10 November 2009

Book Review: The Difference A Day Makes by Carole Matthews

William and Amy are happily married, have 2 lovely children and both have great career in the world of television as well. Life is treating them well, but when Will suffers a heart attack on the underground, he makes the momentous decision not to go back to work... ever. Amy can't believe he'll stick to it, and so is horrified when Will decides to buy a delapidated old country house and move the family halfway across England to live there. Amy isn't cut out for farming or the slow pace of country life, but she wants to adapt to make her husband happy.

But when tragedy strikes, can Amy hold it altogether for the sake of their 2 young children? Will young vet Guy be able to help Amy not only with her animals but with rebuilding herself too? This is a tale of living the dream... but what happens when it's not your dream but someone elses?

Even though she has a very large catalogue of books, Carole Matthews' isn't actually an author I have read all that many books by! My first of her books, It's A Kind of Magic, was good but not really my cup of tea. So when I was sent this by the publishers for review, I hoped it was a little more down to earth as the plot sounded exactly like something I would like to read. Amazingly, this is Carole's 13th novel, and her latest (book 15!) is due out early next year entitled It's Now or Never. The pretty orange cover of this book gives an impression of summer but I actually found it to be a great winter read as there are some touching Christmas scenes in here!

Our main character is Amy, and she works in the world of television. She's a career woman at heart, leaving her 2 young children at home all day with nanny but happy because family life is what she always wanted. I quite liked Amy from the off, even though I am the complete opposite of her, but you can sense through the early scenes she does yearn to be at home with her children more. She's a very normal character, struggling with the guilt of leaving her children all day but also the guilt of really loving her job. The relationship that is written  between her and Will, her husband, is very sweet and Matthews portrays the strong love between the two very quickly and effortlessly.

I was wondering how long it would take for the "tragedy" to take place, and it's pretty easy to guess what it's going to be. Luckily, it isn't the actual tragedy itself which is the main thread of this story, it's how Amy and her family get over it and start to make a new life for themselves in Yorkshire away from the hustle and bustle of London. Matthews portrays a young woman deep in grief, stuck somewhere she doesn't care to be and out of her depth so well you feel every emotion along with Amy and you can't help but sympathise with her. You can feel her despair, but also her "must soldier on" attitude because of her children.

One of my favourite characters in the whole book was that of the local vet Guy. He's everything that the hero of a love story should be, and Matthews makes it so that you want it all to work out for Guy in the end! He's got a bit of a tragic story himself, and this makes a nice little side story to Amy's own. I really enjoyed the little detours into the third person narrative following Guy at his veterinary practice, and one scene in particular towards the end at the vets had me in tears, it was so well written and emotional! Hamish the dog provides the comic relief and Matthews almost writes him like a real person, he's so well characterised and makes you laugh despite all the sadness!

The old house, Helmshill Grange is well written, and I do wonder if Matthews has based the old place on anywhere she has been herself. She writes authoritively on farming and things related to veterinary practices so she must have done her research when writing this book! Everything about this book is charming; the story, the characters, but also the message it sends too. As I mentioned, there is some lovely Christmas scenes in the book that are heart-warming, but also some scenes that will make you sob and others that leave your heart beating... that's what a talented writer Carole Matthews is. My only niggle with this is that there is a whopping 113 chapters, as they're only a few pages long each which did make the book seem to go quicker than I wanted, but it's only a small thing! Highly recommended - a charming, delightful, heart-warming and emotional read to tug at your heartstrings. Delightful.

Rating: 5/5


  1. Thanks so much, Chloe! That's a very kind review. The village is actually a merging of two places I've been to and Hamish was very much a real dog. There's a picture of him on my website - though sadly he ate one pair of warm pants too many and is now, I'm sure, causing havoc in doggy heaven...

    Best wishes. Carole Matthews : ) xx

  2. I have read most of Carole Matthews books, but this is my favourite. Read it in a day whilst on holiday, the short chapters help in 'I'll just read another chapter.'
    I felt that your review was spot on Chloe. I thought this book was well observed by the author on so many levels and her characters were well defined and I loved the various relationships amongst them, never forgetting the ultimate hero... Hamish.