Novel writing experts often say your protagonist in a story should be a likeable character. However most of the way through this entertaining book I wanted to grab the beguiling young Susie Rowlands right out from the page and slap her for being such a spoilt, featherbrained little bitch.
She is the classic Trust Fund babe who messes up in almost everything she does, but because she is pretty, appealing and knows how to flutter her eyelashes, gets away with quite a lot … until she pushes her indulgent parents one step too far. Then she gets the lessons she needs to learn, none of which she bargained for.
And ironically it’s through that frazzling experience that she resolves many of her difficulties and reaches the happy ending with not the slightest trace of egg on her face.
Chocolate box picture setting in the countryside
I enjoyed this upper-middle class romp thoroughly and living quite near Oxfordshire, I recognized many of the towns and villages described in the story. Although we have one brief diversion to Monaco, the vast majority of the time the action takes place in amongst the soft brown Cotswold stone buildings and rolling green countryside with the narrow little lanes I love to drive down when I have North American relatives staying with me … scares the pants off them.
This novel isn’t just about the frivolous young Susie, either – it’s the first in a family saga destined to go on into a series of three, so we’re told. Certainly Susie’s parents and brother are interesting characters and all have their share of small-but-perfectly-formed skeletons in the closet, as do some of the secondary characters who emerge later in the story which helps us look forward to book number two.
Add to this some delightful foraging in antique shops – a personal hobby of the author’s, I believe … some lunches and dinners in bijou Oxfordshire pubs and restaurants, described in loving detail that makes you drool … plus enough champagne to float the Ark Royal, the book gives you a very rounded experience of this extravagant family, their friends and their lifestyle.
All in all, a bit of a rom-com – with more than the usual amount of grit and substance. A feel-good read.
Mixed Emotions – an Oxfordshire Affair
by Antonia Abbott
Raven Crest Books
Print and Kindle