"Escape to the Riviera" Jules Wake
Gentle, comfortably predictable, undemanding, brimming with romance, comedy and a happy ever after ending -this book basically delivers exactly what it promises! It is a light hearted, playful summer holiday read that would fit nicely next to your chilled glass of wine as you recline in your sun lounger and take a break from a few lazy laps in the pool!
And if you can't get to the Riviera yourself this summer, let Wake transport you there! The location of this novel sets a perfect atmosphere for a satisfying chick lit / rom com read. The backdrop of the celebrity lifestyle of parties, posh restaurants and private beaches is obviously appealing to any day-dreaming reader. The contrast between protagonist Carrie's home life with Alan and the luxurious life of Richard is clearly going to engage readers - it's a bit like finding yourself on the film set of "Pretty Woman", and who doesn't hope to be served endless champagne while outfits for a cocktail party are flown in by a PA especially! Carrie's opportunity to remind herself of the person she was and consider the person she wants to become is attractive to all of us as we inevitably take stock of our own lives, away from the monotony from our usual routine.
There is plenty of humour surrounding Carrie's niece Jade as she can't help but WhatsApp her friends and the dialogue is suitably wry, sarcastic and witty throughout the novel, reflective of their relationship. Carrie's sister, Angela, is more restrained and conservative - again, showing the contrasts within the novel as Wake explores siblings, motherhood, love, responsibility and choice.
Wake writes well. Even the more cliched lines like when Carrie first sees Richard and reels at his "perfectly chiselled jawline, which she used to tease he'd borrowed from Action Man" don't feel overly saccharine. Wake's prose washes over you like the lull of lapping waves; light, calming and pleasantly relaxing.
Carrie has two weeks to see if Richard can win her back. Does she want to join him and be part of his celebrity lifestyle? Be spontaneous? Remember who she was and the ambitions she had for herself as a young actress? Or does the fact that she knows these two weeks are merely an escape for them both to be other people for a while - who doesn't want to escape their real life for a while?- mean that she can't seriously consider his proposal? And what of Alan? Jade? Angela? Her safe life; controlled and predictable?
Carrie's fear of further disappointment and bitterness keep resurfacing and Wake poses the dilemma between being choosing to be "content" or "happy", settling for "good" over "fun", throughout the novel in a very pleasing and amiable manner as we join Carrie on her meandering journey to find answers.
If you are looking for a light hearted, easy, summer read with affable characters, touches of charm and humour, something that will soothe your weary spirit as you relax on holiday, then this is the perfect book for you. To be honest, it's not my usual read and so I have only given it a 3/5 rating but I did enjoy it and I did feel transported to the Riviera through Wake's description. I was interested in finding out what happened and it made a refreshing change to read a book full of harmless, convivial, good humoured people and not to be too terrified to switch the light off at bedtime!