The Staycation by Michele Gorman
Publishing Date: 1st June 2020
Source: Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!
Number of pages: 336
Genre: General Fiction (Adult)
An uplifting, hilarious read about a cancelled holiday… and how love, laughter and fun can always be found close to home. For fans of The Holiday, Lindsey Kelk and Sarah Morgan.
Two families. One cancelled flight. And a last minute house swap…
Things get desperate for strangers Harriet and Sophie when they become stranded with their families in Heathrow’s Terminal 5. Each woman has her own reason for really really really needing the family holiday they’ve anticipated for months. But an unruly volcano has other plans for them. When their flights are cancelled, the families swap houses and discover that sometimes the best things in life happen close to home.
This ash cloud has a silver lining, even if no one can quite see it yet.
Sophie and Harriet don’t know each other but they’re going to become acquainted soon – as soon as their flights that were supposed to take them on the much needed holidays in Italy are cancelled because of a volcanic ash cloud. Well, they already got chatting to each other, right, so why not swap houses? Harriet will get her city break in London and Sophie her spa treatments on a small goat farm in a very rural Gloucestershire – it’s a win – win, right? Because what could possibly go wrong?
It quickly became clear that both characters have some secrets and troubles. Sophie’s were more plain to see for us but not so for Sophie, and Harriet’s were a bit more hidden and she allowed us to unpeel layer after layer of her problems. At the beginning I had huge problems to distinguish who is who and to whom they belong, to be honest, and I’m not sure whose fault it is, probably mine, as I absolutely wasn’t in the mood, so apologies book.
The friendship between Harriet and Sophie blossomed somehow suddenly and unexpectedly, at least for me, once they were only swapping their houses and then, after few phone calls, they were calling each other “friend” – did I miss something here? It happened completely out of blue to be honest. But whatever. I liked both of them, Harriet and Sophie, and I think Harriet even more, because under the shell there was a brilliant, funny and clever woman hiding. They were both so very different but this is what made them so interesting. While Harriet is a successful solicitor, Sophie is a stay – at – home mum. While Harriet is über – organized, Sophie is much more laid – back, following the rule there’s luck in leisure. While Harriet is brisk and efficient, Sophie is chaotic and very accommodating. Absolutely brilliant to have such different characters. Both their husbands are very much focused on their jobs, James as a goat farmer and Dan as a solicitor, but while James was much more laid – back, the more we got to know Dan, the more we were able to see that there is something wrong, that he’s treating Sophie and their two children like another thing on his to – do list, all the time expecting gratefulness. He was absolutely controlling, to the point of booking all Sophie’s spa treatments, without informing her what she’s going to have, and making all the other decisions in a way that his family might have thought they have made them, but it was him, in fact, pulling all the strings. The more I read about him, the more I disliked him. It was not Harriet’s over – efficiency and planning that annoyed me, it was not Sophie with her whatever – attitude, it was Dan that grated on me, such irritating and annoying he was. However, they all, with all their ups and downs and unexpected announcements felt authentic and realistic. And what’s more lovely is the fact that the women were slowly starting to find that their attitudes change and that they started to do something, according to those changes.
But it’s not only the contrast between the characters and their life – styles, it is also the contrast between the settings that is also brilliantly captured, and the author could truly put into words why it is that Harriet struggles at the goat farm, and why Sophie feels out of her depth in London and everything that Dan work brings with it.
The author put the characters through trials and tribulations, challenges and surprises that they both had to overcome. The plot was engaging and simply the idea of the swap has worked in this book brilliantly, and I loved the contrasting settings, the hustle and bustle of London and the peace and lovely community of the countryside – I may be biased, as I myself live in such a rural place, but as much as I appreciated both places, I’d choose the goat farm. Anytime. The author’s writing is fluent, seamless and chatty.
“The Staycation” is a great summery read with much, much more depth than you could expect at the beginning, light but it also dealt with some heavier topics and issues and I really liked the way how skilfully the author has interwoven and integrated them in the plot. There is fun but there is also seriousness, perfectly blended with each other. It’s a story about growing – up, about finding yourself and your own luck and place, packed with laughter, family relationships, and some drama. A great summery read that I truly recommend!
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