Synopsis:

A captivating new saga set in Liverpool and Ireland, from the bestselling author of DAYS OF HOPE and FAR FROM HOME Angela O’Rourke is six when her parents hand her over to an aunt and uncle in a distant village. It’s a common practice for large, hard-up families in 1950s Ireland, but for Angela it means that her mother and father don’t love her any more. Still, she’s well cared for till she’s sixteen, when her uncle starts to take too much of an interest in her. Moving to Liverpool in the early 1960s, she becomes a success in the world of fashion design. The pain of a disastrous love affair sends her home to Ireland just after the death of her aunt: and there, among old papers, Angela makes an astonishing discovery. As she learns the truth about the past, a brighter new future beckons.

This is the first Lyn Andrews novel that I have read and I enjoyed it. The book begins in Ireland, where Angela’s parents are too poor to keep her. Devote Catholics, they have a lot of children, and another is on the way. Angela’s dad is struggling to find work, so they make the decision to send Angela off to live with her Aunt Mary. Her aunt gives her a good life, but Angela misses her family and resents them for sending her away. Life is OK until her Uncle starts drinking. Life becomes unsafe for her. Then her best friend Emer leaves for America – this is the motivation Angela needs to start thinking about leaving. She works hard and is accepted to do nursing at Liverpool. She moves away – to the anger of her uncle, but soon learns that the academic side of nursing is too much for her. By chance she meets Rox and her family. Whilst with them she has the courage to leave nursing and start her own business in fashion design. For a long time she is happy without a man, but then she falls in love. However, her boyfriend is not a nice guy and result is a broken heart. Shortly after this she has to return to Ireland because her aunt is seriously ill. After her aunt dies she discovers papers that had been hidden from her all her life. This startlingly discovery changes her life and her outlook on family.

This is a very simple read – the language is not difficult and the story is not complicated. I read the majority of this book in one day. It was interesting, fun and engaging. The characters were believable and most of them I liked! The story is set in the 1960s and I felt that life in this time was depicted well. The poverty and the contrast between people and countries was astonishing but also realistic. This did mean there were heartbreaking moments in this book, like at the beginning when a six year old Angela learns she is being sent to live somewhere else.

I liked Angela, although I’m not convinced she would of had such a successful business simply because she was a woman, and in the 1960s it was a male dominated world. However, I liked her determination and her caring heart. She worked hard and was selfless. She understands poverty and when the chance to help out others arises she takes it, helping to pull others out of hardship. My other favourite character was Rox. I loved her shopping obsession! She was cool, chic and stylish, yet had a big heart. When Angela needed her she was there, and helped her through some tough situations.

This was a nice read and I enjoyed it. I’m happy to recommend this book to others and I will be looking out for other Lyn Andrews books. The ending was a bit of a disappoint – the cliff hanger, where we wonder what will happen to Angela, I wanted the book to keep going so I could find out how Angela’s life would change. That is probably my only complaint with the book.

This is simple chick-lit and I would recommend it to those who like a good girly book. 4/5 from me.

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Synopsis:

Mags and Julie are partners at Dream Weddings, catering for the over-the-top and sometimes downright bizarre requirements of Belfast’s brides and grooms to be. They rub along well but are as different as chalk and cheese. Mags is married to the love of her life, has four kids and a complicated extended family. Julie is impossibly glamorous, and doesn’t remotely believe in love or marriage.

When Julie embarks on a life crisis, running away from her live-in lover and throwing herself in to a hair-raisingly sexy fling with Jay, it is Mags who is left to pick up the pieces.

When Julie eventually comes back, she brings Jay with her, and that is where the real trouble starts. Add to the mix Dream Weddings’ most high-profile celebrity clients yet, and the biggest, most ambitious wedding they have ever organised, and the fireworks really begin

This is the second Sharon Owen novel I have read and like The Teahouse on Mulberry Street, I enjoyed it and thought it was an OK chick-lit book. The narrator is Mags – a woman who is happily married, a goth and an assistant wedding planner. Her associate/manager is Julie, who seems to be having a mid-life crisis. Although this takes her to South Ireland where she forgets about her boyfriend and hooks up with a worker at the spa. From there, she starts to lead a double-life, leaving Mags to do most of the work in regards to a crazy celebrity wedding.

This is your basic chick-lit novel. There is romance, a bit of a crisis and friendship. That said, this was a pleasant read. I found myself cringing in places, especially in regards to the weird vampire-like wedding at the end. The story was fairly predictable but that didn’t ruin the read. If you like a quick, easy read this is for you.

I liked Mags however. She was a touch eccentric and I loved the idea of her with blue hair! She looked out for Julie and was happy in her marriage, which was a pleasant thing to read. Her husband was great too – very sensible and loving. I was indifferent to Julie, she seemed to go off the rails and act like a teenager. What I liked was reading what Mags thought about the events, as opposed to reading about Julie herself.

This is easy reading, a fun, quick read if you like chick-lit.

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