Four old friends facing their dreaded fortieth birthdays are reminded of a pact they’d made as school girls twenty-five years earlier- to go on a cruise together. However two of them aren’t speaking to each other, and none of them have any money to speak of. Roz is in a dead end job and struggling to trust and appreciate her lovely man, having been betrayed in the past. Olive is living a life of servitude to her lazy husband and his family, while supporting them by cleaning other people’s houses too. Formerly gregarious Frankie has mysteriously left the area to live a quiet life miles away. Ven has had a hard couple of years having lost both parents and a bad husband, but is determined to get the girls together for her birthday, honouring their pact.
When Ven tells them she’s won an all expenses paid cruise stopping in at her namesake city of Venice, she manages to convince them to let go of their miserable lives for a couple of weeks, but has to trick them by hiding Frankie from Roz until they’re on board. In escaping for a short time, all their lives are massively changed, secrets revealed, and in the case of Olive, old Greek haunts revisited.
Kooks for your Kindle?– The supporting characters are entertainingly larger than life, unlike the four leads who are more suitably real. Olive’s husband and mother in law are more like fairy tale baddies in the way they have mentally beaten her into submission. Their cruise dinner companions are initially somewhat obnoxious, but come to reveal kinder, thoughtful sides. A creatively named cast of cruise staff make up the varied characters.
The Bella-Swan-Pathetically-Self-Sacrificing-Factor– The easiest person to empathise with is Olive, as we get to know her the best. But it is a struggle to understand why she stayed in such a living situation for so long. Perhaps it’s the frog in boiling water theory- if things get bad suddenly, you notice and jump out, but if they slowly deteriorate, you don’t realise until it’s too late. We don’t get to know Frankie and Ven quite so well at first, probably so they can keep their secrets until later in the book. Roz is like a wounded bird, and knows she has a man that loves her, but is unable to let go of her fears and trust him.
Painting a picture for your paperback?– The idea of a cruise had never appealed to me, but I can see how it would be a nice break, especially when it’s free! Although I think the thought of three thousand people all disembarking for the same excursions is a bit claustrophobic, and I have no idea why the same dinner seating plans are kept every day when there’s opportunity to mix with all sorts of people, and escape those you don’t like! On the plus side, unlimited gourmet food and drink, pampering, and a bit of sunshine never go amiss.
Evaluation of your eBook?– This one crept up on me; it took a couple of chapters to get into it, mainly due to getting used to the four main characters and knowing which was which. By this time I was rooting for them all to get away from their sorry lives, so couldn’t put it down. Most of the story takes place on the ship, and is pretty fast paced. There’s an element of revenge by living well on Olive’s part, and her family’s antics (while they are left without her help) are glimpsed. I imagine if you’re approaching middle age and wondering what on earth happened to your life, or if you just fancy a vicarious holiday, this would be an especially good choice. I’ll confess I guessed one of the mysteries, and had a feeling about the other, but that didn’t spoil it. It’s a readable tale about friendship and trust, with a bit of travel, comedy, and romance thrown in for good measure.
Frothy Ranking: 4/5 cocktails.
Can be obtained from:
UK: £1.99 on Amazon.
US: Not on Amazon kindle, but is on Kobobooks for $8.29.