Recently, I was raving to a friend about some music and he said, ‘If you like something that much, you should tell the world. That’s what the Internet is for, isn’t it?’
Pausing only to repress the suspicion that the sub-text was go and witter at somebody else, I decided that it was a good wheeze. So here goes with my first enthusement.
This is a gem of a book. Also completely unexpected. From the Cartland pink cover, I thought I was getting butterfly-thin romance with a side order of gorgeous frocks. The frocks are there all right, important, nay critical. And so is the romance. But forget butterflies; this book is warm, humane and very grounded.
Vicky, our heroine, is a teenager from a traveller family. In a classic small community (hugely affectionate, nosy and judgemental) she struggles hard to be a good girl, to please everyone who loves her, yet ultimately to be true to herself. She is a kind girl, hard working, generous and a loyal friend, but she has a lot to learn and much of it is painful. And her family don’t help – when do they ever? Especially when, as we all must, she has a brief sortie into bad girl territory.
I’m not giving any more of the plot away but I will say that everyone, not just Vicky, learns something from her trials– and that includes the gorgeous Love of her Life. And the book has a genuinely happy ending.
It’s a long time since I was sixteen, but Kate Lace had me tearing up, remembering the wild uncertainties of the mid teens – swinging between everything is possible to nothing can be done; certain that the world was run by other people and I didn’t get a vote. This is I Capture the Castle country. Vicky’s family are not as barking as the Mortmains but the not-to-be-questioned patriarch could certainly give that genius writer a run for his money. And Vicky, like Cassandra, is the one brave, tremulous bridge between Mad Family and a normal, everyday world. Your heart goes out to her.
This is a lovely book, perfect beach read, with a bittersweet charm that lingers. Definitely a keeper.
DECLARATION OF INTEREST
I think it’s only fair to come clean and say that KL is a mate 1st class (We do sleep-overs and borrow books from each other, so the real McCoy.) But I genuinely loved the book and I would have written this anyway, even had I never shared a bottle of fizz with her.