REVIEW: Never on Saturday by Sue Barnard
Two stories, two heartbreaks: one past, one present…
Leaving her native France and arriving in North Wales as a postgraduate student of History and Folklore, Mel is cautiously optimistic that she can escape from her troubled past and begin a new and happier life.
She settles into her student accommodation and begins work on her thesis, concentrating particularly on one fascinating manuscript: a compelling and tragic tale of a cursed medieval princess.
Then she meets Ray – charming, down-to-earth and devastatingly handsome. Within days, Mel’s entire world has transformed from lonely and frustrated to loving and fulfilled. Despite her failure with previous relationships, she allows herself to hope that this time, at last, she can make it work.
But Mel’s dreams of happiness are under constant threat. She is hiding a dark and terrible secret, which Ray – or indeed anybody else – must never ever discover…
Dear Ms. Barnard,
I kinda, sorta had an idea of what this story would be about and I wasn’t far off. It’s told very quickly – well, it would have to be in order to pack two stories into one novella – and despite the romance and HEA, I couldn’t shake the feeling I was reading a tourist brochure.
There are bits and pieces of information which hint at what might be Mel’s history. These are mingled with some fantasy/fairy tale sections which tell the tragic medieval legend of a beautiful woman who falls in love with a handsome French nobleman. Modern day Mel meets a handsome barista and it’s insta like for the two of them. Ray is charming and thoughtful and obviously interested but in a sort of subdued and chaste way. Repeat and rinse with Mel.
She and Ray begin to give each other thumbnail reviews of French and English religion wars. The 16th century was not a time to be on the wrong religious side. Then they take turns telling each other about French and Welsh customs, language, towns, history, etc. A veritable sociology lesson in compact novella form. Why? I had no idea yet but assumed that it would eventually make sense why it’s all included. Some did but a lot of it was educational only. All along, it’s fairly obvious the connection Mel has to the medieval tale co-story.
The conflict – which seems to arise and then be Suddenly! confronted before being easily dealt with – comes at the very end. True love conquers all and fixes what needs fixing but the romance never really touched me or got deeper than surface emotions. It all breezed by too quickly and in the end what sticks with me is the information that seems as if it’s directly from the Wales Tourism Board. C