“Sian Bishop has only ever experienced one moment of recklessness – a moment that resulted in her beloved son Rory. It’s not that she doesn’t love the outcome of that wild night, but since then she has always taken the safer route. So when dependable, devoted Richard suggests a move to the beautiful English countryside, she leaves the hustle and bustle of the city behind, and she throws herself into the picture-postcard cottage garden, her furniture restoration business, and a new life in the country.
Her good intentions are torpedoed on a glorious summer’s evening with the arrival of Gus Berresford. One-time explorer and full-time heartbreaker, Gus is ridiculously exciting, wonderfully glamorous and a completely inappropriate love interest for a single mum. But Gus and Sian have met before…
Sian has no use for a fling, she simply mustn’t fall in love with the most unlikely suitor ever to cross her path – even if he has now crossed her path twice. But who knows what can happen in a summer of love…”
What I thought:
Have you ever read a Katie Fforde book? If not, I am going to try to persuade you why you should. I am a huge Katie Fforde fan. HUGE! But more on that later….
Summer of Love is set in a quaint English village: Young single mum, Sian, and her 4 year old son Rory arrive to rent a little cottage with a garden where they can grow their own vegetables and get away from London. Their relationship is warm and touching and believable (not a superwoman-can-do-it-all or yummy-mummy in sight). Enter Fiona, a local woman in her 50’s who not only provides Sian with friendship but also provides the reader with comic relief (capers including internet dating with disasterous results).
Sian has got used to brining Rory up on her own, so when Fiona hosts a village dinner party at her home, the last thing she expects is someone from her past to walk right in. Despite there still being a spark between Sian and Gus there are also a couple of obstacles in the way in the form of Richard who is head over heals in love with Sian (but she finds him too dull) and Melissa (who clings to Gus’s side like a limpet at every available opportunity).
What makes the characters in Katie Fforde’s books so wonderful is that the characters are normal: like you and me. They have their hopes and their fears and they drink lots of tea! Whenever I finish a Katie Fforde I always feel a little lost without my “new friends”. I just love a book that enraptures me so much that when I look up I realise that I am in my front room in Yorkshire and not in some little summery village wearing a floaty dress.
Verditct: cosy, wonderful characters and idyllic settings, romance, comedy. Summer of Love is every bit as sumptuous as her previous books.
(source: I bought this book)
Why you should read Katie Fforde:
What I love about Katie Ffordes books is that they are the ultimate comfort reads. Imagine yourself in any of the following situations: a hot bubble bath with a mug of cocoa, curled up by the fire sipping red wine, sitting in your favourite armchair with a wonderfully snuggly cashmere blanket draped around you, sitting on a sun-drenched terrace in the Mediterranean sipping white wine, diving into a vat of melted chocolate (OK, frankly I could do any of these right now) and that is the feeling you get when reading a Katie Fforde. Pure escapism into the lives of likeable people who live in quaint villages, talk “frightfully posh” and entertain us with their slighly scewiff lives before it all comes together. There is romance, light comedy and oodles of sparkle.
This is the sixth Fforde I have read and as she now has 16 books I still have plenty more to look forward to. The first one I read as Practically Perrfect when it was recommended to me about 3 years ago. At the time I was going through a reading slump as I was so busy at work and my brain couldn’t cope with anything heavy. Caroline, who was the leader of my local bookgroup at Waterstones recommended that I read this as it would be a tonic for my frazzled brain. I remember looking at it and thinking “really?” At the time, I didn’t read any form of “chicklit”, but with Caroline normally having great taste in books I decided to give it a go. I LOVED IT!!! Not only did this turn out to be the beginning of my love affair with Katie Fforde but also with chicklit in general when I realised that I had been unecessarily snobbish and in fact most of them are great fun and true escapism.
Practically Perfect: “Anna, a newly qualified interior designer, has decided it’s time to put her money and her expertise where her mouth is. She’s risked everything on buying a tiny but adorable cottage so she can renovate it, sell it on, and prove to her family that she can earn her own living. Outside, the chocolate-box cottage is perfect, but inside all is chaos: with a ladder for a staircase, no downstairs flooring, candles the only form of lighting and a sleeping bag and camping mat for a bed, Anna’s soon wondering whether she’s bitten off more than she can chew. Her neighbour Chloe comes to the rescue, providing tea, wine and sympathy – and a recently rescued greyhound, Caroline. But just as Anna’s starting to believe she’s found the perfect idyll, the good-looking yet impossible Rob Hunter arrives on the scene, putting up more obstacles than the Grand National. Can Anna get over all of life’s hurdles? This is probably my favourite – maybe because it was the first one I read, but also because it features a gorgeous dog in it which I fell totally in love with.”
Love Letters: “With the bookshop where she works about to close, Laura Horsley, in a moment of uncharacteristic recklessness, finds herself agreeing to help organise a literary festival deep in the heart of the English countryside. But her initial excitement is rapidly followed by a mounting sense of panic when reality sinks in and she realises just how much work is involved – especially when an innocent mistake leads the festival committee to mistakenly believe that Laura is a personal friend of the author at the top of their wish-list. Laura might have been secretly infatuated with the infamous Dermot Flynn ever since she studied him at university, but travelling to Ireland to persuade the notorious recluse to come out of hiding is another matter. Determined to rise to the challenge she sets off to meet her literary hero. But all too soon she’s confronted with more than she bargained for – Dermot the man is maddening, temperamental and up to his ears in a nasty case of writer’s block. But he’s also infuriatingly attractive – and, apparently, out to add Laura to his list of conquests … This one is set in a bookshop and organising a literary festival – a book about books and working with books and more books! Perfect! Seriously, what’s not to love? Love Letters is one of my very favourites.”
Artsistc Lisence: “Single, thritysomething Thea traded her promising career as a photographer for the quiet countryside of the English Cotswalds. But when she meets a promising, sexy Irish painter while vacationing in Provence, her creative spirit is unexpectedly reawakened. Impressed by Rory’s charm, but even more taken by his talent, Thea is determined to showcase his paintings for the art world. Resisting his sex appeal, convincing him to forgo the London art scene, and transforming an abandoned building into a cutting-edge gallery in the less-than-hip countryside all give Thea more of a challenge than she bargained for. Add to the mix a group of old friends, some reluctant teens, a box full of new-born puppies, and a new romantic prospect or two, and this novel delivers art, friendship, love, sex, and delicious new beginnings. I loved all the settings in this book – France, the Cotswolds, Ireland. Idyllic and fun – with puppies to boot. What’s not to love?”
Flora’s Lot: “Flora Stanza has sub-let her London life in a bid to join the family antiques business. Her knowledge of antiques extends only to the relics of information she has crammed from frantic daytime TV watching, but what she lacks in experience she makes up for in blind enthusiasm. So she is more than a little put off when she doesn’t receive the warm country welcome she expected. Her curt, conservative cousin Charles and his fiancee Annabelle are determined to send Flora packing, and their offer to buy out her recently inherited majority-share of the business is tempting, until a strange warning makes her think twice. Stuck with a cat about to burst with kittens, Flora has little choice but to accept the offer to stay in an abandoned holiday cottage miles from any neighbours, let alone a trendy winebar. And between fighting off dinner invitations from the devastatingly handsome Henry, and hiding her secret eco-friendly lodger, William, Flora soon discovers country life is far from dull as she sets about rebuilding the crumbling business. More animals in this book – this time in the form of a cat who is about to give birth to a basket full of kittens at any time.”
Restoring Grace: “Ellie Summers’ life is unravelling. A couple of months ago, she was quite happy living with her boyfriend Rick in their little cottage, producing paintings of local people’s homes. But now, finding herself pregnant – and discovering that Rick is less than enthusiastic about imminent parenthood – things seem rather more complicated. Grace Soudley’s life has been coming apart for more than a couple of months. Abandoned by her unsuitable husband for another woman, her only real security is the wonderful old house she was left by her godmother. She’s scraped together enough money to repair the roof but, riddled with damp and dry rot, Luckenham House is in serious danger of disintegrating around her unless she finds some more money fast. When Ellie and Grace meet, the two very different women suddenly find they can help each other out. Ellie needs a place to stay; Grace needs a lodger. Both of them need a friend. But then Grace’s step-daughter Demi arrives on the scene, followed by the disconcertingly engaging Flynn Cormack – who seems determined to help. And when Grace discovers some beautiful painted panels – which may or may not be rather valuable – hidden behind the tattered dining room curtains, the whole business of restoration starts to get serious.”
Have I persuaded you?
Honestly, these books are like pouring a soothing balm over all your troubles. Pure escapism and highly recommended. Enjoy!