Monday, March 5, 2012

Book Review: Summer Daydreams

By Melissa Amster

I think 2012 is the year of the mompreneur. First there was "Julia's Child" by Sarah Pinneo and now Carole Matthews has followed in her footsteps (in the most stylish way possible, of course) with "Summer Daydreams."

Nell McNamara is leading a comfortable life with her long-term boyfriend, Olly, and their precocious daughter, Petal. She works in a chip shop with her closest friends and her boss acts more as a father figure. After she redecorates the chip shop and business starts soaring, she realizes that she could apply herself more creatively. Soon she goes into business making handbags. When the orders start coming in, however, is when her own life starts falling out of order. Can she have it all, or will she have to make some difficult choices?

I thought "Summer Daydreams" was a cute, light and entertaining story throughout. Nell was easy to relate to, especially since I'm also a working mother who has to find balance between family life and everything else. The secondary characters were all interesting and I enjoyed Nell's interactions with them. While I enjoyed living vicariously through her success, I also could feel her stress and frustration when too many balls were in the air. Ms. Matthews' descriptions made everything very easy to visualize. The dialogue was genuine and flowed nicely from beginning to end. I also liked how Olly's viewpoint was tossed in from time to time. It rounded out the story really well. As the story continued to pick up steam, I had a hard time putting it down and wanted to see what would happen for Nell. Would her business succeed? Would her husband stay mad at her? Would she have time for her daughter and also be able to give her the life she was envisioning?

The only thing that didn't really work for me was that some parts seemed unrealistic. I won't say what those parts were as to not spoil the story, but I felt that even with things being incredibly stressful for Nell, she had some pretty lucky breaks. A lot of those situations would not have happened so easily in real life. I also felt that Nell and Olly acted out of character in order to enable some of these unrealistic moments to happen. In any case, this was a fictional novel, not a biography, so bits of exaggeration are bound to appear. It still kept the story entertaining and made it what it was...a story.

Overall, I would recommend "Summer Daydreams" to all Carole Matthews fans, anyone looking to start their own business and anyone looking for some good chick lit. I've read Ms. Matthews' earlier works and feel that this story had a premise that fits in well in this day and age. She hasn't lost her touch, and her writing has become even more enjoyable over time. She really knows her audience, and it shows.

(Top left, UK cover. Bottom right, US cover)

Carole Matthews visited CLC last week and our giveaway is still open, but ends today. Don't miss out; it's open worldwide!

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