?
This is the latest novel from the wonderful writer Katie Fforde and this transports you away to another world, an antique one. I could imagine this centre with all the wonderful stalls in it, the characters of those with the antiques they sell, mentioned in reference to the main characters in this book, but actually follow up books could quite easily be made of some of them I am sure. I sensed a place that would be cold and damp, with people stood hugging cups of tea with fingerless gloves, trying to keep warm, waiting to see what the next customer would bring or want. Imagine a combination of those antique programmes that litter afternoon and evening television but where you actually get to know more about the people. All this is very much apparent in the novel and I was fascinated by it all and the joy of Fforde novels is the way something so seemingly ordinary is weaved into the magic of the story, whether it be cafes, canal boats, markets, shops or in this case antiques.
For all fans of women's fiction, Katie Fforde is an author whose books you need to know and it does not matter which you discover first!
This is the first Katie Fflorde novel I've read (ahem, or tried to read. Must admit I got bored and skim-read to the end) and clearly, judging from other reviews, I didn't pick the best one. I will try again with one of her earlier books which were apparently 'brilliant' and 'funny'. This was very formulaic. I felt as though I was reading Mills & Boon (no offence to M&B but that wasn't what I was expecting). I couldn't differentiate between the 2 sisters - they sounded just the same as each other - and the 'brooding, Rochester-like' Matthew did nothing for me. It was obvious from the start what was going to happen - little tension, or humour or anything to keep you turning the page. Shame.
This was, as usual quite a fun read about two girls inheriting some antiques and a space in an antique centre as dealers. Of course, the centre is run by an attractive man who is, unfortunately, just going through a rather acrimonious divorce. Gina, the lead in buying and selling the antiques they have been left - her sister, Sally, is rather busy with two very young children - is also getting over an affair that has left her rather bruised and mistrusting of men. Her and Matthew, the centre's owner, gradually spend more and more time together collecting and selling antiques and the attraction between them grows. With the future of the centre threatened by divorce pay-offs, Gina sets about helping Matthew to save the centre, not always winning his approval in the process. Eventually, however, he comes to see her worth and value and this results in the usual Katie Fforde happy ending.
I have to admit, however, that this has been my least favourite Katie Fforde book to date.
For those who like a simple romantic story where the guy and the gal see each other and proceed inexorably towards marriage and happy ever after, this is okay. For those who know Katie Fforde of old, it is not.
Katie Fforde's great strength in her early books was that she wrote a credible story with believable characters and several possible outcomes. She was also funny. I was worried by her last book, Recipe for Love, which despite some fine comic set pieces, was over reliant on a well known TV programme for its plot and was a bit lazy in its characterization. I hoped it was a blip and that she would soon be back on form again.
** Spoiler Alert **
Sadly not. The heroine and the hero are set up from the word go. The outcome is inevitable - you just have to read the requisite number of pages to arrive, if you can be bothered to give up the time. There are no real deviations on the course, although a couple of very weak plot devices are set up to con you into thinking that the real story might be about to start. Only three characters are fleshed out, Gina, Sally and Matthew, but when it suits, their personalities will flip from loving and reasonable to coldly ambitious (Sally) or passionately in love to cold and patronising and vice a versa (Matthew). There are three potential villains, her ex, his ex and a potential business rival, none of whom behave very convincingly. In fact, I can see no reason at all for including her ex as he was largely unused.
All those elements make me cross and disappointed, but the worst element of all was the plot which just didn't really hang together - and to make it worse, with a few tweaks it could have worked well - * the original set up with the will was silly * the risk to the business and Matthew's attitude to it didn't ring true (leaving a novice in charge after a couple of weeks was mind-boggling - surely it takes a bit longer for even the most adept person to learn up about antiques!) * Gina's original solution was far-fetched * her lack of financial control over the affair among other things raises grave doubts about her skills as a PR/business woman * the deus ex machina which solved all their problems was preposterous
I could go on nit-picking but I won't.
I said that the plot was the worst element of all. That's not quite true - and I never thought I would say this about a Katie Fforde book - not only was it not as funny and amusing as one would have expected, in places it was dull, if not tiresome.
I have given this three stars rather than two, not because I like it particularly, but because, for all its failings, it is literate and because there are many worse books in this genre.
Dear Katie, please return to form again. Your books used to give me such a lot of pleasure.