Posts Tagged ‘Judy Astley’

I Should Be So Lucky

Judy Astley

I should be so lucky cover artViola 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

Publisher: Bantum Press
Publication Date: July 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 352
Genre: Chick Lit, Women’s Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British book
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Just for the Summer

Judy Astley

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

Publisher: Transworld Digital
Publication Date: June 2011
Format: eBook
Pages: 351KB
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Lesley
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: British Book
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