14 November 2011

Book Review: Christmas at Tiffany's by Karen Swan

Cassie settled down too young, marrying her first serious boyfriend. Now, ten years later, she is betrayed and broken. With her marriage in tatters and no career or home of her own, she needs to work out where she belongs in the world and who she really is. 

So begins a year-long trial as Cassie leaves her sheltered life in rural Scotland to stay with each of her best friends in the most glamorous cities in the world: New York, Paris and London. Exchanging grouse moor and mousy hair for low-carb diets and high-end highlights, Cassie tries on each city for size as she attempts to track down the life she was supposed to have been leading, and with it, the man who was supposed to love her all along. 

Despite this being Karen Swan's third novel, I haven't actually managed to read anything by this author yet. I don't know what it is, I haven't been especially taken with the covers for one, but other than that it might just have been that her books have passed me by. However, when I was offered the chance to review her new title Christmas at Tiffany's, I jumped at the chance because let's face it - I'm a sucker for a Christmas book. However, now I've finished the book, I have to say I felt a little robbed because it wasn't really a festive book at all, BUT it was a really enjoyable story, perhaps just marketed a little wrongly! I found Karen Swan's writing very easy to read and despite it being a fairly long book, I found it very consuming and I really loved the cast of characters within. I think my favourite thing about this book is that you really don't know how its all going to end up, there are clues throughout but nothing to spoil it for the reader, and I loved that!

The book is based on Cassie, and the mess that is her life. Cassie's marriage has recently fallen apart following a shocking revelation about her marriage to Gil, but her 3 girl friends are ready to step up to the plate and help her out, by Cassie spending 4 months with each of them at 3 "exotic" locations... well they are for the girl who has never left Scotland anyway! I felt really sorry for Cassie, her life has been turned upside down by her husband, and she is totally lost. She was very likeable and I think she works well as a main character for the book. First up is New York, and her friend Kelly. I really liked Kelly, she was a fun girl who worked hard and played hard, and it made a real lifestyle change for Cassie and a good way to kick start the book. New York seems to be an ever popular location in chick lit these days, but I felt Swan did a good job in portraying the city, especially through the eyes of the naive Cassie, who hasn't got a clue about places like this!

I found the other characters to be good, especially Suzy, who lives in London. Her life is perhaps the most realistic of the three friends to be honest. She's a wedding planner, and a pretty good one at that. She's also happily married, the only one of the group who is settled down. It's her brother Henry who suddenly and surprisingly befriends Cassie and sends her on some fun runarounds courtesy of his well-travelled self, and lists he creates for Cassie to follow as she travels the world with her friends. The last friend was Anouk, a well-cultured French lady living in Paris, and working in fashion, as suits her very well! I have to say I warmed to Anouk the least, she was quite cold and stand-offish, especially compared to the bubbly Kelly and homely Susy, but it made a nice contrast, although I did want Cassie to wise up to her behaviour and attitude a bit more, as she was a bit too slow on the uptake! However, I really did love seeing Cassie grow throughout the year, and you really feel her go through every emotion, it's very well written.

I did think there was a good cast of characters in the book, my favourite being Henry, the traveller who helped Cassie out on her travels, he was fun and I really liked him. I do have to make a comment about the title, and the fact I find it a little mis-leading though. Although there is a scene at Tiffany's at Christmas, it takes place in the middle of the book, for just a few pages, and that's it. In fact, Christmas is barely mentioned during the whole book, so I think those expecting a festive read will be disappointed with this book. I think the publishers seem to have jumped on the festive fiction bandwagon a bit here, which is a shame as this is a really great book that I got really into as the story about Cassie and her reinvention happens. Yes, that story is nothing new - girl gets dumped, reinvents self in amazing way and is happy ever after, but I enjoyed the journey it took to get there, and I found Swan has really well researched the places that Cassie went to as they came to life in my head as I was reading them, and that was really great. I think this is a really great book, but certainly not the festive read you may expect from the cover and title! Do give it a chance though, this is a fab read that I loved and it certainly makes me want to look out for more of Karen Swan's books!

You can buy Christmas at Tiffany's in paperback and on eBook/Kindle.

Rating: 4/5

1 comment:

  1. I read this book last month and thoroughly enjoyed it, will be reading more from Karen Swan :)