All You Need is Love by Carole Matthews

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All You Need is Love by Carole Matthews

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Kerry King
Reviewed by Kerry King
Summary: Is Sally Freeman really a single mum and Superwoman all rolled into one? If she is going up in the world, she's going to have to drag her Liverpool sink-estate home along with her. An innocuous, occasionally witty outing from your friendly, neighbourhood regular-in-the-best-seller-list, Carole Matthews.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: July 2008
Publisher: Headline Review
ISBN: 978-0755345755

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Sally Freeman has always wanted a better life; not just for herself but mostly for her 10 year old son, Charlie. It's just that sitting in her damp, decaying flat in a 70s concrete jungle of a Liverpool sink-estate, with no job, no skills, no prospects and no father for Charlie, Sally cannot see any way this could ever be possible. Even her ex-boyfriend, the good-looking, likeable, funny, friendly, artistic Johnny who loves Charlie as if he were his own son, cannot get a look in. Poor Johnny, who would be perfect if he would only discover some ambition to be somebody. Sally despairs that things could ever change. Until, that is, she signs herself up for a computer course, laid on for those with the greatest need and interest, by the local authority.

Sally finds that she takes to computing like a duck to the proverbial Chinese stock pot and things begin to look rosy, particularly as her tutor, the dashing, suave, slick, handsome, sartorially elegant Spencer Knight, appears to have taken a bit of a shine to her. And why wouldn't he? Sally is pretty, bright, keen and has her feet firmly on the ground; qualities that Spencer admires in a woman and qualities that are in very short supply in the women that are generally deemed suitable and that he usually dates.

As with, in my personal experience, the majority of this type of story, this is the juncture at which the reader is able to see where the plot is going to go: Sally and Spencer quickly become an item, much to the endless chagrin of Johnny and Sally's son Charlie, who thinks that Spencer, despite his beautiful Porsche, is a bit of an idiot and would much rather his mum go back out with Johnny.

So it would appear that having ticked off 'love' from the list of things in her life that need to be going places, Sally takes one look around the shabby, graffitied, cheerless estate she calls home, and galvanises herself into action. Just like Silla Carron from The Estate We're In, Sally badgers her local council until a clean-up crew arrives, armed with mops, chemicals and unguents. You can probably guess what happens next.

Anyway, books in this genre are neither written nor read, by their legion of loyal and adoring fans, for Hampton Court maze-like plots; which is lucky, because at the mention of the words Tate Liverpool I could have turned to the middle of the book for the also-plot, or the stuffing as I like to call it and then the end page to see if I was right (I didn't because I already knew I was). The reason Matthews is as successful as she is, lies within the fact that she knows her audience, she sticks to the recipe and the soufflé comes out of the oven, magnificent, and looking exactly like the picture in the book and what's more, it doesn't collapse on the way to the dinner table.

Does Sally's prince turn into a frog? Her coach into a pumpkin? You'll have to read the book and find out.

I enjoyed All You Need Is Love for what it is; a chirpy, happy, easy read; undemanding on your time and just a bit of good fun. If you are not in the mood for a literary challenge and 100 Years Of Solitude feels too much like an afternoon in the Glastonbury mud, then give Carole Matthews a go as it would make a great beach read. In a similar vein, you may wish to cast your eye over It's A Kind Of Magic also by Matthews, or perhaps you would like to give writing duo Emlyn Rees and Josie Lloyd the benefit of your book allowance and try The Three Day Rule. Lastly, and one I heartily recommend for it's both quite clever and deliciously silly at the same time is Notting Hell rather ably penned by old Boris's sister, Rachel.

As ever, many thanks indeed to the guys and gals over at Headline for sending the Bookbag this copy for review. We also have a review of Matthews' That Loving Feeling.

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Chloe said:

I've just read my first Carole Matthews and wasn't overly sure about it, but this sounds good so I'll give it a go! Great review x