12 October 2014

Book Review: It Started With Paris by Cathy Kelly

"It all started with Paris. At the top of the Eiffel Tower, a young man proposes to his girlfriend, cheered on by delighted tourists. In that second, everything changes, not just for the happy couple, but for the family and friends awaiting their return in Bridgeport, Ireland...

Leila's been nursing a badly broken heart since her love-rat husband just upped and left her one morning, but she's determined to put on a brave face for the bride. 

Vonnie, a widow and exceptional cake-maker, is just daring to let love back into her life, although someone seems determined to stop it.

And Grace, a divorced head teacher, finds the impending wedding of her son means that she's spending more time with her ex-husband. After all those years apart, is it possible she's made a mistake?"

Rating: 5/5

You can buy It Started With Paris as a hardback or an eBook now.

I've read a few of Cathy Kelly's books and while they have been enjoyable, none have really stood out to me as reads I would want to go back to once I had finished. I was really excited to receive a signed proof copy of Cathy's new book It Started With Paris from her new publishers Orion, complete with a brand new cover look too. I have to be honest, the cover is far more something I would pick up over her older covers, and so I eagerly began the 500 page novel, hoping for a brilliant story and luckily Cathy didn't disappoint!

There's quite a few characters in this book to get your head around but once you get them set in your head, it's easy to follow and work out who is who. The characters are all inter-linked, whether it's by friendship or family links, and I enjoyed this aspect of the book very much, and how Cathy Kelly brings them altogether throughout the book too, to weave a wonderful tale. It begins with a proposal at the top of the Eiffel tower, and the story slowly continues from there. It does move at a relatively slow pace, but it works because there are so many separate stories going on, and you need the detail in each of them for the book to work effectively.

One of my favourite characters in the book was Leila. She's recently separated from her love-rat husband and is struggling to get over him, despite what he did to her. She's also ended up moving into her elderly mother's house to look after it and her dog after she has a terrible fall, and she's forced to face some shocking home truths. Leila does struggle with her emotions in the book, with her relationship with her sister and lots more but I enjoyed reading her story, and seeing her character develop. The different relationships she has within the story had me fixed, from the tentative one with her mother, to the close one she has with her best friend Katy.

Katy and her family also feature heavily in the book. Katy is the character who got engaged, and the upcoming wedding is a big part of the book. We meet her parents, and her fiancé Michael and his divorced mother and father. Michael's mother Grace, a headteacher at a primary school, was another of my favourite characters in the book. She's totally passionate about her job and I loved that, as well as being a devoted mother, and maintaining a good relationship with her ex-husband too. Her story was intriguing, and I was desperate to finish it to find out how things would end up for these characters. As you can see, there are lots of different stories and characters to get your head around, but I love a good family drama and that's exactly what has been delivered here.

Cathy Kelly's writing in this book was brilliant, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it from start to finish. She manages to weave many different tales together seamlessly, with the book easily switching from one character to the next smoothly, leaving the reader easily able to follow. There's a lot of emotion in the book too, and Cathy chooses to tackle some quite hard-hitting themes, from illness to eating disorders, failed marriages and single parenthood, all within one book, but it worked for me. Yes, the title hints at a romance, but there's a lot more going on in this book than the cover and title would suggest. For me, this is Cathy Kelly's best book out of all the ones I have read, and when my mum read it, she told me that this is Cathy Kelly 'back to her best'. I loved this book, it's definitely on my keepers shelf and I'm very much looking forward to Cathy's next book.

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