What I'm reading, what I'm thinking of reading & what I've read. And stuff.
Long, rambling, not very positive review thing follows. Minor bitchiness. And some spoilers. *ticks the spoilers box*
This book has been on and off my TBR list several times, so when I had the opportunity to read it while staying with my parents last week, I grabbed the chance. While I found it sufficiently interesting to hold my curiosity long enough to finish it, I can’t in all honesty say I liked it. I felt almost all the characters where unsympathetic and lacking in any kind of depth. I knew, almost from the moment I met each character, which would get a happy ever after and which would get his or her comeuppance. Those who were deemed worthy of happy endings were allowed to get away with all sorts of bad behaviour – marital infidelity, dishonesty, and humiliation of innocent bystanders for instance – without having to suffer any apparent consequence. Scorned wife embarrassing cheating husband at work do was amusing until she started telling people his nick-names for them. Would this character really be so insensitive to how hurtful this would be to those people? She came across as selfish, mean and horrid as a result, and therefore I wasn't cheering when she finally won her happy ending.
Some of the other character related stuff I found bizarre. Example: the beautiful and successful business woman who had resigned herself to having no female friends because they all eventually became jealous of how all men would look only at her, and ignore them. Does the author really condemn the entirety of her gender as that superficial? Then there were the older ladies, who we are told were born during the Second World War. Their behaviour and attitudes seem to me more appropriate to people born decades earlier than that, but it is critical to their story that they are born in 1940 or 41, making them only 58 or 59 at the time of the story. They are written like a pair of octogenarians and one is referred to as a pensioner. I wondered briefly if the author had ever met any old people...
Aspects of the writing annoyed me too. On one occasion, the reader was made aware of facts the characters didn’t know by the simple expedient of being told, and then, mysteriously, the characters were able to deduce these same facts in an amazing intuitive leap. That aside, I thought the quality of the writing was pretty average.
And as for the Happy endings? Well, two characters only got their separate happy endings after they’d abandoned their dreams – one to be a writer, the other a painter. There's a message to take on board, kids! I thought the description of the made-over tea house was awful, but that may just be my 2011 sensibilities jarring against 1999 chic. And I really truly don’t want to think too hard about the chronic comfort-eater who suddenly started losing weight once she got a job in the café.
Finally, I can't resist saying that this book was simply not my cup of tea.