I was a little bit disappointed to jump into this without reading the first book in the series (The Reading Group: December), but was pleased to see that this didn’t matter at all with regards to the cohesion and my enjoyment of the novel.
If you are looking for a sweet, light and romantic read, this is the one for you. It follows Anne-Marie, a self-proclaimed matchmaker who is far more interested in helping the singletons of Little Sanderton find love than she is in finding it for herself. But matchmaking isn’t as simple as it seems and, much like the heroine of the Reading Group’s latest read, Emma by Jane Austen, Anne-Marie finds herself in a bit of a mess.
It’s a very quick read (I read this over the course of a train journey) but I really enjoyed entering the world of The Reading Group. It’s set in a beautiful seaside town with an interesting cast of characters. I like the fact that the book is part of a series, with every member of the group’s story being told individually, rather than all of them being put together. I think this can sometimes get confusing in novels with multiple narrators and I always find myself reading ahead to the next point where a character I’m more interested in is speaking again. This series does well to avoid that by giving us the full story separately. And, despite the fact that Anne-Marie can be a little bit dramatic, I really liked her character. I thought she was really endearing and really seemed to care about her loved ones; she’d definitely be a character I’d read ahead for.
Keeping with the Emma theme, it is pretty obvious to the reader what will happen to Anne-Marie with the novel’s equivalent of Mr Knightley being established very early on. But its predictability definitely wasn’t a turn off. The idea of an old friend turned love interest is always really appealing to me in fiction and I found it very sweet here.
I think the idea of the series is great: each novel seems to tell the story from a different member of the Reading Group’s perspective, showing the way their lives begin to overlap with the novels they’re reading. Despite the fact that this idea isn’t particularly original – I’ve seen this done similarly in The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler – this doesn’t seem to matter. There are moments where, as mentioned, the plot is predictable, but I don’t think readers of this kind of fiction will be put off by that. And while this definitely isn’t a groundbreaking piece of fiction with regards to style or plot, I really enjoyed this and am looking forward to the next instalments.
I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. This book has not been released yet so if you’re interested in reading this for yourself, you can buy it from Amazon from the 1st of December as well as parts 1 and 3 of the series! Parts 4, 5 and 6 will be available in 2017.