I’ve only been introduced to Katy Birchall’s chick-lit this year through her first book, The Secret Bridesmaid. I picked it up in the Works one day and enjoyed it so much. As soon as I saw she had a new book on NetGalley, I immediately hit request. Having finished the book, I’m so glad I did. This book was definitely emotional in places but was so much fun, and I’d recommend it to all. Especially when I’m talking about what I think chick-lit is now.
Freya is getting married, and her wedding should be the first of eight she needs to attend that year. Until her fiance, Matthew dumps her the day before the wedding. In a broom cupboard. Freya’s heart is broken, and she doesn’t know how she’s going to handle attending all her friends’ weddings. Until her best friends, Ruby and Leo, suggest she completes a Wedding Survival Guide. At each wedding she attends, she’ll have to complete a task that will put her out of her comfort zone but be fun. The challenges may wind up getting her in more trouble than she expects, but they also allow her to learn a lot about herself and find new love.
This book is being advertised as a rom-com, but many of the reviews say that the romance was too much of a side plot to feel like one. And honestly, I’d agree. I’d say this is chick-lit, contemporary or whatever else you want to call it. Those sorts of novels just offer normal lives along with an entertaining love story, and this is what this book does. Freya deals with family problems, the grief of losing her relationship, and with starting to love herself a bit more. It has some great friendships and is incredibly funny. But, yes, the romance is only a side=plot that starts about halfway through. There’s a problem with automatically sticking books that would have been labelled chick-lit in the past as romance, as even if they do have romance, it’s not going to be the focus in the same way. And this novel is a perfect example of that. It has a romance in it that I did adore, but I didn’t finish the novel with the main takeaway being I loved that relationship. I love both chick-lit and romance novels. I just think we need to move away from considering them the same thing now.
I loved the protagonist, Freya. She’s someone who is organised and who usually has her life together. And that’s great. But she also has this dorky side underneath it which is exactly what the challenges help unleash. Her conversations with friends are so much fun, and you can’t see what Matthew was talking about when he was saying why they didn’t work. He comes across as a complete asshole, but you’re also witnessing Freya wanting him back and her memories both good and bad. I liked that this novel showed that some relationships just end. It’s not that one person has done anything wrong, they just don’t love each other anymore, and that doesn’t make it any less difficult. It takes Freya a long time to move on, and I appreciated seeing that journey.
Diving into the romance, I will say it was cute. Freya and Jamie had some great banter, even if I was unimpressed with him comparing Busted and Take That early on and acting as if they’re the same. Nah. Not at all. But he quickly grew on me, and I loved the bickering and all the jokes. Jamie seemed like a sweet guy, and I wouldn’t mind finding someone like that myself. Just maybe not so much of a hipster haha.
This book definitely has emotional moments. I’ve talked about how this book focuses on Freya getting over her ex and dealing with the grief of losing someone she’d been with for 12 years. But they aren’t the only emotional scenes. Freya has a difficult relationship with her Mum, who left them when she was 15. She met a new man and moved to the Lake District with him. Since then, she’s barely been in her life until all this happens. Freya has to come to terms with her past and the fact that her Mum does love her and is trying now. It made me tear up a couple of times, but the emotional payoff was definitely worth it. It was lovely seeing them get close again and that these sorts of relationships can be mended.
I enjoyed this book so much. I laughed, I cried, and I did not want to put it down. This was the perfect book to begin after an anxious day, and it cheered me up massively. There were so many laugh-out-loud moments and scenes between friends that made me want to giggle and talk to mine. It was all so wonderful.
Katy Birchall is definitely an author we should all be keeping an eye on as these books are amazing.
Title: The Wedding Season
Author: Katy Birchall
Age Range: Adult
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (UK) | St Martins Griffin (US)
Release Date: 26/5/22