I am a huge fan of anything vintage, especially films! Doris Day stars in a lot of my favourites, so I was really excited to read this novel by Fiona Harper. I may not be as crazy of a fan as the people in this story, but I’m enough of a fan to know whether or not the use of Doris Day is horrible and overdone, or if it is sweet and acceptable.
This book was definitely the latter- sweet and acceptable!
The first thing I noticed was how much it reminded me of another book I’ve read and reviewed recently- While We Were Watching Downton Abbey. One involved a group of people getting together to watch Downton Abbey, while the other involved people getting together to watch Doris Day films. But just as Wax’s novel expanded by following the social lives of its characters outside the club, Harper invited us into the lives of her characters as well. The book isn’t about the references or meetings; they are just a way to tie the story together. Even without Doris, the characters still exist and experience life events worthy of a story. Our main character’s attachment to Doris simply adds to her adorable personality! I’m probably going about this in a roundabout way… but I’m basically trying to say that the Doris Fandom is not overbearing in this story; it’s sweet how Harper uses it in Claire and Dominic’s relationship, but it’s not the focal point which is a relief.
The references to Doris Day films was done exceptionally well. You don’t need to have ever watched a Doris film to understand the storyline. Even when Peggy suggests that Claire’s love life is similar to the Doris film Pillow Talk, Harper takes the time to quickly explain the similarities. And of course they briefly comment on the films they watch at their club meetings, but again it’s not much different than the way Wax had her characters comment of Downton Abbey episodes- a few blurbs that aren’t important to her storyline, but may get you excited/interested in watching the show/film yourself. And lastly, it was nice how Harper used movie titles to label her chapters. This was a cute little nod to those who actually watch Doris Day films because we sometimes find clues or parallels to the corresponding film that make us smile- it’s like a wink to the reader! Very cute.
I loved the romance in thus story. It’s not like it was anything new (because honestly, how many authors can find a new way for people to fall in love these days? It’s rare because it’s all been done before!), but that’s obviously not the point. Those who know Doris films automatically catch on in the beginning that this story will mirror Pillow Talk, and Harper’s other readers are clued in when Peggy makes the parallel. The reason why I loved this romance so much us because I was always a fan of the movie… so I’m slightly biased- guilty! Instead of a party line phone that keeps them talking in the shared apartment, they write letters back and forth. The secret identity thing is always a good motivation for complex relationships. First Claire and Dominic fight and poke fun using letters, not knowing what the other looks like. Then they meet and start crushing, and then Dominic figures out that Claire is the neighbor that he’s been sending letters to! Instead of telling the truth, he continues to dig a deeper hole for himself until it all blows up in the end. The end was sappy (or course), but I was grateful that Dominic ad to fight really hard to win her back. Claire was a very strong character; she stuck to her gut, even though it meant giving up a great love. I can always admire a character that is true to life; after such a big lie, a girl needs a lot of time to think it over and make a decision. Most of the time a book, movie or show has the character forgiving the person within the week after they break down or just accept it. In reality, it’s stronger when the person who is wronged doesn’t break, but rather sticks to their feelings if hurt and betrayal until amends is made. Even after his grand gesture, she still questioned his loyalty and her ability to ever trust him again. She decides to give him another chance, but you can tell this incident won’t vanish overnight. The relationship is forever changed, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still be in love- it’s just a different kind of love.
I really liked Abby’s storyline, specifically because all of her hard efforts to impress her mom didn’t pay off. In fact, her mom thought she was pulling a stunt and ended up embarrassing Abby! It was all just so heartbreaking! There have been times when I thought I was doing a great job and would surely impress people, but then I fell flat on my face as they were either disappointed or didn’t approve. I’m sure plenty of people have story’s like this… even if it’s something as simple as a school project! (My grade three music assignment still haunts me… thought I killed it, but I totally failed. Sad monkey! Tear tear). Abby’s story was VERY real. Just so relatable!
And finally, I have to say that I really appreciated the way Harper set up Claire’s relationship with her father. She had a terrible childhood and she (rightfully) blames her father for it. We discover that he is dying and wants to see her. Usually with a case like this, there’s a great reunion, tears are shed, forgiveness is I the air and the relationship begins to mend. But once again, Harper shows how strong and real Claire is- there’s nothing mushy about it and forgiveness is certainly not in the air. Instead, Claire decides to simply let go of her father’s damaging hold over her. She says she’ll see him again only if he asks her to. POWERFUL. She’s prepared to walk away, but she’ll also accept having him in her life again… not as an actual father figure, but simply as as someone she’ll visit from time to time in his dying days. Once again, it’s another complicated relationship, but it should be! Forgiveness is clearly not something you give away lightly. Claire sticks to her guns and moves on in the best way that suits her. With her father, she is tired of being mad all the time. The answer isn’t being happy about it, but rather just letting the anger go. It’s all about processing one emotion at a time… not just substituting them!
I really enjoyed this read, and I hope you all do too Book Babies! I hope Claire, Dominic and Doris put a charming smile on your face!