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When Delilah Rafferty's 50th birthday begins to loom, she decides that she is going to throw herself a huge birthday bash and invite lots of people to make it even more fun. However, Delilah doesn't bank on the strife her family manages to get themselves into just before her birthday, and when it threatens to ruin her birthday altogether, Delilah realises she has had enough. Her husband Raf, an actor, has got his first acting job in 10 years but Delilah is sure it's going to drive a wedge between them once more. Her daughter Coco is struggling with a secret problem with her job on a soap, youngest daughter Tyger is hiding a secret that is going to shock the Rafferty family to it's core when it comes out and middle daughter Violet is a budding musician but is keeping a rather surprising romance secret from her family. How are the Rafferty's going to heal their rifts, and will they do it before Delilah's special birthday party?
I am a huge fan of Veronica Henry's books, and her last book, The Beach Hut, which was a short story collection was one of my favourite reads by Henry of them all! Therefore, when I was sent this book to review, I was really excited to read it and hoped that it would live up to The Beach Hut which was just brilliant. The cover is really striking, I love the purple and pink images and it would certainly be a book I'd grab in a shop, so I think the cover designers have done a great job with this particular book. It is quite a thick book, but the story moves along at a good pace and there's always something to keep your attention, so you don't notice the pages flying by.
The book focuses on the Rafferty family, and they are a great bunch of characters who really entertain us for the duration of the book. Delilah is probably what I would define as the main character, because most of the action features around her, and of course the birthday party from the title of the book is in Delilah's honour. She is a lovely character, a woman who is happy with her lot - she has a great career as a TV chef who has several cookbooks to her name, 3 lovely daughters and a doting husband too. But when her marriage is threatened by Raf's career revival, Delilah suddenly feels unsure in her own shoes, and I think Henry writes her fear and nervousness really well, you can feel everything along with Delilah and I felt so sorry for her.
On the other hand, I couldn't really warm to any of Delilah's daughters at all because they are such selfish brats you just cannot like! Coco, the actress from the soap, is so self-pitying it verges on pathetic, and I found myself getting annoyed at her quite a bit as I read her scenes. Her solution to her nerves is a bit shocking but to be honest, the whole book is quite outrageous so it doesn't feel too out of place! Violet is a singer determined to make it on her own and not use her family name to get any connections which is admirable, but I found her to be a bit of a user and not particularly likeable. The only one I even slightly liked was Tyger, a young girl determined to succeed with her lingerie business, and hiding her secret from her family too. They are 3 very different characters, all dislikeable in their own ways but they certainly make for some interesting reading.
What surprised me the most about this book was the rudeness! When I've picked up a Veronica Henry book in the past, I don't expect to read graphic and quite rude sex scenes. Don't get me wrong, they can be in the book but be quite tastefully done and not too in your face, but I found this book was far more graphic than I remembered in the past. Actually, it felt in parts like I was reading a totally different author because it felt like a whole different direction for Henry. Quite a few authors lately have seemed to be writing for a new audience and I wonder if Henry is one of those. That isn't to say I didn't like the book because I really did, but I'm not quite as comfortable sending this book to my mum after reading some of the things in it than I have been sending her these books in the past!
This is a great and absorbing read with a storyline that will certainly keep you hooked to the final page. Henry's writing style is so easy to read, you find yourself getting brought into the story straight away, and I didn't have any problems starting the book at all. The book is told in the third person tense, and this works well due to the amount of characters within. Despite the amount of characters, I didn't struggle with working out who was who at all, and followed the individual stories with ease, something that shows off how good Henry's writing is. There are some important issues covered in the book, and they work well with the more shocking aspects of the book. Overall, it's a great read and one I would recommend to fans of Henry's work, although do be aware of the sex scenes in the book! Recommended!
ISBN: 978-0752889856. Published by Orion in October 2010. Pages: 400. RRP: £12.99.
Thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy to review for http://chicklitreviews.com
Thank you for reading.