I spent a lovely, lazy Easter Sunday finishing this book, but it didn't leave me with the powerful feelings that my last Harriet Evans outing did.
There were plenty of lovely passages and themes, but every time I fell in with a certain tone, plot or character, I'd be yanked in another direction. There were oddly placed flashbacks that show you exactly why folks act the way they do, but of course, since the characters you are following most of the time don't have this omniscient point of view, they can't appreciate how similar they are.
I was quite taken with the American, Peter, and Tess's romance with him, but I was quite confused at both of them for trying to continue on past Rome. I was shocked to read that they were emailing, Skyping, etc as if it were a real relationship. Seems like it would have made more sense to have either of them realize that it was a delightful fling while they were still there, but I guess that's just another thing I didn't understand. Though the book is well over 400 pages, the romance felt incredibly rushed at the end and made little sense as it ended.
I'll read another book by this author because The Love of Her Life was SO well done, but this one left me a bit cold and I was definitely skimming and reading ahead as I neared the end.
Just like all the books I've read by Ms. Townley recently, this book starts with an easily correctable mistake that our heroine allows to continue to snowball until it reaches a boiling point and she must come clean. It's something of a pattern now (even though this book was written before the series I just read by her), so I've gotten used to it. But it doesn't make it any easier when I see the heroine say or do something so opposite what I would do and then try to get sympathy from me (the reader).
Luckily, this time our heroine is relatable and you can almost understand why she has done what she does. As someone who's moved to multiple "big cities" without friends there, I totally understood her frustration and isolation, stuck home watching television while the "cool" neighbor upstairs has a party. Ditto the wanting to show those back home that you are totally fine, everything is awesome and you don't regret your decision in the slightest. I don't think I would have struggled as long as she did with Cressida's mail, but I probably would have tried to steam it open as well.
But after she drunk dials "the guy," I didn't understand why she didn't give her real name. A funny story over drinks about the mysterious former occupant would have been so much less complicated for Natalie. Sure, sure, wouldn't have had a conflict, but I think the book was so much better when dealing with her feeling out of place, trying to find where she fits in the trendy neighborhood, dealing with the horrid boss and making random friends. Just frustrating to watch Natalie get in deeper and deeper when there were a hundred moments when she could have stopped it all and it would have turned out fine.