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 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)?
Funny and witty, The Summer Job by Lizzy Dent is an incredibly fun read. Full of heart and humour, I devoured this book in one day, savouring the story and the characters and relishing each chapter.
When Birdy Finch’s roommate — a world-renowned sommelier and wine expert — turns down a summer job in Scotland to spend the summer in Italy with her boyfriend, Birdy thinks it’ll be fun to take her place at the Michelin star restaurant. Birdy’s just found herself job-free, her ‘relationship’ doesn’t seem to have much promise, and she could use the escape. But what starts as a joke and something to pass the time, soon turns into a venture that overwhelms Birdy and it’s clear she’s way out of her depth. After all, Birdy knows nothing about wine.
“That’s the problem with ten hours of uninterrupted sleep — rigor mortis begins to set in. So much for brushing up on my wine knowledge; I could barely type the word ‘wine’ into Google, I was so exhausted.”
The plot is something a lot of young readers will be able to relate to — Birdy has absolutely no idea what she’s doing with her life, both in a personal sense and a professional one. And when she pretends to be her housemate Heather — who has no idea she’s done this — the ‘joke’ quickly envelopes her and Birdy finds herself in over her head.
With gorgeous scenery and a well-captured setting, The Summer Job is a breath of fresh air — an absolute gem of a novel. It’s an uplifting rom-com, full of wit. The dialogue is quick and clever, and the story is heartwarming and enjoyable. The storyline contains character growth, emotional depth, and the possibility of redemption.
“Her voice trails off and she looks across at me, her face contorted with a mixture of concern and confusion. Concern, I think, that a human being in real life — and not in a black-and-white slapstick film — had pointed a bottle of champagne at her face while trying to loosen an extremely stubborn cork.”
The first person POV allows an intimate insight into how Birdy is struggling with the direction of her life. Her parents are conspiracy theorists, her father an alcoholic, and she’s never had a stable relationship. When she meets James, and the other wonderful people who work at the Scotland restaurant, she starts to feel like she belongs. But she’s living a lie — how is she going to weave her way out of this? The novel builds slowly, taking readers to a rather tense, climactic ending.
Birdy’s voice is instantly inviting. She’s warm, charming and quick-witted, but she also possesses a certain level of maturity that allows her to reflect on her situation and understand how to survive in it.
I did find the final couple of chapters a little disappointing. There’s a big confrontation, and then most of the resulting chapters skip ahead in time. I almost felt like there was 50 pages missing — an entire chunk of the book that got condensed into mere pages. But I guess wanting more pages in a book is a good sign.
“She gives the impression that nothing is ever a secret around her, and if it was, it would be sensible to fess up straight away. She stands up and wanders over to the wine rack, reaches behind one of the bottles and pulls out a packet of Marlboro.”
Fabulous, escapist and fun, The Summer Job is one of my favourite reads of 2021. Highly recommended alongside a nice glass of red. Readership skews female, 25+
Thank you to the publisher for mailing me a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
The Summer Job
Penguin Random House Publishers
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