I read a book of Fforde's a long while ago - believe the title was Highland Fling - and found it impossibly twee and very unrealistic. However, I'm usually prepared to give an author another go when they've written so many books in the hope that they've improved somewhat, so, when I saw Wedding Season cheap in a bookstore, I snapped it up.
The thing is, there was nothing massively wrong with this book. The writing was pleasant and flowed effortlessly to the inevitable conclusion where everyone hooked up with everyone else in a suitably romantic fashion; the characters were, on the whole, pleasant individuals who you felt deserved happiness; and the plot, although very slight, was enough to keep the book romping along. Competent enough really.
And yet all those factors were not enough to garner this book an additional star to bring it to an average rating (the home, I feel, of most chick lit endeavours). I think this is because everything was too neatly closed off. For instance, there was one protagonist - name of Bron (hmm, that wasn't a good sign - I've literally just finished the book and had to check up her name) - who seemed to be going it alone quite happily after the sudden end of her relationship (which was handily signposted to us about a chapter before it actually happened). She moved into a nice little cottage and was setting up a freelance hairdressing business - but apparently needed a man to complete the picture. It's almost as though Fforde is terrified of leaving a book finished without ensuring that all her women are paired off and safely in a relationship.
Anyway, the thrust of this book is wedding planning, and the quite ludicrous situation that comes up when Sarah (the wedding planner, who, we must assume, is fairly knowledgeable about just how must work planning a wedding entails) agrees to take on a celebrity wedding with two months notice and also ends up planning her sister's wedding for the same day. Neither of the two can be moved. Neither of the two can be refused. Despite the fact she's just completed a wedding that took her TWO years to sort out! And her two new best friends - handily, a dress designer and a hairdresser/stylist/amazingly skilful cake-maker - pitch in to help out.
As is usual, the man Sarah is destined to end up with shows up in the first couple of pages - and it couldn't be more obvious that the frivolous little 'obstacle' to their getting together is simply created to prevent them from heading into relationship bliss two hundred pages earlier. Why people can't just communicate properly in these books, I don't know.... but apparently meaningful glances and not sorting things out head on are the done thing.
Hmm, I'm sounding just as cynical as the main character is purported to be! Don't get me wrong, I love DECENT chick lit. There is nothing better than losing yourself in an involving plot with three- dimensional characters, while cosily knowing that, whatever goes wrong in between times, the heroine and her perfect man will end up together. However, Fforde goes for the too-perfect ending and it is extremely false and cloying - as one of the other reviewers said, like eating too much milk chocolate (what a great description!)
In this book, I particularly disliked Lily (Sarah's sister) and her continual whiny complaints about how her wedding had to be special even though she had no money, and how she wanted the perfect wedding gown but couldn't contemplate the idea that at five months pregnant she would have to be a little less choosy. I also found Fforde's attempts to give her a 'humourous' verbal tick (like mixing her metaphors) distinctly annoying and something that tailed off enormously quickly.
Sadly, despite the fact that this author has a rather large back catalogue of books, I won't be making the effort with any more. One poor book can be forgiven. Two means that an author and I part ways. There is just too much good fiction out there to waste time with Katie Fforde.