26 January 2010
Book Review: Love Nest by Julia Llewellyn
Gemma is longing for a baby and, unlike her own loft apartment, Karen's house is an ideal family home. But the dream house can only have its dream baby if Gemma can convince her flakey sister to help out. Up-and-coming rockstar Nick has designs on Gemma's flat. He's also taken a shine to classy estate agent, Lucinda, but she's not all she seems - and neither is he, since he's hiding a girlfriend he's looking to ditch when the sale goes through. The Love Nest - where all their troubles come home to roost!
I first read Julia Llewellyn when I picked up a copy of her last book The Model Wife at the library a few years ago. Since then, Julia has't written anything so I was excited to see on Amazon news of a 2010 book called The Love Nest I was lucky enough to get an ARC from Penguin to review, and it was with anticipation that I started the book. I really enjoyed Julia's writing style in her previous book and the way she makes characters seem so real, and The Love Nest seemed to be based on a group of people rather than just a couple so I was really excited to see how the author would pull it off!
Straight after starting the book, I was hooked. Llewellyn began the book in a way that I didn't expect, with the introduction of probably the least prolific character in the book Grace, but it gives us a glimpse into Grace's life and her reluctance to part with her home Chadlicote Manor. Perhaps this is the start of the chain of events that carry on through the book to do with the moving of everyone's Love Nests, and in which case this was an excellent beginning! However, we don't see nearly enough of Grace for the rest of the book and I would have loved to see more of her life, and perhaps a little less of the others!
It was the characters of estate agent Lucinda and rock star Nick that took the main storyline thread for me. Nick is determined to split up with his girlfriend because she doesn't suit his image, and therefore I really didn't like him! He seemed to typify a certain section of society today that counts appearance higher than anything else, and while its a true reflection, it made for somewhat cringeyworthy scenes sometimes when he was mentally slagging off his poor girlfriend Kylie. Lucinda the other character I couldn't stand. She was very up herself, and although her story unfolds as the book progresses, it certainly didn't warm me to her and I wish she wasn't as present as she was in the book. My favourite character was Karen because she felt the most realistic out of all of them, and I felt so sympathetic towards her being stuck in a situation she couldn't see a way out of.
Even though there were quite a few main characters, and consequently lots of different storylines, places and people in the book, I felt it totally easy to keep track of what was going on, who was meant to be in certain scenes and the transition between each was seamless. I was really impressed by how easily Llewellyn juggled all of the characters, and how each of them were woven into each other's lives and how certain actions affected other people even though you wouldn't expect it at all. I liked working out how they were all connected and I felt it was really clever of Llewellyn to do this!
Relationships are at the fore front of the book, and there is something there that hopefully most readers will recognise. Perhaps housewives like me will more relate to Karen - putting ourselves last and plodding along with what everyone else wants! However, they are all believable people even if I didn't like all of them, and you can immerse yourself easily into their lives because of Llewellyn's fab writing style and easy narrative. She's chosen to use third person narrative in the book which makes it far easier to juggle the many storylines, and it works perfectly.
I really enjoyed reading this book, and it was a nice chunky book to get into as well. There was a lot going on, yet I didn't have to concentrate too hard on the characters to follow them and their individual stories because they are written so well and the transtitions make it easy for the reader to keep up. It's a well written narrative which keeps this altogether perfectly, and some interesting twists and turns along the way stop the book being predictable, and keep you wanting to read and find out more! The ending came around much quicker than I expected, and I enjoyed every single page. If you haven't read any of Julia Llewellyn's work before, I suggest you start here because this is a fantastic read, and recommended by me!