Viola hasn’t had much luck with men. Her first husband, Marco, companion of her youth and father of her only child, left her when he realised he was gay. Her second, Rhys, ended his high-octane, fame-filled life by driving his Porsche into a wall. No wonder her family always believes she needs Looking After, and her friends think she really shouldn’t be allowed out on her own…
Which is why, at the age of thirty-nine, she finds herself shamefully back at home, living with Mum.
Viola knows she has to take charge; she needs to get a life, and fast. With a stroppy teenage daughter, a demanding mother, and siblings who want to control her life for her, where is she going to turn?
We were sent this to review and I was more than happy to take it on. Even though Judy Astley is a well established author I hadn’t actually read any of her novels before, so it was great to get to read someone new to me and even better to know that if I liked it there are at least another 15 of her books out there to track down and devour. I love it when you discover lots of new books to read!
This story is centred around Viola who, to say the least, has been unlucky in her love life! Having married Marco after having become pregnant when they were both very young, he has come out and moved on, now living happily with James. Rhys, her next husband, was a soap star and womaniser whom she probably should never have married. He finally left her for his true love, but was then killed in a car crash on that very night. Viola has a lot of pieces to pick up and we meet her about 18 months later when she is really beginning to get herself back together.
I liked Viola, she has a good sense of humour, is a loving daughter to her mother and tries hard to get it right parenting her and Marco’s now teenage daughter Rachel. She puts up with her friends and siblings interference in her life sometimes with a lot more grace than I would and yet has the ability to stand up for herself too. But sometimes Viola is a bit ditzy and she is definitely a bit slow to catch on sometimes, particularly in one on-going situation. I was mentally shouting at her sometimes!
Viola has plenty on her plate to deal with. She has been living at her Mum’s after Rhys’ crazy fans were horrible to her when he died, but now feels ready to move home. So she has the house to get ready and so on. But she also has to face opposition from her older sister and brother who want her to stay and look after Naomi (mum) as she is getting older – not to mention use Violas money to upkeep the house they expect to inherit! Thankfully Naomi doesn’t want to be pushed around and knows her family well. This was a great family set up, it feels very true to life with all the tensions that can exist in families and I enjoyed willing on Viola and Naomi whilst inwardly ‘booing’ Kate and Richard.
Rachel also provides her own area of interest as she grapples with growing up and falling in love for the first time. Seeing some of the story through her eyes was an interesting change.
Of course there is a potential love interest (or two) for Viola, although she is adamant that there will not be any husband number 3. Her friends are trying to set her up, and considering what some of the friends are like I’d steer well clear of any of their ideas too! But as Viola sticks to her promise to herself and gets out more she has some interesting, (I did love the midnight gardening) amusing and even quite gross encounters. Well this is a story and the path of true love never does run smooth!
This novel has a very contemporary feel, with references to our current culture that will date this as time goes by, but it makes it feel very rooted now.
Verdict:So I did enjoy this, a lot. I will indeed be looking out for more by Judy Astley now. A great light read that includes real life issues that will resonate with many people.
Reviewed by Helen