Review: 'The Holiday Swap' by Zara Stoneley (2016)
Florence Cortes has the perfect life – an apartment in the trendiest district of Barcelona, a job she loves and a boyfriend who’s whisking her away on a romantic break to Paris to no doubt propose.
Only, he’s planning something far different, and Flo soon realises her life isn’t so perfect after all.
Home loving Daisy Fischer is perfectly happy in her idyllic home in the Cheshire countryside, with an on-off boyfriend who might be slightly dull but is totally dependable. Until he issues an ultimatum, and Daisy suddenly realises that there might be a whole different world out there that she’s missing out on.
Have Flo and Daisy come up with the perfect solution to escape festive heartbreak?
Can a snowbound Christmas in Cheshire – with aristocratic, handsome Hugo as her neighbour, a house full of animals and a leaking roof – help Flo mend her broken heart, and remind her of what she really wants in life? Can a sunny break in beautiful Barcelona – with the dishy but brooding Javier, a never ending supply of cava, and a sea view to die for – prove to Daisy that playing safe isn’t always the answer?
Love actually does seem to be all around this Christmas – and in the places Flo and Daisy least expect to find it, but where will they be for New Year?
One of my favourite festive romantic comedies to watch is 'The Holiday', starring Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz. It's a simply lovely film and one that always leaves me with a smile on my face. So, as soon as I read the blurb for Zara Stoneley's latest novel 'The Holiday Swap', which resembles the film, I was sold and couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy of the book. I'm already familiar with Zara Stoneley's writing after having read her works 'Stable Mates', 'Country Affairs' and last year's holiday read 'A Very Country Christmas' (click here to read my review), which I quite enjoyed and I looked forward to picking up another one of Zara's reads and revisiting the town of Tippermere!
Twenty-something Daisy Fischer can't help but feel slightly confused when her boyfriend Jimmy proposes to her. Yes, they've been together for quite some time, but does Daisy really want to spend the rest of her life with him, trapped in the village of Tippermere? At the same time, Florence Cortes' life is also shook up when she discovers her boyfriend Oli, whom her whole life in the beautiful city of Barcelona revolves around, has been cheating on her. Brought together by their mutual friend Anna, Daisy and Flo decide they both need a change, so what better than a holiday swap? Daisy will spend some time to relax in Flo's apartment in Barcelona, while Flo will take things slow between the horses and dogs in the English countryside. As the girls begin on their trips they have no idea what will be in store for them, but there's definitely something in the air this Christmas...
I loved revisiting the town of Tippermere in 'The Holiday Swap', a familiar location to readers who have also picked up some of author Zara Stoneley's other novels. Even though some recognisable names and places are mentioned in the book, it really is a stand-alone novel and can definitely be picked up without having read any of the author's other works. Main characters Daisy and Flo are incredibly likeable and I loved both of their storylines, set in England and Spain. While Daisy travels around Barcelona with the handsome Javier, Flo is trying to deal with her arrogant neighbour Hugo and huge but loveable dog Mabel (who definitely stole the show more than once; I challenge any reader not to fall in love with her!).
While I personally did feel the book could have had some more dialogue and less description at times, I still thought it was a fabulous read that I really enjoyed. The book not only has some strong characters and captivating storylines, but also great locations and I want to applaud the author for her ability to really include animals in the story. The animals felt like actual characters, which is quite a task, and really added their own touch to the novel. On the whole, Zara Stoneley's 'The Holiday Swap' is a warm and simply great romantic comedy about friendship, love and starting over; a fantastic chick lit read that will undoubtedly leave you with that lovely cosy holiday feeling.