Saturday, 10 August 2013

Guest Book Review: Julia Williams - Midsummer Magic

Reviewed by Lisa Bentley

On a balmy summer evening, anything can happen...

Recently engaged Josie is visiting her parents in Cornwall with best friend Diane, fiancée Harry and his pal Ant. 

As the four have a drink in the local pub, they encounter TV hypnotist Freddie Puck who convinces them to take part in a dare.  Local mythology predicts that an evening by the standing stones will lead to everlasting happiness.  But as evening falls, not everyone seems to have remembered the boundaries of love...

In Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Bard himself said ‘The course of true love ever did run smooth’ and it is this premise upon which Julia Williams has based her novel Midsummer Magic.

The story centres around four friends. Harry, a journalist with a desire to travel has just proposed to his girlfriend Josie. Josie, having accepted his proposal has turned into Bridezilla, becoming overbearing and a little spoilt when things don’t go her way. Josie’s best friend Diana is floundering, she has just lost her job, has very few prospects and has pretty much sworn off men for the past eight years due to a really bad relationship. And then there is Harry’s best friend Ant, Ant has been off travelling and has come back to convince Harry that marriage is the worst possible thing, that it is an institution, a prison sentence. They all agree to go away as a foursome to Josie’s home in Cornwall but strange things start to happen when they meet TV personality and hypnotist Freddie Puck.

Ok, so as a fan of Shakespearean plays, in particular A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I made the quick assumption that I would enjoy this book. I’m afraid to say that I didn’t. It is probably best to take the time now to say that overall the story was ok and I can see why some people would like it however I personally felt that the handling of the plot became slightly farcical and the characters – especially Josie – became quite shrill and annoying. You can come to accept that though, however, it was the actual composition of the story that I found most jarring. 

The quick change in perspective was not clear and often quite dizzying. The jumble of Harry’s wedding despair, Ant’s anti-marriage stance, Josie’s dogged and rigid wedding beliefs  and Diana’s brittle ways just seemed to amalgamate as one. Had these changes been signposted better I feel that the story would have been more enjoyable. The only character change indication came with the separate chapters dedicated to Tatiana or Bron and their point of view, however as a reader I had to remind myself that not only was it a shift in perspective but also in time. I shouldn’t have to work that hard when reading for enjoyment.

Furthermore, I felt like there were production errors within the text which shouldn’t have been a problem yet they did detract attention away from the story.  This could have been because I was reading the Kindle edition of the text but I cannot be sure.

Whilst this story was not for me, I do believe that it is a clever interpretation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and I think Williams was wise to pay homage to Shakespeare with the character names as some of the enjoyment came from being able to place who the characters were in relation to the cast of the play. Saying that, those who have no knowledge of the original text will still be able to enjoy it.

Although I did receive a copy of this book to review from Avon, Lisa reviewed it using her own purchased eBook.  Amazon links: Paperback or Kindle  

1 comment:

  1. This is a book that could have been so much better if it weren't for many of the niggly little things that you make mention of. Sometimes the story can carry you beyond these things, but that was the case with Midsummer Magic...shame.