A Springtime Affair by Katie Fforde
We all sometimes need a sunshine book to brighten up our lives, and in this novel there is definitely a summer feel, with two women who have to face challenges in the name of romance. There are moments when Gilly, a mother of two adult children is forced to think carefully about her entire future as she comes under pressure from various quarters, and the novel begins with her daughter Helena confronting her fears. Not that it is an enormous crisis; she is summoned to the rescue of a kitten by her landlord. This is a book which has several themes running throughout, not least the way adult children can put pressure on their parents who are perhaps wondering about their own priorities. It is nevertheless a cheerful book, featuring lively and funny dialogue, with consistent and entertaining characters. The settings are well drawn, including houses of various kinds and in varying states of repair. I really enjoyed this book, it gives a positive impression of family relationships and genuine responsibilities. It is a lovely read in so many ways, with enough tension and twists to keep it interesting while being a relaxing read at the same time.
The book opens with Helena, a weaver of large pieces on a huge loom, being summoned from her studio by an attractive man, Jago, who is her landlord. A kitten is stuck behind a pile of building materials, and Jago needs someone smaller to go down a ladder into a small space and effect a rescue. Conquering her fears, Helena manages to lift the kitten out, and is rewarded with a professionally made sandwich. She regards Jago with mixed emotions; he has given her six months to vacate her studio home and finding alternative accommodation will not be easy as her loom is so large. The descriptions of Helena’s work are fascinating as she weaves pieces for craft shows and other events. Jago is willing to help, but both have pasts to consider.
Meanwhile Gilly, her mother, runs a successful B&B in her large house. Gilly had a tough divorce and had to fight to retain her home, and she has taken pride in offering a lovely place for visitors, featuring homemade food which she loves to cook. Unfortunately, her son Martin and his difficult wife Cressida have other plans, they are pressurizing Gilly into selling up and giving them the money so they can buy their prefect house, while offering Gilly “a home with us for your – older years”. Helena is speechless, and Gilly is saddened; she loves her family home, loves having guests to cook for, and realizes that Cressida is really hoping to get the money and for her to provide free childcare. So, when the handsome “silver fox” estate agent Leo turns up at her door, Gilly wonders if she can truly have a relationship after her difficult divorce and change her life for the better.
This is the sort of novel that had me silently shouting advice to the main characters while being thoroughly entertained by the descriptions of food, clothes and weaving. It depicts an older woman in a positive light as more than just a doting mother and grandmother, and the possibilities of romance in later life. Helena and Jago are fascinating characters, and the whole novel is an entertaining and enjoyable read, particularly in the summer months. This is my second Katie Fforde novel in a short time – they are both very different, and inspire me to read more.