I know a lot of people would rather avoid books that feature the pandemic. The world is still scary, and who knows when it’ll finally be over. But, it’s something that has affected us all and will affect the way we see things for many years to come. So it’s safe to see that when I stumbled across a chick-lit book set during the early days of lockdown? I was very curious.
I do have to say that some things happen in this book that probably shouldn’t actually happen during a real lockdown for safety reasons. But umm, the romance can be excused at least with support bubbles and stuff. Though, I’m not sure when exactly those came into place… They do consider themselves part of the same household though, as technically they do live on the same property. So, it gets a pass.
Anyway, this book follows Gemma, a freelance writer who has just discovered her boyfriend cheating on her. Her solution? Stay in a cottage owned by a friend in the countryside. It would only be a few days, and it would give her a much-needed break before she went back to London to find a new flat. And then the lockdown happens. Gemma is stuck in an unfamiliar house in a village with her dog. Her only other company? The man who lives in the shed at the end of the garden.
Despite the fact this book is set during a time that was incredibly stressful in real life, this book was an enjoyable and easy read. It’s pretty short, which definitely helps, but it has likeable characters and a lot of humour. There are some emotional moments, but they’re more linked to Gemma’s past then the pandemic itself. So if you’re worried to pick up this book as you don’t want a reminder of how hard things were, this book isn’t about that at all.
Being stuck in a small village, it wasn’t like there was much Gemma could do anyway. She spends most of her time trying to help out people in the village from a distance and walking her dog. The dog, Mabel, is definitely one of the most important characters in this book. And she is suitably adorable. She does do something that makes herself sick at some point, but overall this is just a happy story dogwise. It’ll make you want to cuddle your own if you have one.
There were limited characters due to the whole situation of the book. But you still get a feel for Gemma’s family, friends and the village she finds herself in. Gemma works hard to help out the people who might be feeling lonely. One of the activities she arranges is kind of questionable. Like, she does it for a good reason. But on stay at home rules? Probably shouldn’t have been happening. And that bugged me a bit. But I loved that Gemma cared enough about these strangers to try. She’s not the only nice one either. Her love interest, Matthew is the village handyman, and it’s obvious that a lot of the village loves and relies on him.
Speaking of love, I should say something about the romance in this book. It was sweet. Maybe a little too fast for my tastes, especially considering the length of the book. But it was cute, and I don’t really have any problems. Matthew was someone that Gemma needed in her life. Even if she did keep trying to deny it and frustrated me to no end. But every book needs drama, so I get it, plus she’s never really had a love like that. They were sweet together, and I loved that they were a little family with Mabel.
There is a lot of talk of the past and some difficult family situations in this book. Gemma spent a lot of her life with her Aunt because her parents were in the military and used to travel around a lot. Staying with her Aunt at the weekends was a little bit of stability that Gemma needed. In the recent past, her Aunt died, and she’d been suffering from dementia before that. It was a little hard for me to read. Especially as the town she lived in was also the town my grandparents lived in. And I lost my grandad a few years ago too after he’d been suffering from dementia – among other things. It was fun seeing talk of a town I used to visit a lot, even if the library mentioned isn’t in the location I remember it as a new one was built when I was younger. If this sort of thing upsets you, be warned. The fact it made me feel those things? That’s a good thing in my book, as it meant that it felt realistic. There is also talk of a closeted character, though this doesn’t go into detail. And I kind of wish we’d actually seen a bit more.
Overall, this was a decent and enjoyable read. I’m definitely glad that I picked it up and gave it a go, as it was something a little different to most of the chick-lit I’ve read.
If you are triggered by talk of the pandemic, obviously avoid this novel. But if not, I highly suggest you give this novel a chance. You might be pleasantly surprised.