Friday 18 May 2012

Two Katie Ffordes

I'm still not reading that much. Being busy is partly to blame but where the rest of the blame lies is hard to say. I think it's possible to read yourself to a standstill and that you then need to give yourself a break and slow down. Do something else. Some people call it a 'reading block' and perhaps that's so. It's not that I'm not reading, I'm just not reading at my normal speed. But's here's the thing, what I am reading I'm thoroughly enjoying and loving and that is - books by Katie Fforde.

I would say this author is my 'guilty pleasure', except for the fact that I dislike the term. Why feel guilty about what you love to read? It smacks of book snobbishness and that's something I abhor. It's a bit of a feature, in fact, of one of the two books I've read by Katie Fforde this month: Love Letters.

Laura works in a bookshop. She has a degree and maybe should be doing something a bit more challenging but she adores her job and wouldn't change it for anything. Except that she will have to as the shop is closing. Good at organising literary events in the shop, Laura lands herself a temporary job organising a brand new literary festival. It's to take place in and around a stately home and the surrounding village; the couple who own the house are running the event. Laura inadvertantly leads people to believe that she knows the famous Irish writer, Dermot Flynn. She sets people straight, she knows his two books well, but not him. But people ignore this and send her off to Ireland to try to persuade the reclusive author, who never leaves Ireland, to come to their festival. When she eventually tracks him down Laura's nerves lead her to drink too much and she ends up in bed with the author, although the situation is much more complicated than that would indicate. One way or another Laura persuades the author to come to the festival but Laura is soon to discover that persuading Dermot to come is actually the easy part...

I wonder how much of her own experiences the author put into this book. By that I'm not referring to the romantic elements but all of the wonderful background settings. She must have had experience of literary festivals, how they're run, the authors who attend. There are two wonderful middle-aged chick-lit writers among the characters and they're just joyous. It struck me she must know what she's talking about when she observes these authors mingling with each other and records the snide remarks. There are comments on book snobbery... how literary authors look down on chick-lit writers because they actually 'sell' books. Anne and Veronica, the chick-lit authors, turn up in a Porshe, which says it all really. Plotwise the book was huge fun. A great deal of misunderstanding between Laura and Dermot made for all kinds of twists and turns and sometimes you just think, 'Why don't they just 'talk' to each other?' But heck... that wouldn't be any fun at all, would it? LOL. What else? Not much else to say other than the final chapters of this book were some of the funniest I've read anywhere. I giggled and giggled at Laura's rather staid parents' reaction to what happened... hilariously written, pure pleasure to read.

So, I enjoyed that one, but before it I'd actually read another, Living Dangerously, the very first book Katie Fforde wrote and if anything, I enjoyed that even more.

Polly Cameron is in her mid-thirties and living alone with her cat. She's trying to become established as a potter but is having to work in a wholefood cafe in order to pay the bills and eat. Her experiences with the opposite sex have led her to believe that the whole romance/sex thing is incredibly over-rated and it's not for her. Not that her mother and friends accept this and it's at a party given by an old school friend, Melissa, that Polly meets David. He's middle-aged, tall and very good looking but this is countered by the fact that he's a bit stuck-up quite frankly and Polly is not at all taken. David has two teenage sons, one of whom, Patrick, Polly helps out when he's clearly drunk and under the influence of drugs. This brings her further into contact with David and Polly can feel an attraction growing. A distraction is needed and Polly finds it with a predatory journalist. It's on an evening out at a pub with a bad reputation, with said journalist, that Polly once again encounters Patrick, once again under the influence. Coming to his rescue she drives the boy home but the car breaks down and they have to walk the rest of the way home. Drenched to the skin, David is there to greet them and clear up the mess: what happens as a consequence is life-changing for Polly.

Oh! this has to be my favourite of Katie Fforde's books. Not an unusual reaction from what I can gather from reading other reviews. I suspect the attraction is the rather Pride and Prejudice bent to the plot. David being the clear Mr. Darcy figure, the journalist, Mr Wickham, and so on. I suppose David's son, Patrick, is the Lydia figure with a role reversal in that it's Polly who comes to his rescue - although that connection is slightly more tenuous. It doesn't matter, not to me anyway, the book is huge fun and I loved it to bits. So much that although I read it on my Kindle I ordered a hard-copy to keep on my bookshelves. The story is very romantic, funny, and best of all the characters feel real. All of Fforde's heroines are normal women with insecurities, imperfections, often a bit scatty, very far from perfect examples of womanhood. I love that they're usually a bit older than your average heroine and I particularly liked that the hero in this was middle-aged. She doesn't exactly say but David had to be 50 or close and that makes such a refreshing change. How Katie Fforde makes reading about normal people so addictive, I have no idea. Clever writing is the only answer I can come up with. Long may she continue to come up with the goods but I'm okay as there are quite a few of hers I've yet to read. I'm off the library this afternoon and hoping to find several that I really fancy - Summer of Love, Wild Designs, Highland Fling and Paradise Fields. But anything at all will do!


DesLily said...

lol a little chic lit never hurt anyone lol..hey that's 2 more books so you aren't doing as badly as you think..and the plus side is that you enjoyed what you read! Can't beat that!

Jo said...

I am loving Katie's books as well at the moment too. Just need more time to read.

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Cath,

I like to mix chiclit in with my normal reading on a regular basis. I enjoy so many different genres that I can't see the problem .. can't stand 'book snobbery'!

I love the sound of 'Love Letters', but that is probably because Laura is a very bookish person and is therefore easy to relate to.

I haven't read any Katie Fforde, however I was in contact with HarperCollins earlier in the week and they are sending a book for review (Women Of A Dangerous Age by Fanny Blake) and apparently she writes very much in the same vein as Katie Fforde, so if I enjoy the review book, I may well move on to try some Fforde.

Enjoy whatever you fancy reading next.


Val said...

Oh you have to try her second book Cath it's got a canal boat setting..and I can't remember what it's called .... The Rose Revived ..I loved the first two or three she wrote and have enjoyed the others I've read sofar :0)

Margaret @ BooksPlease said...

Reading has to go in phases, I think and I've enjoyed each one of Katie Fforde's books that I've read.

Thanks for your comment on my blog - it has been quite an experience, one that I dreaded, but it has turned out much less frightening than I expected. I hope it will help others - it's not as bad as I thought it would be.

Cath said...

Pat: Yeah, I've given up on the counting to be honest. Pointless. These were two fun books and I'm pleased to have read them this month even if I don't finish any others... although I do have two on the go.

Jo: We both seem to be a Katie Fforde reading kick don't we? Weird.

Yvonne: I like reading almost everything. I suppose it would be more simple if I liked only one type of book but honestly this is the story of my life really - interested in everything. I'm just the same with music, TV, films and so on.

Oh you should read some Katie Fforde. Love Letters is a very bookish book and I loved it for that.

I'll look up the Fanny Blake as I'm always happy to find new authors.

Val: Ah yes, I've heard of The Rose Revived. Will grab it when I see it in the library. This time I found Summer of Love which I gather is also very good.

Margaret: I think you're right about reading going in phases. I suppose if you think about it, it's only natural.

I was shocked to the core to read your post, so unexpected. Hugely relieved to hear that everything should be okay and I wish you the best of luck with the rest of your treatment. Take care.

Vintage Reading said...

I do like a bit of superior chick lit! Love Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic series. I'll check out Katie Fforde based on your review - never read her.

Cath said...

Nicola: Sophie Kinsella and Katie Fforde are the only two chick-lit authors I read to be honest. I haven't tried any others, partly because I've heard these two are the best and I'm not really that keen to spend time reading a lot of dross. LOL. I would recommend Living Dangerously to you as a Jane Austen fan - it's huge fun.

Danielle said...

My reading has been a little off this year as well, so I can relate. I keep starting books and then changing my mind--so I also turn to 'comfort reads' (or guilty pleasures--a description I don't really like either), and I am usually very pleased with those. I've not read Katie Fforde in years, but I have read one or two and think I have at least one unread one on my pile. These sound like fun--and sometimes that's just what you need!

Cath said...

Danielle: I seem to either want non-fiction (and I don't know why) or comfort reading like Katie Fforde. She's huge fun and undemanding and, as you said, sometimes that's just what you need.

Jill said...

I think of this kind of book as a guilty pleasure because I feel guilty about neglecting all the chores and things I should be taking care of rather than reading the book! :-) These sound like fun.

Cath said...

LOL! Nice one, Darla!

Nan said...

I read one KF years ago - the one about the gardener who entered the Chelsea show and had a Buddhist teenage son. I liked it a lot, and actually read it twice. But her others I would try and not finish because I didn't like the sort of mean fellows the women liked.
I read this post weeks ago, but wanted to stop in and say I MISS YOU! Hope you are just happily busy.

Cath said...

Nan: I'll check that one out as it sounds good... it may even be one of the ones I have on my library pile at the moment. I know what you mean about the men in her books. Some are fine, but one or two are not, I didn't like the one in Thyme Out for instance.

Yes, I have been rather busy, and not reading a lot. I have done a new post with photos now though.

Christine Harding said...

I only discovered Katie Fforde last year, but I love her. Light and fluffy, but very well written and well-crafted - and we all need easy-to-read, feel-good novels from time to time.

Cath said...

Christine: We do all need easy-to-read novels from time to to time, and this seems to be my time. LOL. Katie Fforde and Daisy Dalrymple are suiting me down to the ground right now.