Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Catherine Alliott - Wish You Were Here

When Flora, James and their two teenage daughters are offered the holiday of a lifetime in a chateau in the South of France in return for one simple good deed, they jump at the chance to escape the confines of Clapham, the weight of the mortgage and anxieties over their future for a blissful break.
But Flora didn't anticipate a mysterious guest and a whole heap of family baggage coming along too.
And with James developing a schoolboy crush on a famous singer and Flora distracted by ghosts from her past, their dream holiday suddenly takes some very unexpected turns . . .

Comment: My birthday was last month. I have two friends with whom I exchange books as gifts for our birthdays and Christmas. I confess the search for something they might like is more appealing than the receiving but of course that is a happy part of this scheme too.
This book by Catherine Alliott is the first I'm trying and it was one of my gifted books. I thought it would be a suitable book to end the month.

In this book we meet Flora and James when they are in a plane traveling back home. During the flight, James helps a young girl and her mother, apparently a famous celebrity, tries to be thankful by asking their contact so she can show her appreciation somehow. Later, it's known the famous celebrity has lent them one of her proprieties in Provence and the whole family is included which Flora assumes will be her and her husband, their daughters and two or three others. However, soon Flora realizes family an be quite a task and she finds herself traveling with way too many people. But the surprises come when her former fiance also shows up, as do her sisters-in-law... among so many people and weird scenes, can Flora and James have some resting after all?

This ended up being a better book than I imagined if I were to judge it only by its first pages. I confess I wasn't very fond of Flora, the main character, when the book begun. Her attitude towards her daughters, her lack of control felt so annoying and although believable because in real life that surely happens a lot, in fiction I was mad to slap someone. 
The storyline didn't begin very well either but since I like to try to finish all books and this was a gift I kept going and interestingly, things did improve.

I think my biggest issue, besides Flora's personality in the beginning, was the plot itself, it just didn't seem interesting. All characters seemed very superficial and I wasn't even mildly interested in what would happen until a new character is introduced, Flora's ex fiancé. Of course the purpose is obvious but I immediately thought it would be unnecessary and irritating to have a sort of triangle happening. The thing is, James, Flora's husband, didn't seem that worried and everything was starting to seem so silly and pointless.

At this point, I feel things were going a certain way but thankfully, they didn't. Some secrets were starting to be revealed and all the character's interactions became more serious somehow. I still didn't like Flora much, especially when she acts completely hypocritically in one situation, but overall I started to think the hidden messages, the so called reading between the lines was becoming more structured so that made the story feel more consistent.

The characters didn't really win me over. For chick-lit these weren't too far from the usual but something in them was very unappealing for me. But I feel glad things progressed and like I said, Flora never made it for me in terms of character growth, but the others offered interesting tidbits. One of the daughters also annoyed me to no end, I just feel they were people I wouldn't want to be friends with, even if they weren't mean or bad but...

Overall, this was a solid chick lit story, I'm sure it can be seen and appreciated by many but although I applaud the positive evolution, I still have my reservations about how impressive it is. I just think it wasn't good all the time even if one can understand the attitudes and so on. As a romance it was so so to me. The end is hopeful and it did offer some elements I liked but I wasn't that interested, all things considered.
Grade: 7/10

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