A Family Holiday
by Bella Osborne
Publishing Date: 16th June 2016
Source: Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Number of pages: 324
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
‘Heartwarming and funny from an exciting new talent’ – Katie Fforde
She’ll do whatever it takes to keep this family together…
As the nanny to four quirky but loveable children, Charlie French has learnt that if there was ever a cement shortage Weetabix would be a viable substitute and that YouTube videos can go viral in seconds, much to her horror. But, most importantly, she’s learnt that whatever happens you stick together as a family.
When tragedy strikes, Charlie is forced to decide whether it’s time to move on or fight to keep the children she loves. With the distraction of the children’s gorgeous Uncle Felix and the chance of a holiday in stunning Antigua, she’s left wondering if turquoise seas can wash away their present troubles. Is the pull of white sand beaches too tempting to resist or will paradise fail to keep them all together?
A gorgeous summery beach read, perfect for fans of Katie Fforde, Carole Matthews and Jill Mansell.
„A Family Holiday” is Bella Osborne’s second novel but my first read by this author. I’ve already heard some good things about Ms Osborne so when I’ve spotted her novel on NetGalley I didn’t hesitate to request it – the cover of „A Family Holiday” is gorgeous – simple but in this case less is more – , it has a family and holiday in the title, and yes, the synopsis was very promising, and without further ado I started to read.
I must admit, I was sure that it is going to be a fluffy, sunny, light read about family holiday, full of sunshine, sunbathing and ice – cream eating and while there is plenty of humour, this book has a much serious side to it. It had you in giggles at the children’s antics and in the next moment you were looking soberly at the text, with your heart slowly breaking in two parts. The author has brilliantly captured the feelings and emotions of the characters and she especially excelled herself when it came to the children – their grief, sadness and their hard trying to cope with the awful situation they found themselves in were incredibly well, incredibly touching and incredibly well nailed and written.
But it is Charlie French that is our main protagonist and I admired her from the beginning for her devotion and commitment and motives. She was trying so hard to save this what has been left of the Cobley family, even when law and some other people were doing everything to make it so hard for her. She’s been left as a sole charger for the four Cobley children after their parents died in a car accident but she was so much more than just a nanny to them. She knew them all so well, in contrast to their aunt (Ruthless) Ruth and uncle Felix who were coming in question as potential guardians of the children, and while Ruth wanted to be their guardian and immediately let Charlie go, Felix didn’t want to be their guardian but wanted Charlie to stay. Charlie cared for the children and she knew that should they land into care, they will never be together again, and she desperately wanted to prevent it – she also knew how it is to be in the care, as Charlie had a very unhappy past herself. Really, she had the biggest heart in the world, her love to the children was palpable through the pages and I hated to see her struggle so much. For the children she wasn’t afraid to fight and put her own interest aside and yet she was aware that she has her own life as well.
Now, I know that we were supposed to dislike Ruth, and sure, I didn’t like her, but I think that the scenes with her were hilarious and added a lot of pepper to the story. We also have Felix, who, after being found again in Antigua expected us to call him Blue, which made me roll my eyes to be honest, but well, whatever. However, I couldn’t warm to Felix, or Blue (I can’t. Not sure why but it would be impossible for me to call someone Blue) not for a single second, even though throughout the story he was developing and coming out of his shell and we slowly got to know his thoughts, his past and his priorities. As much as I really appreciate that he knew what he wanted and he was sure he doesn’t want to change his life, I also couldn’t shake off the feeling that he could have at least try a little more for the sake of his brother’s children.
Gosh, guys, when we eventually arrived to Antigua I was so tired of waiting for the holidays that I didn’t enjoy them as much as they deserved to be enjoyed – sadly. I liked how Charlie dealt with all the issues on the island, how much patience and understanding she had, but I couldn’t stop feeling that we are running in circles all the time, and it just made me feel frustrated. Though the island itself looked brilliant in the descriptions, so exotic and vivid and full of water.
However, I had a feeling that I’m never going to finish this book – I just somehow couldn’t totally, absolutely, deeply engage with the story, with the characters even though, after reading all those raging reviews I was sure this book is the next jackpot for my book shelf. It’s just that for me the book has two parts: the first one is a very long introduction to the whole situation, intertwined with adventures of Charlie’s best friend, Fleur, and as much as it was humorous and added a lot of lightness to the story I couldn’t help thinking what does she actually have to do with the exact plot? Yes, she was a great support for Charlie but nothing more and for me Fleur could easily get her own novel, she’s for sure worth it. And the second part is the holiday itself that, even though in an exotic place – Antigua – with a lot of sunshine, blue waters and accidents, dragged on and on for me and it was more as if the author wanted to share her own memories about her own holidays with the readers. I wanted to love this story, I really wanted it, and it is worth to be loved, but somehow I just couldn’t engage with the characters and the dragging on events and I just had a feeling that there are too many things that are neither relevant, nor significant, to the plot.
But apart of me having the few issues with the book, I enjoyed it and there was so much potential, and the author’s writing style really took to my liking, so I’ll be for sure looking for her other works. I highly appreciate that Bella Osborne has written a book about such important issue (that I think I haven’t read before about!) in such a thoughtful way and for creating a fantastic, loving family and people who would support this family no matter what.