Monday, August 16, 2010

A Perfect Proposal - Katie Fforde

Sophie Apperly is young, attractive, practical, domestic & totally unappreciated by her academic family. They exploit her good nature & her domestic skills while despising her for not going to university. When her family decide that Sophie is the perfect person to look after elderly, rich Uncle Eric, known in the family as “Evil Uncle Eric”, Sophie decides she’s had enough. When her friend, Milly, invites her to New York for a holiday, Sophie decides to go. Sophie’s stay with Uncle Eric, who turns out to be a sweetie, also leads to the discovery that the family have been sitting on oil drilling rights that could be worth some money. Eric’s last address for one of these relatives was New York, so Sophie also has the incentive of searching for her in the hope of pooling all the drilling shares & finding a developer interested in buying them.

In New York, Sophie is determined to enjoy herself & at an opening at the art gallery where Milly works, she meets Matilda Winchester. Matilda is wealthy, elderly & a very determined character. She & Sophie hit if off immediately. Matilda also has a very protective grandson, Luke, a handsome attorney. Luke is horrified when he discovers that Matilda has invited Sophie to the family home in Connecticut for Thanksgiving. He sees Sophie, in her charity shop chic, as a gold digger who will exploit his grandmother’s kindness. The Thanksgiving weekend is a glimpse at a life of pure luxury for Sophie & she thoroughly enjoys seeing how the other half lives. She & Luke have a spiky relationship, based on his suspicion of Sophie’s motives & her indignation that he could doubt her intentions.

This is a romance, so there’s not much doubt how their relationship will end, but it’s a lot of fun seeing how this couple’s pride & prejudice will be overcome. Matilda was born in Britain & wants Sophie to find an old house in Cornwall where she stayed as a child. She agrees to go on this wild goose chase while Luke agrees to help her track down her American relative & consolidate the oil drilling rights. When Luke goes to London on business, he meets Sophie’s family, including Uncle Eric, & he gets a chance to see how impoverished middle class Brits live. Sophie & Luke set off for Cornwall to search for Matilda’s dream house & their relationship develops in some unexpected ways.

I’ve enjoyed all Katie Fforde’s novels although I have a great fondness for her early books. I enjoyed the fact that her heroines were older & not stick thin, they had real lives, working hard at unglamorous jobs to make a living. Her heroines still work hard but they’ve gotten younger as the years have passed. I also loved the covers of her early books. But, I won’t enter the great debate about book cover design. I am glad that her publishers have given up on the stick figure pastel chick lit covers of recent years & moved to a more attractive style for the last few books. This is a lovely romance, perfect for a winter weekend afternoon''s reading with a pot of tea & some chocolate. By the way, it amuses me to see the quotes on Katie's novels about what a great beach read they are. As they're published mid-year I suppose that makes them perfect for the UK summer. In the middle of a Melbourne winter, it's lovely to know I can look forward to a new Katie Fforde every year.

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