21 February 2011

Book Review: The Girl's Guide to Homemaking by Amy Bratley

Juliet was desperate to buy a home with her boyfriend Simon, and when she lays her eyes on Lovelace Avenue she knows that is her home. However, things go badly wrong for Juliet when she finds out that Simon has been sleeping with her best friend Hanna. She throws Simon out, and starts living as a bit of a slob, unsure that she even wants a home without anyone to share it with. Juliet is heartbroken and so she turns to the homemaking books of her beloved grandmother Violet to get her through. She finds herself making beautiful aprons and other homely goods that make her feel like she has a purpose. Juliet finally feels like she has a little control back in her life, and like she's ready to move on from Simon. Is Juliet going to find true love, and her real home, ever again?

I will be honest and say I was initially drawn to this book by its beautiful cover. It's really different, quite old-fashioned looking but after reading it, it suits the book absolutely perfectly and makes it even more kitsch and charming! This book is author Amy Bratley's debut, and while this is a somewhat overdone subject in chicklit - girl finds out boy is cheating on her, girl struggles to move on but does so and pursues new love - but Bratley dresses this up within a desire to create a real home, and all the things that go with that. I was utterly charmed by this book, and really enjoyed every single page, I found myself not wanting to put it down, even as the clock ticked on every night.

Juliet is the lead character and one I instantly adored. You can see that all she craves is a home, a stable home with someone who loves her and she thought she had that with her boyfriend Simon. When she finds out he's been sleeping with their old flat-mate and Juliet's best friend, she is of course heartbroken, and kicks him out. You can feel Juliet's pain right from the off, and it was good to see a strong female character, one ready to kick out a cheating man and not accept his excuses. I loved Juliet as a character, and as the story progresses and we learn more about her, you can't help but empathise and feel sorry for her.

Juliet was abandoned by her own mother after the death of her father, and soon it becomes clear why Juliet is so desperate to create a home for herself. As we grow up, we all want a nice home to live in, with nice things and homely bits and bobs around the place, but Juliet soon gives up on that hope once Simon leaves and lets her place turn to ruin - who wants to worry about washing floors and washing up when you're heartbroken? This is exactly what I love about the book - it's very real, all the emotion we get from Juliet feels very real and you can imagine yourself behaving the same as Juliet if you were ever unfortunate enough to find yourself in her position. I just wanted to give her a big hug!

There is an interesting subplot involving Juliet's best friend Imogen and her fiancĂ© Jonathan. This was quite a curveball in the book, it didn't seem to fit in at all with the main plot of Juliet's messed up love life and moving on from that, but at the same time it made for great reading because I was curious to see how it would pan out for Imogen. It was good to read a strong female friendship too after the dissolution of the one between Juliet and Hanna at the beginning, and it shows how a good friend will pick you up even when you're at your lowest ebb.  I really enjoyed it, it was well handled by the author, and while I was worried initially about how it would suit the book, it did so very well by the end and I felt like it definitely belonged.

As you can probably tell by my review so far, the book was a joy to read. Each of the chapters were begun with a quote from a homemaking book of yester-year, and these were charming little anecdotes. I loved how Juliet embraced the things her grandmother had written for her in her own homemaking book too, and Bratley describes the aprons, and sewing and other things Juliet creates so well, I could visualise in my mind what she was doing and the gorgeous 1950's print aprons. Bratley has a way of drawing us into Juliet's world so quickly and easily that you're pulled into the book from the beginning, and are loathe to leave it until you turn the very last page. A very enjoyable and wonderful read.

Rating: 4/5

1 comment:

  1. This sounds adorable :) And you're right. That cover is pretty darn cute.