on 20 March 2011
Like the overwhelming majority of the other reviewers, I really enjoyed this romantic novel. Katie Fforde's world is very kind - both her heroines are people I could imagine meeting and liking and the heroes Katie finds for them are just right. You can trust her as a writer to keep you interested and to make you smile, but not to shock or upset you, and I find her invaluable comfort reading when life (as it is for so many people) is stressful. Any person who likes romantic novels will like this and recognise all the essential components.
But I think there is another quality in Katie's fiction which is overlooked- how radical she is. Her heroines are normal women, and because Katie writes Romantic fiction with happy endings and no postmodern experimentation or disturbing twists, it is easy to overlook how unusual that is! I just love the way she writes about Fiona in particular - she manages to give us a lovely heroine who is a realistic middle aged woman, who suffers from indigestion, sees the funny side of life, does the church flowers , loves her son and grandson and has to buy new underwear before going on a date BUT who has a believably sexy time with a gorgeous middle aged man. Hooray! Thank you Katie! Katie's depiction of Sian, the younger woman, is equally skilled - Sian is someone you could imagine meeting on the school playground waiting to pick up her son. She is a kind, hard working single mother (another busted stereotype!) who loves her child, gets on well with her parents, has believably close and unbitchy friendships with other young mothers and with Fiona, and when confronted with a rich admirer has the principles not to choose money over love. The idea that the passion of a one night stand can be satisfyingly reignited after an unplanned pregnancy and 6 years apart is definitely of the genre, but because Sian is so believable and sympathetic this works.
Katie is great at characters. Sian's little boy, Rory, is beautifully and lovingly depicted. Even walk on parts - like the pie making woman in the bookshop - are fun and realistic.
I loved the subplots, particularly Fiona's internet dating disasters, which made me laugh. I will never look at garden centres in the same way again and the safety reminder may well help many a reader! Gus's bushcraft knowledge was really well conveyed - having gone on a children's bushcraft course I recognised all the techniques he used, but admired the skilful way Katie managed to describe them without sounding like an instruction novel.
In a quiet way, Katie Fforde is doing gloriously subversive work for middle aged women - giving likeable normal women who struggle with their weight and worry about their families passionate sexuality and fun! Thank you so much Katie. I think that, with 'Going Dutch', this is my favourite of your books. Please repeat this subversive recipe and have more middle aged heroines in the future!
on 21 April 2011
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.
Having written several times that I wouldn't be reading any more books by Katie Fforde I decided to give this one a try as the e-book sample seemed intriguing. In my opinion this is Katie Fforde at her best. The characters are interesting and believable and so is the plot. Sian moves to the country with her five year old son Rory to try and make a new start. She rents a cottage in an idyllic sounding village and soon starts to make friends especially with her almost next door neighbour - Fiona.
If this was just a story of how Sian finds love then it would just be an ordinary love story. What lifted it out of the ordinary in my opinion was Fiona's venture into internet dating after years on her own and in her fifties. I could identify with Fiona and her desire to have someone to go places with and to share life's pleasures without necessarily having some sort of formal relationship. Her dates are amusing and cringe-worthy and even potentially dangerous.
I loved the way the ordinary every day aspects of life were such a big part of the story - cooking, eating, de-cluttering, Sian's work painting and restoring furniture. I liked James, the bookshop owner and I thought Richard, Sian's long time friend was well done too. Rory is an absolute charmer even though I don't particularly like children.
There's a good balance between dialogue and description in this book which hasn't always been the case with some of Katie's recent books. Altogether I found this an enjoyable read and an excellent choice for a summer afternoon in the garden or on holiday.
on 3 September 2011
Sian is a single mum who has moved to the countryside to get away from harsh city life, and to carry on with her furniture decorating business. She has a son, aged nearly five, and is a lovely little boy who likes dinosaurs and fire engines. Sian makes a friend in Fiona, who lives in the big house next door, and towards the end of a dinner party hosted by Fiona, her son Angus, or Gus as Sian had known him, turns up and a situation follows.
I like Sian because Katie Fforde hasn't made her with problems or issues, she just fell hard in lust with a man one night and has never got over it. She just gets on with life, and with support from friends and family, brings up her son as a lone parent family. Fiona isn't the usual middle-aged, interfering busybody you read of in other books, she loves children and is kind and generous. I liked them both immensely. Gus is an adventurer, a practical man who loves the outdoors. I liked him too.
Now for the negatives. Sian's friend helped her move to the village where his sister has a childcare business and Sian and Gus had met at the same friend's party, so why was it surprising that Gus and Sian would at one time meet again? Also, if Gus had been away for five years, surely he would have had an internet based email account to stay in touch with his mother, so why couldn't Sian have contacted him wherever he was. A little bit was said about Gus's injured leg, and a tiny bit about his dyslexia, but these weren't properly explored.
Fiona offered to let Sian use her barn to work in, and then Gus used the barn to keep his exploring stuff there. There could have been more opportunity for conversation there.
There is the usual old female friend who may or may not have got her claws in the male lead, I saw right through this and didn't think it held water. Sian anxiety over this friendship was rather pointless. Also Gus didn't tell Sian what he was up to at his mother's house, and this was meant to feed Sian's insecurities. Boring! A practical man like Gus would have been honest and up front.
The language was a bit wrong for me too. When Sian and Gus are discussing their future whilst at a park in London, Gus calls her a minx, which seems wrong. Gus talks very matey to Rory, his son, then uses more posh language to Sian. Perhaps, not coming from a middle-class background, I am finding the dialogue a bit dated, do people still speak in this manner?
Overall, despite the niggles, I read it twice and I enjoyed it, but it could have been improved in some places.
Sian and her son Rory have moved to the countryside. They live in a cottage that is a bit damp and outdated. There is enough room for the two of them though and it has a beautiful garden. After many years of living in the city the extra space is exactly what they need. Sian loves the village and feels completely at home straight away. She makes new friends, there are other children to play with for Rory and she can finally start working on her artistic career. Her neighbor Fiona is warm and welcoming and Rory immediately feels comfortable with her. Things are going well until Sian meets Fiona's son Gus...
Sian and Gus already know one another and they share a special memory. They didn't spend much time together, but the day they met is a day they will never forget. Gus is an explorer and he's traveled for years, which is why Sian never expected to see him again. However, sometimes fate has other plans. There's still a connection, but Gus is dangerous and Sian is looking for stability. Will she be able to resist him?
Summer of Love is a charming, uplifting story. Sian is a kindhearted, responsible woman. I loved her creativity and her loving and caring nature. Fiona is an amazing, strong woman. She's resourceful and she knows how to handle difficult situations. She has a great personality and she's the lovely friendly neighbor everyone wishes to have. Gus is adventurous and good-natured. He's gorgeous and he makes women's hearts beat faster. The main characters are the best part of this book. They're all fascinating and easy to like. I enjoyed reading about them very much.
Katie Fforde has such a vivid and sparkling writing style. Her stories always manage to make me happy. I love reading her books and when I open them for the first time it feels like I'm unwrapping a precious gift. Her settings are stunning and the food descriptions are mouthwatering. I like the way she describes countryside living. Being together with your loved ones is what really matters and there are plenty of touching moments in this novel. I'm sure this is a book I will keep thinking about for a long time.
I always love it when I don't want a story to end. Summer of Love is a story that put a big smile on my face. It's the perfect romantic read. It's cheerful, it's heartwarming and it's incredibly sweet. It's a book that brings amusement, it brightens up a dark night and makes a cloudy day look sunny. It's brings the reader that glowing joy of summer, which is absolutely wonderful.
on 19 March 2011
I love the way all of Katie's books make me want to curl up on the sofa and put my life on hold - a bit like chocolate but a lot less calories - a real gentle pleasure
this title was just as satisfying - it can't beat my all time Katie favourite of Going Dutch but this was just such a wonderful oasis away from work and stress and cold weather
thank you Katie - another one for my collection and some really happy hours whiled away.
on 16 March 2011
When Sian Bishop moves to the country with her son Rory, she quickly finds herself settling in, making friends with Fiona Mitcham. Her business as a furniture decorator is going well and she loves the little cottage she and Rory call home. When Gus Berresford comes hurtling into Sian's life it's the last thing she needs. Not only is Gus a heart-breaker, but he and Sian have met before. Gus is an entirely unsuitable man for Sian to fall in love with, especially when good friend Richard is offering her everything she could ever need, except love. But who will Sian end up giving her heart to, and what happened the first time Sian and Gus met?
Summer of Love follows pretty much the same format as all of Katie's novels, as I've mentioned in previous reviews of Katie's books. It's a winning formula for me and I'm pleased Katie sticks to her formula for each and every novel. The book opens well, with Sian meeting Fiona and the two quickly become friends. Their bond is sealed when Fiona confides in Sian about her going on an Internet date (more on that later) and I thought the friendship between the two was very real. Now the majority of the plot centers on Rory, Sian's son's, father. It's fairly obvious who the dad is, but I won't tell it here just to preserve you knowing until you read the book. I was majorly worried Sian wasn't going to tell him he was the dad, and I was going to have to go all Jeremy Kyle on her ("You have no right to not tell him he's the dad" etc. etc). Thankfully that wasn't so, and Rory's father finds out in good time.
There is an interesting sub-plot featuring Fiona, who decides to go Internet dating. It was a nice way to mix the plot up a bit, and involving Fiona meant we could give Sian a break every now and then. I liked Fiona's adventures at Internet dating, and the way she handled herself on one particular date. It's a very now plot to have featured, and Fiona was perfect for it. We also see her relationship with James, a bookseller, develop during that time and it proves, if anything, that it is possible to find love and all that at any age.
I've mentioned this in previous reviews but I adore Katie Fforde's writing style. I know, I'm getting boring aren't I? And starting to sound like a parrot? I do apologise, but really, her writing is so enjoyable and there's nothing like losing myself in a Katie Fforde book during an afternoon. I constantly want it all to work out for her characters and I'm always happy when it does all come together. Honestly, for as long as Katie carries on writing novels I will still read them, because there is nothing quite like being able to pick up a brand new Katie Fforde novel. Summer of Love is another worthy addition to Katie's back list with it's lovely plot and even better characters. It's one Fforde fans will devour, and rightly so and I'm looking forward to Katie's next book already.
on 23 April 2011
Katie Fforde has a writing style that works and that she sticks to. 'Summer of Love' is no different and is only what I could could described as 'typical Katie Fforde' - not that this is a bad thing. I like that when I pick up a Katie Fforde novel that I know exactly what I am going to get - a light, easy to read book with a happy ending.
'Summer of Love' tells the story of Sian, a young mother who has recently moved to the country with her son Rory. She soon meets and makes a number of new friends, however, she is also having to contend with Richard, a man so perfect yet she is not sure if he is the man for her. Then, Gus unexpectedly lands in her life and she finds herself not only having to contend with Richard but also the actions of her past.
Like I've said this book is easy to read and is perfect for a summer's day. There is also a side story running along side Sian's about her new friend Fiona, which I thought was a nice little extra and is something I don't remember having been done in the last few Katie Fforde books I have read.
Overall, this is a good read which I would recommend, especially if you're chick lit and Katie Fforde fan.
on 22 April 2012
Quite a mix of negative and positive reviews here, but on the whole I agree with the positives. `Normal' and `ordinary' are not usually big-seller words to describe characters, but if you're looking for characters to relate to, that make you say "oh dear, I've done that too!", then this is for you. This easy, enjoyable feel-good romantic novel makes you feel at home from the start.
I have read a couple of Katie Fforde's books before so I kind of knew what to expect, a typical gentle romance. However this romance was so gentle it was practically in a coma!
Here we have Sian, young single mother moving in next door to her son's grandmother without knowing it. Her son was conceived on a one-night stand (which in this book is somehow described as something more than this). Sian has never contacted the father Angus to tell him that she has had his child. When Angus comes back from travelling to stay with his Mum, he meets Sian again and she has to decide what to do about her son and her heart...yawn!
The main character is in her twenties but really should be in her fifties. I think the author should stick to older lead characters. Some of the chapters involved the romantic life of the grandma and to be honest the romantic part of the younger Sian life were probably less interesting.
This book was a complete waste of money, if you like romance with very little excitement wait and borrow it from your library.