Never Can Say Goodbye by Christina Jones

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Never Can Say Goodbye by Christina Jones

Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: Set in a vintage clothes shop, this story is as light and flitty as the stock. Perfectly readable but not massively memorable.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 384 Date: February 2012
Publisher: Piatkus
ISBN: 978-0749953324

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When Frankie is unexpectedly handed the reins to the shop where she currently works, she’s surprised to say the least. Current boss Rita is heading off for a new life (and love) in the sun, and leaving her home and business behind. It’s a swift learning curve to go from shop assistant to business owner, but with her friends, and most of the village, behind her, Frankie’s going to give it a shot.

Though previously a hire-and-return set-up, once rebranded Francesca's Fabulous Frocks becomes a vintage dress shop spanning various decades and the stock does sound stunning, though the speed with which the dresses are sourced prior to the grand opening seems a bit too swift, the whole process a bit too easy. Ditto the core concept of Rita upping sticks and simply leaving the business behind – it’s a nice idea but the way the story tells it seems overly simplistic and, as such, irritatingly unrealistic. I’m not suggesting that a work of fiction should be based on fact, but I do like to be able to lose myself in a story and get swept away with what’s happening, and I thought this one was a bit too out there for that to happen.

Kingston Dapple, the quiet Berkshire village in which the story is set, provides a good backdrop that allows you to believe in the village gossip and eccentric characters pertinent to the story, but it does beg the question of why the young uns haven’t upped and left previously because there’s not a whole lot going on for that generation. The arrival of dapper Dexter Valentine is explained by the fact he has a past he needs to escape, and there’s a handy business for him to take over too, the local flower stall, but the others such as Lilly and Frankie herself don’t really have this excuse and for all the claims of escaping heartbreak and humiliation elsewhere, I’m still not buying a small village as the place to do this when the anonymity of a big city seems so much more likely.

It wouldn’t be chick lit without a splash of romance, and there’s plenty here, but something seemed a bit off to me, and I wasn’t as engaged with the characters as I might have been, barely caring whether or not they ended up together. There are plenty of quirky characters…perhaps too many, and I was left longing for some normality. The added twist of ghostly happenings exacerbated this – it felt like a step too far, as if the author was trying to introduce as many twists and turns as possible while a simple story about the shop would actually have been quite nice.

One thing you couldn’t criticize about the book is the speed with which the story develops, as it certainly gets going early on and you’re not left wondering when the mysteries will finally kick in. That said, I didn’t find the writing was a slick as some, and it didn’t immediately grab and engage me in the way the likes of Jodi Picoult or Diane Chamberlain consistently do.

I don’t mean to imply that it’s a waste of a book because I did quite enjoy it, but was left disappointed because I felt it didn’t achieve its full potential. It’s perfectly passable as one of many books you’re planning to read, but it’s not the sort I would recommend as your only reading material on a long flight or train journey.

I’d like to thank the publishers for sending us a copy to review.

After something a smidge more magical but in the same vein? Why not sneak a peek at Vintage Magic by Sally Anne Morris

Buy Never Can Say Goodbye by Christina Jones at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Never Can Say Goodbye by Christina Jones at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Never Can Say Goodbye by Christina Jones at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Never Can Say Goodbye by Christina Jones at Amazon.com.


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