Friday, 14 August 2015
Kate and Alf- Carrie Stone
Kate loves Alf. And Alf loves Kate… Doesn’t he?
Kate can’t wait for her long-term boyfriend Alf to propose. So he might be a bit of a control freak who’s obsessed with his career … and he also seems to have conveniently forgotten their two-year plan to get married, buy a bigger house and have children. But Kate’s sure that ring will be on her finger soon.
When her thirty-second birthday ends in humiliating, proposal-less disaster, even Kate is left wondering if Alf really is The One. Then Alf’s friend, Marcus, needs a place to stay. With his dark eyes, easygoing manner and kind concern for Kate, Marcus is everything Alf is not - and it's not long before Kate begins to wonder if there’s more to life than diamonds.
The gorgeous cover was what initially attracted me to this book, I love the hazy colours of the skyline and the silhouette couple. I'm also a big fan of books that focus entirely on one couple, which the title suggested this would be.
As it happened, Kate and Alf isn't just the story of one couple. Kate is the central character, thus the book revolves around her and the people in her life- those she works with at the residential home, cares for and socialises with. I'm actually quite glad there was a spread of characters as it soon became apparent that Kate and Alf aren't the perfect couple, and if the novel had purely focussed on their relationship it would probably have been a mentally draining read.
From the offset it's clear that Kate wants to settle down whilst Alf's happy to plod along in the same way they always have. Kate's miserable because she's expecting a shiny engagement ring and a proposal of marriage, and Alf - well, he's oblivious to the situation, believing they are fine as they are.
A lot of Alf's behaviour seemed selfish (the way he spoke about her artwork made me furious!) and I wondered exactly why Kate was so enamoured with him, but then I found myself irritated with how she expected Alf to change. I was getting frustrated with them both, because if they'd only been more open and honest about what they expected from their relationship they might have been happier, either together or apart!
What I most appreciated about this book was Kate's relationships with the elderly residents at the care home where she worked. Humorous, insightful and a reminder that friendship can span age barriers, the sections where they were gossiping, reading tea leaves and crying on each other's shoulders were the highlights of this book for me.
This book evoked strong reactions in me, which shows the power of Carrie Stone's words. Her descriptions were fantastic and I could clearly visualise the characters and settings. That said, I found Alf such an unlikable character that it did impinge on my enjoyment of the book as a whole, particularly in the first half.
The final pages of Kate and Alf wrapped up the story well and I enjoyed the interweaving of plots and characters.
Overall, I'd say don't go into this one expecting hearts and flowers, instead expect adult angst. I'll look out for more books by Carrie Stone, but I'd love to see her write a more traditional rom-com fiction release as I think that would best showcase her writing style.
Kate and Alf is out now, published by Harper Impulse.
With thanks to the publisher who provided me with a copy of this book in return for my honest opinion.
I read this book as part of #HIReadathon 2015.