Author Linda has reached the end of her tether - her family is taking her for granted and with the deadline for her second book fast approaching, she has serious writer's block. So she decides to head to Spain, to stay with her author friend Aidan and his partner James, to find some quiet time for her writing. And it certainly won't hurt if husband Rob has to handle everything at home either. After meeting a charming local, Linda is soon reconsidering not only her life but her marriage too.
The author taps into that Shirley Valentine dream - taking off somewhere exotic and leaving your troubles and responsibilities behind for a while. So this is an appealing book for those looking for an enjoyable escapist read for their own getaway. But Linda faffed around a bit too much and didn't feel like a wholly relatable character to me. And it was too easy to guess some of the plot developments far too early, leaving no surprises.
William and Donna are born on the same day in the same hospital but their
lives take very different paths from there. Will struggles to please
his overbearing and well-to-do mother, while Donna is raised by her
older sister when her mother succumbs to alcoholism.
Over the years they almost meet many times, but it takes a tragedy in each of their lives and their subsequent travelling for them to finally meet in New Zealand. When they are unavoidably separated again, they can't stop thinking about each other and hope that they may meet once again and have a second chance at love.
While the premise of this book was intriguing, I felt it was a little too far-fetched to feel real. The coincidences that occur for Donna and Will to almost meet but not meet become a little silly after a bit. Maybe I'm just a cynic, but the fate thing was lost on me. However, despite that there is a reasonably good story in there. Donna is a strong admirable woman, who picks herself up time and again when life throws her curveballs.
Will is a bit of a pushover but his heart is in the right place and he's a genuinely good guy. There are some excellent secondary characters that add a lot to the story, and enough plot twists to keep you interested. Overall it was an enjoyable read but a bit too unbelievable at times for me. (LO)
When Becky finds out that she's pregnant after a one-night stand, she decides to raise her child alone. Now, four years later, her daughter is asking questions about her father, so Becky plans to track him down. When she finds him, Dennis is no longer living the high-flying lifestyle he once was, and instead has lost everything and is living on the streets. Will Becky still tell him about their daughter and involve him in their lives?
Having read Maria's previous novels, I was highly anticipating this one, but unfortunately, for me it fell a little flat. The plot in theory is good, but it took Becky so very long to decide what she wanted to do in regards to Dennis once she found out he was homeless, that the middle of this book dragged on far too much. I struggled to read on but I was intrigued to find out what would happen in the end so I persevered.
A lot of the story centred on the life of a homeless person, and this very serious issue was dealt with in a sensitive and informative way which raised awareness of the issue without giving the plot too heavy a tone. Overall though I was disappointed with the lack of action. (LO)
Just before Ellie sets off for her hen party weekend in New York, she discovers a letter to her sister Caroline, written just weeks before her tragic death. It forces Ellie to confront the truth behind Caroline's death, and makes her rethink some things in her own life, including her impending marriage. When she makes a drastic decision as her weekend in New York draws to a close, will she make it up the aisle at all?
This was a very engaging and well-written story. Ellie was a likeable character, as were her friends, Sharon and Lara, but my personal favourites were Ellie's parents. Typically Irish, they never failed to give me a laugh. I liked the premise of the novel - that a letter can make you rethink things, can change everything. I enjoyed Maria Duffy's style of writing, and look forward to reading more from her in the future. (LO)
The Terrace tells the story of a diverse group of individuals living
in the close-knit community of St Enda's Terrace in the heart of
Dublin city, with one overriding thing in common - their friendship.
However, the strength of their friendship is about to be put to the
test. When the street syndicate wins the National Lottery, everyone is
thrilled - until it becomes apparent that the winning ticket has
vanished without a trace.
Meanwhile, a New York production company has arranged to film the terrace and its inhabitants as part of a TV show on what the quintessential Dublin community is - just as friendships on the street start to break down and everyone begins to suspect each other of taking the missing ticket.
Flamboyant, stylish Marco thinks his neighbour Majella is the culprit, despite the fact that she seems to have it all already. He also has his suspicions about single mother Rita, who hasn't a penny to her name. Maggie, seen as the mammy of the terrace, can't bear to think that anyone has taken it at all - but if someone hasn't, where has the ticket gone? As for Marco's big sister Lorraine, she's too concerned about what's going on behind closed doors within her marriage to worry too much about the ticket - until she realises that maybe the missing ticket issue is closer to home than she could ever have dreamed of ...
As filming continues, the community's camaraderie begins to crumble right in front of the camera - much to the chagrin of Claude, the assistant producer of the TV show. Marco is thrilled to find that he and Claude are growing closer, and even manages to put his worries about the missing ticket out of his mind - but what Marco doesn't know is that his neighbours have seen something to suggest that Claude might be involved in the ticket's disappearance. As time goes on and the ticket doesn't show up, the gloves come off and the community truly gets to see what their friendships are made of. Will friendship prove to be more important than money?
With likeable characters and clever twists, The Terrace is a warm tale that makes you ask yourself what you'd do in the residents' situation. (SBB)
Jenny Breslin's drunken tweet inviting her three best Twitter pals to stay for a weekend in Dublin will change her life. Having spoken to them for a year she feels she knows them really well and what they know of her is almost true, except for the odd exaggeration and the old photo...
Jenny starts to worry that her life will appear dull to Zahra, the celebrity make-up artist from London; Fiona the stay-at-home mum; and her closest Twitter pal Kerry, the Irish nurse. But as she meets her virtual friends she realises that not everything you see on Twitter is true.
Once you get used to Jenny (she is a little intense at first) then you'll begin to really warm to her. The setting of this virtual meets actual life works really well with nothing being as it seems. And if you're a Twitter addict then you'll love it - it will make you look at who you tweet with in a whole other light! (AB)