27/01/2011

A Perfect Proposal (by Katie Fforde)

I've only previously read one book by Katie Fforde - the novel 'Stately Pursuits', which I read over eight years ago. I wasn't particularly impressed, and - unfairly, as I know realise - haven't bothered to get hold of any of her other novels.

But a few weeks ago, a friend brought her copy of 'A Perfect proposal', and said she was sure I would enjoy it. It sat on my shelf until a few days ago, when I thought perhaps I should start it - expecting it to take at least a week, maybe longer, reading for perhaps twenty minutes or so each night at bedtime. I really didn't have high expectations, but thought I should at least try it...

It turned out to be a very enjoyable light-hearted read. Sophie is the main viewpoint character. She's a generous, caring and quite practical young woman who lives in a family of academics and artists, most of whom rather despise her. Not that it stops them enjoying her cooking skills.

As the book opens, Sophie has somehow agreed to go and look after her great-uncle Eric for a couple of weeks, although she's not entirely sure why. Uncle Eric turns out to be blunt and outspoken, but much nicer - and more interesting - than she expected. So she quite enjoys her stay, and while there discovers some important documents which she decides to follow up.

Still annoyed with her family, she decides to apply for a job in the USA and visit one of her best friends. While there, she meets a delightful elderly lady called Matilda, who as a suspiciously aloof grandson called Luke. Luke happens to be rather attractive, but he is convinced that Sophie wants to get something out of his grandmother, and really doesn't want them to become friends...

The writing is nicely paced, with both Sophie and Luke eminently believable and likeable. While Sophie's two best friends are rather flat, with little role other than to look after Sophie at times and be her confidantes, and her family fairly dull, I did like Uncle Eric, Matilda, and a new friend she makes in Cornwall called Moira.

The plot was fairly predictable in the romantic stakes with initial apathy, growing attraction, and a steady stream of problems before a slightly far-fetched conclusion, but there were plenty of interesting sub-plots, including one about oil drilling rights, and the search for a cottage remembered from Matilda's childhood.

So, rather than reading for fifteen or twenty minutes at bedtime, I found myself drawn into the story, and enjoying the people so much that I kept on reading.. often well past the time when I wanted to be asleep. I finished it in just three days, and was quite disappointed to say goodbye to the people I was getting to know so well.

Definitely recommended to anyone who likes light women's fiction. Nothing explicit, and the only bad language is used in conversation under fairly extreme circumstances.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 27th January 2010

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