26 September 2012

Book Review: What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? by Claire Allan

"It only takes a moment for your life to change forever. And a heart can be broken in a second . . . Kitty Shanahan, proprietor of The Dressing Room, is very much in love with love. But a routine phone-call turns her seemingly perfect life on its head. It s not easy to help hopeful brides choose their dream dresses when your heart is in pieces. And it s hard to know who to trust when the man you trusted with your entire life has mysteriously disappeared. Journalist Erin Brannigan knows exactly where the love of her life is. But Paddy, who happens to be battling cancer, has turned into a 'Groomzilla' - planning their forthcoming wedding to the very last detail. When she is challenged by her bosses to write about her forthcoming wedding, Paddy's cancer and the man who first broke her heart, she finds herself caught up in a whirlwind which spins far out of her control. Thrown together in the elegant dressing-rooms of the bridal shop, Kitty and Erin find themselves caught up in each other's lives and wondering if broken hearts can ever be mended."

Rating: 5/5

I love Claire Allan's books and am always very excited when her latest novel arrives in my letterbox! This year, Claire's book is entitled What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? complete with gorgeous purple themed cover with that signature 'Claire Allan' look about it that I really like. I find that there is a lot of warmth and realism in Claire's books and that is what I enjoy about them so much - her Irish charm really shines through and I really thought the idea of this novel - finding out how two women are going to cope with their broken hearts - sounds really good and I was excited to get stuck in and find out more!

Kitty owns a wedding dress shop, and loves her work - she loves nothing more than uniting a bride with her perfect wedding dress, and she's pretty good at it too. But when Kitty receives some shocking and devastating news from her husband, it threatens to end not only her marriage, but threatens her business too as she struggles to cope with being heart-broken and working with women in love. Then there's Erin, a client of Kitty's who is getting married but not necessarily for the right reasons. Erin is worried that things are spiralling out of control and that fiancé Paddy is getting a bit too wedding obsessed. Will Erin and Kitty be able to get their heads sorted in time to save the things most important to each of them?

Allan uses her wonderful two person narrative for the telling of this book and it works so well, especially in a story like this that really needs to focus on both people equally. Allan tells it in the third person as well, again allowing the reader a chance to get a good rounded view of the story but enough to follow closely both Kitty and Erin and begin to care about them as well. I really liked both characters, and felt sorry for them both in different was. Kitty was completely broken-hearted thanks to her husband and it's a sad tale to read about, and Allan writes about her sorrow so very well. I loved the characters Kitty surrounded herself with, from her sister to her step-mother Rose who seemed like the complete antithesis to the wicked step-mother we all too often read! The storyline involving Rose and  her mother was very well written too and it was really fun to read.

Erin's story was quite different, as it almost seems like she could be seen as the villain for some of it, and I was a bit unsure about how I felt about her some of the time. Her storyline with Paddy is quite a sad one, but Allan covers the serious issues within their story very well, and you can't help but put yourself in Erin's shoes and understand how overwhelmed she feels about it all. Allan neatly ties the two stories together through Kitty's shop, which allows for enough of a link to keep it all flowing, but not so much that they are too closely interwoven. The supporting cast throughout the book was great too, and the banter between the characters read naturally and was a joy to read. I also loved Allan's descriptions of the wedding dress shop and the gowns, they sounded beautiful and the way the moments the brides tried on dresses and got emotional were lovely to read!

This was a fantastic story that moved at a great pace, and I thoroughly enjoyed every page of it. I found Allan's narrative voice to be so easy to get into and I ploughed through the pages as I wanted to find out what Erin and Kitty were going to get up to next, and to see if they would find the happiness that they both really deserved. Allan doesn't shy away from emotion in her book, there's plenty of it throughout both storylines, although the gentle moments of humour made me smile and kept the tone of it fairly light. The book left a smile on my face, and it was really enjoyable from start to finish. I feel that Allan gets better with every book, and I always find myself getting lost in her stories. I definitely recommend this book, it's well written, easy to read and highly enjoyable, you'll certainly want to find out what becomes of Erin and Kitty!

You can buy What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? as a paperback now.

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