|My 1996 Penguin edition of The Rose
Revived, with its lovely cover painted
by Pamela Kay
There are those who dismiss Katie Fforde because she is a writer of romantic fiction, but all I can say is, they don’t know what they’re missing. And I’m not going to describe her as a guilty pleasure because firstly, it’s such a contradiction in terms, and secondly, one should never, ever feel guilty about reading. If you enjoy a book, that’s fine, no matter who the author is, or what the genre. And the same applies in reverse: just remember there’s no rule which stops you hating a book, even if it is written by a highly acclaimed modern novelist, or a great classic author.
Her efforts to keep her home are a key feature in the novel, and at one stage it provides a refuge for May’s two friends (as well as Sally’s bags of clothes), and having once lived on a boat myself I know Fforde’s descriptions are spot-on, and am aware of just how cramped space can be, how precious the onboard water is, and how friendly the boating community are.
|Traditional canal boat paintings of roses, from
The course of true love, as in all romantic tales, does not run smoothly, and there are bumpy rides all round before misunderstandings are ironed out ready for the obligatory happy ending. Each girl (they are in their mid-twenties, and I should refer to them as women, which is politically correct, but girls is much more apt) ends up with the partner and lifestyle that is right for them (even if it takes them a while to realise this), enabling them to fulfill their potential, and become the person they were always meant to be, developing their skills, and establishing relationships on equal terms.
|I took this picture of boats reflected in the canal
at Birmingham’s Gas Street Basin last month, and
I’m sure there are similarities with London’s canals.
They all find their niche, which in some ways, I think, echoes the themes in my last ‘housework’ book, The Home-Maker. The story is told with wit and humour, and is nicely constructed, with just the right amount of dramatic tension. Fforde is an intelligent writer, who creates sympathetic characters, well-drawn settings, and a credible plot that romps along at a nice pace. This particular edition, published by Penguin in 1996, has a great cover – a reproduction of a proper painting, Hannah with Teacup, by Pamela Kay, which gives it a feeling of gravitas lacked by modern editions with their branded wishy-washy pastel images.