Monday 11 May 2015

Reviewed: The Love Shack by Jane Costello.

The Love Shack by Jane Costello was published by Simon & Schuster on April 23, 2015.

Thank you to Hayley at Simon & Schuster for sending me a copy of this book to review.

Before The Love Shack, I’d only ever read one Jane Costello book which was The Time Of Our Lives. I completely fell in love with Jane’s writing on my first read and even now, having read countless books from other brilliant authors since, The Time Of Our Lives is still one of my favourite books and I still think about the characters now. With that I knew I just had to read Jane’s next novel, and back catalogue and every book to come, and The Love Shack did not disappoint at all. Jane has this gorgeous style of writing that has you actually laughing out loud one minute then feeling so moved emotionally within the next page or so. What I loved about The Love Shack, which was evident from the two introductory chapters to main characters Dan and Gemma, is that this was a book written about two characters obviously genuinely madly in love with each other. It stood out straight away because a lot of women’s fiction is about a girl meeting a guy and then all the feelings and issues that come with the building of a relationship. But Dan and Gemma, their chemistry and love for each other rolled off the pages. They were both wonderfully vibrant, loved-up characters and even though you know that Jane is going to throw obstacle after obstacle in front of them, the characters and plot were so refreshing to read that even with the more tender moments, it was a book that left me feeling warm and happy and optimistic, every time I had to put it down.

Dan and Gemma have found their perfect home. It’s not actually perfect, there’s a mountain of work to be done on it, but it is perfect for them. Pebble Cottage. The issue is (or at least one of the several hundred issues is) that they cannot afford it, on their own, in any sense. I’m sure people who have been house hunting can relate that it can be a complete nightmare. Well poor Dan and Gemma do not fill you with much hope that that’s not the case, but they are both strong-willed and stubborn and decide that they can’t give up on Pebble Cottage. They have to buy it, even if that means giving up their current rented place and moving in with Dan’s mum, Belinda, until they can afford it. For the first half of the book, my jaw was aching so badly I can’t even explain, I was just laughing so much at the chaos that was living with Belinda. Dan’s mum was completely lovely but also completely mad. From her loud singing the wrong words to the strangest of songs, to her horrendous assassination of food (or cooking as she knows it), to her sexual innuendos which had me cringing and Dan desperately wanting to disappear, she was crazy but so much fun to read about. Jane wrote Belinda’s character so naturally funny that I could really picture this barmy woman doing everything that was described, even tucking her 29 year old son up in bed…

The Love Shack is told in alternate chapters between Dan and Gemma. I find it rare to read equally from a man’s perspective in women’s fiction, and especially not as realistically as Jane has done here. Dan’s voice really comes through and he is very believable. I loved his character and yes he did have me swooning but also laughing, a lot. He wasn’t too cheesy-romantic and over the top but at the same time, he wasn’t an overdone typical male character. I felt Jane portrayed him in such a great way in that you know he has those stereotypical male thoughts (the pain of creaky beds when you’re living with your girlfriend at your mum’s house…) but you can also find yourself falling head over heels with the romantic side to his character too. Dan was a witty character but so was Gemma and I really enjoyed her character too. She wasn’t perfect, she wasn’t always completely honest but she was thoughtful and caring and only ever wanted the best for everyone. Some of my favourite Gemma moments were at work where we see her relationships with Sebastian and Sadie. Some of the situations they found themselves in had me cracking up and their solutions made me laugh even more. Jane wrote every character in this book, even the minor supporting ones, so vividly and with so much personality that I had built up such strong pictures in my mind that it felt more like I was watching a film and could catch on to the characters and every detail about their image and temperament. Another favourite character of mine was Rich who was just inimitable (and I’m not sure I mean that in a good way).

The Love Shack is a light-hearted novel, a delight to read but it also has lots of depth to it and as the story transpires, you can see there’s much more to this book than a couple saving money for their dream home. Relationships need a lot of work to keep on track but family, friends, careers and memories have a big role in this book too and not every moment is a happy one. This was just the kind of book I’d been hoping to read though, one that made me think but not too much, more the kind of tonic to put a relentless smile on my face and cheer me up, as I’ve learnt Jane’s books are good at. The characters had so much to give which if I’m honest left me not wanting the book to end because this is another set of characters that I will still be thinking of long after I’ve finished the book. Jane has combined a wonderful range of one-liners, a creative and often crazy group of characters and a hectic, over-the-top yet purely romantic core and it worked like a treat. Another Jane Costello hit.

A beautiful, laugh-out loud romance with full of life characters and the ability to put a huge unwavering smile on my face.


  1. I have been looking forward to this review. Another great one. You need to you tube the song love shack xx


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