Author: Milly Johnson
Milly Johnson is the author of seven bestselling novels, her latest is It’s Raining Men and the first that I have read.
Clare, Lara and May are highly successful career women working for the same firm though in completely different departments. They met at a work conference and hit it off, all missing some female companionship in their lives and sharing more in common then they first thought. The three are so busy with their lives that they are finding it difficult to touch base with each other and decide they need a holiday.
Lara is left to book them in for a 10 day stay at a luxury spa in Wellem but with everything going on in her life she leaves it until later than she had planned to book. The website is down and the girl from the booking line is on her last day at work, a recipe for disaster really. Needless to say the booking is incorrect and Lara is so pressed for time she only skims the confirmation email so the error is not discovered.
The book is narrated in the third person but follows each of the characters in alternate chapters so we can see what’s going on in their lives before the big holiday and then their personal adventures when they reach their destination.
The three women are the closest friends each of them can boast but it’s almost like they’ve forgotten what female friendship is all about because none of them feel comfortable sharing the shambles that has become their lives. Each of the women set off on their holiday in the worst frame of mind for a holiday but in dire need of the break from their personal realities.
Instead of arriving at Wren Cottage in Wellem, where the booking should have been for, they follow the satnav instructions to Well Cottage in Ren Dullem. The cottage looks nothing like the picture and it is far from the luxury accommodation they were expecting. They drove through the night to avoid traffic so it’s 2am before they arrive and nothing can be done. A good nights sleep does wonders but it can’t change their predicament. Nothing can be done. The luxury spa is fully booked so they can’t take them, the owner of the cottage won’t take responsibility and the girl who took the booking is gone, besides which the error should have been picked up on the confirmation email which Lara can’t even access because her phone met with an unfortunate end. It looks like they are stuck in Ren Dullem.
Ren Dullem is a picturesque harbourside town that is looking a little rundown but retains a sense of old world charm, but it is far from welcoming of visitors. For a town so closed in on itself you have to wonder about why they would rent out a cottage – the price had been set so high that it would be a total turn off and hopefully never be let. If you are a believer that all things happen for a reason then it certainly stands up under scrutiny that something conspired to get these particular three women to Ren Dullem when they did. If you don’t believe everything happens for a reason then I guess it’s more a case of an unfortunate string of coincidences lined up to bring them there.
Lara is devastated and worries that she has ruined their holiday but the longer they spend in Ren Dullem the more all three women are thrilled that they ended up there, not least of all because they can’t be tracked to somewhere they weren’t supposed to be. Instead of missing their laptops and scratching for things to do they are loving being busy doing nothing and come to dread the return to electronics.
Ren Dullem is totally closed off with no internet and no mobile reception, though there is an old landline phone in case of emergencies. The town is closed off for a reason, it is protecting a long and dearly held secret, but it comes at a price because as anyone can see the town is slowly dying off.
This total removal from modern technology allows the women to take their friendships to the next level and actually share their heartbreak, thought it takes some longer than others, and allows them to move on from their heartbreak and evaluate their lives in a different light.
Elements of the story were quite predictable but they were far outweighed by the secret the town was protecting.
The characters of Ren Dullem were quirky and memorable to say the least, some of them in a good way and others very much not. Most of them we didn’t get to know well but they were still drawn well enough that they stayed with you.
The three heroines of this story are successful career women but their personal lives leave much to be desired. All three are newly single and feeling very worse for wear about it. Lara and May were horribly betrayed and are determined to swear off men as their latest choices have proven to be not much better than any of those in the past. Clare on the other hand had a man she adored but they were headed in different directions and had to say goodbye so they could both make the most of the career opportunities presented to them but she is no less heartbroken.
I loved all of the characters in this book, except those that I loved to hate because they were so devious and evil. This was a great read that though it took me a while to truly immerse myself, which could be because I haven’t been well, once I did I was hooked. I will definitely be looking out for more by Milly Johnson.