He’s a Little Bit Country …


One Hot Summer ~ Kat French

Possibly one of my favourite chick-lit novels, I can’t believe I read this in 2017: I truly could not bear to put this book down!  So many characters were fabulously eccentric. I’m a sucker for the ‘village’ setting which means that everyone knows each others nusiness!

Our heroine – Alice McBride – was a wonderful mixture of fragility and strength, and the love interest (US country singer Robinson Duff) was such a romantic, slightly damaged, chivalrous hunk I was half in love with him myself!
I couldn’t begin to describe the plot and do it justice, but an English village setting during a heatwave instantly makes it a great summer read.  The story starts with double heartbreak and follows Alice and Robinson’s coping mechanisms of either running away or embarking on a project to get their lives back on track.  

I adored Stewie who’d been a 70s porn star – with his many wigs and outrageous outfits. The mynah bird owned by the local ‘white witch’ almost stole the show, a great source of humor and secret-spilling.

Robinson is as gentle and thoughtful as one could wish – the textbook gallant southern boy, but his attempts to forget all about Nashville and his stellar career are fairly unsuccessful.  

Alice is enchantingly loyal to her home, Bourne Manor, bearing a duty to be its custodian for years to come, no matter what sacrifices she must make. The pair vow that this will be nothing more than a HOT holiday romance and that they won’t get involved – we don’t want to believe a word of it!

Read this novel to evoke all the ‘summer holiday feels’ you would normally get from devouring a book beside the pool or on the beach

The Muse : Jessie Burton

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

~ Book Review ~

I imagine that having the first thing you create shoot off with stratospheric success and visibility, would be as daunting as it was exciting.  It might even inhibit you from creating anything again, as nothing seems to measure up to your stellar first effort. This book explores this theme, alongside inequality where battles are fought in public and private arenas. Here secrets are used as bargaining tools because the truth won’t set people free

Jessie Burton found international acclaim with her first novel The Miniaturist.  In The Muse, her second venture into the literary world, the author explores the challenge of topping an earlier success.  Meet Odelle Bastien, driven by dreams of becoming an author and Olive Schloss, who longs to be an artist and earn her art dealer father’s recognition; both women struggle with the challenge of sharing their craft with an audience who already has high expectations of their capability.

Time spent in Spain learning Olive’s story seems less upbeat, primarily because Olive feels invisible and undervalued by her parents, whose lives are as fractured as they are self-absorbed.  The country they’ve just arrived in is on the brink of war, the revolution brought to the family’s doorstep in by Isaac & his sister Teresa. They help around the property, but are embroiled in right-wing activities.

Due to a misunderstanding (soon purposefully encouraged) a vibrant, and unusual painting makes a big splash in the art world, while the reality of its creator remains a secret

Years later, at the Gallery in London where Odelle works, a new painting surfaces which also appears to be the this ‘same’ artist – but in order to feature in an exhibition its provenance must be established (reminiscent of The Girl You Left Behind – Jojo Moyes). The unravelling of this mystery is the power that drives the novel forward.

While I really enjoyed this book, I’ll admit to preferring the storyline which features Odelle and the gallery to that surrounding Olive’s development as an artist.  The character of a young working woman who dreams of being a writer was sharply drawn. Her efforts to integrate herself into a historically hostile society, while maintaining her integrity and dignity, unfolded gradually with convincing depth.

I enjoyed the way two such diverse threads of plot were gradually woven together but the latter part of the book felt unnecessarily rushed.  It delivered surprises and tied up loose threads, but in comparison with the languid speed at which the rest of the novel unfolded, the conclusion felt rushed.