Saturday, 25 June 2011

Book Club - Sleeping Arrangements and The Wedding Girl by Madeleine Wickham

A few weeks ago I read The Wedding Girl by Madeleine Wickham and have been intending to write about it ever since. I took another Wickham novel on my recent holiday and thought it only fair to review that too.

The Wedding Girl was the first novel by Wickham I've read, despite being a very big fan of her work under the name of Sophie Kinsella. I'd heard from other Kinsella fans that the Wickham books differed significantly in style, so I could only hope that I enjoyed them as much as the Kinsella novels I have read and loved over the last 10 years.

The Wedding Girl starts with 18 year old Milly marrying a friend to ensure he is able to stay in the UK. 10 years later she is a very different person and preparing to marry the adoring, wealthy and handsome Simon, in an extravagant wedding masterminded by her mother. No one knows about her first marriage, and Milly convinces herself that it's like it never happened. However, four days before her wedding to Simon, her past begins to catch up with her.

First things first, this was an easy, enjoyable read. There were plenty of twists and turns I didn't see coming and after a day at work I was always eager to get back to the book. I enjoyed the descriptions of the settings in Bath, Oxford and London - these were the right length to create full images but not bore the reader or disturb the pace of the plot.

The characters were varied and each had their own minor sub-plot which created a three dimensional aspect to the story and added extra interest.

Like the Kinsella novels The Wedding Girl easily fits the genre of chick lit. The main difference is the use of humour. While Kinsella novels have left me roaring with laughter and desperate to share the joke with someone, The Wedding Girl was more serious in tone and avoided any over-the-top, ridiculous scenarios which often play a part in the plot of a Kinsella novel. There was still comedy, but it was conveyed through dry witted dialogue.

Sleeping Arrangements follows Chloe and her family as they arrive in Spain for a week's holiday at her friend Gerard's luxury villa. Problems begin when Hugh and his family arrive - Gerard has also lent them the villa for the same dates. An uneasy week of sharing begins, and tensions soon start to mount. Whats more, there's a secret history between the two families, and as the heat soars an old passion begins to resurface.

I read this while on holiday last week, and whizzed through it in a matter of days - it was the perfect book to read by the pool. Light-hearted, a real page turner, fun with a little bit of drama, and a happy ending. It cemented my love for Sophie Kinsella, and finalised my decision to work my way through all of her novels under her Wickham name.

A common theme in both the Wickham novels was self-development. The Kinsella plots tend to involve an extreme secret or mistake that the key character is attempting to solve on their own with hilarious outcomes. The Wickham novels convey characters that face a fork in the road type moment, and through their decisions tend to learn about themselves (though never in an insincere or nauseating way).

If you're looking for a book for the beach or just a lighthearted read, these books are exactly what you're looking for.

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