Monday, April 29, 2013

Book Review: A Cottage by the Sea

By Becky Gulc

Being brought up by the seaside but now living inland, I am often left craving the fresh sea air and love escaping back to my hometown as often as I can. I’m therefore easily sold on any book set by the sea which promises to let me escape to my favourite place through reading, whenever I fancy it. Therefore, it’s no surprise that I was delighted to receive Carole Matthews' latest novel, A Cottage by the Sea, for review recently. With a delectable cover, it promised the reader escapism before even reading the blurb. But what’s it all about?

Grace has been best friends with Ella and Flick since university. The late-night chats, shared heartaches and good times have created a bond that has stood the test of time. Now in their thirties, Grace is always a bit disappointed about how little time they get to spend together, so when Ella invites them all to stay for a week in her cottage in South Wales, Grace jumps at the chance to see her old friends. She also hopes that the change in pace will help her reconnect with her husband, Harry. Unfortunately for her, Harry isn't as enamoured with Cwtch Cottage as she is. Then Flick arrives; loveable, bubbly Flick, accompanied by the handsome and charming Noah, and suddenly the week ahead looks as though it may be even more confusing for all the residents of Cwtch Cottage. (Synopsis courtesy of

I generally enjoy books where the narrative is mixed up a bit, providing a non-linear story and different viewpoints. So to begin with, I found the first-person present tense used throughout this book a little uninteresting, if I’m to be honest. However, I got into this as the book developed and I didn’t even think about it by the time I was a few chapters in. I think the fact that Grace is such a warm and likeable character helps cement the reader’s vested interest in her story and the developments and adventures spanning her week away.

Whilst I did find the story predictable in terms of a few too many seeds being planted suggesting certain things were going to happen, it didn’t really bother me or affect my overall enjoyment of this book. In fact I maybe read more into some of these seeds than I needed to and wondered whether one of the characters was everything they were being made out to be. Although it didn’t turn out to be this way, it kept me wondering throughout about how everything would come together in the end.

I loved the setting and got a real sense of place and adventure from this book, you almost feel like you’ve had a weekend away yourself when you’ve finished. The characters were also well developed and I’d personally love to see a follow-up to this to see where they all are in a couple of years’ time.

This book delivered exactly what it promised and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This is one to take on your holidays if you like a quick escapist read. Also, if you don’t already ‘like’ or ‘follow’ Carole on Facebook or Twitter you should do as she’s a great example of connecting with her readers through social networking and is generally very amusing. (She often makes me hungry with her baking photos!)

Thanks to Sphere for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Carole Matthews:

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