Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Book review: A Seaside Affair by Fern Britton


My edition: Paperback, published on 26 March 2015 by Harper, 448 pages.

Description: When the residents of the Cornish seaside town of Trevay discover that their ramshackle but much-loved theatre is about to be taken over by a global coffee chain, Cafe au Lait, they are up in arms. It is up to Penny Leighton to come up with a plan to save it.

Trevay soon finds itself at the centre of the universe when A-listers arrive to take part in a charity season at the theatre.

The play throws out a chance to Jess Tate, girlfriend to TV heartthrob Ryan Roberts. His career is on the rise while hers remains resolutely in the doldrums. But when opportunity comes calling, it isn't just her career prospects that are about to change...

Rating:



With its beautiful summery cover, this novel announced the season of sweltering hot beach reads to me. Though the weather in the UK was not quite up to scratch yet while I was reading it, but that didn't hamper my enjoyment of being transported to a relaxing holiday destination. I may have been slugging away at the office, but it felt like I was vacationing on those precious hours on my commute, which I spent with the villagers of Trevay.

The focus on the Cornish village reminded me somewhat of a novel I reviewed last year; A Fete to Remember. Both are set in a small town and focus on the real community spirit which emanates from the pages of the novels, but where Julia Stagg's fell flat to me as I never truly connected to the characters and their struggles, Fern Britton's wonderfully descriptive writing style managed to transport me to Cornwall, and I felt a real part of that amazing feeling of solidarity among the villagers that rippled through the story.

A Seaside Affair centres on, as previously mentioned, the Cornish town of Trevay. And in particularly the villagers' battle against a big coffee chain wanting to take over The Pavillions, which houses their historic theatre. The problem is that The Pavillions don't look like they used to; run down and neglected it needs some serious money injected into it, which the coffee chain can provide and so the council is pretty set on signing the paperwork as soon as possible, and by doing so getting rid of the eye sore that is the current theatre.

Armed with a passion for their community and some handy contacts in the worlds of television and theatre, the towns people put their heads together to come up with a plan to save The Pavillions without the need to sell out to the coffee chain. They soon manage to rope in an array of celebrities to put Trevay and The Pavillions on the map before the start of a new theatre season, which includes an exclusive event around television series Downtown Abbey and a play which stars a famous model turned actress, who has her own reasons for taking on the job in the small village. All the money made from the events will go to the helping to save The Pavillions, but will it be enough? And will the drama that plays out behind-the-scenes not get in the way of the ultimate goal?

I do love Cornwall and Fern Britton describes her lovely fictional village in such a way that it sounds like the perfect holiday destination. I wish it was real so I could go there on my next trip! It is no surprise that the townspeople feel passionate about the place and I really enjoyed reading that feeling of solidarity that was created by the mutual goal of saving the theatre and fighting their Goliath; the coffee chain.

Unfortunately I did think that there were too many characters the novel tried to focus on, which meant that none of them really received the page time they deserved or needed for me to be able to truly care for any of them. There was a lot of focus on the actors' various spouses which didn't really serve the story at all, only added unnecessary dramatics that actually made the characters get on my nerves after a while.

And that is a shame, because there is a lot to enjoy within A Seaside Affair too, I particularly loved the core plot of saving the theatre. And if you're looking for a real holiday read this summer, A Seaside Affair ticks all the right boxes. Don't expect amazing character developments or a highly imaginative plot, but if you love romantics novels with a heavy dose of drama, then this is just the book for you.

You can purchase the novel from Waterstones, Amazon.co.uk or your own preferred retailer.



Would you like to know more about the author? You can connect with her online at:

Twitter: @fern_britton


Many thanks to the publisher for a copy of the novel through Lovereading in exchange for an honest review.

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