Contemporary Fiction

 

lovefallout

Published by Seren Books

Source: Publisher review copy

When Tessa’s best friend organizes a surprise TV makeover, Tessa is horrified. It’s the last thing she needs—her business is on the brink of collapse, her marriage is under strain, and her daughter is more interested in beauty pageants than student politics. What’s more, the “Greenham Common angle” the TV producers have devised reopens some personal history Tessa tried to store away. Then Angela gets in touch, Tessa’s least favorite member of the Greenham gang, and she’s drawn back into her muddy past.
Moving between the present and 1982, and set against the mass protests which touched thousands of women’s lives, Love and Fallout is a book about friendship, motherhood, and the accidents that make us who we are.

This story is divided into two parts, narrated by two different versions of our protagonist; Present-day Tessa – the 50-something under-appreciated wife and mother who spends her days working on charitable causes or sitting on her marriage counsellor’s couch; and Tessa of the past – a lovelorn young woman who decides to join the women’s peace camp at Greenham Common in order to find herself and contribute to the righting of the world.

Unfortunately, I just couldn’t find much to like about this one.

The switch between the two time periods was very easy to follow, as each ‘Tessa’ was given alternate chapters in the main. However, neither version of Tessa was particularly likeable. Young Tessa was a bit weak and pathetic, and older Tessa was self-pitying and indignant.

The whole reality makeover slant is overplayed in the synopsis, as this occurs more as a kick start for the main story – in which very little happened.

There are some moments within the story which I believe were intended to be main events (and apologies for the spoilers here) – Tessa discovering her husband’s infidelity, her arrest at Greenham Common, a fiasco at a beauty pageant in which Tessa’s daughter is a contestant, the untimely death of a Greenham Common friend…however, none were given enough drama for me. It seemed almost as if the author had a lot of good ideas, but didn’t quite know how to develop them and give them the attention they required. If something deeper was intended to be taken from this – like a ‘sisterhood rocks’ message or ‘the universal plight of the mother’… well I’m afraid it didn’t hit me.

Many of the characters seemed under-developed and thus lacked any authenticity. I neither loved nor detested anybody, I was merely left feeling indifferent about a lot of people who could have potentially been very interesting. Unfortunately, I feel far too much page space was given to Tessa’s self-indulgent babbling and not enough to either the characters or the plot.

Having said that, if you are the type that likes a nice, easy read where you can escape into someone else’s eventful yet still somehow boring life; then this might be a nice ‘tea-break’ read for you.

My thanks to Seren Books for providing this book for review.


 

someoneelsewedding

Published by Doubleday

Source: NetGalley

Mr & Mrs Max Irving request the company of:
Mrs Fran Friedman, mourning her empty nest, her lost baby, the galloping years, and a disastrous haircut.
Mr Saul Friedman, runner of marathons, avoider of conflicts and increasingly distant husband
The two Misses Friedman, Pip and Katy, one pining over the man she can’t have, the other trying to shake off the man she no longer wants
At the marriage of their son James Irving, forbidden object of inappropriate and troubling desire
For thirty-six hours of secrets and lies, painted-on-smiles and potential ruin. And drinks, plenty of drinks.

There’s nothing like a wedding for stirring up the past. As Fran negotiates her way from Saturday morning to Sunday evening she is forced to confront things she’s long thought buried, sending shockwaves through her family, and to make decisions about the future that will have far-reaching consequences for them all.

Ever been obliged to go to a wedding when you’d really rather not? So has Fran. Let the misery ensue…

This book was a nice easy read from the get go, and I found myself very quickly liking the style of writing – an hour by hour account from our leading lady, Fran, and feeling deeply sorry for her; not only for all the misery she has had to endure in her life, but for how painful she anticipates this whole wedding weekend will be. Things got really interesting though, when I discovered some great scandalous gossip flying around at this wedding, and poor Fran is centre stage.

So something a bit untoward is going on – or has done – between Fran and our groom, Jamie. And what with all the marriage counselling Fran and her husband have been seeking – well its all pretty obvious really isn’t it…

Then, POW! Nice little bombshell thrown in there – call me naïve if everyone else sees it coming a mile off – but yes, I was duped and it was a belter!

Then it all starts getting a bit uncomfortable, and extremely emotional, and I didn’t know if my heart was breaking for poor Fran, or whether I was disgusted with the vile woman.

Now I tend to be quite cryptic with reviews, as I believe you want me to tell you if the book was decent or naff – you don’t want a blow by blow account – or why bother reading it yourself? So all I will say is that another little bombshell comes along later on – and it was very cleverly done. A certain event is hinted at, but is placed neatly amongst such storytelling that you naturally put all the pieces together and assume the obvious…Wrong! You will be led right up the garden path with that one.

So we have some discomfort, some scandal, some bloody outrageously snobby and fake wedding guests, some spoilt daughters, a clueless husband, a super-hot groom who is actually a bit of a git, a nasty little bride, some mysterious text messages, some serious wine drinking, a couple of corking plot twists and then…

Well… then they all went home didn’t they?!

I felt the ending was really quite lacking actually. Admittedly I can’t think where the story could have gone, but I know I was left wanting. Nothing was done to ease the discomfort I felt on behalf of all involved, and although I wasn’t waiting for a ‘happily ever after’, I did feel the need for some sort of closure. The second of the two main bombshells comes right at the end, and it was a clever bit of misdirection so I felt it deserved a bit more attention. But as it was, a really rather dysfunctional family went to a wedding full of other dysfunctional families, a heck load of scandal was revealed, and then they all went home.

Probably a good pool-side read; easy-going and not consuming at all – probably written well enough to be just on the better side of trashy chick-lit.

*My thanks to the author and publishers for providing this book for review.

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