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3.9 out of 5 stars
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3.9 out of 5 stars
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I really enjoyed Catherine Alliott's last novel so I was tempted to read this one. I wasn't disappointed. While I don't think it is quite as good as `The Secret Life of Evie Hamilton' I did enjoy reading it. Hattie is in business running an antique shop and she and her partner - Maggie - undertake interior decorating commissions. They specialise in all things French and regularly visit French antique fairs. Hattie has an adopted son - Seffy - who is away at boarding school and a toy boy - Ivan - who is also in the antiques trade.

The story revolves round the upheavals in Hattie's life when a secret from her past is revealed which threatens to overturn her organised life in the present. The book is full of interesting characters - Hattie's sister Laura and her husband Hugh - Maggie with her sharp tongue who is not afraid of anyone - and a deliciously camp interior decorator who Laura invites to re-vamp her newly inherited stately home.

I thought the book was well written with some far from easy problems for all the characters to solve. The section set in Bosnia during the war of the 1990s was well done as were the visits to France. Descriptions of the English and French countryside brought the scenery to life. All the characters were believable and interesting and I wanted to know what happened to them. This is an enjoyable read provided you like your chick lit to have a bit more substance than the usual light reading. I would have liked to give in 4.5*s as it is not quite a 5* read.
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on 27 April 2010
I have enjoyed Alliot's books in the past and I certainly enjoy some good chick lit. But this was totally blooming ridiculous. Completely pathetic attempt at the Balkans, absolutely riddled with histocial and geographical errors that rendered the story completely laughable. She should stick to the home counties. Clearly can't even get London right, either- were you aware that North End Road is in South London? Really annoying, as I was looking forward to a nice mindless chick lit read and instead ended up feeling very irritated.
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on 2 October 2013
errrrrm i'm a bit confused about this book as its very heavy dark in places then light and fluffy in others, its like she couldn't decide what path to take. I hated the twist with Steffy i thought it was horrible and really couldn't understand it - also i cant believe who she ended up with? is she crazy ??? i just found it all a bit odd to be honest. I really enjoyed the flash backs to the MP and then her overseas work and don't get me wrong - it was very well written and the language was a bit more intellectual than normal. I just thought it was a bit of a strange story i general. Not sure if in would recommend this to a friend to be honest.
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on 3 April 2010
Ok, maybe it's just me, but I was confused by this book - I was relly enjoying it until the last quarter, when the truth about Seffy comes out, and suddenly much of the earlier description of Letty discovering her and Dominic in his office, Hal sending her a letter saying "You Whore" and the engaging story of Hattie's adoption of Seffy in Croatia appears not to have been true. Now this works if the early part of the book was in the form of Hattie telling someone else the story and lying about it, but doesn't work if it is Hattie telling us, the readers, her story. I am prepared to be wrong about this if someone can explain it to me!
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on 17 March 2010
Hattie is a happy single mother to son Seffy, has a flourishing French antiques business with best friend Maggie and has a relatively young boyfriend, Ivan, to boot. But when her sister, Laura, asks Hattie and Maggie to help work on her and her husband Hugh's house, it brings back painful memories for Hattie as that's where her first love Dominic lived. Matters are made worse when Hattie bumps into his widow Letty and handsome brother Hal. Is Hattie finally able to spill the beans about what happened with Dominic all those years ago and, if so, is she able to keep her life as she knows it in tact?

While the main plot at the beginning of the review may well be about Hattie bumping into the widow of her first love, Dominic, there is actually so much more going on in the book. There's the fact Hattie and her partner Maggie are co-re-decorating Laura and Hugh's, Hattie's sister and brother-in-law, house along with a completely different designer Ralph De Grandville which causes much consternation between all parties concerned. Hattie's relationship with Ivan, her younger boyfriend, is also a bit of a talking point throughout the book. But my favourite sub-plot to the book was learning all about the younger Hattie and how she came to fall in love with Dominic, a married politician. I found that part of the book entirely absorbing although I was constantly telling Hattie not to go there or do that! Another fantastic part of the entire story was Hattie's visit to Bosnia where she joins her brother Kit who was working with the International Red Cross during the war there. Catherine must have really had to do her research about that and it sounded like such terrible things happened there. The terror and sense of not knowing what may happen to you was palpable and it was really gripping.

Overall One Day In May is another fantastic read from Catherine Alliott. I, for one, am thrilled she's back and I really missed her books in her two year absence. Here's to many more fab Catherine Alliott books. One Day In May is a fine read and I look forward to getting stuck into The Secret Life of Evie Hamilton! Hugely recommended!
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on 9 April 2012
I do love Catherine Alliot's books and usually I find them so gripping and amazingly funny that they are very hard to put down - I'd spend hours reading. Not so with this one I'm afraid. I found this one hard to put down in places, but only because if I did so in the middle of something happening, I'd lose the thread by the time I picked it up again.

There have been comments from other readers about inaccuracies - thing is, the book is a work of fiction so while mentioning places or people that actually exist a writer doesn't have to be 100% spot on with things like mortar boards. Those things bother me far less than the plot being very thin and in places tedious. I could not warm to the main character at all who seemed to begrudge everyone else happiness or good fortune. I usually love the main characters in Ms Alliot's books, but Hattie - again the hysterical, blinkered, selfish mother who thinks more about herself than anyone else.

I shall not spoil the ending for those that have not read the book yet, but, in my opinion, I was really routing for 'Hal'. He certainly deserved a lot better than he got. Give me a Hal over that Ivan any day. Sorry.
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on 14 June 2012
I was so disappointed by this book. The plot was ridiculous and the characters were simply unlikeable-snobbish, dishonest, irrational and without any redeeming features. It was impossible to care less what happened to any of them. The outcome was entirely predictable and to be honest I just skimmed through the last 1/4 of the book in total boredom. This writer can do better than this.
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on 15 August 2011
Now, let me get this straight - I love Cahterine Alliott - the Old Girls Network and Rosie Meadows Regrets to name a mere few of her works have been utterly fanastic, they had me totally gripped and even caused me somewhat embarrassment when I chortled to myself whilst reading them on the bus.

However, this seems to have been written by a totally different writer - it's awful, the lead character is unlikeable, and the plot line is not only incredibly feeble, it's also highly unbelieveable. The love interest and her seem to rush their romance to the extent it's just stupid, for some reason there's a younger man but that never seems to be a reason for this to be mentioned, and the big "twist" (which I wont' spell) was just plain weird and completely unbelievable...very, very disappointing. Don't waste your money.
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on 21 August 2010
I usually enjoy this author - the one about Evie Hamilton was very good - but the inaccuracies in this one irked me - especially the one about graduating from Edinburgh wearing a mortar board... Edinburgh students just wear gowns and hoods. If authors don't know things from personal research or experience - CHECK!
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on 18 April 2010
I really loved this book, but as a loyal, dedicated CA fan, I knew I would.

Middle class single mum Hattie runs an antique/ interior decorating business with good friend and ally, Maggie. Romance is in the form of younger (but highly unreliable) sexy man, Ivan.

Right from the start, we instantly become involved in Hattie's family dilemmas - will sister Laura manage to inherit the country estate from stroppy stepson Luca? Can Hattie's teenage son Seffy manage not to get expelled from another private school? And, more importantly, how does Hattie deal with a dark shadow from the past - more precisely, the brother of her former (but now sadly deceased) lover?

The story rolls along at a cracking pace - we experience several shifts of scene - from a pad in the English country, to Bosnia, back to London and then onto France.
I found it extremely difficult to put this highly infectious, lively, down to earth novel down. It was engrossing, compelling and intriguing. Of course, her `journey of self discovery' theme is very familiar but nevertheless, still entertaining.

Her sharp, smart, sassy style easily draws the reader in and I recognised the odd flash of humour. Some of her previous novels have held a similar enigma - the origins of parentage. I couldn't see how she'd weave this particular twisty turny plot here - but oh what a surprise! She doesn't exactly cheat the reader - only misleads. Yet employing this tricky technique actually heightened and strengthened the main character.

As for true love...well, there's bucketloads of that, too. There's another surprise in store for who Hattie finally ends up with. Even Maggie gets paired off. Unfortunately for me, I did manage to guess correctly the identity of her partner, which rather spoilt the suspense somewhat.

To respond to other Amazon reader's comments - I agree about the e-mailing not being around in the early nineties, and as for kids being at boarding schools ect. Well I love reading about toff's lifestyles! It's pure escapism. To add my own note: domestic food waste isn't taken to council rubbish tips anymore, as it's usually recycled now.

As I turned to the last page, I felt as though I was saying goodbye to a friend.
Read this book today. It's a brilliant feel good read and it will certainly engage your emotions. It is a joy, and a triumph - a sliver of sheer delight!

Catherine, I cannot wait for your next book!

Sharon Boothroyd
18/4/10
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