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Ratings and Reviews (1 4 star ratings
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4.3 out of 5
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    Immature Grown Ups

    This is more of a coming of age story than anything else. Admittedly, the coming of age isn't a teenage one but when you are heading oin the downhill slope to the big 3-0 it feels like adulthood is ready to sit on your shoulders and that is very definitely a coming of age. Certainly Connie seems to feel that way - then again, the character appears to be rather immature for her actual age in years and seems to have retreated to a safe existence after a failed relationship in the big bad city. Connie isn't as dreary a character as this summation makes her sound though, she just has a slightly skewed sense of priorities. On the one hand she wants to "do good" and "help people" and keep Bluebell Hall running so that the community can enjoy it; on the other she wants nothing more than to hide in safe old Hazlemere behind the ghost of her Gran and behind the needs of her mentally ill mother. It isn't all doom and gloom though, the rest of the cast pull you through the worst of Connie's wallowing. Her relationships with Susannah, stevie and Luce are old ones, comfortable ones but it doesn't mean that these people are afraid to call Connie out on her decisions. Indeed the little glimpses of humour in the book (not as many as the blurb would have you believe but there are a good handful) generally come from one of these three setting her straight on her misconceptions and self-delusions. Her new friendships with Flip, Polly and Dom are also quite telling and although Connie seems to fall in to friendship far too easily they are fairly realistically drawn. We won't go into the relationship with Alex as it is too trite for words and from the first moment we see him through Connie's first interaction with him you know how that will end. The plot itself is neither here nor there really. There is a whole background of trying to save the cherished Village Hall - well, cherished by Connie and a handful of others but definitely not by the village as a whole. This is merely the device to serve to bring the characters together and to move the story along. It serves as a handy meeting place and as a hiding place for that matter. What fate ultimately befalls it really isn't that important - even Connie doesn't seem that bothered really. It is the characters that are important here and how they relate to each other and deal with the ups and downs of a few months in thsi snapshot of their lives. I didn't find this to be immersive reading and it was easy enough to pick it up for a chapter or two and then lay it aside in favour of something else. In fact, this has probably led to me giving it a higher rating than if I had read it in one or two chunks as I think Connie's personality would have made me exceedingly grumpy if I had to suffer it for more than 2 or 3 chapters at a time. This is the first of Poppy Dolan's books that I've read and I am pretty much ambivalent out reading any more. I may give them a go but there was nothing in this book that lit a spark for this reader and made me interested to see what else was on the author's bookshelf.
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