Reviewed by Kate Appleton
When CC is offered the chance to swap her hectic life in London for the sunny countryside of the South of France with her boyfriend Victor she doesn’t give it a second thought – that is until she gets there. The country farmhouse of her dreams soon reveals itself to be a derelict stack of bricks with no heating, water and a massive hole in the roof. But this is Victor’s inheritance and also his dream so CC puts on a brave face and embraces the simple life. However, with the presence of his aunt Distra and her even stranger friend Carole, CC’s romantic dream soon disintegrates into a nightmare as she attempts to salvage what’s left of her relationship and happiness.
From the beginning it became clear that Alexander had filled this novel with stereotypical female characters. Our leading lady, CC, is one of the most irritating female protagonists created. She is self-obsessed and whiny, which is a shame as she is the character we should be identifying with. The descriptions of her actions, dialogue and thought processes are drowning in feeble adjectives of her being ‘worried’ or something was ‘nerve wracking thereby transforming her into the epitome of a ‘hysterical woman’.
It doesn’t get much better when the other female characters are introduced. Her pregnant friend details her worries over her expiring fertility, a sentiment frequently reflected in CC’s own situation. Even Victor’s Aunt, who starts off as quite a promising resident eccentric, is turned into a witch or evil mad crone who lives with her ‘friend.’ I found it extremely disappointing that there were no strong female leads that had either sass or even likability. I could probably have a more in-depth feminist rant about women not being governed by their ovaries but I don’t have the energy.
There was one highlight, and this was the hilarious descriptions of CC’s sexual encounters. Never an easy topic to write about but I don’t know whether even I would describe something akin to being ‘dragged through a sea of chocolate.’ Whether Alexander meant these snippets to be amusing I don’t know but they were certainly entertaining. The blurb promised a ‘motley crew of surly builders and eccentric farmers,’ who, unless I blinked and missed them, were missing from any of the narrative. In all shape and form this novel was sorely lacking.
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