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One for the Summer holidays!
on 26 May 2011
I love, love, love, love, love novels set in holiday destinations. Greece, Spain, Italy, I swallow them whole because I've only ever holidayed in Alicante in Spain, Tenerife in the Canary Islands and Florida in the USA. Summer Holiday is set in Liminaki in Greece, I've never heard of the island, but I like the idea of visiting Greece so the setting of the novel made me love the novel immediately. Spencer presents Liminaki is such a wonderful way, sure it doesn't have bars or a huge nightlife presence, but the slow pace of life and quiet of the island sounds wonderful. I've got no idea if it is an actual Greek island but if it is (and even if it isn't) Spencer has very much presented Greece in a very beautiful light. Usually book destinations are a secondary thing when I'm reading novels but I was really impressed by how detailed Liminaki was and it was definitely a massive part of the novel.
Obviously the beautiful setting isn't all that the book is about and we follow four best friends throughout their two week holiday: Beth, Kirsten, Anna and Ginny. They're friends, have been for ages, but because they're dotted about all over the World they rarely have a chance to meet up so take the opportunity to holiday in Liminaki and re-establish their friendships with each other. I liked the plot of the novel and for the most part I thought it was presented very well but there were a few things I had an issue with. All of the girls have their own problems, but rather than sharing them the way regular friends would (if I had a problem, I would certainly discuss it with a friend), instead all four try to tackle their problems in secret. For me that was a bit false. Because surely you just don't do that? I couldn't understand Kirsten's hesitance to tell her best friend her troubles. I also thought the Ginny/Beth tension was horribly obvious. I knew precisely what had gone on there and it was very much as cliched as I expected it to be, sadly. But for the most part I was happy with how the plot went, how it panned out.
Aside from a few minor niggles I found the characters to be delightful. Beth's irrational anger over the fact the guy she meets, Dan, used to work at the bank that killed her business aside, I liked Beth. She was very real, very likeable and as our leading lady it was probably a good thing I liked her so much. Anna was probably my second favourite character, I loved her sweet nature and the slow-burn romance she had with Nick, I would have loved if we could have seen their relationship develop through their eyes rather than Beth who narrates the story. Kirsten was a well-rounded character, although, again I question her need for secrecy. I never really found any love for Ginny; for the entire novel she was just a pain in the proverbial. I couldn't understand why three lovely people like Beth, Kirsten and Anna would be friends with someone like Ginny. As for the male characters, I fell head over heels for both Dan and Nick. I think Nick probably edges it for me, though! He was just so wonderful and dreamy (believe me, I am the type of person who doesn't use the word `dreamy').
I must say, I didn't think Summer Loving was as well written as the other two novels Allie has had published. For starters (and yes, pernickety Leah is alive and kicking right now) there is an absolute deluge of colons in the novel. There are colons where there should be commas or full stops and it took all of my wills not to get a marker pen and smudge them out. Truly, if someone who edited this novel looked through it now and counted up the colons they would cry into their manuscripts. I know I'm picky, and I'm going to resist to point out the editing errors I noticed, for fear of you all hating me (I can't help it! Honest!). Despite my pernickety-ness I did thoroughly enjoy the book. I really and truly hope that Allie is busy writing a new novel that will be out next year, because she is so good at writing an easy holiday read that manages to have it all. Romance, relationships, friendships and, best of all, a sunny destination! I'd definitely suggest packing this one in your suitcase this summer or sitting in the back garden with it on a sunny afternoon, it will transport you all the way to Liminaki and you'll feel as though you've had a holiday yourself once you've finished!