Candid chic-lit with just a whiff of happy-ever-after romance...
No beating about the bush for Williams – you get the story told to you straight, no flannel or glossing over: this is a warts and all tale of a woman’s journey to finding lasting love, seasoned with a sprinkling of the sorts of familial issues one has come to expect from damsels suffering inner turmoil.
For Nell, a fiercely independent single mother slash career woman, the idea of spending her summer caring for her acerbic mother in the land that time (and fashion) forgot: Cornwall; is about as alluring as the Bridget-Joneseque knickers she’s been sporting since motherhood beckoned. It isn’t just that Cornwall holds bittersweet childhood memories, or even her mother’s growing frailty since a series of strokes; Nell knows she will have to face her baby sister, Heather. And since Nell’s ex, Jeremy got jiggy with her younger sibling and in fact, is planning on jiggling all the way up the aisle – Heather hasn’t exactly been Nell’s favourite person. But when Nell is suddenly faced with redundancy; the once resounding rebuff of any suggestion that she up sticks with her daughter, Cass, to keep an eye on her distant mother evaporates into the summer sunshine. This summer, Nell is in for some serious turbulence in her already messed up life. Think: shocking family secret, dodgy ex, ruggedly unfashionable looking café owner and nephews with a proclivity for running around naked… my life feels more ordinary already!
Indisputably, It Happened One Summer is of the chic-lit genre; one could also pigeon-hole into the Romance category, and yet it somehow manages to be more than that. Of course, there are the systemic tear-jerker moments, the requisite emotional reunion of fractured family relationships; but Williams is a crafty author and doesn’t indulge in being overly sentimental. She also pops in a few surprises in along the way, just to keep you on your toes. True enough the epitaph: all’s well that ends well, is the heart and soul of It Happened One Summer; but that’s no bad thing. There is a refreshing frankness to Williams’ writing that enables you to connect with her characters; a forte of succinctly stating in words how a woman feels, how she thinks and perceives herself. And in this sense, It Happened One Summer scores a big plus for being self-validating for all women who have succumbed to the media representation of what women should look, live and love like. The truth is: life, love and how we look is usually a mess. Deal with it, cos it will all work out in the end.
A perfect poolside read; it almost makes you consider jettisoning your holiday in the Med in favour of our soggy Cornish coast… almost, but apparently the sea is interminably cold and we like it hot (or at least tepid).
We interview C J Daugherty about Night School
- 10 January 2012