The Valentine’s Card by Juliet Ashton

[amazon_link id=”0751544272″ target=”_blank” ]The Valentine's Card[/amazon_link]”The Valentine’s Card” is Juliet Ashton’s debut novel.

After years of scraping by in Dublin’s theatrical circles, Simeon Quinn is on the brink of hitting the big time. Cast as the dashing male lead in a BBC costume drama, he heads for the bright lights of London for five months of working hard and player harder whilst begging his girlfriend, Orla to join him on this adventure.

But Orla has ambitions of her own, refusing to be a spare part, she stays at home in Tobercree to focus on her career as a teacher, a job she adores. Although she misses Sim and is counting down the days until she sees him again, she hopes the separation will have advantages, lounging about in ill fitting pyjamas and eating toast for dinner.

But Valentine’s Day changes everything. As Orla is told the devastating news that Sim is dead, she receives a card from him. Travelling from Ireland to London, to live and breath Sim’s final moments. she takes the unopened card with her, a card full of so much anticipation and expectation. But will she ever bring herself to read the card and if she does, what will it say?

“The Valentine’s Card” is Juliet Ashton first novel and what a remarkable one it was. From the start, we are cast in the world of Orla’s and Sim long distance love affair. On the awful Valentine’s day when Sim would tragically drop dead whilst Orla was receiving his last ever Valentine’s card. Fearful of what the card will say, she doesn’t open it, but clings to it as it offers her strength and even companionship in the hardest of times.

As the story is told through a series of flashbacks as we see how the couple met and with the current situation, as Orla flees to London to find Sim’s journal so she can recall his final days alive.

The story is strongly cast, Orla is fiercely Irish, with a strong independence and stubbornness about her, that makes everyone around immediately like her, with regular phone-calls with her ‘Ma’ these scenes made me smile, with their gentle loving banter making for light hearted reading in this sad tale. Maud, the kind elderly lady who owns a bookshop beside Sim’s flat, takes Orla under her wing and provides a shoulder to cry on and a bottle of wine when things get tough for the young Irish girl.

“The Valentines Card” is not quite the love story I expected when I settled into it, expecting it to be all hearts and flowers, the story is quite actually quite a sad one, that deals with the matter, of what happens when the one turns out to be someone completely different and that the life you thought you had was just a lie. Beautifully written “The Valentine’s Card”, is a cynical take on a love story, as one girl searches for her happy ever after, whilst trying to find her own path in life. Filled with mystery, intrigue and humour, “The Valentine’s Card”, is definitely my recommended alternative Valentine read!

You can buy [amazon_link id=”0751544272″ target=”_blank” ] The Valentine’s Card on Amazon [/amazon_link] and other good bookshops.

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