22 June 2015

Midsummer Dreams

Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.

Stats for my copy: Kindle edition, published by Choc Lit, 2015.

How acquired: NetGalley.

First line: I’m alone again. 

My thoughts: Emily’s father is in Verona, attending a conference, and when he comes home he brings a surprise – a fiancĂ©. A younger, free-spirited woman who Emily instantly dislikes. She’s all wrong for her dad, a professor, and is determined to make her dad see that, and to prevent the wedding from ever happening. Meanwhile, Emily has been dating Dom for quite some time, and while she thinks everything is good, she finds herself attracted to Alex, her friend Helen’s new boarder. Alex is the master of one night stands, but he is also drawn to Emily. And Helen has been in love with Dom for ten years, so Alex tells himself that by pursing Emily, he’s helping Helen. 

The short chapters alternate among the four characters, with Emily’s chapters in first person POV. Helen especially resonated with me more than the others, though partly I think because she’s a little older and more mature than Emily. Emily lives with her dad, works for her dad, and takes endless driving lessons without ever having the confidence to actually get her license. She has a lot of growing up to do. But of the four, Helen also reminded me the most of myself, such as with this passage:
“They need volunteers to help. It’ll show that you’re a team player.”
“It’ll be outside,” Helen pulled a face. “With mud, and weather, and outside things.”
And this one, when she and Alex are discussing her need to get over her infatuation with Dom and start dating:
Helen wasn’t sure. The whole notion sounded horrendous. She liked familiar people. She liked people she already knew. Meeting new ones was traumatic. 
None of the four friends are particularly happy with their lives, though they all seem to be constantly convincing themselves (and each other) that everything is great and nothing needs to change. And while I decided along the way who should be with who, the author left me hanging practically until the very end. 

Overall, I enjoyed the story and the writing. There’s plenty of humor, and each character’s personality is distinct and well drawn out. I sometimes wanted to smack a character and tell him or her to chill out or grow up, especially Emily, but I liked all of them, and I was quite satisfied with how everyone’s story was resolved. 

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