19 May 2011

Book Review: It Happened One Summer by Polly Williams

Nell Stockdale is enjoying her life at last - she's got a good relationship with a young man, is loving her job in London as a journalist and her daughter Cass seems happy and settled at home too. However, when her mother Valerie becomes very sick, Nell is nominated by her sister and brother to move her life down to Cornwall to look after Valerie. Things aren't as simple as they seem however. Nell will find it harder to avoid her sister Heather who is now marrying Nell's ex boyfriend Jeremy, her brother Ethan has his young twin sons to look after as well as worrying about his mother, and Nell suddenly finds herself out of a job as well. Will she be able to adjust to life in Cornwall, which is very different to her hustle and bustle-y life in London, and will Valerie be able to get better now daughter Nell is around to look after her?

I am a huge Polly Williams fan, and have read all of the book she has brought out so far. Her latest book It Happened One Summer was delayed last year but has finally made it to bookshelves this summer, so I was really excited to be able to review this book. The cover immediately caught my eye, the lovely green and pink makes the book look really fresh and appealing for the time of year, and the story also sounds fantastic, something that will really draw you in and allow you to lose yourself in. I absolutely loved the book, its a step away from the books Williams has written before, but I love that, it felt really mature and was throughly enjoyable to read.

Nell is the book's leading lady, and I liked her very much. She is a single parent raising her daughter alone, yet Williams portrays this in a happy and positive way, which is nice to see when often single parents stories are often tinged with sadness and show mums struggling to raise their children alone, I was pleased that there was the chance to read a positive story like this. Nell is good at her job, but when she is suddenly made redundant she realises she has to go home to Cornwall and look after her sick mother. Nell isn't at all close to her mother, and this continues throughout the book, something a lot of women will be able to relate to I'm sure, and I feel Williams did this relationship justice.

In fact, I feel the family relationships throughout the book are well represented and I enjoyed reading them all. The relationship between Nell and her sister Heather was especially interesting to read, spoilt by the fact the younger sister is now engaged to Nell's ex boyfriend but the awkwardness of having to publically get along is still there. The arrival of Ethan, their brother added another element, especially with the addition of his wife Janet, who is desperate to get Tredower, Valerie's house after her death. The Stockdale family aren't overly close, yet through Williams' writing, you can feel the bond between them and I really enjoyed reading about it.

There is also another story running alongside the main one involving a character called April. We don't know much about her but her story is uncovered slowly as the book progresses and I didn't see the twist coming whatsoever which is fantastic - usually, I spot these things coming a mile off but I really didn't in this case so I think Williams did a good job in keeping this plot twist a secret from readers. I also have to compliment Williams on her approach towards Valerie's illness and the families reactions to the developments that happen throughout the book, it was very emotional at times but I think this was well done and a joy to read throughout.

Overall, I think this is Polly Williams' best book to date, and I would highly recommend it to anyone. It made a great read because there are so many layers to this book, from Nell's parenthood, the relationship with her mother and new friendship with cafe owner Michael to Heather's relationship with Jeremy, and then Valerie's illness - there really is something in there to capture every readers attention, and it certainly made for very enjoyable reading. The writing style is fantastic, very easy to read and I found myself ploughing through the pages very quickly as I couldn't put it down. Highly enjoyable, and a perfect beach read for the summer, grab a copy as its out now!

Rating: 5/5


  1. Stacey Bennett19 May 2011 at 16:43

    Have pre-ordered my copy!

  2. Can't wait to read this!

  3. I've read all Polly Williams' books to date and can't wait to get my hands on this! Great review :)