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17 April 2013

Review: 'Summer Daydreams' by Carole Matthews (2012)

What if you had always dreamed of something more...? 
Nell McNamara has a happy life: her boyfriend Olly adores her, their four-year-old daughter Petal is the centre of their world and Nell has a steady job in the local chip shop. When the chippy needs a makeover, Nell jumps at the chance to unleash the creativity fizzing inside her. Inspired by what she can achieve - and encouraged by the very best friends a girl can have - Nell is determined to try something new. Waving goodbye to the chip shop, she starts up a new business making her own line of must-have handbags, which are soon flying off the shelves. It seems Nell's dreams are finally coming true, but her success doesn't come without a price. Before too long, Nell has to ask herself if it's really possible to have it all ...

Even though Carole Matthews has been part of the chick lit scene for quite some time already, I somehow hadn’t picked up any of her books until a few months ago. ‘It’s a Kind of Magic’ was recommended to me by a friend, and I loved it. So, when I saw the gorgeous and bright cover of ‘Summer Daydreams’ with Carole’s name on it, I already had a feeling this novel wouldn’t disappoint!

The heroine of ‘Summer Daydreams’ is  down-to-earth Nell McNamara, who works in the local fish & chips shop, and leads a happy life with her long-term boyfriend Olly and their four-year-old daughter Petal. After giving the chip shop a successful make-over, Nell’s boss and colleagues tell her she should do something more with her creativity than just serving food all day. This gets Nell thinking and she starts to long for something more for herself and her little family. With the financial help of her boss Phill, she starts an art programme at a college nearby, but this doesn’t turn out the way Nell had initially hoped. Yet, it does give her a push in the right direction: she has always had a passion for handbags, so why not start designing her own? Nell quickly starts up her own business, and it doesn’t take long before she finds success... However, the road to success doesn’t come without a few bumps in the road, and Nell soon realises that in order to realise her dreams she will have to make some sacrifices along the way.

‘Summer Daydreams’ is one of those books that manage to grab readers from the start, and you can’t put it down until you’ve read the last page. At least, that’s what this book did to me. I adored the character of Nell; I love the fact that she is so determined to chase her dreams, even after several setbacks. While many of us would have already given up several times, Nell keeps on going and I admire that kind of determination in people (and literary characters!). However, not just Nell, but all the characters were just lovely and added something special to the story. If I have to pick one of them as my absolute favourite, I’d have to go for little Petal though. Nell and Olly’s daughter is just the cutest thing and she never failed to make me laugh out loud with her actions and comments.     

Besides the amazing cover (it immediately reminds me of sunshine, flowers and Spring!), I actually really liked the fact that the novel consisted of mostly relatively short chapters. This made it easy to use every spare moment I had to continue reading, because I could get back into the story without any confusion or trouble. ‘Summer Daydreams’ is a warm-hearted and easy-going novel which will capture a chick lit fan’s heart from the start... And for those who are as excited as I am about this novel and are slightly sad when they’ve finished it; be sure to check out Carole’s website for a short story sequel!

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