Today’s book review of a women’s contemporary novel is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey. If you’d like your book reviewed or to send me a book review of another author’s book, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.
Summer Daydreams by Carole Matthews
Synopsis: What if you had always dreamed of something more . . . ? Nell McNamara has a happy life: her boyfriend Olly adores her, their four-year-old daughter Petal is the centre of their world and Nell has a steady job in the local chip shop. When the chippy needs a makeover, Nell jumps at the chance to unleash the creativity fizzing inside her. Inspired by what she can achieve – and encouraged by the very best friends a girl can have – Nell is determined to try something new. Waving goodbye to the chip shop, she starts up a new business making her own line of must-have handbags, which are soon flying off the shelves. It seems Nell’s dreams are finally coming true, but her success doesn’t come without a price. Before too long, Nell has to ask herself if it’s really possible to have it all . . . Full of fun, love and laughter, soak up the sunshine with Summer Daydreams.
Review (of the audiobook)
Nell, Ollie and Petal live in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, not a million miles away from Carole’s Milton Keynes. Despite visiting Hitchin once a year for a writer’s conference, I don’t know it well and it’s always nice to learn about new places.
We learn the problem early on that Nell works at a fish and chip shop – brilliantly named ‘Live and Let Fry’ – is losing money and she suggests to her boss, Phil, that the place could do with a long overdue (1980s) makeover with Phil, Ollie, colleagues Jenny and Constance helping out. I’m not a fan of pink but everyone (including Phil) seems to like the finished effect, so much so that Phil suggests – and helps fund – Nell fulfil her creative dream.
There are more peaks and troughs than the Loch Ness Monster and lots of laugh-out-loud moments, especially Petal’s “There’s a monster in my bed and it’s eating crisps”.
There’s little not to like except for ‘being pampered in every other way’ Nell admitting their dog is the “least walked dog on the planet”. (I’m a dog owner)
There were a few clichés including ‘getting on like a house on fire’, ‘made a rod for our backs’, ‘cheap as chips’, and ‘cuts me to the quick’ (old phrases for a thirty-year-old, although she does seem older than her years in other respects), ‘in the blink of an eye’, ‘stops in his / her tracks’ (at least three of those), ‘hook, line and sinker’ and ‘at the end of the day’, although more forgivable when in dialogue.
My favourite character is Petal, especially as she’s so well narrated by Jane Collingwood. I wasn’t keen on Ollie from the beginning because of his little faith in and lack of enthusiasm for Nell’s project and desires, but I had warmed to him by the end as he makes good.
The audiobook is two minutes shy of eleven hours, and while the first half felt their time, the second half sped by and as I’ve said above, there’s very little to dislike. A very enjoyable read.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a prolific blogger, podcaster, editor / critiquer, 2015 Head Judge for the annual H.E. Bates Short Story Competition, Head Judge for the NLG Flash Fiction Competition and creative writing tutor for her local county council. She is also a freelance author of numerous ‘dark and light’ short stories, novels, articles, and very occasional dabbler of poetry. Like her, her blog, https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com, is consumed by all things literary. She is also active on Twitter, Facebook along with many others (listed on her blog’s Contact page) and has created five online writing groups and an interview-only blog.
Her debut novel is the chick lit eBook The Serial Dater’s Shopping List ($0.99 / £0.77) and she has nine others (mostly crime) in the works. She also has eight collections of short stories available (also $0.99 / £0.77 each) – detailed on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/books-mine/short-stories.
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