I am a huge Christina Jones fan, so when I heard she was releasing the final book in her current series I was devastated as these books are a world of their own I have never read a book by another author which has them same feel to them as these books. This last book, Never can say Goodbye was released earlier in the year and I couldn't get it in any of our local stores so I ordered it online from Waterstones and I have been beside myself waiting for it as it has only just arrived so my advice to you is make sure you order from Amazon so you don't have to be tortured by the waiting time.
This book focuses on the character Frankie who has been heartbroken and spends her days working in a retro clothes shop until Rita who owns the shop up sticks and moves abroad leaving the shop to Frankie. It was great to read along with the changes Frankie makes to the shop to put her own stamp on it, she really developed as a character during this part of the book, and the community support shines through in this part of the book as some of the characters we have met in previous books step in to help Frankie get the shop prepared for its open day.
Frankie is not the only character who has had a business dropped in their lap, heartthrob Dexter finds himself in the same situation and the two characters become close. All is going well until crazy Maisie arrives and announces that the shop is haunted although at the time Frankie passes it as nonsense however she soon changes her mind.
I love the quirky mix of characters in this book, some of whom I remember from previous books which gives the book a cosy and familiar feel to it, and I think this is why Christina Jones books are such an easy read that make you fall into the storyline because you are already familiar with the idyllic village and quirky characters.
There is a fresh new storyline and I must admit if I hadn't already fallen in love with Christina Jones style of writing I may have been a little hesitant to read this one as I am not a fan of ghostly stories, but the magical element that Christina creates , makes this book a pleasant read.
I loved the relationship between Dexter and Frankie and it was clear from the start that they both had a lot of baggage which was keeping them apart and I have to say there was no way I would have predicted Dexter's situation.
This is a fabulous read, if you want to get away from the day to day life then I would recommend you pop your nose in a Christina Jones book and find yourself transported to a dream world full of humour and gives you a warm fuzzy feeling inside.
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Piatkus (2 Feb 2012)
When Frankie is unexpectedly handed the reins to the shop where she currently works, she's surprised to say the least. Current boss Rita is heading off for a new life (and love) in the sun, and leaving her home and business behind. It's a swift learning curve to go from shop assistant to business owner, but with her friends, and most of the village, behind her, Frankie's going to give it a shot.
Though previously a hire-and-return set-up, once rebranded Francesca's Fabulous Frocks becomes a vintage dress shop spanning various decades and the stock does sound stunning, though the speed with which the dresses are sourced prior to the grand opening seems a bit too swift, the whole process a bit too easy. Ditto the core concept of Rita upping sticks and simply leaving the business behind - it's a nice idea but the way the story tells it seems overly simplistic and, as such, irritatingly unrealistic. I'm not suggesting that a work of fiction should be based on fact, but I do like to be able to lose myself in a story and get swept away with what's happening, and I thought this one was a bit too out there for that to happen.
Kingston Dapple, the quiet Berkshire village in which the story is set, provides a good backdrop that allows you to believe in the village gossip and eccentric characters pertinent to the story, but it does beg the question of why the young uns haven't upped and left previously because there's not a whole lot going on for that generation. The arrival of dapper Dexter Valentine is explained by the fact he has a past he needs to escape, and there's a handy business for him to take over too, the local flower stall, but the others such as Lilly and Frankie herself don't really have this excuse and for all the claims of escaping heartbreak and humiliation elsewhere, I'm still not buying a small village as the place to do this when the anonymity of a big city seems so much more likely.
It wouldn't be chick lit without a splash of romance, and there's plenty here, but something seemed a bit off to me, and I wasn't as engaged with the characters as I might have been, barely caring whether or not they ended up together. There are plenty of quirky characters...perhaps too many, and I was left longing for some normality. The added twist of ghostly happenings exacerbated this - it felt like a step too far, as if the author was trying to introduce as many twists and turns as possible while a simple story about the shop would actually have been quite nice.
One thing you couldn't criticize about the book is the speed with which the story develops, as it certainly gets going early on and you're not left wondering when the mysteries will finally kick in. That said, I didn't find the writing was a slick as some, and it didn't immediately grab and engage me in the way the likes of or consistently do.
I don't mean to imply that it's a waste of a book because I did quite enjoy it, but was left disappointed because I felt it didn't achieve its full potential. It's perfectly passable as one of many books you're planning to read, but it's not the sort I would recommend as your only reading material on a long flight or train journey.
This review first appeared on www.thebookbag.co.uk