Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: Sphere (24 May 2012)
What if you had always dreamed of something more . . . ? Nell McNamara has a happy life: her boyfriend Olly adores her, their four-year-old daughter Petal is the centre of their world and Nell has a steady job in the local chip shop. When the chippy needs a makeover, Nell jumps at the chance to unleash the creativity fizzing inside her. Inspired by what she can achieve – and encouraged by the best friends a girl can have – Nell is determined to try something new. Waving goodbye to the chip shop, she starts up a new business making her own line of must-have handbags, which are soon flying off the shelves! It seems Nell’s dreams are finally coming true, but her success doesn’t come without a price. Before too long, Nell has to ask herself if it’s really possible to have it all . . . Full of fun, love and laughter, soak up the sunshine with Summer Daydreams.
Summer Daydreams is Carole Matthews’ 20th novel.
The first chapter of Summer Daydreams introduces the reader to the shortage of customers at Live and Let Fry and how owner Phil and his employees are more like family than work colleagues. This leads seamlessly on to Nell’s favourite shop (Betty the Bag Lady) and we get a glimpse of her family (partner Olly and four year old daughter Petal). That’s one of the things I loved about Summer Daydreams … the way the author seamlessly moves us through Nell’s story from the foundations to the finale.
Written mostly in the first person with Nell narrating we also get chapters interspersed in the third person letting the reader get to know Olly’s character and how he is feeling. I think this is quite important as it not only allows us to identify with Olly but we also get to know things that Nell will never know.
The characters are real and could be people we all know! That’s another thing I loved about Summer Daydreams. Nell with her gutsy spirit who picks herself up after setbacks with her determination to succeed, who is naïve when it comes to the fashion industry; Olly with his vulnerability and Petal with her knowledge that the whole world really does revolve around her (as do all four year olds). The characters on the periphery are also well-developed.
Another thing that is real is the love that Nell and Olly have for each other. It’s down to earth and practical with compromise and sacrifice – not always comfortable and inspiring – but has a solid foundation and at times passion, which is a reflection of real intimate relationships (in my opinion).
There are some poignant scenes that will tug at your heart-strings, scenes that will make you put your head in your hands and shout “NO”, scenes that will make you chuckle (Petal showing her bottom to the ducks springs to mind!) You’ll find tension and conflict; betrayal and misunderstanding; vulnerability, strength, community and plenty of humour too.
The finale is … quite simply amazing 🙂
I found Summer Daydreams very emotive. I didn’t want the story to end … didn’t want to leave these characters behind. Definitely a four-fairy read!
There are ‘extras’ after the story has ended. ‘What happens next?’ tells the reader there’s a free exclusive short story available and what to do receive it. This is followed by a conversation between Carole Matthews and Helen Rochfort (Helen is the inspiration behind the story). A Beginners Guide to Designing a Handbag from Helen follows and finally, the first three chapters of Carole’s October 2012 release ‘With Love at Christmas’.
You can find out more about Carole Matthews on her website (I recommend you sign up to her newsletter). You can follow her on Twitter from there and also connect on Facebook.
To find out more about Helen Rochfort and her gorgeous hand decorated handbags, visit her website. You’ll also find links to ‘like’ on Facebook and a follow button for Twitter.
I’ll be hosting Carole Matthews here on May 25th as part of her book tour for the release of Summer Daydreams. Don’t miss out, come and see what Carole has to say in her interview.
I would like to thank the publishers for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.