REVIEWED BY AMANDA KEATS
Every now and then a book comes along that targets a specific group of people but has the brilliance to crossover and also appeal to the masses. When I started reading this I thought it had – but first impressions can be wrong.
This is the story of Laura, a struggling designer/teacher forced to move from the bustling London to a small Norfolk town called Reedby with her husband Adi and two small children. At first I thought it was a clever tale, a fish-out-of-water with an artistic flair. She weaves in textiles and fabrics with her everyday life in a way I haven't seen in years. The detail in her work and the care she takes in it make even those with not an artistic bone in their body get caught up in the vintage clothing and evocative memories particular garments reignite in our leading lady. Specifically, the way particular outfits remind her of her mother are completely endearing and Laura's evident loss at the death of her mother is done with care and subtlety.
Then about half way through the book, it all goes horribly wrong. She moans A LOT! She expects medals for juggling work and children and gets huffy when her husband isn't excited about a night out without the children but is over the moon about starting to grow vegetables in their back garden. I just wanted to tell her to get over herself.
When the family are forced to live in a caravan in their back garden there was potential for heart-warming comedy gold, but it continued to plod along aimlessly. After a while, it reads like you are being forced to be a fly on the wall at the demise of a marriage or a really long and really boring episode of Big Brother. There is no actual drama to make it compelling. There are no passionate affairs, only secret rekindled friendships, no massive arguments, only snide comments and passive aggressive thoughts. I hoped that the end might have salvaged something but even that fell flat.
It's as though those behind this book have tried so hard to make a “nice” book that they have let depth and plot fall to the wayside. And by having it in the first person, there is no escaping Laura's inner monologue. It's like reading Twilight but without Edward or the werewolves.
The biggest mystery is how this managed to happen after starting so well. I must clarify, the writing is actually beautiful! It's the story that falls a little too flat. Originally, I was thinking my sister would love it as she is the artistic one in the family and loves textiles, fabrics and knows what all the terminology means. Now I'm thinking it might bore even her!
Disappointing story from a very talented writer.
MORE ABOUT LAURA'S HANDMADE LIFE