Published by Preston Smith and Ayushi Sharma
Books are like playlists we save for our varying moods and situations. Sometimes, we chase Holden Caulfield and at other times, we navigate through the unconscious with Murakami, blurring our perspective of illusion and reality. Be it a mushy romance set in the perfect backdrop of a Hollywood script or a psychological thriller taking us through the dungeons, books always come as our saviour, stimulating our imagination and motivating us to create a world of our own.
Following the trail of Cecilia Ahern who gave us gems like If You Could See Me Now, Lisa Hobman, the author of the best-selling books like “A Seaside Escape” and “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted” has finally added a new story to the shelf. Launched in February 2019, Hobman revealed her new novel “A Summer of New Beginnings” which is now available for download as well as purchase.
Lisa Hobman’s romance uproots wintertime feel-good stories and implants her own in the heart of summer, where mainstream entertainment usually gears toward action-adventure blockbusters. In the same vein of Hallmark and Lifetime films, we read a cozy story, one where our protagonist, Zara Bailey, well, just wants to travel. This yearning to explore the world is incredibly relatable to everyday people today, which adds another layer of feel-goodness to the novel (and as the novel takes place in Scotland, where Hobman resides, it has also gone to top of our top-places-to-travel-to list).
Synthesic in description, the spatial depiction of NC500 hooks the readers, eliminating the boredom which one usually feels as one navigates through the details of a trip in a travel blog or a travelogue. Taking us through Zara’s shopping list, her rigorous preparation before her journey through a bicycle and her adventures, Hobman succeeds in stimulating readers’ senses. Visualizing ourselves as Zara, we make our stop at multiple places, living and breathing mud, rain, and starlight, becoming both the spectator as well as the participant in our protagonist’s expedition.
The novel’s plot, largely about riding through Scotland in the summer, doesn’t take a large amount of risks—from the beginning, the reader has a decent sense of how the novel will progress—but the novel excels at delivering what are often breathtaking descriptions, whether it be of Scotland, nature, weather, the sky, and everything in-between. Here, the descriptions are the shining star, probably because of Hobman’s own connection to and familiarity with Scotland, lifting a plot and cast of characters that one might recognize from other novels because of their simplicity.
The descriptive style of writing, that comes to fore through long sentences and eloquent verbiage shines throughout the novel, captivating readers. If this novel aimed to help readers break away from their immediate reality and instead engross in the world of a travel writer, experiencing places as she does, Hobman has done a great job.
But the novel misses its mark in characterization and depth. Zara Bailey is relatable but as a character whose narrative revolves around her perspective about others without taking others into consideration makes her less reliable as a narrator. We are driven to a conclusion about the plot and the characters by Zara’s monologues, our only medium to explore characters’ psyche. Her flaws humanize her but cliched characterization leaves her on the edge. Unlike Zara whose thoughts and actions forms the core of the novel, other characters are flat. They seem to have been placed to suit the purpose of the protagonist.
Much of the plot revolves around the characters’ carnal desire. What should have been one of the elements of the characters’ exploration of love and romance turns into the core of the plot, taking away the emotional depth from the narrative. Zara’s connection with Lachy starts on a casual note but when it does get serious, we don’t see the transition of her emotions. It’s stated as a fact and a conclusion of a melodrama that was not really needed.
Unlike Zara’s adventures during her journey to NC500 which grabs the attention of the readers, her trajectory as a writer miss charm. Her ascension as a writer makes us feel happy for her and nothing else; the utopic transition to success is too good to be true and can distance the reader from the narrative.
The writing style, where descriptions truly shine, is a beautiful way to captivate readers, and it’s a reason why we appreciate this novel. Hobman’s style compensates for the plot and it does offer readers a story that can uplift one’s spirit and leave a positive impression. “A Summer of New Beginnings” is a good read for a rainy or dreary day, or for the times when one is trying to get back to their reading habit. Zara Bailey, who is easily the most well-rounded character in the novel, will take you on a trip through Scotland that will leave you smiling, even if from the cheesiness-turned-cheekiness of it all.
All in all, this is a novel that one cannot go into expecting high stakes, but rather a soft story that relies on a certain level of audience relatability and yearning for the future.
Have you read “A Summer of New Beginnings” yet? Share your thoughts via tweet @Fuzzable.