All my lovely readers, its seems that summer is finally here!! The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the car rooftops are down and the sunnies are out. The lovely weather would of course not be complete with the huge variety of summer reads that have recently been released for our reading pleasure.
One of these reads that will be hitting the bookshelves very soon is Joanna Bolouri’s ‘I Followed The Rules (and then I broke them).’ I must admit that this was an ideal, easy, summer read and I finished this in a day! The book features Catriona ‘Cat’ Buchanan, a journalist and single mother who is juggling motherhood and a career and as a result of this, has totally neglected her love life. The outcome of this is that she has been single for the past six years.
When her previously popular column as ‘Glasgow Girl’ for the Tribune starts to lose readership and ratings, inspired by an experience of one of her happily married colleagues, she decides to follow ‘ The Rules of Engagement’ written by Guy Wright, a book that she is secretly highly critical of as it is requires women to change themselves entirely in order to ‘ensnare’ a man. Her main goal is to prove that the ‘rules’ actually don’t work and the book is, to put it mildly a load of rubbish!
What follows is a tale of how certain preconceived notions meet their demise and how wrong stereo-typing can be, especially where gender roles are concerned. Cat is a strong, woman of today who is juggling a fairly successful, semi-freelance career while raising a bright, happy and confident child. She was acrimoniously dumped by her ex husband Peter, which she has still not quite gotten over, as the rejection still rankles and needless to say, they are still not quite on the best of terms. She speaks her mind quite often and quite eloquently and her language can be colourful at times. All these traits make her a very normal and relate able heroine. There is nothing ‘holier than thou’ about her.
The fun really starts when she starts to follow Guy Wright’s book and the subject of this man-snaring/book shaming experiment is her sister Helen’s drop dead handsome dentist Tom. There are quite a few comedic moments when Cat struggles with inner monologue while trying to be the anal prototype of the prim and proper lady that the book wants every woman who wants to keep a man in a permanent, lasting relationship to be. The tips given in the book on how to behave are the exact opposite to Cat’s actual personality and how she behaves in reality. She is an open and gutsy person, almost a modern day Bridget Jones, prone to bouts of swearing, a love of horror movies and country music and over-sharing, whereas the book advices her to be a closed up clam. The best part is that the book actually starts to work on the slightly old-fashioned and stuffy seeming Tom, who has the looks of a movie star but seems to be too straight-laced for the feisty Cat. The man does not even want to know about Cat’s daughter and the book actually advices her not to talk about children!
To make things more complicated, Cat meets Dylan, the attractive and charismatic owner of the local movie house and after a few too many drinks, things get seriously hot and heavy. Later to her dismay, she finds out that he is her own arch nemesis, the writer of the book that she has been following and criticising on her column. As part of column, she is asked by her boss to interview Guy Wright and get further tips from him to make her dating project a success. What follows makes this book the entertaining read that it is, as a war of wits ensues between Dylan and Cat, tips are shared, insults are traded, a rather tasty Italian dish is prepared by Dylan and some amazing chemistry is created between the two!
I thoroughly enjoyed the book and loved the very ‘real’ and ‘unapologetic for being herself’ heroine Cat with her ready wit, use of questionable language, taste for slasher/horror flicks and a penchant for country music. She is a good mother, with a humorous outlook on the rewarding, but often times challenging task of raising kids single handedly. Her relationship with her matchmaking sister Helen is endearing and she shares a great friendship with Rose and Kerry. She eventually comes to terms with her unresolved feelings on how badly her marriage ended with her ex husband Peter and even gives him her blessing when he re-marries.
One thing that I would have liked to see in this book, however is more development of Dylan’s character, as although the reader does find out a lot about his character and personality, not a lot is shared about his background, his family and what makes him the person that he is. As a reader, I would have definitely wanted to know more about his background and what made him write the ‘rules’ book.
Overall, quite a great read and worth reading for the witty repartee between the lead characters, the comic mishaps that occur when Cat follows ‘The Rules of Enagement and to learn how, after six years of singledom, Cat finally gets her happy ending. ‘I Followed the Rules’ is published by Quercus and is out on the 2nd of July.