The Beach Reads Book Club – Kathryn Freeman

One could say that it’s a little bit of a cheat, when you start to read a book by an author with which you are familiar. Myself, I look upon it as an indulgent pleasure; a treat, that you know for certain, before you have even started, that you will enjoy. What’s not to love?

Well, what is not to love, is the book club at the very start of the book – surely enough to put anyone off reading for life! What a shame! In my opinion, the love of books is a marvellous thing, and if romcom novels are your thing, then so be it. It is far better to read romcom novels than to not read at all and shame upon any book snobs who try to say otherwise! The situation echoed back to my early childhood, when literary snobs would pan parents for allowing their children to read Enid Blyton novels. I remember my Mum arguing that it was better to be reading Enid Blyton novels, than to not be reading at all and I fully condone this attitude today. I really did hope that Lottie would start her own non oppressive book club, reading the kind of books she so loved.

The Books by the Bay is the most amazing sounding bookshop, in a fantastic location. Matthew and his Father and Sister have uprooted to the south coast for a fresh start, but I couldn’t help but wonder why they needed said fresh start? This was the start of a bit of intrigue for me!

Lottie was a thoroughly likeable character, as was Matt. I felt sad at the implication that Lottie had fared badly in love, and I had high hopes for her and Matt, if only he would loosen up a bit, but I felt as though he had a lot on his plate, having uprooted his Father and Sister to the South coast. Matt surely assured his place in my animal lover affections by not only not making a fuss when Chewie peed on the floor of the bookshop, but also by offering to clear up the mess.

I loved the story when Lottie had her ‘lightbulb’ moment, in deciding to start her win book club, reading the kind of books she liked. I could totally empathise with this. Reading has always been a joy for me. I thoroughly enjoy reviewing books for my blog, and I tend to write good reviews – the reason being that I can choose which books I choose to review. I select my review books very carefully, only choosing to critique books from authors that I like, or novels that I am pretty sure I will love. Life is, I have decided, too short to spend reading books that I don’t love. So this tome passed on both fronts – an author whose work I have previously enjoyed, and a story I felt certain of loving. Not wanting to labour the point, I can assure you readers, that when reading a book is a chore (like in the first book group Lottie attended), please don’t risk endangering your love of reading!

I liked the way that the book club seemed to evolve, with the passing of each session. As if in some kind of mirror image, the relationship between Matt and Lottie seemed to be improving over time, like a wine, slowly mellowing with age. I also appreciated Lottie’s musing that the book club was a club first, for the members to enjoy each other’s company, and a book club second. It felt as though she had created a lovely ‘safe’ environment for the group of friends to get together. Another thing that appealed to me about this novel was the fact that the book club read real books, so when the reader buys this book, they are getting a 2 for 1 deal – a great read, plus a nice long suggested reading list!

Matt has an odd relationship with his family – his Sister Amy and his Dad Jim. The reason for this perhaps became apparent when Jim described his late wife as what had held them together. This seems very telling. I felt as though all three of them were hurting badly over the death of the Mother/wife, but they weren’t very good at. verbalising this with each other. Who knows – maybe hearing the ladies talking about books at the book club, would encourage them to talk with each other?

I enjoyed the clever writing – the way the books the book club were reading reflected what was going on in the book – for example when they are discussing ‘that line when he first kisses her’ in chapter 12, when discussing their chosen book. This directly reflected what had happened in the previous chapter, when Matt and Lottie first kissed. I thoroughly enjoyed these kind of intelligent nuggets in the book. It was as though on one hand the book club were getting better at talking about the books they had read, and were reading more complex books, whilst on the other hand, Matt was mellowing and his relationship with Lottie was also starting to blossom.

I liked the way that the relationship between Lottie and Matt progressed at a simmer, with the odd kiss and days out; like a real old fashioned courting. As the book, progresses, so does their relationship and I had high hopes for their future together. The period of time covered in the book was fairly lengthy, evidenced by the fact that Sally hadn’t had her baby when the group first met, yet by chapter 16, baby Freddie was rolling around on a picnic blanket!

I just hope that you enjoy this book and it’s eclectic characters even half as much as I did. I know I am very much looking forward to Kathryn Freeman’s next offering.

Mystery. I like a bit of intrigue and as I progressed through this book, the mystery piled up. What is going on with Matt and his family – there is some kind of undercurrent going on, but why? Why is Matt burned out at 33, why is Amy so withdrawn, what is Jim’s problem? Similarly, where are Lottie’s family and is Gira’s Husband really cheating on her? Will Lottie’s affections be swayed by the return of an old friend? You will of course have to read this book for yourself, to find the answers to these mysteries, as well as the outcome of the burgeoning relationship between ‘Mottie’ (as I liked to think of Matt and Lottie). Will the pair get together or will Matt get held back by the fear of hurting Lottie? Surely if a reader thinks them worthy of a name conjugation, the future augers well for them? Matt mentioned that ‘It’s a nice thought. To grow old with the person you love.’ and these characters had become so real to me that I found myself vehemently hoping that this could possibly be the future for ‘Mottie’.

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