Summer has been great and I have been enjoying the lovely warm summer weather we got this year. Nothing is better than reading a great summer book while relaxing in the park. So I thought Summer Daydreams by Carole Matthews would be perfect to read. I wasn’t disappointed.
We follow Nell McNamara who is determined to make a better life for herself and her family. Nell works in the local chip shop and discovers her creative side when she gives it a makeover. She is encouraged to tap into her creative talent and after a few setbacks she embarks on starting up a handbag business. But nothing is easy or goes to plan all the time. Nell also has to remember her devoted boyfriend Olly and her little girl Petal and that normal life, bills to pay etc. still have to be dealt with.
Nell is a really likeable character who we want to succeed. Carole has created an inspirational character in this story as Nell has to juggle learning how to make handbags and understanding how business works along with looking after her family on a low income. Nell is a strong character as she has to have that determination to continue with the business despite the hard work involved and setbacks. Sometimes she is a bit naïve but it is understandable as I think when it comes to setting up a new business there are people out there to take advantage and even a really clued up person can have issues. She also doesn’t think about things sometimes and is a little selfish. Everyone needs a work/life balance, even new business owners, but skipping Christmas day is unfair to Petal and her family and ruining their wedding day because her mentor shows up to take promo pics is really selfish. But one really selfish part where I lost some sympathy for Nell was when she had her depressed period. Mainly because despite what happened she had forgotten she had the love and support of her family which some people don’t have. Communication in any relationship is key and I really was urging Nell to talk to Olly and for them to keep their relationship strong as it was clear that they really loved each other.
Olly seems lovely and his heart is in the right place but in a way he is a bit selfish too. Yes he wants the best for his family and has been scarred by what happened to his workaholic dad but what is so wrong with wanting better for his family. He works 2 jobs and he seems to have taken on most of the childcare responsibilities to support Nell. But again Nell and Olly bottle things up, then they get annoyed at each other and don’t communicate properly. In some ways they are similar in personality and not talking to each other about things. Not having the time to see each other a lot due to working jobs at different times and being so busy hasn’t helped with this. Also at one point it is no wonder Nell’s friend starts to make a move on Olly as he feels left out. Sometimes Nell’s mentor Tod didn’t help either. For me I imagined Tod as a really arrogant, successful business man who was a bit creepy and dying to try it on with Nell. He never grew on me as a character but he did become more human as the story went on.
Overall the story was brilliant. Nell’s friends at the chip shop sounded like people we would like as friends. We wanted Nell to really make a difference for her family and succeed. It is a story of taking a chance, hard work, using your talents to their best and believing in yourself. As I said it is an inspirational story but also funny, and endearing with loveable characters. We could believe that this story is a real-life story. For me there are a few bits in the story which I found a bit far fetched. For example Olly setting off on his own to deal with some criminals and not being stopped at airport security on the way back when carrying a lot of money. But despite these I would definitely recommend this book. For any girl it is perfect for a late summer read and if you love Carole Matthew’s books or have never read any of her work I am sure you will enjoy it.
What books have you been reading this summer?