on 1st May 2012
In the wake of an unfortunate best-friend-and-boyfriend-caught-having-sex-in-a-chair incident, Jo Donnelly flees her civilised city life to take up a temporary job at the physiotherapy clinic in her small home town.
Jo is ineptly assisted at work by a receptionist who divides her time between nail care and surfing the internet. Meanwhile, her new flatmate is a joyless couch potato who hogs the TV and is vigilant in her quest to prevent excessive electricity consumption. Life would seem a bit grim if not for Jo's eccentric honorary Aunty Rose, who lives up the valley with her pet piglet, four dogs and two sheep.
Rose was a wise and infinitely patient friend to both Jo and her bona fide nephew, Matthew, while they were growing up. And when Rose is hit by illness Jo moves in to look after her, while Matt helps out as much as his farming duties allow. But illness aside, it's not long before the mischievous Rose is playing cupid.
A looooong time ago, it was suggested to me that I do this as a feature to look back on books that I read a while ago and never got around to reviewing. I started with The Statisitical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith, and the next book up is Dinner at Rose’s by Danielle Hawkins.
This is one of my all-time favourite books.
I enjoy reading light fiction that is both well-written but not too light and stupid. Basically, I enjoy a nice setting (London, Paris, rural/country towns etc.), nice characters and a nice story with a little bit of drama thrown in.
This book ticked all of those boxes.
Set in a small town in New Zealand, (one of my favourite countries), this was pretty much guaranteed to be an Imogen book based on setting alone.
Jo moves back to her native New Zealand from Australia after finding her boyfriend cheating on her with her best friend. This is knowledge that is known to the reader pretty early on and we come across Jo having just set up residence in the small town, living with her Aunt Rose. I liked the story starting here. It was nice to join Jo just as she was getting herself together to begin working and living in a new environment.
Character wise, there are quite a few who have a big impact throughout the novel. Jo’s Aunt Rose, of course, plays a large role, and she is truly lovely. Such a great, fun character to read about. We find out more about her life as the book goes on and this really added some drama and tension. Matthew, the love interest is wonderful. He’s the type of love interest I really enjoy reading about in that he was a really nice, funny, sweet, intelligent guy and I completely understood the attraction to him. Matthew’s family create yet more added drama and WOW, did I hate Hazel. She infuriated me, which is of course, the mark of a good character and writer. While we are given the chance to empathise and feel slightly sorry for Hazel as the novel progresses, I still disliked her.
There are several sad things that happen over the course of this book, but not too overdone, and instead they add a great deal of depth to the novel. I felt a lot of feelings reading this book! Happy, sad, wanderlust!
Overall, this book is really a great example of an easy to read, fun book that deals with family dramas, illness and love. It was truly beautiful and I look forward to reading Hawkins’ other book, Chocolate Cake for Breakfast (which I’ve had in my possession for an embarrassingly long amount of time without having read it) and any other books she writes. I can’t go past a book set in rural New Zealand!