Have you ever imagined running away from your life?
Well Birdy Finch didn’t just imagine it. She did it. Which might’ve been an error. And the life she’s run into? Her best friend, Heather’s.
The only problem is, she hasn’t told Heather. Actually there are a few other problems…
Can Birdy carry off a summer at a luxury Scottish hotel pretending to be her best friend (who incidentally is a world-class wine expert)?
And can she stop herself from falling for the first man she’s ever actually liked (but who thinks she’s someone else)?
*I was given early access to this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review – big thank you to Penguin books for the invite*
The Summer Job offers the perfect dose of escapism, striking the ideal balance of lighthearted humour, mistaken identity hijinks as well as moments with real heart which brings it all together. If you’re looking for a quick, absorbing read and feel like doing a little armchair travelling to the beautiful Scottish coast then look no further. I think books like this one are what we need in tough times and with the whole lockdown in the UK, I have to say this book took me away for an evening and it was a welcome little journey.
This is the first time I’ve read any of Lizzy Dent’s work, after doing a little research I found that she’s written some Y/A novels before but this is her first adult novel and I for one, loved her writing style. The story is very easy to get into and this is largely to do with Birdy being an earnest and likeable if slightly scattered protagonist. There were definitely times where I suffered some serious second hand embarrassment on her behalf and had to read through my fingers but I couldn’t stop reading despite this. I liked that Birdy is a character who doesn’t have her life together, and feels like a real, flawed person and also goes through demonstrable growth and change. I always root for an underdog and when we first meet her, she’s down on her luck and needs something to change so I was rooting for her.
The bulk of the plot centers around Birdy faking it till she makes it at the newly renovated Scottish hotel, where she has a lot on her plate and pretending to be a world renowned wine expert is the least of her problems. As well as having to pretend she knows what she’s doing, a baptism of fire if you will, she has a burgeoning attraction to James, a sensitive and attractive chef working at the restaurant. I thought the romance was cute enough in this book but not something which was a major draw for me, I was more into Birdy’s journey as a character and on edge wondering when her lies would catch up with her.
As well as the more lighthearted parts of the novel, where there are jokes and innuendos aplenty, the novel also had moments of unexpected depth which added another layer to the book. In particular there are depictions of Birdy’s neglectful parents, her father’s substance abuse issues and the gaslighting she faced which was so well done. I feel like Dent did a good job at interweaving these more serious issues into the plot and helps a reader understand Birdy’s struggles with relationships and intimacy so much. I also appreciated that unlike many other books I’ve read where the protagonist has abusive parents, Birdy chooses to stop contact with them and recognises that they don’t actually deserve another chance due to their continuing harmful influence.. I think too often in books and other media, abusive characters get a magic pass and get forgiven too easily which irks me so much.
Overall, The Summer Job was an ultimately enjoyable and touching read, which will be sure to take you away from the hum drum for a little while. I would recommend this to fans of other contemporary romances like The Flatshare or Beach Read.
Until next time,