Title: A Summer Fling
Author: Milly Johnson
Published: 29 April 2010
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
When dynamic, power-dressing Christie blows in like a warm wind to take over their department, five very different women find themselves thrown together at work. But none of them could have predicted the fierce bond of friendship that her leadership would inspire…
Anna, 39, is reeling from the loss of her fiancé, who ran off with a much younger woman. Her pride in tatters, these days Anna finds it difficult to leave the house. So when a handsome, mysterious stranger takes an interest in her, she’s not sure whether she can learn to trust again?
Then there’s Grace, in her fifties, trapped in a loveless marriage with a man she married because, unable to have children of her own, she fell in love with his motherless brood. Grace worries that
Dawn is about to make the same mistake: orphaned as a child, engaged to love-rat Calum, is Dawn more interested in the security that comes with his tight-knit, boisterous family? When a sexy, footloose rock singer catches her eye, will Dawn have the courage to follow her heart?
At 28, Raychel is the youngest member of their little gang. And with a loving husband, Ben, and a cosy little nest for two, she would seem to be the happiest. But what dark secrets are lurking behind this perfect facade, that make sweet, pretty Raychel so guarded and unwilling to open up?
Under Christie’s warm hand, the girls soon realise they have some difficult choices to make. Indeed, none of them quite realised how much they needed the sense of fun, laughter, and loyalty that abounds when five women become friends. It’s one for all, and all for one!
Well what can I say about this book? For all of you already familiar with Milly’s work, this was a typical Milly Johnson book – an irresistible mix of humour, compassion, love and friendship.
The story is based around a group of women who work together in the head office for a supermarket. They know each other but only on the most superficial basis, acquaintances rather than friends, hiding their inner problems and turmoil behind polite smiles and chirpy ‘good morning’s! This all changes with the arrival of the new head of department, Christie. With her strong personality, love of bright colours and warm heart, Christie brings the women together and they all find the friendship and support that they have previously lacked, causing them to all take a long hard look at their lives.
There is Anna, suffering in silence after her fiancé leaves her for a younger woman; Dawn who is in the process of planning her wedding by herself; Grace, stuck in a loveless marriage to Gordon, Raychel, married to the love of her life but struggling under the weight of a terrible secret and, finally, Christie, the new boss and the lady who is going to bring them all together.
The characters themselves are all very believable and I felt as though I really got to know them throughout the length of the story.
Whilst I really liked all of the female characters, I particularly warmed to Raychel, a damaged sole who, having married the love of her life, should be full of the excitement of young love and looking forward to starting her married life, and yet she is living with such a terrible dark secret that she struggles to look ahead past their day-to-day existence.
The book is set in Barnsley, Yorkshire, in the north of England, which feels as though the perfect setting for the story, the supermarket and the characters.
It would be easy for this story to have become very anti-male, bearing in mind that a number of the men in this particular book are insensitive at best. However Milly has managed to write a very pro-female book without it taking on too much of a militant-feminist feel!
This book is overwhelmingly about friendship and the strength and support that friends can provide when everything seems to be falling down around you. The woman are all going through some desperately bad times and yet their burgeoning friendship brings some light and hope into all of lives. The book also deals with some difficult subjects, such as homophobia, racism, domestic violence, adultery and miscarriage in a sensitive and compassionate way.
This is the kind of book where you could sit down with a cup of tea for a Sunday afternoon read and completely lose yourself in the story, not looking up again until you realise that it’s gone dark outside. It is a truly heartwarming tale packed with humour, fun, emotion and compassion.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I am look forward to reading more from the pile of Milly Johnson’s books that are currently sat on my bookcase waiting to be picked up.
Rating: 4 out of 5
About the Author
Five-foot-tall Milly Johnson is a half Barnsley, half Glaswegian writer of greetings cards, novels and shopping lists featuring gin and buns. When not writing she is either reading, learning Italian, mixing with the Yorkshire glitterati, getting up the council’s nose about a Dodworth Road Pedestrian Crossing or ironing school clothes. She lives with her two boys and a quartet of mad animals near her Mam and Dad in the middle of Barnsley, South Yorkshire.