I received an ARC of this book via Penguin and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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)?
Before I even read the first page of The Summer Job, I knew it’d be a book for me. From the fun cover, to the early comparisons to The Flatshare I was hooked. Luckily, when I started reading, I realised it lived up to the pre-empted high.
The book follows Elizabeth “Birdy” Finch, a woman who doesn’t have her life figured out. She’s in a (not very fulfilling) relationship with Tim, doesn’t have many people she can’t rely on and is about ready to leave her life behind….which she does. Except, the twist? She’s taken her best friend’s job (and her identity) to spend a summer in Scotland. Wild, right?
Birdy was hopeless, unsure and didn’t really think much through as the book rolled on. Saying that, she was a relatable, funny and likeable character on the whole – when I wasn’t cringing over something she’d done, I was laughing with her, or feeling sorry for her. I think Dent did a brilliant job of crafting a main character that you root for, even though she did make some stupid decisions, she’s only human like the rest of us! Not only this, Birdy has substance and a story behind her – which led to sensitive broaching of important topics like alcoholism and neglect.
I think, having spent months cooped up indoors (with the promise of further afield getaways getting less likely by the day!), everyone’s desperate for escape which Dent definitely provides in The Summer Job.
I’ve been to Scotland before (though I think I spent a good portion of that time dodging rain, watching Braveheart and drinking!) and Dent brilliantly captures not only the weather but the lush sprawling landscapes, what the locals you run into might be like and this beauty that you just don’t get in big cities.
Another thing which I thought was brilliant about this book was the characters. I loved Birdy straight away, there was something Fleabag-esque about her but with a sensitive edge I think a lot of us will relate to. Then there were the other characters, from her annoying boyfriend Tim, to her loyal best friend Heather, to the charming chef James and all her other co-workers. I think Dent did a brilliant job of creating characters that were instantly likeable and familiar, though I wish Heather’s character was more developed – I kind of felt like the other characters were given more energy and time and I wish Heather, who was important to Birdy and her development throughout the story, got the same.
The Summer Job would’ve been brilliant for sunbed-lounging, cocktail-sipping holidays but – considering there isn’t much of that happening in 2020, for a lot of us – we’ll have to make do with reading this by a warm fire with plenty of snacks. It’s a cosy, sweet read with humour, heart and a serious side at times. I really didn’t feel ready to let the characters go when the book ended but I know that, whatever Dent’s next project will be, I’m ready for that.
The Summer Job will be published on 15 April 2021
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