Wednesday, February 3, 2016


I usually avoid popular romance novels like the plague. Not because I am a complete book snob, but because for a long while, the female protagonist (single, alone, stuck in a pants job, irritating ex etc. etc.) could well have been me. While some people may find it reassuring to 'identify' with the lead character and enjoy them jumping life's little hurdles (promotion, discovery of self-worth, settling down with that hot bloke who turns up at some point in the story), I just found it a bit depressing really. When you are that person, whose parents not so secretly worry if you will ever settle down, or who is the last in a very long list of friends who have coupled-up and tied the knot, the fiction clashes a bit too realistically with the fact and all hopes of escapism sink and its just easier to watch The X-factor at your parent's house again, while enjoying a free curry and a snuggle with your favourite cat. *the shame*

I don't know if it is because I am now married, having met my husband at the age of 29 in unexpected and almost unbelievable circumstances, that I am now converted - or that my brain can't cope with anything with multiple-claused sentences. Either way, Giovanna Fletcher's 'Dream a Little Dream' had me hooked despite an initial bumpy start with the first-person narrative.

Giovanna Fletcher (wife of Tom McFly, TV Presenter and YouTuber) is the sort of person you want to be friends with: warm, bubbly, a little bit 'mumsy' and at the same time forthright and successful in her own right. I only picked up that she was an author from her You Tube channel, but decided to give one of her novels a try, as I was starting to fan-girl a little bit over her delightful little family.

At first, Sarah, the protagonist, was difficult for me to separate in my head from Giovanna herself. Maybe it is because I had watched a lot of her 'Dear Carrie' vlogs, that it was hard for me to separate the character from the author. As the story develops, however, Fletcher's voice starts to separate from Sarah's and it becomes easier to read.

Sarah is 29, single, a unfulfilled secretary in a TV production company and part of a friendship group that she has had since University. Still hurt from the break-up from her University ex, she is forced to stifle her feelings, so as not to make the group dynamics 'awkward', despite the fact he is still dating the girl he left her for. Sarah starts to regularly dream about a guy that she once knew 'Brett', and they start to get pretty steamy, before their world's collide in real life and we are left to work out if  'real' Brett could ever live up to her fantasy version. Sarah's life seems to be on pause, while everyone else seems to be moving forward and this novel is as much about the damaging effects of a lost love and the rebuilding of her self-confidence as it is about her being happily coupled-up at the end.

Alongside her love-life, we join Sarah on her journey to fulfilling her dreams of becoming a television researcher, where she is finally able to put her encyclopedic knowledge of reality TV shows into good use. Motivated more by her perception that her mum thinks she is a failure, then by her own ambitions; it is interesting to finally see Sarah stop taking a back-seat and going after what she wants. I found this idea one of the most inspiring in the book, as I have seen so many people in my lifetime hold themselves back, based on a lack of self-belief. Through Sarah I can see other people feeling like they COULD put themselves out there and potentially achieve their ambitions if they only have the balls to ask.

The friendship group also plays a really important role in the story, as their own relationships are also tested, and through them Sarah realises that she isn't the only one without her life in order. Her genuine love for her friends is actually one of the best parts of the book and which makes it a little different from other romance novels, where the friends are relegated to the role of side-kick. With the introduction of a secret romance, and the friends' own problems and insecurities, there is enough of a side-story to keep the interest of the reader without it becoming horribly predictable.

If you like reading romance books with sassy protagonists, then you will enjoy this. It is by no means revolutionary - but not all stories need to be. Some just have to reassure you that no matter how depressing life can be, there is always a way to turn it around, and always someone out there to help you do it. I used to scoff a bit at stories like this - but as I said, eventually I also got my 'happy ending' - so maybe these romance novels aren't really a load of soppy nonsense at all, but more 'coming-of-age' books for women in their late twenties/early thirties.

As usual I have made a little quote printable for you to download if you want to. Just remember that it is for your personal use only. If you want to see what I read in January you can check out my vlog here, alongside my free printables from last month (there are four!). I am hoping to film another review soon, but due to personal circumstances it may not be possible (travelling blah blah...) Until then, leave your book recommendations in the comment box below and I will be sure to check them out.


The messy brunette said...

Sounds a good read. I get where your coming from in the beginning I too was that later starter but hey ho that's life, I was 31 when I met my other half.
Sometimes it's nice to just have a good read

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