The first chapter of Summer Daydreams introduces the reader to the shortage of customers at Live and Let Fry and how owner Phil and his employees are more like family than work colleagues. This leads seamlessly on to Nell’s favourite shop (Betty the Bag Lady) and we get a glimpse of her family (partner Olly and four year old daughter Petal). That’s one of the things I loved about Summer Daydreams … the way the author seamlessly moves us through Nell’s story from the foundations to the finale.
Written mostly in the first person with Nell narrating we also get chapters interspersed in the third person letting the reader get to know Olly’s character and how he is feeling. I think this is quite important as it not only allows us to identify with Olly but we also get to know things that Nell will never know.
The characters are real and could be people we all know! That’s another thing I loved about Summer Daydreams. Nell with her gutsy spirit who picks herself up after setbacks with her determination to succeed, who is naïve when it comes to the fashion industry; Olly with his vulnerability and Petal with her knowledge that the whole world really does revolve around her (as do all four year olds). The characters on the periphery are also well-developed.
Another thing that is real is the love that Nell and Olly have for each other. It’s down to earth and practical with compromise and sacrifice – not always comfortable and inspiring – but has a solid foundation and at times passion, which is a reflection of real intimate relationships (in my opinion).
There are some poignant scenes that will tug at your heart-strings, scenes that will make you put your head in your hands and shout “NO”, scenes that will make you chuckle (Petal showing her bottom to the ducks springs to mind!) You’ll find tension and conflict; betrayal and misunderstanding; vulnerability, strength, community and plenty of humour too.
The finale is … quite simply amazing
I found Summer Daydreams very emotive. I didn’t want the story to end … didn’t want to leave these characters behind. Definitely a four-fairy read!
There are ‘extras’ after the story has ended. ‘What happens next?’ tells the reader there’s a free exclusive short story available and what to do receive it. This is followed by a conversation between Carole Matthews and Helen Rochfort (Helen is the inspiration behind the story). A Beginners Guide to Designing a Handbag from Helen follows and finally, the first three chapters of Carole’s October 2012 release ‘With Love at Christmas’.
I would like to thank the publishers for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.