Saturday, 27 March 2010

The Love Nest by Julia Llewellyn

This story starts with Chadlicote Manor going up for sale to pay Grace's family debts after the death of her mother. It charts the stories of several characters as they make plans to move homes and change their lives through homes, children and careers. Karen is a career woman but the family plan to move to the country as her husband recovers from cancer. Gemma lives with her husband in a loft apartment but is desperate for a child and a family home. Rock star Nick seeks a home to reflect his new status and also the high class estate agent Lucinda. The stories and characters intertwine as they all try to get what they want out of life.
There's a lot going on within this book and it is cleverly constructed. Llewellyn weaves the stories of all the characters into the story is very well done and doesn't feel overly contrived as many "chick-lits" do. However, as in a couple of her other books I found it all a bit "cold"...I didn't warm to any of the characters at all and bearing in mind how many there is across the book, that's fairly surprising. I thought the majority of them to be self-seeking, insular, fairly disagreeable people, and even if that was the intention, I personally need to feel some sort of connection or engagement for me to want to read on. I also felt that two dimensional stereotypes were over used - e.g. career woman, embarrassed by her humble beginnings has an affair with a good looking waste of space; super rich daddy's girl trying to prove herself and still considered second best to her lesser brother; nice but dim, fat girlfriend from the sticks; flaky sister, hippy, mildly druggie background and iffy relationships. Even Grace, who I developed a very small amount of sympathy for (if only for the food and Doctor Who fixation) was weak and pathetically grateful for anything that came her way. All the character's got on with the problems that they'd created for themselves, but I didn't really care how it all ended.
Overall the book is well structured and cleverly managed, but due to the characterisation (and that’s maybe just me) I found the book a bit soulless and lacking in humour.

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