The Summer of Living Dangerously by Julie Cohen
|The Summer of Living Dangerously by Julie Cohen|
|Category: Women's Fiction|
|Reviewer: Ruth Ng|
|Summary: Heart-warming, moving, romantic - this is a Regency-come-modern day love story that I just did not want to put down!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 512||Date: March 2012|
|Publisher: Headline Review|
|External links: Author's website|
When I read Julie Cohen's book Nina Jones and the Temple of Gloom a couple of years ago my poor toddler had to endure neglect for the day since I couldn't stop reading it. This time Julie had me risking my own health since I started reading her new book in the bath and my husband came to find me there several hours later sitting in stone cold water, unwilling to get out since I didn't want to stop reading! I do love it when you find a book that captures your imagination, but I'd advise perhaps a comfortable armchair located near to a stash of plentiful snacks would be a wise place to begin.
So, Alice is a writer who perhaps isn't writing what she would really like to write. She's also not really living as she would like to live, but the upcoming wedding of her best friend and the fact that her best friend will then be moving to New Zealand, forces her to begin to re-evaluate what she's doing. In an attempt to break into something new she finds herself a part time job at the local stately home, working there re-enacting the home's family history from the Regency period. Cue the heaving bosoms, the gentlemen in tight trousers and someone getting wet in the fountain...
Alice finds herself utterly caught up in the make-believe world, using it as an escape from the horrors of her real life where she's facing not only the loss of her best friend but her little sister's teenage pregnancy and the sudden, unwanted re-appearance of her ex-husband. As the story unwinds we begin to learn more about Alice, about her past and the secrets she carries in her heart, and the revelations she begins to face have an impact both in her Regency life as well as her real life.
Julie Cohen always writes great characters. I sometimes find that I don't get on with her heroines for part of the book, but with Alice I felt immediately drawn to her. You can see from the start that she is very closed, that something has obviously hurt her deeply in the past, but that she has yet to face it. I found her journey, the discoveries she makes about herself and others in her life, to be convincingly real and very moving. The full reveal of her past is some time in coming, but it is beautifully handled and it left me both desperately sad for Alice as well as compelled to read on to find out what would happen.
I loved the manipulation, too, of the two different storylines - of Alice in 1814 and Alice in the present day. It's fun learning about the regency period along with Alice - who knew they didn't wear knickers back then? And I loved all of the action in the stately home. You can picture it quite vividly, the characters are all very lively, and the developing banter between Alice and Mr James Fitzwilliam is great. It's like getting a lovely dash of Jane Austen thrown into your summer beach novel!
The whole story is clever, and funny, and as I said before I found it incredibly moving too. Remember your snacks. Remember your tissues. And dig out your DVD of Pride and Prejudice because you're certainly going to be in the mood for a little bit of Colin Firth afterwards!
You can read more book reviews or buy The Summer of Living Dangerously by Julie Cohen at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Summer of Living Dangerously by Julie Cohen at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.