This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Reviewed by Cressida McLaughlin
On her first day of University, nervously standing in the queue to register for her courses, Melanie Holden (known as Laney) is charmed by dashing, mysterious Simon de Montmorency. Two onlookers are fellow undergraduates Leo Devonshire and beautiful Mia Wilde. All studying drama, the four soon become firm friends, and Laney and Simon’s romance moves quickly and passionately. While Leo wishes he could have the same luck with Mia, her heart is firmly attached to long-distance love Dominic Masters, whose acting career is already reaching stratospheric heights. Their university life is full of burgeoning and breaking friendships, drunken confessions and uncertainties. It is a melting pot of emotion, and things are never settled for long.
Mia and Laney have a strong friendship. They can depend on each other for advice, a shoulder to cry on or a distraction from their troubles. But then Mia decides to take her relationship with Dom a step further, and things begin to fall apart. On the last night of the university production of House of Bernarda Alba, in which Mia is playing the starring role, everything changes. The decisions the four friends make will affect the rest of their lives.
Fast-forward twenty-one years and Laney, Mia, Leo and Simon are still very much in touch with each other, though saying any more would give too much away. The wedding day of Mia’s daughter Iris is fast approaching, and Mia is not the only one having doubts about the match. What follows is a dramatic, crisis-filled story as Leo and Simon, Laney and Mia – and those around them – struggle to deal with what life has thrown at them, sort out their complicated love lives, and resolve mysteries that have been buried for over two decades.
The Summer Wedding is a bonkbustering-blockbuster of a summer book. There are dozens of characters and intricately interweaving plot threads, supported by glorious locations in England, Spain, Africa and LA. Everyone is beautiful, famous or incredibly talented. There are Hollywood actors, TV presenters, screenplay writers and documentary makers; all mired in a world that is in turn utterly glamorous and decidedly seedy. It is a world of extremes, and those extremes make for huge drama.
This is the first time I have read any Fiona Walker, and I know she is a hugely popular, and skilled, author. Despite the sheer scale of the story and the huge cast of characters – as well as the point of view switching constantly throughout the book – I didn’t once forget who was who or find I couldn’t follow what was happening. And I wanted to know how issues would be resolved and how love triangles would be settled.
However, purely down to my personal taste, I found this book a bit soulless. I love stories that are believable and characters I can identify with. Here, while everyone has very real problems and insecurities, they are all rich or famous or unspeakably beautiful. This makes it a perfect, escapist read (it reminded me of Jilly Cooper) but I didn’t feel the same level of attachment to the characters that I often do. I felt very much on the outside looking in, rather than being completely absorbed.
If you like your beach reads dramatic, glossy and glitzy, then this is the book for you. It’s brilliantly written and hugely imaginative, with unexpected twists, lifelong romances and sexy, sun-kissed locations. It shows the highs and lows of the land of celebrity, and the vulnerability of the real people behind the front-page persona. I may not have warmed to it completely, but it’s still as sizzling as the beaches you’ll all hopefully be reading it on this summer.