>> Wednesday, July 28, 2010
TITLE: Flora's Lot
AUTHOR: Katie Fforde
SETTING: Contemporary England
TYPE: Chick Lit
REASON FOR READING: I enjoy Fforde's book, as long as I read one every now and then.
Flora Stanza has sub-let her London life in a bid to join the family antiques business. Her knowledge extends only to the information she has crammed from daytime TV, but what she lacks in experience she makes up for in blind enthusiasm. So she is more than a little put out when she doesn't receive the warm country welcome she expected. Her curt cousin Charles and his fiancee Annabelle are determined to send Flora packing, and their offer to buy her out is tempting...until a strange warning makes her think twice.I have to be in the right mood to read Katie Fforde's books, but sometimes I just feel like immersing myself in her slightly old-fashioned, stereotypically English world. Flora's Lot was a nice one, with gentle humour and nice, if not particularly fresh, characters.
Stuck with a cat about to burst with kittens, Flora has little choice but to accept the offer to stay in an abandoned holiday cottage miles from any neighbors, let alone a trendy wine bar. And between fighting off dinner invitations from the devastatingly handsome Henry, and hiding her secret eco-friendly lodger William, Flora soon discovers country life is far from dull as she sets about rebuilding the crumbling business...
Flora Stanza's life in London isn't really satisfying her, so when she inherits the controlling stake in the family auction business, she sees it as an opportunity to do something a bit different. She's a sensible person though, so she doesn't just drop everything and decide to run the business. Rather, she simply refuses to automatically sell out and decides to check it out. She'll work there for a few months (bowing to the experience of the cousin who's been actually involved in the business probably forever) and see what she wants to do.
She doesn't expect a rapturous reception, but the one she gets is surprisingly hostile. Her stuffy cousin Charles and his fiancee Annabelle are clearly doing there best to make her life miserable and convince her to go back, to the point of sticking her in a cottage in the middle of nowhere on her own.
But Flora is quite tenacious, and will not give up. Especially when, despite some initial difficulties, she finds herself settling into village life, not to mention feeling some very unexpected romantic twinges.
This was a sweet, heartwarming read, and a surprisingly funny one. Flora's cool. She might be a bit silly sometimes, but her heart's in the right place, and I had to applaud her determination to do what she had set out to do, without being stupidly hard-headed.
I loved the old-fashioned feel of the village life... well, slightly old fashioned. People are clearly 21st century people here, but there is a gentleness there, a lack of any darkness, that is probably a bit idealistic. I also really enjoyed the background of the auction house business. We get to find out quite a lot about how things work, and it was all new to me.
The romance was ok, but not my favourite element of the book. The best thing about it was probably that the identity of the love interest really surprised me. I mean, I'm a veteran romance reader, when I'm reading a non-romance I can usually spot who the love interest is going to be after a couple of paragraphs! But this guy was one that I thought Fforde couldn't possibly make into someone Flora could fall in love with. Surprisingly, she could, and by the end of the book I was convinced.
MY GRADE: A B.