Monday 2 August 2021

Review | Finding Summer Happiness by Chris Penhall

Published by Ruby Fiction on May 18, 2021

Finding Summer Happiness drew me in straight away with its enticing cover and intriguing blurb. I’m new to Chris Penhall’s books but this had all the makings of an absorbing summer’s read, and it did not disappoint.

Miriam runs a successful events and catering business, but all she wants to do is escape. Things have got complicated and just the very thought of cooking stresses her out, so when her PA finds her an idyllic rental cottage in Wales, she snaps it up. Her dreams of peace and quiet and a place where she has nobody to please but herself come true – at least for a day. Soon it turns out that her PA didn’t pay great attention to the contract and Miriam has somehow ended up at a beautiful cottage that comes with its own events contract. Her mysterious landlady has an agreement to host events for several people and provide full meals and entertainment. This is now left under Miriam’s control, and she has no idea how to cope with it.

This was an entertaining read from the first page to the last. I enjoyed getting to know Miriam and found her quite easy to relate to, as I’m sure a lot of readers will. She is always taking on too much and struggles to stop herself from offering to help people in need, even when she doesn’t have the time to look after herself. When all she wants is to snuggle up alone with a ready meal and time away from everybody, instead she finds herself catering to strangers in her home, overwhelmed by just how unrelaxing her relaxing time away has become.

The effects on her mental health were clear to see and I found myself rooting for her and also wanting to tell her off a little bit too – to tell her to stop overworking and feeling like she has to do things that she really didn’t have the headspace for. I wanted her to stop talking to herself so much and just give herself time to breathe – but of course it is easy to think about that but not so easy to put it into action. She is a caring character who has gone through some tough times – no wonder she needed the seaside escape – but I felt she definitely needed to learn how to help herself too.

I liked the inclusion of mental health in this novel and feel like this is something that we are seeing more in fiction these days but also could still be shown much more, as so many adults experience anxiety and other mental health problems that novels like this one can normalise it and help people feel less alone. The author definitely handles the topic with honesty and care in Finding Summer Happiness.

There was so much I enjoyed about this book. From the dreamy setting and the refreshing sea air to all the food (well, maybe except the microwave meals-for-one), this book had me smiling all the way through. I loved the description of the coastal location and from cliff walks to swimming in the sea, I found the book to be full of atmosphere which made the book so easy to get into but not so easy to put down. The supporting characters in the book were a mixed bunch yet each brought something amusing to the story with warm friendships and newfound romance.

There was a lot going on in Miriam’s life, and plenty of things from her past beginning to resurface, and because of this I was never entirely sure where this book was going to go. I really liked the surprise elements to the story and the satisfying ending which I felt fit the rest of the story perfectly though I would of course like to know what happened next for all involved. Overall, I found Finding Summer Happiness to be a captivating and heartwarming read, an ideal book to escape into this summer.

Review copy provided by the publisher - this was my honest review.     

1 comment:

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