28 November 2011
Book Review: Too Close For Comfort by Clare Dowling
I haven't read any of Clare Dowling's books for a while, although I have enjoyed reading them in the past. When I received a copy of her latest book, Too Close For Comfort, to review I was really pleased because I was interested to see how Dowling has progressed in her career, and if I'd enjoy this book as much as her previous reads. I have to say I am not too sure about the cover myself, it's quite bland and nothing really stands out, but then again there are far, far worse out there and it does look quite fresh, although as I said I think it's main issue is that it just won't really stand out or grab you from a bookshelf in a shop... well in my opinion anyway. Either way, the story inside was really enjoyable, and I'm pleased to say that I think Dowling is as strong an author as ever!
The book follows 2 sisters, Ali and Emma, who it has to be said aren't entirely close. Ali went to America when she was younger for a short stint and ended up staying, getting married and having 3 children. Ali seemingly didn't care about the feelings of her family and friends, yet when her marriage crumbles, she comes running back home for their support, surprised when they all carry on as normal when she arrives. I have to say I really struggled to warm to Ali as a character, and found her to be quite selfish. As a mum myself, I couldn't just run away with my son to another country, yet Ali seems to think it is okay to do just that, and not care about the consequences. I found this to be really wrong, and I liked how her sister Emma was playing devil's advocate a bit and telling her how wrong she was.
Emma was a great character, and very well written. She's a bit of a workaholic, loving her job on breakfast television and trying to keep the ratings up despite some pretty dire presenters. However, she's going through a bit of a personal turmoil too, something she doesn't want to admit to anyone, even her sister and this really does play on her mind. I did find that I liked her and felt so sorry for her because of everything she is going through and I think that Dowling did a really good job in writing this particular story. It's written really well and very realistically, without becoming too over-powering in the book, instead just bubbling gently in the background. It's not an easy subject to write about, let alone weave into this book but Dowling does so effortlessly, and I think it was so well done and all credit to her for that.
Although I really didn't like Ali, I have to say I enjoyed the story and the way everything panned out as the book progressed. Ali doesn't find life in Ireland to be as easy and happy as she thought it was going to be, what with her sister Emma being a bit off with her, her mother struggling to deal with her ailing father and also her estranged American husband on her tail, yet it was very easy to read and I found myself easily slipping back into it whenever I picked up a copy of the book. Dowling writes beautifully about Ireland, and the best parts of the book have to be at the TV show where Emma works, it was simply hilarious and had a good few comedy moments in there too. Dowling manages to weave the lighter-hearted moments in with the more serious stories, and I really did enjoy every page. You might not agree with Ali and her choices in life, much like I didn't, but you'll still enjoy reading about what happens next for her!
You can buy Too Close For Comfort in paperback and on eBook/Kindle now. (links go to Amazon.co.uk)