Dooleybridge, County Galway. Population: 482 (or thereabouts). The last place Fiona Clutterbuck expects to end up, alone, on her wedding night.
But after the words 'I do' have barely left her mouth, that's exactly where she is - with only her sequined shoes and a crashed camper van for company.
One thing is certain: Fi can't go back. So when the opportunity arises to work for Sean Thornton, the local oyster farmer, she jumps at the chance. Now Fi must navigate suspicious locals, jealous rivals and a wild, unpredictable boss if she's to find a new life, and love, on the Irish coast. And nothing - not even a chronic fear of water - is going to hold her back.
Join Fi on her romantic, unpredictable adventure as she learns the rules of the ocean - and picks up a few pearls of Irish wisdom along the way...
As I have mentioned in previous posts I had got myself into a bit of a rut with chick-lit; I'd read so many that even the not so predictable ones had become predictable. However I had heard so many good things about The Oyster Catcher that I just couldn't resist.
What makes this novel different is its setting. Galway sounds absolutely stunning, and the weather is so well described that you can feel the wind and the rain as Fi and Sean battle the elements.
The Irish small-town community theme reminded me very much of the film Leap Year, which is by no means a bad thing. Indeed, comparisons can also be drawn between the film's lead male, the gruff but gorgeous Declan O'Callaghan and Sean Thornton, the novel's infuriating but loveable male protagonist. Both are struggling to pay the bills and keep their businesses above water, and both unexpectedly find their lives invaded by strong willed women who change them for the better.
I live in a small village myself - one so small it makes Dooleybridge sound like a city! It has one pub and one church, and so I could completely relate to Fi's fear of the local gossip - nothing stays secret for long in places like this! All of the local characters each had their own quirky personality and all brought something to the plot. No matter how reluctant they were to help Fi at first, you got a sense that they really loved their home town and the sense of community spirit had been rebuilt by the novel's end. Fi herself was a brilliant character too, she was brave and determined, and inspiring in her ability to make the most of a bad situation and build a new life for herself. She had her fair share of cringey moments - as do all chick-lit heroines - and her first misunderstanding with Sean about his 'hooker' I found a tad unbelievable, but maybe I'm just more well versed in boat terminology than I thought!
Nancy, the villain of the piece, was detestable from the start, and I was practically yelling at Sean to get rid of her by the end. The novel's 'baddies' may be a bit stereotypical - creepy loan shark and ruthless businesswoman - but this only makes you side completely with the townsfolk and will them to succeed.
Another lovely touch to the book was the animals, who were characters in themselves. Grace the Great Dane and Freddie and Mercury the mischievous donkeys to name but a few all made me smile every time they were mentioned, and made Sean all the more fanciable in my eyes- everyone loves an animal lover.
5/5 stars: I can completely see why this novel took off like it did. A beautiful setting and a gorgeous hero. A novel full of humour and heart. I look forward to reading more from Jo Thomas in the future!
*I received a review copy of this book from bookbridgr in exchange for a review*