Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Practically Perfect by Katie Fforde

373 pages
copyright 2006, first US edition 2008
Random House Publishers
St Martin's Press
New York, NY

I stumbled upon Practically Perfect by Katie Fforde at my local library while looking for another book. The cover illustration is what first caught my attention, but then I read the book description printed on the inside of the dust jacket and I was officially intrigued.

The Plot:
Anna, a newly qualified interior designer, has decided it's time to put her money and expertise where her mouth is and risk everything to buy a tiny but adorable cottage in desperate need of renovation. Outside, the chocolate-box cottage is perfect, but inside, all is chaos. With a ladder for a staircase, no downstairs flooring, candles the only form of lighting, and a sleeping bag and camping mat for a bed, Anna soon wonders if she's bitten off more than she can chew. Her neighbor Chloe comes to the rescue, providing tea, wine, and sympathy -- and a recently rescued greyhound, Caroline. But just as Anna's starting to settle in, make new friends, and see the house transforming before her eyes, the good-looking yet impossible Rob Hunter arrives on the scene and puts even more obstacles in her way. Will Anna be able to get over all of life's hurdles in the end, or will she stumble and fall? (Summary courtesy of the publisher)

What the synopsis fails to mention is the additional and complicated fact that Anna has moved to her new home in hopes of connecting with a long-term crush, Max Gordon. Max, a handsome architect, gave a series of lectures at Anna's college and she almost had a relationship with him... Now all these years later she is hoping to run into him again and get a second chance.

My Thoughts:
This is my first time reading Katie Fforde and I had a hard time figuring out exactly how to put my likes and dislikes in a post.

I found myself particularly attracted to this story. I think because, in a small way, I could identify with Anna. I have been living for the last four years in a house that has undergone, is still undergoing, some serious remodeling projects.

Practically Perfect is a unique story. Unique in the sense that isn't your typical chick-lit fiction. The story isn't about a young woman living in a world of fashion, shopping, cocktail parties, or London society. It's about a young woman living in a small town amidst the Cotswolds with a love for building plans, drawing boards, and wood. It's about this woman taking on challenges and finding out who she is and what she truly wants, which includes happiness, friendship, and love. Practically Perfect isn't a perfect story, but it is a charming story.

I found Anna's character funny, clever, and interesting. She isn't like a lot of the chick-lit heroines I've read recently, but that's ok, I actually enjoyed the change. The story plot definitely has a strong emphasis on Anna's remodeling, which at times did seem to make the story drag a little, but overall I found Fforde had woven the development of friendships and romance fairly well without making the book just another love story. Although the ending is a tad predicible it's ok because Fforde gives Anna a "happily ever after" that should leave most readers happy.

As for Fforde as a writer, she isn't quite as good as Sophie Kinsella when it comes to chick-lit, but I did find her writing easy to read, fairly funny, and as I said before a unique take on a romantic comedy. I also liked that Practically Perfect was told in a fairly clean way. The language in this book is very mild, only one or two words are used and only in scenes of anger. And there are only two love scenes and a couple sexual references, but all are on the mild side and if rated as a film would make for a PG rating.

My Summary:
On a scale of 1-5, 1 being horrible and 5 being excellent, I would rate Practically Perfect a 3.5 to 4. I really enjoyed the story. It was a little slow at first, but I found it a fun light-hearted read. Fans of chick-lit who are looking for something new to read might consider this book.


J said...

Is Katie Fforde and relation to Jasper Fforde of Thursday Next and Nursery Crime Division fame?

Carrie said...

This book sounds kinda like relaxing, good fun! Thanks for highlighting it.

S. Mehrens said...

No, Katie Fforde and Jasper Fforde are no relation... at least as far as I've found. But Fforde may be a common English name, like Jones or Smith in the US?

Framed said...

I think I would enjoy the remodling parts. Thanks for your review. I'm adding this one to the list.