The Year of Surprising Acts of Kindness by Laura Kemp
Publishing Date: 22nd February 2018
Source: Received from publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!
Number of pages: 400
Genre: Women’s Fiction
When Ceri Price arrives in the small seaside village in West Wales, she only means to stay for a couple of nights – long enough to scatter her mother’s ashes, and then go back to her life as a successful make-up entrepreneur.
But when a case of mistaken identities means she lands a job as the barmaid in the local pub, she unexpectedly finds friendship, and perhaps a chance at love.
But when the plans for a new housing estate put the local woodland under threat, she fears the way of life here could disappear.
Then mysterious acts of kindness start springing up around the village – a string of bunting adorns the streets, a new village signpost appears out of nowhere and someone provides paint to spruce up the houses on the seafront. Who is behind these acts of kindness and can they help in the race to save the village from the faceless developers…?
Welcome to the Village of Love. Where friendship flourishes and love blossoms…
Really. This book. “The Year of Surprising Acts of Kindness”. I have fallen utterly and completely in love with this story and I think this is Laura Kemp’s best novel yet. I couldn’t, and didn’t want to, put it down. The writing style, and also the plot, reminded me so much of Jenny Colgan’s novels but it was of course absolutely different and had it’s own style and content. It was full of this so difficult to grasp charm and loveliness, it was funny and poignant at the same time, heart – warming and romantic. Uplifting and optimistic.
In this brilliant story that felt like a ray of sunshine we meet Ceri Price, who right now is trying to come to terms with her beloved mum’s death and the fact that her sister is packing all her things without asking Ceri if there is something she’d like to keep for herself. Ceri drives to a little town of Dwynwen to spread her mother’s ashes there and, due to misunderstanding, this young and successful businesswoman bags a barmaid job in the local pub. But there is much more that she’s going to find there – friends and friendships, and she also finds herself falling in love with the place… and not only. So when plans for a new housing estate are made (built on the beautiful piece of woodland!) Ceri knows that she must join the villagers and fight for this what she’s already holding dear.
There are relatively many characters in this story but guys, believe me, they all have their own place and the book wouldn’t be the same without them. They’re so different to each other and they complete each other brilliantly. There is this eco – warrior Rhodri, a little socially awkward but with a great passion for recycling, who so much wants to keep the natural beauty of the village but also make it welcoming place for the tourists, he was just so, so brilliant, or the nine – year – old genius Henry, the married couple who owned the pub, Mel who has grown so much on me, and actually all of them! I only had some great problems with Ceri’s sister, as I couldn’t understand her approach and the coldness towards her sister, and it bothered me so much, for a very, very long time. I was somehow disappointed with her and had a feeling she’s just jealous of her sister’s success and want to punish her somehow with her actions after their mother’s death. Thank you Laura Kemp for letting me understand her better later on, when she visited Ceri – no need to say that I warmed to her then very, very much.
I loved how Ceri was finding so great friendships in this place, and doing so well, and counting her blessing, with the help of Dwynwen’s villagers. My word, those people were gorgeous, and I loved all of them! I also loved Ceri, she was so normal even though she was such a successful businesswoman. I loved her determination, sense of humour, because she has a heart made of gold and she was, you know, this kind of character that didn’t feel the need to lead on problems or troubles, she just wanted to live her life happily, to find her place and maybe love, even though she wasn’t looking for it. There was this brilliant community spirit on the villagers and oh my, how they welcomed Ceri without one question, they appreciated her and they stand behind her, and each other, even if you were new to the village! Ceri has some secrets, and she feels guilty for keeping them from her new friends, especially as she feels so welcome and so well.
The village of Dwynwen, a seaside village in West Wales, was a brilliant, brilliant setting! I’m not sure if I’d man up to go and live there, to be honest, but nevertheless I adored this place, especially when it started to revive after the unexpected acts of kindness happening. It looked so run down, and so lonely, and so sad and horrible at the beginning but the people living there made up for it, and then is started to change, and it was just lovely.
I loved the errors and jumping to conclusions in this story, they were absolutely brilliant and made me laugh so much! The dialogues were brilliant, so straightforward and so honest, probably thanks to the characters who lived their lives so genuine, not spending their time on social medias but actually talking to each other.
This is a story about secrets, love, forgiveness, friendship and, of course, kindness. It is filled with so many feelings and emotions, and all of them so gorgeously and beautifully put into words, you truly discovers new shades of love, betrayal and hope and community. It’s full of warmth and humour and also sadness and this all beautifully blended together, and you immediately feel like a part of this story. Sometimes a small act of kindness is really this all. It focused on the real meaning of life, showing what’s really important and I loved it woth all my heart. Highly, highly recommended!