14 May 2014

Book Review: A Seaside Affair by Fern Britton

"When the residents of the Cornish seaside town of Trevay discover that their ramshackle but much-loved theatre is about to be taken over by a global coffee chain, Café au Lait, they are up in arms.

It is up to Penny Leighton, hotshot Producer and now happily married Cornish resident, to come up with a plan to save it. Armed with her only her mobile phone and her enviable contacts book, she starts to pull in some serious favours. Trevay soon finds itself at the centre of the universe when more A-listers than you can shake a stick at arrive to take part in a charity season at the theatre.

The play throws out a chance to Jess Tate, girlfriend to TV heartthrob Ryan Roberts. His career is on the rise while hers remains resolutely in the doldrums. But when opportunity comes calling, it isn’t just her career prospects that are about to change.

Tevay is about to put on the show of its life – but can the villagers, and Jess, hold on to the thing they love the most?"

Rating: 4/5

You can buy A Seaside Affair as a hardback or an eBook now.

Fern Britton seems to be one of those celebrities who have made the transition to being a successful published author. She's released not just one book but several, in fact A Seaside Affair is Fern's 4th novel. Whilst it is a stand-alone novel, it features the characters featured in Fern's second novel Hidden Treasures. I haven't read this book, but had no trouble following the story of this one, it works perfectly as a separate story too. It's set in sunny Cornwall, somewhere I haven't actually visited myself, but Fern writes it so beautifully you feel like you are there with Penny, Helen and Brooke!

Helen is happily settled in the town of Trevay, living not far from her best friend Penny Leighton, a well known producer, and their respective partners. When the residents of Trevay find out their small theatre is about to be taken over by a huge coffee chain, they decide to rally together and try to save their theatre. When Penny starts to dial the famous members of her address book, Hollywood names descend on Trevay determined to help save the historical building. The theatre project catches the attention of actress Jess, girlfriend of big TVstar Ryan, who is sure she's a bit washed up these days, especially compared to Ryan. The project seems like the perfect thing for her, and she decides to step out on her own and try to revive her career. Will Trevay and it's new-found stars be able to save the theatre before its too late?

One thing I really liked about this book was the characters in it. I did find that there was more characters than I expected in the book, and it took a while for me to settle with them all and work out who was who, who was with who and where they were! The main characters are Helen and Penny, best friends living in Cornwall and determined to save their precious theatre, even though their partners aren't overly keen on the idea. There's Brooke, a young actress hired to be the face of the coffee giant wanting to take over the theatre, but as things take a dark turn for Brooke, she has to decide which side she is going to take and what she will do for her career. Finally, there's acting couple Jess and Ryan. These two are the ones we see the least of probably, but I really liked Jess, and thought Ryan was a pig! I can definitely imagine quite a few male celebrities to be like him, and that's not a good thing!

Helen and Penny were good characters, but Helen faded into the background for me, I didn't really think much of her. Penny was more of a star, mainly due to her job and contacts, but again wasn't a huge part of it. I think this was because they were part of Hidden Treasures so didn't need to feature heavily here, but I would have liked to see more of them. For me, my favourite character was Brooke, the young actress who is struggling with her career. Brooke is very naive, but also strong in some ways, determined to do what's right for her career. She was just very likeable, and I enjoyed reading her parts of the story, especially once she arrived in Trevay and made herself at home there. I loved the descriptions of the theatre, although it was a bit ramshackle and falling down, you can see why the residents want to save it, especially when more of its history is revealed as the story progresses. I love what the characters attempt to do to save the building as well, recreating a bit of history, and Britton writes it so beautifully you can't help but want them to be a success!

The setting of Cornwall is beautiful, and I really enjoyed reading about it. As I said, I haven't been there but it really comes to life when you're reading about it. Parts of the book are set in London too which are enjoyable, but I far preferred those parts set in Cornwall. The story was really enjoyable, moving at a pace that kept me hooked and wanting to read chapter after chapter! I really did care about the residents of Trevay saving their theatre against the odds, and especially against the council who seem to just want the money for it rather than the historical value of the building, far too realistic these days I fear. Britton's writing was very easy to read, describing both the settings and characters really well, and I have to admit I enjoyed this a lot more than Britton's first novel that I read a few years ago now. I really did like this book, and I'm looking forward to reading more from Fern Britton after this!

1 comment:

  1. She seems to have a nice series going here, I haven't read one yet but your review now encourages me to! SD