Every July, the lucky owners of Cornish holiday homes set off for their annual break. Loading their estate cars with dogs, cats, cases of wine, difficult adolescents and rebellious toddlers, they close up their desirable semis in smartish London suburbs – having turned off the Aga and turned on the burglar alarm – and look forward to a carefree, restful and somehow more fulfilling summer. Clare is, this year, more than ready for her holiday. Her teenage daughter, Miranda, has been behaving strangely; her husband, Jack is harbouring unsettling thoughts of a change in lifestyle; her small children are being particularly tiresome; and she herself is contemplating a bit of extra-marital adventure, possibly with Eliot, the successful – although undeniably heavy-drinking and overweight – author in the adjoining holiday property. Meanwhile Andrew, the only son of elderly parents, is determined that this will be the summer when he will seduce Jessica, Eliot’s nubile daughter. But Jessica spends her time in girl-talk with Miranda, while Milo, her handsome brother with whom Andrew longs to be friends, seems more interested in going sailing with the young blond son of the club commodore. Unexpected disasters occur, revelations are made and, as the summer ends, real life will never be quite the same again.
This book is a real favourite of mine and even though it’s not new, I felt it deserved a mention, especially now Christmas is past and we start wondering about where our summer holiday will take us this year. I have both the paperback version, well read, and very dog-eared, and as it’s almost fallen apart, I have recently bought it on Kindle.
As you get to know the three main families in this book you can’t help but smile as you know that ‘their’ situations are going on all around you in real life. They are all fairly comfortably off, middle class families and although they live reasonably closely to each other in London, they only meet up when they are on holiday. They are the ‘second homers’ as opposed to regular tourists renting cottages/houses and as such are tolerated by the villagers rather than liked. Although they attempt to be part of village life, they really just stick together and bring all of their ‘up country’ snobberies with them.
I love the humour in this book and have giggled away happily even though I’ve read it several times now. The characters are very ‘real’ and you either love them or hate them! Not many of us have the luxury of spending an entire six weeks away on holiday but these families do and over the course of their summer we see their issues and angst over varying situations all come to a head.
Judy Astley, the author, lives in both London and Cornwall and her knowledge and understanding of both the area and the local cultural differences comes across well and I for one am transported down to Cornwall in my mind very quickly when reading this. It probably helps that I love Cornwall very much and go there often too! This book is delightfully funny and one to add to the holiday pile, wherever you may be planning to journey this year!
Verdict: A wonderful, light-hearted and enjoyable summer read!
Reviewed by Lesley