==Synopsis of the book:==
To the outside world Nick and Angel would seem to have the perfect life. They own a successful company, have a wonderful home and four children. But behind this is a different story, a couple who have as their children get older grown further apart and their different interests and the children's welfare has somehow kept them together.
This story follows Nick, Angel and Jem their eldest son as the summer holidays begin. Angel has recently taken a sabbatical from her work, hoping to enjoy the Children and devote more time to their well-being and happiness. While Nick continues looking for business opportunities abroad and the odd affair to spice up his life. Jem meanwhile at sixteen is dreading a boring summer holiday with his strange mother always around ruining his fun. While his elder sister Coral tries to keep a low profile Jem is afraid he will end up babysitter his two youngest siblings Ruby and Foss.
Will this be a summer to remember in a perfect life?
==My thoughts on this novel:==
I found this a very interesting, thought provoking and well written piece of fiction. This is the third novel I have read from Raffaella Barker and I must admit I have enjoyed them all and I think she is a very intelligent and clever writer. Thus far she has written seven stories with this being her seventh and first published in 2006.
It would be true to say that I am not a fan of 'chick lits' and this is about as close as I can get to it and enjoy the book. That is because while this story deals a lot with emotions, feelings and thoughts it does not just come at it from the female perspective. That is because as well as being written from Angel's view point it also it written from her husband's Nick and Son Jem. I think this is excellent as you get to see how what is happening within the family is affecting other members of it and their views and feeling on it. Not only that it gives you more balance to what is happening and because the characters are so diverse it is often amusing to find how different actions are interpreted.
I really was not sure when I purchased this book if it would be for me. As on the front cover of my edition was quite an attractive lady and alone with the title I thought it might be a story that might be written specifically for women. My concern was not eased when I started looking for the summary of the story. This I still have not found, instead there where a few questions posed and beneath each one where a few compliments about the story. I was intrigued by this approach but I would have liked to have a traditional summary as I really did not know what I was getting myself into.
So I started reading the story to see what it was all about. I was surprised because the first chapter was called 'Angel' this introduced the mother of the family and shared a few of her concerns as the summer was about to begin. I found this character very easy to like and understand and I thought the story would continue in us seeing what she saw and feeling what she felt. However I was in for a shock as the next was called 'Nick' and it again introduced him and shared a few of his thoughts and worries.
I liked this approach as it was balanced and found it especially interesting when rather than just focus on these two it introduced 'Jem' and it was great to see an teenager's view point. I liked his ideas and I felt the author was excellent at understanding each character, especially Jem as he found his Mum and Dad frustrating, embarrassing and disappointing. These chapters where all quite short and I liked the way it quickly changed from Angel to Nick to Jem. The only thing I found quite strange was these three characters name where every chapter, although at the same time it meant you always knew exactly which character the next chapter was about and whose perspective you where seeing the developments from.
For me this approach worked really well and I always looked forward to each characters next chapter. What it also did was allow conversations to be shared that involved all the stories characters and I particularly enjoyed the latest developments from the youngest siblings Ruby and Foss. The author had it dead right not to write it from their view points as I think they where too young but these two where very good at sharing their very differing view point in their own special ways.
The story had a really good feel and pace about it. I found I was reading massive chunks quickly and really enjoying the clever ideas and thoughts the story brought up. And because of the quality of all the characters I found I could like, relate and sympathise with them all at varying times during the story. And I was disappointed when the story reached its climax and I wondered what would happen in the future to these engaging people.
Usually I focus on the lead characters when I talk about my favourite in a story and while I really found Angel's hippy ways amazing and entertaining, it was the co stars Foss and Ruby that really made the story for me. Ruby her youngest seven year old daughter is very funny, very chatty and honest. She was always inadvertently saying things that would make me laugh out loud. And whereas she was very talkative and always wanting attention Foss was the opposite. Despite being five he had a real character and would rather spend his time with his slugs or small and creepy creatures. The humour came not from what he said as it did with Ruby but imagining the lad actions that where excellently described by the author.
In many ways this was a story of a couple having a mid life crisis each and how this effected not only them but their children too. A time when they questioned what they had in their lives and what they wanted for themselves and their family for the future. What I found so good about this story is it is set in Norfolk and you can see from the way the author writes about it she is sharing both her knowledge and experience of this beautiful part of the country.
My one other disappointment from an author who is brilliant at describing both feeling and scenes was her description of the cricket match. I think it demonstrated that she knew little about the game and I was disappointed with the very ordinary way she described what was happening. Yes the feelings and thoughts where still good but I felt the description of what was happening and the game itself was poor.
For me the book posed lots of questions about what happiness is and what is a perfect life anyway? And while I did not necessarily get the answers for myself I was able to see all the good and bad in these characters lives thanks to the excellent way the story was written. While the changing dynamics of the family relationships was always thought proving and interesting. It demonstrated how these change over time and people change whether we like it or not.
I would recommend this as an excellent piece of fiction. For me it had almost everything but murder!! It was cleverly written with fabulous characters from the main ones to the minor ones. I found these characters easy like, understand and relate to, while there was always something new and challenging for the family to deal with. For me this is such an intelligent writer and she excels in getting into her fascinating characters heads so that you feel a real affinity with them.
Price 4.38 (New at Amazon)
Publisher: Headline Review
Year first published: 2006
Thanks for reading my review
This review is published under my name on both Ciao and Dooyoo.
© CPTDANIELS March 2012.