This is a review of the 2007 book "Going Dutch" by Katie Fforde. This is her thirteenth novel so is possibly an author you may have already come across. I have read one other book in 2003 by Fforde which I didn't particularly enjoy but I was given this book by a friend to read so when I read the back cover I was intrigued.
A bit about
The book is mainly set on the English and Amsterdam waterways, namely canals. Jo Edwards has been exchanged for a younger model by her husband so she chooses to rent a barge for a while so she has a place to live and although she has no experience, she is happy in her moorings near central London. Her daughter's friend Dora comes to live with her after she breaks off her engagement and this injects a bit of life into the story. Dora and Jo are a great team, they think they don't need men in their lives and go about the day to day running of the barge. Then the owner drops a mini bombshell on them: the boat needs to go into dry dock for repairs and an insurance certificate renewal and he wants them to go on the journey with the experienced boatman Marcus.
Dora is a bit stuffy to start with. She is also a bit boring and she knows it. She's never been to the bar on her own in a pub, never been to a festival, never eaten a meal out on her own and is a bit of a nervous type. Tom works on the boats locally and befriends her and begins to challenge her narrow life. They have a bit of banter and seem to like each other but is it too soon for Dora after finishing with her fiancé and are her and Tom more like brother and sister? Jo is comfortable being single and has really let herself go since moving on to the barge. When the others join her she is conscious of her messy hair and clothes but is busy cooking for everyone and making cups of tea to worry about her make up. Marcus is sexy and powerful and seems very self assured. His girlfriend Carole who comes along for the ride is annoying and expects people to run around after her whilst she perfects her tan on deck. Other than that there are a few other side characters but none which really affect the main story.
I kept getting a bit confused at first between Dora and Jo. To me, Dora was the older person's name and Jo the younger one (no offence to any Dora's and Jo's out there!) but I had to keep thinking about it which interrupts the flow of reading. I also wondered about a group of Tom's friends who were introduced early on then never mentioned again, what they added to the story, I don't know. To say this book went on for more than 400 pages made it drag a bit and a lot of the content was just marking time for me. I liked the life on the water story and enjoyed the detail as it wasn't too technical. The story got better towards the end as there was a bit of tension in Jo's relationship with her husband but it was all a bit predictable in the end and no twists and turns in there really.
This is a book which would probably make ideal holiday reading as it requires little attention and can be picked up and put down as it's not a desperate page turner to find out what happens. I really wanted to finish it to be honest but not for the right reasons! I wouldn't really recommend this book as it just didn't have enough action in it for my liking.
I have recently reviewed another novel by the author and although I did enjoy the plot line, I wasn't overly keen on the writing at times. In a bid to pass the time whilst waiting for baby to arrive, I had picked up a selection of novels from the local library, two of which were by Katie Fforde. The second that I am now reviewing is called 'Going Dutch' although the cover of my book is slightly different from that at the top of the screen.
Going Dutch is a story based around two central female characters - Jo, a older, almost divorcee, now living on a barge after her husband has left her for a younger model, and Dora, who comes to stay with Jo, in a bid to escape a mess that she has left behind when she cancels her wedding at the last minute, realising that she really doesn't love the man she has been with for years. Dora has been best friends for years with Jo's daughter Karen, which is why the two women end up living together on the barge. Dora cannot stand living with her rather critical Mum after leaving her fiance, and feels that she needs to get away from everything, and since Jo has had her fair share of problems, she is only too glad to have a houseguest upon the barge that she is living on. Her ex husband has remained in their marital home with his young, now pregnant partner.
Obviously this is a chick lit novel, so there will always be the eligible men around. Not long after arriving at the barge, her new home, Dora ends up sitting beside Tom, who works at the boatyard, and is quite different from her previous boyfriend/fiance. It is quite a while into the novel before we meet Jo's love interest, a man called Marcus, whom she has known from a long time ago, but re emerges when it turns out the barge that the two women are living on, needs to be taken to Holland, and the only qualified person to do so is Marcus. Marcus however has a bit of a reputation with the ladies, and when he invites his younger, and rather lazy girlfriend on the trip to Holland, it doesn't look that Jo will get it together with Marcus at all. On the other hand, Dora is trying not to fall for the rather wild, carefree Tom, who not only gets her a new job at the boat house, but tries to get her to find her wild side with some dares!
Like most women, I like the chick lit romance side of the novel, but to be perfectly honest, I thought that was completely overshadowed with so much information and talk about boats and barges, to the point that I lost interest about half way through the book. At the beginning, I read and read, hardly putting it down, but by the middle, it was a struggle to finish the book, although I am glad I did. In the previous book of Katie Fforde's that I read, I commented that I didn't always find the conversations that she had between characters really that honest and true. Most of the men always seemed too good to be true, always full of compliments, and always trying their hardest for their female love interest, which may reflect some men, but in reality, not always! Some of the episodes in the book in regards to Jo and her ex husband were a little all over the place in my opinion and again, I don't think were terribly reflective of real life. Yes, I know it is fictional, but I have read other novels recently, in which the conversations reflect everyday conversations, the characters have their obvious flaws, and there is generally a more believable aspect to the book.
All in all, I was very disappointed with this novel. It has kind of put me off Katie Fforde as a writer, especially after reading some other novels I picked up in the library by the likes of Sinead Moriarty and Freya North, who write much more plausible storylines and interactions between characters. There was far far too much information about boating which made me completely lose interest. I read to the end, but I wouldnt' say I was enthralled.
I saw another of Katie Fforde books in the library the other day called Going Dutch and although I wasn't captured by the title or the plain front cover of the book I put these thoughts aside as I remembered how great her previous read had been and picked this one up.
The main character in this book is Dora. Dora has just split from her fiancé just before her wedding day. She feels she needs to get away from everything and everyone, when her best friend suggests she goes and stays with her mother Jo who has recently split for her dad and is now living alone on a barge.
This break for Dora helps both her and Jo to get their lives back on track and through the story we see the girls over come fear and find that their true personalities come to light.
We learn more about the additional characters when the barge has to be taken abroad to be repaired and a blast from Jo's past is on this trip which may be just what she needs to get over the hurt and humiliation which her husband caused her by going off with a girl their daughters age!
This book has such a mixture of content with romance and light hearted comedy being two of the main parts. The characters of both Jo and Dora are well informed and give us as the reader the feeling that we know these characters as they really play on your heart strings and you hope they can help each other to find happiness and possibly love again as well as a meaning to their lives.
What I loved about this book was that it was not predictable in anyway so you couldn't put the book down as you always needed to know what was going to happen next. The style of her writing is so easy to read and fall into but it is also very informative.
I can not wait to read another of Katie Fforde's books I find it hard to compare her work to any other authors which I have read which is refreshing to be able to read something on edge of other books.