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Tess used to be happy with her lot: she lives in the idyllic Irish coastal village, Avalon, with her teenage son, Zach and nine-year-old Kitty, and works in the local antiques shop. Her only regret in life is that everything went so horribly wrong with her first love. Then her marriage falls apart and her first love returns to Avalon. Suki, Tess's sister, fled Ireland years ago to marry politician Kyle Richardon, but when Suki discovers that a biographer is planning to tell all, there is only one place she can go to ensure that her secrets stay hidden. Danae is the village post mistress in Avalon and she's worked very hard to make sure nobody knows where she came from or who she is... Her past is her business and that's the way she would like to keep it. In Galway, Mara sits with a smile glued to her face at a wedding; she only wants to ask the groom one thing: why did he tell her he loved her? Needing to put her past behind her, Mara packs up her life and gets ready for a fresh start. Can these four women lay their pasts to rest? Or do they need to look back before they can begin to live for the future?
I've read a few of Cathy Kelly's books in the past, and have to be honest when I say that they have been a bit hit and miss for me. However, I adored the cover for this one, and thought that the plot sounded really interesting and I was curious to find out what the secrets were that these women were hiding. Cathy Kelly has written a lot of books, and has a big fanbase so it's always quite exciting when she comes out with a new title. I'm always honest in my book reviews, so I have to confess that this book left me a little cold, and found me thinking "is that it?" when the secrets were revealed because they simply weren't as big of a deal as I expected, and I did find myself wanting to get through the book faster as it seemed to really drag in parts which was a shame, and here's why.
First of all, the cast were okay but there was no stand out character that I felt could be the leading character of the novel. It seemed at first like postmistress Danae was being set up to be the main character, but that soon proved not to be the case. We barely know anything about Danae, neither do the residents of the town of Avalon, but things are revealed about her more as the book progresses. I liked Danae a lot, she was a good character but managed to sink too much to the background for my liking, and when her story was revealed, I had sort of guessed it was something like that, and although I had sympathy for her, it wasn't as much as I had expected at all. Another main character was Tess Power, mother of two and recently separated, not really by her own choice and so is struggling with it. She also runs an antique shop. I felt sorry for Tess but also wanted to give her a bit of a shake, there was just something about her that wasn't completely likeable.
The other characters in the book were okay, but nothing really to write home about, especially the males. However, my favourite character was the youngest of the group, Mara, a breath of fresh air in an otherwise slow and sometimes dreary novel. Mara creates life, love and laughter in the book and I wish she was in it a bit more. My main problem with the book comes with the books length, and the pace of it. Unfortunately, it progressed so slowly for me, and I did find the initial few chapters hard going as nothing seemed to happen to draw me in and want to read more. Instead of not being able to put it down, I found myself forcing myself to pick the book up to carry on reading, and that's never a good thing. It just moved so slowly, it could have had a good few pages cut out of it to tighten it up a bit and a little more action because the whole thing just seemed like nothing major happened in the entire book, and by the end, I couldn't help but think 'Is that it?', and was thinking surely there had to be more to it than that.
The other big problem for me was the ending. I won't spoil it by telling you what happens, but for me, it came out of the blue, almost as if the author literally ran out of time, and had to stick a concluding chapter in that didn't relevant to the rest of the book at all, and that was perhaps the biggest let down for me. It seemed a shame to build up the entire book on these secrets, reveal them and then end it with something that didn't match up at all. It's a shame Kelly didn't put more into that because for me, an ending makes or breaks a book, and sadly for me, this just didn't work at all. I really would struggle to recommend this book, it's a shame because Cathy Kelly's earlier books are fantastic, but I can't help but feel she has lost her way with her past few novels, and this was a very disappointing read for me. It was a bit bland, very slow, and had a terrible ending, what a shame.
ISBN: 978-0007373611. Published by HarperCollins on March 1st 2012. Pages: 448. RRP: £12.99. Also available as an eBook.
Thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy to review for http://chicklitchloe.blogspot.com
Thank you for reading.