Friday, 9 April 2010

Love Letters by Katie Fforde

Laura has managed to reach her mid twenties without too much excitement...she has her ideal, but poorly paid job in an independent book shop, which is due to be closed. She meets the flamboyant agent Eleanora who convinces her to help her niece organise a literary festival which includes convincing her favourite Irish author to take part. Throughout the story she spreads her wings but also falls in love with the elusive Dermot. Will she find her own happily ever after?!
Okay - I loved Katie Fforde's early books which were witty and didn't rely on stereotypes...sadly, I've found her last couple of books to be (dare I say it?) dull.  One of the main problems is that Laura is soooo boring. Here's a girl who's read and ironed her way through university and although she assures us she had friends, there's no evidence within this book. She's clinging to her virginity due to lack of opportunity, has no life experience whatsoever, a terrible wardrobe and no social life...Fforde relies on the chick-lit favourite of gay best friend to try and add interest, but it doesn't wash. As Laura is losing her job she takes on the challenge of organising a literary festival, this expands her horizons to going to Ireland to convince the famous but reclusive Dermot to take part. That whole affair seems a bit sordid and the addition of her drunkenness just makes it worse. The repeated reminders of her naivety and lack of worldliness becomes a real drag.
However, through the festival Laura gains the confidence to talk to school children, help in a writing course, introduce speakers and attend meetings – I didn’t feel that the range of experiences that made her more “confident” actually worked…lets face it, it’s not that unusual for women to do these things as part of everyday life!
Dermot has his moments as a romantic hero, but is fairly thinly drawn and disappears for large sections of the book. From the early parts of the story I also imagined him to be at least mid forties, but then it's thrown in that he's only thirty-five! That just jarred with the descriptions of him. Throw in a minor stately home, girlfriend with "wacky" pink hair and corresponding personality, unsupportive parents and an amazing dream job handed on a plate and that sums up the whole plot.
The only character of interest was Eleanora, who is a mere plot device to make Laura's life work, but had the potential to be so much more. The book does describe what happens in literacy festivals very well, but I really didn't care. Everyone involved in the festival was just too minor and uninteresting to engage with

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