Jill Mansell's book so much is her characters. She really makes you care about them and Daisy MacLean is no exception in Mansell's latest Sourcebooks release, Staying at Daisy's. A young widow who runs a hotel owned by her father, Daisy fights her attraction to a guest at a recent wedding reception, the charming rugby star, Dev Tyzack. The development of their relationship is the core of the story, but Ms. Mansell's subplots are another of her strengths. They feature an endearing mix of characters, each of whom is caught up in romantic circumstances fraught with complications, from Daisy's friend Tara, who is having an affair with her now married former boyfriend, to young Barney, recipient of one of Daisy's late husband's kidneys, each has a part in this enjoyable and heartwarming tale of love and life.
The area of Bristol is familiar territory for fans of Ms. Mansell, and once again she depicts it so effectively that the reader is left with a feeling of having actually walked beside the characters throughout the story and breathed the same air they did. The hotel is a character in itself, charming and a welcome refuge for its many guests.
The plot and subplots move along smoothly, integrated so well that when the many threads come together towards the end of the book, the conclusion feels natural. There are plenty of surprises along the way, as well as a fun storyline featuring a dog named Clarissa. While there is much to enjoy in this novel, there is a serious undertone that gives it depth, as several characters must face some truths about themselves and the way they've chosen to live their lives. Daisy especially has to decide whether to hold on to the past or let it go and begin anew with a man who appears ready to dedicate himself to her and her alone. They never fail to make me care and, dare I say it, even grow a little along with her characters .
So, for those of you who are looking for an entertaining, emotionally satisfying read, I highly recommend you seek out Staying at Daisy's.
Teresa Basinski Eckford
This review first appeared on my Thoughts from Lady Tess blog on April 12, 2011