Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Book Review: Midsummer Dreams by Alison May


Title: Midsummer Dreams
Author: Alison May
Publisher: Choc Lit
Publication Date: 12 January 2015

Twitter: @MsAlisonMay

Blurb

Four people. Four messy lives. One night that changes everything … 

Emily is obsessed with ending her father’s new relationship – but is blind to the fact that her own is far from perfect.
 
Dominic has spent so long making other people happy that he’s hardly noticed he’s not happy himself. 

Helen has loved the same man, unrequitedly, for ten years. Now she may have to face up to the fact that he will never be hers.
 
Alex has always played the field. But when he finally meets a girl he wants to commit to, she is just out of his reach. 

At a midsummer wedding party, the bonds that tie the four friends together begin to unravel and show them that, sometimes, the sensible choice is not always the right one.

A modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream.
 

Review

Having not read Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, I therefore only have a rough idea of the storyline. However, this did not impact my enjoyment of Midsummer Dreams – although I likely missed a few homages to the original.

There are several threads to the tale, all focused around one love triangle (or square…?)

Emily likes to feel safe and be taken care of.  She works for her father as his assistant and intends to marry one of his university colleagues, Dominic. Life can’t get much safer than that. However, when her father Theo finds love with the younger Tania, Emily is thrown into turmoil and strongly opposes their marriage. She is determined to break them up.

Whilst Emily is focused on her father’s relationship, she fails to notice that her own fiancé is unhappy in his life. Dominic has followed a path to make his parents happy and now realises that this may not be the right choice for him. He wants to do what makes him happy.

Emily is also unaware that her friend Helen is secretly in love with Dominic. Helen accepts that she and Dominic will only ever be friends, yet she needs to be near to him and is even prepared to put her own career on hold to do so.

The final character in this mix is Alex, Helen’s friend and lodger. Alex is an immoral womaniser who unexpectedly finds himself attracted to Emily – a woman unlike his usual conquests.

One of the appeals about this book for me was the characters. May has provided a quirky and likeable cast, with the exception of Emily. I could not warm to her and I found myself becoming increasingly irritated by her juvenile views and actions. Admittedly, these my opinion of her was tempered somewhat by the end of the book when I fully appreciated how her life experiences had impacted her. I did, however, really like the rest of the protagonists, finding them rounded, believable and, most importantly, likeable.

The story is told in first person point of view by Emily, with support in a third person point of view from Alex, Dominic and Helen. This skilful flitting between characters forces the reader to understand the characters and care about their lives and problems.

The book explores and investigates the relationships between each of the characters, unravelling the layers and exploring how each character has arrived at that point in their lives.

The story ends in its own version of a Shakespeare play, a midsummer ball complete with fairy costumes and a hypnotist. This created a magical fairy-tale scene for the culmination of the tale.

The book is humorous and engaging, and I found myself chuckling away at certain parts of the tale. An entertaining tale, particularly for lovers of romantic comedies.

About the Author

Alison May was born and raised in North Yorkshire, but now lives in Worcester with one husband, no kids and no pets. There were goldfish once. That ended badly.

Alison has studied History and Creative Writing, and has worked as a waitress, a shop assistant, a learning adviser, an advice centre manager, and a freelance trainer, before settling on 'making up stories' as an entirely acceptable grown-up career plan. 

Alison is a member of the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelists' Association, and won the Elizabeth Goudge Trophy in 2012. Her novella, Cora's Christmas Kiss was shortlisted in the Love Stories Awards, 2015, and for the RoNA Rose, 2016. 

Alison writes contemporary romantic comedies, and short stories. Find out more about her at www.alison-may.co.uk

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