Friday 11 September 2015

Reviewed: Five Go Glamping by Liz Tipping

Five Go Glamping was published by Carina on August 28, 2015.

Thanks to the publisher for the auto-approved Netgalley review copy.

Five Go Glamping is Liz Tipping’s debut novel and if this is just the start of Liz’s writing career then I am extremely excited for more! Fun-filled, witty and uplifting, Five Go Glamping is a quick read but a memorable one. It features a great combination of friendship, romance and adventure and the story builds up vividly to the extent I felt like I was there myself, watching the madness unfold.

Fiona is your typical ‘chick-lit’ heroine – likeable, uncertain about her relationship and her job, at her happiest when she’s out with her friends. She has a five-year plan, which isn’t working out brilliantly but she likes everything to be set out in stone and so she keeps on working at it. Part of it involves saving all her money so she can afford to move in and set up home with her boyfriend Connor. She’s working as much as she can, even though she’s not enjoying it and they seem to look for any opportunity to get rid of her. She’s sacrificing spending time with her best friends Steph and Sinead in order to get her plan in order, although she appears more likely to become a crazy cat lady than achieve her five-year plan. Basically, she’s very particular and although I liked her character, I felt connected enough with her to want to give her a bit of a shove and tell her to enjoy life how it comes.

Liz’s strength was with her characters and how she built up three female characters with their own personalities and each with traits you can relate to. I felt like there was a character, or aspects of a character, that every woman could relate to. Fiona was friendly and thoughtful and seemed like an easy person to get along with. I really enjoyed seeing her character change and develop throughout the course of this book as she slowly begins to find the spontaneous side that her friends have in abundance. Spontaneity is not something she’s used to, and I could definitely relate, but I think once she forgot about her plans for a bit, spontaneity suited her. She was very attached to her phone and social media, which of course is like many people of her age, but I did wonder whether she would discover that once she put her phone down, life may just come to her. The other girls made me laugh. I especially liked Steph and how she would get herself into situations and dramatically regret them the next day. Both her and Sinead had bubbly personalities and the dialogue between them and Fiona felt realistic and natural. They’d be the kind of friends you knew could always lift your spirits but give you some home truths if needed, too.

Though I loved how Liz built up her characters, that didn’t necessarily mean I was going to like them all. Some of them I’m still trying to figure out, notably Weird Beard and Crazy Trousers. They were strange, very strange. Mostly funny strange but sometimes maybe a little over-the-top what-on-earth-am-I-reading strange. The other New Age people were almost too quirky and mad for words but they were entertaining too and it all added to the place the story was heading. When Fiona’s friends get offered a free glamping trip, they’re eager to go and so we get to meet the two other characters that make up the five – Kirk, and Brian Harvey, who is actually Kirk’s dog and not the guy from East 17. Brian was probably the star of the show – what a cutie. Everybody fell in love with Brian – it was impossible not to! The glamping aspect to this book brought out another aspect to Liz’s writing I loved – how she adds layer upon layer to a scene to make it stand out and bring it to life. In this case, Liz described the setting well, added the bonkers characters that came with it, showcased the location, detailed the feel for the area and the mood – combining everything and making it so easy to picture and imagine, without needing to get overly descriptive or tell the reader everything so they don’t get to use their imagination.

The glamping and festival elements were fun. I really loved getting to see the different sides to the characters that were brought out of them when they got there. There was never a dull moment and Five Go Glamping was one of those rare romantic comedies that actually had laugh-out-loud moments. The way Liz told the story felt like the way you’d recount your holiday to your friends – exaggerating a little the laughs and the fun and the madness, touching on but not overly drawing on the moments which weren’t so happy. I felt like that really worked in the book’s favour and helped it flow quickly, from one laugh to another. In the moments Fiona felt like glamping wasn’t all that fun, she escaped to a nearby pub – if it was open – and I must admit I’m not exactly feeling sold on the whole glamping idea! Though, I’d have gone anywhere to avoid Connor if he was my boyfriend. I couldn’t figure him out – he was either non-committal and nowhere to be found, or really over-the-top madly in love with Fiona. I wanted her to ditch him and fast. There was so much put into this book over a short amount of pages and I thought the pacing was really strong considering – the story still felt developed and entertaining. Five Go Glamping is a book that will make you want to stop working, stop focusing on the future and just have some fun in the day ahead. I can’t wait for more from Liz!

Genuinely laugh-out-loud funny, a fab debut!


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