* Prices may differ from that shown
Hattie is a happy single mother to son Seffy, has a flourishing French antiques business with best friend Maggie and has a relatively young boyfriend, Ivan, to boot. But when her sister, Laura, asks Hattie and Maggie to help work on her and her husband Hugh's house, it brings back painful memories for Hattie as that's where her first love Dominic lived. Matters are made worse when Hattie bumps into his widow Letty and handsome brother Hal. Is Hattie finally able to spill the beans about what happened with Dominic all those years ago and, if so, is she able to keep her life as she knows it in tact?
I absolutely love Catherine Alliott's books and have read the majority of those she's had published so far. She has a quirky kind of writing style and although some of her plots are a little bit odd (see Rosie Meadows Regrets to know what I mean), her books are ultimately enjoyable. Therefore I was thrilled to see Catherine was back after a two-year absence with a new book (The Secret Life of Evie Hamilton) and I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. The fact it's still sitting on my shelf is irrelevant! I was then sent One Day In May to read and have only just gotten around to it as I knew it would take me a few days to read as it's quite a large book!
The book, as I mentioned, is rather large and the trade paperback (the only version of the book available - the paperback is out in 2011) comes in at just over 450 pages. It makes a change to read something a bit meatier and I couldn't wait to get sucked in. The book easily sucked me in, as I expected, and I managed to finish the book a mere 48 hours after starting it. For such a long book, I was incredibly worried that it might lag in places but it never really does. Catherine has always written relatively long books so I always know what to expect and I found One Day In May a very absorbing and fantastic tale.
While the main plot at the beginning of the review may well be about Hattie bumping into the widow of her first love, Dominic, there is actually so much more going on in the book. There's the fact Hattie and her partner Maggie are co-re-decorating Laura and Hugh's, Hattie's sister and brother-in-law, house along with a completely different designer Ralph De Grandville which causes much consternation between all parties concerned. Hattie's relationship with Ivan, her younger boyfriend, is also a bit of a talking point throughout the book. But my favourite sub-plot to the book was learning all about the younger Hattie and how she came to fall in love with Dominic, a married politician. I found that part of the book entirely absorbing although I was constantly telling Hattie not to go there or do that! Another fantastic part of the entire story was Hattie's visit to Bosnia where she joins her brother Kit who was working with the International Red Cross during the war there. Catherine must have really had to do her research about that and it sounded like such terrible things happened there. The terror and sense of not knowing what may happen to you was palpable and it was really gripping.
As far as characters go, One Day In May had plenty of fantastic characters. I must of course mention Hattie first as she's not only our main character but the book is also told entirely from her point of view. Hattie was immensely likeable and although some of her decisions may have been questionable, I could completely understand everything she did. I absolutely loved Seffy, Hattie's son. He was a typical teenager but he definitely had some hidden depths which are revealed as the book progresses. I also really loved Maggie, Hattie's best friend and business partner. She was very forthright and vocal and was completely unafraid to voice her opinion, no matter who it offended. The sparring between herself and Ralph De Grandville (the other interior designer) was legendary. The rest of Hattie's family were great, too, and they sound like a family anyone would be proud to call family. I couldn't mention the characters without mentioning Letty, Dominic's widow, and Hal, Dominic's brother. We didn't really see much of Letty, though, but I really liked Hal. I also must mention Ivan, Hattie's young boyfriend. We don't actually see much of him but he is quite an important character. To be honest, we see so little of him that I still don't really know what I thought of him!
Catherine's writing is as fantastic as ever. She seems to have a similar writing style to Katie Fforde, whom I adore. I hate to tag the style as old-fashioned as it's not really old-fashioned but it's different to the younger chick lit generation. More mature, perhaps. It's a hugely enjoyable writing style though and I hugely enjoy reading it. As it usual with a Catherine Alliott book there are plenty of twists and turns. I actually thought I had the ending all sussed out but no, Catherine came up with another twist! We also find out just why the book is titled One Day In May - I got about halfway through the book and I was wondering where the title had come from! I suppose the only downside for me was the ending. Don't get me wrong, it was a good ending but I just wasn't expecting it and it kind of felt a bit rushed.
Overall One Day In May is another fantastic read from Catherine Alliott. I, for one, am thrilled she's back and I really missed her books in her two year absence. Here's to many more fab Catherine Alliott books. One Day In May is a fine read and I look forward to getting stuck into The Secret Life of Evie Hamilton! Hugely recommended!