Tuesday 23 January 2018

Sunshine and escapism in times of cold austerity

Fiction, The Music of Love, Kate McCabe, Hachette, tpbk, €14.99

Ann Dunne

Former journalist and now bestselling author, Kate McCabe, began writing heartwarming, romantic novels in the boom years.

The protagonists always had success, money, good looks and a sojourn in the sun. All the novels seemed to be set in places like the Algarve.

This made for appealing covers and the latest is no different with what looks like Bougainvillea spilling over a sun-drenched stairway to... possibly heaven on earth?

During the recession, while other authors changed their tack and put their heroines in hairshirts, McCabe assiduously ignored austerity. And she is still doing so. Her latest protagonist, Kirsty O'Neill, drives an Aston Martin and lives in the upmarket seaside town of Howth, where she runs a high-end fashion business. She also has a handsome, if errant boyfriend, Robbie.

When Kirsty's recently widowed mother, Helen, announces she is bringing home a young pianist - an Adonis named Antonio - from a holiday in Marbella, Kirsty is horrified, believing the gorgeous young man to be a gold-digger. Helen throws herself into organising a concert to launch Antonio's career while Kirsty sets out to save her mother, resulting in a show-down with Antonio, who leaves abruptly.

And it gets more complicated. During one of his drunken nights, Kirsty's boyfriend Robbie ends up in the arms of celebrity wannabe Samantha, providing the tabloids with lots of humiliating gossip.

With money no object, Kirsty escapes to southern Spain and in the warm sunshine, her feelings towards Antonio begin to thaw and she realises that she may have misjudged him. After a few twists and turns, McCabe brings the novel to a satisfying conclusion.

The absence of austerity in McCabe's novels has proved unexpectedly reassuring for her loyal readers, who continue to grow in numbers.

This one went straight into the Eason Top Ten. In these miserable times, we need escapism more than ever and McCabe provides it, liberally spiced with warmth and humour.

Available with free P&P on www.kennys.ie or by calling 091 709350

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