Note, the format of my Short and Sweet reviews differs in that they simply comprise the book blurb and a short response (hence, the short and sweet).
The blurb of Wish You Were Here by Catherine Alliott tells me a few things – expect chick-lit, laughs and a light read. That’s what I wanted and that’s what I got. Here’s the blurb:
“Oh I do wish you were here . . .
Here am I, Flora Murray-Brown, on what should be the holiday of a lifetime, in a terrifically swanky chateau lent to us by a world famous singer – long story – and everyone I really don’t wish was here has rocked up.
Both daughters’ boyfriends – don’t get me started on the sleeping arrangements – my mother with some vastly unsuitable younger man, Lizzie, my best friend, threatening someone even younger, and now my two unspeakable sisters-in-law have muscled their way in too. Deeply disapproving Rachel and scarily competitive Sally are even now speeding through the vineyards of Provence to my house!
And if that wasn’t enough there’s a dodgy French gardener making eyes at me over the lavender whilst his gimlet-eyed housekeeper wife sharpens knives in the kitchen. Oh – and did I mention my husband, James, has got the hots for the famous singer? All I need now is for an ex-boyfriend to appear and my nightmare will be complete …”
An unexpected holiday in Provence courtesy of her husband’s “life-saving” gesture on a plane (he stabbed a young girl with an Epi-Pen when she reacted badly to nuts) has Flora and her family rather excited. Flora can’t wait to get back to France, where she spent her early childhood, and her daughters can’t wait to bring their boyfriends and friends along. A halt is put on the friends coming along, but somehow the group size grows out of control. When her ex-boyfriend (the one she was engaged to before he cheated and married her former roommate) appears on the arms of her sister-in-law, Flora is gobsmacked. That’s the scene for a near-disastrous holiday that includes daughters with inflated senses of entitlement, an opera singer who likes to warm up her voice at first light, falling asleep beside the pool (in the sun and without attending to the bikini line), and a bit of skinny dipping. It made me giggle and kept me entertained from start to finish.
Aside from all the laughs, there’s some nice character development as Flora and James re-evaluate their marriage, their lifestyle and share some long-buried secrets, and Flora comes to a deeper understanding and appreciation of her mother (as her own daughters will do in time). I did appreciate the fact that Flora and James were in their mid-forties and dealing with completely different life circumstances (closer to my own apart from the fact that I don’t have any friends with villas in Provence they’d be happy to let me use), than a single young woman in her twenties or thirties more often found in chick-lit.
Available from good bookstores (RRP $32.99). My copy was courtesy of Penguin Books Australia.