Thursday, 14 February 2013

Valentine Feature Week Review: Juliet Ashton - The Valentine's Card

The Valentine's card was meant to be Orla's fairy tale ending, but really, it was only the beginning . . .

Orla adores her actor boyfriend, Sim, who's away filming a sumptuous costume drama. Although the long-distance relationship means that she can eat toast for dinner and watch as much reality TV as she likes, she misses him like crazy.

But Valentine's Day changes everything . . . The same morning Orla learns that Sim has died, she receives a card from him. As Orla travels from Ireland to London, to live and breathe Sim's final moments, can she bring herself to open the Valentine's card and read his final message?

When I first read the synopsis for The Valentine's Card I have to confess that I thought this would be a bit depressing to read but it's not, it's a story about dealing with your grief and about rebuilding a new life for yourself.

Orla had been looking forward to her future with her actor boyfriend Sim, who's currently working in London, and is convinced that this Valentine's Day he's going to propose to her.  But on the same day that a Valentine's card dropped through her letterbox, she received a devastating phone call to tell her that Sim had been killed in an accident.  As a result, she cannot bear to open it and carries it around with her against the advice of her mother and best friend Juno who think it's best to get rid of this constant reminder of Sim .

Soon she decides to head off to London to pack up Sim's flat herself but once she gets there she cannot seem to tear herself away especially as she hasn't found the one thing that she's been desperately searching for... his journal.  Fortunately she's found a friend and confidante in Sim's landlady Maude who's happy for her to stay as long as she needs to. 

Although we never get to meet Sim in person, we do get to hear from him through snippets from his journal that are weaved throughout the book, and hear all about his budding acting career.  But is there more to the story than we're hearing?    

There were several things I really liked about this book, the first was great relationship that built up between Orla and Maude despite the generation gaps between them.  At first it looked like Maude was the emotional support for Orla in her hour of need but soon Orla is the one who's helping Maude confront her fears.  

And the other element was the whole mysterious intrigue as to what was the message held within the Valentine's card, where exactly is the journal and why can't Orla find it?  There were so many questions that needed to be answered which did keep my attention whilst reading.

I'm glad to say that my initial concerns about reading this book were soon swept away as it was not maudlin at all, it was actually quite witty in places.  Overall as a debut novel this was an enjoyable read from Juliet Ashton and I'll definitely look forward to reading more books from her in the future.

I'd like to thank Kirsteen at Sphere for sending me a proof copy of this book to review.

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