Monday, January 18, 2010

Chloë – Freya North

This is the third Freya North I’ve read, after the brilliant Pillow Talk and the very disappointing Sally. I’d put this one somewhere between the two, but I certainly enjoyed it. I liked the main character, liked all of the characters one way or another as I don’t like one-dimensional villains. Well, ok, her boyfriend at the start of the book is a bit of a cartoon villain but he’s still sadly very believable.

What I particularly liked about this book was firstly that I really liked and believed in the central relationship – which although obvious all the way through, builds up very nicely. The two characters keep almost meeting throughout the book, in ways that are cute enough that I didn’t fret about how believable they were. I also liked the central premise, once it got going – the main character visits Wales, Ireland (Northern), and Scotland, finding a different kind of relationship in each, and finally meets up with her ideal man in Cornwall, who turns out to be the best of all three. Sweet.

Ok, inevitably there were a couple of things that I didn't like so much. The first country visited is Wales, which I absolutely adore, but I didn’t really meet Wales in the book. She stays only just over the border somewhere near Abergavenny, living in a typically English Aga-class farmhouse (with a wonderfully eccentric host), and the man she meets there is not Welsh but a Kiwi. Shame, as I absolutely adore Wales and would have much preferred a real Welsh visit with a Welsh beau. But perhaps Freya North is betraying a hint of Gallophobia? She wouldn’t be the first person I’ve come across with that odd trait.

Also, while I accepted a bit of surreality in the book – the main character’s confidants are a couple in a postcard of a Gainsborough portrait – it rankled a little when the author started breaking down "the fourth wall". "Well, they have to meet, don’t they. It was practically decreed in chapter one" – so starts chapter 39. Funny, but a bit silly, and for me losing a little of the immersion. I half wondered at that point if the author had written the book in 30 days and was starting to get bored with the idea. Yeah, I’d know about that :)

But none of this spoilt the book for me. Definitely an enjoyable read.