Wednesday, May 29, 2013

8 Heart Review: Sleeping Arrangements by Madeleine Wickham

Sleeping Arrangements
Madeleine Wickham

Page Count: 304

Release Date: 14 October 2010 (reissue)
Publisher: Black Swan (Random House)
Source: Complimentary copy provided by TripFiction in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Chloe needs a holiday. She's sick of making wedding dresses, her partner Philip has troubles at work, the whole family wants a break. Her wealthy friend Gerard has offered the loan of his luxury villa in Spain—perfect.

Hugh is not a happy man. His immaculate wife Amanda seems more interested in her new kitchen than in him, and he works so hard to pay for it, he barely has time for his children. Maybe he'll have a chance to bond with them on holiday. His old friend Gerard has lent them a luxury villa in Spain—perfect.

Both families arrive at the villa and realise the awful truth—Gerard has double-booked. An uneasy week of sharing begins, and tensions soon mount in the soaring heat. But there's also a secret history between the families—and as tempers fray, an old passion begins to resurface...

Review


I absolutely love Sophie Kinsella and this is the first book I've tried of her chick-lit line featuring less romance and more grounded issues—through her real name, Madeleine Wickham. Sleeping Arrangements is light, refreshing, and has a bit of a implausible—but still charmingly British—storyline; I enjoyed it immensely, but don't think it's something from which I took much away.

The hidden past surrounding Chloe and Hugh is slowly unraveled through flashbacks. From their first encounter at Gerard's villa, there's an explosive recognition—boom. From there on, readers slowly learn what exactly it is that's between them, and how exactly they'll react. Without giving too much away, I will say the plot itself was highly extractable and far-fetched, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Wickham's characters aren't particularly deep. For the most part, they're static and unrelateable, but she pens them with such grace and endearment, that I can't help but like them all. Even the ones that are portrayed negatively, such as Hugh's ridiculously anal wife, Amanda, are pleasing and entertaining to follow.

The highlight of this novel would definitely be its execution. The plot and characters themselves are mediocre and unremarkable, but the writing flows easily, and Wickham's style is smooth, often subtly hilarious, and blithe. I breezed through this novel; Sleeping Arrangements is a quick, lighthearted story set to the backdrop of a gorgeous Spanish town; a great read for a sunny day!

Pros


Charmingly clever // Witty and perceptive // Linear storyline // Light, breezy read // Masterful, yet brief description of Spanish countryside

Cons


Shallow, two-dimensional characters // Nothing deep or profound // Unmemorable

Verdict


Cute and fluffy, Sleeping Arrangements isn't particularly complex or profound, but it's a damn entertaining read. The characters are fun to get to know and the story unravels by itself; this is effortless, feel-good chick-lit with stormy twists and turns and a penchant for family values. Madeleine Wickham weaves a funny, breezy, and tender story with her usual British magnetism and sprightliness of touch Americanflag


8 hearts: An engaging read; highly recommended (x)